"Although I speak from my own experience, I feel that no one has the right to impose his or her beliefs on another person. I will not propose to you that my way is best. The decision is up to you. If you find some point which may be suitable for you, then you can carry out experiments for yourself. If you find that it is off no use, then you can discard it." Dalai Lama...

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Potter mania.No not that one! The other one:-)

A few weeks ago, Milly found three Beatrix Potter videos in the charity shop for 20p each! A couple of nights prior to finding them she had asked Alan to read some of the stories again from her boxed set we bought her many years ago. We had talked for quite some time about visiting Hilltop (We had taken out a home educating family yearly pass to National trust properties when we visited Fountains Abbey in Ripon and haven’t used it yet.) seemed as good a time as any to do it.We decided it would be nice to visit the World of Beatrix Potter while we were in the area. The plan was to go to Bowness first and take the Car ferry over to save a twisty drive round the lake. I checked out all the details, opening times etc. I rang Hilltop to give them the seven days notice required as a Home ed member (due to a significantly reduced rate can only go with advance notice and in school hours, no school holiday or weekends) Alan booked a day off work as it was too far for me to drive.

Milly was looking forward to going, but on the two nights before we were to go she had trouble sleeping. She had been on two very long hikes with Al and Beauty on both days but was unsettled and was up till 11 and not asleep before 12 and then woke up quite a few times during the night.In hindsight probably coming down with something.So come the morning we had planned to go she was not on top form:-( Journeys longer than 45 minutes are difficult for her; she feels sick and add tiredness in to the mix and it becomes even harder.She will fight sleeping in the car(or anywhere for that matter)even when she is exhausted .

To cut a long story short we got to Bowness and not knowing where we were going, ended up missing the ferry turn off TWICE, Then we finally made it only to find the Ferry which runs all year round except in adverse weather conditions was closed,there was hardly a breeze!!! Then the plan we had had to have our picnic near the water before boarding was foiled when we realised we would have to pay £5 to park!! We were all hungry and pretty pissed off and Milly was feeling very inflexible! We talked about the passenger ferry's that were running but we didn't know how far from the  terminal Hilltop was and Milly wasn't keen on that one as it would make her sicker than the car one!She had been looking forward to getting out of the car and being near the water and we were just dreading  going back round to try and find a park near the lake as it was madness, so busy, Would really hate to see it in high season.

When we finally found a parking space Milly was quite vocal about her disappointment and decided it was horrible day, you get the picture! I went to the boot to get her walking boots and could quite easily have let rip. She was being so unreasonable.I was feeling annoyed that she was tired and had not gone to bed early.I could hear the negative voices in my head of people saying "oh well it's all well and good letting children choose when to go to bed but then this is what you end up with!"I knew it was illogical because even if I had "made" her go to bed at a set bedtime I could not have made her sleep!!

 I choose to breathe deeply and then went round to her. She was angry and I could see it would only get worse. I asked if she would like a big hug, I know she wasn’t expecting that:-) She reached out, we hugged, I empathised with how she was feeling, she melted into me, and I could feel the anger ebbing away. I showed her a takeaway hut nearby and the fact that we could still sit out near the water for a picnic and even better, there was somewhere to get a cold drink. So not a great start, but we had a lovely time in The World of Beatrix Potter.Milly was around 3 the last time we went and it had been extended and had a new garden section.It had lost a very boring film I remembered from last time and had some interactive boards near the exhibits with details about the characters and stories.Lots of info about Beatrix and her life.We all found it enchanting and very atmospheric. We decided the journey around the lake to Hilltop was not an option and we would come back another time.
Now I obviously had to do a slideshow, I know, bear with me I am sure I will tire of them soon.. Practise makes perfect don’t they say.? Any how if your not a Beatrix Potter fan best to miss the next post.

I had to do them on separate ones because I couldn’t upload from blogger so took it from you tube. I got the slideshow over but all the text on the post disappeared!!! So I have re written this. Can I just point out there is no spell check on the new posting layout thingy. Not good ,I really need it ,especially late at night when the few brain cells that seem to be firing at the moment take a holiday as well.

Potter Mania.No not that one! The other one:-) The slideshow!

Sunday, 27 September 2009

2007 Guidelines for Local Authorities on Elective Home Education.

Seems the 2007 Guidlines for Local Authorities on Elective Home Education have gone missing from the internet nowhere to be found.

Thanks to those people who had the foresight to save copies.

Linked back to Lisa
Just in case any poor soul arrives elsewhere and can't find them.
As they seem to have gone missing, why don't you link to them, too? In order that no-one slips through the net (and we know how important that is to Balls and co.) please link back to here - and to everyblogger else who does this.

Friday, 25 September 2009

Autonomous education works whatever your age!

When I set up this blog I was motivated and interested.As a computer novice,I sat for many hours working my way through all the steps.the initial bit was easy but the add ons and adding pictures etc was a real challange for me.I had many setbacks and was very frustrated on many occasions but I didn't give up.Each set back was a learning opportunity.However, I didn't always see it that way,there were times when I would sit for hours trying something out and not understanding why it wouldn't work.If there had been someone here who knew what to do, I would most definitely have asked for help and their knowledge would have made it easier for me.I would have got to the goal much quicker.The setbacks didn’t stop me.I persevered and because I really wanted to learn I kept coming back to it and giving it another go.

I think there does come a time when outside help may be needed when trying something new,but I don't think it should be the first step.Until you try something ,you will never know how far you can go.I gained so much  experience fixing the problems and confidence from working through it myself.The sense of achievement was huge.I am not too sure I would have had that if I had asked for help too soon.

At around the same time I started learning about the computer,I watched my brother in law's slideshows of holiday pictures with all the effects and music added.I loved the idea of doing them but  it looked difficult and  too technical for me.I had only just started using the computer.I was not ready; my confidence on the computer had not built up. My knowledge of computer language was not as informed as it is now, in short it was a step too far at that time.I knew I could have asked my brother in law to teach me but I didn’t really want to,I just wasn’t ready.

Over the last couple of years I have thought about doing them and then it has gone out of my mind again.In the last few weeks I have had the urge to do them again.I googled and came up with Photobucket and did one on there.Quite easy and very satisfying.Emily then mentioned that Tom did them on Windows Media player. I set out to learn.I was amazed at just how easy I found the whole process! It all slotted in to place so easily.Of course there were mistakes made and I learnt from them .Having a problem loading them via blogger meant I had to learn how to upload to You tube!
I spent my evenings so absorbed in learning that meals were late and I stayed up far too late, but I LOVED the whole process.

What had changed?

In the last few years my confidence in my ability on the computer has grown,I have more knowledge of how things work and what the language is.I have made connections and had hands on experience of making mistakes and knowing that I can work through them. I use the help facility and it no longer appears to be in a foreign language:-)

All this has meant that the time was right for me to challenge myself and importantly enjoy the process instead of being stressed and overwhelmed when it went wrong. I was in charge of the timetable ,I wasn't dancing to anyone else’s tune.I didn't once feel the need for someone to "teach" me.If a problem had been too hard for me to work out on my own I knew there were people I could talk to about it.That would have been an absolute last resort, because I really enjoyed the process of working things out.

Why would it be any different for any child who was truly interested and engaged in a topic they wanted to learn?

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

49 Today!!!!

49 Today!! What better way to spend my day than near some water, with a great bunch of people......

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Update on spelling,reading and writing.

A little bit of history for anyone reading that is unfamiliar with our story.

Milly came out of school in year 3 when she was 8 ,after 4 years in the system.On the last parents evening we went to, the teacher informed us she had a reading age of 7 but had a spelling age of zero.They knew Emily had dyspraxia and yet it appeared to count for nothing.She said that even though she was given fewer words than the other pupils to learn she felt she was malingering and should try harder.I wish I could remember her words correctly but she said something about Emily using a charming smile when she got things wrong and that she wouldn't get away using it forever!!I nearly cried when she mentioned that smile because I knew that was what Emily did when she was embarrassed and didn't know how else to deal with a situation.

Here we were with a little girl who was sinking in the system and yet more pressure was being put on her than she could cope with.It seemed obvious to me that she had shut down and no amount of persuasion and spelling tests were going to improve her spelling.

Enough was enough and we took her out of school. For many months Emily would not pick up a pen.I know that had she stayed in school or had we continued the school at home route she would have learned to loathe books and writing.I look back and thank god that I had done so much research prior to her coming out of school and had found autonomous Ed/unschooling,or I might have been tempted to encourage her, because it was a very scary thing to let go completely and trust.I had many wobbles along the way but never once let her know how I was feeling.

Over the months we read to her constantly with no expectation for her to read at all.We spelled words for her if she asked.We enjoyed many great stories and played and visited and crafted and baked.Eventually she began to write again . Initially it caused great frustration leading to meltdowns and self criticism.

Here are a few excerpts from previous posts....

Milly has been seeing the shape of letters everywhere.
Now she has known her letters for many years ,having learnt them at school but over the last few weeks she has been seeing letter shapes in all sorts of places, the way a particular item is set out or a piece of string left on the table etc. Yesterday we were sitting in the living room discussing what to do with the day ( Emily had not gone to gymnastics and it is most likely she will not go back I realised after yet another morning where she didn't want to go that I had to allow her the choice and she was so happy, I feel I had pushed to encourage her when I should of let go a lot sooner,another lesson learnt.) and as we were talking she said "that's a w " and showed us the shape her legs had made so this led on to all of us making the alphabet together, what fun rolling about on the floor making the shapes. I am not sure what is going on for her but it seems she is making links in her own way and a clearer understanding of the shapes seems to be unfolding.
Alongside this she has been reading more by herself. She had stashed a load of her favourite books between her mattress and our bed and put the torch there and has been reading after I have left her as she informed me the other day!! She has also said she will read for ten mins to Al each night so she chose to look through a lovely book by Kate Petty and Jennie Maizels called The wonderful world book, it has lots of pop ups and facts and then Al started reading Phillip Pullman The Northern Lights, We generally have a book that Milly and I read and her and Al have one they read together.
Her use of language has continued to improve and I love it when she tries out a new word and a couple of days a go she went into the kitchen and on seeing two boiled eggs I had left on a plate set on top of a mixing bowl to cool called back "those eggs are a bit precarious" and proceeded to move them to a safer position. And yesterday she sat watching TV whilst she had her sausage sarni for breakfast and afterwards brought her plate through and said "that was a delightful breakfast"

Milly has continued to concentrate on her spelling and is using the keyboard more rather than asking me to do it for her.She is also going on education city and choosing the spelling options to do.I have been asked to spell words a lot but she has also been challenging herself and I can hear her sounding the words out to herself, she is using spellcheck on the PC when it is available on what she is doing.
It has taken a long time for this to happen, we have resisted the temptation to engage her in any form of writing she didn't want to do and I have always written for her or typed for her and have done so willingly.Gradually her confidence has grown and I believe we are seeing the process we would have seen had she been home educated from the start.

We had a bit of a melt down last night.Over the last few weeks Milly has been writing in a journal she has started and is choosing to write short amounts more and more and I had thought she was quite content to go along slowly.However, we watched Miss Potter last night and afterwards she was keen to get out a sketch pad and paints and set about drawing Beauty and to write a story about her, within minutes she was tearing up the paper and stabbing the pencil in the table and was really angry which then turned to tears and wails of why can't I write, I'll never be able to write.It was hard to watch and I don't think I handled things as well as I could of,I was tired and got angry when she started stabbing the pen down and regretted it immediately as it stopped the behaviour but also stopped her getting it out,I should of just done what we have done on other occasions and punched some cushions and had a good scream which helps her to get back on an even keel.We went to bed together and she seemed much better this morning.We talked about it and I said I felt I hadn't handled her anger very well and that it was OK to be angry but there were better ways to deal with it than damaging the table and she accepted that but suggested that next time instead of raising my voice I should just stay calm and encourage her to calm down and we could punch some cushions!!!

The first thing Emily wanted to do this morning was to write a story about the Bratz pixies,she asked me to write her words which I did and although it is not ideal for her she likes to see her story written out.When she writes herself she reduces the words she uses because it takes so long for her to write but when I write it she narrates beautiful intricate stories.We have talked about the possibility of recording the stories on a tape and then Alan or I typing them out and she did mention that again so I will look into it and see if it would be a viable option.I have also thought about the voice recognition software you can get for PCs but need to find out more about them.

When she was at school she was frustrated because she had no options and had to write whatever was set in the lesson and she felt so out of her depth and unsupported.I think she has become frustrated now because she is really wanting to record her thoughts and ideas and she sees her friends writing effortlessly in their journals and her limitations have been highlighted. It is a really positive thing that she is wanting to record things and we just need to ease the process so she doesn't get disheartened,she is such a perfectionist and is so hard on herself.She doesn't want to practice writing or spellings and I don't think for one moment that is the right way to go,she needs to go at her own pace but it is hard for her to believe that she will get there,she doesn't see the improvement in her writing and spelling since leaving school she just knows she has difficulty and that it makes her unhappy and hurts her hands:-(

It has been quite some time since the last excerpt but we have continued in exactly the same way.She once dictated an 18 page story, straight off, as I was typing, the whole thing just flowed out.It lost it's way a little but that is not the point,it was all about her confidence, not so much about the content or grammar.My mum bought her a voice dictator and if she wants, I will type things out for her.

We had a conversation in the early days, about whether writing neatly was important,she thought it was very important and I think she was shocked when I said I thought it was not so important.I explained that it was much more about her enjoyment of doing it,if she wanted to do it at all, freeing her self up from having to be perfect.I explained that she would get by in life with the writing she could do. I said that if it was easier for her, typing it out was a definite option.She didn't rush right in and start learning to type(nor did I say it with that expectation) but what she did do was to continue story telling without the feeling that it had to be written down or that it had to be a complete tale.Milly is a story teller, her head is full to bursting at times with tales to be told.Why should she stop,why do they have to be written down unless she wants to,would that mean she wasn't a storyteller just because they weren't written down?

I never correct her spelling, unless she asks me to.People think that if you don't tell them they will never know,I know by watching her on the computer when she is writing her stories how she looks at a word and knows it isn't right and will change it around till it looks tight to her and often it is then actually spelt right.Milly writes when she wants, what she wants, for how long she wants.She has about 100(OK slight exaggeration!)notebooks scattered around the house and drools in the stationary aisles in shops.She adores books and we are surrounded by them.She chooses bundles of second hand ones from the charity shop. She gets great pleasure from searching through them and buying them,far more than we could ever read to her.I don't dissuade her,it would be easy to think it was a waste of money because she may never read them herself,to my mind it is fostering a love of books that could last a lifetime,and when/if the time comes that she starts to read more herself, we will have a very good stock for her to go at:-)

She says she wants to be a writer when she grows up and her head is so full of stories.Not all the stories are finished in fact 99.9% are begun and discarded, whether that is on paper, in her head, told to us,or dictated on the machine.

I don't worry that she won't be able to put a story together if that is what she wants to do in the future. I see all this as practise and importantly practise in the way that works best for Emily,I have no clue how all this will fit together for her in the future.She is fine tuning her story telling and her writing is improving all the time.In fact there is little to choose between her writing and her schooled friend.

I have been through the school system,my handwriting isn't bad but it is not brilliant,I choose to type rather than write anything if at all possible.
I don't know all the intricacies of grammar and punctuation,if I really wanted to I would find out,just as Emily will if and when that need arises.I don't let it stop me rambling/writing on here,throwing in a comma where I think it looks right:-)

A few months ago we had arranged a visit with an educational psychologist. We had a few questions we felt needed answered but were not too keen to go down the diagnosis route(we didn't see the need now she was not in school)so the paediatrician organised the visit. Emily was used to seeing the paediatrician because she had been seeing her since birth(two months prem),and had had other tests done at the hospital to determine the level of her difficulty's(so the school would accept it and not have us down as being over anxious parents).

We explained that this visit was in connection with those visits and when he came(he visited us at home) she happily set about the tests he wanted her to do.Then Alan took her to play whilst I chatted with him about our concerns,which were much more to do with emotional/social issues.I did get the answers I needed from him, the point here though is that in his assessment he gave her a reading age of 10 (her age now) and a spelling age slightly below that.(We knew that both had improved and under normal circumstances would not have tested her)

So with us reading the books she chose for as long as she wanted us to,no lessons,no spelling tests,no constant repetition,no corrections other than the ones she asked for,read what she wanted, when she wanted,the ability to work in her way at her pace, she has managed to do what years in school had failed to do.

Emily does not care that she makes mistakes,sometimes she corrects them, sometimes she doesn't,sometimes she asks how to spell a word,sometimes she can spell a word one day and have forgotten it the next.She may never be a great speller luckily there is always spellcheck;-) She may well continue to be a great storyteller though.Time will tell whether that than becomes something she can earn a living from,who knows,that time is years away and in that time her interests will change,no point in predicting what she will do.

All I know is she is spelling well enough for anyone to understand her work,it is improving and much more importantly, although she knows her spelling is not always the best(by her own admission,not something that we have said) she enjoys writing and has the confidence to go ahead anyway and not let it get in the way of a good story.

Day out at Dubwath silver meadows.

There really is no stopping me!!!!

Not only have I taught myself how to do a slideshow on photobucket(pretty easy really)a few days ago. I have now taught myself how to do one on Windows Media player:-) Had problems uploading (seems from the little research I did that it is a problem a few are having with blogger)so decided I would find out how to upload on U Tube and voila here it is

Size is too big but will rectify that next time I do one.You know whats coming of course,at least till I tire of doing it:-))

Monday, 21 September 2009

Sleepover fashion show posers!!

A was interested in my blog when she saw me making the slide show. I said that although I had written about her, I had never posted a picture and would have to ask her mum before posting a picture as she may not want one on here.A said "You could have one of me facing away from the camera" I said I would do a slide show if they wanted to take pictures during the night of the sleepover.Off they went with the camera.Took a couple of photos and some video clips that we can't get to work.

Not enough to do a slide show really but here they are posing :-))

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Snowy sunday.

A nice quiet start to the day,pottering doing a few jobs whilst Emily watched TV.She was a bit tired after a sleepover with A on Friday and a full day shopping with Alan on Saturday morning for my birthday present and then a very long walk to pick brambles in the afternoon .

Unfortunately the day took a downward turn, Emily and I were not seeing eye to eye and words were had, it all became a little tense. Thankfully as we began our journey we saw the light and made friends again.

A funky, stripy, Milly leads us on a tour of a local Animal Sanctuary.....

So amusing hearing "Hello there" and "Goodbye" from this very talkative bird.

Most of the animals are rescued and the released into the wild again,we have been a couple of times and a few of them seem to live here. This little fella really likes to put on a show for the camera :-)

Back home again and we began a family cooking session to make use of the brambles and a bag of apples our neighbour had kindly given us from their garden.We decided to do a crumble and to have a go at shortcrust pastry,I would normally buy pastry but Emily said we should give it a go and not worry if it didn't turn out:-)

Chatting animatedly whilst waiting to weigh out more ingredients.Milly says that "cooking isn't my thing" but likes to be involved and chose the bits she wanted to do :-)

Making it snow after sieving the flour.

A novel way to clean down the counter.

Verdict was that the pastry was awful and the apple crumble that looked awful was actually lovely!

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Unconditional love.

Great link from Deb at Muddy bare feet .

Been thinking a great deal about unconditional love recently(well for years actually,but in even greater depth this last few months) trying (cos it is a work in progress)to live in a non coercive and respectful way with Emily is having knock on effects in all other relationships,including the one with myself:-)

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Cookie dough conscience...

A song for my little Em,written for her by a very talented and gorgeous teenage friend,another Emily who is affectionately known around here as Tom:-)
You make my daughter very happy and we LOVE spending time with you.xxx

Paper hearts and cookie dough
A happy song with a smile in tow.
A pink unicorn with feathered wings
The loyal royal advisor of fallen kings.
I look to you when all else fails
You listen to my empty wails.
And build up an imaginary wall
That we'll climb behind
And stay safe from it all.

So paint me a dream of rainbows
And soothe my aching heart.
Your smile makes the day so much brighter
A perfectly invisioned fresh start.
Its like you're my higher guidance,
My guardian angel and my conscience.
So paint me a dream of rainbows
And soothe my aching heart.
Your smile makes the day so much brighter
A perfectly invisioned fresh start.
Its like you're my higher guidance,
My guardian angel and my conscience.

Golden stars and glitter dust
I love hanging out with you just
Because you're amazingly fantastic
Not a friend strung up by elastic.
You've a pure heart and cleansing soul.
It's like you've filled up a bowl
With strawberries covering up my pain
I could eat all of them again.

So paint me a dream of rainbows
And soothe my aching heart.
Your smile makes the day so much brighter
A perfectly invisioned fresh start.
Its like you're my higher guidance,
My guardian angel and my conscience.
So paint me a dream of rainbows
And soothe my aching heart.
Your smile makes the day so much brighter
A perfectly invisioned fresh start.
Its like you're my higher guidance,
My guardian angel and my conscience.

Paper hearts and cookie dough
A happy song with a smile in tow.

Tom gave her permission to print this,she has asked me to point out that it remains her property and as such should not be copied.

I love our life

Had a great day today.After a rather hectic start to the day(had to be out by 9.45 and I usually take quite a while to get going in the mornings!)making a picnic and gathering things we would need like spare clothes,wellies,water shoes, etc etc.

A group of us are gathering regularly at a local farm.We have use of a camping barn with log fire or if that is in use we can use another barn/workshop.There is plenty of outside space the children are free to play in, a wooded hillside with dens and apparently, according to the children, monsters, and a stream where they can paddle.

The stream was off limits today though as Douglas a manx sheep was in amorous mood and was proving to be very bad tempered and had taken to charging people who went in the field!! Apparently he usually has a very sweet temperament:-)

Four and a half hours of play,walking in the woods searching out mushrooms,chatting with friends,eating lunch together with a log fire crackling,watching the animals in the feilds,throwing sticks for the dogs. Many more visits in the future to look forward too,with the prospect of some craft on occasions and maybe cold winter days playing games in front of the fire.Admiring the fantastic lakeland scenery surrounding us,seeing things changing with the seasons and being out in it,living in it.

I love our life.


“How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours.”
Wayne Dyer

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Touching base...

Been feeling bogged down and unmotivated,focusing too much on negative things,lack of sleep (hot flushes) meaning I have been feeling like a zombie during the day and find it difficult to string two words together,there seems to be a road block between my thought and actually getting the words out:-(

Not a frame of mind conducive to blogging:-)

I hope to be up and running again soon,I have taken action!! I have joined weight watchers and hope that the change in eating habits will translate into renewed energy and a reduction in the severity of the hot flushes, loosing a few stone will help on all levels:-)

The very fact I have posted something even this short may be a good sign;-)

Will just leave you with a few pics of things that have been happening around here,because of course things are never all bad.....

A late night investigation of a spiky visitor.

Look closely and you can see that Lyras companion has moved up and along the rope.

How many herbs can one girl eat?

Another great car boot sale find by Alan.£2.00 for the set.

Getting some use, reading about lions and large cats, Milly's passion at the moment.

And then of course there are the animals that share our lives. to lavish some love on.