Sunday, 12 November 2017

I'm Cross - Muddy Parenting "Advice"

May I just say a few words, if you will bear with me, on "imbalance" in society/media which is evident in the behaviour of many children, and the lawlessness and disrespect from a great number of youth.

An example of something I see going on a lot is the rolling eyes and sighing that goes along with:
" ... and they told the children off for going UP the slide."

Check the attitude of the child who is going up the slide.
Is it a challenge and fun to go up the slide?  Are they extending themselves in a healthy way?  Providing much-needed sensory input?  Great!


does the child have an attitude of "I own this, nobody else is allowed, it is constantly MY turn - SEE, I go down, and then I go UP straight away. Ha! MY TURN!"
Not so great.

If you're at someone else's property (a school/cafe/friend's place) do they perhaps have a reason for the "No going up the slide" rule?
Check the attitude, stay respectful.

Don't get caught up on the eye-rolling bandwagon, immediately judging anyone who wants their children (or visiting children) to only go down the slide.

Another one that is bugging me is the term "helicopter parent".
I've seen this used so often, thrown around, and used in the same way one might say "abusive parent", making diligent and considerate parents feel overbearing and overprotective. Once again, the balance is being pushed over and trampled on.
Check your reasons for, and the attitude towards protecting/checking on/prohibiting things. SERIOUSLY check them, and then stand strong if anyone questions or challenges you.

Also something that came up in my first point - "eye rolling" and speaking disrespectfully about other people/making fun of other people.
Always (as much as you can) model to your children what you wish them to be like.   And one would hope that eye-rolling is not a goal.
One last thing, the term "mindless obedience" has become mixed up with "obedience". Teach your child to be thoughtful and wise - that they will consider WHY they are doing things in EVERY situation - whether it be obedience or any other area. 

I have got a bit grumpy about these things of late - very, very weary of reading constant unbalanced opinions stated as fact, and potentially confusing and bullying new parents.

Parents are responsible for the safety of their child. They are responsible for the balanced, respectful, careful, rich, loving, mindful raising of their child.

Children NEED parents to be responsible and solid,  to lead them to independence gradually, but not give them too much decision-making and responsibility too soon - or in moments of exhaustion, confusion, when they are overwhelmed or screaming out for direction!

So, as I have mentioned before - figure out what works for YOUR family, what you want your future to look like for yourself and your children. Treasure healthy relationships, forgive yourself for being a human if things come undone, and determine to do better in any way you can.

If that means reading less, distancing yourself from media, blogs, articles etc, then do so.   

Things are getting really muddy out there. 

Monday, 6 November 2017

Mud Kitchens

A few years back we built the children a mud kitchen.  It got A LOT of use!  It never looked like "the ones on Pinterest" because we used it and made big messes.

I was reminded of this today because I came across this family in the Isle of Wight who make the most beautiful mud kitchens.

 Does that inspire you to make something in a suitable corner of the garden/deck/patio for your children?

Let me know if you do build something fun!

Wednesday, 1 November 2017


Newcomers to the lifestyle of home education often wonder what "resources" they should collect.  There are as many opinions on this as there are families home educating!  And for good reason.  If your children are sporty/outdoorsy sorts then you might be wasting your money buying lots of board games, puzzles and DVDs.   However, if you have children who are heavily into arty/creative pursuits then it would be a nice idea to collect bits of fabric, glue, cardboard, old car radios to demolish etc.

So my advice:  

- start with YOUR family's interests, and go from there

- look for toys and belongings that will be enduring

- remember that very young children really don't need much at all to play with, and often are happier with household objects and having you involved in the game.

Some parents don't like faddish, trendy toys.  I don't particularly, but if one of my children (at the age of having some maturity and reasoning) has saved their money and is making purchasing decisions by themselves, then it's part of real life to buy what you like.  Perhaps there will be buyer's remorse.  Perhaps it will become a treasured item to remind the child of that time in their life.    A parent with a healthy, respectful attitude towards this sort of thing will find the lines of communication open, and the child may receive and enjoy advice/stories of "when I was younger I bought a <fill in the blank> and <consequence> happened."  
(My children like the story of "When Mummy bought the "Roar Power" accessory for her bicycle ...")

Enough talking!   

I took a few photos from around our place to give young families some ideas of what they might like to look out for in op-shops, garage sales, or even request from grandparents etc.

(Remember - we have been adding to our stash for over 20 years, sifting out the things that arn't worth keeping, and trying to maintain the ones that are used a lot.)

Nice little bits of fabric, easily accessible to be grabbed and used.

Jigsaw puzzles and some of our games
Our crafting suitcase - felt fabric, embroidery floss, needles, embroidery hoops etc
Beautiful soft wool roving (sliver) for wet-felting, needle-felting or adding as a loose part to a game (I sell this!)
LEGO!!!     Fantastic for the fingers and the brain
We have a little stash of notebook, art books and stationary so people can get one at any time for a project (we usually buy them at the "Back To School" sales in late January/early Feb.)
Something nice for when Mummy plays with someone - I like to enjoy the game too!
Cars, cars and more cars
A personal library

One of my TOP recommendations is that every family should have their own library
Our library is in our hallway - even in a small house it's imperative to have a personal library!!!

Beautiful art equipment that is only used by careful arty sorts

Pens, pencils, washi tape, scissors, sellotape ... you might probably guess that I love art stuff!

Things that make you feel good when you look at them - when you are at home so much it's important to personalize your home, make it work and feel good for everyone living there

Some children love em, some children can't be bothered - soft toys and puppets

More bits of fabric for projects

More books that won't fit in our library (this is our storeroom)

Must be time for a tidy-up in the storeroom ...  I see a mess - he sees ADVENTURE

Minatures (not for little people who SCATTER them far and wide)

More puzzles in our storeroom

Magnetix, and magnet tiles (not photographed) highly recommended

Things you might not consider to be fun. 


Wooden dollhouse furniture - an acceptable scale for Sylvanian, Kelly Dolls, "Wooden and Rope people" and Fisher Price Loving Family dolls etc

Marble Roller kit (would prefer a wooden one, but am grateful for this one)

Favourite stash of marker pens!
And just to show you what my little guy was playing with as I was photographing some of our resources!

 I hope this has been interesting for you to look at.  Do you have any resources you would definitely include in your "we have loved these" list?

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

The "No thank you bowl"

The "No thank you bowl" is one way we show respect to our youngest sweetie.

I introduced the concept to him when he was very little, and he picked the idea up right away.  Next time he sat down to eat something, he asked for the "No yank you bowl peeze."  I was quite surprised!

It means he can put food aside that he isn't keen on eating.  Often he will come back to those "cast aside pieces" and eat them at the end of the meal.  Or other times, the chickens are happy to have them, and give us eggs in return!

The other day I took a snack to him in the playroom where he was playing with one of his big brothers.  I saw him come running back down to the kitchen.

"What do you want?"  I asked.
"No yank you bowl."  He said as he ran to the drawer, got another bowl out and headed back to the playroom.

I went back down to check on him a bit later, the children were playing on the deck and the snack plate was empty.  So was the no thank you bowl.  
Very clean in fact. 
Licked-out sort of clean.  
Oh well.  The chickens missed out that time!


Saturday, 9 September 2017

If I was 'Queen For A Day' - no, I've a better idea!

Instead of being "Queen For A Day" (no thanks!) it would be far more interesting to be "The Head of the Ministry of Education For The Day."   (or if necessary Prime Minister For The Day).

If that ever happened I'd like to remove the words "At least as regularly and as well as in a registered school"  from anything to do with home educators.

Quoted from:

To homeschool a child (also known as home educate), parents can request and receive from the Ministry of Education a ‘Certificate of Exemption’ from enrolling their child or children at registered schools.
The Ministry will only grant an exemption if they are satisfied that the child will betaught at least as regularly and well at home as in a registered school.

and further on the same page:

On completion of the review, ERO will write a report that includes:
  • a judgement about whether the exempted student is being taught at least asregularly and well as in a registered school
  • a conclusion stating whether the Chief Review Officer can assure the Secretary for Education that the terms of the exemption have been met.

ANY teacher, or home ed parent who knows what's what will testify that you can TEACH till you're blue in the face, till the cows come home and till the moon turns into blue cheese - but it makes absolutely no difference unless your pupil/child is LEARNING.

verb: teach; 3rd person present: teaches; past tense: taught; past participle: taught; gerund or present participle: teaching
impart knowledge to or instruct (someone) as to how to do something.

Is the problem with the word "teach" or is there something deeper going on? 

Is the word "teach" used because it is somewhat "measurable"?

It reminds me of one of my favourite movies -

Watch it here:
Summerhill (2008)

One can put the timer on and TEACH for 3 hours in the morning, ending with a very satisfied feeling and a big TICK on your daily planner, BUT the children retain very little/nothing if they weren't involved, engaged and interested.

I know home educating parents who tie themselves in knots trying to present information (teach) in an exciting and relevant way so the children will be interested.   The same information, when stumbled across naturally by the child, or left for the child to find (by the parent who has "strewn the path" with the information at the right time) may be absorbed and understood and delightfully added to their "storehouse of knowledge" BECAUSE THEY WERE READY AND INTERESTED by themselves.

A child can sit in a classroom for years, being exposed to hour after hour of teaching and still not learn enough to pass the required exams.

If a child has learned to fake it, they can look engaged and interested from the outside, whilst inside their heads they are going through a playlist of current favourite songs, planning a outing for the weekend, wondering what's for tea, stressed about a threat they've received, worried about the family's financial situation ... in which case NO AMOUNT OF "TEACHING" is going to make an impression on them right at that time.

So yes, to remove the words "At least as regularly and as well as in a registered school" AND THE MINDSET BEHIND IT would be a major step forward for the MOE.

And they would say "Thank you" to me.  
They would say "We never realised how inefficient and silly that statement was."
And they would all be grateful that I had explained, and that they now had a better understanding of the situation.
And it would make life easier for home educators who are applying for exemptions, and easier for the MOE staff who are processing those applications.
And a WHOLE lot easier for the ERO if they ever had to review a home educating family.

And I would be pleased to have helped. 

If I was the head of the Ministry of Education for the day.


I honestly don't know how teachers find the energy to carry on every day with multiple children who have multiple needs/difficulties/backgrounds/things happening in their lives that impact their ability to learn.  Let alone the politics of the classroom/relationships with parents/massive weight of responsibility/school policies/board of directors/government policies ...  I have highest respect for those teachers who continue in the face of all that.

And of course I have the highest respect for parents who diligently, responsibly and respectfully home educate their children.  And that is why I do what I do.    xxx



Tuesday, 4 July 2017

More than four seasons?

There's a reason that compasses have more than four points.

It's much more accurate to pinpoint exactly where on the compass one is supposed to be facing if one is searching for something. 

It's also handy, as we have discovered, to realise there are many DEGREES of emotions.  Rather than just happy and sad we have ecstatic, disappointed, confusion, surprise, amused, terror, regret, pain, embarrassment, grief ...

There are more than four seasons too.  Sadly some people even forget about spring and autumn, and just speak of winter and summer. 

Within the four seasons there are intricacies of seasons - early-winter, mid-winter, late-winter, early-spring, mid-spring ... etc.  In fact there are 12 of these - and 12 months.  Isn't that handy?!   ;o)  

When the cold days of mid-Autumn started I was sad, when out and about to overhear people complain "Winter's come early."    I wanted to say "It's not Winter yet!  It's Autumn!  Autumn is often cold, and sometimes warm.  It's Autumn-ey!"

So right now, on our side of the Earth, July means it's mid-winter.  We've passed the shortest day, but still have lots of heavy frosts and cold days and nights ahead. 

Seasons are there for us to enjoy.    We can enjoy them whilst playing games, reading, doing art and other fun things, warm and cozy inside, or we can venture outside and deeply enjoy the seasons - soaking up the wonder of creation.  

There have been days recently where we've chosen to spend our time happily inside, but we've also ventured outside too, (as hard as it may be to get out with some of the challenges we have in this family), filled our lungs with clean mid-winter air and got a new perspective on things.