School reports and teacher/parent evenings do not exist in our world neither do home visits or report sending to LA but a yearly round up is a good way to summarise and reflect on the unschooling year just passed.
This year more than any home educating year yet, I personally don’t think of it/us as *home educating* any more. The label of home education to explain to others the reason why our children aren’t in school is useful but that’s about it. There are so many elements to our family life but it’s all connected, it’s just our life. Ultimately, it’s all just living and learning as we journey along writing our own story, making our own memories, learning as we go.
S and L turned Teen this year. They are almost 14 now and have been out of school for 7 years. A and W turned 8 and have never ever been to school, not even a preschool or nursery.
As we do every year we set out with a list of things we want to try/achieve/do or places we want to visit etc. I’m pleased to say we have ticked many off the list this year but naturally so many more adventures and ideas have taken place as well. It seems many of the regular interests that have been around since previous years are still around too yet we have said goodbye and grown out of others. I’ve started many groups for the children including Roller Skating, Board Game Group and Gymnastics but we have left these behind too.
More goodbyes as we sadly waved our red bus off (RB1) as it was too expensive to repair. For 8 years (arrived the same time as A and W) it has taken us on many adventures. Instead we have been driving around in my Dad’s no longer needed car, RB2. Not really big enough for us and our baggage and requires a trailer to pull camping gear but nonetheless it has kept us mobile for the year so for that we are grateful.
It got us on two camping trips. Firstly our June camping trip where we stayed in Somerset to be nearer to Bristol Zoo and shorten the drive to the Dr Who Experience in Cardiff and then camped in Cornwall to explore the wonderful Eden Project.
Secondly our home ed Camp – which was fab!
And one more farewell to our American Friends who had been with our home ed group for a year and finally had to go home 🙁
Starting with the eldest Twin (by 15 minutes) S (13)
Theatre School remains a big part of life and this year she has made more friendships. Her friends are all schooled. She has performed at Sadlers Wells as well as street performing locally at the Daisy Festival and most recently at the Victorian Festival of Christmas.
Drawing remains another big interest for S and this year she started to work towards her Silver Arts Award using the challenge of creating a Manga Comic Book to achieve it. With the help of a local artist who offers 1:1 tutoring (for want of a better word) she is nearly there. The comic is finished (which by the way is something to be enormously proud of) and now all that remains is to finish a series of workshops and jump through some hoops with writing for assessment.
Anime/Manga is what she loves to draw and the interest has easily expanded with trips to Hyper Japan and Comic Con, learning Japanese with Vocaloids on line, watching the BBC Documentary Japan: Earth’s Enchanted Islands, watching Anime Movies and reading Anime Books. A snippet of her art can be seen here.
S likes to spend a lot of time in her own space and she loves spending time chatting with her online friends of which she has many. We have even met up in real life with one of them.
Next up, Twin 2 L (13)
L started the year with a keen interest in playing Magic The Gathering. He spent quite a bit of money on cards and making decks but the interest seems to have died as the year has passed. I set up a Board Game Group to help offer opportunities for MTG to be played and whilst S, A and W came along too the interest eventually dwindled with the arrival of spring/summer seasons. It did start an interest in Dungeons & Dragons for a while and some game play lead by another home ed Dad but again it was only good whilst it lasted.
This year has also seen the removal of his brace that was put on to bring a tooth down. It worked well and quickly. Job Done. Very impressed he decided to go through with this and had minimal fuss with it all. I had concerns it was going to be a difficult process for him but he proved me wrong.
L’s main interest is still video gaming. World of Warcraft, Plants vs Zombies, Minecraft, Roblox are all the games of this year but we are ending the year with a firm interest in Roblox. He intends to learn more of the LUA coding.
Monthly Laser Quest sessions have provided some exercise and social for L this year but again this interest now seems to be exhausted. He doesn’t socialise in the same way as S does at all but he is more sociable with adults, family and any visitors when at home. He enjoys going out with his Grandad and cousins when they are on school holiday break. This seems to be enough for him right now.
He continues to read or listen to audios. First News, The Politics Book, David Wallaims, Hunger Games Triology, Underland Chronicles, Harry Potter to name those I can remember.
We started a course on Future Learn this year. Richard III the subject matter. We didn’t complete it but we did get quite far before we grew bored. English Language IGCSE study has started this year and it appears to come easily for him. Whether or not he will actually take the exam remains to be seen.
L enjoys movies and likes to watch TV series/documentaries that we can all join in on.
A & W (8)
Both individuals but they remain very much joined as a pair and thus their interests are so very much the same that it is pointless writing separately as I would merely be duplicating. I’m looking for the subtle differences but they are hard to point out here.
They both remain keen on Monster High Dolls. Several years now. Their collection is vast. The underlying interest I believe to be Fashion. The dolls walk the cat walk often and with several changes. They do this to carefully planned music too. Not just fashionistas, these dolls rock climb and sky dive from the banisters and even walk on ceilings. Countless pieces of artwork come from this interest. Literally boxes and boxes of drawings in all manner of outfits. I believe it is A who has the largest love of drawing as this year indicates W to spend less time in comparison to her sister although she will ask for print outs and templates for colouring which still clearly displays her desire to express herself in this way.
They are still very much into Primates namely Gorilla and Orangutan. Belinda the Gorilla (A’s favourite) and Orangee the Orangutan (W’s favourite) come most places with us. We went to Monkey World and Bristol Zoo on the back of this interest.
I set up a Roller Skating group winter last year but we left that behind and now the rink has closed down anyway. They still have their roller disco boots and occasionally ask to go out on them.
Tablet Action. They are both totally taken in by toy collector and other similar You Tube presenters. They play MC on tablet too. Many spelling questions come from using the Tablets.
They enjoyed another long season of sea swimming starting 10th April.
A big summer activity for them was running a *business* with their friends. Hmm, wonder where they were inspired to do this. With their pals they sold cakes, loom bands and various other bits and pieces at some of the groups we attended. It certainly inspired others to do the same.
Learning to Read has remained very relaxed. We have dabbled with Kumon workbooks, reading eggs and more recently Nessy but it’s all rather adhoc. Other tools in the shape of board games have been used but again it’s all as and when and if we feel like. I have read aloud from Skellig (all four children listened to this one) and Running Wild (we never finished this one), Daisy and the trouble with series (thoroughly enjoyed). Generally A and W have not been keen to read themselves. We are ending the year however with them demonstrating that they can read way more than I had thought so these things are still happening organically.
They both tried dancing at the same Theatre School as S attends but quit after a couple of sessions and commenced the drama sessions instead. They enjoyed these at first but again after a couple of months they wanted to leave, so they did.
With Christmas nearly upon us and Star Wars The Force Awakens released today (we all went, lips are sealed!) I’m going to leave it there until January.
Trips Out/Family Days & Friends
La Iguanas Restaurant – Latin American
Portsmouth City Museum
Museum of London
A Week At Grandad’s House
Monkey World Dorset
Nandos & Kingley Vale
June Camping Trip, Bristol Zoo, Dr Who Experience, Eden Project
Hyper Japan, Fruit Picking and Performing
Butser Ancient Farm, Battle of Agincourt, Wakehurst Millenium Seed Bank and Greenwich
Beaulieu Motor Museum
Hovercraft Trip to IOW
Portsmouth City Museum II
Portsmouth Historic Dockyard – Boatyard
Home Ed Group Trips