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!
As 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?!)
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!
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.
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!
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.
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…