Monthly Archives: November 2012

Caravan adventure


Last weekend Charlie had a big adventure.  He stayed away  by himself for the first time.
Lured by the prospect of staying in Henry’s new caravan….and  he ended up staying two nights.

Not only that but the two boys did their own cooking, dishes and entertained themselves in the caravan hardly venturing out or into the house!

It was planned like a TV show – you know “your challenge is to survive three days alone in the caravan…”  Henry’s mum did ask if they would be OK eating baked beans for three days, but when they are doing their own dishes, I think yes…!
The absolute dedication to the task at hand, the excitement, the planning, the independence, the total buzz.  They were honestly like two older flatmates, discussing meals and chores.

When I went to drag him away, I was thinking about school camps.  The local school has been away this week, which affects us in a small town.
We have two great camps a year with our homeschool group, so do not in any way feel the kids are missing out on  such experiences.

This mini camp the two boys spontaneously planned and  executed was so much more.
They spent an entire morning playing poker.
They were excited about doing dishes and cleaning up because it was their space.
They happily popped out to feed the animals when required.
They requested the food they needed that they felt they could easily cook.
They took themselves off to bed after happily brushing their teeth.  (!!)

For them it was such a fantastic game.  It is a lovely age, being that time when they like to mirror what is happening in the adult world around them.  Playing house (or caravan) with real food, really sleeping, no adults must be the perfect game.

I am so glad to have such good, like-minded friends up the road who can help to nurture and raise our kids with us.

(Sorry no photos either…next time!)


DIY attitude – Combat Waonga


I may have mentioned that the boys are thoroughly enjoying Tae Kwon Do.  They go  once or twice a week and Ollie especially is very taken with it.
He often talks about trying other martial arts and hopes to add some more when he is more accomplished in this one.

Lately he has been talking about developing his own one.  One morning last week he said he was up until 2.30am just buzzing with ideas (oh I know that feeling!).
He has since developed a 6 week training schedule with Charlie, trained for several hours, mostly on the lounge floor on a big mattress, they have spent time coming up with a name using Google translate, and are now researching getting  tee-shirts printed with their name, logo and motto etc.

Combat Waonga is the name.  They talked about finding a Latin name – I blame years of Harry Potter.  Then quickly decided to use Maori, which was lovely. Waonga means defence or protection.

So far there seems to be a lot of work in relieving an attacker of his knife!

Yesterday some focus pads, boxing gloves, larger kicking pads arrived that we had found on Trademe.  The boys were very excited and then  spent  hours using them to train.  Ollie is such a natural leader he explained his ideas to Charlie then would patiently  take him him through the steps encouraging him.

They only stopped because I had asked friends over and the kids all went swimming.

To me this is learning.
This is how it should be,the buzzing ,the excitement, the absolute joy of something so creative you can’t turn you brain off.  I love seeing the kids like this and I guess that the creative energy they are generating is what every teacher is striving to create in their pupils – except of course no one can ever  make someone else passionate.
True learning has to be totally intrinsic.  It is not when you do something to please someone else, or to  get a sticker or just because you have to so you can go out to play.

I am so grateful to be allowing our children to learn naturally.  It totally works!


Photos coming……

Birthday celebrations – part two


But wait there is more!

The morning after the party was …The Birthday Tramp!

Even though it was raining Ollie, Finn and I set out  for Sunrise Hut.

After getting lost…. twice…. it was still raining when we arrived (about a one and a half hour drive).  It can be a bit disheartening setting off in the rain , but we all had good boots, packs and jackets and a keen sense of adventure!

The weather meant we wouldn’t get the spectacular views (Ollie and I have been twice before in beautiful conditions) but we also wouldn’t get the crowds.

A brief break in the clouds afforded us a glimpse of the lower plains bathed in the glow of the distant sunset …


Sure enough there were only two other women there.  I enjoyed  playing cards with them and that easy rapport that instantly develops when you are together in a hut on the side of a mountain.


The boys totally engrossed, by lantern light

Finn was very glad to be there.  Ollie was very glad to have so much time alone with Finn, they talked survival non-stop and were amazing to listen to.  They are developing a new series of videos for you tube  called Boys vs Wild and planning all sorts of fantastic ideas.

Ollie also has his own you tube channel –

Listening to Ollie’s older videos is quite surreal with his high  voice…..Anyway, back to us, high in the Ruahine ranges…and Sunday morning we awoke to SNOW!  I am afraid I didn’t go out and capture amazing photos, just what I could take from  the shelter of the deck!

Finn revels in the huge snowflakes swirling around him…those are the white streaks you can see!


It was wild and wonderful and pretty dramatic being up in the mountains for such a show.  Luckily we were right on the edge of the bushline so when we left we just dropped down and still had snow and then hail but in the safety of the bush.  We even had a bit of sunshine – enough to take a photo….


I so love living here and being able to take off so easily (apart from getting lost) to have amazing adventures.  These  are what make up my life and that of my children.
I learnt many years ago to Seize the Day and to make the most of every day and I hope that is something they will remember.

Birthday celebrations – part one


Ollie just turned 12.   Suddenly he seems taller, his already broken voice deeper, I can see his man face emerging through his little boy face.
We certainly celebrated in style.

On his actual birthday we had a big party.
There were 13 kids who came.  They lit the outdoor fire and chimera and had dinner sitting around the fire…

They were all keen to use Ollie’s throwing knives so he had them all lined up outside by a big tree and spent ages having turns….

Although they played eat-the-chocolate, the main focus of the evening was to cook desserts on the fire….

We had two games going – when you throw a 6 on a dice you put on a jacket, hat, gloves and attempt to cut one square of chocolate with and knife and fork, until the next 6 is thrown! A favourite and raucous game!

They cooked bananas with chocolate wrapped in tin foil and toasted damper wrapped around toasting forks. Damper is just flour, baking powder and water mixed to a dough and I added sugar and cinnamon. They also rolled them in sugar and cinnamon.

Much appreciated damper

Ollie made a chocolate pudding that he cooked on the Dutch oven in the embers and was declared delicious.

Never have I bought so much sweet, processed food!    By the time it was getting dark they were thankfully too  full to eat too many marshmellows and s’mores.  (An American delicacy of a cooked marshmellow sandwiched between two chocolate covered biscuits!)

As it got dark there was much beautiful and loud singing! Many of them were cubs or Scouts so they knew a decent lot of campfire songs!

Ollie and his icake….

Ollie received the latest ipod touch for his birthday.
So when his friend Tilly and I were icing the cake and about to write “Survival” on it, he suggested we ice ” icake” which seemed very funny and fitting!

It was such a gorgeous party.  The biggest Ollie has ever had.  We have always had a walk somewhere with just one friend, something quiet was what he has always wanted.

It was so wonderful seeing Ollie with this big crowd of his peers who really respect him and look up to him.  One visitor said it was the best party because  of what we did – no movie and pizzas!  It was spontaneous and all outside by the fire, just has he wanted.

The arrival of Gran and his best mate and cousin Finn in the middle of the party was just the icing on the cake – no pun intended!

Happy Birthday Ollie!  Thanks for an amazing 12 years.

The Fear of Failure


I was speaking to a friend yesterday with 5 kids, all at various private schools.  She said they are all behind in different ways.
All behind!  Or should I say  all “behind“?
She sounded quite stressed and I know she spends a lot of time worrying about their education.

I tease her about homeschooling her children and yesterday she said, maybe I had it right.


What sort of childhood is it being pressured to satisfy  someone else’s idea of who you should be, where you should be focusing your time and energies?

Whenever would you get enough time to be yourself?  To follow your own ideas, chase your own dreams??

I have found I have had to let go of any expectation for young children to even contemplate academic subjects.  Or perhaps subjects from an academic perspective.
Children are full of poetry, but why make them write it down?
They constantly dice with scientific laws, but who cares what they think they are just playing a game?
Maths?  It is everywhere – except written down in a book.

Then as they grow, and sadly stop the imaginative play, they seem to take more of an interest in the wider world, it becomes more real to them.
At some stage they begin to contemplate their place in the world and what this means to them. What contribution they may make.

This is when they may choose to put names to the science they have practiced for years.
This is when they may want to record their ideas on paper – or more likely digitally.

Surely it is impossible to fail at your childhood?  As long as you are happy, get to play, eat, sleep, are loved and safe.  There is no way to be ” behind”.  We each of us dance to the beat of our own drum anyway.  Young children more than ever – as long as we  allow them to.

Plenty of people are “behind” the norm – starting a new career at 50, becoming a writer after they retire.  Let’s not restrict children’s growth and development by  placing stifling and unrealistic requirements around them.

The homeschooling world is full of heartening stories of “late” readers (10 and 11 yr olds), success stories of young adult unschoolers with their own passion fueled businesses.

Do we despair when our child reads at 3 years old instead of the required 5yrs?  Of course not,we celebrate there individuality!   Do we ridicule  a 40 year old going to university for the first time? Are they considered behind too?

I have said it before and will say it again – let the children play.
For play is their life’s work.

Imagination is more important than knowledge,
for it encircles the world – Einstein

US film being made about Natural learning

Today’s Daily Groove…..
Check out the film being made, we should definitely make a NZ one….
THE DAILY GROOVE ~ by Scott Noelle

::: EXTRA: “Class Dismissed” :::

Dear Daily Groovers

Sometimes I write The Daily Groove about how children LEARN, but I never talk about SCHOOL.

That’s not a coincidence.

More and more parents are waking up to the fact thatour schools are broken, and they are exploring alternative school models (Montessori, Waldorf, Sudbury, Summerhill, etc.) as well as homeschooling and unschooling.

My family has chosen an unschooling path — our “school” is life itself — and we love it! But there isn’t “one right way” to educate. Truth is, many kids enjoy going to school and do well, especially if they have parents and teachers who are more trusting and less controllingthan schools traditionally expect them to be.

The problem with most schools is that they’re “addicted” to controlling what, when, and how children learn, which interferes with children’s natural learning processes. And the system won’t change until a critical mass of parents choose educational paths that demonstrate how kids thrive the most in trusting, supportive, non-controlling environments. That’s why I encourage parents to choose an alternative path if they can. (And if they can’t, I coach them on how to “detoxify” the traditional school experience as much as possible.)

But choosing the road less traveled can be scary.Parents want some assurance that it works. That’s why I’m doing everything I can to support the making ofClass Dismissed, a documentary about what happens when families leave the traditional schooling path.

Class Dismissed is focused on homeschooling, but it also showcases some of the ways homeschooling families work together to create extraordinary learning communities. And some of these co-creations look like what schools would be if they were to let go of control, support children’s natural curiosity, and honor the vital role of the parent-child relationship. I’m thrilled at the thought of school teachers and principals seeing the film and having their minds opened to new possibilities!

The film’s director, Jeremy Stuart, interviewed me for the film when he was here in Portland last year, and he welcomed me into his home when I was in San Francisco this summer. I knew from the preview clips of the documentary that Jeremy is a talented filmmaker, but spending a couple of days with him and his delightful family revealed that he’s living the possibilities, not just documenting them.

I believe Jeremy’s work is going to have an impact thatwill benefit all of our children and future generations of learners. He and his production team are devoted to their vision and working for little or no pay. They deserve our support…

It would be a terrible tragedy if this project were to stall due to lack of funding!

Fortunately, you can make a difference by supporting the film’s Kickstarter fundraising campaign -AND- you can get some pretty cool perks when you pledge your support — like copies of the DVD when it comes out, your name in the film credits, and more!

Allow Images to see this picture of me being interviewed.

Click HERE to watch a video clip that includes a few seconds of my interview. (That’s me in the playground!)

Reporting time


It is school report time in our house, that is Wayne, not me!

He is up to his ears in test results and computer programmes to record them all.
He has worked much of the weekend on them, expletives drifting up from behind the computer…… Next weekend will be the same.  High stress.

It inspired me to work on the kids’ folders.  I keep clearfiles with photos, comments, theatre programmes, tickets & brochures.  The kids LOVE looking through them, although admittedly I have been neglecting them since I have been blogging.
It is really special that they have their own record of what they have been doing.  Often it inspires them to get something out to play with or try an old game.  It has also been a great reminder of the wonderful life we have and of the many varied and interesting things we do.

That sort of thing….

I also wondered what our children’s  reports would look like…?

Happiness                               A+

Self Love                                 A+

Passion                                    A+

Freedom                                 A+

Self expression                     A+

Confidence                            A+


Imagine the National Standards with these subjects!
Now there is a change I would be happy to be a part of.