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

Painting the Rain

After nearly two long hot months of glorious sunshine, we have been so happy to see some rain to soak our parched garden! It did, however, leave me feeling a little bit stumped as to where to go today, after spending pretty much every day outside somewhere recently!

After deciding to stay at home, I thought I would make the most of the weather and set up an art provocation for the boys to explore. Rocco (aged 2) had genuinely forgotten what rain was, which was slightly hilarious yesterday when the heavens opened. He just kept staring at the sky and saying “What? What?” in between little squeals of delight!

So, just in case you have a rainy day at home, here is a now tried and tested art project for you to try with your kiddiewinks.

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Set Up

The set up itself is pretty simple. All you need is a shiny surface to catch the raindrops on, some blue watercolour paints, a paintbrush and some thick white paper or card. We had planned to use real rain water, but by this point, the rain had stopped, so I included a cup of water and a pipette in our set up, to create our own rain. We also used a mirror surface placed inside a tray for extra intrigue and sensory exploration.

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Catching Raindrops

The next step is to catch the rain on your shiny surface, until you have enough raindrops for your artwork. As it had stopped raining, we plopped our pretend raindrops out from our pipette. This is actually great for fine motor control and general self control when trying not to squeeze too much water out at once!

Once you are happy with your collection of raindrops, which should collect nicely onto the shiny surface, it’s time to add some colour. We recently found some brilliant watercolours in Aldi that you can take out individually, so we had all of the blues out and ready to go! You need to get plenty of blue watercolour paint onto your brush and then dip it into each individual raindrop to add the colour. Once the boys had got the hang of it, they started experimenting with mixing the different shades of blue together.

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Creating Your Art

Now you have created lots of lovely blue raindrops, it is time to create your artwork! Take your thick paper or card and lay it very gently on top of your blue raindrops for a couple of seconds. Lift it off and voila! Some lovely rain inspired artwork! Rocco enjoyed exploring the watercolours so much, that he decided to add extra raindrops to his artwork by painting them straight on with a paintbrush.

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The Finished Artwork

The possibilities to explore further are also there for this activity. We will definitely be trying it again with real raindrops and may even make some watercolour clouds this way too. This activity just came from a little idea I had this morning and I had no idea how it would work out, but I think it has turned out to be Rocco’s favourite way of painting ever!

If you give it a go at home, let me know how it goes! Get in touch on here, or over on @thelifeschoolers on Instagram. Tag us into any posts, so we can see your beautiful artwork too, it is really great to hear from you!

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Exploring Shades of Blue

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Learning to imagine and be free…

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Fighting dragons, talking to bears, battling villains, saving the world, climbing aboard pirate ships. The possibilities were endless.

Imaginary adventures and jumping into role were the norm. The ability to lead the play, or follow the lead of someone else. Using voices and expression to make our characters come to life. A plethora of imaginary friends.

It was play.

It was adventure.

It was FUN.

Then, something unexpected happened. Our adventurous, creative, bold little boy with a big imagination endured a complete emotional turmoil through 6 months of school. As mentioned in previous posts, he developed some anxieties and became a shadow of himself. Read more about this by clicking HERE.

Since we have had him back at home he has been reluctant to say the least. Unwilling to suspend his disbelief, not wanting to ‘look silly’ or get it wrong and boisterously trying to manipulate the play to follow and fit into certain rules set by himself.

This came as a bit of a shock to us, as we both have a drama and performance background and have always encouraged him in this area. To play, to imagine, to create and to dream.

Our 2 year old has an incredible imagination and his play often amazes us; how much he understands and how accurately he conveys emotions through his role play. This has caused issues between the two boys whilst engaging in play together and many times it has ended in raised voices and tears.

Fast forward 3 months of home education and I am so happy to say that we are beginning to see glimmers of his imagination bubbling up and returning. Pretending, initiating play and talking to puppets as if they are real. He even went to Asda a few days ago caped up as a superhero and didn’t even think twice about anyone looking at him.

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This may sound small and may even be the norm for you and your children, but for us, this is a huge turning point.

I remember one particularly cold day at school where he didn’t want to wear a bobble hat in case the grown ups looked at him. Non-uniform days caused him to panic and the Christmas play brought on so much stress and worry. He wanted to blend in. To be unseen. To hide.

I just pray that this courageous, adventure seeking, imaginative side to his personality sticks around now that he is shaking off the feeling of being watched and ridding himself of a self-consciousness I wouldn’t wish upon anyone, let alone a four year old. I hope it grows again like a watered seed inside his soul, allowing him to feel free, to be creative and to PLAY!

I have written this because I know we can’t be the only ones and I want to offer hope to anyone in the same boat. There were days when I wept for him. When I could see the inner turmoil written all over his face in a mellow sadness. But here we are, rejoicing in the small moments and seeing our little boy growing in confidence and learning to be free.

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Not every day is easy or perfect and we still have our moments when he expresses his feelings through certain challenging behaviours, but we are getting there and we are hopeful.

If any of this resonates with you, please do get in touch. I’d love to hear from you!

Lucy x

 

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The Butterfly Bath

A few days ago, I was tagged in a post about a beautiful butterfly watering station. I’d really love to make one with the boys for our garden, as we have been seeing a few butterflies fluttering around whilst we have been out playing in the sunny weather.

I was telling Archie about it and trying to suggest that we make a ‘butterfly bath’ for our garden, but Archie got the wrong end of the stick and excitedly started talking about a butterfly bath that he was going to have… so we ran with it.

I remembered that I had popped some water beads away in the cupboard a while back, waiting for the perfect opportunity to use them, so I soaked them for a few hours, before adding a colander, slotted spoons, shiny beads, a magnifying glass and of course some foam butterflies.

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The boys love any messy, sensory or water play activities and I have mentioned before that 95% of the time they end up fully in the tray, generally naked, so bath play is a total winner!

The boys hopped straight in and started exploring the different items in the bath. Archie started to scoop water beads into the colander and soon discovered that he needed to lift it out of the water if he didn’t want the beads to float away again. When he lifted the colander out of the water, he noticed that he could make a brilliant shower as the water fell through the holes!

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Rocco spent some time picking up individual water beads and squishing them in between his thumb and fore finger…super fine motor development! He also discovered half way through the bath that the foam shape butterflies that I had popped into the bath would actually stick like stickers to the flat surface of the bath and tiles. This was a bit of a fluke on my part, but he spent a long time sticking them on, taking them off and sticking them on again somewhere else!

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We recently bought a colour changing light bulb, so I took the lamp into the bathroom (keep it away from the water folks!) This added something extra to the bath time, as I was able to change the colour of the bulb in order to show the boys which colour butterflies they should scoop and rescue next. This was great for consolidating Rocco’s colours, which he is pretty clued up on now, but they also loved the game regardless!

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The boys also enjoyed having the magnifying glass in the tub with them and explored the shiny stones, water beads and butterflies through it.

They discovered that the water beads were pretty bouncy and had lots of fun bouncing the beads off each other’s heads, whizzing them around in the colander before they all bounced out…all over the bathroom, throwing them at the side of the bath to make them bounce off and dropping them from a height to see if they could make them splash!

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All in all this was a great success and I would recommend the activity to anyone who has children that enjoy water play, but be warned…lots of water beads got squished in the bath, between fingers and under bottoms, so it was a pretty lengthy clean up with trying to scoop out the broken bits whilst not letting any down the drain!

What are your go to water play activities? I’d love to hear from you!

Lucy x

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