Adventure 9 Railways and ice cream!

This was a rather special adventure. Mainly due to the fact that it was Mikey’s 6th birthday. He’s always been rather keen on trains. Fast trains, steam trains, fancy trains, you name it, if it’s a train, he’ll like it. So on his 2nd birthday we took him to Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway. It’s a miniature railway run by many volunteers and at 2, he loved it so much he declared it “my birthday train place” which has stuck until now. So, when we asked him what he wanted to do for his birthday treat he asked to go to “my birthday train place”. So that’s what we did! Getting a Romney Rover meant we could hop on and off all day if we so wanted.

We stopped off at New Romney station to look in the model railway exhibition (the highlight for my son!)

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We got to ride on the blue “Hurricane” and the red “Winston Churchill”.

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And we got off the train at Dymchurch to have an ice cream while sitting on the beach!

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Adventure 7 & 8 – Portsmouth Historic Dockyard with a road trip and overnight stay!

I’m playing catch up a bit here, as these two adventures were back in March. Life’s been a little hectic recently what with planning my new Etsy shop, working on various other writing projects, taking on more commitments for the children’s clubs and groups and life and HE in general! However, I would now like to tell you all about our trip to Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard. For anyone who has never been you need to go!! It’s amazing. I’m documenting this as two adventures, purely because the excitement of a road trip and a hotel stay was all too much to bear!

I have been fortunate to go to Portsmouth a couple of times in my life but this one was special because I got to take Jay with me. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned before, but a while ago, Jay began Sea Cadets. He wanted a space to go regularly which was without us as a family. A place to call his own and to “belong”. We looked long and hard at different clubs and groups, including scouts, air cadets and sports clubs and he chose sea cadets based on the activities they tend to get up to. Lots of adventure-style activities and boating being the most appealing to Jay.

So, to take him to Portsmouth was something he’d been wanting since joining and I’m so glad I did. Firstly, I’d like to point out that we are on a constant tight budget and so every excursion we do, I plan to it’s death to make sure I’m not spending unnecessarily. To make this trip more affordable, we used our Tesco clubcard vouchers. You only need to use £7 worth of vouchers for one entry into the dockyard. To add to this, that one entry lasts you all year! So if you live locally it’s fantastic, and if you don’t you can plan a couple of weekend trips there. Even if you only manage to get there the once, it is WELL worth the money. Ideally, plan it over 2 days minimum as there is so much to see and do, you really would be hard pushed to do it all in a day.

On top of that, we went with a friend and her son. We shared a budget hotel room which at the time, only cost us £50 between us, however, that will obviously vary depending on hotel and time of year you visit. Premier Inn’s and Travelodges tend to do their lowest prices on Sundays which has really helped us to find affordable places to stay. At times we’ve managed to get a room for 4 of us for £29 for the night which is an absolute steal!  We took pastries and snacks to keep us going and used budget pubs for dinners, again to keep costs to it’s minimum.

I can’t say which was the best bit about the historic dockyard, as it is all so amazing that I couldn’t possibly narrow it down! However, For that £7 worth of tesco clubcard vouchers (or £32 an adult, £19 a child or £76 a family of 5) you get unlimited annual entry into 11 attractions including a submarine tour, img_20180326_1205351507652425.jpg

Action stations, which has mast climbing, wall climbing, helicopter simulator experience, various obstacle courses and interactive games,

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the Mary Rose museum, HMS Victory, HMS Warrior, boat trips and various other museums. It really is value for money, even if you’re paying full price. We spent 1.5 days there and still didn’t have time to do everything (although we did do all but one boat ride and one museum).img_20180326_161830-589224254.jpg

We definitely intend to return to Portsmouth with the rest of the family and very possibly again with the same friends we went with this time as it was truly an unforgettable experience.

New Etsy Shop!

So excited to share my new shop! Home Ed Resources UK I’m never happier than when I’m planning activities and topics for my children! (That doesn’t mean they always jump at everything I suggest we do!) But it does mean that I have a string of things on hand if I feel the need. Therefore, I have decided to begin selling my plans to the HE community. It’s nothing fancy but it does save you all trawling through endless websites or book and programmes trying to find things to link into a theme. Here’s a little snippet.

 

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Pop over and see what you think!

While I’m on the subject of Etsy shops, I also have a second shop which I’ve had for a while now. Rubys Attic UK I sell my hand made jewellery and gifts. Again, pop over and have a nosey! x

Trusting yourself as a parent

Looking through some old notebooks, I found something that I wrote a few years ago. The ages of my children have changed, but my thoughts are still the same.

 

Trusting yourself as a parent

I am a mother of three children aged 2, 9 and 11. My parenting style has changed dramatically over the years that I’ve been a mother. When my daughter was born 11 years ago I had been trained and had worked for 8 years as a nursery nurse/early years educator and a nanny. When I went on maternity leave and after she was born I carried on in “work mode” doing everything by the book…that is, the mainstream book. I set my daughter routines to follow, I provided endless activities and trips out for her. She had set meal times and nap times and “messy play” times and was in bed at 7pm every night on the dot! By 3 months old she was in her own room and we occasionally went through the total trauma of trying to settle her to sleep when she obviously wasn’t tired!

When she was quite small I went back to education and did a Bsc (hons) degree in Early Years Education and Child health. At university I learnt how to be critical about everything I did concerning children. By the time I finished my 4 ½ year course I had 2 children aged 5 and 2 ½ and my whole outlook on how to raise and teach children had changed completely.

I’d gone from doing things like all the books told me to, to doing things my way. This wasn’t because my tutors told me what to do, but because they’d taught me to analyse and to question everything I was doing. Each time you analyse your actions you can make improvements somewhere. Life changes, personalities change and therefore so should the way you parent. Just because you do things a certain way now, doesn’t mean you can’t change it later on down the line.

My degree taught me to ask myself questions when things weren’t going how I thought they should. Why do I do what I do? What will it prove? Will it encourage the children to develop valuable life skills? Am I saying “no” for my benefit or for the benefit of my child? Would you treat an adult like that? When my children are adults would I want them to be passive and “do as they’re told” or would I want them to make the right choices based on knowledge and experience? Would I want them to not hurt others in fear of being in trouble? Or would I want them to not hurt others because they’ve grown up not wanting to hurt others as it feels wrong.

Before and while I was completing my degree I worked as a childminder and then on to a day nursery with under 2 year olds. When I finished my degree I went to work in a pre-school and continued to feel disillusioned by my new found knowledge and understanding of vital child development and psychology. Even though I had happily worked with children for the past  13yrs, I was suddenly disillusioned with it all. Why were 2 year olds made to sit down in a group and listen to a story just because an adult thought they should? Even though sometimes it was plainly obvious some children weren’t ready to sit for any length of time to listen to a story. Why were parents being made to believe that nursery is what your child needs to socialise and learn how to fit in to school? Why were parents made to believe that all children needed to go to school at all? Why were the other options such as Home Education not suggested as a perfectly reasonable alternative? Why do parents not get a fully informed choice as to how to raise and educate their children?

It appears to be the “norm” for professionals to encourage parents to mould their children into a “one size fits all” type of persona right from birth. Only the other day I overheard a health visitor telling a new mother to try “controlled crying” with her 6 week old baby! If another adult was trying to tell you something, would you tell them to go and sit in a room on their own until they learn to be silent? Do you think it’s ok to teach a child not to tell you something is wrong? Do you want them to grow up thinking what they need to tell you isn’t worth listening to? Would you like someone to tell you that what you are saying isn’t important?

It is thought that controlled crying encourages babies to sleep through the night and to not be clingy, but in actual fact it is telling them that if they need a cuddle they’re not likely to get it! If they need food and drink or they need comforting because they are scared of being in a room on their own, you’re telling them it is tough luck – no one will come to comfort you. It will teach them to keep their emotions to themselves regardless of how they are feeling. It will teach them to over eat at their set meal times because they don’t know how long it will be until their tiny tummies will get more food again and it will tell them that their cries (their opinion) is not valid in this big scary world that they know nothing about. The one person they thought they could trust. The one whose heartbeat they listened to for 9 months, is the one who is pushing them away and not listening to their cries. Why do health professionals feel it is ok to encourage that?

So through my experience of working in the early years, by being a parent and my learned ability to analyse and question what I do, I am now doing it my way. I will trust my instincts the way a mother should. I will have my baby sleep in my bed just because I want to and because I instinctively feel that is what he wants too. He was inside me for 9 months. He is used to the sound of my heartbeat and my voice and the rhythm of my breathing. That makes him know that it is me, the one who carried him. Most other mammals sleep with their young, why shouldn’t I? I will wear my baby in a sling because I love to hold him close. It’s not only him who has an attachment to my movements, I have an attachment to his too. When he wriggles while in the sling it is similar to the wriggling he did in my womb. As he grows older I will learn to trust that he will be safe away from me, just as he will learn to trust himself. Push him away too early and both he and I may not be confident in being apart.

Many people think that if you keep holding them and picking them up they will become a clingy child but in actual fact, the opposite is true. If your baby knows he gets regular cuddles and can come for a cuddle and a carry whenever he wants – be that all day in the early days – he will learn to be more confident as he always knows you’ll be there for a cuddle when he needs one. He won’t have to cry for it, or have a tantrum for it or show negative behaviour…he will know that he can be close to you whenever he needs the reassurance that you are still there and you still love him – because “I love you” are just words to him. It’s how you show it that matters.

I’m not claiming any of the above is the right thing to do for your family. I am claiming it is right for mine. I’m not claiming that my children are perfect or will turn out to be perfect adults but I am claiming that if a child, or in fact, an adult, feels loved and wanted they will find it much easier to face the challenges that life throws at them, whatever that may be.

So my message is this: Follow your heart and your instincts as a parent and you will know that you have done your best for your children. xx

 

Education comes in all shapes and forms

As are most home educators, I’m a member of many HE facebook pages. I think I’d certainly struggle without this membership as I have learnt virtually everything I know from these wonderful virtual social groups. Some are more than virtual. I am a member of a local group where activities and meet ups are arranged. Without these I would have not have made the many friends that I have in the world of HE. Neither would my children have.

It was while reading through some posts today on one of my many groups, that there was a conversation about how worrying it is when your child “doesn’t want to learn”. I know that feeling. Jay will often state “but I don’t like learning” on a regular basis and each time it makes my heart sink a little. I am the complete opposite. I love learning. I didn’t love school (really didn’t like my primary years but tolerated my secondary schooling) but I did like finding out new things. I was an avid writer in my teens and early 20s. After I left school I went to college (back then not everyone moved on to something else, it was perfectly acceptable to be in a full time job at 16). While in my first full time job I began a writing course. However, when I fell pregnant with Ru I put this to one side with the intention to continue at a later date, but I never did.

When, Ru was a few months old, I started an art course which I loved! I reignited my love of painting and drawing which I’d had at school but lost enthusiasm for when I only gained a D grade in my GCSE. When Ru was 18 months old I went to university for the first time in my life, to do a foundation degree in early years education. I absolutely adored being a student again and although it was tough juggling a job a toddler and uni (and later in the course a new baby as well!) I did relish my uni days. After I finished my foundation degree, I had a few months break and then continued my study with the open university topping it up to gain a BSc(hons) Open Degree in childhood and health studies. It was all this research that led me to question the state schooling system.

After my degree, my studies went by the wayside for some time while I concentrated on being a mum (and my part time job). However, when Ru and Jay were 6 and 8 I found out I was pregnant with Mikey and I decided that this time i was going to do it my way.

Back to my point (I do have a habit of drifting off at times so please forgive me!) Jay will often tell me he “doesn’t like learning” and so the thread I was reading on facebook this morning was good to read. I need to step back a little when he says that. My initial instinct is to panic. However, this is exactly why I deregistered him. He was never the child who loved “lessons”. School was just a place where he had to go. He liked his friends and his best part of the day was playtime, but over the 7 years he was there, he never once said “guess what we did today?” with any information about something he enjoyed. Instead, you’d ask him how his day went and he’d shrug and say “it was ok”. You’d ask him what did he do? “not much. I can’t really remember”. This always made me feel a little sad.

At home he enjoyed writing stories and drew endless pictures. He’d build with lego and “act out” a scene with his action figures or while dressed up in a costume of some sort.

And now he’s not in school he still says “I don’t like learning”… but when he says that he only thinks of the English and Maths that I set him to do. The things he does enjoy (which I don’t let on is learning too!) is how to build a game on his PC, how to fix problems that go wrong on his laptop by googling or looking up on you tube. He goes to a drama class through his own choice and he is once again acting out scenes with his peers with the dream of one day being on the big screen. He’s also looking forward to his first show which will be in a big local theatre with a big audience.

He loves going on big walking expeditions and we have plans to do overnight trips while exploring new places. He goes to sea cadets which I know he would never have joined if he had been at school still. He adores going there and has just signed up to do his first weekend camp. Something that is a big thing for him as even sleepovers with friends often reduced him to tears a year or so ago. He’s learning how to be a sailor and hope to learn power boating and life saving.

My little boy is growing up so quickly and the 11yr old who I withdrew from school less than 2 yrs ago is already turning into an independent man, making his own decisions and instigating his own adventures. If that’s not learning, I don’t know what is!!

Adventure 6 – Mud glorious mud!

I feel like our adventures are getting a bit “samey”. However, one of the ones I have on my “list of adventures” is do puddle jumping!! Well, last week, we went to another country park. Being England and February, we were greeted by an abundance of mud and puddles! So puddle jumping was a pretty easy one to tick of the list! Mikey was dressed in his fleece lined snow suit and wellies with a very waterproof rain coat on top. But even he managed to get water down his welly after a rather adventurous jump that went a little wrong!

Even so, it was great to get out in the fresh, albeit cold, air!

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It’s all about Science!

I often find with the big kids, that I rarely get any photographs of the things they do. They are both working towards their exams so most of what they do is on the laptop or in their books so it’s only natural that there are less photo opportunities for them.

However, Jay’s biology work last week was something I could finally get a snap of! He had to investigate the two factors in bone and their effect on the composite material. This involved various processes of cooking and pickling a chicken bone – much to my fascination (unfortunately, Jay was a little less enthusiastic, although he completed it willingly!).

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Unfortunately, Jay nor I could see any real difference after we’d pickled it for a week!

Another photo opportunity was when Jay made the most delicious flapjacks for us all. Unfortunately, we all tucked in before remembering to take a photo – so this is the best we have!

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