Monthly Archives: June 2010

Cryptozoology afternoon and a lapbook.

Lapbooking can be a long winded process so we decided to do a quickie.

We have just finished the book on mountains and volcanoes for Geography and the last chapter talked about the Yeti of the Himalayas. So we decided to look at other beasties that might live in mountain areas.

The children were all fascinated with the tales of Nessie in Loch Ness in the Highlands so in the end all three of them did a quickie-lapbook on Nessie.

We had lots of pictures and a few notes for them to use. There was great discussion about which tales might be true and which ones were not.

Last week we looked at the Giant’s Causeway and I read them Tomie de Paola’s lovely version of Fin M’Coul and how his wife Ooonagh saved him from the fists of Cucullin. I had already read a version from the Baldwin books which was longer but I have to say not as well written as de Paola’s version.

After they had finished their Nessie lapbooks we looked at the spooky tale of the Grey Man of Ben Macdui properly known as Am Fear Laith Mor. We compared tales of the Grey Man with Yeti and Big Foot and then had a look at Australopithicus to see if we thought the beasties might be any relation.

Finally I found the tale of Mekele Mbembe the dinosaur of the Congo.

There was also a bit of time for a quick entomological peruse of a grasshopper that had decided to pay us a visit by landing on the open french window. While not a mysthical beast he was an unusual visitor for this area. After all the children had looked at him we let him go.

As a side note- I have been using some resources from Montessori for Everyone to do a bit with all three of the younger ones. There’s plenty for Heleyna in particular (she’s 3) but I printed off the constellation set for Ronan.

As another side note:

My friend J came over on Monday. She is using the Steiner Waldorf curriculum so her approach is different to mine. However what was so lovely about Monday was that all the children did what they were supposed to do and even joined in with each other where they could. It was lovely to see how two different approaches to home ed can work well together.

J has her last chemo next week so we will be having more of these all-together sessions for a while until she is recovered.

I hope that the way little groups like ours can work together so that a mum can be ill or in treatment without her children losing out on their learning will be some reassurance to those who are STILL out to ‘monitor’ Home Education.

On Friday when I had to leave for the inquest J and K stayed here and continued the learning with all the children.

And there was evening and morning…

I have woken today to sunshine and bird song. There is even a light breeze as I put the washing on the line and in the stillness of what must be by now a Summer morning I could hear my younger children playing. Life goes on.

Yesterday we sat in a mostly empty courtroom to hear the inquest into the death of my dear friend. I have not attended an inquest before but it was much as I expected. The remit of the court seemed extremely narrow however. I had hoped that such an investigation could lead to some genuine recommendations for the future care of others in my friends situation so that they, unlike her, might not die.

This was not to be the case.

Nevertheless I think the proceedings made it very clear that there is something seriously amiss in the provision of psychiatric care to adult patients in this area. There was absolutely no continuity of care. There was no understanding of what made admission to hospital necessary and when pushed one of the two psychiatrists said that the only thing on offer in admission to hospital was “supervision”.

What has happened to nurses? Have they lost all skill and ability? Are they really just custody officers now? I spent a great deal of my time on the wards as a nurse working with patients to help them come to terms with tragedy and to manage and reduce their self harm. We worked with people to offer them techniques to manage anxiety and depression. There were off-ward therapies in art and relaxation.

So why was there none of this available for my friend? Why was there only “supervision”?

There was a complete lack of insight from the professionals it seemed to me. They recognised that there had not been any trusting therapeutic relationship formed and even in an offhand comment had realised why-but nothing was done to correct this.

In the end one doctor said that they had decided that in future for such cases they would “have a meeting.”

They just seemed relaxed in their comfortable mediocrity.

Finally we received a “narrative verdict” on her death and off we went. Nothing will bring her back-and worse still nothing happened in that room that will do anything whatsoever to try and prevent another death like hers.

Sharing a suitable education

I wrote a rather rambly piece a couple of days ago about what I had been reading and the ‘different world’ reporting on the budget.

As a committed distributist I finished off by saying we can simply share what we have. Peter commented that people wont share and he has seen the selfishness of greed in the supermarket.  I’m sure this is true but that doesn’t take away the fact that we need to share what we have to reduce the burden on all of us.

I heard a radio programme about large families a few weeks ago. A woman phoned in saying she was one of 13 children. Last year her father died and the solicitor dealing with his will was appalled that the man had left almost nothing to go around his 13 children. He tutted and sighed about the lack of money and investment.

One of the older children spoke up. Their father had used every penny he earned giving his children what they needed and making sure they had a suitable education. Now the children were happy and secure and most importantly, this lady pointed out, they had each other. They would always take care of each other. No one in that family would be left to struggle.

I hope that as part of the ‘suitable education’ I am trying to give my children, that taking care of one another is a major lesson they will learn. It’s a far more important lesson than proper punctuation or the 5x skip counting song.

We are fortunate as a little home ed group in that we all do share.

Our family have received a great deal from the generosity of others. People I only know fromblogging and online have sent books and other items that we need.  We get sent money from people who just simply understand that bringing up and educating children in this country isn’t cheap.

And of course as a family we share with others. Clothes, books, resources, baby stuff-it all gets handed out. Then when we need things, it all tends to arrive back, even from surprising places.

There really is no point in waiting for the right kind of Government. There never will be one. There is no point wishing other people would do things. They probably wont. But we can and if we are making a little culture of care and share around our homes it will spread.

And one more bit of advice on this sharing malarky; don’t wait for people to ask, or make them have to beg. Each man’s dignity can be kept in tact if you just offer and give. If you keep your eyes open on others and not on yourself you’ll soon see when they are in need even if it’s just for a cuppa tea and a chat or a few hundred quid or anything in between- what ever you have that you don’t need you can give or share.

You’ll see and you’ll know. So, don’t be afraid :)

Thank you for the prayers

We are coming through the tough times here. First of all Iona has received the all clear from the hospital on Monday. Her enlarged thyroid with cysts is now a perfectly normal thyroid with no cysts! Marvellous!!

Other unpleasant things are calming down.

I have my dear friend’s inquest to attend on Friday and that should be the end of it. I hope then we can all be left to grieve for her in peace and let her go.

Your prayers and  messages of support have been gratefully received. Just a couple of extra prayers on Friday please :)

Before Ofsted education was a homely thing. Education BO

I know I’m late to comment on the recent serpent bites its own tail event. I am sure most of you have already seen the news that Ofsted made a last twitch attempt to bite at home educators. Graham Stuart stamped down on the attempt quickly and we hope that can be a breather.

One person commented on the Indi thread that she had reported a home ed family and nothing was done. Finally the dad went to prison for child abuse. I am sure there are plenty of cases like this out there. Does that mean the LAs and Ofsted need more power to monitor all of us or does it actually mean they need to get to grips with the families that genuinely require intervention? If, as seems to be the excuse, theey are already stretched too thin and that is why so many mistakes happen and so many children end up hurt, then surely getting around to all families regardless of whether there is a problem or not is only stretching the service more so that even more vulnerable children are left to sink.

Perhaps they should be working closely with social services. Perhaps they should be properly trained, know the law and how to use it, and have a very good idea what home education is and have just a modicum of respect for families. It isn’t just the system that is broken, it’s the people in the system. It doesn’t make sense to want more power when they don’t know how to properly use the ones they have.

I’ve been reading a bit o’history to get to grips with the next phase of history with the children. One of the things that has fascinated me is a quote from a bishop instructing all his priests to offer schooling to the children of their parishes.  The priests and monasteries were instructed by the Church to offer (not force) a free education for the children. It makes it clear that poor families must be welcomed and that no charge is to be made, but donations from wealthier families would help keep the schools afloat. Most education still went on at home right up until about 100 years ago.

I don’t know how we can turn this culture around so that families are allowed and expected to be responsible for their own and their communities. Ofsted are steeped in the view that “experts” and “professionals” and “Government officials” are in charge of every person in everything they do. Like strangle weed in the garden it’s a view that kills the good and is difficult to get rid of.  It kills off the view that we are our brother’s keeper and it leaves that horrible much repeated mantra “The Government should do something.”

The emergency budget has caused consternation with journalists reporting in horror that the price of an iphone will go up and that foreign holidays will cost so much more. I had to laugh. It sums up the Culture in which Ofsted and unions like NASUWT and NUT work in.

We don’t need to be afraid. There is still plenty for everyone to get by with so long as we share what we have. Simple.

Home Education: adapting to the child’s way of learning.

Home educators are constantly pointing out that every child learns differently.  It is something the school system cannot (or will not) adapt to. I remember Iona telling me that in her first week at secondary school the children all did a test to see what kind of learner they were and then, she said, we stuck it in the front of a book and it was never referred to again.

I think one of the greatest advantages of home education is that a parent can help each child learn in a way that best suits them. Avila learns in a completely different way to Ronan. This isn’t just about the fact she is two years younger; her whole approach to reading, writing and even maths is just different to his.

One of the major differences between the two in how they learn is that Avila doesn’t see letters and numbers very well. She reverses and writes in the wrong order. Obviously having two older siblings with dyslexia I have wondered if in the end this is what this might prove to be BUT she’s only 5 and I think it is way too early to suggest dyslexia at this point. More important is what can be done to help her now.

I like a lot of the Montessori ideas and they are easily incorporated into a Charlotte Mason method so some time ago I bought a set of wooden letters and numbers for the children. Now I know there are those who are concerned about these sort of resources with children who tend toward dyslexia because without supervision they tend to place the letters as they might write them rather than the proper way round.

These letters are made in such a way that it is easy to tell the top from the bottom and if there was a problem even then I would have her colour each top side of the letters so she would know.

As it is she doesn’t (at this point) use them unsupervised but even so I haven’t seen her try to put them the wrong way around so far.

I lay the numbers out 0 to 9 and then draw a quick Decimal Street on the blank side of her workbook. When she has worked out the sum using either the number stair card or the manipulatives then she places the answer numbers in the correct houses on Decimal Street so she can see which way round to write.

She now writes 15 instead of 51 or reversing the 5.

Avila learns better when she can touch and build with the resources. So we are beginning to have a house full of manipulatives, attribute blocks and wooden things as well as play doh.

I hope that by adapting to her way of learning we can pre-empt the dyslexic tendencies if they are there. It does leave me wondering whether those that insist teaching methods create dyslexia may have a point. I don’t believe the child has no tendency to begin with, but if their way of learning is ignored, then perhaps the problem is unnecessarly magnified. (?)

Diabetes Week 13th to 19th

Actually I have no idea what we will do to mark the week. I suppose I should do some extra lessons on type 1 with the children, but I don’t think I’ll get around to it this week.

ooops.

Anyway I am sure Josh will get up to something.

Too close to the madding crowd.

I often hear or read of people who are homeschooling or home educating their children to protect them from the toxic culture around us. I have great sympathy with that endeavour.

As primary educator of my children I am not just supposed to teach them to read and add up properly, I need to help them learn about life; treating others with love and respect, being sensitive to others who may be more vulnerable to them so that they don’t trample them. I look at my adult children and I have to say over all I am pleased at how they handle difficult situations and difficult people.

There was a reason A Wise Man once said we must love our enemies, forgive them and pray for those who persecute us. It isn’t to help THEM it’s to help US. We need to keep forgiving no matter what so we can stay sane in a mad world.

I was astonished to see an apparently proud home ed parent wax lyrical about how they had managed to bring their child up to adulthood as a rude, arrogant and disrespectful person. How on earth is that something to be proud of? Of course they worded it slightly more slippery than that but essentially said they were pleased their child-now adult-didn’t simply treat other adults with respect.

This kind of self centred approach to life has a pretty nasty fall out and it often falls out on the rest of us. There is nothing more difficult to deal with than someone else’s self centred disrespect for others. All too often it isn’t just adults who get messed up in this sort of behaviour, vulnerable children do too.

I read and listen to so much about lovely families where all is very “Waltons” if you know what I mean. The adults are kind and understanding and if they do get a bit cross sometimes it is short lived and always ends with apology. There is so much stuff about how parents are supposed to ensure our children only court the “right kind” of girl or boy form the “right kind” of family.

Life just isn’t like that. Not around here at any rate. We love imperfect people and we miss them when they’re gone. We try and supportreally difficult people and we get hurt when they get very difficult. It’s life.

So, my advice?

Remember, if you want to grow roses you’ll have to have thorns.

Forgive as much as you can and eat chocolate when you can’t.

Bring your children up to love and respect others so they don’t end up damaging other people.

Protect your children if you can but give them the tools they need to negotiate the madding crowd.

Don’t fall for the “life can be perfect” guff that even some Catholic voices try to put out. Frankly this is just the Health and Wealth Gospel redressed as the Happy and  Sunny Gospel.

But that Wise Man said we had to pick up our cross. So pick it up and drag.

In the end it really will be joyful-not happy perhaps, but truly joyful.

Keep praying for us. In about two weeks I think the worst bits will be over.

Thank you for the messages and prayers.

God bless you all :)

Strega Nona- have a Tomie de Paola moment.

We don’t have this book but you just gotta love anything de Paola draws, writes or does.

Things are tough here for us at the moment so I’m not sure how much blogging I’ll be doing.

Say a prayer or two.

The Importance of Teaching History.

Every person has an obligation to seek the truth and speak it.  One of the most important areas for doing this is in teaching our children where they come from; their history. Sadly I have to concur with Chesterton who wrote  in 1913 “Our historians lie much more than our journalists.”

Baring this in mind a home educating mother like me has to tread with care through the historical books recommended on many curricula sites to ensure I don’t impart black legend or serious mistakes to my children. They have the right to the truth and I want to make sure that to the best of my ability they get it.

The minefield of history books and stories is a difficult one to navigate. Old books can be just as bad or worse than newer ones and I am constantly trying to be sure that what I might expose the children to in the way of ‘living fiction’ or ‘living books’ of a more factual basis are in fact true to the history they are telling.

Continue reading

Corpus Christie

This is sung by Tony Melendez the young man who plays guitar with his feet because he has no arms. Many of you will remember he played for Pope John Paul II. The priest in the video is Fr Stan Fortuna-a darned good musician himself. The star of the show is of course The Blessed Sacrament.

June Month of the Sacred Heart

That Resource Site has put up my little offerings of worksheets for the month of June.

If I get time I might do a few more.

Fr Ray has mentioned the lack of info about the Holy Father’s visit to the UK in September. I am going to try and put together some basic stuff as prep for that event too.

If anyone has ideas or stuff you think needs to be included in a set of worksheets for mixed aged children then let me know.