What are we actually learning here?!

What are we learning? There were all these plans and I know we have done a lot of them, I know in my heart that progress is being made. But sometimes, when we haven’t really been out and done very much, when we have been hit by tummy bugs and post holiday blues, when all it seems we have done forever is watch TV, it is worth looking back and thinking, putting it all into context.

The television we have been watching has been mostly a mix of documentaries and historical dramas. The historical dramas may not be the most accurate of programs but actually we have been learning about the historical accuracy. When one of the children watching Reign, or Tudors, says to me “did that really happen?” a google search, a grab of one of our books and reading follows. When a story line is found to be false a discussion about ratings, drama and script writers swiftly ensues. Programs such as a”The British”, “Back in time for the weekend” and “Call the Midwife” cover a range of history, along with a movie night settled down watching “Braveheart” before heading off on our own adventure to Scotland.

Because as much as it can feel that we have done nothing, realistically we only got back from Scotland last week, and the following day a stomach bug swept through all three of the children.

While away we visited castles, museums and took part in an interactive battle game to learn about the battle of Bannockburn. We learnt about Red deer and how the wildlife in the Scottish highlands is maintained. We took a trip into the mountains where the children experienced “real snow” even though they questioned this as they both thought it felt like fake snow… “no children, this is what real snow feels like!” We toured a whisky distillery, watched a water rapids rescue team have a practise session and the children had fantastic opportunities to practise their photography.

J was able to answer a huge number of questions put to him by our safari guide about different species of animals and he even managed to impress his Grandad with his knowledge. He had several passionate conversations about conservation and his opinions of humans which, while sad to hear, I was proud at how well he was able to express his opinion.

We attended a marine conservation workshop where the children were able to experiment at cleaning up an oil slick, they learnt about plastics, and whales and our impact on the world. Even the adults learnt something new!  All this refers them back to the past few months and the whales that have been washing up on the east coast of England.

Even whilst poorly the television programs of choice have been educational. From biographies about various sports stars and historical figures to wildlife and nature documentaries through to various you tubers who they follow.

We have attended the adventure playground social meet and A returned to science after our holiday, she is also back to her Duke of Edinburgh so all is well and back to normal there. They are both due to have another set of kayaking lessons from April and will continue to progress with their climbing. Other than that we are aware of the need to cut back somewhat to allow A time to focus on her studies ready for her exams but we are running on a promise of a trip around Chessington, Thorpe park and into London from the end of May through June.

July will bring us focusing on the Battle of Britain along with a weekend away to Dover and then it will be full steam ahead in preparation of Septembers cruise during which we will take in Pompii, Rome, Florence, Piza, Monte Carlo and Barcelona.

Small is learning something new every day. His speech. his socialising, his knowledge grows and he makes us all laugh about something different all the time. He gets to experience and explore so much, he benefits every day from his older siblings and their friends and the whole home education community being around. I am excited at his progress, excited that I know that I will never have to send him into school and watch his spirit and confidence fade. Excited that I will never miss his key learning milestones. He will be able to follow his heart!

So in answer to my opening question “What are we learning?” Well, EVERYTHING! ,Whatever we want…. Whatever interests us….. Sure, the learning doesnt look like being sat at a desk, reading a book or writing out pages and pages of various stuff that is just for someone else to look through and mark and realistically who even remembers…. But that doesnt mean that the learning isnt alive and well and happening each and every moment!


School places. That all important email.

The house is so quiet, I am looking through my Facebook and seeing so any parents waiting, or reporting on secondary school places for their children. I think to myself that could be me. I could be waiting for that email. I’ve done it before, I remember anxiously awaiting the email for my daughter, even though I knew without any doubt that she would get her first choice school there was something about the buzz of receiving the email that made it official.

It was an exciting time for her then. A new beginning at a school that she had chosen and she felt confident and positive, it’s funny how things change.  It’s true what they say, about things getting worse before they get better, about clouds and silver linings, the rainbow after the storm, things having to fall apart so that better things can come together and pretty much every other cliché saying designed to get you through tough times.

What followed for a whole academic year affected both of the children. It affected the whole family. A new school for A and a new head teacher for J made massive differences to our lives.

Now I think back to the morning rush, the stress, the tears before 9am, the disapproving stares as we were inevitably late anyway. The feeling of dread all day waiting for one of those phonecalls.  The tiredness, grumpiness, hunger and anger. The homework the ongoing rush to get homework done, get dinner cooked, get bathed and get ready for the next day. The letters that weren’t received,  the lunch box that wasn’t emptied. The headlice that kept returning, and the weeks when it felt like days would go by with me spending no time with the children due to having to juggle work with every day school demands. That’s all before the low self esteem, the lack of confidence,  the depression and the anxiety that follows the experience of being bullied. I can honestly, hand on heart say that I don’t miss ANY of it.

Currently all 3 children are still asleep, they had a late night, we had dinner as a family when Ry got home from work and then sat together to watch an episode of a historical documentary that we are working through. They will wake up well rested without having to rush around, knowing that they have already chosen what today has in store for them.

The really great thing is that we get to spend quality time together. I get to see that spark in their eyes when they learn to master something new. I see it for myself and am there to snap a photo rather than being told about it afterwards. No more missing out on those all important firsts or worrying about how they have done on some standard test that they have stressed and worried about when in the end their results won’t be relevant to them a week later.

I don’t need to shop for new uniform and specific shoes and equipment with a different logo to highlight to me hoe much the children are growing up. I know where they would be, but that’s not where they are. A is studying for her first exams, working at a level 2 years above where she would be. J is making so much progress in so any areas that his sheer attitude to the world and his opinions and ability to verbalise those opinions is evidence enough of what a clued up, mature young man he is heading towards becoming.

For those of my friends who are waiting for that all important email today, I wish you all and each of your children the best of luck. I know how big it is, I did it, I haven’t forgotten. I hope you all get the results that you want and are happy with and I hope that the transition all goes smoothly. But if you don’t,  or if it doesn’t,  please remember that you don’t HAVE to put up and shut up. There are always alternative options.