Guilt

At this very moment, I should be in the woods at Exeter Forest School, running my first ever session as a Forest School Leader. Instead, I am sat under our biggest, cosiest blanket with a large cup of tea feeling rather sorry for myself. I’ve been ill for close to two weeks now and feel like I might finally be on the tail end of it but certainly not well enough to run a session without coughing and spluttering over the unfortunate parents and children in attendance. I feel so cheesy saying this, but my proverbial village has, once again, leapt into action to assist. A dear friend (who I now owe so many childcare favours to it’s ridiculous) is having Eli at the group and for the afternoon and Dan has gone to deposit the big two with her as well so she can take them to the older group where they attend by themselves. I have a whole day to rest and hopefully finally recuperate after an incredibly busy two weeks where I have just kept going when perhaps I should have declared a few more movie (or to assuage my home ed conscience, documentaries) and sofa days for the kids.

However, my primary emotion today is guilt. Guilt that I’m letting down work by not being able to run the session. Guilt that my friend is helping out and looking after my kids again, especially when she’s not feeling 100% herself. Guilt that I’m probably not going to be particularly productive even though there are things that need to be done (work, cleaning…etc). Guilt (ridiculously) that once again this week, I won’t reach my step count for the day. When I sat down to write this I was thinking mainly about what some term ‘mother’s guilt’. The guilt that means you feel like you are constantly failing those around you. That you don’t have enough to give to your kids to fulfill what they need. That there isn’t enough of you to go around. That your house is a mess. That you can’t find the work-life-fun balance. That you have goals and projects left unfinished. That you shout, nag and lecture. That maybe your priorities aren’t where they should be. That sometimes you take more from your friends and family than you give.

But then I realised that guilt is not exclusive to motherhood. Guilt is something that lots of us are plagued with. Most of that list above could apply to all of us, regardless of whether we have kids or not. And we could add more. Guilt that we’re not doing more in the fight against climate change would be one for me. For someone else it might be guilt that they skipped the gym. Guilt that they let down a friend. Guilt that they pay someone to clean their home. Guilt that they don’t cook their meals from scratch. Guilt that they got a promotion over a colleague. Everyone feels guilty for a myriad of different reasons.

Clearly, guilt that we feel because of something we’ve actually done (deliberate or not) that we know has affected someone negatively (physically or mentally) is a different category. It’s right to feel remorse and to try and make amends. But I’m talking about the guilt that so many of us feel unnecessarily.  Guilt that we essentially make up for things that we don’t need to feel remorseful, shameful or sad about.

I’m struggling to think of anything positive that comes out of this kind of guilt. Acknowledging a fault or weakness and acting on it to promote positive change is one thing. But endlessly beating yourself up about stuff, valid or not, is useful to no-one. I know that if the situation was reversed, I would do the same thing for a friend or family member in need. I know that I would cover sessions for a colleague if I could. But it doesn’t stop me feeling bad about being the one needing the help right now.

I don’t know what the answer is and I realise this may come across as a somewhat woe-is-me post which is not my intention. Rather, I wanted to start a conversation about unecessary guilt. About why we feel it, about why we shouldn’t let ourselves get so caught up in such a negative feeling. It’s not something we talk about a lot I think.  A quick google produces a wealth of articles from people much more equipped to talk about this than me. And a few things stood out to me particularly as helpful ways to break the cycle of self-flagellation caused by needless guilt.

Firstly, as I mentioned above, engage in a spot of role reversal. Imagine what you’d say or do to a friend or family member saying what you’re feeling. Chances are you’d reassure them that their guilt isn’t based in anything real and advise that they need to be kinder to themselves. Which leads nicely to the second point which is to make an effort to remove yourself from the situation and actually look at what you do. Look to see if there is any evidence to back up your guilt, I bet there isn’t! Practice a little bit of self-gratitude. Make a list if you need to of all the things you accomplish. But acknowledge what you do and try and be at peace that this is enough.

Finally, practice some self-care. I know this is a bit of a buzz topic at the moment but there’s a reason for that. You can’t give from an empty glass and we live in a world where we try to do much more than is practically possible for any one person. Our villages are  broken and dispersed and people often don’t have the support they need. I’m going to drag out a parenting phrase that I have quoted many times before, bestowed on me from a very wise friend ‘your child is your mirror’. If you are overworked, stressed and brimming with negative emotions, your child(ren) will feed off this and reflect it back to you. If you take some time for yourself to do something you enjoy, just for you, you will be calmer and happier and your children will absorb this positive energy and that makes for a more peaceful household all round (if only in attitude and emotion rather than actual volume. Even when happy, my kids are loud.)

Funnily enough, as I came to the conlusion of this post, a message pinged up from the friend who has my kids today saying simply (in response to my apologies and thanks)

Don’t feel guilty! It’s lovely having a village”

And whilst I know not everyone out there is lucky enough to have a village in place like I do, I think the take home is the same. Don’t feel guilty. We don’t need to haul any extra baggage around with us if it’s not needed. And if you don’t have a village, why not try and make one? Social media is great at connecting people, find some other folk who are village-less and start building a group based on friendship, support and community. And when you’ve got it, accept offers of help when you’re struggling, gratefully and guiltlessly.

 

 

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Stepping Away From The Tech

For the last two years, I’ve been working for The Outdoors Group, an amazing company the delivers outdoor education across five sites around Devon from toddler groups and home education sessions to specialist 1:1 intervention for those struggling to thrive in mainstream and adult training to send more Forest School Leaders into the world. We also host birthday parties and team building events. And excitingly, this year we are opening The Outdoors School, an independent special one-of-it’s-kind outdoor school, especially for ASD and SEHM learners.  I work in an administrative capacity, sat behind my laptop or on the phone, either at home or in our cosy office at West Town Farm. I never thought I’d enjoy doing admin so much but I think it’s a combination of loving being organised and being passionate about the business that means that I really do love my job and mostly find it a pleasure, rather than a chore. I like problem solving and I like helping people, both important parts of the role.

However, I’ve always said to folk when talking about what I do that I’d love to do the Forest School Leader training itself one day. ‘One Day’ was a vague concept, some magical time in the future when it would be appropriate and I’d found the courage. But excitingly/nervewrackingly, ‘one day’ has come sooner than I anticipated. At the end of February I’ll be joining a bunch of other aspiring Forest School leaders at our site just outside Exmouth for a week’s practical course to kick off the year of training required for this qualification. I am equal parts thrilled and terrified. I love learning and I love being outside but….after many years of living in houses with stoves and open fireplaces and having attended Forest School with the kids for the last 6 years, I still can’t reliably light a fire! Hopefully this week will solve that…

I’m also feeling rather nervous about the concept of actually running sessions. Sure I run activities at our Home Education group nearly every week but I’m not technically in charge there. I can corral a group of rowdy children aged 2-11 and get them involved in a structured activity but that is indoors, without the added factors of everything that the outdoors brings, including the health and safety element of it. Folk aren’t paying to be at the Home Ed group and if I muck it up, it matters not one jot!

It’s a bit of a moot point though at the moment as I’m not actually going to be in the woods doing delivery for the forseeable future I think but I like to think ahead to when that day comes. I know really, that the whole point of doing the training is to equip the learners with the skills, knowledge and confidence to be able to successfully plan and deliver sessions but still, eep!

Turning off the laptop, putting on my boots and waterproof trousers and stepping outside feels like a bold move. But one that I’m looking forward to. And even if I don’t use the training in the woods for a while, I’m hoping that it will better inform me for my role within the metaphorical ‘office’. However, even in order to make the week’s training happen has been a bit of an undertaking in terms of childcare and I owe a huge thank you to one particularly special friend and my Mum and Dad for helping Dan keep the kids occupied that week whilst he’s working from home. It really does take a village and I’m so grateful for my little one.  So here’s to stepping out of my comfort zone of inboxes and spreadsheets and entering a whole new world of outdoor learning and adventure…I’ll keep you updated as to how I get on!

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Cutting bits of string, I’ve got that. Fire lighting, watch this space…

 

Keeping A Record

It’s been nearly three months to the day since my last post so I thought it was probably time to sit down and write an update, if only for my future-self’s sake, rather than for those of you that might be reading this (as let’s face it, how interesting is someone else’s life really?) No, my reason for blogging is two fold. Firstly, it forces me to exercise my creative muscles and to focus on something that isn’t work or the kids. The impetus to kick me out of my dry spell came from seeing a friend’s beautiful art work on instagram (Hi KT!) We briefly spoke about her illustrating a children’s book I was writing a long time ago and seeing her gorgeous work made me realise that I’ve been spending too much time working and not enough writing simply for the love of writing. So I’m going to try and make time to write for me, here and on my works-in-progress. It’s highly likely none of it will go anywhere but at least I’m giving it a go!

Secondly, I’m posting to keep a record of our life over the last few months. When I first started home educating I saw other families incredibly organised ways of recording and documenting their days. Unfortunately, commitment to seeing things through is not my strong point and this applies to all areas of life… I have so many half-filled records of what we’ve been up to, both from an ‘academic’ point of view and a general ‘making memories’ persepctive. This blog seems to be one of the longest lasting endeavours I’ve ever undertaken as an adult so I figure I’ll stick with it for now.

So…what have we been up to? Well, I guess most significantly, we moved house from Topsham to Newton Abbot at the end of August. It’s mad really, we’ve only been here 6 weeks or so but it already feels like we’ve been here forever. I think I’m used to moving after a lifetime of  not staying anywhere more than a few years so adapatability comes easily. The kids are getting there. They are loving the space that the new house offers but Isaac especially is missing Topsham and getting quite anxious about various things. But I’ve got a two-pronged approach to dealing with this. I’m trying to give him space to be sad and make sure we can still see our Topsham friends. But I’m also trying to maximise opportunities to explore our new area and highlight the things that might appeal to him as ‘being better’ than where we used to be. Today we went on an epic exploration of the estate next door and found two new play parks, a pretty cool pond and most excitingly (for me at least), a walnut tree! We brought home a bag full and that was pretty much the highlight of the week for me!

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Also significantly, me and Dan celebrated our ten year wedding anniversary just a few weeks ago. We did so in style by disappearing to Italy for three nights whilst my frankly heroic parents took on the task of keeping the kids alive and happy in our absence. Whilst Mum and Dad took them hiking in the Lake District, Dan and I explored Pompeii, visited the top of Vesuvius, swam in the Bay of Naples and ate all the carbs (because let’s face it, you can’t go to Italy and not eat pizza and gelato for the duration of the trip).

In the home ed world things have re-started for the academic year. The big two and I have embarked on a Egyptian project, a quest to learn Italian (to be practised on a family holiday there next year hopefully), have started a new awesome weekly curriculum with friends (looking at a different piece of art but then expanding it to look at the wider scope of subjects around it – geography, history, politics…etc), have started a new geographical themed project at our weekly social group and of course the normal reading, writing, maths and Forest School. Oh, and our Garden Group has finally got round to starting our fire circle mosiac and we’ve got some cool conservation stuff underway and lined up for the winter months. Phew! Isaac has started football training with the local team and Sophia is now doing two hours of dancing each week (musical theatre and hip hop…just to mix things up!). Eli is loving Kindergarten and was meant to try ‘Mini Kickers’ last week but lost his nerve at the last minute. Busy busy!

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Moving away from the kids, I’ve increased my hours with The Outdoors Group and am very much enjoying my work there. My long-term dream is to do the Forest School Leader Training but it’s just not the right time for me yet. I’m still trying to balance running and weightlifting but have now discovered an enthusiasm for calisthenics as well. I’ve got headstands down and am working on forearm stands and handstands now. I’ve seen progress in both these areas which is encouraging. Pole has taken a back step and whilst I really want to get into climbing, there just aren’t enough hours in the week. In running, my average pace has mysteriously hugely improved since getting back from holiday (maybe it was the pizza?!). I got my 5k and 10k PB in the last few weeks (23:44 and 52:45 respectively) and I’ve got the Great West Run in a fortnight so hoping to smash my 2 hour goal…we’ll see!

Dan’s absolutely smashing all calisthenic and weight lifting goals he sets himself, is starting a new job next month, has re-discovered his fondness for graphic novels and is enjoying having the space to play music a bit more in the new house. He’s also acquired a drone and has shown a natural talent for photography which is pretty bloody cool! I even managed to get him to agree to doing a Mountain Marathon with me once the kids are a bit older….given that he’s not a fan of cardio, I thought this was quite a feat. Of course, asking him after a glass of Italy’s finest bubbles might have been the key there!

And I think that’s us caught up. I’m sure I’ve forgotten loads because how can you condense the life of five people over three months into a few hundred words and pictures? But I’ve given it my darndest best shot! And now it’s off to investigate my children’s book and see if it’s worth reviving. I’ll keep you updated…

If you made it to the end of this, hats off to you. If you thought, TLDR (too long, didn’t read)…that’s totally understandable. Here’s the summary: we’ve moved house and gone on holiday, life is plodding along, everyone is well.

 

 

FOMO

In Exeter at the moment, there is a veritable plethora of opportunities for home educated children. Choir, yoga, athletics, veterinary classes, theatre trips, craft sessions, nature groups, science workshops, Forest School, trampolining…the list goes on and on. Although I am obviously thrilled by the opportunities on offer for the kids, at the same time I’ve been finding myself getting a bit panicked every time a new post goes up advertising another group or activity. After talking to a friend, she suggested I may be suffering from FOMO, a Fear Of Missing Out. Not an acronym I was familiar with but when she said it, I immediately identified with the ‘syndrome’!

Without a time machine and an unlimited supply of funds, it is simply impossible to do everything. But although in my heart of hearts I know this, every time I turn down an opportunity I find myself worrying that I’m doing the kids a disservice. What if there is a future Olympic gymnast in one them and they never realise that potential because I didn’t take them to the relevant classes? What if one of them has an unrecognised passion for singing but they never actualise it? I do know that I’m being a bit ridiculous and that these are extreme examples. But still, that fear (of missing out) remains!

And it doesn’t just stop with their education. I have a tendency to try and make sure that we can accept every party invitation, that every time the sun shines we maximise the opportunity to do something exciting outside, that we fit in as much as possible as a family. However, having pondered the matter somewhat, I had a bit of an epiphany. Namely that actually, the kids (and Dan) aren’t bothered about doing everything. They are all perfectly happy having a day at home, playing board games, hanging out with the guinea pig, building lego spaceships, watching a bit of TV and generally chilling out. In fact, if it follows a busy few days, it is their activity of choice when asked what they fancy doing on a rare free day.

I realised that I’ve been focused on making happy memories for our family that I’ve been getting caught up in doing big, amazing things whereas it doesn’t really matter what the content of the memory is, what we’ll remember is how we felt whilst doing that. So dragging them all onto Dartmoor when they’re tired and just want to chill won’t be a day to treasure, it’s more likely to be something we have to endure before heading home to relax. Likewise, if I want to ensure they have a full, rounded education, that doesn’t necessarily mean dipping superficially into everything physically and financially possible but following their needs and interests to develop their knowledge and skillset to a deeper (and therefore, more useful) level. No need to fear missing out, what we’ve got is pretty good already!

E+E Column: A virtual world

I was going to write about the summer holidays this week, the six weeks that stretch languidly ahead of every family as the schools break up and children everywhere celebrate the start of a well deserved break. I was going to write about how I mourn the temporary pausing of our weekly groups, especially Forest School, and the loss of structure. I was going to sneakily plug Exeter Forest School (absolutely no shame there though, they are incredible and deserve all the good mentions they get, I’d highly recommend their holiday clubs!). But then I thought that actually the summer holidays aren’t something to be dissected or moaned about. Children (and our hard working teachers) need these weeks in order to relax, reflect on the last academic year of learning and to have fun. Kids need the freedom and space to be kids, free of desks, phonics and bells. 

But this train of thought did leave me pondering about just how different the childhood of my children is to mine and to what a vastly different world they’re living in. Thankfully the summer holidays remain a constant but a lot else has changed. When a toddler can navigate their way around an xbox and a 6 year old can request to go out to hunt imaginary creatures in a game using the latest AR technology, the technological advances that we’ve made over the last few decades are highlighted even more strongly. Those that know me in real life know that I’ve got a bit of a bugbear about kids and ‘screen time’. I strongly feel that we all spend too much time in front of screens and that this is having a negative impact on the younger generations. Ironic given that I’m married to someone who works in (and loves) IT, that the main home ed curriculum we use is online-based and that recently I myself, have found some freelance work doing social media management. 

Not surprisingingly, I’ve had to make my peace with it. I do recognise that technology can and does have many incredibly positive and creative uses and that the connections it allows us can help mobilise people and bring about change. I also recognise that we all need a bit of a down time with our favourite show or video game. And I promise that I’m definitely not criticising Pokemon Go…anything that gets us outside is a plus in my book! But I guess I feel nervous about how this increased use of technology will affect people in the future. We can’t turn back now but the future is unknown and being a control freak, that scares me! I’ve come to the conclusion that all I can do is try and help teach my children how to use technology positively and in moderation, how to switch off and to show them the value of being outside and looking up, not down. I probably shouldn’t worry too much though…of her own accord, Sophia spent this morning successfully learning to knit – no screens needed! 

Fun at Forest School!

Thoughts turning to Autumn

Summer seems to be slipping away in a delicious haze; it’ll be September next week, the season is changing before our eyes. We’ve been eagerly watching the blackberry bushes and watching the blossom turning to small hard green berries, reddening and slowly, slowly turning dark. We went for a nature walk this week down to the marshes which are protected/cared for by the RSPB and as well as doing some bird watching (with the help of some friendly locals Sophia spotted some curlews and black headed gulls as well as the obligatory ducks and pigeons!) we were hunting for that autumnal treat. Most of the berries we saw just weren’t ready yet but then I found a bush high up with an abundance of juicy blackberries; I picked them for the kids and before I knew what was happening little hands were invading the basket and they were gone faster than I could say crumble!

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2013-08-26 12.07.23As several of Sophia’s friends are heading to school full time this September, I’m trying to inject our lives with a bit of a home – ed rhythm this ‘term’ (as it were).  She’ll be 4 in December and she likes to know what’s going on (like mother, like daughter!) so I thought we were probably ready to not be super structured but to have a loose idea of what’s happening each week. I had contemplated starting  this  seasonal based kinder curriculum this September but I just don’t think it’s the right time. Isaac is still quite full on and shortening his naps so I don’t think I’d be able to properly focus on it with Sophia and then she’d get frustrated. Also, she’s still really interested in learning to read and write and basic mathematics (addition mainly – more on that later!) so I thought we’d just dedicate this academic year to continuing aiding her in her exploration of that and to really embrace their youth – lots of baking, arts and crafts, time outside, playing..etc.

Sophia will be starting Pebble House (a lovely gentle childminder/pre school with 5 other children) for one day a week in September which I think will do both her and Isaac some good. I can’t really explain properly why; I realise she’ll only go for one academic year and then be at home full time again but I think Isaac could do with some regular time just me-and-him and she is really excited about going and it fulfills her desire to try out a preschool type thing.  As well as this I am aiming to do a weekly nature walk in the same spot so that we continue to observe the seasons changing and stay in touch with that element of things. We already bake weekly but I want to try and include Isaac in that now. We need to get the garden in order; after harvesting nearly everything this month it’s very empty so we need to buy some seeds or possibly seedlings at this point to fill our beds in time for the winter growing season. Sophia is also still going to do her dancing class which she is very excited about starting after a long break over the summer.

We are also continuing Exeter Forest School’s preschool group (Tree Tots) which I think all 3 of us have missed! However, I’m aware that Sophia is fast approaching the upper age limit and is by far the oldest in the group. Embercombe run a natural learning group on a tuesday morning which attracts a lot of home educators. We haven’t been yet as it is the same morning as Tree Tots and also costs twice as much (although includes lunch which is probably why). I am very keen to go so my vague plan is that Sophia will do Pebble House for 3 terms and we’ll continue with Tree Tots for that time and then I think both those will stop and we’ll move over to the Natural Learning Group. I am mildly concerned that she’ll not appreciate leaving Pebble House but she’ll be too old to continue then so hopefully I’ll find a good way to transition her across and I’m hoping the Natural Learning Group will be a good replacement.

As well as all of the above, we’ve been part of a new home education group in Exeter for parents with younger (mainly preschool) children; we’ve been meeting weekly all summer and it’s been lovely to watch friendships between such small people blossom and to be able to chat to parents who are taking the same path as us. In fact, I think it’s been really helpful in helping me feel confident in our decision and Sophia loves going and seeing everyone.

That looks like we do a lot but really, it all seems to come together quite nicely, I would say we’re out of the house most days but never for a 9-5 amount of time and as both of mine love going out it suits us all well and we still have a fair amount of time at home to rest and just be a family together.

I was going to go on to talk about some books and resources which I’m hoping to draw from this academic year but I think that probably constitutes another post in itself now! I realise this post isn’t particularly interesting but I’ve written it mainly to make a loose plan somewhere that I can refer to easily and in case anyone else with children of the same age might find it useful; especially in context of having peers that are all heading off to school.

But I will end things with a more ‘human’ side with some pictures from things we’ve been up to over the last few weeks.

Upon our return home from Creation Fest our lovely friend Sam came to visit with her two gorgeous boys and we had a lovely few days swimming in the rain, playing in the park and visiting Bicton Park. We melted on several occasions at how well the kids got on and especially enjoyed Isaac and Tom who are only a month apart playing silly shouting racing games with each other. I love that the friendships we made in Brighton have endured with the distance and look forward to many more mini visits (both ways) and breaks with the lovely Brightonian lot! (If any of you are reading this, join us for Beautiful Days next year?!)

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Then before we knew it it was Topsham Carnival Week. The Committee did the town proud with lots of events and activities on. We went to the Dog Show on Tuesday (to satisfy the dog mad Isaac) before my parents babysat so Dan and I could play at the Topsham Town Fayre Musical Extravaganza. It went really well and we very much enjoyed ourselves! (Check out Dan’s music page for some pictures of us playing and info on upcoming gigs)

On the Wednesday was an afternoon of craft activities for children including the judging of the decorate-a-welly competition. Sophia was ecstatic to win second place in her category and was rewarded with a box of puzzles. The look on her face was priceless, especially as they misread the list at first and said Sophie won only to be corrected by the judges. Her face just lit up!

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This was followed by a flower arranging competition on Thursday which Sophia again eagerly took part in. Her disappointment at not winning this time was quickly dissolved when presented with a lollipop as a thank you for taking part.

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The week culminated with the Carnival Procession on the Saturday evening, Isaac slept through it but Sophia was mesmerised. She especially loved all the majorettes and Dan was enamored by the war hammer robot!

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Finally, after a plan to go camping was thwarted, Dan and I ended up playing a set at the Chill Out session at the Passage House Inn (where I work) on the Sunday afternoon. Late notice meant we couldn’t find a babysitter so we took the kids with us, Isaac rocked out on my back whilst Sophia danced around with a little drum loving the whole thing.

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All in all, a brilliant few weeks. The gigs especially have reignited my love of playing music so I’m hoping to practice enough to maybe be able to gig with Dan on a regular basis. Watch this space…

 

In the summer time, when the weather is fine…

What a change of weather since my last post (which admittedly was a month ago!), it feels like the summer has finally arrived. I promise I won’t spend the whole post waxing lyrical about lovely it is to be living in Devon at this time of year but…it really is!! I’m just loving being so close to nature and even though we are living in a town it feels like a village which I love as well.

We started back at Forest School last week and the woods have changed so much in just two weeks; there is growth and greenery everywhere – you can’t see from one end to the other any more – it’s amazing how quickly it has changed.

Having fun at Forest School last term

Having fun at Forest School last term

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In the green green forest this week

In the green green forest this week

Similarly, things have exploded in the garden – our tomato plants are smelling delicious and growing strong, the lettuce is thriving, the sunflowers are getting taller by the day and the potatoes are growing at a suprisingly quick rate. The garlic is doing well and although we didn’t get many carrots, the ones that are there are getting there. I’m not so sure about the onions or squash and I’ve only just moved the strawberry seedlings from the propagator into pots but time will tell. Our Elder tree has loads of florets and I’ve been checking the every day, desperate for them to flower so I can get on with making some cordial! Sophia is very much enjoying the process with me, she got very upset that I planted the strawberry seedlings into pots without her whilst she slept today – oops! Even Isaac is getting on board with watering and weeding (although he has tried to pull up some garlic on more than one occasion so he I think he just enjoys the pulling)!

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In fact, observing the dramatic change in the surroundings around us in the last few weeks has helped me to realise and cement what I’d like to be at the cornerstone of the kids education; following the seasons and having a real awareness of what is happening in nature and what impact that has on us. I found a preschool home ed curriculum called wee folk art which does exactly that and I think starting in September I’m going to do it with Sophia. It’s incredibly gentle but I think she’d enjoy the idea of ‘doing school’ and the content looks like it’ll really suit her.

On the ‘academic’ front, she seems to be having a rest from learning at the moment. She still wants to do old reading egg lessons but totally balks if I offer to do any of the previous activities with her that she had been enjoying, from blending sounds and playing with the movable alphabet to practising writing. I’m not worried as she is so young but it caught me off guard when she first had a meltdown when I was chatting to her about words she  might be able to read!

She seems to be embracing arty activities instead at the moment; lots of painting, drawing, cutting and sticking, playing on the chalkboard and she even did her first ever sewing. She made a squishy toy for Seren and did nearly all of it by herself, I was mightily impressed!

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She has however, been getting a bit restless with just me and Isaac though I think, he’s at that age where he wants to be involved but not in the way she necessarily wants so they both are getting a bit frustrated with each other at times (though most of the time they get on very well and are a pleasure to watch/be with).  Although we’ve met some lovely fellow home edders in the area, none in our town itself and all the 3/4 year olds seem to be in some form of childcare so we  had a good hard think and went to look round a  local childminder’s this week. She runs it with a few other staff in her back garden and it is very small and just lovely. They are very child led and have Montessori and Forest School influences and Sophia absolutely LOVED it. So starting in September she’ll be going every Monday for the day. I think the day break will do us all some good and she’s really looking forward to it. They have some settling in sessions over the next few weeks and she’s quite excited by them as well!

Sibling love!

Sibling love!

Seeing her in that environment did make me have a bit of a home ed vs school wobble but Dan (and others) wisely advised to just take it as it comes and I know they’re right. We don’t have to decide anything right now but just keep our minds open, keep talking and relax!

And just to conclude, on the subject of relaxing, I’ve been exploring the beach-y delights that Devon has to offer this week! I went to Exmouth Beach with a friend and her kids on Monday and then Ness Beach at Shaldon yesterday with Dan. Both were just perfect days and left me on a high, sun, sea, sand…ice cream! The kids loved it, real beach babies they are 🙂

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