We have been spending a lot of time outside since we got into a homeschool rhythm after new year. Partly because we love exploring new places and partly because it it a good way to let the kid blow off steam and relax in the absence of her usual buddies and playdates.
I have found that a more relaxed approach to learning and homeschool suits us best. There is no timetable or weekly goals that need to be reached. Everyday we pick a couple of subjects or learning ideas and fit them around outdoor exploring or organised homeschool activities such as Forest School or the Community Farm.
We don’t un-school in the purest sense as we do use learning materials, but we do allow the kid to drive the intensity and direction. She loves to read and write with no added encouragement from us at all. She writes my weekly shopping lists, notes to remind me about things I need to do. She has a story book she writes a few times a week and she takes a nature journal out on lots of her walks.
The past couple of weeks we have gravitated to more art and craft than we were perhaps doing before. May be the wet weather has forced us to be more creative inside!? We have used clay for crafting pots and coasters and ornaments. Painting and decorating them. Wet on wet water colour is a favourite and also general colouring and picture drawing. Stamp making. She and her dad are making a rubber band ball solar system as a science project.
We have just started ‘The Story of the World’ as a history read-aloud. Partly as there is only so much Enid Blyton that a parent can take and we are trying to make sure that we do at least 20 mins reading aloud a day (have a look at ‘Read Aloud Revival’- its an interesting resource) and I figured throwing in a little world history a couple of days a week could be fun.
Maths and numbers she doesn’t find so easy and we are consciously trying not to push to hard as I feel that its something she will come to in her own time. She enjoys the MEP workbooks and likes to do a couple of pages by herself before asking me to check how she’s doing. They progress slowly and are repetitive which I feel is giving her confidence.
Homeschooling is a funny thing, it can be so hard to know if you are doing it ‘right’. If your child is ‘on track’. As I get into our second year I feel a lot more confident in saying ‘this works for us’. Most recently the funniest thing people have asked (after the usual boring ‘socialisation’ questions – yawn) is if we will homeschool ‘forever’. Well no, at some point the kid will hopefully leave home and become a functioning adult. Will we homeschool through to high-school. May be. Or she might decide school is the best thing ever in 6 months and leave me bereft at home all by myself, surrounded by craft supplies and books. Whichever way, we will support her.
These were taken (mostly by hubby) at a couple of the different walks we did last week. Water, and waterfalls is a bit of a theme at the moment as we are doing a lot of glen walks. Spring is slowly coming and we are seeing snowdrops peeking out and daffodils starting to bloom.
The kid is loving all the outdoor activities and hiking that we have been able to do. I am really enjoying being able to make sure that being outside, just following a path with no schedule or goal is a regular part of each week. I have noticed it has a positive impact on her school work and attitude when she’s had a dose of outdoor nature exploring and stress free time.
We are doing the Wild Explorers Club assignments which I signed up for a few weeks ago. I wasn’t sure if it would be a hit with the kid or not, but so far she’s loving the little videos every week and having a outdoor explorer ‘goal’ to work towards. This isn’t a sponsored post, just something that Ive found really great for instigating ‘get outdoors’ when its been cold, damp and grey!
Hubby’s big christmas pressie was a MavicPro drone. He ordered one ages ago (before we came away travelling). He got horribly caught in the pre-order delays so sadly cancelled as no-one could tell him when his might actually arrive and then he found one through his geek forums. So happy!
He hasn’t been able to fly it as much as he hoped recently due to the winds, but he’s had a few little trips out and about. We had a Phantom drone previously but this ones just so amazing. It’s so teeny and easy to take out and about (the same was not true of the Phantom!) and easy to use. The kid loves to launch and land it as it has an auto launch and land button (literally!!)
There isn’t much snow in the Isle of Man. And by that I mean it very very rarely snows. And when it does its fleeting and up high. So last week we felt especially lucky to head out walking early in the morning to see Snaefell under a cloud with a white dusting. All plans for a glen walk went out the window and off we headed up the mountain road (past the ice warnings, lamenting the fact we are driving a mini not a 4×4)
We got to the top of the road and parked up on an icy carpark which was melting fast. The sun was coming out fleetingly through thick clouds and the temperate while still biting with the wind, was warming up. Which honestly was good as I hadn’t packed for snow. And certainly not snow on the top of a mountain.
Snaefell is a mountain. But not by a lot; 37 feet to be exact. But its still a mountain and the kid was absolutely determined this was going to be her first snow capped mountain climb. Gumboots, wooly hat, a solo glove and her lighter Therm jacket (we wished we had their new season ski jacket with us as it is super padded) kept her warm enough with the exertion of climbing. The kid powered up, even the steep slippery section right below the summit didn’t phase her. At the top the clouds parted momentarily and the views were amazing.
After climbing up the east side we decided to walk back around the west facing back of the slope; along the rail-line that runs in the summer months. The sun hadn’t reached the back so it was lovely and not melting yet. By the time we got back round to the car the snow and ice in the car park was gone. The sunny eastern side of the hill was running with water and nothing more than slush.
The kid has ticked off ‘climbed her first snow capped mountain’ off her to do list and we got to see some of the most amazing views. A great day and one that made dragging ourselves up and out fairly early and in the cold totally and definitely worth it.
After so much illness over the new year, a nasty virus causing a persistent cough for hubby (a cough when you already have headaches is basically torture), chicken pox for me and then the kid. It was a relief to finally all feel well enough to get out and about and do a little exploring of the island that we are visiting.
We are on the Isle of Man – we have family here and its a great place to explore and adventure from. We reached dead end with the specialists in New Zealand (thankfully after ruling out a tumour or a bleed) for hubbys headaches so have found a neurologist at a specialist clinic on the mainland who is helping get to the root of and treat, the headaches that plagued him. Not occasional headaches that flare twice a week – but constant, unrelenting pain 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
While we are here we are embracing island life, walking in glens and climbing mountains. Also wearing our rain gear to the max – the climate here is best described as damp and we refuse to be kept indoors by a little bit of rain or fog.
My goal is to get my camera out of its bag and start getting back into taking pictures and blogging our adventures again. I have missed this space over the past weeks and as we are more settled it feels like time to dust off Lightroom and get back into it.
We have done plenty of holidays with the kid and I would say that I’m pretty good at packing and working out what we need to keep her happy while we are away. I pack light as a rule, but packing for a longer trip had me a bit stumped.
When I was prepairing for the trip I was on the lookout for something portable, engaging and long lasting. Since the kid loves dolls (her 18inch dolls are one of her most prized posessons) I was drawn to Lottie Dolls as a fabulous small portable doll and as alternative to the increasingly popular (with the kid) but disliked by me, Barbie.
These dolls are small 18cm high, realistically proportioned (based on a 9year old girl) doll with a variety of outfits and themes. What I really adore is that they dont fall into conventional ‘fashion doll’ ‘princess doll’ stereotypes. There is Pirate Lottie, Muddy Puddles Lottie, Stargazer Lottie and more.
I got in touch with the fabuous team behind Lottie Dolls and they were generous enough to send the kid two Lotties and some outfits (Super Hero Lottie is still the kids firm favourite). These portable, pop-in-a-pocket sized dolls have been the best thing that we have with us. They go everywhere with the kid, offer hours of amusement and entertainment.
To be clear I am extremely grateful to Arklu for sponsoring the kid while we are travelling – but to anyone feeling like my opinions are rooted in ‘it was a freebie’ should be reassured that we have bought 2 more Lotties since then and another 4 outfits (and given they have a 30% offer at the moment there’s another Lottie in my shopping cart!)
The kid loves mix and matching outfits to different dolls and the freedom to play and experiment.
Other toys we really rate are are the Djeco Mini Games as they are fun and portable as well as always having a good range of crayons and paper. I like the Tiger Tribe sets as they are tidy and self contained.
Crocodile Creek Mini puzzles are ease to pop in a bag and a bonus is that they are double sided. Playmobil is also tough and portable and I love the foil bag sets as they have all the parts for a little storyline in one set. The kid loves the little blind bags from My Little Pony (gag) and also from the Trolls Movie that we saw just before heading on holiday.
Other than that we always bring books for reading herself and being read too. The kid is currently loving the Wrenly Series as she can read them herself and they are nice and illustrated with a fun fast story.
Not forgetting of course, the essential soft toys who can never be left behind. All in all that was a 50ltr kit bag bursting with books, toys and games! Not quite the light minimalist packing I’d been aiming for.
Excuse the instagram images used in this post, between travelling, christmas, miserable weather and getting chicken pox – me as an adult and the kid 2 weeks later. There’s not been much photography going on. Or adventuring. But there has been a lot of playing – thank heavens for great quality, portable toys.
Haw frost in the valley. Robins who follow and eat crumbs from you palm. Wild ponies and amazing views. For me thats Christmastime.
I am so wowfully behind, so behind!
So here is a quite pictorial from another trip we made while staying in Devon when we arrived in the UK at the begining of our trip.
What do you do after 4 days of travelling and exploring? Well. After desperating trying and succeeding in not falling asleep at the wrong time on the first day. You get down to where you gew up, grab great friends and go walking.
Nothing beats jet lag better than a long walk on the moors in cold winds and drizzle. Thank heavens for wooly hats and the kids Therm Outdoor jacket – it kept her warm and dry and visible. And I love that it’s a New Zealand product that just does it job, no worries.
We had amazing walk over the last weekend. Up in the hills we walked up the Bealy Spur track. Its a fairly gentle climb up through the forest to the hilly tussock and amazing views. The kid did great and romped ahead most of the way.
I feel so sad for so much of the world right now, it seems that where ever we look there is confusion, hurt and fear. We are so fortunate to have been able to choose to live where we do. Soon we head north for time with family and christmas. Feeling more and more like we are emerging from a bubble into a big wide scary world. It’s never felt like that before and I have to make a concious effort not to get swallowed by media hysteria or hyperbole.
It makes me realise how important each day is, and how we are the ones who control the largest majority of interactions in our lives. We choose to surrround ourselves with like minded people. People who understand, value and respect our decisions. Start at gress roots levels to make the place you are better, being the change we want to see.
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