Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Learning through Play

You are never too old to play

When we talk about learning through play we often think of a small child playing in sand and mud. But learning through play is for all ages. Somewhere in late primary school and certainly by secondary school we spend more time in front a teacher or computer than learning with hands on play. This is a real shame as the best learning is done through conducting experiments and gaining a real understanding of the way things happen and why. There is research to show that this, in fact, is the best way to learn.
There is only so much that be learnt through reading books. The confidence and true understanding comes when actually doing something hands on. I'm sure we all remember Driving a car for the first time, a new job or even starting a new hobby. We start with being really conscious of everything we do but aftertime we become more confident and fluent at doing it. This can only come through the practical hands on experience of doing something.

In our home educating, we try to do practical learning and playing, as much as the sit down studying. We use some fantastic online programs and love the information that comes from reading books, but we always try to back up the things we have learnt with playing and having fun.

In Physics we have been studying 'Forces'. We have been looking into Newtons laws of motion and how force is part of everything around us. Everywhere we go I try to get Violet to think about why things move, or what force makes things stop. The park provides us with lots of learning experiences on this subject. We talk about how the swings move, how different size people might effect the motion and what makes it stops. All this can be applied when using the roundabout as well. Plus we all have fun playing at the same time and get some much needed fresh air.
Violet also went to Kilve court on a home ed field trip, this week, to build rockets and launch them across fields. She enjoyed building the rocket with fellow children and seeing what factors make a rocket go the furthest.

Also in science we have been looking at cells and how they are in all living things. We have been using the online resources, work books but we have also being playing a board game about cells. It is a question and answer type game. You move along the game answering questions about cells and the player to reach the end first wins. Violet has challenged everyone to a game and knows all the answers. Without realising it she has learnt the difference between plant and animal cells and what all the parts of a cell are called and what is their purpose. 
In literature we have been focusing our topic on 'spring'. We are following a 5 week programme which starts with looking into, and understanding, Wordworths poem 'I wondered lonely as a cloud'. This is a beautiful poem and Violet has got to grips with the language used and has been able to write a modern day version of it. Sticking to this theme she has gone for a walk with a friend to find spring flowers and then spent sometime learning to paint flowers. The results of this is a beautiful canvas for the wall and a nice, relaxed Violet.

We have also being using the talents of my sister, who is passionate about horses. She has been taking Violet for horse riding lessons and teaching her about horse management. She is gaining great confidence in riding and caring for the horses and loves spending the day with her Aunt once a week.
Violet and Mark have spent an afternoon making a spinning art machine. This is, again, reinforcing her learning about force but is also teaching her about patience, team work and reading instructions carefully. They both enjoyed this time together building and Dawson really enjoyed painting with the end result.

One of the benefits of Home educating is the ability to do more hands on/ outdoor learning. This helps us connect the classroom knowledge with the outside world and creates a greater understanding and confidence of our topics. It gives Violet the opportunity to navigate the world and to identify her limitations and capabilities.

Monday, 25 February 2019

Every days a school day

February half term 

The title 'half term' might seem a bit confusing as, I reckon, most home educated children don't really have a term time. But due to my little lad going to school we have weeks in the year when he is off that make our days a little different. Because he is home we like to go on more trips, explore more places and enjoy having him home with us. He says that he is at 'Violets school' when he has a school holiday and likes to sit down and do some math's and English with us. We continued with Violets online work but just reduced the amount spent on it as her time spent playing with Dawson and trips to the park are just as important as the sit down learning.

This week we went to some beautiful places and because we are lucky enough to live in Somerset there are lots of places to explore without spending a fortune.
We went to our local museum in Weston super mare. They were having a history week and everyday was a different time in history. When we visited on Tuesday, it was Roman day. The kids got to see artifacts and dress up like a roman. The museum itself is lovely and we plan to go back to see all the things we missed on this visit. This place is free to visit but do accept kind donations to help keep the place running.

We took the kids tobogganing at our local ski centre in Churchill. Both kids were a bit dubious about the activity. Violet didn't really know what it was and Dawson, after looking at the pictures online, just kept saying 'scary' to me. But OMG the kids both loved it, the faster the better. We had just as much fun watching them as they had flying down the slope. Its an activity we will definitely recommend to anyone and will be doing again.

On Thursday Violet and her Dad (Mark) went to Hinkley point for a tour of the power station. This is a nuclear power station and they offer free tours and information sessions to explain nuclear power. Violet (and Mark) learnt the chemistry about nuclear fission and enjoyed seeing around this massive building. Both of them came back buzzing and would like to join the next tour to have a look around another part of the site.

The weather, here, was like a summers day by the weekend and we all wanted to get out to explore and enjoy the unusually warm February weather. So we packed our wellies ( a must when exploring with kids so they can jump in streams and puddles), food, water and ventured to Clevedon. We went to the Ty Sculpture trail for the first time. This place was recommended to us by another local Home ed mum. It is a beautiful trail put together in the woods by a father who unfortunately lost his son at the age of 21. His son, Ty, used to spend his childhood exploring these woods which his house backs onto and this trail is in memory. In the forest is a 'bubbling' pond, this pond produces bubbles for an unknown reason which the kids found very interesting. The trail is free to visit.

We also went on our annual trip to snowdrop valley to see the thousands of snowdrops that grow there each year. It is a muddy walk but the kids loved the exploring and playing in the stream. We had friends and family join us so we had a total of 9 children out on the trip and they were all fantastic.
All in all we have had so much fun, lots of fresh air, lots of learning, exploring, making fantastic memories and none of it has broken the bank.

We always say that we 'home educate' and not 'home school' for the reason that what we do is nothing like a school. We are not replicating a school, we are not 9am-3pm Monday to Friday. We are educating in a way that suits our child, every hour, every day and  every week of the year.



Saturday, 23 February 2019

The start of our story

My name is Chelle and I am mum to 4 beautiful children. Courtney (16), Violet (11), Dawson (7) and Baby Darcy. I decided to start this blog about my decision and Journey in Home educating Violet.

I am not anti school and think we are really lucky to have our education system but every child is different and that system doesn't suit them all.
Courtney had a wonderful school experience  and is now doing an engineering apprenticeship and I couldn't be more proud of the young lady that she has become.
Dawson has special needs and we are lucky to have a school near us that offers him amazing support. His year group of children (and parents) are so lovely, he has some great friends and he enjoys school.
Violet on the other hand has had a very disruptive year group all through primary school and we hoped the mix in secondary school would help dilute this however when she started her secondary school her attitude towards us and learning was getting really bad.

As a parent i am no different to anyone else, we all want the best for our children. Violet approached us about home educating her and sent us links to lots of sites. After we looked into it we decided to give it go in the hope this would be a good option for her and she would, again, enjoy learning.
We had our own fears about our ability to do it and to do her justice as she is a bright kid. But we could see she was unhappy and the fear of her spending the next 5 years unhappy was far greater.

In October 18 we took the leap and deregistered her from school. Yes, it really was as easy as that. A letter saying we would be home educating her and she never returned to school the next day.

We next had to 'unschool' ourselves. Violet was so used to having 6 lessons a day that she was trying to copy that at home. We could not sustain that. She would start one subject and just as we really got into it she would assume we had to finish to do our next lesson. So now when we start a piece of work we can keep learning and gaining greater understanding and interest without stopping. We decided to cover the basic subjects maths, science and English every week and we would then choose other areas of learning to spend time on. Violet has a very creative side and a love of maths but really struggles with English. So we work at her levels of understanding and build from there. We use a variety of resources and get out of the house to learn as much as we can.

We are not teachers, we don't have all the answers and to be honest we are learning with her. But we are having fun doing it and getting to know Violet in ways we never had a chance to before.

I look forward to sharing our journey with you.