Wednesday, 16 July 2014

What kind of Home Educator am I?

Although making the decision to Home educate the children wasn't exactly easy, it was a lot easier than deciding what sort of home educator I am! Although there are many quizzes out there that can tell me what Disney princess I am, how amazing my husband is, which country I should live in, which job I should I have, how many children I'll have, which character I am from hunger games/harry potter/twilight/avengers/etc, there isn't a quiz to tell me what sort of home educator I am. Am I going to unschool, take a more autonomous route, be structured or semi structured etc. There are just so many different approaches to take, its difficult to know where to start. After weighing up the merits of each style and what would work best for our children, we've decided we're going for a semi structured approach. Were going to have a rough weekly plan and an idea of where we want to be and what we want to have taught by the end off the year. Great, so what are they going to learn?

In England , and different countries have different rules, there isn't a curriculum children have to follow. There aren't any subject I have to teach, so the slate really is blank! After picking subjects we think the girls need to focus on for the next year its time to write a curriculum with what we would like to focus on. I'm sure there will be so much more as the year goes on, so this is just the out line of what we plan on looking at for the next 12 months. The subjects and curriculum has been written after talking to both girls and finding out what they are interested in.

English - We've decided to go with the Jolly Phonics programme, We're not really looking to teach Big Girl to read, just to recognise the letters, but we thought we'd start with the programme we will eventually use to teach her to read. I've purchased a teachers manual and the workbooks and she really enjoys them. We also started using the Reading Eggs website, and although she really enjoyed the games and picked up a lot, it suddenly got too difficult for her, so we've put that on the back burner and may return to it in the future when she's ready to start reading properly. We are also using the Early comprehension workbooks by Schofield & Syms, again there are parts of these workbooks that are just beyond Big Girl at the moment so are using these as a starting point for working out where she should be. A few weeks ago I was also able to get lots of fun games from the ELC sale including spot the difference cards and pairs which is really helping with her comprehension and story telling.

Maths - I found trying to gauge to her level much more difficult with this. Her nursery report claimed she knew more than she seemed to, so I decided to go back to the beginning and bought Carol Vordemans Maths Made Easy. There are 4 books in the 3-5 year old category: shapes, numbers, adding and colours. We're not really using the work books at the moment as, although she can complete most of the work, they rely on her being able to read and write, which obviously she's only just getting to grips with! So again I'm using them as a jumping off point, gaining ideas of what she should know and incorporating maths into our every day lives and play. Its working really well, I can now confidently say she can recognise numbers 1-5 and add up to 3.  

RE - As Christians, religious education is important to us. My mum told me about a programme she was using with Little Bro. Written by member of the LDS faith, Discover The Scriptures spends a year covering each book that we use, from the Bible to The Book of Mormon. Although the programme is a little bit old for her, as again it relies on her writing, we're sitting down and going through it together. Big Girl is really enjoying this and learning to love the scriptures which is a real bonus.

Science - We've decided to incorporate science into topical subjects, looking at the human body, magnets, animals, under the sea and plants and flowers are just our starting points. I'm sure as the year goes on there will be lots of questions Big Girl has and we will have lots of opportunity to answer them. 

History - We're going to be looking at where Big Girl came from, her history. Finding out all about her first, her likes, dislikes, colour of her hair, favourite animal and colour, then looking at her parents and finally her grand parents

PE - On the Physical side of things we will be focusing on jumping, running, skipping, hopping, throwing and catching, spending time in parks, soft play centres (if I gain the courage to enter one again that is!) and in big open spaces allowing both girls the freedom to enjoy running free. 

Art - In art we will be cutting, sticking, colouring in the lines, playing with play-doh, painting, modelling and just generally being creative.

Music - I'm really keen for the girls to learn how to pay an instrument, but I think its also the one that will cause the most contention at the moment! Both girls love playing the piano and although I would LOVE to teach them how to play it properly, they just don't have the attention span required for a 10 minute lesson! I think this is one subject that will have to wait till next year, for the time being they can continue to play on it and enjoy the music they make.

Life skills - We want to teach them to clean up after themselves focusing on wiping up spills, putting laundry in the washing basket and putting their toys away. We also want to teach them how to care for their environment, so sorting laundry ready to be washed, cleaning windows and mirrors, wiping down the table and setting the table ready for dinner will also be focused on. 

Social Skills - The question that comes up over and over again is 'how will they learn to be social if they are taught at home?' Home Educating doesn't mean that the children will never leave the house again! We are actually out and about a lot, they are meeting people constantly, saying hi to shop assistants, asking for things at the post office and going to groups and activities where they see a range of adults and other children. As well as continuing to do these things to develop their social skills, we will look at recognising feelings in our selves, and also in others as well as listening to and following basic instructions. The social side of things really isn't forgotten at in Home education, and there is definitely more than one way to skin a cat

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Thursday, 3 July 2014

How do you raise girls?

The girls Love to dress up, they have many costumes including a chef, police, builder and princess outfits. Without costumes they play at being pirates, shop keepers, mummies and babies, teachers, fire fighters and a wide variety of different animals. in their toy box they have ponies, Barbies, dollies, cars, train tracks, Lego, dolls houses and rocket ships. On the TV some of their favourites programmes are Tree Fu Tom, Mike the Knight, Peppa Pig, Topsy and Tim and Sofia the First. The husband and I are very keen for the girls to explore toys and find out what they enjoy on their own terms with out being confined to gender stereotypes. We encourage their imaginative play and sometime even get involved and play with them. In our house there is no such thing as gender specific roles.

While in the car earlier in the week, Baby Girl asked if girls were allowed to be Firein Fighters (I just love how she says it!) As I opened my mouth to answer Millie chimed in with 'no, girls can't be Firein Fighters, that's just for boys'. My jaw hit the floor! I was so shocked I didn't quite know what to say. The husband and I have been so careful to ensure that gender stereotypes don't enter our home, but it seems that society has gone ahead regardless and taught my 2 and 3 year olds that women can't do certain things. 

I cant help but feel so sad that my daughters are being raised in a world where its acceptable to think its OK for one gender to be restricted. We had a big discussion about the things girls are allowed to do and the roles they play in society, but I'm just not sure she believed me. So how do you do it? How do you ensure your daughters believe they can do anything and be anyone if they just work hard enough?

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Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Me & Mine ~ June

I love this picture as it just sums up our family life right now. Pop sleeping in the background while a shattered husband and I try to keep the girls entertained!

Pop is now 8 weeks old, I cant believe how quickly that has gone. He's smiling, starting to laugh and staring at people more. He's spending more of the day awake and settling into a nice little routine of playing, feeding and sleeping.

The novelty of Pop being around has well and truly worn off for baby girl. We've seen tantrum after tantrum as she struggles with her place in the family (middle child syndrome, I know how she feels!) One minute she is telling me she doesn't want to be a big girl any more and she wants to be my baby, and the next she's telling me she's not a baby she's just herself. I really feel for her and am trying to help her adjust by making sure she still has time with mummy and daddy, keeping things as close to before pop came along as I can and giving her her own space to go, a space no one else is allowed to enter. We've seen a slight improvement in her behaviour over the past week so hopefully she's adjusting and starting to feel more secure. 

Big Girl is really happy to be Home Educated and keeps asking if she can do more school work now. I'm limiting the amount of 'learning' she's doing in a day and trying to encourage her to play more, but she is like a thirsty sponge, just desperate to soak it all up! She can now recognise and sound out the letters SATPIN and can add up to 3! I'm really impressed with how she's doing, she must have her daddy's genius genes!

The Husband did his last stint with his London client this month, which means he will be spending less time working away in the future. He's a little bit sad (to be leaving the client, not at having to be home more!) but is looking forward to new opportunities opening up now he has a gap in is portfolio.

I am loving spending time teaching Big Girl and am also amazed by how much Baby Girl knows too. I think this may be partly the source of her tantrums, she's very intelligent, but her speech doesn't reflect this). I'm looking forward to getting stuck back into my degree later this year and have also started running again, which I'm really enjoying. 

June has been a month of changes for us as we continue to adjust to having a new baby, say good bye to the old and welcome new exciting challenges. We are all really looking forward to what July has to offer!

dear beautiful

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Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Overheard ~ Conversations of a Toddler #2

Wot So Funee?

This week, while I was reorganising the study Big Girl ran in, 'Mum! Mum!' she screamed at me 'My pretend sister is dead! A pirate killed her!' 'Oh no!' I responded what are we going to do?' 'Its ok mum' she soothed 'I'm going to read a book' Sometimes I really wonder what goes on in her head!

As I carried on reorganising the study the girls were playing together in the next room, I really love listening to them play and interact with each other. They were playing 'shops' one with the toy till and the other with a basket of shopping. At the end of the transaction Big Girl said 'Thank you shopkeeper' and Baby Girl responded with 'It's ok Big Girl, it was your pleasure' She couldn't understand why I was laughing so much!

And finally from this week baby girl fell over, she hurt her knees and was very upset. I offered to kiss them better for her and was devastated to hear 'kisses don't make it better Mummy'. Chocking back tears as I realised my baby was growing up too quickly I explained that they may help, only to be told, 'no mummy, they really don't'. My ever practical girl :(

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Monday, 30 June 2014

Blowing away the cobwebs with a run

In my late teens I would head off to our local country park Ashton Court and run around the grounds, I wasn't very good at running and I was by no means quick, but I enjoyed it. It was a chance to clear my head and just think. When The Husband and I moved to Dudley in the West Midlands, I didn't know of a quiet, friendly park to run around, we lived on top of a hill, on a busy road, so there was no way I was going running there! I got out of the habit of running and by the time we moved to Tewkesbury in Gloucestershire it just wasn't something I did any more.

After Baby Girl was born I decided it was time to get back in shape, I'd had 2 children in quick succession and it had taken a toll on my body both mentally and physically. I started running but I didnt enjoy it, I found each run difficult and struggled to get into it, then shortly after I started the couch 2 5K programme, my CFS flared up and I crashed. I desperately wanted to get back out and enjoy it again, but I just didn't have the energy.

Then, earlier in the week, a new friend, Emma from the blog Outmumbered, said she was going to be doing the colour run in Belfast. When I read that I found myself feeling a pang of jealously, and in that moment I realised it was time to get my running shoes back on! I figured maybe in a couple of months when Pop i a little bit older, I would get out again but as I was walking through Asda on Saturday afternoon, I spotted their new work out gear. Again I felt the pull to get out and run so in the spur of the moment (I'm all about spur of the moment decisions right now!) decided I was going to go running that evening! 

I got home, got the girls and Pop ready and we headed over to Sand Bay. Big Girl had a scooter, Baby girl decided she wanted to run with mummy, Pop was in his pushchair and The Husband on his bike. I did a gentle 15 minute jog whilst I watched the girls run and sccot ahead of me and the memories came flooding back. I remembered how much I used to love running, how much I would look forward to getting out before or after a shift at work and in that moment I fell in love with it all over again.

I'm really hoping to get out a couple of times a week with the girls on their scooters, starting the couch to 5k programme again, I'm hoping the girls will keep me going and as sand bay is such a beautiful place to run I'm actually looking forward to it.

All about U

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Sunday, 29 June 2014

The Blog of an Exhausted Mum of 3

Recently I've been really lacking in inspiration for the blog, even the simplest of posts read as lifeless, boring and dull, so they aren't getting published. You'd think as a mum of 3 under 4, a home educator and a psychology student I'd find inspiration all around me, but maybe its because I'm all those things that I'm struggling. I'm tired all the time. I start to worry the CFS is creeping back in and I'm on my way to crashing out and relapsing, then I look at my perfect baby boy, and my beautiful, strong willed, independent minded girls and I think, oh yea, that's why I'm so tired all the time!

It does mean that although I'm desperate to get back into blogging, desperate to jump back in and get on, to do more than just watch the blogging community from the side lines, I'm struggling with where to start or what to say, without it sounding lifeless. So this is me, jumping back in and getting on, regardless of what it sounds like. I am reclaiming my blog and re-finding my voice as a tired run down mum of 3! Let me start by catching you up with what's happened over the past few weeks

I've made the scary decision to home educate, Pop turned 8 weeks and is turning into quite the chunk, Baby Girl has hit the 'terrible 2's' and terrible just doesn't seem to do it justice! I keep reminding myself, its just a phase and it will pass. She's finding her voice, learning her boundaries and exerting her independence, but its exhausting when it feels like she's just being defiant because she can! And finally (and I'm sneaking this one in here in the hope that no one reads it!) whilst taking a curious look at the OU website I saw the module I wanted to study is being offered again this year (it wasn't offered last year and I ended up studying one I wasn't completely happy with and ultimately dropping out when things got tough) and on the spur of the moment I signed up! I then sent this text to my husband! 

The Husband was completely relieved to discover I'd 'only' signed up to continue with my degree, he was imagining something much, much worse! But I think this text just about sums up the year ahead for our family, it's either going to be a really exciting one or a really exhausting, crazy one. Either way things can easily be reversed, if the degree is too much I can always walk away again, if home schooling big girl and having the 2 little ones is too much I can always put her in school. I am really excited about this coming year, and I really hope that I continue to find inspiration for the blog all around me and I hope that you stick with me while I find my voice as an exhausted mum of 3!

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Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Overheard ~ Conversations of a Toddler

I am forever putting on my personal Facebook page funny conversations I have with my girls, and with the arrival of Pop it dawned on me, I'm going to be having funny conversations with my toddlers for at least 4 more years before they turn into funny children! I've decided its time to start putting all these funny little conversations and one liners in one place and as this blog is first and foremost a documentation of family life, I guess that place is here!

The first one liner this week comes from Baby Girl. While we were sat on the sofa earlier this week, she put her hand on my tummy and said 'Are you having another baby? Your tummy all big again!' Needless to say I was not impressed!

The second conversation comes from Baby Girl, she was getting frustrated with her sister who wanted to play with her.
Big Girl: Stop touching all my stuff, if you want to touch, you have to say 'Big Girl please can I touch? OK?'
Baby Girl: Oh...Big Girl please I touch?
Big Girl NO!
I have to say normally I let them deal with their arguments on their own, but I did intervene at this point (through stifled laughter) and steer Baby Girl into playing with something else!

I'm linking this up with Wot so Funny, which this week is being hosted by Mummy, Mummy, Mum hop over to her blog to see what other #Funee children have been up to this week

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