Tag Archive | thoughtful living

Boldly into January

I have to admit I find post-christmas hard. I guess most people do. It’s the lengthy dark hours, the cold, the end of christmas holidays and sparkle that does it. Not to mention work and routine to be confronted.

But a fresh year’s start can also be a time for hope, for review, for new beginnings. Time for looking beyond these first difficult bits. To take stock and consider changes.

Everything always grows and changes – people too!

It was a good time to review family life and our home education I found. Investigate what’s working, acknowledge what’s not! Winkle out all those rancid ideas I might be clinging onto that had become out of date.

It’s often forgotten that no pattern, strategy or plan will work forever. The snag with kids is you find something that works, think you’ve cracked it, then everything changes again. Of course it does; they’re changing all the time. We have to renew along with them. And the education we facilitate has to change too.

In fact, that’s another aspect of education often overlooked; learning stuff is all about change really. About embracing change. Change of ideas, of mind, of knowledge. You have to change in order to learn something; you have to be prepared to slough off old ideas in order to accept new ones. Some people find that really hard. Thankfully the kids are more readily able to do that to accommodate the things they need to learn, adults perhaps less so. But we all need to embrace new ways of working, new skills and new understanding. And a new year is a great time to do so.

We all learn, grow, change constantly if you think about it – the kids, the mums and dads, the grandparents, the ambience in the home. It’s all in a constant state of flux. And that’s how it should be. We don’t need to cling onto old stuff, old routines, old habits, that no longer serve us well. We need to allow change. We need to notice it’s necessary! I often didn’t and created conflict in the house for that simple reason. So learn by my mistakes!

And as you venture boldly into January with your family, embrace the change of the year, acknowledge the children’s need to grow and change as they learn, and don’t be afraid of bold new thoughts!

There are all sorts of ways to live a family life. And all sorts of ways for kids to learn. We just have to remain open to things and prepared to go with the flow and flux and bold enough to implement what we believe in.

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3 important things you need to home educate

I was thinking what the three most important things you need in order to home educate and I kept coming up with the same answer:

Respect. Respect. Respect.

Respect came up in my last blog. I was talking about successful home schooling being dependent on succesful relationships with your kids and they in turn are based on having respect for one another. It’s essential.

Here’s what I mean:

Respect within relationships.  

This Australian kids’ helpline site has some excellent simple ideas about respect; click on the pic

Your learning life is going to be based upon the respect you share with your children. and I say share because it’s a two way thing. You have to command it as well as demonstrate it. Both are important. Commanding respect doesn’t mean anything authoritarian – as some people interpret it. It just means showing care and consideration and asking that it be shown to you in return. It means being honest and truthful, owning up sometimes, keeping strong and consistent with your values even if it’s hard – your strength will become their strength, your consideration will become theirs. It means having integrity, thinking things through, making decisions. making mistakes. Putting them right. Accepting and working with imperfections and things less than ideal. Finding solutions. Respecting that’s how life is. That’s how love is. Love requires respect for it to be true.

Respect for the learner

Every learner is different – but sometimes we neglect to act as if they are and try and make them all the same. Every child has varied learning preferences, learning strengths and weaknesses, learning needs. We can’t ride roughshod over individualities and try to ignore them or make kids fit. That’s not respecting them. Equally we have to show them how to get through the challenging or tedious bits, why that’s valid, be patient with their imperfections, give them room and time to grow. Some kids learn well in school – we need to respect that too. But some can’t – some need alternatives. Some develop later than othes – allow them time for that. Some can be still while they learn – some can’t. They need to wriggle, run, play, experiment and learn in practical ways without having to read and write. Respect they’ll be able to do what’s necessary and right for them as they grow. Respect means having to back off sometimes and be uncomfortable with the way your learner needs to learn. Trust – and wait. Respect that education is a long term thing and you have to acknowledge it might not happen in the way you want it to.

Respect for yourself

You won’t know everything! But that doesn’t mean you cannot have respect for yourself and what you do as you flounder about, doubting and worrying at times. Give yourself a break! You will be able to learn about the home educating life, you will be able to find a way forward that works for you, and whatever doesn’t you can change it. However, respect that although you are a home educating parent you are not a ‘dog’s body’. Respect that you have needs too which equally deserve to be addressed along with your learner’s needs. Respect that you will get it wrong sometimes – we all do – we can put it right. Have as much consideration and compassion for yourself and your needs as you do for others.

So I guess those are the three most important things. You’ll probably differ – do say in the comments below.

But consider this; every time you demonstrate respect within your home schooling life you are teaching your children how to build respect too, how to respect others, how to have self respect. Through that respect youngsters come to learn about living, working (and what it takes to get work), how to understand themselves, others, society, the planet, how they can make their own contribution to the interchange this is and how worthy that is.

Which is, after all, an itegral part of becoming an educated person.

Warm hearts and hearths for Christmas

Most people don’t want the bother of a real fire. dsc06135

It’s far easier and less time consuming to flick a switch than lug coal buckets, saw wood and clean up ash. Sometimes I feel I don’t want the bother of it either. But recently I’ve felt blessed with the presence of a real fire in the cottage. Most particularly since the boiler broke down again.

The word ‘cottage’ may sound romantic. But along with them come the quirks of their time; the insulation is none existent, the tiled floors feel arctic on bare feet and the wicked Easterly will inevitably find a way in. Which all serves to chill the crockery, clothes, furnishings and fingers to the temperature of the sausages straight out the freezer. The real give-away is the fact that they don’t defrost, even over a day!

But soon as the fire’s lit, all that seems bearable. We stack it up. Have dinner on knee in front of it. Let its soothing chatter calm concerns and melt muscles and bones braced against the cold.

Looking after it also keeps me active, so contributes to raising my temperature and my strength and fitness as well.

It’s ironic isn’t it, that all our labour saving devices, despite being so convenient, are not so good for our health. We’ve become so sedentary that we have to schedule in times to keep fit when the process of living no longer does so.

Watching the fire is as compulsive as staring at a screen but is better for my mental fitness, I reckon. It’s heart warming as well as hearth warming. Perhaps it’s because there’s something in us that draws us towards these natural elements, like the sun, something ancient in our genes that will never be over taken by man-made things. I don’t turn to stare at a radiator for peace of mind!

In new builds and work spaces maybe we need to take into account that we are natural beings ourselves. And as such consider that we do need a connection to other natural elements, like light which I talked about last time, to keep our hearts and heads as warm, healthy and fit as our bodies and muscles used to be when we were tending fires.

Wishing you warm hearts and hearths this season however you find them.

Do you ever think about your values much?

004I’ve been writing some stuff about Values recently, although I suppose values are embedded here in everything I write really.

It’s just they’re not labelled as such or at the forefront of our thinking, so I’ve been giving them some focus.

They have been bandied about politics recently and the prime Minister has been going on about them – not that I listen to him often! And they’re also being implemented into the National Curriculum in schools.

So it’s started me questioning (doesn’t everything I hear you ask?).

The biggest question it’s thrown up is ‘what are they?’ What does it mean when we talk about values? What do we value? And what values do we actually uphold ourselves?

Big questions!

I’ve discovered as I’ve started writing about these things that they provoke even more, without many concrete answers.

But one conclusion I have come to during this valuable enquiry is that our values enhance our lives in innumerable ways we perhaps don’t realise – I didn’t.

And another thing I discovered is that you don’t have to be rich and famous to be worth anything, to make a huge contribution to the world, or to make your mark in your own small way.

Upholding your own special values can do that. And passing them onto your children.

I’m aiming to explore these ideas a lot more as I write, so I’ll keep you posted.

Meanwhile, do chip into the conversation and tell me what you think. I love to read your comments and ideas.

Perhaps we’ll have better ideas than the Prime Minister who I suspect may be more focussed on votes than values.

But who am I to go devaluing him!

Creating myself some sunshine – 6 ideas!

What a dismal lack of sunshine we’ve had this summer. I feel my smile disintegrating! The prospect of longer nights without that

Fun makes for a dark evening; tissue paper flower and bunting!

Fun makes for a dark evening; tissue paper flower and bunting!

normal recharge of rays is rather frightening, especially suffering from SAD. I can feel my mood becoming heavier already and it’s only October. I know that it affects kids and families too, although parents can sometimes forget to acknowledge that their kids need outside time and daylight.

I’ll just have to manage as best I can, I’m thinking, and try and create my own sunny lift! So I’ve been inventing ways to do that and am recording them here in case you need some ideas for the family too. Here’s what I’ve come up with – I’ll let you know what works:

  • Getting outside every day – no excuses – as even the dullest daylight makes a difference. Find ways and means; walk instead of bus, go to park, whatever.
  • Painting one room in the house orange or yellow. Ours is the kitchen – it’s orange and makes you feel brighter instantly.
  • Making tomato and lentil soup. Or carrot and sweet potato. or butternut squash. Using sunny veg!
  • Wearing something bight, or warm in colour and texture.
  • Achieving something new – always gives me a lift that, whether it’s changing the room round, making something, artwork, crafting, planting, whatever.
  • Calling up my sunniest friends for a chat and keeping the conversation positive and forward looking. Can be tricky!!

Got any more ideas you could share? Meanwhile, I’m wishing you sunshine in your day! O look – the sun just came out here! 🙂

Got your bag?

bags 003

Just some of my many lovely home-made bags

‘Have you got a bag mum?’

The inevitable question as the girls and I go on a charity shop treasure hunt. I delve into my shoulder bag and produce one. Chelsea’s made me many a gorgeous bag over the years, with trimmings and adornments. The latest has velvet handles!

I don’t always remember and sometimes succumb to a plastic one. I console myself that from a charity shop it is at least one that’s being reused and not one that’s ending up in a hedgerow, a river, or the mouth of a whale.

The fence alongside the local landfill sight is trashed with them, limp litter – and the adjoining land. They’re splattered there by the wind and the bushes hang with plastic shreds – not pleasant. If you’ve never seen a landfill site you should go find one – it’ll hopefully make you think about your plastic consumption.

It’s taken all these years and imposing a silly charge, to get people people’s attention about this plastic bag waste. To bring our attention to the bad habit of expecting that every time we shop someone will put it in a bag for us. And that’s all it is; a mindless, lazy, indulgent habit. My mother and all our mothers before her would have been in the habit of never going shopping without a bag.

Now, these habits we have, that we’ve rarely considered before someone shoved a charge in our faces, is costing the planet and its other inhabitants far, far more than five pence. As many of our habits do, like shopping for things we don’t really need, never mind taking a bag to put it in.

I want to break that habit. Not because I mind paying for a bag. But because when I walk the tideline, or admire the land, I don’t want the plastic I see there to be my fault.

And we are all at fault over this!

When I’m in the city shopping centre, and nearly everyone I see is carrying a plastic bag, I cringe at the thought of where it’s all going to end up.

Probably in landfill.

Whilst we shop, mostly for things we don’t really need, great tracts of the lovely countryside and seas we so like to visit and enjoy are polluted as a result.

We have so many habits we need to change. This is just one small start of the over-shopping, over polluting problem.

So yes; I have got a bag.

Have you?