Thursday, 13 July 2017

Half a Year in Review - 2017

In December I always pull together a review of the year and since O became 5 and I felt the need to include more of his contributions I have bought half year reviews into the mix. There is so much to record and remember plus our life looks so very different in July when the days are long and warm to December with its cold, dark and short days.

Home Educators do not have to follow the national curriculum and we do not. Learning is a daily event here crossing evenings and weekends and school holidays as well as most of the traditional schooled subject parameters. S (12) E (10) and O (8) are all exclusively home educated and have never been to any kind of formal school. My main job for the past 12 years has been to facilitate their learning. Well as they have arrived in our family!

In February I wrote on my blog..

"Sometimes I feel that the life we live is so radical, cutting edge....challenging the status proof that our children have learnt without being taught....Showing that school is unnecessary is a massive political statement on how our society views children. Speakers and authors and pioneers like Ken Robinson, Sugar Mitra, Wendy Priesnitz show the way - academically, philosophically, brain growth.... it is so interesting.....
but then, meanwhile, back in the real world, the door seal on the dishwasher is broken, the shower makes the downstairs electrics short........and TD lands up spending much of his 2 day weekend on the domestic stuff that continually fails under pressure from 5 people. The latest victim is the dishwasher - door seal has gone - an uneconomical repair. Whilst there are plenty of home ed blogs about people who plan to live off grid or under canvas that is not me! I like creature comforts."

Which is a pretty good summary of where we are at!

2017 has been a year of change for us all us. In March the trio experienced their first major bereavement when TD's Mum suddenly and unexpectedly passed away. They also attended their first funeral. At times like this I am so grateful for home education giving us time to be together as a family.


S stopped her fortnightly group English & maths group lessons before Easter and, in April,  started 1:1 weekly tuition with the aim of completing English GCSE next year or soon after. This has been a wonderful learning experience for S who has not only started taking the train to her 2 hour lesson but been managing her time in order to finish her homework each week in a way she has not had to do before.

S's Sims 4 knowledge has increased massively as she has mastered custom content. It is a phenomenal game covering architecture, fashion, family budgeting...

In February S cared for 2 cats for 2 weeks waking up at 7am everyday to do so.

S's continued interest in vegetarian cooking has led to  lots of new recipes being made -  ramen with spring onions, mushrooms, sweetcorn, peas plus  hash browns from scratch including grating potatoes, various scrambled egg recipes......and so many very spicy foods. Lots of chilli. It is incredible that someone who ate basically only refined carbs for several years now eats so many spicy vegetables.

A huge learning inspiration for S  has been the musical Hamilton. Thanks to this S has a phenomenal knowledge base of American founding fathers - whether it is Egyptians or Romans S has always had a historical passion on the go since she was about 3 or 4. Hamilton has lead to both me and my mum reading the 700 page Ron Chernow biography so we can join in and understand her conversations - I need to write a blog post on the places Hamilton has taken us much like I have done for Doctor Who, Simpsons and Moshi Monsters in the past. We have the  Hamilton soundtrack in the car and it often leads us to talking about duelling or slavery or something connected.

Via slavery and black rights and the colourblinded casting of Hamilton it has also tied into the long term interest in the OJ Simpson case.

S hosted a Harry Potter book night in February.

S remains a prolific reader - she was gifted the first Warrior Cats in November and by February had read 30 of them!

S and I visited the new Design Museum in March as a mother and daughter day out.

In June we collected 2 new kittens and are now are 4 cat family. S's extensive knowledge of cats and cat psychology has been really useful and caring for and nurturing new life has been a positive thing in our family. We plan to let the female kitten have kittens of her own if possible. 

The kittens are called Twig and Lafayette inspired by two of 2017s home ed passions the Warrior Cats book series and Hamilton the Musical.

Gokarting has not gone so well this year - S has been 6 or 7 times since Christmas but moved up to an adult kart meaning there were always adults on the track - a faster kart and less consideration mean she hasn't wanted to go since May.

E (10)

E's life has been changed by a new Home Ed family moving just 3 miles from us - for E 2016 was a year of friend departures and it has been great to see this change. His behaviour used to make it tough for him to hold on to friends but he now has a very diverse group of homeed friends on line and IRL (and some both!) of around 7 or 8 some of whom he has been playing with for over 2 years across various platforms (tablet, PC, PS4) TD also plays Overwatch with E and his friends like a 21st century scout leader!

As I wrote on my blog in February

Our Social guy E has had around 10 friends (not simultaneously!) to play with online over the past 24 as I check in and out with the parents on text / messenger there's been a lovely flow about it  - There is absolutely no way our local homeed group could facilitate this kind of term time, week day social contact for him with children past double digits in age.

and also.......

The answer is because he is happy - he is the happiest day to day that he has been in YEARS! Literally - he has a big group of really cool friends and he is playing a game that he loves and is great at. He doesn't want to go out just for the sake of it unless somewhere cool is on offer there is no way he could replicate his social online experience IRL atm.

And I just need to breathe through the fact that 2017 is likely to be another summer devoid of suntan!

and also

Whilst we were making pizzas E told me all about Tom Clancy about how he wrote books and made video games - I said I expected that the movies were made of the books and that the video games were spin offs - E was ADAMANT he was right so we looked up Tom Clancy and he was. It is good to be open to having your expectation of the status quo changed by a 10 year old.

We've met gamer friends on the way home from Insomnia and on two trips to Legoland and one to Ikea so far this year. You can read about that here

E is level 253 on Overwatch - he could probably build up to playing competitively - the prize money is pretty juicy.

E attended weekly Home Ed football club from Jan - end of May weekly - the second anniversary of football club landed on Valentine's day and many families contributed heart themed snacks.

around 75% of Tuesdays we made it swimming at Burgess Hill triangle after football club.

A theme so far this year has been making commercial foods at home eg shakeaway's milkshakes, pizza express pizzas and garlic butter - partly with the help of  salty former employee blog posts we have had some really good successes. 

Nerf Club has happened since Spring - E spends a long time researching the various darts and their capabilities

E has been a major help at the allotment this year and is master of the hose pipe - we have added a second greenhouse to our plot this year

TD and I have been reading Artemis Fowl  - a book series S enjoyed some years ago

O (8)

O is reading - A contrast to S who learnt and 4 and E who still struggles because of his dyslexia O reads most of what he encounters without help.

O was a gifted a Ninetndo switch for his birthday continuing his passion for all things Mario.

An epic sort of the pieces has led to many  Lego projects. I am the piece finder - O is the project manager and design engineer. It is a delight to see his brain work around problems.

Rollercoasters have been a big theme for O. In the same way his has explored and learnt and worked with his ideas since age 3 or so he has created various rollercoasters in Lego, Roblox, drawing on paper and Minecraft. He is a natural engineer. 

O and I played Pokemon Go all through the winter in gloves then when the weather warmed up O lost interest! Partly as TD's office relocation stopped him playing.  Pokemon also inspired Minecraft and Roblox games and the Pokemon ABC game where we took turns to name a  Pokemon starting with each letter. We made Pokemon inspired pizza and had Pokemon snacks at Japan Day. Littlehampton near us turned out to be great for PoGo and we met friends who blog here there a couple of times 

O and I visited the Novium for the Tim Peake exhibition and Haslemere Museum.

From the blog back in March

"As we were falling asleep last night O said 

"I love you sideways eight"

Took me a moment..............."

Other themes

Splendor, Blokus and Love Letters remain our favorite family board games - and Exploding Kittens

Orbeez have been popular

Insomnia - S, E and I made our third visit to the gaming convention Insomnia in April - a reminder of what a huge industry and employer the gaming industry is

Hosted two Not Japan / Japan days so far this year, organised a group trip to Drusullas, and a lush  bath bomb workshop.

For the 9th year in a row we met up with friends on World Book Day

Sold our 8 seater bus that we drove for 8 years. E was very involved in car shopping and choosing the new car.

"In car conversations today ranged from the difference between nuclear and extended family's, capitalism vs socialism, umbilical cords, income growth and the cult of home ownership."

We have next door but 5 neighbours who home ed which has changed our days for the better - a family we first met when they came to the evening socials I organised for adults considering home education for their children way back in 2013 or so have landed up being our neighbours which is wonderful.

O's 8th birthday - the 30th child birthday in our family! Mario candles - O's Mario interest is deep and long.
Ferdy cat on the roof of our old bus
One of many Lego Star Wars bases
Me and O on a group trip to Drusillas I organised
O at Haslemere Museum
The Warrior Cats series of books O and S have enjoyed this year
O and I at the Tim Peake exhibition in Chichester

O at Legoland - we have been twice this year - I thought we had outgrown it but the trio having freedom to roam has changed it

I organised a bath bombs workshop at Lush in Chichester - lots of fun
Sims 4
Hamilton above and Overwatch below
O on Roblox
So. Much. Lego.

Me and O in the queue for the Ninjago ride at Legoland
O's Roblox skin made in Lego with a Bowser chest (that Mario again) and me messing about on Snapchat with S below

our allotment

the kittens coming home
kitten love

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