I feel we are really settling into the home school way of life. We never have a set plan for the day; at the moment I am led by the children's interests. This seems to be working really well for us. I know this might have to change as Jenson gets older and unschooling may have to give way to more formal learning, but for now I feel that what we are doing fits really well with where Jenson is at.
I was hoping to take them up to Crickley Hill for most of the day. The weather forecast had looked fantastic and the beach at the Cotswold Water Park is sadly closed on Mondays and Tuesdays throughout the Winter months, which had been my Plan A.
Way before all that though was this morning! I noticed the heavy frost outside and yelled to Jenson that Jack Frost had been. He was very excited. We all lugged our wellies on, threw our coats on over our pjs and ran outside. We've got a couple of ponds and the kids were really excited to see how the water had frozen over. They grabbed sticks and started poking at the ice, breaking it up with great vigour. They grabbed great lumps of it and smashed it on the floor and even took pieces inside to store in the freezer for later.
Next up was Simon's car! It had a frosty coating that looked too good to resist...with their tongues! I've no idea why they felt the need to lick the ice off the car, but they seemed to love exploring the cold ice with nothing but their taste buds. We wrote some silly messages on the window and bonnet that Daddy will not appreciate!
It got to about 10am and none of us were dressed yet. I was trying to eat breakfast so asked Jenson if he could help get Wren ready. He gladly helped his little sister. He put her nappy on, picked out a dress for her to wear and then helped her with her tights. She rewarded him with a big thank you hug! The relationship these two have has come on leaps and bounds since Jenson quit school. He has more patience and more energy to invest; he listens more when she talks to him. They are there for each other.
I'm not sure how the next activity began. They had been playing bee hives, (where each hides in a basket then jumps out and buzzes away to collect honey) when Jenson returned with three little action figures and a small drawing. He announced that he wanted to give one to Angus, one to Robyn and one to Lucas because, "that's sharing isn't it Mummy?" These guys are his friends from school. Okay I said, let's do it.
Knowing how much Angus likes video games, Jenson had made him one. It was just a small piece of cut out card with buttons drawn on but the sentiment was a big one. I suggested he might like to pop it in an envelope and wrap the figure up separately. This we did. I also suggested to Jenson that he might like to write on the envelope so Angus knew who it was to, what it was for and who it was from. Thus followed our longest writing session to date. We repeated this exercise with Robyn and Lucas. After about 30 minutes of writing Jenson told me he was feeling tired. You could see it too. His handwriting and concentration had plummeted so that by the time we reached Lucas's envelope I had to finish it off for him. I've no idea how he managed to hold it together at school where the days were much longer and what was required of him was so much more. He must have been absolutely exhausted. It makes me think about the Dancing Bears phonics intervention he was getting. Everyone kept telling me it was a good thing he was getting the extra help with his sounds but I didn't agree. I couldn't help feel that maybe it wasn't a case that he was behind but more that his brain wasn't ready. I can see now how short his concentration levels are and how quickly he gets tired. It's very clear to me that it wasn't because he was behind in phonics, it was because he couldn't concentrate for the duration of the lesson. To make a child feel they are behind is not a healthy mind set to instil in them. These things stick. Jenson gets writing and he gets sounds. He just needs to go at his own pace and without the pressure of having to match the same standard as 29 other children. In that environment it's no wonder it looked as though he was behind.
We took our letters and hand delivered them with Remy in tow! Jenson loves playing traffic lights at the moment. He runs on ahead and holds a stick out. When we finally catch up with him we have to stop and wait for the stick to be raised. It's a simple game but one he enjoys. We also found a HUGE pile of leaves which made a great bouncy cushion!
All that running around and when I caught up with him I found him resting under a lamp post! It clearly was enough to recharge him for the run home, dragging poor Remy behind!
We did eventually make it to Crickley Hill but not before a quick rest in the house where they ate their packed lunches in front of Room on the Broom. We arrived at Crickley Hill to the usual spectacular view, which according to Jenson was boring. He had wanted to go straight into the woods and so not getting his way complained non stop. He soon stopped when he found his favourite pirate tree. It's not a pirate tree but he always pretends he's on a pirate boat when in it. We collected buried treasure, (stones) which we took home with us and sprayed with gold paint.
I got bored of playing pirates after a while and so took a rest on the brow of the hill to take in the breathtaking view. Wren joined me but being the fidget that she is didn't sit still for very long! She had been moaning quite a lot up to this point. However, she randomly decided she wanted to roll down the hill and this captured her imagination. It fired her into life. Jenson bounded over and soon all three of us were rolling down the hill together. It was a wonderful way to spend 20 minutes. It beat school any day.
After a couple of hours we rounded the afternoon off with a hot chocolate in the cafe. I would rather have taken a flask and sat on the hill but I don't own one and I've never felt I've needed one until today. I've a Christmas list that is slowly growing. I've added a thermos flask to it!