Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Our routine now feels complete...

Finally it feels as if we are back on track regarding our home-ed routine.  Today was the first Exeter group session since the summer break.  Attending that has really made me feel that we are 'back to it' so to speak.

A little odd really because our home-education style means that nothing much changes throughout the holidays.

People always ask "Do your children have holidays like the schools do?"  The answer is no, not really (which always makes me sound like a hot-housing learn children learn cracking the whip mama!)   I do try to explain that the way we do things - autonomous, child-led, no formal timetable or structure, etc, means that the children don't separate learning from their every day life.  They will pick up a non-fiction book and read it by choice.  They will watch an interesting sounding TV documentary by choice.  They will happily choose to get out the 'project work' and write a page of study or draw a relevant picture.  They will request a visit to the museum, the zoo, a National Trust property or a nature walk in the woods.  They will sit with me and talk about whatever is on their mind - be it something they have seen on the News, something they may have read, a question on a quiz show, whatever.  I can't turn around and say

 "Look guys, I'm really sorry but it's the holidays.  No 'learning' to be taking place during the holidays ok?"

We don't need the workbooks, the timetables, the structured day.  We don't need to take a break from educational stuff because we see everything in life as an educational provision is some form.  We have had great discussions develop from something they have seen on Coronation Street for example - not something that would ordinarily be placed in the educational resource box.

I think the only difference in our home-ed during the holiday is that I relax more.  

As a home-edder for 9 years you would think that I wouldn't need to, but hey ho I'm only human.  

Despite knowing for sure that my children are learning daily regardless of them not writing on a worksheet or using a workbook, I still have the 'are they doing enough?' question in my head often.  Not constantly.  Not enough to make me stress and panic, but often.  I don't know if it's my own issue, or if it is an issue regarding those around me.  I know I have family members that don't approve of our education choice and I sometimes feel the need to 'big up' what we do to put their minds at rest.  I sometimes make a point of telling them we've been to a museum for example as a museum is educational right?  For us it's a normal, almost weekly occurrence, but if I'm speaking to someone that I know is against home-ed I will make sure I mention that we've been and what we saw and talked about.  I will also make a point of mentioning any science experiments we have done, or a book that the children are reading, or a documentary they have enjoyed.  I will talk about anything that is seen to be of educational value by everyone.  I wouldn't tell them that the kids have built lego structures for 3 hours for example, or played the team games on the Wii or X-Box as that doesn't fit the idea of education in the mainstream world.    I guess I also feel more relaxed because we don't get 'interrogated' when out and about.  We don't have the constant stream of "No school today then?" queries and puzzled looks.  I can feel completely at ease knowing that we just blend in (well, as well as a family with 5 children can blend it, particularly when the bright coloured hair members tend to draw attention to themselves just by being there) during the holidays.  I don't have to worry about not being at home doing 'work' with the children.

I think it's my fear of being judged that makes me act this way, hmmmm, ponder ponder.  This blog is so therapeutic, I find it really interested to see the words I type as thoughts unfold in my mind :)

Anyway, we are back to the two home-ed groups a week routine and that feels good.  Both groups offer us different things - one is out and about the area each week, the other is hosted in a hut so has a constant base.  Yesterday's group at Exeter was so busy!  A few new families attended which is always lovely, and lots of the old faces were there to reconnect with.  Chelsea was able to come with us as Wednesday is a free day from College and one of Chelsea and Joe's previously home-edded friends who has recently started at a different College, likewise has Wednesdays free so they can still meet up.  It's all good stuff.

After the group (which consisted of lots of chatter and natter from both the kids and the adults), I walked around the town with my lot and the friend mentioned earlier.  We strolled around the shops and went for a Hot Chocolate in the cafe, before dropping the friend home and returning back to base ourselves.  We didn't have to rush back as Lee (husband) is working away AGAIN! Grrrr.  

We got home just before 7pm, had dinner and the children went off to do their own things.  Callum made apple juice with the juicer (his new toy), and read through the new Juicing book I'd bought earlier.  He then settled down to play with the new Noughts and Crosses wooden set I'd bought from The Works with Tiegan.

Tiegan read (nothing new there then!).  

Chelsea and Joseph both had computer time.

Taisia was pretty much exhausted so we had cuddly reading time, and a bit of TV watching together until she dozed off to sleep.  

Once she was snoozing I had some computer time.   Imagine my surprise when I had an email informing me that someone has signed up to the Classroom Free membership scheme!  I was amazed (and obviously delighted, I hope that goes without saying).  As I was sorting out the access to the site for this person (it's all brand new to me, I'm still learning!), another notification came through, then another and another.  At the time of writing this, Classroom Free has 10 members!!  

I'm very chuffed and thankful that fellow home-edders are so supportive.  Now I need to keep those wheels a turning and add more files and work out the giveaway contest timescale - I think the first members only giveaway will be held at 8pm next Monday (17th September).  All membership numbers will be put into a 'hat' and one will be pulled out and revealed as the winner - the first item is a John Holt book.  At the end of September there will be another giveaway - a set of Usborne cards - for members.  It's my way of saying thank you to those that are supporting me and Classroom Free.

Now to something completely irrelevant. 

Did you know that I am admin (hasten to quickly add NOT owner, just an admin) on a couple of groups that you may find useful.

The first is a yahoo email group called HEUK Market and is a group for people to sell or buy home-education resources.  It's a nice little group with no off-topic chatter so it won't clutter up your inboxes.

The second is a home-education group on Facebook.  Very friendly with a team of 7 admins so personal opinions don't get in the way - all decisions concerning the group are made as a team. You can find us here:

All applications to join do have to be approve by the mod team so if you aren't already known within the HE community please expect a message via Facebook.  Sometimes it goes in your 'other' messages folder.

Of course, whilst on Facebook you could pop over to like my Classroom Free page - I was stunned this evening to see we are up to 300 members on there!

See you tomorrow!

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