Budding Graphic Designer!

I’m so proud of Buzz today. I’ve been teaching myself to use Inkscape, a free opensource design programme. I decided it would be really useful for Buzz to learn to use it too, it could potentially open many doors in the future. As well as this, he is very creative but in a mathmatical way. He’s never been into colouring or drawing, but he loves drawing diagrams, and if he does draw a picture it has to be very precise and scientific. For example, the other day I drew a sun, you know, that typical way most people draw a sun – a round ball with lines coming out all around. He said “that’s not what a sun looks like” and proceeded to correct my drawing with a non-spiked sun with red heat spots and solar flares!

So I felt that working with vector images on a design programme might be just his cup of tea when it comes to creativity. And it turns out I was right! I spent a few minutes showing him some of the basics, then left him to have a play. Half an hour later I encouraged him to choose a youtube tutorial to work on. I’ve been using Nick Saporito‘s channel, his tutorials are excellent. Buzz chose to create this Heartbeat Design Vector. It may not look like much at first glance, but if you start watching the video you’ll realise there’s so much more to it than first meets the eye! I really didn’t believe he’d cope with it, in terms of the focus and time needed to see it through – it’s a 13 minute video (which we have to pause and rewind a lot to follow the instructions) and is created for adults or older kids, not young children. However, I was completely wrong.


Buzz grasped the concept and the language so quickly, quicker than I had! He’d hear something once and then remember it. Or Nick would say something that wouldn’t have made sense to me if I hadn’t worked through some basic tutorials, but Buzz seemed to understand it, as if it was a language he has always known. It took about 2 hours, a he loved doing it too. He was so proud of himself, and this is really important. He struggles a huge amount in some areas, and can get very upset and cross at himself (and us!) if he can’t get something right. The world is black and white to him, and if it’s not right then it’s wrong and bad, there’s very little room for middle ground. It’s exhausting for him and for us (as it was for school) to work in the areas that don’t come naturally to him, so I’m super excited to have found another area of strength and enjoyment!



Tongue Twisters

I suggested we write a poem as Buzz always comes out with very poetic sounding phrases, but he suggested we write tongue twisters instead. Homeschooling is mostly Buzz-led so that’s what we did. Here they are. Some written by Buzz, some by me. Let us know which was the hardest to repeat over and over as we’re having a competition between us!

Ali asks Alan about antelopes and anteaters.

Busy buzzy Barnabas bakes bread beautifully.

Can cows count cantankerous crickets?

Does Darren dance delightfully?

Elephants eat elderberries early in England.

Gorgeous guineas graze on grass gratefully.

Lily lies laughing like Little Lola.

Silly Sam sings silly songs on sunny Saturdays.

Timmy titters to tiny turtles.


Garden Galore!

We only intended to make a little broken pot garden (pot got broken in the latest wind storm, but nothing is trash in this household!), but we got carried away and made three little gardens: a broken pot cascading garden, a hanging basket, and a little miniature village. The bare patch on the village has grass seeds, we will be making it into a little playground on a lawn.

Fun times!


Atlantas 28_04_2016 17_49_10.jpg

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!!

IMG_6761 IMG_6762