Summer “break”.

Our summer holidays, aren’t really holidays as such. Not much changes. They see more of their schoolie friends and a bit less of their home ed friends. Our regular activities come to a halt because a lot of places run different things during school holidays and they are quieter during term time. A lot of our favourite hang outs are busy and the children get less enjoyment out of them so we tend to choose to stay away.

We have enjoyed visiting national trust and English heritage sites, these tend to charge entry and so remain quieter. We also spend a lot of time at a nearby safari park which has a large indoor play area, we reserve this for rainy days mostly, the animals are actually more active in the cooler weather, most people seem to do zoo trips on nice sunny days. We have membership for these places so our days out during the holidays don’t end up adding up quite the same.

The children continue their book work as usual. They are currently working on English, Maths, History and Geography.  Today the older children are off to a local lake to have a go on the big inflatables, wipe out style course, with friends. English Heritage destinations through the summer put on various themes each week, this week we plan to visit one for a fairy day, allowing them the chance to learn about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle while enjoying the Victorian themed hunt for fairies and fairy doors.

There seems to be this assumption at times, that learning is restricted to school hours and term times, and anything else is fun. But learning isn’t? Do we not learn from our experiences in every day life all the time? Not all learning is fun, we learn some pretty harsh lessons at times. But those are lessons that even I learn as an adult. Just when we think we’ve got it all figured out the universe throws us a curve ball.  What I love about being  a home educating family is that the children see these ups and downs, they are not hidden from them, they are involved in decisions and informed of what is going on. We have found that this is a brilliant coping strategy for J, who as part of his ASD, copes far better knowing exactly what is happening and when. He copes with changes with far less anger when he knows that he is and will be kept informed. We have seen such big improvements in his behaviour, attitude and coping methods with this realisation. But they are also learning to be better able at making decisions, prioritising and at compromising,  had they remained at school I believe there would have been significantly fewer opportunities to learn these skills.

A is working through her history, its been a wonderful discovery that she can learn about Henry viii while studying for GCSE thanks to the changes in syllabus. It was an area that fascinated her anyway. She includes her English work in this area, working on essay formation and reading comprehension as well as other areas. She is also working through an “adults” maths book based oon “stuff you forgot from school”. Shee is enjoying this because it is laid out with  humour and feels less like a school text book while still including the same content. We have planned our tower of London visits, plans to visit Hatfield house, The Historic Dockyard in Portsmouth and Hampton Court. Trips out that are relevant to her area of interest but that the boys will also benefit from.

J has discovered the GCSE Geography book, he hated geography at school, but this has sparked his interest. There is a lot of looking at habitats. The great thing with this is that we can refer to this in relation to nature reserves, conservation and link it to whole other subjects as well. Every season, every location. He works on his English and maths each day.

N is loving songs, recognising numbers, drawing, painting and still as per usual loving being outside. His progress in all areas is fantastic. Everything is a learning curve, everything an adventure. He is constantly testing his own strength and abilities and I love that I get to enjoy this with him. I get to see it, see his progress for myself. I missed so much and was just told about it by preschool workers with the older children, this is a lovely experience for me as well.

And little M, at not quite 5 months old our days are mostly at his pace. He feeds when he is hungry, so at that point we sit down and take a breather wherever we are.

The older 3 amuse themselves and each other. Sometimes this involves screen time, sometimes picking up a book, sometimes rolling down grassy hills. There is so much variety but either way they are managing to find themselves something to do, rather than sitting and complaining that they are bored because momentarily I have stopped focusing my attention on keeping them busy and amused. Once again we have reached half way through August and I am amazed that we do not have the popular cries of “Im bored!” It just doesn’t seem to hit us quite the same.

I don’t know what the rest of the summer will hold, in honesty I don’t even know what the rest of this week will hold. We are mostly free to wing it and enjoy it day by day. Without the stresses and worries of needing to do a back to school uniform shop, without the worries and anxieties of new teachers and new schools lurking over us, we can continue to follow the interests and the goals of the children with no set timetable in place and that is what works for us.

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