We love going on holiday to The Netherlands – this year we decided to go somewhere other than the Katjekelder park in Nord Brabant so we headed for a camp site just outside Maastricht.

This was a great choice: It had a large areas to camp in separated by light hedges,

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A lake to swim in,

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And some good weather to sit outside and eat the tarts

 

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and drink the wine we bought in France.

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In my pre-GCSE group we have been doing some algebra and today we were dealing with substitution and simplifying. I love card sort activities and today we managed two of them one for each topic.

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Spot the error in the organised work below:

 

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And look who photo bombed:

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It’s been a while since I did a day in the life type post (or indeed any post) so for anyone who may be interested here is what one day in our life looks like now we just have one teenager being autonomously educated at home.

A fairly typical start to the day as I need to drag Jonathan out of bed (he’d had a late night with a friend over the night before out at local church clubs followed by chippy chips and playing on the computer) because we had an activity to get to. If we hadn’t been heading out I’d have just let him sleep – for me one of the many advantages of home education (and no it doesn’t mean they’ll never be able to get up for a job – I had the same approach with the older two and amazingly they get up for work when they need to).

It’s the day after the general election so in the car Jonathan and I discuss the result – purposive conversation – it’s been the mainstay of our home education for as long as I can remember.

We arrive at Yaverland Beach for a fossil hunt and one of the home-ed mums shows us some fossils and talks about the local geology.

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One of the things I love about home education is the mixed age activities we can do, we had children here from 1 to 16 and a mix of mums and dads too.

We had a gap between the fossil hunt and horse riding so as a treat Jonathan got to choose lunch. He opted for paninis at Blaze in Ryde – My sister and my mum had taken us there and we’d loved it and I’d promised him we’d get lunch there one day so this was the day. The car Journey is filled with election talk on the Jeremy Vine show and we end up discussing the Single Transferable Vote system – which we realised he has learned about from one of the guys from the Hello Internet Podcasts after Ruth asked what it was and he explained very clearly. I haven’t watched that one but the one on Scandinavia which Jonathan sent to me was fascinating.

Anyway the paninis were lovely and we both managed to get a bit of reading done while we were waiting for them, Jonathan wasn’t so impressed with the chips!

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Time to head back over to the other side of the island and go horse riding with some other members of our home ed group. Jonathan is pleased with his ride today as he got to canter which is his favourite bit!

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A not so quick trip to Aldi on the way home – Jonathan must be bored waiting in the car as I discovered these arty shots on my camera when I look at the memory card.

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Then he wanted to edit a video for youtube and do a bit of maths (homework for his GCSE group) and computer studies (slowly working through the IGCSE book).

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Then he managed to draw something, scan it to the computer and do something to it in Paint – Ruth helped him a bit to suggest how he could do it but they both sounded like they were talking gobbledegook to me!

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And that was pretty much it except for the obligatory time spent on Dota.

This is not a typical day – we don’t really have those – our weeks tend to follow a bit of a pattern based on when external activities occur but these are often subject to change.

Monday: Usually D and D day plus a bit of maths homework and some video making and computing but this week a visit to Seaview Wildlife Encounter as we had my mum and sister visiting. Jonathan mostly wanted to keep a wallaby – in fact as soon as we got home he was looking up how much space they needed and measuring up the garden!

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Tuesday was spent doing volunteer falconry and then Karate – with a hasty dash home to pick up gear and grab a bite to eat between the two (the pics are from a previous week).

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Wednesday was spent with a lazy morning – probably watching TV or youtube, then maths GCSE group, then off to the park with a couple of fellow GCSErs back home to spend some time writing song parodies or playing on the Wii with his friends followed by more recording, editing and gaming.

Thursday starts off slowly and gets progressively busier as the day goes on – some maths and computing in the morning, listening to podcasts, drawing for uploading to something on the computer and some time spent on his DS during the afternoon. heading off with a friend to a couple of after-school groups at the local church followed by friend coming home with him and playing on the computer.

Not a typical week but it gives a flavour of our life now there is just one of them at home – things are certainly different from when I wrote this blog post at the same time of year in 2011 and they were all home still.

 

One of the things I do is run a few Pre GCSE maths groups, this is a relatively new venture for me and I am loving it. Compared to the GCSE groups we are more relaxed, have more time to explore and discover, more time to play games and more time to cover the topics.

One of the things I really love is a good card sort activity – matching, dominoes etc. You can do the work on the subject you want to cover without worrying about writing things down and you can work collaboratively too.

So today we’ve been working on using protractors accurately, measuring and calculating angles. I really enjoyed this card sort activity from the brilliant Mr Barton’s maths website.

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One of my best friends bought me this lovely book for Christmas, not a diet book but a wheat and dairy free book.

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So I had a go at the rye soda bread recipe and it was great!

 

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Between Christmas and new tear we met up with both the Gibson and Anderson sides of the family.

Boxing day saw the traditional Boxing day visit of the Gibson family.

We had the usual walks, games, food and fun.

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Telestrations – the new game Iain gave us for Christmas was so funny I could hardly play as all the hilarity was making me cough!

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We had a gap in the family celebration while Martin went and played on the Saturday night with his Boy Band at The Hideaway in Shanklin

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Then Sunday saw a departure from our usual Christmas traditions with a meet up with the Anderson side of the family at a restaurant in the New Forest. The ferry was packed but we squeezed in around a table and while 3 of us played our usual ferry card game of Yaniv 2 of us were swottily attached to textbooks!

 

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This was my first experience of eating at a Michelin starred restaurant and it was a really interesting and delicious experience for me. It was so yummy I forgot to take photos of the food until we got to the pudding – which was definitely the best bit!

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We managed to meet up with some friends and found the teenagers thrashed us at Demons – did you know the Archbishop of Canterbury also plays.

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And then we saw out the old year and in the new at my favourite place on the island with some of my favourite people, eating curry and chocolate, drinking some sloe vodka, playing games and generally being silly – a great way to end and begin a year!

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Christmas eve sees the start of our Christmas traditions watching The Muppet’s Christmas Carol together.

We start Christmas morning in our big bed to do stockings together with various levels of enthusiasm!

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An easy but yummy breakfast follows, croissants and yoghurt and fruit – in this case our rather lovely home-grown raspberries soaked in vodka.

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A trip to church – where for the first year since we have been having a Christmas service I wasn’t able to lead the singing which was very disappointing to me – but the rest of the family did a great job. Church-On-The-Roundabout were in full joyful and rather raucous mood which was just what was wanted for Christmas celebrations.

Back home and Ruth and Martin went for a quick driving lesson!

Then our standard bucks fizz and starter of dips and veggie sticks and Pringles.

A bit of present opening – including the gorgeous old Fortnum and Mason hamper from our lovely friends – the girls already have picnic plans for the hamper in the summer.

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Main course follows and we opt for easy to cook and wash up as well as tasty, so no traditional roast for us but instead garlic chicken, chips, cauliflower cheese and peas – yummy but easy.

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We were too stuffed to want the chocolate cheese cake Ruth had made.

Then we wait to watch Doctor Who on the iplayer and that is pretty much our day done.

This year things have not gone the way I like them to. I like to try and keep Advent quiet of extra things so we can focus on preparing for Christmas. This year I have been ill and had lots of extra training to do for a new job. Many of the things I like to do, including not being rushed, have not happened.

Some of the good things though have been:

Going to a folk festival with great friends, I loved The Young Uns and Edwina Hayes (we heard her on the Introducing Stage and she was great). We were also brave enough to sing at the sing around – first time we’ve done that at anything other than one of the local little folk nights here on the Island at The Hideaway, we opted for our attempt at Beth Rowleys’s Nobody’s Fault But Mine

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 After the folk festival I had a week of training for a new, and only very p/t, job. This meant lots of trips to the mainland, dashing too and from the Red Jet, being in a not quite as warm as I would like swimming pool and this was not good for my cough, so I went downhill rapidly the week after and had to cancel loads of things I was planning to do – most notable the Learning Zone Christingle. However I was just well enough to manage to do the advent meditation i had planned for church and it was lovely I was really pleased I managed to get this done it was probably the highlight of the advent period for me.

However I was well enough to contribute to the cookie exchange and one of the joys of having older kids is that they can make their own cookies without help too and Jonathan took them to the meet up and distributed them and came back with a mountain of yummies from other home ed families.

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I was too ill to sing carols with any gusto which I felt very sad about but did manage to get out for a cocktail with some friends and we managed to:

decorate gingerbread houses

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Get the Christmas tree put up – the girls did it the Monday before Christmas when Rebekah came home from uni.

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Get my driftwood tree up and the potato advent wreath made

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make a very plainly decorated Christmas cake

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Jonathan managed a large star for the window

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and we played some games

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Last Friday in a beautiful break in the weather we went on a fungi walk with the fantastic Sue Bailey  not only is she an amazing storyteller but she also leads a great fungi walk.

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I have been doing Sue’s fungi walks since we move to the Island (yes when you live on the Isle of Wight you really do just refer to it as “the island” and everything a ferry ride away is just “the mainland” regardless of whether it’s London or Edinburgh) twelve years ago. In that time I have come to learn a lot of the names but still can only identify about 3 fungi on my own – I aim to learn a new one each year but for some reason i just can’t retain the information!

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One of the things I love about a fungi walk is it is one of the things my family refers to as a “proper home-ed activity”. What they mean by this is it is something that people of all ages can and do join in with.

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Jonathan even managed to find one this year, but already I’ve forgotten what it is – maybe some sort of russula?

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parked_carsMaking good provision to allow people to walk, cycle and use public transport is a sensible thing to do even if you don’t give a stuff about the negative environmental or social consequences of driving a car and want to drive everywhere. Forget the green stuff*, simple old fashioned self interest shows it makes sense.

I’ll use the Isle of Wight as an example. We have a limited road network, little chance of major expansions to it and a population which mostly lives in small towns and large villages. For a rural area we have fairly low car ownership, and a higher than typical number of car-free households.

If our car ownership was more typical for our population density we would expect to see an extra 6,000 cars on the road (and this number could be much higher). Let’s ignore the impact that would have on congestion and demand for workplace parking and look at one single issue – overnight parking. A large number of these “new” cars would be owned by currently car-free households, some would be second/third etc. cars within a household. Given the makeup of Isle of Wight housing I think it is fair to say the majority of these cars would be parked on-road overnight. Conservatively let’s say 65%. Allowing 5.3 metres of space for parking (and people are going to have to get better at it if that’s all we use…) that’s 20.7km of extra on-road parking that needs to be found. I don’t know about you, but I struggle to see where we will find the space to put those extra cars

So, if we want to avoid this, doesn’t it make sense to ensure people have some good quality alternative options, so they don’t have to buy a car (or a second car, or a third car)? Wouldn’t it be better to invest in cycleways, making junctions safer for pedestrians, reducing traffic on side roads and improving public transport infrastructure and service provision than building 20km of new roads just to park our cars on?

(* Actually I’d rather you didn’t, but if you must…)