Friday, November 22, 2013

Still learning...

Ok.  So I've been a home-educating mama for nearly 11 years now.  It's become the norm, nothing out of the ordinary.  I genuinely can't imagine living life any other way.  The thought of attempting the morning school run fills be with dread, and the idea of standing at the school gate at pick up time makes me shudder.

Is that just me?

You would have thought that I would be comfortable and settled with this home-education malarkey by now wouldn't you?   You could be forgiven for making the assumption that I was completely at ease with the whole full responsibility idea, that I was happy living with the 'buck stop here' mentality, and that the days of wobble coddles are well and truly dead and buried.


2013 has been a bit of an uppity downy year for us thus far.  We've had the awesome experience of countryside living which we have genuinely adored, but boy oh boy, it's hard work.  Things that we had planned haven't developed into fruition, our vegetable plot got ransacked by goats looking for goodies (and who could blame them?).  This meant that very little produce remained for us humans, and many ideas we had didn't get off the ground - mainly due to financial constraints.  I of course got pregnant (wonderful news!) and that hindered me hugely, something which I didn't envisage.  My energy levels really slumped and I had to listen to what my body was telling me, something which I'm not very good at, but after all I had a little person in residence that needed their mama to keep us both safe.  This led to a whole heap of guilt piled on my shoulders by the wheelbarrow load, I just didn't feel as if I was 'doing my bit' so to speak.  Then of course came the fall and the cracked rib and bruised lung situation meaning I was pretty much sofa-bound for almost 2 months.  Difficult.

Now we have the joy of Amara.  At 6 weeks old she is still ruling the routine somewhat although I am really trying to keep on top of everything.

I fail often.

The house isn't as tidy as it usually is and goodness knows where on earth my cleaning routine is hiding.  Clearly that has been thrown out of the window and the goats are probably munching on it as I type.

I came downstairs today with a renewed vigour and determination.  Today was going to be a good day.  Yes it was.  We were going to do lots.  We were going to start projects and everything.

Chelsea - American Indians.
Joseph - To be decided (he has a few ideas apparently, I'd love to actually hear them...)
Callum - Ancient Egypt.
Tiegan - The Victorians.

For Taisia I was thinking of putting together a little 'about me' project as she is currently going through a phase of strong self-awareness.

So, how did we get on?

We didn't.

We didn't even get out the pens and paper.

We didn't even sit at the table, or open a relevant book.

We failed.

Or did we?

You see, we didn't stick to the proposed schedule so I guess in that sense you could say things went off path.  You could say that, but I would argue that you were wrong.  You see, what really happened was pretty amazing.

At 9.30am in the comfort of our lounge, whilst lazing outstretched on the sofas, some of us cuddling little ones or wrapped snuggly in blankets, we learnt things.  Really, we did.  It actually happened whilst we were supping copious amounts of tea and munching our way through last nights baked goodies.  Had an outsider, maybe a so called 'professional', sneaked a peek through one of our easy to access windows, they would have seen what could only be described as disarray.  Wooden train track littering the floor.  Books scattered as stepping stones and stacked up to form stairs.  Cake tins placed in the form of drum kits, and various water gathering containers sitting upon towels to catch puddles caused by the little experimenting pourer.   Any outside onlooker would have missed one important factor.


You see, last night Chelsea and I watched a documentary called Children of the Master Race.  It discussed the Lebensborn program, founded in 1935.  We both found the film interesting and horrifying in approximate equal measure and knew that Joseph, with his great interest and knowledge of World War history, may already be aware of the programs existence.   We started discussing what the documentary had been about, the insight that it had given us, and our thoughts.  This led on to an analysis of Hitler and his mindset, and a discussion about evil and our perception of what real evil means to us as individuals

Following on from that, we launched into a discussion about more recent crimes and events.  We talked about people thinking they were untouchable, and we talked about power, control, and status.  We hypothesised over various 'what would you do' scenarios, playing devils advocate on more than one occasion.  

We discussed politics, immigration and people making judgements and blanket statements.  We talked about celebrities and their possible public personas, about real lives and what we are 'allowed' to see and know.  

Somehow the conversation turned to time-travel.  We shared if we thought it was possible, the science behind its possibility, and what effect we thought it would have on life as we know it.  We talked about going back in time and travelling into the future.  This led to a discussion about Aliens.  We chatted about our belief systems,  possible evidence to back up those theories, religion, and the solar system.

At 2.15pm my husband came home to find that very little had been done.  He could see the train track littering the floor, the books scattered here and there, and the cake tins in drum kit formation.  He was witness to the mugs that were half full with now cold tea and crumbs giving away our secret munching.  What he wasn't aware of was the amount of knowledge that had been passed between his family members that morning.

To him I have no doubt it looked as if we had had a lazy day.

A nothing day.

The laundry was still sat in the basket and fingerprints rested on the mirror.  The kitchen was host to dirty dishes, the floor disguised by muddy footprints.  The fireplace still showed off its remains from the night before.

He couldn't be expected to know how much each of us had gained from those hours of sitting down together and talking, really talking, and listening to one another.

I felt a real connection with my children.

I felt that I learnt so much about them, about how they feel and their thought processes.  I discovered so much about them as individual human beings, their opinions on such a diverse range of subjects, their ability to rationalise and go beyond what would be expected.  I admire them on so many levels.

I needed today.

I needed to be reminded that children learn.  Education happens.  It doesn't have to be forced, it can be allowed to flow.  To those battling with the ideal of the school system it may be difficult to understand and get your head around.  Days like this remind me what home-education is all about.

And do you know what?  My children needed me today and I was able to fulfil that need because I was able to let things go.


  1. Can really related to this post. This could be a description of a day in the life or our home educating family in so many ways too.

  2. Amen to that! Nothing beats a good discussion :)

  3. Relationships are everything...without them it doesnt matter how much "knowledge" there is cause no one is an Island :) Good for you for knowing what is excellent over good :)

    Karen in NZ

  4. ON Thursday, I went to my older daughter's first sixth form 'Academic Mentoring' or parent evening to you and me. Her tutor just handed me a sheet of paper on which every column (behaviour, engagement, independent learning etc) for four subjects held the number '1' and said - ' she seems to be very capable of organising her time and learning independently. ' - this after her English tutor had stopped me to say 'oh, she's my little star, please don't let her give up English'. It all sinks in. It all informs. :D You had a good day.

  5. What a truly wonderful day. I am constantly amazed at how much my boys learn from just being in the world with me. I write mostly about the tangible work we do but there is so much else that goes on when we are just being together. I feel privileged everyday to be able to have such lovely close relationships with my kiddies. I can only imagine how cosy you were in your blankets chatting and learning.
    It is the way that life is meant to be. X

  6. I love days like this !!! today moments like this are few and far between nowadays at our house , you're so lucky babes and your children are blessed with a wonderful mum!!! xx

  7. Sounds like you & your family had a fabulous day that no one will soon forget. :)
    I went through my own bout of troubles over the past couple years due to my car accident, it wasn't pretty. Anyway, I struggled with having to be in bed all the time and when not in bed at the doctors. I often wondered was this time going to be detrimental to my kid's learning? I wasn't as active with them as I was used to being nor they used to me being either. However, they came and spent hours with me in bed. We read a lot, watched a lot of History, Discovery, and the Animal Planet channel. My kids learned to become so much more independent as they had to make breakfast and lunch now (for me too). They helped each other learn things while I slept (I slept a lot!). We had to stop going to co-op (haven't returned yet) and you know what? As I watch and listen to my kiddos and think where they were a couple years ago, I am AMAZED! They kept going, they kept learning, they kept getting confident, becoming more independent and responsible. This time also helped my husband to really see that our kiddos are more than capable of learning on their own and doing just great (he is very supportive, just sometimes had doubts...Not anymore). We all are as close as ever now and I get stronger everyday, not very many bad days. I can help around the house and my kids gladly jump in to help me, we have our library days back and now instead of co-op they go to play a couple hours of dodge ball or unstructured play with a bunch of other local homeschool kids, they love it and they don't miss co-op. Neither do I for that matter as I find co-ops become to schooly for this unchooling family. ;)
    Sorry for the long comment, I guess I just wanted to confirm to you that you indeed experienced a fabulous day!