Friday, 20 February 2009

Nomads and Musicians

My dh is always complaining that because of his work he feels like a Nomad! Well this week we've been thinking about the Nomads who were kicking around in about 10,000BC. So we thought that in true home ed style we should have a go at building a shelter in the paddock and cooking up a feast over a roaring fire! This is the moment when I realised that home ed has really transported me into a kind of parallel universe....never before in my well ordered life would I have even considered such a thing! The children say that I'm "coming on" and "showing signs of improvement" though I must admit the control freak in me keeps trying to get out.

Well the children set to constructing a somewhat precarious shelter and covered part of it with animal skins (...... old dust sheets actually, but you get the point!) Then they made a fire pit whilst I "foraged" at the local farm shop for roots and funghi and "hunted" for a nice rump steak.

Well it was all going rather well until we tried to get the fire going and actually cook on it! In my optimism I had placed a large bucket of water next to the fire pit, but I needn't have worried. It took about 2 hours and a whole box of matches (I mean flints ) to get some thing like a fire going!! Oh the shame of it..........we have HE friends who are experts at such things!

Finally managed to produce something edible but the children concluded that even the Rayburn cooked faster than this and they really didn't fancy the idea of being Nomads! They certainly got an inkling of how hard life must have been for the Nomads compared with our own comfy way of life...........mind you, I'm sure the Nomads were more competent than us at surviving in the "wild" !!! Next time (if there is a next time) we are resolved to make a bigger fire pit so we can actually get some heat into it!! We all stink of smoke now................

Keira continues to demonstrate the natural desire to learn that all young children seem to have. For example she often watches Rhiannon and Jo practising their violins. Yesterday she got a music stand, music (a rather tricky Double Concerto by Bach) and her ukele, perched under her chin as best she could, and she began to play. After a minute she stopped and turned to me saying "can you help me Mummy, I don't know how to learn it!" So we let her have a go with Jo's is a pic - doesn't she look serious!

She so much wants to play like Rhiannon and Jo. I sometimes wonder what to do when children have such big ambitions - surely she is too young to tackle something so challenging (my natural instinct is to get out a recorder ). But at the same time I don't want to limit her through my own preconceived ideas. Perhaps there is a danger that just as we often expect too much of our children, maybe there are other times when we may inadvertently squash their enthusiasm because we think something may be beyond them. As for Keira, it is probably a phase that will pass - but maybe not. Why do I assume that she is incapable of extraordinary things?

One thing I have learned today..........I'm rubbish at building fires.

Sunday, 1 February 2009

I'm not a one to rush into things but.........

......I have been trying to set up this blog for the past 4 months! Oh well. I never pretended to be great with technology.

So why the title "Six Quails in Wales" - perhaps I should begin by explaining myself. I have been home educating our 4 children for the past 2 and a half years. When we started out, we just wanted a different lifestyle - I didn't like the pressure my children were continually under at school. It seemed to be all about SATS and league tables - not about education at all. So we took the plunge and deregistered them - quite a leap for someone like me who had spent her life playing by the rules! Perhaps it was a mid life crisis!

I don't think I really knew what I was expecting home education to be like. Its a bit like being on a roller coaster ride, with emotions ranging from exhilaration to total blind panic. But for all the highs and lows it just feels right. Its nothing like school - I want the children to follow their own interests. Trusting them in this way has been something I have not found easy - but I'm learning! And that's the point. Home education is a journey of discovery for the whole family - we are ALL learning, about the world, about maths, about eachother, about everything and anything that comes our way. I am learning so much about myself and about my children - stuff that I know I just would have missed if we had continued in that crazy treadmill that we were all on before. We still do the maths, science, history and so on, but there is so much more to educating young people than learning facts. They need to be equipped to cope with an ever changing world - that is the real challenge.

But I digress..... back to the title of this blog!

There have been many special moments since we began home educating, but for me one of the highlights was when my teenage daughter asked if she could hatch some quails in her bedroom! To her total surprise (and mine) I agreed! She researched the subject and thanks to the kind loan of an incubator and heat lamp from another home ed friend (thanks) she managed to hatch 8 chicks from 21 eggs.

It was such a simple thing, nothing earth-shattering at all really, yet it was symbolic of how home ed had changed our lives. Coming from an Essex council estate where the only livestock consisted of cats and budgies, it felt like a real trip into the unknown for me! I don't believe we would ever have done such a thing had the children remained in school - it was a product of my daughter having time to develop an interest in birds, a product of all the wonderful new people we have been meeting all from different backgrounds, with different interests and experiences, and in a small way, a product of how I have learned to view the world differently now. It was a life enriching experience for all of us. And that's what home education is more than anything - a life enriching daily experience that has become a natural part of our lives.

As for the quails, we sadly lost 2 of them so we are left with 6 - just as we are a family of 6! They have moved with us to West Wales where we are looking forward to enjoying the surf, the wildlife and the landscape (well perhaps not the quails!)..............and the next chapter of our home educating life.