1000 hours counter

1000 hours counter

Sunday, 29 March 2015

So much to do, so little time

Argh! I feel so overwhelmed at the moment. I am currently finishing off a course I started some time ago, and I have 4 weeks to complete a few assignments for it. There is also all the materials I want to make for our homeschool, the house to sort out, the garden to prepare for the better weather... More recently I have felt the real need to be more creative, to bring art and crafts into our home but also I need a creative outlet that is for me and not for the children. I also need to try to supplement our income so that we have a little extra put by for times when we might need it too.

At the moment, my days consist of getting up at 6.15am, going for a swim, coming home for breakfast, then get ready for our day, do school or whatever we have to do for the day, and some afternoons I get to sit down to try to catch up on emails etc, but often I don't, then Daddy comes home, we have dinner, he baths and gets the children ready for bed while I try to get everything I need to get done without interruption done in 45 minutes, then I go upstairs and sit in bed trying to do more stuff. I have been really exhausted since Bear was born, and I tend to go to bed real early! I remember with Addie though, that there was a time we decided to go back downstairs after she went to bed, and our productivity rose greatly...

So, I have been giving a lot of mental effort into trying to work out how everything can work out, and we also get a better work/life balance as well, especially with the summer coming!

I need to make some small changes, some medium size changes, and some what some may consider to be big changes.

We need to spend the next week leading up to Easter getting the house in order. That is a big thing. The house is not in order, and it needs to be. With order comes tranquility and more time too. Less time needed to straighten things up, more time to do other things. I have almost done one room, the room we call the family room - it was intended to be a quiet room where we could go as a family, hence the name, but has been developed into the room we start our school day in, we sing, we read, we say prayers, we learn a little. I have a library of reference books in there, and our readers. I have now also put our language materials in there (not all of them, but just the ones we will need shortly). And our geography materials, and the Pink Tower - all the items that need to be kept from Bear's reach at the moment! This room is definitely still a work in progress in terms of the materials that need to go in there, but is the most sorted room at the moment. And I love sitting in there!

We need a strict timetable I think, to stick to until we are in a rhythm that can be sustained and have us where we want to be. I need to be stricter with myself and try to find some ways to increase my energy. I need to go back downstairs once the children have gone to bed (oh but I love getting into my bed, so this will be a real struggle!).

I need to get my assignments out of the way asap, and then get on with making some of the materials I want to make. There are quite a few, and I think I need to schedule time into my week to make these, so I know I will make progress on them each week, because at the moment I feel I can't do them with my assignments hanging over me, which I can't concentrate on because the house needs sorting!

And then, in May, I am launching my new business! I am so excited, I want to launch it now, but I just can't. I have to do all things in order, and using common sense that right now I cannot do it, but once my course is over, and I have some more materials made, I can do it. And I am so excited!

Do you want to know what it is? Maybe I will leave that for another post (and leave you all guessing!).,. but let's just say that it combines my need for a creative outlet, my love of nature, and hopefully will provide me with not only a hobby that I feel I need, but also a means of earning that additional income that I feel we need to have at the moment...

Must get back to the assignments now, but I just wanted to say that sometimes life just really gets on top of us, we have so many things we need to do and sometimes we just need to take a day or two out to plan and to decide what can and can't be done, and in what timeframe, to make us feel more empowered and certain about the future. Otherwise we can get bogged down and keep trying to wade against the tide and getting nowhere fast.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

The purpose of my blog

I have been thinking recently what the value of me blogging is, to others. There are so many amazing blogs out there that are written for other people. By that I mean, for example in Montessori and other methods of education/homeschooling there are excellent bloggers who blog to help others to do what they are doing. They publish printables, how to videos, a post on a new topic or subject they teach every day. 

This blog is different at the moment I think. I am writing my experiences, and I suppose I am writing them for an audience. I can see from the stats that a few people have my blog on a feedly list, so when I publish a new post, they get notified. Great! I am writing, not with any plan or schedule (which is what a 'good' blogger would possibly do maybe) but with things that come into my head on a particular day, so it is a bit random. It is, however, a little spotlight into our lives as home educators, some of our struggles, some of our triumphs, some of how we are doing things and what it looks like in practice. In the future, there may be printables, but to be honest there are so many amazing people out there offering printables, I use them rather than making my own - it takes less time! And time is something I don't seem to be able to have much of at all (I have no idea how they have more time than I do in the day!)... 

Anyway, thanks for following, thanks for reading.. I will continue to do what I am doing when I can. March has been a good month for blogging! 59 posts ever done on this blog, and 21 of them in March so far! I am enjoying it and long may it continue. 

Thursday, 19 March 2015

A tiny ray of hope!

Those of you who have been following my blog (and my facebook ramblings!) will know that having a 15-month old around while I am trying to present to Addie has been quite a challenge! Bear wants to be involved in everything, touch everything, do everything that Addie is doing. She can be really in to doing something (rarely on her own, but there are moments of individual work), and he will just come in like a tornado and leave devastation in his wake... !

Some times, Daddy will take Bear to work with him, so we can really get in to some work, but he can't do that every day, and the struggles I have been having have really made me question whether or not I can do this home education thing...

However, today there was a tiny ray of hope.

I sat down with Addie to present Open Ended Distance Matching with the Knobbed Cylinders, which she absolutely loved, and along comes Bear... And he absolutely loved it too! Neither of them did the activity 100% as it is written in the album, but there was so much sensorial learning going on! Actually, Bear really surprised me once again with these. Although it is really a work for a 3-year old, he is really good at matching the cylinders to their holes (except the one where it is only the height of the cylinders that changes). He puts them back with no hesitation and very little error. And actually, it was not a disruption this time, it was great to see them working together. OK, so Bear did not get the cylinder that was requested, he went and got another one (and placed it, first time in the correct hole regardless of which cylinder it was), but Addie was really good at selecting the correct cylinders too, and we went through all of the cylinders, doing both the Open-Ended and Closed-Ended presentations because they loved this game! I was pleasantly surprised and the tiniest ray of hope started to come through... I managed to capture some of this on camera, but I have realised as I added the photos that I actually don't have any of the main work they did, just that difficult 4th block and also the last block we did when we started to lose interest...!

Bear is really good at realising when he has made a mistake - he recognised that the cylinder he did put in was in the wrong hole, and corrected himself - something I have only noticed from looking at these pictures as I write this post!

Addie did some more work on her lifecycles today... Here she is getting her Insect Lore Life Cycle Stages Frog to kiss 'his picture' on the Tadpole to Frog (Lifecycles) book (I wasn't going to correct her that the frog is a lady frog!)... 

And then Bear and I did some more work together - Rolling a Work Mat and putting it away! So cute! (and after that we got it out again and looked at the Children Around the World pictures together!)

Today was a good day. Tomorrow will be different. Actually we are going to watch the solar eclipse, hopefully at the beach! Onwards and upwards with a tiny ray of hope...

Dispelling the Home Ed Myths: What do you do all day?

A lot of people think that home educated children spend 6 hours a day or so sat at a desk at home doing school work. This is a myth. Here is an incomplete list of the things going on in the home ed community near us for the last week and over the next couple of weeks. It is incomplete because it is only what is included in facebook groups, but there are lots more things going on that are not put on facebook!

Here is an idea of what is going on:

Parkour group
Mini golf
Open space meet ups at different places
Soft play centre meet up
Breakfast at the beach to watch the solar eclipse
Social swim
Junior & Senior archery groups
Library meet up
Farm visit
Drama group
Ice skating
Visit to an activity centre
Craft groups
Forest school
Workshop on postage stamps
Musical theatre classes
Book club
French Club
CSI Forensic Science Whodunnit
Home Ed Network gathering
Recycling centre visit
Farm to fork visit at Tesco
Wood carving classes
Magna Carta Themed Art Workshop
Trip to Marwell Zoo (mega trip of 230 approx home educated children)
Ballet session
Home ed camps

Fantastic! A lot of these are weekly activities, and there are far too many to go to all of them! But what an amazing range of opportunities available to home educated children who would not get these opportunities if they were in school! Obviously Addie and Bear are a little young for a lot of these at the moment, but we did go to a farm yesterday, and we are going to the beach tomorrow for the eclipse...

Hopefully that helps to dispel a myth...

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Look Mummy! A seed!

This is what Addie said to me while eating her apple this morning.

Spring is a great time to start introducing lots of botany studies. I am looking forward to being able to get ours properly underway, and here are some of the ideas and resources I have been using or plan to.

Whole and Half Fruits
We have been looking at whole and half fruits, which covers so many bases - it is a matching activity of sorts, but also something we have used to show that things go together (related objects, except these are the same object, just its half!), great for healthy eating, practical life if you get the fruit and cut it in half, sensorial as you can do a tasting game with the fruit. With older children, it is great to introduce halves, parts of the fruit, seeds in a fruit, and where the fruit is grown.

Here is a great download we have been using for this from Montessori for Everyone.

Plants need light
I have done this experiment a few times with children and they love it. All you need is a tiny flower pot, some compost, a bean, a shoebox, some extra cardboard, scissors and sellotape. And you basically need to do this inside your box, and let the seed grow. I watered it every few days, because seeds need water too!

We will be starting this experiment soon!

Start a kitchen garden!
I support a charity called Send a Cow, and one of the things they do is teach community groups in Africa how to grow food and compost at the same time using a kitchen, or keyhole garden.

I have been wanting one of these for a few years now, and hopefully this year we will be able to have one. It works on the basis of having a composting basket in the centre of a growing bed, and all the nutrients can percolate into the surrounding soil. You just top up the compost basket with your compostable food waste!

Watch this video from Send A Cow to see how this works!

Read some great books
A Seed is Sleepy - This is the book we have read today. It is a lovely book about seeds, and I highly recommend it. If you click on the book, it will take you to Amazon so you can buy it (this is an affiliate link)!

Grow some sunflowers!
Growing sunflowers is so much fun! They grow so high, and they can be measured by older children too! Other plants are great to grow, but sunflowers are definitely the most fun! There are also all kinds of experiments you can do when growing plants - take out the things they need - air, light, heat, water, etc and see what happens!

Montessori Botany Resources

The Pinay Homeschooler recently posted a mega collection of botany materials here.
Montessori in Bloom show how you can dissect a flower with 3-6 year olds here.
Carrots are Orange have a good post about parts of a flower here.
The Helpful Garden has some great printables for botany here.
Elementary Observations also recently had a great round up of Botany posts on the internet here.
Montessori Edible Garden - Lessons for Lower Elementary and Upper Elementary
If you are in the UK or Europe, you can get your Botany materials from Tower High Learning.