I have put together some of the things that have been happening over the last year.This is not exhaustive, just a snapshot ,but I think it gives a good overview of what natural learning looks like for us.Non of these things have been compulsory, all of the activities stem from Emily's interests, which I pick up on and attempt to expand with things I think she might like.Emily has complete freedom to watch TV and go on the computer at any time,she often chooses to do other things;-)She is in control of what she does and when and for how long she does it.
Jacqueline Wilson Books,also widened to include DVD’s,Jacqueline Wilson‘s autobiography, Diary with facts about the author and quiz‘s about the books, Story CD’s, websites. Lots of discussions about real life tragedy and dealing with emotions.
Karen McCombie Ally’s world .Moving on to new series by same author, Stella etc. Great humour and real life family dramas.
Stephanie Meyer Twilight series includes Cinema visit, DVD with special features, book about behind the scenes and making of the film. A visit on holiday to Whitby also tied in with information about Bram Stoker and Dracula .
Golden Compass (Northern lights trilogy) all story tapes listened to time and time again. Books about the making of the film and behind the scenes footage on DVD. We have read about the author on his website. Many conversations where snippets of info on various things crop up and lead back to info heard about in the Golden compass. Trepanning being just one I can remember.We were having a conversation about skulls with a friend and in part of the story Trepanning was mentioned and Emily piped up about the Tarters doing it to let out bad spirits.I was amazed, I had never heard of it and here was another piece of info she had picked up from a story tape.
Artemis Fowl Story CD’s. Milly enjoys spy and mystery drama such as Miss Marple ,Agatha Christie,Nancy Drew and Midsomer Murders. Newly purchased book called Five minute Mysteries to get into, where a scene is set and you have to work through the clues to find the answer.
The My story range of books. We have read ones about the Potato famine, Titanic, Plague and have started The Victorian workhouse but have bought a range of titles to dip in to as and when. When we read the Plague one, I found Story CD’S The plague house in the library with information about the Plague that I thought she would enjoy.She loved them and Emily made up a character called sorrel who lived in that time and Emily acted out being Sorrel for quite some time :-)
Greek Myths, Percy Jackson series,website with facts and quizs, Roman Mysteries revisited again this year on film and in story. Romans board game, Involves answering questions about the era as you move around the board. Jason and the arganauts movie, Horrible histories DVD's.I often wonder what Emily is actually taking from the things we do and because we don't do any form of testing we rely on conversations or facts to crop up during something related,that happened when we watched Night at the museum she knew about Sacajawea the Indian guide when I didn't!!(showing my ignorance here!!)
Casualty TV programme, other programmes /documentaries that depict real life rescues. Discussing plans to take a ST Johns ambulance first aid course. I am going to look at other avenues of opening up this interest for her with visits if possible. Anatomix board game ,answering questions about Anatomy to win jigsaw pieces.Milly is very good at answering correctly,I love to hear where she has got her info and the last time we played, one of the questions was about how many ribs we had,she answered without hesitation and the way she knew? Pa ingles in Little house on the Prairie brook his ribs and she remembered we have 12 pairs from that book:-)
Fairies, Angels, spirituality, gemstones. Milly has a collection of gemstones and I am planning a visit to a local mine in Keswick where you can pan for gold and a more hands on/practical /geological approach can be explored as well as the healing/spiritual side of gems.
Fashion design. This ties in with Emily’s love of drawing figures, which are characters in her stories. Websites with the opportunity to dress figures in a multitude of styles including mermaids, warrior women etc as well as modern fashion.
Victorian era and Georgian era have been of interest recently. Amongst other things, we have made visits to Tullie house, Muncaster castle ,Wordsworth house.Milly doesn't like to do any kind of worksheets when we go round places.Hard facts are of little interest to her most of the time.She loves to invent a character who lives in the place and we create a story and she acts it out in the castle/house. Some future plans include visits to Beamish in October ,Dove cottage, Long Meg etc to see the places, read some poetry in situ, and tie in the history around the area to Wordsworth. Milly enjoys looking at buildings and deciding if they are from Victorian or Georgian times. I have plans to research and go on a tour around Carlisle to look at the Victorian Architecture.We have watched pride and prejudice and Sense and sensibility. Listened to Phillip Pullmans Ruby in the smoke and Shadow in the north and watched the dramatisation of both.
Have visited York , Jorvick Museum, York Minster, The shambles. Whitby and the Abbey, Ripon and Cathedral. Holiday in Yorkshire in June to go back and revisit all of them .
Titanic, seen the movie, read the My story book. Purchased a book with pull out model and replica tickets etc. Box set 3 DVD’s with documentaries from the discovery channel about the search for information on the cause of the sinking.
Emily is an Arctophilist and has started to buy some collectable bears.
Making up stories is still a passion; she tells them, records them on a dictation machine and has a growing collection of notebooks that stories are recorded in, to varying degrees. A laptop is now available to record her stories/character biographies etc. A lot of the time the stories involve role-play. These “games “often include real historical figures and times and it is as if she is living and feeling the history.
Interest in putting together a family tree, this is only in the early stages but will be something that can be added to as and when.
Walking with Alan and Beauty around the Lakes and fells, trampolining ,climbing tree’s and play boxing have been ways of keeping active. Milly is still interested in Karate but is not keen on a class situation, if Emily is in agreement I am going to try to find someone who can provide a very open session to explore the moves rather than “teach” at the moment. Swimming has been on hold recently due to illness but is another favourite activity.
Animals still play a big part in Emily’s world and we have visited Trotters farm regularly. We have watched Gorillas in the mist and read Sophie’s story both about the work done in conservation. We have a boxed set of DVD’s showing real life animal rescues from the Animal planet channel.
We have read the children’s version of Marley and Me and seen the film and we intend to get the adult version to read as well.
Wild at heart series on TV (set in Africa about a vet and his family and life looking after wild animals,)we then purchased DVD collection. Books and websites about wild animals are visited regularly.
We are thinking of volunteering at a local wildlife sanctuary.
Emily loves to draw the characters she makes up and weaves a story around the drawing ,usually verbally but sometimes in notebooks or typed.
Drawing has moved into an interest in Anime and Manga after reading and watching the series of W.I.T.C.H.
We are intending to view the work of Hayao Miyazaki on film .we will also look into getting some comic books .Milly has shown an interest in drawing in the style and is going about it in her own way as she finds manuals and tutorial hard to follow, although both these options are open to her if she wishes.
I have a range of science experiments that I have sourced from the Steve Spangler website. I have them ready with instructions and ingredients in zip lock bags and when we decide to do one they are ready to go.
Math is around us daily and although we don’t do maths problems ,dealing with time and finances mean Emily has a basic knowledge which grows as interest is sparked, or by a need to find answers.
We visit the local home Ed group .We have just met up with friends we met on the internet, who also home educate. We would love to join in future camps/get-togethers with them and other home edders. We have schooled friends locally as well as other home edders that we get together with outside the home Ed group.
We do activities such as Forest Days,drumming workshops and so on with the group.
By allowing Emily to follow her interests and her passions she is gaining confidence in her own ability. Her drawing moves at her pace in her own way ,she goes through periods where drawing is all she does and then periods where she rarely picks up a pencil. There has been significant progression in her work. She gains immense satisfaction from having mastered something herself in her own timescale with no input from anyone else.
Writing and typing are now undertaken daily ,writing is still difficult for her and slow going but the frustration she once felt is not as evident. There is no hesitation at attempting to spell a word and she rarely asks for help with spelling ,she can “ see” when a word doesn’t look right and will play around until it seems right to her. She communicates with friends on MSN typing in conversations and has a pen pal in America with plans to use SKYPE to communicate with her on line with instant messenger and via webcam.
There is no set date an interest has to have been explored by.Two years ago she was interested in Queen Elizabeth,over time we have watched films and read books and in the future things may crop up that engage her or offer new info about the era.
We have no way of knowing what she is learning from one day to the next.the evidence is that connections being made daily as Emily follows her interests, building blocks that grow to form structures, some of which end up a few blocks,some that grow and keep on expanding .Connections are made between each, as and when she finds new information, or when she goes back over old ground. Emily is learning and will continue to do so without the stress and restriction of school.She is free,she chooses her time table,her activities,when she eats,and what she eats.She can go to the loo without being embarrassed or afraid she will be told to wait.She decides what interests her,she doesn't have to spend hours and hours in activities she doesn't want or need.Her talents can grow because she can focus on them and from that self esteem grows.Her growth is evident in her interactions.
I know the future is bright for Emily.She is in charge of it and I am her co-pilot until she can Fly solo :-)