The Curiosity Box – Science

 

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Targeted at 6-11 year olds, this box is above the youngest and right at the top end of the middle one. We started our subscription at the start of the year, when Middle It was almost 12 and Little It was almost 4. We had hoped that Middle It could work alongside Little It so both could get something out of it.

It has taken quite sometime to review as they still haven’t completed the first box of activities. While Little It was mostly engaged, the activities were far too arts and crafts based¬† for Middle It’s tastes, with the scientific content not really being at the right level for him. The box we have partially tried was themed around light.

What we were hoping for and expecting was something with a bit of hands on science stuff that is a little trickier to source things at home for. What we got was entirely things that use basic materials to build and craft things. I cannot say if this was specific for this box or a more general theme for other boxes too – we do have one more box that we have yet to open and explore.

I think this box is better suited to children who enjoy crafting things, something Middle It avoids as much as he can!

Opening the Box

Should you wish to check them out yourselves, they can be found here: http://www.curiosity-box.com/

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Making Some of the Hardness of Home Ed Easier… Trying Anyway!

Home Education is hard, whichever angle you approach it from, whatever age your children. Home Education is hard. It’s time consuming, it does no good for your bloodpressure or self doubt, and it can be expensive if you try to combat the other drawbacks.

In the last twelve months we’ve tried a couple of different educational subscription boxes, with mixed results, to try and balance out some of the learning and alleviate some of the self doubt. I think this is a specific exploration journey that will continue until all the children are finished with their education.

To do each box justice I feel they need a post of their own. I’ve already blogged about other subscription boxes, the next few will be purely educational.

I also gained a step daughter at the end of last year, she began her home education journey in September, age four, when she would have started Reception if in school. This itself has brought a whole host of new and extra challenges to the home ed journey. Hours and hours and hours spent trawling the internet looking for resources to put together to make projects on topics we want to cover. Worrying about reading and writing – something my own son could do before he came out of school and began his home ed journey. Juggling all this with time with her mum who has her a couple of days a week, but the days are never consistent.

The family dynamics have changed significantly, which has brought both relief and extra challenges. The home education journey marches, or plods on some days, on!

To the North!

Our journey continues up onto the North Island of New Zealand. In Wellington we took a tour to Zealandia, an amazing urban wildlife reserve where they have worked tirelessly to fence in the native species and remove as many introduced species as possible. Birds with flight are free to come and go, flightless birds are protected from the predators that were introduced by both the Maori and European settlers all those years ago. The result has been species close to extinction becoming reestablished, and a species thought to be extinct brought back after a few were found in the mountains.

The tour also took a drive around Wellington, the capital city of New Zealand, with a very knowledgeable coach driver giving us detailed information on various buildings of interest and the damage caused by a very recent earthquake. He also took us to the Old St Paul’s Cathedral for a look around, a wooden structure built by shipmakers, something giving the building real character when looking at the roof structure from inside which closely resembles an upturned boat.

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Between Christchurch and Wellington, it really is quite humbling to see the damage caused by earthquakes. Lots of empty spaces in Christchurch, fewer spaces in Wellington, but being more recent there are still cracks evident across the roads. Since our visit, we have heard news of devastating wild fires in Christchurch, truly saddening especially for a beautiful city that was still recovering from the 2011 earthquake.

After Wellington came the small harbour of Tauranga. We took an excursion to Rotarua from here to see the truly amazing hot springs and mud pools at the thermal reserve. Wow is the only way to describe it. If you’re lucky enough to get to NZ you must try and get to Waiotapu in Rotarua – this has got to be the best of the excursions by far. We learnt that the reason for the hot springs is the active volcanoes around the area causing hot magma to lie below the surface and heat the water. The extreme heat also draws mineral out of the rocks to dissolve in the water, causing the bright colours. There are hot springs, bubbling mud pools and geysers aplenty in this area. The Maori tribe that settled here used, and still use, the heat provided by nature to cook their food.

Our final day on board was in the Bay of Islands, just north of Auckland. We had booked a tall ship experience here, a day spent on an authentic schooner, sailing in the sunshine around the bays, finding a secluded beach for some swimming in the sea and relaxing with a BBQ lunch on board. Unfortunately the weather was not on our side, for the first time, so the trip was cancelled – I had a spa treatment on board the cruise ship, with a sauna and full body massage with hot stones, instead ūüėČ

The final leg of our adventure is already underway in Auckland, I will post a summary of that in a few days.

100 Ways to Home Educate: With The World!

Today I am taking part in a Home Education Blog Hop initiative, here is a little about what Home Education looks like for us.

Home Education for us: 

If I had to describe our style it would be Semi Structured dabblers in Worldschooling. This basically means when we’re ‘at home’ we follow a loose and flexible timetable with subjects and activities guided by E’s interests and future plans, but we also try to take lots of breaks around the world and country, of varying lengths of time, to discover and learn about different areas and cultures.

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We try to adventure, rather than holiday, doing things a little differently to a standard package holiday where we can. At the moment we are exploring the Southern Hemisphere (have a look at my recent blog posts for more information) but have also traveled by train to Italy, driven around France for a month (sleeping in the car as well as camping) and stayed with friends in Spain. In addition we try to get out and about in the UK including camping in Cardiff, a few days a year in London, Chester Zoo (which is an awfully long drive from Cornwall!) and more.

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What have we covered so far on our current adventure? So much it’s hard to know where to start, but I will try to¬†summarise some of the points! We have learnt about time zones, body clocks and jet lag. We have experienced these first hand, as well as the opposite seasons in the other hemisphere. Currency conversion and cost estimation while out and about, as well as supply and demand affecting pricing – just why did our laundry cost so much to have done on the ship?! We’ve looked at native species, deadly species, cautions for them, and sun safety. We’ve seen a dam, learnt how and why it was built, and the strong relationships formed plus other benefits of those from different cultures¬†coming together with different skills. We talked about evolution and natural selection, multiple times, and the risks of introducing species to an area. We’ve seen differing coastlines and mountains, a rain forest and icy cold waterfalls, learnt about sounds and fjords. There have been discussions about relationships between settlers and natives, what we think went well, what didn’t and why that might have been. We’ve all learnt lots about earthquakes, volcanoes and glaciers, which led onto a discussion over dinner about natural disasters and any ways we know to protect ourselves from them (duck and cover, seek higher ground, enter a basement etc). We’ve seen and talked about Maori traditions that still live on, learnt about the Haka and what it really is and means, beyond rugby!

I’m sure I’ve missed plenty, and I’m sure there will be plenty more to come. To put it into perspective a little, we’ve been away for precisely three weeks. I feel we’ve covered far more in that time, in far more depth and breadth, than we could have at home, and we still have another week to go…

Some background to what we do, and why:

E came out of school at the end of year three, after a change of schools crushed his optimism and love of learning. He plans to do his GCSEs as an external candidate, studying the material from home. Maths and Science are his favourite subjects, and I have insisted he also sits the exams for English and studies the material for French (as he has been learning French for several years now). He also covers computing (including coding/programming) within his timetable. Then there’s the local Home Ed trips out and meetings to juggle.

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O is not Home Educated at the moment, although he has been in the past, currently he is studying at college for his A levels and he went to a small independent school to sit his GCSEs as he has Asperger’s Syndrome so¬†mainstream school ¬†was not able to meet his needs and he did not wish to sit exams as an external candidate. His school set up has meant we’ve had greater flexible for adventure than many families with one or more children in school.

Blog Hop:

Previous blogger:

The Start:
http://liveotherwise.co.uk/makingitup/2017/02/06/100-ways-to-home-educate-launching-a-blog-hop/

 

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Click here¬†to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…

Our Journey into Home Education

The History

My eldest child has additional needs, with a diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome. He found school very difficult, he found everything very difficult. When our family made the move South, from the midlands to the South West, O was seven and he struggled a great deal to settle into a new school. He did not yet have his diagnosis at this stage.

What followed was five long years of being repeatedly failed and let down by our Local Authority. He spent more time at home on exclusion than at school, this was the result of the lack of appropriate support, or even a basic attempt to understand his difficulties. I was trying to complete a degree at University at this time, training to become a midwife.

The upshot was, between the ages of seven and twelve, the vast majority of O’s learning occurred at home. I unofficially Home Educated him through his endless exclusions.

He is now settled in a very small ‘mainstream’ independent school that understands and supports him. He is happy and has chosen to be there to complete his GCSEs. ¬†I had to fight the Local Authority every single step of the way, and to get the school fees paid through his statement (fees which are significantly lower than the alternatives that the LA were suggesting!).

Moving On

As a result of my experiences with O, I was not in the dark about the option to Home Educate, nor was I shy to make that choice if I felt it was right for my child(ren).

E had always adored school, he loved learning, asked questions all the time, and skipped to school daily waving hello to all the local villagers along his way. It was the right place for him to be.

Until we moved house, and E had to change schools. Within two terms I had made the decision to deregister E from his new school, a school that has broken him. He no longer looked forward to school. He no longer asks questions about everything. He started to dread school and had very much lost his love of learning.

E’s home education journey began in September 2013. The deregistration letter was handed in on the last day of the summer term, and the the summer holidays were what E needed for deschooling (getting the mindset of school out of the child, and parent). We are now beginning the second term in our third year of home ed.

E’s Home Ed Journey

Having researched ‘proper’ home ed (as opposed to the unofficial, off the cuff, no choice left, home ed I had done with O in the past) I knew there were as many ways to approach it as there are children experiencing it. On of the key positive points is that home education allows flexibility to fit around each and every child’s needs and preferences.

E is a reader. In the early days I got caught up in the ‘buy lots of workbooks and sit and do them for a couple of hours a day’. This cost me a lot of money, time and sanity. E hates workbooks. Absolutely detests them!¬†I quickly learnt that E prefers to learn by reading. So I shifted the approach to a loose, very flexible, timetable and trying to cover as much as possible through reading, rather than workbooks.

In the early days heels were dug in and a distaste for a timetable expressed. So we discussed what might help and agreed a work basket for each week, with a clear written list of what work ought to be completed for that week. He trialed this, with the intention to have finished the list by the Sunday when he went to bed, giving a full week. He quickly decided to go back to the timetable!

Our Timetable

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We follow a loose timetable, and loose term times as well. The main reason for this is having one child in school.

I have a flexible approach to lots of things, our home ed timetable is no exception. It is a laminated sheet of paper with boxes for each ‘lesson’. Then there are subjects (also laminated) which blue tack on to the timetable, and can be moved around. The day starts at 10am and finishes at 3pm. There are two 1 hour session before lunch and one 2 hour session afterwards.

If we have something else to do, or don’t feel like doing something right then, it’s simply missed or moved to another time. Full flexibility to allow for the freedoms and joys of home education (as well as the bumps in the road of life). We often ‘ignore’ the after lunch sessions ūüėČ

How Our HE has Morphed

So, we’re a third of the way through our third year. Things changed a lot in our first year, as we tried things out and settled into a way of doing things that worked for us. Whilst remaining mostly stable after that initial settling in period, things still change as we discover new ways of working, new interests, or E decides he doesn’t like the way we’re tackling something.

Home education is a fluid and flexible journey, as fluid and flexible as you need or want it to be. That is the beauty of it!