The blog has been very patchy recently, so I thought it was time for another “day in the life of…”

Last night Matt read the 1st chapter from Voyage of the Dawn Treader to Bee and Mip. Before I came down this morning Bee had drawn a picture of the ship, and was obviously full of enthusiasm for the story, so we listened to the chapter again on story tape over breakfast. He then carried on with a lion picture (with help), while I read to Mip and JJ. (Owl Moon, Jumblies, St George and the Dragon). We have a wooden doll’s high chair, and our reading was interrupted when she climbed in backwards and became stuck. In the end I had to find a screwdriver to take it apart to get her out. So that was then put out of reach.

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She then fell asleep, so we took advantage of this and the boys played Magnetix while I made bread and tidied. She continued to sleep, so we started to make snowflakes. Lunch followed, with the usual mental arithmetic.

(Interestingly, I have been reading an HE book by Gareth Lewis this week, and he says that younger children do much better with mental arithmetic and that problems often start when they are made to write out maths too young. I have been doing it simply because they enjoy it and it is easy on my part, but I thought again of the Maria Montessori quote “One test of the correctness of educational procedure is the happiness of the child”. It seems to be a popular view that children must be made to do things that they don’t want to do, and find difficult, otherwise they will never learn. But I’m feeling that if they are resisting something it can be that they are just not ready yet. We don’t “make” our children crawl, walk, talk etc. They do it, with great enthusiasm, when they are ready. So I feel I need to have confidence that the things the children are doing with enthusiasm are the things that are developmentally appropriate (eg drawing, mental arithmetic) and those things done with less enthusiasm, and only when initiated by me (eg learning to read) are things to save for later. But the pressure is always there to push them on, despite having read so much about the advantages of leaving formal work until later, and never having read anything to the contrary. John Holt, Steiner, Charlotte Mason, the Moores, continental schools (in countries with literacy levels way higher than ours) – all are in agreement on this. And I am so frustrated with my inability to stand firm on this one, and every time I feel that someone else thinks my children ought to be doing this or that, I waver and try and slip it in. The pressure to conform to someone else’s timetable often takes the pleasure away from the home educating, because instead of enjoying the huge amount of creativity I see coming from them I have the background nagging of “but what would so-and so say about how much science they are doing”. Or whatever. Anyway, back to our day….

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Bee continued snowflake production, JJ brought through and started a space shuttle puzzle, I read Snowflake Bentley to them, and we listened to Mendelssohn. Matt came home early, and the afternoon is a bit hazy now -I read some Richard Scarry to them at some point, and Bee and Mip watched a David Attenborough on lizards while I cleared the mess in the kitchen and cooked in preparation for house group. This was the usual shared meal, the group including our HE friends with 5 children, so several hours of happy playing followed. And finally chapter 2 of Dawn Treader from Matt, and to bed (they are “camping out” in the playroom tonight – as this follows on from the game they were playing with their friends during house group) with The Owl who was Afraid of the Dark on the CD player.

The pictures below show the boys with their friends all in the tent, plus Bee and Mip asleep in their ‘camp’.

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Bee and Mip often play at being J and N, pretending that they are these two older boys. Today it was entertaining to see them playing with J and N, and all of the boys were playing at being an older age.

Numero Romano

Some models Bee made from his Richard Scarry activity book.

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Mip drew this in my diary the other day – Mary, Joseph, Jesus and the donkey in a stable with a manger, but the funny thing was that he had randomly chosen Christmas day to draw it in.

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We had a parcel arrive today. It had a dot-to-dot book for Mip (up to now he has just been doing a few in Bee’s book when Bee feels generous) which he was very pleased with ‘my OWN dot-to-dot book’. Also, a book on Roman Numerals came in the parcel. Matt has been reading it to the boys and they have been starting to get the idea. It explains with nicely detailed farmyard scenes (each with the right number of pigs!) how roman numerals work.

Other than that it was a quiet day. Lots of playing with the Playmobil ship. Also, Magnetix, Hama beads, the sand tray and a quick trip to the park. I read another half chapter of Swallows and Amazons, but I think it is getting a bit complicated for them really.

Mip’s Birthday

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The book we had ordered for his present didn’t arrive in time, but yesterday Matt won a Playmobil ship locally on ebay (99p!). So, he went to pick it up, then brought it home and had to work out how to put up the various sails. Mip was so pleased with it. At one point he said ‘This is a great present, I like it even better than cattle.’, which I think is something to do with Laura in ‘On the Banks of Plum Creek’.

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Granny came for the afternoon, though I don’t think she saw too much of the children – they were busy playing with the ship and wooden castle blocks that she had brought!

Mip also had ‘Snowflake Bentley’, which is very beautiful and you can see lots of his snowflake photos at http://www.bentley.sciencebuff.org/

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Just in case you are wondering, this a dry stone wall built from chopped up mushrooms!!?

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Smiling people (and I think a submarine) by Mip. Old Ironsides by Bee.

The week has flown past. We’ve been to central park to play in the sand, had an under 8s group story-time meeting here, watched Viking Voyage (much enjoyed by everyone), Bill Oddie’s Wild Side (but not very inspiring), found and resumed Swallows and Amazons, Colourstrings, and hopefully we did a bit more but I really can’t remember it.

A bitty day (nothing new there). JJ spent much of the morning with Panda playing with the Pentaminos. The older two both did some reading. I read something – I forget what. No S&A today as we couldn’t find the book. Lots of drawing writing, playdough, sticking. Lots of baking on my part for house group.

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Bee made a paper crown for one of his favourite girl friends. He hasn’t seen her for a while, but keeps thinking of things to make for her ready for when he does see her again!

The morning didn’t seem particularly productive – we seemed to spend it getting ready to go out. We read a Dr Seuss and the boys read a bit from their books.

This afternoon we had our under 8s group meeting. After a year of struggling to find a meeting place we had our first meeting in a local hall. Just three families there. The children made bird feeders (a stick or cone covered in peanut butter with bird seed stuck on), snowmen from soap flakes and then drew, glued and looked at books. It was a lovely afternoon. I particularly liked Mip’s alphabet. I only needed to prompt him with the ‘y’.

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Bee has been drawing queens.

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