Fair to say it was a very slow start to the day. My tummy bug was proving hard to shift, and no matter how hard I tried to keep my eyes firmly shut, the dulcet tones of my children were hard to ignore!
Luckily, our house is so small it is only a short walk to the sofa and as quickly as I was up I was back down, flicking on Bug's Life. I don't think Simon had high hopes of any sort of home education today!
I dragged myself off the sofa and into the shower and we were soon starting to pick up pace. I thought it important for Jenson and Wren to help with the tidying up so that they be involved in the whole process: the preparation, the party, and the picking up of all the rubbish, debris and half eaten doughnuts! It's funny how I'm still working to school times. Without even realising, I check the clock at 8am. Whereas before we'd be scurrying to find shoes and bags and get out of the door, today I hear Jenson, (without cue from me) saying, "Come on Wren, let's make our beds." Last week, and because for the first time since starting this whole school thing we had the time, I was suggesting to Jenson that he might like to make his bed, so for him to think of doing it all by himself made me feel the shift was starting to stick.
I asked them to come outside to help tidy up the caravan and they willingly did. We also had not put the rabbits out in their run, a task that I do every morning, almost always on my own because there simply isn't enough time to involve the kids before getting them off to school. Today was different. We bought our rabbits, Flip and Flop, on the first day of the Summer holidays from Primrose Vale Farm Shop. We hadn't gone there with the intention to buy anything, let alone rabbits, but the kids had enjoyed such a wonderful afternoon there and had so enjoyed feeding them, when I found out they were for sale, it was almost a foregone conclusion. They are a constant reminder of a truly happy day.
Since the start of school though things had changed. The rabbits were being overlooked. There was barely time for a fleeting glance as we jumped on the bikes to make it in time for the school gates. After school it was a similar story. Jenson was too tired and too worn out for anything other than a, "hello rabbits," before throwing his shoes on the floor and slumping down in front of the TV. This morning however, Jenson eagerly opened the hutch, grabbed their bowl and ran off shouting, "Mummy they need food, where is it? I'll do that - you do the water!" The fact he couldn't remember where the food was kept shows how little time or interest he'd had previously while at school. His renewed interest and enthusiasm made my heart sing, (it's corny but true). He then giggled profusely while he delighted in feeding them out of his hand, something he hasn't wanted to do or been able for whatever reason since starting back at school. We picked carrot tops as he unearthed great clumps of carrots! He asked if he could go inside the cage with them, again, something he has't asked since the new cages arrived at the beginning of September. I was shocked he felt he had to ask but thrilled he wanted to get inside with them.
HIs attention quickly turned towards an old spade he found in the garden. He wanted to 'dig some soil' and so that's what he did. He dug for worms. Then more worms. Then more worms. The activity must have only lasted for 5 minutes but it was fantastic to see his renewed vigour in the things he used to love doing nearly everyday before starting school.
And then we come to his Learning Record...
This is something I will be keeping to document all the things we learn about and that he is interested in. We started by printing out five photos. I asked him to cut the pictures out and stick them in the book. And that's where his interest in it ended! While I'd been heading it up with a title, he'd found an old jaffa cake box. The creative opportunities it offered clearly far outweighed what his Learning Record could! The picture we were working on was of a pile of leaves Wren had collected in the park on his final day of term. We had been on a playdate with a local home ed group. Wren had spontaneously started to collect leaves and with encouragement from me had started to order them into size, shape and colours. The other home ed children had quickly joined in and it was a wonderful demonstration of self initiated learning and socialisation. I'd had high hopes for this with Jenson. I'd even found an app on the Woodlands Trust website where you can identify a tree by it's leaf or fruit. I was impressed. Jenson wasn't. I persevered nonetheless. I have learnt a lot. I now know the difference between a sycamore samara, (that's the little winged helicopters you see all over the pavements at the moment) and a Norway Maple one! I know how to identify a Norway maple leaf and that it isn't a horse chestnut, (I really am that stupid!) By repeating phrases to Jenson like, "conkers come from a horse chestnut" and, "so which tree produces conkers Jenson?" I hope some of it might have gone in one ear and lodged itself in there somewhere. We'll see. We're off to Pittville park tomorrow for a home ed meet up so can test this theory out then!
We all had a bit of a lull after lunch, so Toy Story under a blanket proved a good option. I fell asleep, not sure if the kids did. There was a renewed energy afterwards though, with some good den building in their bedroom. This provoked a game of shop keepers, which is great for their understanding of money.
Another craft spell emerged quite naturally after this. I'm never quite sure how we fall into one activity from another but we seem to flit between many different things. I think it's a reflection of the amount of stuff Jenson's mind is trying to process and makes me thankful he's not stuck in school being cut off from it all. First up he made a book. I asked him what it was about. He said love. I asked who the two people were that he had drawn. He said him and Wren. You can imagine my reaction! He then added a spider and we climbed into his den and he regaled us with a wonderful story about how he and Wren went for a walk and met a friendly spider. The End! Next he drew a submarine. He talked about the telescope, to which I corrected him and said I think it's called a periscope, (I wasn't sure). We then took out the trusty iPad and looked up the difference between the two. I'm feeling more knowledgable than I've ever done! I hope Jenson is too.
It was a good day today. Without too much effort and whilst feeling a bit ill I think the children have learnt many lessons. Perhaps not the most structured ones as per school but structured by them and their interests. I've got some work to do on the Learning Record, mainly how to get Jenson interested in it, but perhaps he's just not ready. Or maybe he wasn't interested in what I had to say. Who knows.