So last week following one of our little wobbly moments, the Little Lady thought she might like to have a look around the local primary school. It wasn't just the feeling of underachieving that set us on this path of discovery, no, it was in some ways a clash of personalities between myself and the Little Lady whose willingness to cooperate has in recent times been a little hazy.
For a brief moment of time I lost myself in the thought of only having to teach two different aged children who are both quite willing to please Mummy dear and complete the tasks demanded.......it was only a brief moment.......!!!
So a visit to the local school was arranged. From the moment I entered the school yard I was reminded of why I have opted for 'Life without school'. There's always a sudden sense of needing to ensure the children are dressed appropriately, to have brushed their hair, to look and behave correctly.
Momentarily I felt a flutter of anxiety at the prospect that I hadn't achieved such self-set standards on this occasion. One Little Lady had escaped the house wearing a coat that didn't fit with hair that was quite literally thrown into a pile on her head, and the Small Boy had slipped my attention wearing his faithful wellies! It wasn't looking good but I turned my back on anxiety and proceeded just as we were.
The Little Lady looked less than impressed at the Head's speech informing us about the academic standards of the school, I could tell she wasn't really interested in being there at all. It was a welcoming environment and both myself and the Little Lady know many people involved with the school but I have to confess it remains 'not our thing'. So we walked away having reminded ourselves why we aren't part of the school community and continue with what we've been doing for the past seven years. I couldn't help but feel a sense of sadness at the way the system works. With so many radical changes in so many areas of life, it is surprising that one of the main services provided by this country still remains so similar to how it was when it was set up over a hundred years ago.
Our lives are so different from those of the average family, many think that by home educating you shut the children away from the world and that they don't have any friends. How sad that would be and how totally wrong that view of what we do is. We have such a fun and varied life and we have soooo many friends (real friends).
Let me share a non typical week with you.....(I say non typical as no two weeks are ever the same!)
Monday - Forest school. A group of us tree hugging, outdoor loving folk, congregate in a beautiful piece of Millennium woodland where we play, do crafts, copice trees, build fires, build shelters, chop wood, get muddy (get very very muddy), get wet, eat burnt food (eat food that isn't burnt)....and much more. We cruise along just before lunch and fit in just perfectly with whatever is going on. Last week it was catapult making, this week we copiced the hazel trees.
The fire is a major part of Forest school sessions for warming us up, cooking lunch and a good warm brew of course.
Building mud sculptures
A fire is like a good friendship, needs starting, building up, a good heart to keep it going and nurturing so that it doesn't die out.
Last week I did have to chuckle at our food situation. We'd taken pre-cooked potatoes wrapped in foil to pop on the fire, half a tin of baked beans to share that tipped out into our bag en route all over our cutlery and plates and a tub of grated cheese. The potatoes burned a little whilst in the fire so we had bean juice covered plates with a light covering of charcoal, muddy hands - oh the joys! Standards are far from those permissible at home but most acceptable for life outdoors.
Then as predictable as the weather is in this country, it rained! So we gathered around the fire, munching our lunch, pretending to be oblivious to the down pour that enveloped us and soaked us :-)
Tuesday- Science. One a fortnight we meet at a friends house with five other families (16 children in total) to do some science activities, play, share lunch and generally put the world to right. We're a lovely bunch of folk with similar ideas on HE, raising our children and life in general, there's never a dull moment but much laughter and mutual support. Of course the teaching side of things can be tailored to meet the wide range of needs of the children within the group. It's lovely to share ideas and learn from and inspire each other. Tuesdays are my days of nurturing and being nurtured :-)
Wednesday - Amazingly, Wednesday was a 'home' day. That was when we did traditional 'book style' work. When you are teaching so few children you can achieve so much so we really only work during the mornings so the afternoons are quite literally 'play' times :-)
Thursday - Once a month about 30 home educating families get together at a group in Woodstock for activities, social time, play and cake!
This particular week we had a visiting 'Mathemagician' to show us some magical ways that maths works. He was a very enthusiastic and inspiring young chap from the University and kept the children enthused for quite some time. Maths really can be fun if taught in the right way!
The younger children made giant marble runs in the car park and then later I ran a patchwork workshop (we're making little quilt samplers), young non-participating children scooted round the room and outside on scooters, skateboards and the like. We're just like one big extended family, it's lovely :-)
Friday - Another day of home-based stuff primarily, the children were feeling particularly industrious today. Miss P made a new bed for the cat as poor kitty vomited on her last one! The Little Lady baked delicious lemon and poppy seed muffins that rose beautifully and tasted devine and Small Boy cooked lunch......
In the afternoons the children go to RAD club in Charlbury, I get an hour and a half of totally uninterrupted 'me' time in a little upstairs room. This particular week I set to work on my writing.....it's going to take a long time to get my story out there!!
So, that's what we did in school last week, it's not surprising that school isn't so appealing! xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx