Mother’s Day

I have posted this on my personal Facebook page, but wanted to share the sentiment with my followers on here too:

Happy Mother’s Day to my lovely friends. I’m taking the opportunity to share this again …

To my friends who are Mothers, I hope you are treated today. I’m celebrating with you.

To my friends who have their Mothers, be thankful today. I am thankful like you.

To my friends who long to be Mothers, I hope you have hope today. I’m praying for you.

To my friends who are Mothers to babies and children whose lives were far too short, or who have lost their Mothers, have strength and courage. My heart breaks for you.

To my friends who are Mothers but are struggling to ‘enjoy every moment’, I see you. I hope today your spirits are lifted and you can find joy in the small things.

To my friends who are doing this journey of Motherhood alone, you are real life superheroes. My hope is that today you will know that and will be showered in love by your little people.

I am so aware now more than ever that today is lovely for some and so hard for others (sometimes even a mix of the two). My biggest hope is that all of my friends know and are shown love today (and every other day!)

Love

Lucy
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Are we making fair comparisons between our schools?

I’ve recently seen a local news website publish a list of the top 10 performing schools in Lincolnshire and the worst 10. While I am in absolutely no doubt that the staff at the schools in the top ten are working so hard to the point of exhaustion (it kinda comes with the job,right?!) I have a few things I feel I need to get off my chest in support of those who didn’t quite make the grade (or level?) this time.

Firstly, these lists are produced based on the percentage of children in this year’s cohort getting a certain level in their year 6 SATS, including a teacher assessment in reading, writing, maths and science.

Whilst I totally disagree with the SATS for various reasons, I also feel it is totally unfair to label certain schools as the ‘worst’ in the county for many, many reasons.

Having previously worked in the school that has achieved second place in the top schools list (well done everyone!), I have also worked in a wonderful school in an area of the city with a much higher percentage of families living in deprivation. In this second school some children couldn’t talk before starting school. Some couldn’t independently use a toilet. Others were rarely fed breakfast or got to school on time. Some children had to sleep in their beds that they had had an accident in for the rest of the night. One girl had to escape her house through a window with her mother, whilst another had to be gifted with her own towel, soap and toothpaste so that she could maintain a level of hygiene at school. Add to that the amount of children speaking English as a second or sometimes third language in some areas, this quickly becomes a far more complex issue.

Some of these children start school in a much more vulnerable state and are not at the same ‘level’ of children in other schools. They first and foremost need to be shown love, affection and protection. They need to learn that they are valued and worthy of time. They need to be fed and nurtured in a way that others take for granted. Some children need to learn a whole new language and culture.

These children may never achieve a level 6 in their year 6 SATS (although some might), but the PROGRESS that these children will make in a good school with hardworking, dedicated and brilliant teaching will be outstanding.

A child who can not speak at the start of primary school may not reach the highest level by year 6, but they might be able to express themselves well, communicate effectively with others, perform in the school play, show someone new around the school and sing in the choir. Things that noone would have expected of them when they first started.

A child who can’t dress themselves when they start school or whose uniform is always unclean, may be able to demonstrate personal hygiene through the nurture and care of the school. They may learn to pour themselves a bowl of cereal, wash up their pots and help younger children when they need to. The brilliant staff in the school will no doubt have worked alongside the family to help them in areas they are struggling in. Plans will have been put in place to make sure this child will thrive and grow.

It’s ALL about the progress.

Please, please don’t look at the bottom of this list and think these schools are failing. They aren’t necessarily and they may even be some of the most nurturing and creative schools in the county; I don’t know. The schools towards the bottom may not hit the same levels as the ones at the top, but who knows, the progress these children make may well be outstanding!

How about we stop measuring the success or failure of a school by the results of a stressful and pressurised testing system.

How about we stop thinking that these schools at the bottom of the list are failing their children and in turn creating more stressed and disheartened teachers.

How about we spend more time focusing on these beautiful children and helping them to be the best person they can be for the benefit of the future of our world. Nurturing them to be all they want to be. Planting the seeds of hopes and dreams for the future.

How about we start trusting out teachers more and show more support, encouragement and respect for an entirely demanding role with a huge amount of responsibility.

I am NOT trying to say the schools at the top of the list have the easy job. FAR from it. They are clearly very brilliant at what they do. I just want to encourage people to recognise that this is a far more complex issue than how many children get a certain level in their year 6 SATS.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, so please do get in touch through the comments on here, via @thelifeschoolers on Instagram or by emailing us at thelifeschoolers@gmail.com.

Thanks for reading.

Lucy x

This is Life Schooling…

A few weeks ago we went on a trip to CBeebies Land with some of our absolutely favourite people. Archie was sat in the back of the car with one of his besties who he has grown up with, who does go to school. P asked Archie if he could count in twos and his automatic response was “No”. P was a little surprised that he couldn’t, so she told us about it.

It wasn’t until I gave Archie an example of counting in twos, that he realised he could in fact do that and also he could count in tens, it’s just that he has learnt it so naturally, that he didn’t know that this skill had a particular name!

This happened a couple more times that day when they were having their little chats in the back of the car and their conversations were so sweet to hear!

Fast forward a couple of weeks to yesterday when we were sat at dinner and a conversation came up about numbers. I thought I would take the opportunity to ask Archie a couple of questions. I started with “Do you know what double 3 is Archie”, to which answered “yes, 6!” We went through many other doubles which he loved and answered all of them correctly, only having to use his fingers to work out one of them.

This may seem normal for a boy of 5, but the thing is, I have never…and I really mean NEVER sat him down and taught him how to double numbers, or what a double is. It has ALL come through play and natural learning opportunities that have arisen in our daily lives. I have a feeling that his recent love for the game Shut the Box has helped too!

Fast forward again to today and Rocco, our 2 year old turned to me and correctly told me “This is my right hand and this is my left hand!” He showed me his right and left hand as he said it. I thought it was a fluke, but every time I asked him which was his right or left hand throughout the day, he got it right. Now, I’m sure you will all know by now, that I have never sat him down to teach him about his left and right either, but again, he has learnt through practical application and every day experiences. This particular piece of knowledge, he picked up when he was feeling particularly grumpy in the woods and Rex was telling him which way we would need to go next. He told him ONCE which hand was which, to help him know which way to go and it stuck!

It amazes me daily how much knowledge and skill these boys soak up every day. They don’t even realise they are learning most of the time! One day, Archie may need to know that it is called ‘counting in twos’, or whatever else it is he needs to know, but at least then, he will already know what to do and it will just be a fancy name to give to all of his many different skills and pockets of knowledge!

This is life schooling. Learning through the every day. The mundane. The adventure. The daily problem solving. The play. And do you know what?…It’s working!

Thanks for reading, please do get in touch either in the comments on here, through our Instagram page (@thelifeschoolers) or drop us an email at thelifeschoolers@gmail.com!

Lucy

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Changes

The change in this kid in the last year is just phenomenal. From bright and bubbly, carefree and crazy, to withdrawn and unsure, emotional and unsettled. But wow, we are coming back fighting.

We have been out of school for over 7 months now. Longer than we were in school in fact and I could honestly burst with pride.

7 months ago, this warrior wouldn’t have asked for something he needed from anyone other than myself or Rex. He would spend days shouting at his little brother, out of sheer frustration, confusion and jealously. He would shy away from standing out in any way and would strive to blend in and not be noticed. He wasn’t eating, or sleeping and he just lost the Archieness of Archie.

But now…well let me tell you… He boldly and bravely talks to any of the many people we meet every day, asking questions and talking to them with such a genuineness. He picks his outfits, without fear of standing out (I had the pleasure of having dinner at the pub with Archie the elf a few days ago). He makes friends everywhere he goes, no matter what their age is. He learns from those who are older than him and helps those who are younger. He has shown such courage walking on to a pitch full of strangers when joining a hockey club, just occasionally giving me a wave or a smile, to make sure I’m still there, cheering him on. You bet I am. I always will be.

This kid will go far. The boldness, bravery, courage, inquisitiveness and kindness I see in his heart daily show me this.

We may be doing life a little different to the norm. But I love it. And so does he. And loving life is high up on our agenda! Sorry for the ramble, but it seems fitting to share, even a day late for mental health awareness. I hope, more than anything, that we have prevented any long term mental health issues that Archie could have suffered from, having stepped in when we did and listened to his cry for help. ♥️

(Originally posted on our Instagram on 11/10/18)

I’d love to hear from anyone on a similar journey to us, or anyone who feels their child is going through what Archie did. Do get in touch on here in the comments, on the @thelifeschoolers Instagram page, or by emailing thelifeschoolers@gmail.com. Lucy x

Go Ape at Normanby Hall

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Recently we had the opportunity to try out the relatively new Go Ape at Normanby Hall in North Lincolnshire. It is something that Archie had been asking to do for a while, as he loves nothing better than to spend his days climbing trees, so he was especially excited!

After 2 weeks of counting down how many sleeps we had until we went to Go Ape, he woke up raring to go and we met our good friends from Love Happiness Learning, bought ourselves some Go Ape gloves and headed into the woods for our turn in the trees.

The whole experience was made so easy by the staff. From checking in at the hut, to completion, they were all so helpful and we really got the sense that they love their jobs! The course is in the woods, so we did have to walk through the grounds of Normanby Hall to find it, but it is well signposted and we do know our way around, so it was easy to find. One of my concerns had been Archie having to walk across in his harness, but for the junior course, they have everything set up in the woods, so the children don’t have to be in their harnesses for any longer than necessary.

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Getting harnessed up!

The staff on the junior course explained everything clearly to the children (and us!) and got us all harnessed up, before we did a mini practice course prior to starting. They wrote our start time on our wristbands and we were given an hour. There are 3 courses in the junior section and the children can choose whether or not they do the more challenging courses (course 3 is much higher than the first two), or stick to the ones they feel more comfortable on.

So, we set off up the stairs to the first course. On this course, there is a green wire to hold onto whilst giving you the opportunity to get used to the height. There is no unbuckling of carabiners on any of the junior courses, as once you attached, you stay clipped on until you get to the zip wire at the end of each course. There is an instructor waiting at the zip wire to attach everyone safely, so there is absolutely no fear of anyone falling off the edge.

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Look at that grin!

We whizzed round the first course to be told that during the second course, our green ‘comfort blanket’ wire would not be there anymore. Archie had his first and only wobble at this point, which the instructors quickly picked up on. Rather than stepping in and helping, they quietly shadowed him until they could see that he had gained confidence and was going to be alright. This was just perfect for Archie, as he has a quiet determination and won’t let any challenge beat him, so it would have frustrated him if they had stepped in. He conquered the second course and chose to go up to the final one, which was as high as parts of the adult course and he loved it!

Once we had finished, we were presented with a certificate and sticker and we handed back the harnesses. We took up the full hour doing the three courses, but I’m sure some people may be able to squeeze in a fourth trip round.

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We did it! Archie was sad that it was all over!

Once we had handed everything back, Laura and I had the opportunity to have a turn on the adult course. Again, we couldn’t fault the staff and this time we did a full safety check whilst at the hut and were shown how to fasten ourselves safely onto the different aspects of the course, as our fate was in our own hands this time! This was actually a pretty terrifying thought when stepping off the edge of a Tarzan swing!!

We walked back to the woods with our group and instructor, before another safety talk, a walk through on a low course and zip wire and then we were free to go! We had such a brilliant time going round the adult course and laughed so hard all the way round. It had the perfect amount of challenge and in places we were able to choose which route to take. Each new part of the course had a picture description with a challenge level on it, just to prepare you. It is a great experience to do with friends and it took us much longer than the junior course. The zip wires were also much higher and longer which really added to the experience

 

 

One final zipwire and we landed to the applause and much cheering from our husbands and children, before walking back to the hut to hand back our harnesses and collect another certificate!

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I would really recommend this as a day out with friends and you get the added bonus of it being in the beautiful grounds of Normanby Hall, where there is so much to do and see for people of all ages. Go Ape is still open for the half term weeks, so why not get yourselves booked in and enjoy this Autumn sunshine!

A few tips:

  • Wear comfortable clothing and shoes that are secure on your feet.
  • Wear gloves! The ropes can cause friction burn if you are not careful. We hadn’t thought of this, but they do sell gloves at a pretty reasonable price in the hut.
  • Leave your bags in the car. The hut is very close to the car park, but the staff did say if necessary, they do have the space to store your bags and belongings.
  • Toilets are near the car park, so make sure you make use of them before walking to the course in the woods!
  • Bring along spectators! With the course being in the grounds of the Hall, it is possible for people to walk around under the course to watch (and probably laugh at) you.
  • Look out for special offers. I have spotted a couple of special offers running, so it’s worth looking out for them.
  • Prepare for any weather. Unless stormy, Go Ape will be open, so you will just need to make sure that you dress for the weather!
  • I used my phone to take photographs on the way around, so purchased a waterproof lanyard from the hut to pop my phone in, therefore there was no risk of dropping it.
  • There are water stations dotted around the adult course, meaning you don’t need to worry about staying hydrated.
  • There is a cafe in the grounds of Normanby Hall that has slightly different opening hours depending on the season. Click here to visit the Normanby Hall website.
  • Have fun! It really is a lot of fun and once you are secured on, you really can’t fall….so enjoy it!
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Price List as of Autumn 2018

Hopefully this has been a helpful guide to what a day at Go Ape is like. If you have any further questions, please do get in touch – I love hearing from you!

Lucy x