Monthly Archives: August 2012

A Magical curriculum

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While we were travelling around, when Hannah was 6 and Hannah was Hermione (from Harry Potter) she decided she could go to Junior Hogwarts, as she just couldn’t wait until she was 11.  So we bought scrapbooks and exercise books and covered them in  gold and silver paper.
We did all the normal Hogwarts subjects, although I had alot of help from my prize student.  I have a fair knowledge of HP, as I always read each Harry Potter book the day after they came out.  We would always queue for the new book and Hannah would read non-stop for 4-6 hours and finish it…… then let me at it!

Still I didn’t have Hannah’s amazing knowledge of the magical world.  She used to quote bits and remember which chapter of which book a certain sentence was in.  And when I was reading aloud to the boys and may occasionally have missed out an adjective, we would hear her voice from another room saying – “Blue dress, Mum”   or  ” glanced suspiciously“….

So we did History of Magic where she wrote huge essays about the Troll Wars.   Herbology where she  picked and identified plants,  we practiced our wand movements in Transfiguration,   mixed up  Potions,  worked on Charms…..

By age 8 Hannah had progressed to Hogwarts Middle School.  She had a huge old banana box as her potions kit, filled with bottles and packets of  every substance you could imagine…..  She drew magical creatures and wrote about their qualities and did more and more complicated spells found in the later books….

On her 11th birthday she received her Hogwarts letter, written in green ink, delivered by owl.

That year, with two best friends (unschooled too) they founded St Hedwigs Collegiate for Girls.  They shopped in op shops to create a uniform – lovely blue vest, white blouse, black skirt with a tie.


They wrote a school song, three very different histories of the school and every week – with the support of their three professors they attended magic school and studied a range of subjects.
Some looked suspiciously like “Muggle” subjects  sewing, maths….

Maths lesson!

When they were here we reverted to the more traditional subjects of potions, transfiguration, history of Magic and music!

Painting the clay owls the girls made.
-With St. Hedwig herself being the founder of the school, the Owl was its symbol and mascot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It has been amazing t0 see how long Harry Potter has endured in our family, it feels as though he has always been a part of our family.

J K Rowling has certainly given us a great gift –  a fertile breeding ground for the  imagination.

Here is Professor Trelawney and Luna
off to the the midnight premier of the
last of the  HP movies…..

 

 

 

 

I know many will have a good laugh about unschoolers playing schools.

We did!

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Do unto others

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“Children are not the people of tomorrow, but people today.
They are entitled to be taken seriously.
They have a right to be treated by adults with tenderness and respect, as equals.”

– Janusz Korczak.

I get really upset when I see someone being ill treated.  Especially a child.

I am sure most people would agree with this statement, yet we seem to have different codes of conduct in our society for how you treat children and how you treat other adults.
I have a memory of being “told off” by a partner, in public and it was so humiliating and shaming.
If you ever witness this it can be very embarrassing, being privy to other adults arguments and even put-downs of each other.  Yet we have little problem with adults doing this to children – in private and in public too.  I really feel it when I am in town or at the supermarket, especially when it is busy.
(We are really lucky that we usually do all town jobs during a school day and are home and hosed by 3pm!)

Many adults do seem to think it is OK, or even mandatory to blame, shame, tell off &  put down their children , especially in public.   You can even buy tee-shirts with put downs on them for your children!!    There seems to be an embarrassment in praising your children.    So often a parent will, in full view and hearing of their child, blatantly put them down. This can be very awkward as in some circles there is an un-written rule that adults must stick together  and you are supposed to agree with them!    I  have never been one for following rules, written or otherwise….

I am learning not to judge others.  I remind myself that everyone is doing the best they can with what they know at the moment,  we all are.   The best I can do is be a role model.

I use the time we are out in the public domain as a chance to be an advocate for kindness to children.  Although I intend to always treat my children with kindness, patience, understanding and love – ie  the way I want to be treated, when out and about I make a conscious effort to be even more so!

I try to listen to them, answer them honestly and fully, help them to meet their needs. As best as I can.  At that time.

Luckily, and I am so incredibly blessed for this, I am surrounded by wonderful, homeschooling parents who strive for a similar culture in their families.  They help me learn by being great role models for me.
And of course,  during the day in town, most of the children you see around (especially the library!) are homeschooled, so there are parents answering long and complicated questions & and lugging huge bags of books around.  And mostly being respectful  to their offspring.
It does make sense to me – if you  want  your children to grow up as respectful beings,  treat them with respect.
If you hope for them to be kind,  be  kind to them.
Be patient, giving, honest….

“Do unto others” is surely one of the greatest bits of advice.

And my favourite quote, from Gandhi

“Be the change you want to see in the world.”

This I apply to my life on so many levels….

 


 

If I had my child to raise all over again,

I’d build self-esteem first, and the house later.

I’d finger-paint more, and point the finger less.

I would do less correcting and more connecting.

I’d take my eyes off my watch, and watch with my eyes.

I’d take more hikes and fly more kites.

I’d stop playing serious, and seriously play.

I would run through more fields and gaze at more stars.

I’d do more hugging and less tugging.

 (I am a sucker for these sort of  gentle reminders)

Imagination redirected

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I remember clearly the day I realised I had “lost” my imagination.  We were playing Little House on the Prairie with our neighbours and I just couldn’t feel it.  Suddenly days and weeks stretched ahead of me and I wondered how on earth you fill them when you no longer “play.”  What did adults do all day?  Or more importantly what did a 12 year girl do?

I started to cook.  Every weekend I would make chocolate cake, pizza, lunch for everyone.  It took a few months to enjoy it and not feel that my life was so empty all of a sudden.

It is interesting seeing my own children reach that stage.  With Hannah she was able to  dovetail her interests of writing and movie making nicely into  the spaces left as she grew away from make believe.  Her friends enjoyed movie making, they could still dress up, write, pretend, but in a  practical way.
Still it can be a problem for her when with friends – what shall we do they ask?
Last weekend her friend Eliza was sat a the table and together they wrote a list of possible activities.   They played music together, went for a bike ride, watched a movie, but mostly they baked!

It was funny – Hannah does not normally like cooking, whereas Eliza is a whizz in the kitchen.  It brought back my own early teen feelings of – “what do we do?”

What a treat for me though!  On Friday they made these gorgeous cupcakes, iced.  I was celebrating spring with my first outdoor bath of the season, lying there under the stars and moon, the fire underneath glowing in the still night… When Hannah arrives with a cup of tea and a cupcake!     Perfect magic moment!

 

Jam filled cupcakes, with freshly shelled and crushed walnuts on top

Then the next day they made pastry and said they were making fruit/jam tarts.  I said as the oven was on I wanted to make bread.  We`ll do that they said!  And they proceeded to make a loaf of bread, a tray of wedges for lunch and even whipped up some hummus I was going to do! Plus the tarts.
So I got to stay in the garden all morning and not go near the kitchen, they even did dishes!

The chefs sitting down with a cuppa and a tart – the jammy kind!

 

This only reminds me how short a time childhood is and how important play is for younger children.

And how important a skill cooking is!  I shall encourage it no end I think…..

50 posts!

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I just reached 50 posts!!

Wowee!!!!!

I am so enjoying writing a blog.

I get so much lovely feedback from people who follow this blog, mostly from people I know who tell me so.
Thanks so much , it means alot.
Also, please feel free to click on the “like” (if you do like something)  or leave a comment.

I have had to get used to writing not knowing who my audience is.
To just write from the heart, about what is happening for me,  the way I speak and think.
It is an  interesting exercise and I am loving the freedom it brings.

I feel as though I have alot to say, alot of topics I want to share –  plus just bringing you snippets of  our journey.

So keep tuning in – it nice to think of you out there somewhere connecting with me…..

Jane

Big brother for a change

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We had some lovely friends come and stay last night, with their 17month old daughter.
I was at Kayla’s birth last March.  It was such an honour and the most amazing experience.
I was so grateful to be there and feel a special connection to her and not just because her mum is such a special friend.
I ended up sleeping  cuddled up with her  on her very first night in the world, which still blows me away thinking about it!  Very special.

Charlie reading to Kayla

What was so lovely to see last night and this morning was Charlie (my baby!) being the older, responsible one.
Kayla loved hanging out with him.  She is a very clear communicator and Charlie quickly worked out what she was saying and signing and they played with teddies together and he read her books.
She was very comfortable with him and what a treat for him to have a little one ask to be picked up by you!

I got my fair share of cuddles too…

Charlie has often asked if he could have a little brother or sister and I could see how wonderful he would be with them.    And funny too seeing him looking so old and grown up, carrying her around, helping her.   What a lovely time!

All the teddies lined up- a shared love!

In bed last night he kept saying when are they coming back to stay?
Can they come for longer?
He just had the best time.
Hanging out with special friends is one of life’s great joys.

You can’t do this at school!

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It is great having a school-going friend staying with us!

Billy was lazing on the grass by the river yesterday, in the sun, eating potatoes he had cooked in the  fire we had built.  He sat back and said   “Well you can’t do this at school – have a fire – no, use a pocket knife – no,  have a long lunch – no.”
Even though we know how wonderful our life as unschoolers is,  how nice to be reminded sometimes by the less fortunate among us, whoops, I mean those going to school!

With the rapidly approaching spring enticing us out to play, we had gone for a pre-sunset walk the evening before and ended up, as usual, with Ollie lighting a fire by the river.  There  was a gorgeous little bank that he dug into as a shelter and he only used natural tinder and his flint.   There was a spectacular rainbow arcing over the hills and windmills and then the sun setting behind us – truly magical   (sorry I didn’t have my camera).

So we decided then and there to return the next day with lunch to cook on a fire in the same place.   As we wandered home in the twilight  the  boys had plans for a lookout &  modifications to the fire…. I had plans for a camera, book and nice lunch!

The next day they made up tin foil packages with potatoes, carrots, butter, salt and pepper in and we took apples, banana cake &  nuts to snack on.   It was just the most gorgeous day, warm sunny, still winter, but with buds appearing on trees at every turn.
Heavenly!

The fire tucked under the bank, with a great view!

Ollie with his package of cooked lunch –
eating off his new Becker Necker knife

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ollie got the fire going quickly while we explored and managed to cross the river to collect more wood.  The day before we had seen a dead cow across the river but it had disappeared overnight, we couldn’t work out how though…
The spuds cooked up  beautifully – practice does make perfect!  We sat in the sun and felt extremely grateful to be there doing that.

Billy using his whittled “fork” to eat his hot potatoes
– you can’t do that at school!

Perfect lunch spot!
I had a billy of peppermint tea so I was happy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was one of those days where all is right with the world…sigh!
When you know that you are doing the right thing for your children (and someone else’s children!) and spending your day in  a way that induces plenty of happiness   (aka The Meaning of Life).
Not to mention those valuable life/survival skills.

I am so grateful that we can be down at the river and adjoining bush in 5 mins (walking).  We have so much freedom, in our lives and in our country.     Thank you!

Ollie whittling a fork

Extra children, extra blessings

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I had a real reminder the other night to always look for the blessings and the lessons in everything.

A friend had asked me to look after her two girls one evening.  I agreed as I wanted to help her  out.  But inside me was a niggley little voice reminding me that it was one of my only two quiet evenings in the week when the boys are all out for a while and peace reigns.  It is  when I get to write this, read a book, do something alone just for me.  I started feeling resentful, my kids said I should have just said I couldn’t do it.
When they arrived I wasn’t very friendly and said I had things to do on the computer and they were fine just chilling out by the fire.

I was writing the previous blog , about our bus adventure and having trouble getting  the old pre-digital photos to post.  We had scanned them, but I could not get them to copy, I was getting so frustrated and about to give up…I really needed a tech secretary.   The 13 year old visitor had her lap top and when I complained about my mission she quietly took my USB, and  worked away miraculously transforming them into a format where I could post them on my blog!

I was so grateful and so excited!  I felt all my resentments fall away.   I offered them more food, hot drinks we sat around and chatted, laughed.  I had a lovely evening with them and was so thankful that they were there.  I felt as though their mum had done me a favour by lending them to me for the night.
It reminded me that everyone has gift, has a story, has something to share.
I do know that, but just need to be  reminded, often!

It is an honour when someone asks you to look after their children.  I am always blown away by the responsibility and feel so honoured to have been trusted with such an important job.

Next week we are having a friend of Ollie’s to stay – for 6 weeks!   Not weekends, mind you.  His mum said last night how much they appreciated us doing this (they are off overseas).  Again I thought what an honour to be trusted with  someone elses child for so long.

We agreed that Billy could come and stay but said it just wouldn’t work if he was at school.  How wonderful that his mum didn’t miss a beat and said that was fine, he could have 6 weeks off school!  Even though we are within spitting distance to the school, it would be too much having the commitment of working around school hours.  So we are really excited about having an extra in our lives and the boys always having a play mate around.

He has a real passion for playing and a great imagination – plus he eats anything and really appreciates my food!
I did check and it is fine if he appears in my blog…..