Category Archives: Natural Learning In Action

New flag designs


Charlie woke up this morning to reveal he had Chicken Pox! Yipppee!
I envisaged a day(or several) of playing board games, sitting and distracting him while dabbing on baking soda paste….

But after  leaving him with his drawing pad and felts I returned to find him designing a new NZ  flag.  He has continued, all day now on to his 4th design.

There has been some discussion, in the media and around the dinner table, as there often is when an election is coming up about a new flag….


Design 1: Kiwi, Silver Fern, Southern Cross

Design 2 : No Kiwi….


Design 3: Still the Southern Cross with Silver Ferms




Mmmm, the fourth design is looking interesting too…different….

A big part of this has been a chart accompanying each design and everyone who has been here today has been asked to tick a like/dislike column and add comments and ideas.
Even in the spotty and scratchy space he is in, his imagination is on fire.  He has just had a fever for 2 days prior and this is a common thing to come out of a fever bursting with new ideas.

Very exciting and, handily destracting too….







Ollie being trying




Ollie has just completed the Weetbix triathalon, an old hand now!  He was so confident and gave his all, enjoying it so much.


He has been swimming 4 times a week as a squad member and really enjoying, pushing himself while getting fit.
Always so proud as a parent to watch him growing up, becoming so confident and  so passionate about what he is doing.



Thanks Ollie!





natural learning milestones


Our life seems so normal, so natural.  I have no inclination to label us or it.  I feel as though questions about how our children learn like this are as if someone is asking us how we eat or breathe.

Just unnesscesary.
We just are.

But I remember the  uncertainty when we began.  I do.  The fear that our children would be “left behind” somehow, not know what others their age knew.
I have realised now how there is a whole set of unwritten milestones in our culture for children.

Sleeping through the night, being weaned, learning to talk, walk, ride a bike, swim, read, write….From birth there is, at times,  a competitiveness about keeping up with the pack.

Now I feel such a freedom from not even being in the pack let alone trying to live by it’s code of conduct..

Realising too that our children will set their own pace, reach their own milestones when they are ready. Most parents can cope with a baby not sitting or walking until months after it’s peers, so why not reading  at 4yrs or at 9yrs instead of 5?

I have seen children learn so easily and naturally when they are ready – be it 4 years or 14.
I just relish  seeing how happy children are in themselves and with their lives when they are left to do things at their own pace.
There is plenty said in spiritual literature about going with the flow, not resisting life.  I have felt strongly that from birth my kids knew what they needed and all I had to do was to meet their needs and help them when required. 

And still it goes on.  There is no difference to a 2 year old saying they do not want to wear something/eat something/ do something to a 12 year old knowing their own mind about what they need to do.

Going with the flow, with their flow, the path of least resistance  is always the happier route and naturally the best one to take.
There is still a lingering philosophy in our culture that life is hard, a struggle, nothing is acheived without pain, hard work, sacrifice…

Thankfully the emerging philosophy of many is that life is a joy.
Life should be fun.
That life should be filled doing the things that light your fire, your passions, the things that make you zing.

This is the very basis of what we do.
How do you teach your children to follow their bliss….?  Let them follow it from birth!  Then they don’t have to spend their adult lives trying to find out who they are, what they enjoy and what makes them tick.
The milestones are there still, but they are set by the kids themselves, not imposed by an outside authority.

So here we are following our bliss….at 10.30pm! The boys hard out wrestling for 2 hours, gloves on, martial arts moves discussed and practised.


Wayne playing the guitar while the boys roll around, dicussions of evolution interspersed with full on fighting…..



Gotta love the fact we don’t have to get up and make school lunches at 7am…
(ooops ,sorry Wayne!)



Charlie reads alot of comic books set in 1950’s America.  One thing he has always wanted to do , influenced by this I am sure, is have a lemonade stall.

So yesterday was the day.

With 3 others they went off foraging for lemons.
They made signs, set up a table, made heaps of lemonade, bought cups and then developed marketing strategies…..(This took about an hour)



Signs were re-written, put on each side of the road, wiggled at drivers….




They are keen to continue as they are raising funds for a good movie camera to make films on…


Right Royal education


I am loving having the Guardian arrive on the doormat each morning (there are some things about Britian that I just love…)

And the kids are too.  They all have a good browse through it and it has certainly been the catalyst for some great conversations.

Of course it is mildly exciting to be right here for the Royal birth and we were very close to Paddington at the time!
Today we have been treated to pages of history, information and a great visual family tree concerning the Royal family and the newest members place in it.  From looking at this we have been discussing all sorts of topics stemming from (mostly) Charlie’s questions –
The name, the fact that the two longest serving monarchs are both women, the lineage, how the crown passes.
I just love the things that are brought to the table when a new experience arrives in my kids lives.  How each one examines it and considers it in their own wayand from their own perspective.  This just adds so much to my own education and enjoyment of what is happening.

I was just happy looking at the photos and thinking how awful to have to appear a.) dressed
b.) smiling
c.) in public

the day after you have had your first baby.

When I had Hannah I truly thought that when you gave birth you just slipped back into your size ten jeans the next day and carried on.  So I gave my pregnant sister my favourite materity dungarees (yes, yes, I know….but they were so comfy…) while still  in hospital (unnecessary c-section instead of planned homebirth).
So imagine my surprise when all I could fit into was an old sarong, which I tied around my still huge and flabby middle regions.

The size ten jeans languished unused for ages.
I didn’t go anywhere for months, and most days if I got in the shower it was a miracle and then it seemed to take all day to get there….

At least I didn’t have the worlds media wanting photos of me though.
Just as well really.

And no we have not queued up to take a photo of the birth announcement on an easel outside Buckingham Palace.
Seems slightly outdated when one could just tweet it….


Hint hunt


We tried the Museum of Natural History, we even managed to walk around the dinosaurs….but lack of air and crush of people meant it was unbearable.


(I love the exterior of the big museums as much at the content inside).

So we went for a boat ride to Greenwich on the Thames Clippers, where at at least the air moved….(I am not complaining, really!) .



It was great to see the other side of the Tower of London and the ever-sinister Traitors Gate!
Always good to view things from a different perspective too…



But for us the main event of the day was a visit to HintHunt (thanks to Joanne and Andrew, Kiwi friends who recommended it.  🙂  )
Of course I can’t really tell you too much about it…it would give the game away.  But the basic idea is you get locked in a room (four is the optimal number) and have to get out using clues, codes, your wit and communication skills while and searching for things that may help you.
It is a brilliant team-building activity and so much fun for a family to do.
I loved it how we are all so different which meant we had a variety of  strengths and skills  to draw on while problem-solving.
No photos inside of course…


This is our last day altogether in London.  We have been so grateful to have been able to call this our wonderful home away from home while here.  Ruth is an amazingly generous hostess, we all feel so comfortable and welcomed here.  And we will be back..a couple more times!



The story of The Hagia Sofia


There are not many facts I remember from my university studies (major in religion).  But for some reason I did always remember this.
In the third century (AD) the Emperor Constantine declared that the Roman empire would now adopt this new fangled religion – Christianity – and that Constantinople would be the centre of this. To this effect he  built a huge new church – the Hagia Sofia which was the largest and the most important church in the Christian world..  A massive, multi domed, terracotta  monument to the new cult of Jesus, Mary and the one God. This was completed in 537 ad.

I think this struck me as so pragmatic, just deciding that a whole population would now have to believe on demand (not a new idea I know). It put a lot of things in perspective for me, the changeover from the traditional Roman ideas to the Christian, the settling of a whole new belief system in such a large area – 300 years after Jesus lived.  Fascinating.

But wait there is more.
The Christian church was established here, in the old Constantinople (I love that word!).  I imagine this process was not without many years of drama and conflict.  It is no easy task to convert a whole empire.

Things then went along relatively well until the Ottomans arrived  in 1453.  Mehmet ll was a 21 year old Sultan who led the Ottomans and after a seige of less than two months Constantinople fell to them.   Upon conquering the city  the new rulers set to changing the Hagia Sofia.  Minarets were errected, the Christian symbols and mosaics painted over and removed, all things Islam  introduced.  Within a very short space of time the grand church was operating as a Mosque.

The last part of the story is very recent, only 90 years ago.  The Ottoman empire had had a turbulent time and  been diminishing more each century.  By 1923 Ataturk, the founder of  the modern Turkey had set up a whole new social structure and banished much of the old order.  Turkey was now a secular state.

The great Hagia Sofia became the museum it is today.


The building is beautiful, huge and so intriging because of the turbulent history it is has been fundamentally a part of.


The paint the conquering Ottomans used actually preserved many of the early Christians paintings and mosiacs!  This one is  the Virgin Mary flanked by two Roman emperors – Constantine and Justinian.  I  guess this shows the high regard the emperors held themselves in, or their subjects did.


The building is huge, gargantutan with massive domed ceilings, like this one in the main part of Hagia Sofia (or Aya Soyfa)


There were a few of these paintings of  angels some still being partly covered.


A gorgeous Islamic looking mosaic tucked away in a little nook.



Here you can see some of the scaffolding set up and the height of the main dome.



We were all impressed with the massive wooden doors. Also the marble floors which were worn down after years of thousands of feet, ancient and modern walking over them.  This particularly made me feel connected to those who have come before.

IMG_1138 This is called the Deesis Mosiac and shows Jesus and John the Baptist . (Mary is on the left, unseen) with Jesus as the supreme ruler of the world. Dated from 1261.

The bottom is sadly deteriorated, but is still considered to be the finest one in The Hagia Sofia.


One of Istanbuls stray cats, Charlie is always interested in them and wanted to work out how it got in and was fed etc.



The view from the first gallery, pretty impressive and gives some idea of  the scale.

There are some interesting shadows of crosses, but overlaid with Islamic patterns  to be seen which really bring to life the layers of history here.

The dilemma for those restoring the Hagia Sofia is do you destroy the more recent Islamic art for the sake of seeing the older Christian work?

And so history is still being made here.