Learning every day

Monday was declared a day for doing nothing at our house!

We were not going to learn anything, everyone was allowed to chill in whatever way they wished, this was our ruling for the day.

You see we were very tired teds after a busy fun filled weekend camping with our cubs.  I figured a day off was needed and of no detriment to their education.  You see they had already learned so much during the weekend.  They had learned how to bandage arms and make a flag pole from bits of sticks found in the woods, how to light a fire and how to work in a team, we learned new camp fire songs and we learned how noisy 100 children in a small dining hall can be!!

We didn’t need to learn anything on Monday right?  We could chill out and play on tablets all day if that’s what they wanted to do, no learning needed.  The boys however forgot not to learn.  The chose to play Minecraft and suddenly all this learning was happening.

First Panda was telling me how he eats as a vegetarian whilst playing Minecraft as well as in real life, he told me all about the food he could eat, we talked about the ingredients needed to make things such as cakes and bread.  Then he started in the maths, he was telling me that he grew his wheat in rows of 24 because bread needs 3 and that way he can make 8 loaves at a time.

The told me about the different trees that grew and how they were different from each other and how they were like the real life trees.  We discussed which mineral was which when Tiger wanted to make a pick ax and Panda told him to use diamond as that was the hardest substance.  He was also telling me all about how he had built a kiln so that he could smelt the metal ore in order to make things.  Not to mention heating the sand to make glass.

And non of that even begins to touch on the design aspect of their worlds, they have built houses, farms and villages.  They build swimming pools and play areas.  The only limitations is their own imaginations.

I know the argument for screen time lingers on but I have to say with the amount of learning that comes from it I don’t see it as a bad thing.  The other apps they have also encourage maths and problem solving, English and even touched on genetics.  The world of apps really is a world of learning.


Hodsock Priory

 We were lucky enough to be able to visit the wonderful and historic Hodsock Priory.

Unfortunately it was a dull and misty autumnal morning and so the approach to the priory wasn’t quite as breath taking as it can be on account of not being able to see it.  However I think everyone agreed how beautiful the place was.

We were very lucky to have the guided tour by someone who knows the building well, Mr George Buchanan.  Not only does he live here with his wife and children but his family have been at Hodsock for 250 years, that’s 9 generations.

The gate house is very impressive and a wonderful entrance way.  It was built over 500 hundreds years ago and has housed royalty including Henry the Eighth and his fifth wife.  Amazing to think that this private house just on our doorstep is home to such steep history.

We learnt that during the war the land was turned over to the Womens Land Army.  During their time at Hodsock they used the gatehouse as a cinema and meeting room.  In most recent years it has been used to store equipment and signage.  Currently it is undergoing repair, last year it was made water tight and weather proof with the windows having been repaired and the guttering replaced.  This years job is the re-pointing of the crumbling bricks on the outside, a slow, painstaking and skillful job.  It is important to get young apprentices in to work on these sort of projects or the time will come when there are no tradesmen left to repair such historical places.

We got to see the room that now hosts the weddings at the priory but which was once a room in which the family would have had pre-dinner drinks.  With its beautiful fireplace, ornate ceilings and many portraits of the families ancestors it is a truly beautiful room.

We also got to see the old library, again a beautiful fireplace, marvelous bookcases, interesting artifacts and comfortable seating make this a room to feel at home in.  I was interested in the extremely high backed chairs and why they were made so.  Apparently it was a design of old  where drafts were commonplace, the high back on the chair helped to keep the drafts off you and so helped you to stay warmer.  These ones are replicas and so not as old as they looked.

We also walked around the amazing gardens and woodlands and I think we all agreed that we were slighlty envious of the family having the space as their back garden.  The garden is filled with all sorts of delights, there are different areas such as a terrace, a lake, a stream, greenhouses, lawns and of course the woodland where we saw trees planted for many special events including the Queens Diamond Jubilee.  We also saw a lot of fungus this time of the year.

As beautiful as it was nothing quite compares to Hodsock during the snowdrops, I can really recommend a visit.  The floor is a carpet of snowdrops and the ones on the fan lawn are stunning.  After a walk around the beauty of the place you can either warm yourself by the bonfire in the woods or by calling into the cafe for cuppa and cake.  Keep eye out for the dates of the snowdrop opening here http://www.hodsockpriory.com/snowdrops-0 or on the facebook page https://www.facebook.com/events/901293299958449/

Not back to school!

So it’s that time of year again where Facebook is full of ‘first day at school’ photos and posts where parents feel sad that the long summer days they have spent with their children are over. 
 The count down to the next school holidays starts already for both parents and teachers. 

This time of year bring so many mixed emotions for me. I feel happy and sad, thankful yet overwhelmed. 

Im so happy I no longer have to share my boys with school. No more living in dread of the holidays ending. No more lonely empty house between the hours of 9 and 3.  I am sad that I ever sent them into school and I feel sad for the patents that either don’t realise this is an option or can’t make it work for them. 

I am so thankful for my friend who told me this was an option and for all the wonderful people we have met through the world of home ed.  I am thankful for the opportunities we have had in our journey that we wouldn’t have had otherwise. 

I also still have days that I feel so overwhelmed that the entire education they need comes from me. That they have goals and dreams and I need to help them achieve these both emotionally  and academically. 

So to all parents and all children as we head into a new school year, whether you home ed or go to school I wish you all the best of luck, lots of happiness, lots of laughter and with a prevailing wind lots of success. 

The Wonderful World of Orienteering

Whilst we were at Peak Camp with our Home Ed friends this week we took a trip to Ilam, pronounced eye-lamb.  This lovely little village out in the countryside is owned in part by the National Trust.  The houses in the village are all built to look like swiss cottages as the owner of the time, Jesse Watts-Russell, felt that the valley and hills surrounding the village reminded him of the swiss Alps.
There has been a grand hall on the site since 1546, though it is thought there were settlements here long before that.  The hall has been altered a few times and was bought in 1934 by Sir Robert McDougal who gave it to the National Trust.  It is now a youth hostel though retains all the grand features and charm.  The estate is still cared for by the National Trust and is great for exploring.

We had never visited before so after parking the car we headed to the information point where we found that for the very minimal fee of £1.50 we could buy an orienteering map.  The boys hadn’t tried orienteering before but we had a compass with us so we were all good to go and it was a great little route around the estate taking in the church, river, woods and parkland in a large circular route.

After being shown how to line the map up with the north point of the compass and how that orientates the map to the way you are stood there was no stopping them.  It seemed Panda became the map man by mutual consent whilst Tiger and Bean (who had joined us for the day) enjoyed racing ahead to find the markers.

For each point marked on the map and found using our compass there was also a written clue to help the boys know they were heading in the right direction.  When all the points were collected they had a jumble of 18 letters that were an anagram.  I confess we asked the lady in the National Trust shop for a little clue after spending our picnic time coming up with nothing!!

After we had completed both the course and our lunch we headed down into the village to look at the village cross that was erected as a memorial to Mary Watts Russell, wife of Jesse.  It is now a grade II listed structure and is built of the local limestone.  It has a cross at the top if a spire and some carved angels around, there is also an Ilam Imp carved in it which the boys enjoyed searching for.

 Well worth a visit and we will definitely be back some time.

Todays Top Five

So this weeks top five comes to you a day late because life got a bit manic yesterday!

We all know how expensive having kids can be, they want the latest gadgets, they want to go this club and that group, can they see the latest film and they really need those new shoes.  Add to that paying for the weekly home ed groups and sometimes finding the money for it all gets a little overwhelming.

Cue this top five.

The Top Five Places to Visit with Children For FREE!!!!  So grab your picnic and come for an adventure.

  1.  The Park –  Every child of every age can enjoy the park, there are things for all ages.  Park equipment has come a long way since our days.  There is far more there than a couple of swings, a slide and a roundabout.  Don’t get me wrong they are still there and still loved but they come alongside zip wires and monkey bars, outdoor gym equipment and lateral climbing walls and who can forget the water splash areas.  Get a nice warm day, even a not so warm one and the kids can spend hours in those places.DSCF7722
  2. The Forest – I am sure most of us can find a woodland or a forest close by.  We are lucky enough to live in Robin Hoods county and so we have Sherwood Forest on our doorstep.  The possibilities are endless when in the forest.  You can walk, climb trees, build dens, play hide and seek, forage, geocache (I will do a further post on this soon for those that are muggles!), bug hunt, meditate, bird watch, identify trees and try to age them and of course you can picnic.PICT0610
  3. The Library – Often over looked but the local library makes a great outing.  We can often be found in there having a little peruse.  For book lovers of course it is amazing but there are also DVDs, CDs, computer games and audio books on loan.  Most libraries hold free story times, song times and craft times depending on the ages of the children.  We have also accessed free workshops for older children through our such as robot making, balloon modelling, family scrap book and more.  Not to mention many opportunities for meeting authors and watching plays.
  4. Museums – Many museums now are free, I’m not talking big attraction type places but many of the others are. My boys love our local museum, they love the Victorian schoolroom, I love the social history room.  They offer lots of free childrens activities there too.  Then there are the bigger place such as the Railway Museum York and the Science Museum in London.  Art Galleries come under this too, we spend nearly a whole day in one in Birmingham.  Get out there and find something that appeals to you.
  5. The Beach – Ok this one is pushing it for free as we all know those ice creams will be inevitable but still the actual time on the beach is free.  You can paddle, swim, jump waves, build  sandcastles, go rock pooling, play any number of games (we usually take quoits, Frisbee, boulle, scatch and football) and fly kites.  The sandwiches may get sandy, you may get windswept but a day at the beach is still a good day.DSCN1982