Saturday, 4 July 2015

Peace and Tranquility

Sometimes in the hustle and bustle of family life we just need peace.
Yesterday after a very hectic week of college taster days and various "almost the end of term events" I ran away for a few hours and sat and ate my lunch at Holme  ground tarn. A beautiful spot away from the tourists and the crowds of Coniston where I had time to breathe......

 Summit of Holme Fell

Reminicent of "The Titanic"

What estate agents particulars are made of!

Hodge close quarry.

Reminders of Pooh

   Slaters Bridge Little Langdale

Friday, 19 June 2015

Education is an Onion

Yesterday my daughter had a dance audition in Lancaster. It is something she passionately wants to do and she was very excited.Once again it occured to me that here was my daughter (despite it being  a Saturday) choosing to educate herself and challenge her abilities beyond the scope of school . She was missing a voluntary school dance  session to take part and had been challenged on her commitment by her school teacher who knew nothing about her audition, when in fact my daughter was choosing to pit her chances against dancers far older and more experienced than her and with  dance teachers with a varied and professional history of dance.The injustice of it all only makes my daughter more determined to succeed.Somewhere along the way she outgrew her school teacher and realised that there was knowledge and information which she wasn't learning in the classroom .

Dance wasn't the only thing she learned.There were  the life skills of reading a train timetable, travelling to a strange town and navigating her way to the dance studio.This time ,at her request, I went with her. but she felt that she would be confident enough to do it herself next time.

As a by-product of  the trip to her audition I decided to find out a little bit about the history of Lancaster as I hadn't been into the city for years.I visited Lancaster museum where there was an exhibition about the  agricultural history of the area which has some of the most fertile land for vegetable growing in the UK.

Upstairs were the permanent displays about the city of Lancaster from roman times to the present day, including the famous medeival castle dating from the 1300's and famous for its witch trials . The Kings Own Royal Regiment also had their military displays there and  I picked up leaflets and took photos for Google who has a passion for all things military.

I also popped into the Assembly rooms and visited the little chapel of the almshouses next door, a very peaceful refuge from the busy city traffic.

My trip really only glossed over the surface of what Lancaster has to offer but I realised that the lessons learned today had been threefold.My daughter's passion had led us up a new road of adventure.I had begun to learn about the history and architecture of the city and been able to pass on some of what I'd learned to Google when I got home.A bit like the layers of an onion really.The outside layer is only the beginning.If you peel away the outside layer you find out even more inside !All you need is an enquiring mind.

Friday, 12 June 2015

Learn what you want to learn, when you want to learn it.

Today I recommended this book to a couple of parents after I read this article. It is one of the books which has most influenced the way I educate my children.Having home educated Google since he was eight I felt guilty at failing to home educate the other two ( there was a spell when I home educated my eldest with Google for a year) but Google's needs were too great at that time and that year gave my eldest the space and time he needed to  grow and make his own choices about his education.

What this book taught me was that by sending my children to school I wasn't handing over their education to the government with it's narrow curriculum and  inflexibility towards the individual needs of each and every pupil but I  was choosing to primarily offer them the education opportunities they wanted to do such as dance,play the drums,sing,go camping and kayaking and walking, at home. Similarly life skills, morals and responsability and  consideration for others were the domain of our family  whilst school was a place where my social children could choose to socialise and spend time with their friends. 

There have been occasions when teachers have questioned my daughter's choice not to participate in after school activities- they seem to think that if you don't take part at school you're not doing anything at all.

I've had to explain she's  far too busy choosing what she wants to do outside of school with different teachers, teachers who want to share their passions with no other motive than to see others share their enjoyment where their enthusiasm shines through.Where   there are no tests  to pass unless you choose to take them.

It's a concept that some of them find hard to understand.Apparently most kids don't want to 'learn' when they're not at school.I wonder why? Perhaps they're being put off by what they are being taught at school? 

Monday, 1 June 2015

Just leave them be!

Now I haven't posted about Google in a bit, that usually means that things are going along smoothly ,it certainly doesn't mean his autism is cured.

That message was brought forcefully home the other day when I read a blog post written by a usually humorous and  lighted hearted father of an autistic boy . He is currently going through one of those 'dips' that we all come across with our children every now and again.

I've being dealing with autism long enough now to know that you get through them but I also know how draining it can be for all those involved at the deepest point.

We are at the stage with Google where we have learned to leave him to his own devices most of the time. He is happiest that way.Every so often he will come downstairs to sit with the family to watch television or to eat tea but generally he is at his happiest sat upstairs in his bedroom playing on the Xbox or the computer or reading books.

It wouldn't be my choice for him.I would much rather he spent his days camping or playing sport like his siblings but that's just not what he wants to do.

The other day we decided that we would take the train up the west coast of Cumbria to Carlisle. On a sunny day it's a beautiful ,if somewhat lengthy journey up the coast following the coast line of the North Sea through Ravensglass (famed for its miniature railway) the georgian town of Whitehaven and St Bees

Google was invited to come with us and , after weighing up the alternatives, decided he would come. With one hour to spare he changed his mind. Part of me was relieved as I had visions of him refusing to get on the train when it arrived on the platform, leaving my daughter and myself stranded ,unable to go. Another part of me was sad that he couldn't handle the change and challenge of the unknown.
If his dad had been with us he could have handled it but he doesn't feel secure unless we are all there and that wasn't possible.

It was interesting what I noticed as we travelled north. The train had incredibly squeaky brakes as we came into stations. In fact the noise hurt our ears, the passengers wore really strong perfume which made my daughter and I cough and sneeze as we suffer from asthma,and when we arrived in Carlisle the shops were busy and crowded and it was windy.All these things would have made the day out unbearable for my son and we would have had to deal with the consequences.

Home education has lessened all the sensory issues which he would have had to deal with from day to day but they are still there. Fortunately we can introduce Google to them gradually rather than force them on him before he is ready. Hopefully that will make his life easier and lessen the likelihood of depression or mental illness which so many of our Autistic children face. I hope so.

Sunday, 31 May 2015

Where the Wild things are!

Tomorrow marks the start of June and the beginning of my Thirty days wild challenge .I've decided to keep a record on my other blog Rural ramblings of the wild things I do over the next month.Thankfully, living in the country it shouldn't be too hard to find things to do in the wild.Time will tell!

Saturday, 30 May 2015

Living your dream

ALICE laughed "There's no use trying", she said, "One can't believe impossible things"
"I daresay you haven't had much practice" said the Queen.
When I was your age I always did it for half an hour a day "why sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast"

Lewis Carroll
Through the looking glass

It's too easy to put children down.A teacher unwittingly did it to my daughter recently when my daughter said she wanted to audition for a county dance group.She did in to lessen the blow in case my daughter didn't succeed. She did my daughter a favour .It made her angry and more determined to succeed

For many children however it would have knocked their confidence and planted a seed that maybe they weren't good enough.In fact the outcome isn't the be all and end all, it's how we handle it that counts.Win or lose my daughter will gain from her experience and move on.

In fact my daughter completed an application form and was invited to audition.It was tough and despite being shortlisted she didn't get a place this year.

That didn't stop her.We got feedback, made new contacts and found another dance group.She has applied again and has been accepted for audition in two weeks.

Meanwhile she auditioned with that same group for a choreography grant last week and we heard yesterday she had been accepted.So little by little she is reaching her goal.

Never under estimate the abilities of your children.Trust their instincts, they'll only doubt themselves when you think they can't do something.

Monday, 25 May 2015

Never a dull moment!

I think I'm becoming a bit of a geek.It's rather sad isn't it when you're excited at the prospect of the  arrival of light weight tent pegs! When they arrived I was rather surprised that they resembled  overgrown hair pins.I'm not sure what sort of wind they have down south , obviously not the blustery kind that we have on the hills in the Lake District.Nevermind they will do to keep the tent flap open on hot, sunny days!

My flirtation with the thought of wild camping meant that I had to go shopping for meths.I didn't know where to start.Did they sell it behind the counter in little dark shops on street corners?.My best friend thought it was hilarious as I explained defensively that it was for my new trangia cooking stove rather than for our local rave!

As usual we have had  a busy and varied week in our house. In an effort to keep on top of our one acre garden I have been trying, between showers, to spend at least half an hour a day pulling up nettles and cutting back brambles before they get out of hand. We have a man with a digger coming on Thursday so we spent yesterday recycling what we could from a huge pile of wood and slate piled up in the space where the digger will dig.My daughter smashed old slates and made a mulch for the garden path I have created and sawn up logs which were piled up into a bug hotel.The hotel sign is still to be made!


I've planted wild flowers around the village as part of our Grow Wild project and sprinkled a couple of packets of wild meadow seeds and butterfly attracting seeds on barren areas in the garden just to see what they do! I noticed too that a friend in the village had mown the track alongside Soutergate beck  and yet another had weeded the top of a wall so that I could plant a few seeds there.Community spirit is contagious.

We will have to wait and see what emerges and I will post some photos on the blog later in the summer.