Sunday, 16 October 2011

I'm Glad You Came......

This is a film that Charlotte and her friend put together.  It's set to the music of their favourite group, The Wanted.  I'm proud of them! 

Saturday, 24 September 2011

I want to be a nurse.

Charlotte and I went up to Durham yesterday to buy material for another craft project.  We had lots of time to talk - well, Charlotte did all the talking.  I got a right ear bashing, she hardly stopped to take a breath.  She told me that she is interested in becoming a nurse.  This was quite a surprise to me as she's always had a fear of people being sick!  We went to a cafe so we could discuss it properly and she really does seem to be very keen.  We then went to the library and borrowed a careers information book.  She spent most of last night looking up relevant websites.  Our next plan is to get some advice from a careers advisor to see what's available in our local area, as we read about a cadet nursing scheme which she can apply for when she's 16.  Meanwhile, she said she would like to get a placement in her old primary school for some work experience.  I never know what's going to come next with Charlotte.  She never fails to come up with surprises.  Considering the troubles she's experienced during secondary school, I wouldn't have imagined her wanting a placement in one!  As for her fear of sickness, a nurse is the last thing her father and I thought she would want to be.  Anyway, after all the discussion and pottering round the library, we finally remembered why we had come to Durham and raced off to the indoor market, just in time to buy our material before they closed for the day!

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

I was wrong...... so very wrong!

A while ago Charlotte chose 'Malory Towers' by Enid Blyton as part of our reading.  I decided to stop and chose another book for her.  The book I eventually chose for Charlotte to read was one which I thought she should read, one 'approved' by me as being 'educational enough'.  However, the pace was too fast for her and she couldn't understand the politics within the story.  I had initially rejected 'Malory Towers' because I thought it wasn't interesting enough.  I've since been having nightsweats at my stupidity!  How arrogant to halt the reading of Charlotte's book, one that she had chosen herself..... just because it wasn't doing anything for me! 

'Malory Towers' may not appeal to me now, but I remember enjoying Enid Blyton's school series as a child...... which is what Charlotte still is.  I realise that I had taken the power from Charlotte to choose what she wants to read and had acted in a controlling manner.  It seems that I, too, am learning lessons during our homeschool journey.  From now on Charlotte is free to choose her own literature.  We've gone back to reading 'Malory Towers'!

Sunday, 18 September 2011

For Grandma

Here's Charlotte busy at work on a piece of sewing for her grandma's 86th birthday.

..... and here is the finished gift hanging on granny and grandpa's bedroom wall.

We got the idea from and here is a link to the project.  The picture is made from felt and Charlotte used running stitch, backstitch and seed stitch as well as embellishing with beads.  Gran and grandpa loved it!

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Roll on the new term!

Homeschoolers don't have to follow state school terms, but Charlotte made it clear she was doing no school work while her friends weren't.  I can't say I blame her.  Anyway, she's been to Scarborough for a week with hubby, while I stayed at home to look after the dogs.  We're going to have to pack in a lot of serious work in the first couple of weeks in September as Charlotte and I are taking samples of her work to the Education Department at Durham in mid-September for them to look at.  I received a letter from them approving our proposals for Charlotte's education, so I was happy about that.  By law, we're not complied to show Charlotte's work to the local education authority, but I see no reason not to co-operate with them - the more support the better as far as I'm concerned, and it will keep me on my toes and prevent me from becoming lackadaisical about her education.  Lackadaisical - now there's a word!  I had to google it to see that I spelled it properly. :O)

Meanwhile, I finished reading 'The Intruders' by E. E. Richardson.  I'm looking forward to going over it with Charlotte as I feel sure she will enjoy it.  I liked it so much that I went on to read two more of E. E. Richardson's books, 'The Devil's Footsteps' and 'Soul Trade'.  Brilliantly scary stories - real page turners!

While Charlotte's been on 'summer holidays', I've spent some time thinking about picking up my degree again with The Open Univesity, so I've registered on a third level Children's Literature course that starts at the beginning of October.  I know I'll be taking on a lot, what with organising Charlotte's lessons as well as my own study, but I find I work better under pressure and seem to get more done that way.  The set books are an interesting mix - from 'Junk' by Melvin Burgess which is about squatting, drinking and drug taking amongst teenagers to Beatrix Potter's 'The Tale of Peter Rabbit'! 

I've just finished 'Junk'.  I could hardly put it down and read it in two days!  It's the story of Gemma and Tar, who run away from home at the age of 14.  They get in with a crowd of squatters and it isn't long before they start taking 'soft' drugs, leading to all the rest of it.  Each chapter is told from the viewpoint of a different character.  I found that really fascinating to get an insight of things from the different people involved.  When they first get into the drug and party scene, they make it sound so good and I thought to myself, "Uh-oh, there's no way I'm letting Charlotte read this", as it is a book written for young people, teenagers, young adults, or whatever is the politically correct term, but as the characters tell their story the reality becomes more clear..... well, you'll have to read it for yourself!  I've given it to Charlotte to read because I think she'll enjoy it and it will give her much to think about.  It's given me a lot of insight into the relationship between parents and their children.

I've got lots of lesson plans and projects lined up for the beginning of September, for Charlotte and I to work on.  One highlight for the new term is that we don't need to splash out on a new school uniform!  

Looking forward to reading this AGAIN! :)

Monday, 15 August 2011

If dogs were our teachers.......

Academic subjects are important, but we often need guidance in other areas of life.  Human beings needn't always be the best teachers in life skills.  What if dogs were our teachers?  These are just some of the things we would learn.

When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.   

Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride. 

Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure ecstasy. 

Take naps.

Stretch before rising. 

Run, romp, and play daily. 

Thrive on attention and let people touch you. 

Avoid biting when a simple growl will do. 

On warm days, stop to lie on your back on the grass.

On hot days, drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree. 

When you're happy, dance around and wag your entire body. 

Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.

Be loyal.

Never pretend to be something you're not.

If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.

When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by, and nuzzle them gently. 

Woof, woof!

Thursday, 11 August 2011

"It wasn't me......."

The other day I was quite busy doing this and that round the house, so I was happy to discover that hubs and Charlotte had decided to make some pancakes.  Happy..... but not overly optimistic, going on previous attempts.  However, they seemed to be doing things correctly this time.  They had the kitchen scales out and were measuring quantities instead of just pouring things in straight from the packet.  Oh yummy, might get a proper pancake this time.  I continued with what I was doing and waited to be offered my share.  I did try to look pleased when Charlotte handed me my plate, but I couldn't decide what the objects before me were more akin to...... an illustration of amoeba or an anaemic liver!

 I wondered at the strange colour.

"We put pink food colouring in," she said looking pleased at their ingenuity.

As Charlotte looked on awaiting my appraisal, I hesitantly broke off a small piece to try.  As I maneuvered it round my mouth, it seemed to have what I imagined to be the consistency of play dough and it tasted of....... well, nothing really.  I looked apologetic and handed the plate back to her.

"Well anyway, it was dad that made them," she said taking the plate away to add the portion to hers, which she ate in her bedroom determined to look as if she was actually enjoying it.

Hubby, meanwhile, was in the kitchen wiping up spilt flour and cleaning utensils.

"That was horrible," I told him.

"It's Charlotte," he said, "She gets overexcited and pours stuff in too quickly."

I smiled to myself - neither of them would accept responsibility.

Friday, 29 July 2011

I wanna be famous......

When I was thinking about what subjects Charlotte and I should follow, I thought it might be best to concentrate on ones that would be relevant to a future occupation.

"What job would you like to do Charlotte?" I asked her.  "Is there anything you're really interested in?"

"I want to be famous," she mumbled in a voice not unlike Harry Enfield's portrayal of Kevin, the rebellious teenager.

"Eh?" I uttered, momentarily unable to say something more sensible. "What d'you mean, famous?"

"I want to be a popstar like Rhianna or Jessie J,"  she explained, still mumbling and looking anywhere but at me.

I groaned inwardly thinking of all the wannabes on Britain's Got Talent and The X Factor.

"But there must be something else you want to do," I persisted, "like business studies or fashion and design?"

"I just want to sing," she said.

I let it go for the moment and thought of all the tactics I could employ to divert her from her line of thought, all the people I could enlist in persuading her to do something more 'sensible'..... more ordinary.

So much for tactics. Charlotte began vocal coaching last night.  Her father and I stopped resisting and thought if that's what she has her heart set on doing, we should do all we can to help her.  She loved it and can hardly wait for the next session........ but she needn't think that English and maths, etc. are out the window!

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Schools out for Summer!

Yay, that's it..... no lessons for six weeks.  Well, why should we be pondering over algebraic equations when hardly anyone will be ....... unless she really wants to of course!  Formal lessons may have finished for now, but learning never stops, no matter what we're doing.  The text books have been put away but our minds are ever open and receptive to new material.  Children begin learning things from birth.  Parents and siblings are our first teachers and it's a life-long relationship.

I've learned a lot myself since the beginning of our homeschooling:

I am capable of teaching my child.
It needn't be a slog.
We can choose to explore whatever captures our imagination.
'Lessons' are best conducted little and often.
If Charlotte is struggling to grasp something and I am struggling to explain it efficiently, leave it for another time.  It's not the end of the world.
I actually enjoy putting lesson plans together.

So, what now for the Summer holidays.  Having fun is top of the agenda.  I'll probably spend some time thinking of forthcoming topics for next 'term'.  The world's our oyster!

Friday, 22 July 2011

Babushka Dolls

Yesterday, Charlotte and I finished making our cloth Babushka dolls.  Babushka dolls are symbolic of Russia and are one of the most popular souvenirs bought in that country.  They consist of a number of wooden dolls that nest inside each other.

The largest doll is the grandmother with future generations of dolls tucked inside her. This symbolizes the hope and value of life and the family; the heart and soul of Russian people.

Here are the dolls that we made.

We followed the instructions given in The Craftseller Magazine..... well, I followed the instructions.  Charlotte wanted to sew it her own way and she was delighted with the result.  That's good enough for me.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Let's read a book......

From the first week of Charlotte's birth, her dad and I told her stories and read to her.  Billy is better than I am at making up stories, because he has the gift of the gab and can ab lib better than anyone on the stage.  Right from when she was a three pound premature baby still in the prem baby unit, she was hearing about the fairies who lived in the carrot patch...... a sort of mix of Brambley Hedge and Thumbelina!  And I really believe she was taking it all in as he cradled her in the palms of his hands.

Charlotte grew up loving books, through toddlerdom and right through primary and junior school...... until she was nearing her teens.  Then the computer took over.  Little Women was displaced by Facebook and Jane Eyre was ousted by Twitter.  Not a book was to be seen in her room anymore - just piles of pop magazines and her laptop.  The realisation that Charlotte was no longer an avid reader saddened me.  I thought of the times in Waterstones bookshop when I couldn't prise her away from the children's section.  "I don't like reading," she told me when I offered to buy her a book on a shopping trip.  What happened?  Where did it all go wrong?!

When we took over the responsibility of Charlotte's education, I determined that we would read a chapter of a book daily. I believe that just by reading words on a page helps with spelling and reading an enjoyable book is both relaxing and stimulating. We take it in turns to read a couple of pages or so.  We started off with Malory Towers by Enid Blyton, but I have to admit it wasn't doing anything for me.  "Whoa, wait a minute!"  I hear you cry. "It's supposed to be for Charlotte's benefit, not yours."  Yeah, but I want to enjoy our reading too....... so I gave her Malory Towers to keep for herself to finish it on her own and we started another one.  It's called The Intruders by E. E. Richardson.   

Here's what it says on the inside jacket:

"Joel Demetrius is quite looking forward to moving in with his new step-family, but as far as his sister Cassie's concerned, they're nothing but intruders.  She doesn't want anything to do with Gerald and his two sons, and to make matters worse their new home is a derelict old house, neglected for decades.  Joel thinks it's interesting.  Cassie thinks it's a dump.

But his sister isn't the only reason the house doesn't feel like a home.  As fascinated as he is by the place, Joel has to admit there's something not quite right about it.  Not only does he keep seeing things out of the corner of his eye, but his sleep is plagued by nightmares.  He can't seem to stop dreaming about a terrified boy who keeps repeating the same fractured prayer:

If I should die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take......

As events in the house become harder and harder to explain, it seems that the line between nightmare and reality is getting steadily more blurred.  And when the battle between Cassie and her stepbrothers draws everyone deeper into the mystery, all four kids are forced to confront the question of just who the intruders really are."

This is more like it........ I can hardly wait until tomorrow to read the next chapter! 

Sunday, 17 July 2011

In the beginning.........

I tried long and hard to think of a good title for my homeschooling blog.  I thought of all kinds of names - some with the relevant word 'homeschool' in the title, some clever ones with a hint of Shakespeare and Chaucer and others that were just plain ridiculous.  You might think the title I've chosen is ridiculous but that is really how I felt when I realised I would need to homeschool our 14 year old daughter.  "Oh well, that's the way the cookie crumbles."  To be fair, there's cleverness in there somewhere with the attempt at latin translation.

I'm not one of those parents who wanted to homeschool because of a philosophical or religious belief.  On the contrary, I used to beam and happily wave my daughter off at the school gates each morning, hurrying home to have some 'me' time.  And those few hours passed all too quickly.  All went well when Charlotte was at primary school.  The first two years at secondary school weren't too bad either but, come the third year, all hell was let loose.  She seemed to become a different person and we often got telephone calls from the Head to come and take her out of school because of her behaviour.  She got excluded and decided she wasn't going back to that school anyway.  We managed to get her transferred to another local school, but it wasn't long before Charlotte began to behave as she had at her old school.  

My husband and I were frantic.  We didn't know how to help.  The longer she was absent from school, the more disturbing my thoughts became.  We spoke to Charlotte..... or tried to speak to her...... she didn't seem able to open up to us.  We spoke to staff at school and came to the arrangement that I would escort Charlotte to school for certain lessons.  I thought this might be a good solution, but I could see the unhappiness and distress on her face the nearer we got to school.  Our once naturally outgoing happy daughter was now terribly unhappy and it seemed to be the school environment that was making her feel this way.  I decided then that she wouldn't have to go back to school.  I would teach her myself.  We began on the 27th June, almost a month ago..... so we're just at the beginning of our homeschooling journey.  Put on hold are the Open University courses I used to do, the knitting and the crochet and a list of other interests.  Oh well, like I said, that's the way the cookie crumbles!