Home School Swim Session

Our first time at the home school swim session today. We’ve not been able to come before as under 8s need accompanying in the pool and I’m not able to do that (although I hope I’ll be well enough for the occasional swim!), but now he’s 8 here we are. 

Buzz is his happiest in water, which is one of the best things about homeschooling, he gets to swim 3 or more times a week, sometimes for a few hours at a time.





Any Little Opportunity To Write!

Buzz was struggling at school with writing. He is very articulate with speech, he reads really well, he loves to make up stories and play let’s pretend, his writing is neat and he has no trouble copying writing, but ask him to write a story or a thank you card and it’s as if he’s been asked to build a house from scrath. It is such a huge struggle even just getting started. These kinds of issues are one reason why we wanted to homeschool. There is a real, genuine struggle for him with writing and we don’t understand what it is, but at least having him home we can try to understand and work with him. At school there was always a sense of disappointment that he couldn’t write more, wouldn’t write more. At home he is rewarded for just a few words because I know how hard he has worked to achieve that. At school he had become very disheartened by the idea of writing because it had become such a struggle for him.

My aim is to reignite his enthusiasm by a) giving him a break from writing, b) letting him write when he has chosen to write, and c) working on the idea of little and often. I also want to get to the bottom of this particular struggle, how, why, what.

We were making thank you cards for his birthday presents. Buzz decided he wanted to make a little booklet inside his grandparents’ card, with three pages of writing (just like a card he had received). The desire was there, so I left him to it. I wish I had filmed his difficulty. He literally could not write a single word. I even told him how to start: “Just write Dear, I can spell it for you” and proceeded to spell it. He wrote D and that was it. He was restless and fidgety and seemed as if he was uncomfortable in his own skin. He was frustrated and angry with himself. I wasn’t forcing him to write. I wasn’t expecting anything specific of him. It was his idea so I left him to it. He spent a full half an hour struggling to write a single letter. He was pretty excited about his idea, but the words would just not come. I waited and waited to see if he would be able to do it eventually, I tried different things that I know have helped him to focus in the past such as playing classical music. Nothing. Except for the letter ‘D’.

In the end I suggested he just write a very simple “thank you” and leave it at that. He agreed (after some persuasion) and he suggested he draw pictures instead. Once he had made his mind up to keep it simple he was able to write, at last, with some encouragement to keep going. Then he happily drew pictures with complete focus and attention and enthusiasm.

150914 B card 2    150914 B card 3

Interestingly, when it came to the next card, I decided to see how he would manage writing if he was copying the words, so we decided together what he should write, then I wrote out the words on scrap paper for him to copy onto the card. Absolutely no problem whatsoever. All done in no time at all.

150914 B card 5

If anyone has any thoughts on this issue I’d be interested to hear them. When he is writing, it’s as if a bridge in his brain has been broken and he can’t get from one process (the thought) to the next (the writing).

Buzz is very bright, very enthusiastic, very confident, he has an impeccable memory, he speaks articulately, he reads well with great expression, he enjoys life, and this is all most people can see; but he also struggles a great deal, usually in silence, until he is in the safety of his own home where all his anxiety and fear and frustration comes tumbling out. I had to homeschool him because someone needed to try to understand how and why he struggles so much in certain areas of his life, in order for his needs to be met and therefore his potential to be achieved. I’ve learned so much since he came out of school at Easter but I still have a lot to learn.

Finally, here are pictures of the front of the cards we made using Hama beads. I love his design with the heart and the two colours.

150914 B card 4    150914 B card 1

Our Gorgeous Guinea Pigs

Barnabas loves our guinea pigs, a fantastic sensory input for him and a very calming influence. I’m super protective of the pigs so we don’t have tonnes of cuddles, mostly we just sit and watch them. We have fun putting our voices to their actions, as if we are them. 

We thought it was interesting that two of our pigs are currently the same weight as Barnabas when he was born, 2lb 12oz or 1250g. This is one of them, Lemony Flop, though he is actually bigger in size to Barnabas when he came into this world. We’re convinced he’s half rabbit…. the piggy that is, not Barnabas!



It’s School Jim But Not As We Know It

10th September 2015: Today was one of those days where homeschooling really came into it’s own. Such a lovely day.

A common misconception is that homeschooling is doing school at home. That you have to meticulously plan six hours of school for each day. That you have to make your child/children do exactly what you have planned at exactly the time you have planned. I had that misconception myself. However, it is nothing like that. I guess I shouldn’t call it homeschooling. Home Education might be better, but actually it’s just living life.

If you put it into ‘school’ terms we spent the day doing literacy, numeracy, science, geography, humanities, computer science, home economics, music, and more. And yet there was no planning involved whatsoever, and there was no set timetable.

The day started with Buzz eating All Bran and asking what it was. Recently we had a long chat with a lovely older man who works in a horse supply shop, who we had previously met at Polegate Windmill (which he and his wife help to look after in their spare time). He told Buzz all about the process of ‘harvesting’ flour. So I asked Buzz to think about what the man had told him, and helped him to remember the answer to his question himself. We wondered why cakes are always made with white flour, and not wholemeal flour or bran [science – tick]. We decided to find out if cakes could be made with bran, so we looked up some recipes on my phone. Buzz found a carrot cake recipe using All Bran and wholemeal flour that he liked the look of and asked to make it [computer science – tick].

We went and had a look around the kitchen to see if we had all the ingredients. We had everything apart from the mixed spice. So again we looked up online to see what was needed for mixed spice. Buzz helped to measure out the spices and grind down the coriander and cloves. We both now know what spices are used in mixed spice [random lesson – tick!]

The cake recipe needed six carrots. Buzz has never actually peeled veg before. Grating yes, but not peeling (we have a very sharp peeler!). So I showed him how to use our peeler and he started peeling carrots. It was very slow going for him, and I fully expected him to give up after five minutes. He spent half an hour peeling the six carrots, without a single hint of frustration, boredom or distraction [fine motor skills – tick; patience and determination paying off – tick!]

As he peeled them I was adding them to the cake mix, and weighing each lot separately. There had been three lots, so three different weights. And we had the total weight required. Buzz had a pile of peeled carrot and I said we need to work out how much of it had to go into the mix. I gave him paper and pencil and he happily took up the task. Since he had been the one choosing to make the cake, and peeling all the carrot, he was happy to do these calculations. He added up the three amounts together so we knew how much carrot was already in the mix (using two different ways of adding). He then had to subtract that from the total amount required to work out how much still needed to go in. Obviously I make sure he’s using his own initiative to work out the process, rather than just being told to do a bunch of sums [20 minutes of numeracy – tick].

150910 B peeling carrots

We finished the cake and put it in the oven, and when it was ready we took a piece each and sat in the lounge to eat it. Buzz got out one of his birthday present books, which had fun quizzes in it. He started to read it out to me, questions and answers, so I asked him to let me try to work out the answers. He covered the answers so that he could also try to work out the answers. We did this for a good 45 minutes, with him reading aloud the whole time [literacy – tick]. Topics covered included national emblems relating to different countries, and traditional foods eaten in different countries. We talked around the topics and I told Buzz about what I had eaten in countries I had been to and asked him to think about traditional foods for England, Scotland and Wales (the only countries he’s been to!) [geography and humanities – tick]. ­­­

150910 B reading

Lastly, Buzz keeps forgetting to wash his hands with soap when he’s supposed to. Instead of having him write “I will wash my hands with soap” one hundred times (I’d never do that!) I asked him to make up a rhyming song about washing his hands while I made signs to remind him. He was amused and enthusiastic about his disciplining! And he has learned to remember to use soap [music and more literacy – tick].

During Buzz’s last few months at school he was very easily distracted and distracting for other children, he struggled to focus, he fiddled with things a lot, he was restless, he couldn’t sit still, he rarely finished his work, and was often kept behind during break to finish work. I’ve seen all this myself, focus can be a huge issue for him, and it is very frustrating to watch him struggle. However, days like today show a completely different child: incredible single mindedness, focus, enthusiasm, determination and patience. It is so rewarding and exciting to see him like this and really encourages me that homeschooling is the right way forward. It’s a big learning process for both of us!

The World’s Best Birthday Boy… The World’s Worst Birthday Cake!

150905 Buzz Birthday Collage

On some of Buzz’s previous birthdays Paul and I have spent hours on his cake, but he barely notices the effort we’ve gone to, so this year I threw something together in five minutes, using a £3 tray bake from the supermarket! I told him it was a raft (we’d just read a Famous Five story involving a trip on a raft) and as you probably can’t read the writing, I wrote Mario with M&Ms. He reacted in pretty much the same way as he has with five hour cake creations!!

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