Monday, 26 October 2015

Autumn on the fields

Today we spent an enjoyable hour walking over the fields across the road from our house. I worked out its been around 3 months since I last took the kids over there for a few reasons. Firstly, our guide dog puppy Viking left us at the beginning of August and we really miss having him as an excuse to get out for a walk! The day before he left us, there was a fire on the field nearest our house, we watched the fire engine put it out and soon after that the farmer put a barbed wire barrier across our usual entry onto the footpath running along the field. The alternative walk is steeper and more overgrown, lowering the appeal of taking a quick walk for some fresh air. A few weeks ago I discovered that the barrier has been taken down again. We've also been extremely busy the last few weeks in the midst of having an extension done to our house, and we always seem to have stuff planned in the diary taking up our time away from the house. This week is half term for schools in the area, and as I've mentioned before, we tend to hibernate a bit and spend more time at home while the crowds are out. I must make more time in the diary for our nature walks across the fields, we all really enjoy them and learn lots from them. 

I can't believe it's nearly November and still pretty mild at the moment! When we got home the kids went straight to the garden for more outdoor play. 

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

A lovely autumn day spent outdoors

We had our twice monthly home ed meet-up at Clent Hills this morning and spent a lovely 4 hours in the fresh autumn air! This is the fourth time we've met in the natural play space. All the kids seem to love exploring it; there's bramble patches, dens, tree stumps to step across, wooden huts and sticks. Lots of sticks! We usually bring along a couple of activities as a back up for bored moments, but the kids are far more interested in doing their own thing, so our activities have so far stayed in the bag. 

Today, the kids demonstrated a fantastic bit of team work and initiative all on their own. 7 of them, ranging in age from 18 months through to 7.5, worked together to move a 12ft long, large log from one end of the play space to the other. It was impressive to watch them busy at work, navigating their way around the various natural obstacles in their path and problem solving. 

We aim to finish the meet up by lunchtime. Today way such a warm, sunny autumn day that a few of us decided to walk to the top of the hills instead of going straight home. The kids did very well considering most of us (me included) hadn't gone prepared with enough food for hungry tums, so energy was flagging on the way back down. 

All tha fresh air is tiring and Tuesday afternoons are turning into DVD afternoons while we catch our breath. Today, My Little Pony was the pick. After a few episodes and some snacks, we read some stories and poetry together before tea. 

We're on week 10 of a house extension at the moment, and today the door to our new utility went in, meaning that we have a secure back garden again. The kids were keen to play outside after tea and spent 45 minutes before it started to get dark, jumping on the trampoline and picking the last of the raspberries. Eden spotted the half-moon and decided to do a nature journal entry, which was a nice finish to the day. I had a sit down on our newly created decking area outside the new conservatory, watching the kids play, feeling content and enjoying the lovely autumn weather! 

Friday, 16 October 2015

Starting out at forest school

This morning we went along to our second time at forest school, run by our local park rangers. The rangers have cleared a special place for us to meet in the park, complete with a fire square and lots of interesting nooks and crannies to explore. 

Today, the kids helped build a den, first finding large sticks for the roof, then 'branchier' sticks to cross-cross across the top, and finally adding some 'thatch' from hay cut earlier this week in a nearby field. Eden loved helping one of the Rangers take a wheelbarrow to collect the hay, she told me her favourite bit of today was jumping up and down on the hay bales to compact it. She also proudly carried the sharp shears over to the den area and I watched her confidence grow through the session as she realised her helping was useful and making a difference. 

Asher at the moment is a little shy in taking part in activities. He has had some behaviour problems over the last year, which have massively improved more recently by carefully modifying his diet. But over the last few months I've found it heartbreaking to watch his self-confidence take a bit of a knock, I think probably linked to his behaviour and natural consequences, sadly, of his behaviour. For example his low tolerance to frustration at not understanding an activity leads to him quickly and impulsively losing control beyond the point of going back, and therefore missing out. Forest school is great for building up his confidence. Today, he helped to pick sticks of differing sizes, putting them in the correct pile ready for building up the fire. He's a strong and capable boy outdoors, tramping through the tangles of ivy, brambles and stingles, snapping twigs beneath his feet. 

Asher's a kinaesthetic learner, and so he's in his element at forest school and it naturally fosters a 'can do' attitude in him. This afternoon at home ed group, it was so lovely to see the fruits of this so soon afterwards. Probably for the first time, he joined in confidently and happily in the activities. Usually, he would be very reluctant to join in an 'unknown' activity that he doesn't understand. Today I watched him go with the flow, much more settled and comfortable with the unknown. 

I love that home education gives me the opportunity to be at my children's side, watching the small everyday triumphs, which may seem insignificant to an outside eye, but to me, their mum, who knows them better than anybody, I see these, and treasure these moments.