Wednesday, October 29, 2008

BuBu and Binkys adventures

Yesterday was a crunchy blue sky Autumn Day - Stunningly colourful and crisp. We dropped Samuel off for a day of sailing and Os and I decided we couldn't resist a walk in Richmond Park.

We took our pet 'wolf' and it wasn't long before we were on a major adventure. Os (BuBu) was a noctural monkey who was taking Binky on a tour of his forest. We weren't allowed near paths, because thats where humans were, so with a short stick as a machette and long stick to help Bubu stand upright he lead the way. We were waist deep in Bracken and were tracking all sorts of wild animals (including humans - we had to avoid all human eyes, since they would try to kill us). When a bird flew past we had to lay flat on our tummies so they wouldn't come and get us. Planes were the big parents of birds and were Really bad. A Heli-monster with big teeth was hovering not far away and we had to stay under cover of trees so it wouldn't get us. We had to avoid the deer with sharp horns and big wings. On the ground we had to look out for grenades (many little deer poo in clumps) and bombs (logs of a certain size lying on the ground). We went past his house, a pile of logs, that humans had destroyed into a large pile. We found a badger Set and saw a white nose peek out before our wolf frightened it away. We dodged the zillions of spiderweb traps in the grass. I'm telling you it was hardcore and I got a headache from the stress of it - really! I was seriously getting into the fear of the helicopter, the humans we could hear, hiding from people walking past, looking out for killer birds, bombs, and traps. It was really really fun to let Oscars imagination go WILD! To follow him wherever he wanted to go, do whatever he wanted to do I just asked question after question and he just made up crazy crazy things. FUN!

Observing for learning

The Master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play,
his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body,
his education and his recreation, his love and his religion.
He hardly knows which is which.
He simply pursues heis vision of excellence in whatever he does,
leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing.
To him he is always doing both.
--Zen Buddhist Text
I have started observing the kids more and more. It is so exciting to really notice what they are interested in, what they excel at, what catches their attention. For example, today Oscar was burning through some spellings, he was burning through them because he was listening to AC-DC's "TNT"!! I could believe how focussed he was, how much he was enjoying doing what he was doing. Bring on Acca Dacca! He is such a musical boy, it makes sense that he'd play music while he's doing stuff he may not really want to do! What would normally take at least half an hour with distractions, not being able to sit still and not focussing was done in 5 minutes! We were all happy at the end of it!
Observing for learning is what I will be doing in reporting weekly to our Learning Consultant. It is exciting to be listening for and looking for what the children are learning - all the time! Its true that we are all natural learners & curious beings.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Home Educating - the beginnig of new things

23 July 2008 was the last day of government education for Samuel and Oscar.
We decided to take them out of school for a few reasons: (in no particular order) Freedom - to travel and live where we want. Freedom - to learn about what we are interested in rather than what some government official thinks we should learn in a certain way, at a certain time in our lives in a room of 30 other kids. We've been told Oscar is severely dyslexic, so he's never going to do very well in a 1:30 ratio. We want a more holistic approach to education and learning - that includes lots of things that the schools don't cover. We want the boys to be curious and interested in the world around them so that they follow their aptitude and interests and therefore their career/life path is started earlier. I for one came out of school and had no idea what I wanted to do the rest of my life (what to study at Uni) once I wasn't being told what to do every 5 minutes of the day at school and I've forgotten a lot of what I learnt because I just wasn't interested. Home educated kids are renowned for doing really well at Uni because they know what they want to do and have been self motivated in their studies the whole way through, not just beginning at 17yrs. The top Uni's love home educated students.

So, we are getting involved in the rather large and rapidly growing West London Home Ed community, where there are organised things we can do every day if we want. We have hooked up with an online community of Home Educators who will be available wherever in the world we are and we'll hook up with the Home Edders in Sydney too - so many communities of kids that they are part of, such a broad range of friends around the globe.
The education they are getting is hands on. For history we investigate the Jurassic Coast, Stone Henge, Maiden Castle for a weekend, not just looking at them in a text book. They have private tutors for maths because Samuel wants to complete year 7 level maths this year (he's in year 6)- he can go at as fast as he wants.
Where once it was teachers who had the information to teach the children, that information (and more) is now readily available to all of us via the internet. My University studies are all online, so I can fit my life in around them; the same concept is for the kids the same online program is used by the kids 'school' community . It very exciting to be using the resources and technology in educating in this way. The flexibility and freedom feels great! Come and join us in revolutionizing education!

Holly's highlights

I'll share some of my favourite things we've done this year:

A week in the Lake District is breaktaking. We stayed in a youth hostel that been there for a hundred years, a gorgeous old building in brilliant setting. Sam and I climbed Englands highest mountain. We visited the Derwent Cumberland pencil museum. We walked around lakes, through forests, it was the most stunning scenery I've seen in a long time:

I'm currently studying a Bachelor of Art in English Literature and Art History, my first degree. So this year, for Art History we did a trip to Florence, the home of the Renaissance. Mum and Dad came and looked after the boys. After the 5 days in Flo, we went and stayed in a villa in the hills of Tuscany. A visual feast of a holiday.
Then we were in Paris, with Mum, Dad, Paul and Sharon. We had tonnes of fun exploring my favourite city. Visiting the Louvre after studying art makes it a whole lot more interesting. It was the boys first time, so we did fun stuff with them. And of course we drank a lot of wine and coffee.
The past 7 years I've been going to Wales for an adventure weekend with a load of local women. Its the only chance I get all year to do the fun outdoor stuff I'd like to do more of: rock climbing, gorge scrambling, kyaking and a big beach bonfire, a few bottles of vino and a bunch of crazy women is always good for a few laughs. This year I had a go at kite surfing too! (can't seem to upload pics - will try another time)

Then the Crazy English Summer - this year we only went to one camping festival "The Big Chill" - we all had a brilliant time. The Kids are getting good at festivals now. We had a big bunch of shiny balloons attached to the top of a telescopic fishing rod, so we could be seen pretty anywhere we went.

Doing a 10km fun run was a bid deal for me, and I'm glad I did it. Oscar was proud of his Mum too - He cheered me on, from Big Ben, Whitehall. The run took us from Hyde Park Corner, along Embankment, around St Pauls Cathedral, over Westminster Bridge full of landmarks, so it didn't get boring! Over 10,000 competed.

This year we raced in the Great River Race again. +200 boats racing from Richmond - Greenwich along the might Thames. Last year our womens crew came first, this year second - but we did it in better time, chasing those Olympic paddlers in the other outrigger meant it was a full on race!

So, we hope to continue the fun and frolics, but this time in more sunshine. Its been a wet old summer and a very grey year. There were a few times when I'd start twitching and then there would be a sunny day that would lift the spirits. The thought of not going to Australia for some sunshine strikes fear in my heart - we are so lucky - we can hardly wait!

Back in Business!

We're back back back! and happy about it too.
There is no way I'm going to attempt to fill in for the past year, but just want to say it has been FUN and busy. Sick of busy, we are heading for less busyness, but first...we pack up our house, rent out some rooms and head for the sunny climes of Sydney for 4 months!

We (minus JR) leave London on the 3rd Nov and arrive at Kingsford Smith Airport on Wednesday 5th Nov. We work on adjusting to the time for a couple days and then we celebrate Noona's 90th birthday! We are really excited that we will be there for that - we already got her a present in Florence at Easter. We feel like we've missed out on so many important events: births, deaths, anniversaries, momentous birthdays, marriages - so we are happy happy happy to be returning to the loving arms of our extended family. March 1994 we moved away - thats a good big chunk of my mere 34 years that I haven't lived in my homeland - 14 years to be precise. It will be a different place and I must remember to not have any expectations - expectations only lead to disappointment.

So this is the plan:
This time we go for 4 months. Jeff will join us for 6 weeks from Christmas - early Feb. In that 4 months we will be doing a trip to visit friends in Brisbane and then cruising down the NSW coast. We'll be having a holiday at SW Rocks for a couple weeks on the beach with family. We'll be doing a trip down the south Coast to check out Tilba Tilba - where we intend to eventually settle. We'll be sailing, fishing, camping, surfing, enjoying Sydneys cultcha, lots of swimming, seeing family, visiting friends, exploring and learning.

When we return we'll make the most of living in Europe. Easter we intend to do a trip to Morocco for 3 weeks. September sailing in Turkey. Exploring Spain and Portugal is on the cards too. Then we'll again return to Australia, this time for 6-8 months, and we hope to go via Canada for a few months. Who knows, we have FREEDOM! The kids are no longer being schooled by the government, but by us! Us with the help of and our very own consultant who will be keeping us on track for our yearly goals in learning.

It is all so exciting! So, this blog will be written by 'us' this time, not just me. We'll be posting about our adventures as we move around the globe and learn as much as we can about the world we live in.

Watch this space, its gonna be a fun ride!