Today was our first official day back at (home) school after an enjoyable Summer spent mostly by the sea. I know there are some home schoolers out there who don't believe that learning ever stops for a child, but for me, I needed a break even if the children didn't!
To celebrate the start of our second home school year I had planned to take the children to the Cotswold Water Park. As usual, they had other ideas.
Jenson definitely understands that home schooling means learning and was well aware that today marked his first day back. He acknowledged this by not even bothering to ask for the TV to be turned on and instead delved into the craft cupboard for the first time in about six weeks. By the time Simon got up at 7.30am home schooling was in full force. The beginnings of a giant rocket could just about be seen under two tons of tissue paper and glue! Much as I've enjoyed our lazy Summer mornings this past month or so, it was great to see Jenson's enthusiasm.
The day I had planned for us to spend on the sand turned into a day spent in space! Out came the books and I read the children space facts while they crafted. We learned about Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. Jenson was keen to know how old Neil Armstrong was when he landed on the moon, (39) and when he landed on the moon, (July 20th 1969 - Apollo 11 mission) I explained how they had left a flag to show they had visited. Jenson's response? "I wondered why Ben and Holly left a flag when they visited the moon!!"
The most fascinating piece of information by far though came in the form of Spaghettification, a process which a person would go through if they got sucked into a blackhole. It's as the name suggests - you end up looking like a piece of spaghetti! We all love this term but a blackhole won't be on our field trip list any time soon!!
I was most impressed with the completed rocket, so much so that I climbed into the loft and retrieved the rocket Jenson had made roughly this time last year. I find the timing of the two rockets quite uncanny but what's really interesting is the natural development Jenson has made in this short space of time.
The most obvious difference is the size - whereas 2016's model is quite basic in its construction, (plastic bottle for the body and a paper cone for the nose), there are clear technical advances in this year's model. For instance, there are four connecting parts instead of two. We keep with a paper cone for the nose, but moving down the rocket we then come to the cardboard innards of a toilet roll for the upper part of the ship, which is connected to a large cardboard tube, (previously used as packaging for bathroom smellies) for the lower part and finally a plastic container previously used as a take away dish for mushy peas from the chip shop!
The differences continue with the window detailing. Instead of rather crude cut out cardboard windows, we have actual holes that perhaps offer better visibility. The fins are also bigger. Whereas last year's model only had two small ones, the upgrades in 2017 mean this new rocket has four fins. And finally, perhaps the biggest improvement in 2017's model is the thrust - that part of the rocket that boosts it into space and pulls it away from Earth's gravity. This new rocket has a spring, and not just any spring, it's a bespoke, one off, hand made prototype that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. As far as I know, only one of its kind has ever been made and was produced right here in Cheltenham!!
We took a break for lunch, after which Jenson very kindly offered to do the washing up.
We've had a super first day back at (home) school. I even managed to dig out our giant beach ball from the loft. It is the moon, in case you were wondering. Jenson had terrific fun launching his rockets off it and strapping random Lego figures to the front of them for what must have been an absolutely terrifying journey!!
Speaking of journeys, I feel our home education one is taking a slightly more organised route this year. Looking back on the last twelve months, I pretty much winged it for the most part. Going forwards, I've already drawn up a curriculum schedule for the next two months and actually have a curriculum book to write down weekly lesson plans. Wren is in nursery for two days a week, which means I can spend two full days with Jenson focusing on reading, writing and maths. We are also getting him a tutor for two hours a week. I'm much clearer and perhaps feel more confident in how I plan to approach home ed this year too. When the schools take their holidays, so will we. This will give me time to clear work, think about projects and topics for the coming months and not feel guilty that the children are on their fifth episode of Peppa Pig. By all accounts, one can learn a lot from Peppa, George and co anyway, so perhaps not all doom and gloom for my little telly addicts.