I’m going loopy!

I’m going loopy.  Quite literally losing the plot.  My house is driving me insane!

A couple of years ago, when we had seven children, 2 cats and a puppy called Bella, we decorated the house throughout spending a fortune doing it.  It was lovely.  image

We only live in a three bed parlour semi-detached house.  So it has three beds, a lounge and a dining room.  Obviously with our family size three bedrooms just wasn’t going to cut it so we changed the dining room into a fourth bedroom.  It worked great.  For a bit.

When Alice came our room squeezed a cot in fine, but now little lilly-Mae is here too I can’t move.   The two eldest boys sharing just isn’t working either.   There’s constant upset from Brandon, and often anger from David as they struggle to share the room fairly.  We’ve now had to put in rules about dividing the spaces equally, which isn’t something we like doing.

The two older girls have to share the box room.  It’s ridiculously small, only just fitting their bunk bed in with a small amount of floor space left.  There’s a box in their room where the stairs run underneath and we built a decent sized wardrobe on this but the amount of clothes and shoes in there is mind blowingly crazy.   The only room that’s doing ok is the largest bedroom where Naomi and the twins currently share.

Not only are the spaces not working well but having so many people in the house means things just don’t last long.   Also having puppies takes its toll.  I’m so fed up of having to crop my photos to try and hide the embarrassing bits.   I have unmatched settees after my German shephard, Daisy, ate a seat, I have a patch of wallpaper missing where Minnie, the springer spaniel, chewed the wallpaper and I had to cut it off.   I even have a hole in my Lino flooring where one of them ate it.   Luckily they’ve outgrown all that now  but unfortunately I have a toddler again and another soon to be toddler    Every now and then there will be a little scribble of pen that no amount of cleaning will budge.

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So the time has come to redo the whole house.  It needs completely redecorating and most importantly rearranging.   We simply can’t afford to move to a bigger property at the moment so must make do.   The thoughts of a garden room are currently being looked into at the moment.  Either to be used as a bit more living space or even better a bedroom.  Using it as a bedroom will give David and Brandon their own spaces which are most definitely needed.  Brandon’s aspergers is really restricting his ability to be surrounded by people all the time and his own room will give him that much needed space to ground himself again.

The middle bedroom will be fantastic for the twins allowing the three older girls to use the bigger room.  This all leaves us with the issue of ourselves and the two youngest.  We can either squeeze Alice in with the three girls upstairs and keep lilly-Mae with us a little longer or turn the dining room into their bedroom and we will have to do with the living room.  Not ideal but needs must and all that.

Maybe I’ll even be able to turn the crappy utility area into a proper laundry room.  Oh, now that would be a dream come true.   Having such a large family means a lot of laundry, if I can come up with a way to make that a nicer experience I’m definitely doing it.

My computer is on the blink so I’ve done this using my phone.  Hopefully it’s come out ok even if the pictures aren’t how I wanted them 😃

 

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The Socialisation Myth

When people learn that my children don’t go to school some of the most common comments we receive are “What about socialisation?”   “How can they make friends without school?”  “Oh but school is so important for socialising!”   It seems to be a huge misconception around home education, and is a topic that arises many times in home ed groups.

So, what is socialisation?   according to google socialisation is ‘the activity of mixing socially with others’ and ‘the process of learning how to behave in a way that is acceptable to society’.

My children used to go to school, in fact I still have two in school.  I know what happens in both primary and secondary schools.  I also remember my own experiences, unfortunately things seem to have got tougher for our little ones of late.  In nursery and reception, there’s a lot of play and interaction, as the years go on the interaction decreases and the play becomes non existent.  By the time they hit year 5 and year 6 talking at the wrong time is often punished, children lose break times which is often the only chance they have of freely talking to their peers.  At this stage of school they have spent 6-7 years with the same children, then they go to high school and all is shuffled around.   My daughter was separated from all those she considered to be friends and only had two others in her class she all ready knew.  My son, the year before was one of four in the new classes that knew each other.    The whole process has started again, they are expected to make new friends and acquaintances, often having no choice but to forget those others they spent so long with before.  Rules are a lot harsher in high school and many teachers do not tolerate any interaction among students at all.

Knowing how this all works really makes me wonder why I get asked these questions.  The ‘activity of mixing socially with others’ is so restricted that I barely can see how it can even be called socialisation.  I also don’t want to think that this lack of interaction with others is what is deemed acceptable by society.  This is all after, of course, that we realise forced association isn’t really comparable to genuine socialisation.

Pointing out that school isn’t the be all and end all of socialisation doesn’t answer the question of how home educated kids socialise.   Sp here we go.   Socialisation happens everywhere we go.  The children talk to people around them, they have conversations with librarians and shop assistants, they learn how to behave in a way acceptable to society by being out in society.  They learn how to interact appropriately by actually interacting with people in imagereal life situations.  Then, of course, we have the home ed community too.  We go to groups and meets, we spend time with friends out and about and round each other’s houses.
On Wednesday we went to a local play centre.  We met friends we all ready knew and met some new ones too.   The kids had great fun running around like loons, bouncing on the little trampolines and diving round the ball pit.  I had a chatimage with the other mums and tried to drink the rankest cup of coffee I have ever come across.  Should have guessed it would be like drinking paint stripper at just 85p the cup.

On Thursday we went to a Snow White show done by Funtime Theatre at the local church hall.  This was organised by our local children’s centre for the local community so there was a mix of home edders and non home edders there.   It was quite a good show and the kids quickly ditched me for their friends.   When we got home and had had lunch the children did some work.  The girls used their laptops and tablets to do some maths work, as well as some french on Duolingo.   They finished up with some reading.  The twins did some letter matching work and Jaycob continued to do some writing practice.   I took the opportunity to have some quiet time too, i thoroughly enjoyed a coffee and a book.   I’ve just started The Book Thief.  So far so good image

Every other Friday we usually go to a local group which my kids absolutely love.  There was a new dance group starting up locally to us this week, and with the cold and snowy weather we decided to stay a bit closer to home and go try out the dancing.   It was more for the little ones but Elenore helped out with Alice who decided to join in too.  After we had finished here we popped round a friends house, i managed to enjoy a coffee and chat with a more experienced home edder which certainly helped me feel like things are going pretty good.   I also managed to get some good tips and resource ideas.   Elenore enjoyed doing some art work while the others played.

We followed up with piano class and Naomi joined back in!  She had a bit of a wobble and hasn’t done the lessons for a while so was great that she decided to start up again.  On the way home we came across part of an animal skull.   The children had a really good look at it and decided that it was probably a badger as the nose was far to broad to be a fox.  We spotted birds on the way back, which led to me needing a bird book so we can tell the difference between them all as my limited knowledge only points out magpies and blackbirds.   Great opportunity to learn alongside the children.

 

 

Showing the Positives

While we were poorly last week a newspaper article about home education was released.  It didn’t quite paint a very good picture over home education, especially when families follow a more unschooling approach, the newspaper took a great family with a great approach and created havoc.  The comments online were awful and, quite honestly, in the majority of cases showed the ignorance surrounding home education as a whole.  I spent far longer than I should have reading the comments sections and even answering some of the less aggressive comments and questions.  It was quite alarming to see people make such nasty comments towards home educated children and their families.

The majority of the comments were about gaming, after all that was what the majority of the article was about.  Gaming can be very educational, it also gives people the ability to socialise with others about a common interest.   My eldest two (aged 16 and 12) play games online a lot.   They also talk to their friends while playing, this actually works out really good for Brandon as his Asperger’s can really restrict his face to face interactions.

15876528_580890532099508_1041044723306856448_nThe younger ones use their tablets and laptops for all sorts of things including games.  They play Roblox, Minecraft, Shopkins and, Jaycob’s favourite, Dinosaur Train.   This is actually a really good game and gives some really good challenges.   I particularly like Minecraft too, now anyway, I originally hated it and thought it was rather mind numbing.  However, it actually offers quite a lot with regards to maths skills, planning and problem solving.   There is a Minecraft Education Edition which I keep meaning to look into deeper. 16229123_1313644365368372_5223056290682503168_n
Screen time obviously includes more than  just games and includes other devices such as the telly.   The television is actually an extremely useful tool for us and we often watch documentaries as well as cartoons and films.   George particularly likes documentaries that show the life of big cats such as tigers, Jaycob likes science shows and programs about dinosaurs.  The show where an autopsy was done on a T-Rex  was an extremely huge hit for him.   Cartoons such as Octonauts are fantastic for learning different things, even Mickey Mouse Club House has been great for the younger ones.   This photo was taken today of the three of them (Naomi and Alice were on the other settee out of camera shot) watching Planet Earth.  They were a little sad that not all the baby turtles survive but absolutely fascinated by their lives and that of the other sea animals.

A home educating mum set up the #100daysofhomeed challenge to show the world a positive view of home ed and what it’s truly like.  Its been fantastic to see the different pictures of what everyone gets up to.

Yesterday was day one.  We started yesterday off with two big pieces of lining paper taped to the floor.  The one was surrounded by alphabet and number cards, pens, crayons, rulers 16465483_206793246461325_5341467598435385344_nand shape templates.   They started with practising letters and numbers, the twins had great fun using the rulers and shape templates, the girls even made up their own sums to do.  Alice enjoyed herself drawing pictures and robbing the pens off everyone else.   In the end Jaycob and Naomi created their own dinosaur land complete with a beach, big rocks, trees 16464722_398518463842506_4401996390662668288_nand a volcano.

The other bit of paper was set up with toy dinosaurs and a lamp.   I saw this on Pinterest and decided to give it a go.   They actually had great fun creating the shadows and drawing around them.  It was great to see Elenore teaching the twins about how shadows are made and even explained why our shadows outside are different sizes at different times of the day.  16464429_166187047211582_8773425885626761216_nThis moved on to finding out why the circle of light is small when the lamp is close to the wall and big when its further away.

George loved the idea of having paper taped to the floor so he did his own and created a city for his toy cars.  It included houses, shops, a pond, trees and bushes and a zoo with a tiger and snake.  16583442_406664173059253_1217884980902887424_n

Day two, today started with a mix of different activities.   I found these Lego challenge cards on Pinterest ages ago and we haven’t had much chance to try them out before.  This was quit a chaotic activity with them all doing different cards at the same time but it was great fun and even Alice joined in 16230785_180089295809059_7570581399158128640_nbuilding towers.

Dot to dots make fantastic maths tools for number recognition and ordering, as do colour by number pictures. The colour by numbers we had used sums.  George quickly lost interest so went on to a labelling activity but Jaycob thoroughly enjoyed it.   The girls u16465796_224036431335959_768626909205495808_nsed their devices to do their maths work through Khan Academy and Doodle Maths.

While watching Planet Earth George said that the sun goes down into the sea at night, so when the program had finished we used what we could find to see what really happens.  A tennis ball with a sticker showing the UK worked really well around the lamp and then the hall light bulb to show the difference between summer and winter.   I’ve had to order a globe and solar system off Amazon so we can look into this properly.

So, there we go, the first two days of #100daysofhomeed.  Took me ages to figure out how to add photos so i really hope it all turns out okay

Dettol and sickness

Well Sunday did not turn out to be like any other day.   All was going well, the husband had returned from Tattoo Freeze, the tea was cooked, the kiddies had gone upstairs to play and read until Naomi came downstairs.   Four words.   That’s all it took to turn a normal day into four days of hell!!    “I don’t feel well”.   The four words that have the ability to stop me in my tracks and bring on panic.

You see having a sick child in a house with just two, maybe three, children is hard work.   It’s a horrible experience for all involved, requires a good amount of cleaning and extra laundry loads.   However, our house has nine children.  Sickness can spread quickly and the cleaning and laundry soon become overwhelming.   The older children are quarantined to their rooms to avoid spreading and catching of the ‘bug.’   The contaminated laundry is pushed to the front of the cue and washed as quickly as possible.   I even go as far as getting the Dettol out and wiping down all furniture, light switches, door handles, etc etc.   Children aren’t always brilliant at hand washing so this is my way of tackling the problem even further.

Sometimes this all works fantastically and only a couple of the children become ill.   The once, I became ill in the middle of the kids, this slowed me down so much and I’m pretty certain that is why the ‘bug’ started to circulate again and some of the kids got it twice.   That was a really awful time.   This time five of the children were ill which isn’t too bad at all considering there are nine of them in total.

So Sunday started with the dreaded words from Naomi.  Monday took down Alice, Jaycob and George.   Monday night and Tuesday morning saw AJ poorly and having to skip school.  Then all seemed fine.  Wednesday brought no illness, all laundry was done and the house was adequately cleaned and in some cases most likely sterilised.  The strange odour of Dettol and sickness was now just Dettol and the kids were back to their happy, energetic selves.  All was good.

We did some maths work looking at measurement and using a ruler, Naomi used Doodle Maths to do some more and Elenore did some Khan Academy.  Naomi and the twins did some pictures for their penpals while Elenore carried on with her writing.  We also had a look at the writing competitions currently open and decided to submit a poem she did recently.  Even AJ joined in as she was bored so she did some maths and then decided she wanted to write a story like Elenore.  While the younger ones decided to watch some telly and play in the afternoon Elenore continued her FutureLearn course on the Orion and I managed to find a horse management and care course on Coursera for AJ.

It’s very rare that the children are poorly, it’s even rarer that I catch the ‘bug’ but that was not the case this time.   So, just as I thought all was good it wasn’t.    It really really wasn’t.

So today AJ has gone back to school, all the younger children are doing their own thing and I’m here feeling like crap.   Role on tomorrow, maybe it will be illness free.

First Ever Blog Post!

So here I am.  Sitting on my bed as there’s no room in the lounge, with the laptop spread across my shins and a sleeping baby spread across my thighs, not really knowing what I am doing.  I suppose I should start by introducing myself.  I am Chrissy, I’ve not long turned 30, and I have nine children.

The youngest member of this hectic household is Lilly-Mae, shes just 5 months old.  Alice comes up next at 22 months, followed by the twins, Jaycob and George, at 5, Naomi at 7, Elenore whose 9.  Then there’s Autumnjean (who we call AJ) whose 11, Brandon whose 12 and has Asperger’s (‘cus he likes to be awkward,’ he says) and David whose 16.   To add to the madness we also have 4 cats and 2 dogs.    Aj and Brandon both go to a local High School, David goes to a local college and all the others are home educated by me after removing them from school September.

I always get asked ‘how do you do it?’   To be totally honest with you all I have no idea what so ever.    I often feel like a broken record constantly repeating the same things over and over.  Like right now, typing away on this laptop which is covered in something I cant identify with a handprint of something on the screen, I can hear myself in broken record mode.  “Put your glasses on your face”   “get out of the sink”  “please put the puzzle pieces away” “stop sticking your hand in the cereal box”     Oh, and coffee helps!!  My watch thing that my husband, Craig, got me for my birthday says I had 2hrs 10 mins deep sleep last night and 1 hour 50mins light sleep.   Coffee definitely helps

Sundays aren’t usually too bad as my husband is usually home with us but today he’s gone with his mate to the Tattoo Freeze event in Telford.   Have to admit I’m rather jealous, it’s certainly something i would have enjoyed going to.  I have numerous tattoos and even have a few piercings.  One massive downside to having such a large family is simple things like family days out or date nights, or adult days out without children can be rather difficult to do.   We don’t have anyone we can leave the kids with for a few hours so we can pop off to an event somewhere and enjoy time together child free.  our last Date Night was nearly 2 years ago!   Family days out have to be planned and saved for as they quite often cost £100-£200 just to get in!!

So, today will be like most other days for me.   Running around trying to clean the house, tend to the numerous issues had by numerous small people, break up the fights, stop the arguments, make the meals, feed the baby, do the washing so clean uniform can be given to the schoolies, prepare tomorrows activities for the home edders … the list goes on pretty much forever and the kettle constantly gets boiled, and the coffee drank and drank and drank….