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

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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They’ll get used to it…Won’t they?

 

 

So…life schooling!
Its a position that we didn’t expect ourselves to be in, but now that we are, we LOVE it!

Before I go on, I just want to put out a little disclaimer that when Archie was at school, it was a really lovely school and he was blessed with a wonderful teacher, T.A and class (with a brilliant bunch of parents too), so this is not a decision we took lightly!

School just did not suit Archie. He developed some anxiety and became a shadow of himself. A couple of weeks after he finished at school, he was properly belly laughing about something, which really took me by surprise. He’s laughing. I haven’t heard that sound in what feels like forever. My 4 year old free spirited, happy little boy had stopped laughing.

Let that sink in for a moment.

You see, it has become normal in our society to send our children off to school at the age of 4, regardless of our situation. It has also become normal to just breeze along with “oh they’ll get used to it soon enough.” This is something I had stated many times in the past, before it was my own child, so I know this only comes from a good place from most people, who are trying their best to support you in a seemingly impossible situation. But let’s think about that for a moment…

They will ‘get used to it’. Get used to what?

Get used to their feelings not being validated?
Get used to being sent somewhere against their will 5 days a week?
Get used to being told that they will be fine, even though they feel anything but?
Get used to feeling like the people who they rely on the most in their life are not really listening to what they are saying?
Get used to being in a room full of strangers (when they start), when all they want is some sense of stability and comfort?
Get used to being watched, assessed and judged?
Get used to a feeling of total exhaustion day in, day out, not least because you are not sleeping due to the anxiety the thought of going to school is causing?

I could go on, but I’m sure you get the picture.

Now let’s place those same feelings onto an adult suffering from anxiety in the workplace. We just wouldn’t, would we? We would say to our friends “Leave your job. Get a new job. Go to a Doctor.” We would NOT say “Oh it’s fine. You’ll get used to it!” This has surely got to be a contributing factor to the rise of mental health issues in young people these days.

I know we are so blessed to be in a position to make the decision to home educate our children, even if it does raise a few eyebrows, and not everyone is or wants to. This is not meant to be a guilt inducing post for those who send their children to school (I know the large majority of children love it!) But I just felt it was important to post this, for anyone feeling the same and like they are trapped in this never ending cycle. There are always other options and it’s good to open up discussion.

Do you home educate for similar reasons? Or are you thinking of doing so? Do your children absolutely love school and thrive there? Maybe you teach and have children struggling in your setting? I’d love to hear from you if you are willing to share or have any questions!

Thanks for reading!

Lucy x

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