18th January 2017

Hi! I know, I’m rubbish at updating this blog. Happy New Year and welcome to 2017!

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Recently the children have been struggling to regulate their technology use, which happens sometimes. Especially at this time of year when its cold and dark and we feel like hibernating. They learn so much from technology and I am a big supporter of tech based learning in all forms, but not at the expense of the childrens emotions and physical bodies. L was starting to complain of legs feeling sore but when we chatted about the reasons for this and that regular breaks from tech was needed to keep healthy, he was unable to do this, with support. M was becoming extremely aggressive due to us having one pc and her needing to share it. She and J both have laptops but M is unable to play the particular games she wanted on hers. J was getting to a point of going on his laptop before even dressing or doing his morning routine and then becoming verbally aggressive when asked about this. Even B had a big leap in anger and hitting out when asked to shut down his tablet to have dinner or any other thing.

Now, I know that a lot of their behaviour is classic, relating to being limited by me, in an area of life. I know that if I was able to let go completely, that in time they would come to realise that the tech will always be there, wont be taken away and they would naturally become interested in other activities rather than binge feeding on tech because they have a subconscious fear of it being taken away. Knowing all of this doesn’t change how I currently operate though. It gives me the opportunity to pick apart my own issues and slowly but surely re write how I feel about things. This comes from my inability to let ‘screens’ go as a limit, and that’s okay! It’s something I am aware of and working on.

A week ago, I got to the end of my patience rope and I wanted to throw everything tech related out of the window. I knew I was being over the top but I also knew that something had to give and we couldn’t continue in this situation. Everyone spoke horribly to each other, if they even acknowledged each others existence! This isn’t down to what they are gaming on or watching, but rather down to someone else daring to interrupt their important activity. We’ve tried many ways to work on that and nothing was getting any better. So, I made the decision to take the tech away. Yes this makes no sense given what I know about the reasons for limiting and that this is effectively just going back to square one.

However, I am feeling a need to go back to square one right now, with how we have been doing lots of things. We will be returning to tech in the future, but we needed a reset and reassess so that we can start again on this journey.

The first few days were honestly horrendous! The children were certainly interacting with each other again which of course is a good thing!! But wow, they were being frankly spiteful and cruel to each other as well as to me. I think they felt if they upset me, that they would annoy me enough for me to just say ‘fine just go on the pc’ I’m not sure where this idea came from because I am not someone who works that way.

But as the days have gone on, the extreme boredom and the screaming grumps have subsided and been replaced by sarcasm and playfulness. The lego has come out, the facepaints and figures have come out. Questions are being asked and conversations happening. Playing together, arguing and problem solving are happening. It’s been difficult given that L and B are emotionally around the same age, so it’s required a lot of partnering and much more attentive patience on my part, as well as theirs.

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Books are strewn across the house in various places, left ready to be picked back up by the person currently reading them! We’ve sat and watched movies together and laughed and cried and discussed. We played silly word association games at lunch, Chinese whispers and watched documentaries and Ted ed episodes.

Tech definitely has a place in our home and I firmly believe it to be almost essential in lives nowadays. At some point I hope I can let go of my conditioning enough to see and trust that my children will move on from immersion in time, but right now, when I am facing my own worries and concerns about whether I am providing enough of a learning experience for them, I need to focus on what I feel is best for all of us.

We’ve had some great conversations about why I’ve reduced all of our tech recently, their thoughts on it all and without my own views, they have come to the decision that there needs to be a better balance, as this week, they have enjoyed doing other things which hadn’t been entering their mind to do.

M has spent time in the garden building a bird spot with wooden apparatus, feeding bowl, water bowl and bird bath. She’s continually improved her designs as the week has gone on. She’s been practicing riding her bike, she’s been helping to cook and taking better care of her personal hygiene too.

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L and Bs imagination has come alive this week, building dens, role playing, building lego masterpieces, playing games and slowly but surely playing alongside each other better.

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J has found it the hardest. But today has seen a turn around in his view. He’s put on Ted ed episodes for everyone to watch, he’s instigated wordplay games, we’ve had brilliant conversations with myself and M about work, budgeting, renting a home and living costs. He’s experimented this afternoon with making an amplifier out of a pringles box and he also fault found and fixed his headphones. He went to the library and collected 5 more books and has generally been a lot more social within the family overall, as the week has gone on.

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They still want their tech back of course! But they now appreciate why I felt a reset was needed.

I’m going to reinstate some tech rules into our home again, for now. Possibly 1 hour for game play and 1 hour for things they are working on/YouTube/etc. We will see how it goes.

Regardless of the ideals and ‘rules’ of how a specific home ed philosophy may be intended to work, the most important thing is to work out how best your family works and to continually reassess and partner your family in everything. One day I may completely let go of this limit but today is not that day. And that’s okay.

Nici Gorman

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20th December 2016

I cannot believe it’s only 5 days until Christmas! We haven’t even put our tree up yet. We usually do it on the 11th but with illness and hubby working overtime and having all 6 children over the weekend, we just haven’t had the chance to get up in the loft. It’s on my list for tonight though and then the children and I can decorate it tomorrow.

We haven’t finished our peppermint creams either so that’s again, another thing to do tomorrow.

Things have been really non committal in our house for a few weeks now. As the roads get busier and schools break up for Christmas, we’ve slowed down and I am going with the children’s flow. We’ve still been watching lots of Christmas films though, classics through to new ones.

We watched a fantastic documentary the other other day, on giant dinosaur bones that were found a few years ago & we’ve had lots of time to play, build dens in the dining room, try new foods and just generally chill out.

It’s been a busy year and I don’t know about the children, but I am in a very hibernating slow mood which home ed allows us to do thankfully.

Some days on our journey, I look around and find myself thinking ‘Am I insane for doing this?’ Like yesterday for example. The children were really not in the mood for anything at all. We had our support worker come as she does every Monday, so I took the opportunity to go out child free and finish some errands. The amount of people out and about this week is crazy! I really welcomed the break though and made the most of working my way round, slowly and calmly, much to the upset of others who were trying to zoom around and about me.
When I returned home, I was able to see our day with fresh eyes. B playing quietly, M and L watching a film snuggled in blankets. They want to hibernate as much as me, but even after 2 years of home educating, they struggle with the idea of ‘not doing’.

Some days home ed looks like this…..

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And then today, home ed looks like this….

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It’s all about going with the flow of what each day brings. No day is more or less productive. Each day is productive in individual ways. And that is the lesson I’m learning again this week.

Go with the flow, embracing things as they are, instead of how I wish they were or could be if etc etc.  And stop giving myself such a hard time!

Because just when you think you’ve  done ‘nothing’ all day, your 8 year old wanders in the kitchen and starts a massive presentation on the sun, what it is, what is does, and how we can make better use of its energy.

We are each always learning. Adult and child alike.

Nici Gorman

Our 2 Year Anniversary!

2 years today we began our home education journey.

I still worry every single day whether we are doing the ‘right’ thing, whether not going mainstream will destroy my children’s futures, whether they are learning enough, whether we should follow the curriculum, despite knowing how I feel about it! Whether on days like today, where the kids are all sat around playing computer games and not doing anything I would class as ‘learning’, whether I am failing to facilitate an education for them.

But then I recall L and how scared, unwell and anxious he was 2 years ago. Unable to read or participate in school lessons. Unable to work with others, unable to play with others at break time.

And I look at him now and see how confident, happy and healthy he is. How he loves to read, how he plays brilliantly with all ages, how he works as a team with others, how he is less afraid to try anything.

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I recall J and how miserable and tired he was from trying so hard to fit in every day. How he was marked down for not following the curriculum despite his workings out being correct and how the teacher hated to have to do that to such a passionate kid. How he had detentions for being himself and stating facts. How his Aspergers was not taken into account by every teacher, but instead only a few. How he struggled every evening after trying not to be noticed as the weird geeky kid every day. How he started so well, but within a few months was struggling to keep up with the work, the home work the after school groups, the constant switching of teachers.

And I look at him now, happy, healthy and confident. Passionate about his work, immersed in animation and graphic design, chatting away to friends and happy to go off to shops and meetings on his own. Confidently off to college next year.

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I look at M, who chose to leave school despite enjoying it. I see her passion for aerial silks and animals. I see her becoming her own individual self and becoming less of a crowd pleaser. I see a confidence re emerging that was slowly being lost, because as she became more herself she was then knocked down for being too chatty, too questioning, too distracting to other classmates. I remember how she had been on report for falling behind and keeping on at her constantly based on teachers comments, only to then receive her glowing report explaining she’s been way above average in everything all year, she just wasn’t any longer conforming socially in terms of the status quo in a class of 30.

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I worry about her most, mainly because she loved school and teachers but disliked how much time she felt was wasted on not learning the important stuff. How she always wanted to learn more on a subject, but was often told they needed to move on now as theyd covered what they ‘needed’ to. I know this isn’t the fault of teachers. They want to encourage passion for learning and would happily invest more time in learning outside of the curriculum, but they too have targets and charts to tick, forms to full to show they are doing what expected of them.

M has thought about returning to school often, and she still has the option to return to school at any time, as do they all. But when she thinks about it seriously, the positives of returning never outweigh the negatives in her mind.

I am still scared of not being enough for them every single day. But they remind me every single day, why we chose this way of life. We chose it for them to be the best they can be, individually suited to their own abilities and aptitude.

They surprise me every single day with what they’ve worked on, on days like today when they don’t look like they are ‘learning’. They grab me and show me the masterpieces they’ve created, the puzzles they’ve solved, the teamwork they’ve used. They remind me every single day that this is right for us and most importantly right for them, right now.

I know I worry because I care. I know I sneak peeks at the curriculum to remind myself that we are learning everything and more, just not in the same way as school. Life learning is our choice and I am grateful that it is something we are able to do.

I remind myself every day as to why we chose this as our option and I am thankful every day to have home education. I guess even after 2 years I am still Deschooling from what I was taught education and learning looks like. I guess, I always will be, but I look forward to picking that apart as we go 🙂

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Nici Gorman

8th December 2016

Today we are all starting to feel a little bit better.

M did all her routine this morning and was done and dusted by 9am and then set to work on building a house on minecraft from a minecraft book she’s reading. Following the instructions and working through bit by bit.

L is still very quiet so has spent today playing quietly and watching films that have interested him.

We’ve been watching a different Christmas film every afternoon which has been lovely and lots of discussion has been had, along with learning about voting too to decide which film to watch that day.

J and B wanted to make something cake like, so we used the Hale and Hearty mixes that I picked up recently. They are gluten and wheat free and can be made vegan too, so we used egg replacer and soya milk/pure spread as alternatives.

Brownies and cookies that both B and I can eat along with everyone else? Amazing!!

This led to a really good conversation with J about my choice to become vegan and my motivation behind my choice. I asked him each time if he wanted to know the fluff or the truth with each element we spoke about and it’s left J with a lot to think about and consider on his own choices too.

Veganism is important to me but I do feel it’s equally important for my children to make informed choices as they get older and J is at that age where he can work things out and the truth of issues, without me explaining in detail. Coincidentally, M mentioned thinking about becoming vegetarian yesterday and given that I don’t discuss my own choices around the children, or the things about the dairy and meat industry that upset me, I feel that’s a choice she would be making on her own which is really important to me.

They are informed and educated on both meat, dairy and the alternatives and the all currently eat meat, other than our dinner in the evenings.

B has done some water play this afternoon and soon we will settle Down for today’s Christmas film.

Good day today 🙂

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Nici Gorman

6th December 2016

We’ve had a busy few days, with my birthday and having the boys here for the weekend.

All the children now have this cold virus so it’s been a calm and chilled few days without much to push us. Lots of gaming, watching films and documentaries, cuddles & chats.

One of the best things about home education is that you can instill health and emotional wellbeing as being a top priority. We are able to lay off the heavy stuff for a few days without any worry of falling behind or not meeting attendance targets. This was something L struggled with immensely while in school.

L was born with a rare metabolic disorder. After years of investigation  we still don’t know which disorder he has but it is under control and he is fit and healthy nowadays. However, due to hospital appointments, illness and trips to London Greater Ormond St, he missed a lot of school days. This meant that L never got an attendance certificate and pencil in assembly and rarely was involved in plays etc because his attendance was always too sporadic to commit him to anything solid. It used to upset him seeing his friends go up for their certificates and to him it almost felt like he was being punished for how he was born. I personally understand the need for encouraging attendance at school and how important it is that children attend, but not at the expense of their health or emotional wellbeing. It’s an argument I had many a time with schools and I am glad I no longer have to have that argument.

Some may say that by allowing my children to take ‘time out’ from their schedule to allow for sick days, that I am not teaching them about the real world, where you have to go to work or you don’t get paid. However! I believe that by instilling in our children a basic realisation that they cannot work at all if they are seriously unwell, that they will learn to take better care of themselves all the time, They will know their body and limits, and recognise signs of illness easier, leading to better all round health and care, rather than only when they push themselves so far that they are bedridden.

There is a better way to treat the only body we have. With care and respect for its limitations and strengths. By slowing down for a few days and doing the essentials, we allow more rest and we allow our body to fight illness quicker and allow us to return to our normal routine quicker too. Battling through constantly, leads to overall poor health and a lower immune system. That’s proven in research.

So, more cuddles, Christmas films and the LEGO challenge is on the cards for the rest of the week.

The beauty of learning is that everything is learning, if you remember to look for the lessons in life.

Nici Gorman

1st December 2016

Happy 1st December!!

We have all started to come down with this cold now so lots of cuddles and quiet time.

We had great fun looking up info about the common cold, how long they last and how it’s spread last night, along with trying to solve the mystery of who first brought the virus into our house, looking at symptoms, behaviours and who’s been around people with colds recently. Everyone decided I was the culprit!!

Today has been a quiet one in the main.
We had a calm and chilled morning of doing a few jobs and playing games together before having a lovely cooked lunch.

This afternoon we discovered a 25 day LEGO challenge for Christmas, where you are challenged to make each thing from the list each day. We’ve printed the challenge off and then realised we needed more LEGO again.

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So after lunch we went to a home ed park meet up for half an hour, to get some fresh air and see friends, before popping into Argos for supplies.

We parked a little further away today and had a lovely walk around the new shopping centre being built and wandering the older part of town too. We all had fun guessing which periods the houses were built in and looking at the road differences from the old part of town to the newer parts. We even found a road with the same name as M!

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After the park and argos, we window shopped a little where M found this awesome gadget!

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We drove over to collect prescriptions and male our way home. Just one problem, Mummy’s car wouldn’t start!! It seems that the battery is unhappy in the freezing weather and my lovely car has decided to have a longer rest than planned.

Thankfully we were only parked a few roads away from home so back on foot we went to see customer services to let them know the car situation and then made our way home. We will be off to jump start the car once Pete returns from work.

Home in the warm M and L have completed day 1 of the Chris as challenge, which was making a LEGO Christmas tree.

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Time for sandwiches and a bit of TV before collecting the car and snuggling down, while I go to work to provide a mini workshop.

Nici Gorman

30th November 2016

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I said in the last blog that we found out why J had been in a weird mood yesterday.

Well, my superhuman, never catches a bug child, has a cold! For those parents that have a child on the spectrum you will understand how this can be an actual disaster! J is a snotty grumpy unwell person today and as he’s rarely ill, it’s quite a big deal!

He came down at around 12.30 last night for some painkillers and finally slept in the early hours. The idea of nasal issues is alien to him so he was totally unable to switch off.

We were supposed to be off swimming this afternoon, but with J as he is, we will leave that until next week.

Everyone has been quiet and calm this morning happily busying themselves with designing things on minecraft and M has been making a Harley Quinn cage for her character on her minecraft world.

As the children were all happily occupied with their interests, I took the opportunity to re write some meditation scripts for a workshop I’m providing tomorrow evening. I try to work from home around the children as much as possible and thankfully because of what I do for my job, I’m able to balance work and home education really well.

After this J and B managed to make some peppermint creams which cheered J up no end 🙂 He loves cooking and making things and B loves anything that involves getting messy!

They managed to make their set of creams with very little help from me and  as it contains no dairy or egg, were able to eat the left over sugar dough too!

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M made her creams this afternoon and now we are going to watch the original Petes Dragon, after watching the remake a few days ago. J and M love looking at the differences between films and also how books are made into films too, so it will be great to compare the 2.

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Happy hump day!

Nici Gorman