Starting back

It’s been a busy week, this week. Sophia did her first full day at pebble house, forest school and dancing started for a new term, we managed a sneaky crotchet lesson and cloth nappy gathering mission at a friends AND we went to visit the last working water mill in Exeter today with our home ed group.

On top of this, the kids are yoyo-ing from playing beautifully together to screaming at each other. Normal sibling behaviour I’m sure but man it’s hard getting used to! I can see both sides and trying to help them reach a balance that is fair is tough.

20130914-134611.jpgHarmoniously sorting sunflower seeds!

Although she isn’t school age yet, a lot of Sophia’s friends from Topsham have started full time school or ramped up their time at pre school so our decision to home educate suddenly seems very real.

And I’m excited!

Our trip to Cricklepit Mill was a good example of what I’ve been envisioning in my head when I think about home education. A man from the Devon Wildlife Trust gave us a tour around the mill and enough water had gathered so the millers were able to release it to turn the wheel which in turn turned all the cogs and finally the mill stone which ground the grain (paragon) into flour. Sophia was really interested and captivated by the whole process and Isaac spent the whole time excitedly shrieking ‘WHEEL’ at all the moving wheels and cogs.

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We saw the wheel from outside, were shown where the otters like to play and their hydro generator which they use to generate electricity when the wheel is turning. We also explored their garden with a special habitat for bees, fruit trees galore and lots of beautiful flowers.

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We finished the trip by buying some bags of flour which we sampled in freshly baked bread this morning…yum!

After a quick lunch in the Cathedral Green we popped to the Royal Albert Memorial Museum, partly because Sophia loves it and partly because I knew they had a box of cogs in the kids area. Sophia experimented making pathways with the cogs which was great in understanding how the wheel turning in the mill made all the others turn to make the mill stone grind. I felt that by actually manipulating the cogs and seeing how when she turned one the rest moved it would make the process easier to understand.

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As we’re in the season of harvest I think we’ll look a bit at how the grain is planted and how it grows so we can complete the whole cycle from seed to bread. We’ve got a few blank scrapbooks so we’re going to do a page with some photos from our trip, some drawings and a bit of writing about what we’ve learnt which will be good as it’ll help practice her handwriting. I think we’re gonna continue to do this as we follow different avenues of exploration. Our next year or so will be quite gentle and child led as we continue in this style alongside the reading eggs and practice with cuisenaire rods that Sophia has been doing already.

Don’t get me wrong; I know many parents of conventionally schooled children will do these kind of things in their time together at home but I’m really looking forward to having the time and freedom to fully explore what the children are interested in and what is relevant seasonally as well as being able to facilitate all the other things small children like to be able to do (the park, playdates, swimming, reading ridiculous amounts of books, painting, play dough, baking…etc)!

Sophia is also obsessed with what time, day and month it is at the moment so I think a birthday/Christmas present will be one of those wooden or magnetic calendars that can be used year after year. I also want to make them a wheel of the year which my Mum found here. In fact, I need to get on with that!

So I’ve got lots to get on with and think about (as well as a growing mental list of knitting projects for new babies and the like!) but I’m feeling energised and ready to go and blessed to be in a position where I am able to embrace this lifestyle.

I’ll leave you with a picture of the kids discovering one of the many gorillas dotted around Exeter, I’ve promised Sophia and expedition with Dan to find be rest!

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