Tag Archive | wellbeing

“Butterfly”

I’ve been totally inspired by the recent mini series on ITV entitled ‘Butterfly’. It followed the dilemmas and conflicts of a family who is coming to terms with the fact their youngest child wishes to transition from being a boy to a girl.

A scene from ‘Butterfly’

It’s a subject I have no direct experience or knowledge of. But I could readily imagine the challenges people would face in a society made up of many who find it difficult to accept differences in others.

As home educators, some of us have already experienced the kind of bigotry and opposition that can ensue when you wish to forge a path that’s not considered ‘normal’! We came across several members of the public in the early days that considered our choices not only to be ‘weird’ but also detrimental to our children – happy as these people were to overlook the fact that their schooling was already harming them.

Thankfully home schooling is more widely known about, understood and has a rising awareness in the media. However, although there has been much in the media recently about gender identification and transition, I can imagine that many still find it hard to acknowledge and remain open about. And for those families experiencing it firsthand there must be many challenges beyond the comprehension of most of us, some of which the programme identified. The needs of a child who has a strong desire to transition are paramount but, as the programme identified, the impact of those needs reaches round the whole family and beyond, so we all could do well to improve our knowledge in order to learn how best we can be supportive and understanding.

Mermaids, an organisation who recognises transgender needs and supports families in this position, maintain that those with support go on to have the most positive outcomes. They have a variety of articles on their site to help increase understanding. And there is also some information about gender dysphoria on the NHS website.

As with everything outside of mainstream, and for every minority community, there is always much to overcome in order to move society towards an awareness and acceptance. I’m hoping this brave and enlightening programme has done some good in that direction.

And perhaps part of our job as parents is to support all children, not just our own, through our own attitude, awareness and acceptance, thus teaching our kids to do the same.

I’m certainly the wiser for it, as well as being inspired. I recommend a watch!

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A plea to drivers – slow down for children

I’ve been out on my bike several times this week. This is to take care of my mental fitness as well as the physical. (There’s a good article about it here)

It works for the kids too as I describe in my ‘Home Education Notebook’, lifting moods and discharging niggles that build up like static if we spend too long inside. (See chapter 24 ‘The Outdoor Miracle’ and chapter 30 ‘Exercise for Education’s Sake’ where I talk about how it impacts on intelligence).

I have cycled round these narrow country lanes and enjoyed the feel of the wind on my scalp, since I was a youngster. So I have to admit to neglecting to get a helmet yet. Luckily, I no longer have to set an example to little kids; there’s none to see this bad practice. And thankfully, my daughter who cycles in the city, has the wisdom to wear one – glorious gold it is – unlike her mother!

But I need to update my habits. Because rural cycling is not like it used to be with the odd vehicle pottering slowly by. Cars come racing by on the narrow country lanes as fast as they do on the main roads. Faster in fact, as they use the back roads to avoid the speed limits on the major ones and consequently I’m sprayed with mud, stones and the wind rush of a car doing more than 50 miles per hour, pushing far too close in attempts to get by rather than wait for a wider stretch of road. When did people get so impatient? And when did people become so ignorant and disrespectful of other road users? Perhaps riding a bike for a week should be a standard part of the driving test.

It was just this type of behaviour that killed one of the children in the school where I was teaching at the time. This was the days before helmets were standard. The lorry raced past far too fast and far too close, without any regard at all for the fact cyclists wobbleespecially children – even without the wind rush. The child didn’t stand a chance and went under the rear wheels. A helmet wouldn’t have saved him. But a careful driver would. We all grieved for weeks. I can’t even begin to think how the parents felt.

We cannot wrap our children in cotton wool. But we can teach them to be wise, understand what using the road entails, be careful and of course wear a helmet.

And as drivers, we must always SLOW DOWN and give plenty of SPACE to cyclists, particularly CHILDREN. Remember that we are not the only road users and make sure that we are not one of the careless bastards who passed me today who put people at such risk.

 

Sometimes her mother’s right!

Charley's shot Snipe DalesHad such a lovely walk with Charley this weekend. It’s rare I manage to drag her out with me now. She’s her own woman and no longer a child under the control of a parent saying ‘let’s get out for a nice walk’!

I lured her with the promise of a visit to an old haunt we frequented when we were home educating. Plus hot chocolate and biscuits to follow, of course!

It’s a long time since we visited this site. Everything seemed to have grown. She’s grown too, but still remembers the pathways through the tress, the dens they made as children and the stream they paddled, dammed, and fell in! We walked in the shelter of the trees, talked and took photos. – she’s lent me hers to post here. And I think those happy memories reconnected her with good feelings that can easily plummet when stuck in front of a screen all day, however appealing it feels at the time, or when you’re battered by life.

We were all rosy and content when we got back, proving again what an important impact on our wellbeing fresh air, natural spaces and movement has. It even worked when they were teens.

She doesn’t want to admit her mother’s right of course! But we both acknowledge that, as we lead our lives so much more virtually these days, we do still have to make an effort to connect to the real physical world too, the more natural the better.

And I’m telling you this in the hope that you’ll make that connection an important part of what you do with your children for you’ll see a change in them too. And if they taste and learn about the activities that support their wellbeing it will be a lesson valuable to them for life. Habits formed in childhood can last forever – even if they still need a bit of encouragement from time to time!

Read; for your children’s sake!

The best thing ever on a summer afternoon is to take a book outside and read. 20150806_134010

Notebooks inevitably go with me and I inevitably end up writing – often inspired by the reading whether it’s a novel, non-fiction, whatever! But to have an afternoon devoted to reading outside in the breeze and sunshine is my favourite summer delight. I can spend hours reading, when I probably wouldn’t if I was still inside.

Funny how we can spend hours watching telly or web surfing, yet seldom devote that amount of time immersed in a good book. Soon as I get outside that changes – I can relax and lose time to it.

And apparently we get a double dose of benefit if we do so. Not only do we get the important benefits of natural light, but reading itself also improves wellbeing and has other benefits on society too, like increased empathy and reduced stress. (See this research from The Reading Agency)

And, as if you needed another excuse, your children need to see you reading.

As parents we’re always keen that our children read. It’s an essential part of their development, education and lifeskills. And the biggest influence on children’s connection to reading is whether and how much we read. If they see you reading regularly, they’ll be drawn to it too, especially when you appear to be getting so much pleasure from it.

It doesn’t matter what format you choose to read in. Just as long as you’re reading.

There are so many little moments in a day we could be reading; on journeys, in a queue, waiting room, on the bus, trips out with picnics, waiting for the dinner to cook, with your lunch. The more you read, the more they’ll want to.

The effect may not be immediate or apparent. But by reading, you’re establishing a valuable attitude to it and that’s what counts. They might want to run about and build dens, that’s fine, but you can read whilst they do so. Then they’ll have that image of you – their most important adult – attaching importance to the activity of reading. That lays the foundations of what they’ll attach importance to in times to come.

So take a regular afternoon reading. Take things to read on your family picnics, outings, journeys and holidays. Or just slope off into the garden on a sunny afternoon and take a moment out just for yourself to have a home holiday with a good book.

See if you don’t feel the benefits too!

(If you haven’t read ‘A Funny Kind of Education’ it’s a sweet, funny, family story just right for an outdoors read to move your mind and emotions!)

Body bother!

Glad it's not for me!

Glad it’s not for me!

I’ve been giving friends lifts to hospitals recently. Accidents seem to go in batches.

They’ve not been too serious; broken wrist, wrenched back, that sort of thing. And sitting chirping away in waiting rooms trying to take their mind off it I can’t help a sneaky feeling of gladness that it’s not me. How bad is that?

I suppose it’s good in one way. It’s good from the point of view that it makes me sit up and take note of good health, instead of only noticing when it’s the opposite.

Throughout our life we tend to ignore good health. We certainly don’t bother to appreciate it much, or the miraculous machine that our bodies are. When did you last get up I say ‘My body feels great today’? But I bet you often do the opposite! It’s the classic case of only noticing when we’re not functioning properly rather than gratitude when we are.

Even worse – we tend to treat our bodies with a complete lack of respect sometimes. We over fill them with toxic substances – smoke, alcohol, sugar, fat, we under use them with lack of exercise, we ignore our motherboard – i.e. the brain – when it’s sending us warning thoughts and emotions, and then we wonder why we’re not operating properly. Ironic, but I think we take more care of our latest technology that we do ourselves, yet it’s the technology which is replaceable!

I mull this over as I sit beside the broken wrist. I watch others being wheeled past looking more sickly than my friend did when she broke it and was incoherent with the pain and shock. Knowing that there are also many other awful diseases that cannot be set right with a plaster cast or wheel chair.

And I’m thinking what a wonderful piece of human technology our bodies are, with our micro-chip of a brain and how I’m going to maybe look after it all a little better from now on in. Unlike technology, it has to last me a lifetime. It deserves monumental respect for that surely.

Perhaps if I do this, if I take a little more care and appreciation, not only will I benefit but I’ll also be demonstrating to my family and others how to do the same. Especially to kids: the body is the best biology to study with children; encouraging them to understand that they are actually the ultimate in technology and it’s worth coming off the other kind regularly to pay that some attention!