I have been playing with the idea of a blog for quite some time now, on top of that I am regularly told that a blog would be a good idea due to how much we do as a family and the continuous misadventures along the way. So I am finally taking the plunge and making my musings available online.
I am a disabled pagan mother to four wonderful, wild and free spirits. My eldest daughter is fifteen, I then have a thirteen year old son and an eight year old son, followed by my youngest daughter who is two. I home educate them all and live in England, UK.
I have been documenting our journey for some time on Instagram and regularly run over the word count so a blog feels like the next natural progression. We love to camp and spend a lot of our time outdoors with friends and family in addition to being part of an amazing and supportive home ed community where we live. We have an eclectic semi structured approach to education, so although we are aiming for GCSE’s and do structured work we still follow an experiential approach and spend as much time exploring nature with the children as we can. We try to camp at least once a month between April to October and do a lot of living history camps and events. History is a running interest within our extended family so there will likely be a fair few historical references too.
My teenagers have recently set up a community home ed Newsletter, called Home Ed Looks Like This, for home ed families around the UK. They accept submissions from the home ed community and cover a variety of topics each month with themed material, in addition to that they provide a platform that allows home ed children to showcase their work, receive shout outs for their achievements and feel part of a wider community. The newsletters are a combined effort and written by a team of home ed teens, I just facilitate its growth and assist where needed, they meet twice a month to discuss ideas. Its become the family’s brain- child and its great watching their ability to research on an autonomous level, grow and develop alongside enhancing their understanding of the written word. They share their newsletters in a Facebook group available to home educators or those interested in home education, (https://www.facebook.com/groups/1805782749459797/ ), and I will also start to share them on this blog too. I am really proud in the quality of each newsletter, they really have worked so hard, they are also open to teen editors joining the team and attending the monthly meet ups via skype. If interested feel free to join the above group. Watching my teens run with this so successfully has been wonderful to observe. Its still growing and only a couple of issues in however they are hoping a family blog will help spread the word. Thats right, this is going to be a family blog, im still figuring out what a family blog fully entails but as always im sure it will naturally fall into place.
We are currently loosely following the Exploring Nature with Children curriculum (head over to https://raisinglittleshoots.com/buy-exploring-nature-with-children/ to check it out) for the younger two and the older 3 are completing their Arts Award. We are a scouting family and our long term goal is to be more self sufficient. We would love to world school then settle in a more rural area however health is currently the priority.
As mentioned above I am a pagan mama however I am completely against indoctrination so the children are free to choose their own path in life, my beliefs are my own, and I have their fathers support in that decision. They do however live a life that is as connected to nature as possible despite living in an urban area. Its second nature for us to spend time outside in nature, I was also raised by camping and nature loving parents who I am sure will be introduced at some point in the future. We respect the laws of nature and although it crosses over with my pagan beliefs I would still have that innate connection and reverence regardless. By raising children who know better and do better we can encourage a future generation with understanding, empathy, morals and respect for life. Concious parenting. We owe it to our children to assist their growth within a positive loving environment into positive loving adults. Im not perfect and every day we have our hurdles and learn our lessons but we do it together as a family. I am a great lover of the growth mindset philosophy and have been working through the big life journal resources with the children. We have the standard one and I really like the material and its approach enabled each child to get something different out of it. We have pre-ordered the teen journal so I shall do a post on that when it arrives and keep you updated on our growth mindset journey. You can find their site here; https://biglifejournal.com/collections/all?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI1Ofnt-nf3QIVBLXtCh3yOQ5MEAAYASAAEgKV8fD_BwE
My children have not always been home educated. I am a qualified teacher and gradually became concerned about safeguarding and the school environment not being conducive to learning for my children. School can be great for some children, sadly however it does not seem to be the majority anymore. Home education provides the freedom we need to tailor a bespoke education that meets each childs learning styles and preferences. It allows me to have one on one time regularly and ensure that they have fully absorbed a topic before we move on. Their topics are rather autonomous, this morning we have been nature journaling a dead Southern Hawker Dragonfly, Anthony 8, found yesterday and have learned lots of wonderful facts. Learning happens everywhere and there is no right or wrong way when it comes to home education, each child is different and therefore each home ed philosophy is different with a personalised bespoke approach to learning. My only regret is not doing it sooner.
My main initial concern was due to my health, I have Ehlers Danos Syndrome, POTs, Addisons Disease and Fibromyalgia. I was concerned I would be too sick to dedicate time aside for learning, I just hadn’t factored in how natural and fun learning within the home environment is. Yes by the end of the day I am exhausted and the pain can occassionally be too much to bare, however seeing my children thrive and learning alongside them has not only reignited their eagerness to learn but has also reignited my own. The look of enjoyment and wonder on their faces when they experience or learn something new makes me realise just how much I had been missing. Removing them from school was the biggest parenting lesson I have learned as we navigate these new waters together. I hadnt realise just how much I was unaware of when it came to my children despite always having been an involved parent. It took a while but we have developed our own routine as a family, taking them out one at a time has also given each child some space to deschool before progressing into a semi structured routine. My health, rather surprisingly, does not impact the children’s learning. We are blessed to have a good support network and they attend local groups and workshops on a regular basis meeting a variety of people from all walks of life whilst enriching their learning experiences. My health does not make it easier, but it certainly does not make it harder, its also given me the opportunity and freedom to home educate. Before I became too sick to work I ran my own business 6-7 days a week and taught at the local college of an evening all in addition to raising 3 children as a single parent and completing a university degree. Its not that surprising my body threw the temper tantrum of the century leaving me bedbound for aprox three years. I ended up on the path to wellness thanks to a variety of herbal treatments, dietry changes and the guidance of a biomedical consultant. My youngest child, Nim 2, would not be here had it not been for the biomedical intervention, I had actually been infertile for quite a while before she was concieved. I was given 3 months to live in September 2013 so every day is a blessing and every moment with my children is another memory to forever cherish. Coming so close to losing my battle forced me to readdress my priorities in life and I realised I had been living to work not working to live, I was lucky on some days if I had more than an hour with my children before bed time. For three years I couldn’t hug them properly, feed myself or even clean myself without assistance from my parents. So home educating is also helping them heal on a much deeper level, being so poorly affected them more than we realised despite taking steps to minimize the effects upon them. I had moved back in with my parents so if I needed to be hospitilised there was no change to their day to day routine and they were always able to sleep in their own beds. It has been quite an emotional journey for us all, a journey we are still thankfully walking side by side.
My eldest son, 13, has PTSD due to experiences he endured at school and every day is another step in the right direction for him. Its not easy and it has been heart wrenching on many an occassion. I hadnt realised just how much of a negative impact school was having on him until I heard him giggle and realised just how long it had been since I had heard the sound of his laughter. His confidence is growing by the day. He is now able to mix socially whereas before he had some social anxiety, home ed groups gave him the confidence to start trusting other children again and scouting has provided some nice friendships, he also starts at the Young Farmers youth group this coming Monday as he is hoping for a career in aggriculture. I pulled my eldest son out alone at first during September, 2017. I then made the decision to pull my eldest daughter, 15, out after the Easter holidays (2018). I deregistered her due to completely unrelated concerns, she was demonstrating work at a higher level than the sets she had been placed in. She had not sat her SAT exams due to having appendicitis so she was placed into the lower sets. When it came to choosing her options and planning for her GCSE’s they then would not let her choose the topics she wanted to study due to her settings, but acknowledged she was capable and should be in higher sets but could not move her due to timetable constraints. That was not good enough for this mama and she was removed from school too. She is now free to study topics of her choosing that are related to the career route she is planning to take. My youngest son, Anthony 8, was removed from school this September (2018) due to his SEN needs not being met and it made more sense considering I was already home educating and had the time and ability to ensure he receives the education he is entitled to at a pace he can process. The funding was limited and due to how long the Autism Pathway can take he didnt have access to one to one support as required, a school also can’t cater to his learning preference each and every lesson either unlike his mother can. In addition Ant had difficulty retaining his lessons and by the end of each school day had already forgotten his mornings lessons. Now we can take our time, go at his pace and ensure he has the foundational skills required before moving onto the next level or topic of work. Anthony learns more from doing, experiential learning, and the beauty of home education means we are free to keep ‘doing’ on a day to day basis ensuring he is always learning. We also incorporate learning into day to day activities and family life. Last but not least our 2 year old, she is also home educated, all babies and toddlers learn initially from their home environment. I know what your thinking, how can a two year old be home educated, well very easily. She learns new things all day every day. We link learning into her playtime. In addition Nimueh has also been learning sign language along side her older siblings, we count out toys and read to her each day, we get out and explore nature seeing it up close, we make a mess in the kitchen and try to nurture her development on a continual basis. Nimueh much prefers sleeping under canvas than under a plastered ceiling. She loves the freedom our lifestyle provides her and she also learns from watching and listening to her older sibings. She has quite an advanced vocabulary for her age and a wonderful imagination that we love to nurture. She attends various home ed groups and workshops with the older children and mucks in, her favourite workshops so far were preparing the feeds for the Fruit Bats and Meerkats at Knowsley Safari Park and digging for bones at the Liverpool World Museum. She also attends forest school and various other classes such as story book yoga and a music group with other home educated toddlers. Nimuehs school room will always be the great out doors and her family environment, we don’t have the intention to ever enroll her into the education system.
In addition to that I am admin on the parenting group and page ‘Earth Mamas sacred and natural parenting’ which can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/346182878799973/
Our blog isnt just going to be a newsletter platform or to document our home ed journey, although it is a lifestyle not 9-3 so will be a heavy aspect of our day to day posts, it is also a place I will share our family recipes (dairy and gluten free plus allergy friendly), share our holidays and trips, educational resources, the trials that come with being a disabled parent, my pagan lifestyle, my parenting style, natural living, self sufficiency and no doubt have you questioning the quantity of mishaps and misadventures along the way.
Head over to our instagram to follow our day to day shenanighans http://www.instagram.com/Elizabeth_Anne_W theres also a link on the blog profile.
Manifesting mama of the good vibe tribe
Liz and Family )0(
Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton