Getting back into the home education groove

It’s been a whirlwind month and we are getting back into the home education groove with our two natural learners, Alice, aged 6, and Sophie, aged 10, whilst our oldest daughter, Charlotte, aged 13, is thriving at a lovely girl’s school in Wellington, which suits her brilliantly. She sings in two school choirs, has performed in a lead role in her school musical this term and is doing exceedingly well with learning Japanese. What’s more, she’s happy and does her homework and organises herself without us ever having to check in on her! She’s a dream teenager (so far… only six months into the teens, but looking great so far!).

Performing as 'Ursula' in her Year 9 class musical performance of 'The Little Mermaid'

Performing as ‘Ursula’ in her Year 9 class musical performance of ‘The Little Mermaid’

As for our younger two, it feels so natural to have them back in the home and they are both so happy. They were only at formal school for a year and a half and, though they had a good year last year, we all agreed to return to natural learning midway through this year. One of the main reasons was seeing our ten year old becoming increasingly anxious, so much so that her sleep was being badly affected. Anxiety was a main reason for home educating her when she was five, as the school ‘system’ just didn’t work for her personality. We have since sought professional help with a clinical psychologist and are seeing really positive steps forward. It’s lovely to see her happy, energised and back to her sparkly self again. Her younger sister is so much happier too.

Nature on our doorstep

Nature on our doorstep

In and around our home…

It’s lovely to see them learning at their own pace, choosing topics that interest them, without the pressure of performing, being tested and having to compete against their peers. They both love the freedom to move and be outdoors in nature so much more, as well as eating when they are hungry, rather than to a timetable.

Alice in our garden

Alice in our garden

They both take interest in preparing their own smoothies, baking and cooking stir-fries and soups. Lunch is a learning experience, not a rushed lunchbox meal between classes.

Sophie preparing dinner

Sophie preparing dinner

They love being able to sing whilst they work and think, swing on the yoga-trapeze in the garden, take a yoga break or head out for a nature walk with our dog. Alice loves to paint what ever comes to mind, rather than having to follow set lesson plans and having the freedom to be creative without criticism.

Alice painting stormy waves washing up on the rocky shore.

Alice painting stormy waves washing up on the rocky shore.

I’m loving having them in the home and sharing their learning journey with them. They have lovely neighbourhood friends too. So, all up, feeling very blessed and grateful!

Baking cookies to share with neighbourhood friends on Halloween (well, Beltane in New Zealand!).

Baking cookies to share with neighbourhood friends on Halloween (well, Beltane in New Zealand!).

Places we’ve been and are going to visit…

We are also enjoying being part of the Wellington Home Education Network community (WHEN). This term we’ve been on a couple of lovely excursions, including a visit to the City Art Gallery on a ‘Sculpture Trail and Workshop‘ as well as a fabulous visit to ‘The National Science and Technology Roadshow‘.

Later this month we are visiting Matiu-Somes Island with the home educating community (one member lives on the island, with her husband and home-educated children).

Next week we are looking forward to seeing ‘Shakespeare & Henry Live at the Stadium‘, presented by Shakespeare Global Centre New Zealand (SGCNZ) and Westpac Trust Stadium. The ninety minute version of Henry V will be performed by approximately 250 primary school age students, directed by their teachers, with mentoring by Co-Director appointed by SGCNZ, Ania Upstill. Eight primary schools and a homeschool group have been rehearsing their scenes independently and will come together on the day to perform. The production is part of Shake Alive 2016 – the celebration of the 25th anniversary of SGCNZ and the commemorations the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.

Over the ‘Labour Weekend’ here in New Zealand we flew up to Auckland for two nights and enjoyed an amazing time visiting ‘MOTAT‘ – the Museum of Transport and Technology’, as well as ‘Rainbow’s End‘ theme park, an ‘Escape Room’, with Escape Masters’; ‘Gangsters’ Room‘ (my first one!) and games of mini-golf.

On the Saturday evening Dan and Charlotte did an escape room as well, ‘Return of the Super Heroes‘. The pair of them have done around seven escape rooms now – one in Melbourne, one on the Gold Coast of Australia and a few in Wellington. Charlotte loves the challenge of the rooms so much that she set one up in our home – in the bathroom – and so far we’ve had four people complete it!

Books we are reading…

Having two daughters at home means I have the opportunity to enjoy revisiting some of the classic literature I enjoyed growing up, as well as exploring new authors. I love reading to them, as well as listening to them read to me – or finding them curled up reading quietly to themselves. Alice and I started reading Swallows and Amazons after our visit to the Lake District, in the UK (blog post here) and though the nautical terminology is very strong in the beginning, it sums up the level of preparation and knowledge required to take a sailing vessel out and camp on a small island (and makes me want to take the girls out sailing; luckily we live in a harbour with plenty of wind – perfect for sailing!).

Sharing a love of literature

Sharing a love of literature, and creating special bookmarks together.

Alice and I recently finished reading ‘Dragon White’, by Shoo Rayner, after having read ‘Dragon Gold‘ on holiday. We discovered this great read at the Conwy Castle gift shop, in North Wales, (read about our visit on the blog here) and are delighted to discover that a third book, ‘Dragon Red‘, will be published on St David’s Day – 1 March 2017.

Alice is very much in love with Dragons and they are the inspiration behind some of her recent art.

A dragon, by Alice, aged 6

A dragon, by Alice, aged 6

I love hearing her explain her drawings and the meaning behind them.

Her other favourite, go to book, is the ‘Pokémon Deluxe Essential Handbook: The Need-to-Know Stats and Facts on Over 700 Pokémon

Meanwhile, I’ve read a book by Rachel Cotterill called, ‘Watersmeet‘, which I absolutely loved. I’m now reading the second book in the trilogy ‘Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children‘ (I haven’t seen the film, but my 10 and 13 year old tell me it is brilliant!).

Sophie’s reading Diary of a Wimpy Kid ‘Double Down’ and Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library, by Chris Grabenstein.

Charlotte’s reading ‘Hamilton the Revolution‘ by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter;

‘Lin-Manuel Miranda’s groundbreaking musical Hamilton is as revolutionary as its subject, the poor kid from the Caribbean who fought the British, defended the Constitution, and helped to found the United States. Fusing hip-hop, pop, R&B, and the best traditions of theater, this once-in-a-generation show broadens the sound of Broadway, reveals the storytelling power of rap, and claims our country’s origins for a diverse new generation.’ (Hachette Book Group)

What we are listening to…

HAMILTON! Charlotte has us all listening, singing and dancing to this musical!

Charlotte has the whole family loving 'Hamilton' the musical! She changes the quote on her white board every few days... always from Hamilton!

Charlotte has the whole family loving ‘Hamilton’ the musical! She changes the quote on her white board every few days… always from Hamilton!

With the onset of November we’ve also got the Christmas carols out and are warming up on on piano, guitar, and our vocals, for the festive season!

Charlotte and I went to a lovely ‘Christmas planning’ workshop at ‘Kikki.K’ and are feeling very revved up, with grateful hearts, to make this festive season a beautiful one of family time and celebration.

Kikki.K Christmas Planning Workshop

Kikki.K Christmas Planning Workshop

To sum up, we’ve had a great a four weeks start to the last term of the New Zealand school year and we are enjoying the sunshine days of spring between the wind and showers.

Sophie hand-standing at Oriental Parade beach on a sunny spring day.

Sophie hand-standing at Oriental Parade beach, Wellington, on a sunny spring day.



Linking up with…

Country Kids