Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Loving Our Today

Today has been one of those oh so wonderful, couldn't get any better, I feel ever so blessed, days.

This morning we met with my parents in Torquay, for a stroll around the town and a coffee shop natter.  It was nice.  My parents live in Spain, so time with them is precious.  Our bargain buy of the day came in the form of these books from The Works...

The four "Spot 50...." books were on offer.  4 for £5 or £1.99 each.  Their individual RRP is £6.99.

The Collins Primary Atlas looks (at swift first glance) a good buy for £1.99 - it's RRP is also £6.99.

After a pleasant few hours roaming, we got home for 2pm. The sun was shining beautifully and our moods were definitely flying high.   Tiegan and Chelsea headed off to the library to return books and choose more,  whilst I succumbed to a quick hoovering session, putting away laundry and checking emails.  We then all headed out into the garden, and climbed upon the trampoline to settle down for a reading session.

Our current family reading book is Apache by Tanya Landman.  We are really enjoying the enthralling storyline so far and, although fictional, it is really opening up many areas for further discussion.  We read ten or so pages today, before the children decided to start reading their own books and I headed off to prepare the salad for dinner.

Chelsea is reading Extreme Kissing by Luisa Plaja.  Chelsea knows the lovely Luisa personally as she lives quite near to our home.  Chelsea said today that she still feels quite strange seeing Luisa's books in stores and in the library knowing that she has been to our house and eaten cake - I guess she is still a little 'star struck' even now *grin*.

I love the way that books are such a huge factor in our lives.  I adore the way that my children (Chelsea and Tiegan particularly) will spend so much of their time with their heads buried within pages of various books, of all genres.  Joseph enjoys non-fiction books, especially those with an historic subject matter.  Tiegan just enjoys all sorts - fiction and non-fiction.  Chelsea is the same.

I am very thrilled to announce that Callum actually showed an interest in reading to me today.  Those old old old readers of this blog will know the trials and tribulations I went through trying to teach Joseph how to read.  They may recall the problems that we faced - Joseph feeling pressured as he had reached that 'magical' reading age at school, his speech dyspraxia issues, and his almost total blindness in one eye.  We experienced many frustrations. We had tears and tantrums - both from Joseph and ashamedly myself.

I felt under pressure.

I felt that I had something to prove.

I felt that it was my first challenge as a home-educating mama.

I felt that I would be letting Joseph down if he didn't keep up with his school-going friends.

I felt that I would be judged, particularly by certain family members, if Joseph couldn't read when his in school peers could.

Of course this was nonsense.  I needed to release myself from "the system" and concentrate on my child.  I needed to trust the learning process.  I needed to learn how to facilitate and not necessarily teach.  I needed to learn how to sit back and go with the flow, instead of worrying about what school children were achieving (or not achieving, as the case may be).

That experience taught me a great deal.  It forced me to research how children learn (thank you John Holt) and to relax.  I realised that the 'magic age' was nonsense, that all children were individuals and should be treated as such.  I discovered that it wasn't necessary to conform, to follow the rules, to be a yes sir, no sir, how high shall I jump sir, sort of gal.  I developed a backbone and started thinking outside of the box, running far from those that wished to cram us inside of one.

Within months of this revelation of mine, Joseph became a fluent reader.  How and why? Because he saw that there was a need to know how to read.  He needed to read instructions for his playstation games as there wasn't always someone around in the position to read them for him - particularly when instructions randomly appeared on the screen during game play.  Up until that point there had been no need for him to read for himself.

Callum is slightly different in that he can read things within a certain context.  For example, he can google search for websites or YouTube videos and navigate around various sites, which obviously takes some sort of word recognition and reading ability.  But, give him a few words in a book to read and it appears an impossible task.   Today though, he found one of our Ladybird reading books that we had used in the early days of Joseph and Tiegan reading, and he found a few simple words that he could read.  This is a huge thing for Callum.  Although he does enjoy looking through books, it is usually just flicking through the pictures and pretending he has read the words.  He will sometimes flick through a book with lightening speed and declare it read.  Today though, he sat with me outside on the trampoline and we worked through the words together.  It was wonderful.  I have promised to make him a 'reading tree' which I made for Joseph when he embarked on the reading journey, and Callum has said that he would like to start reading to me more.  It feels like the start of something big.

Dinner consisted of (a rather overdone as husband was late from work tonight) Lasagne and salad.  Don't you just love eating out in the sunshine?  I love decorating the outside table with bright coloured food...

We laid picnic blankets on our (very long and in need of a cut) lawn, and Tiegan continued to read...

The sky was so blue, it made my heart sing to be out in the fresh air surrounded by bird song and happy children...

I loved having Joseph join us...

My dear boy has had some negative stuff going on with so-called friends (why is it so often girls that are the horrid ones?)  Seeing Joe enjoying  himself out in the sunshine and playing with his little sis' is joyful.  I am so thankful that my children are so close, they really are like best friends as opposed to siblings and I truly believe that this will follow through to adulthood.  I am very proud of who they are.

Taisia loved her daddy joining her on the trampoline after work.  This was noticed by Callum who asked to take a photograph with my camera...

Callum then took a picture of Chelsea...

Joseph wanted to have a play with the expensive bit of kit too (be still my panic-driven heart), and he took a couple of pics of me and my girls...

Joe got quite into the picture taking and has asked for me to teach him a few things to see if it is something he would like to pursue as a hobby.

This evening the four older children played the Dartmoor board game whilst I got the littlest lady ready for bed.  I have promised that I will play it with them tomorrow, although my knowledge is very limited.  I guess playing such a game is a great way to learn and may even kick start enthusiasm to begin a much talked about but always put off project.

Plans for tomorrow so far include baking, a visit from my parents, making 'gloop' and dog walking. It is also time for myself and husband to complete Couch to 5K day 3  - I wonder what else the day will throw at us.


  1. So lovely to read and see your perfect day, Julia. Such a great inspiration for other parents to follow. xx

  2. Whatever Chelsea is wearing here - I love it. I am a bit jealous, I would look such a tit in it. Boo. I agree about the reading thing, Oliver had to learn to read 'more fluently' because he wanted to play Pokemon cards at a club. I still think he sees it as a nesessary evil though, and not a joy. Sigh. Keep on runnin' dude. x

  3. It's so lovely how close your kids are. Chelsea has a fantastic sense of style, very individual. I love her clothes but I doubt at 36 I could get away with them