The long answer is I don't really know of course. But Dragon and Star have not had a conventional childhood anyway. They are, and always will be, a product of a different lifestyle, an unusual path. Their lives have never been about routine, having education delivered to them, being voiceless and having to follow the route mapped out for them by someone else. Dragon and Star have always had fairly big loud voices in comparison to many children their age. They have always had choices, played a part in decisions regarding their lives and helped to shape their own destinies as much as any of us can do.
Our approach in parenting, in education and in life is to above anything else enjoy it, get the most possible out of every day. Follow dreams, chase stars, laugh often. A favourite quote of mine is 'I hope you live every day of your life'. I strive to do just that and hope to infect our children with the same ambition. As such they approach each day as a new opportunity - to learn and grow and live. It is this mentality that led us off in the direction we are currently heading and I hope will guide Dragon and Star throughout their lives. Taking responsibility for themselves and their happiness, grabbing all there is to get and getting pleasure out of making others day a little brighter too.
So when I look at how this next life choice may affect Dragon and Star it is not with anyone else's standards or expectations in mind. It is not with an eye to how they will pass exams aged 16, to how they will socialise with children their own age, or how they may struggle without access to 24 hour electricity, mobile phones, cinemas, McDonalds or the latest trainers. It is by looking at them as two seperate individuals and talking over with them which of their needs will be met easily, which will take a little more effort and creative thinking and how we will, as a family and as individuals make that happen.
From Dragon's point of view Rum will offer so many opportunities. He enjoys building strong, meaningful relationships. Not necessarily with other children and certainly not exclusively with people his own age and gender. For him the idea of 30 odd new prospective friends is thrilling. Adults and children alike he views all the other residents of the island as interesting new people to meet and get to know. Dragon loves his bushcraft, survival and wilderness stuff - a whole island to explore and navigate. Dragon loves creating maps of places and is already looking forward to charting every inch of this new place. Dragon is a creative, artistic soul with a dreamy poet lurking inside and a flair for storytelling and illustrating. He will be inspired by this new landscape, brought alive by the possibilities of a thousand new stories to tell, characters to invent, backdrops to paint.
Star has been an animal lover pretty much since the day she was born. Our pet cats watched her birth with great interest (she was born at home) and I don't think she's been far from some creature or another ever since. Nature, wildlife and animals are her passions and she is growing to live on a national nature reserve. With rare and endangered species everywhere, rangers and wardens and resident experts on all these creatures will be her friends and neighbours. She gets to keep pets and livestock herself and meet many othre people just as passionate as her about the natural world. I can't think of any better location for her to call home.
When we first began our Home Educating journey, nearly 10 years ago I first came into contact with an online community of people with children of all ages also following a similar path. Lives have changed for all of us during the last decade, many of them have gone on to have (many) more children, some of the children have gone to school, many have tried different educational approaches, the children have grown up, the adults have shifted lives. One of the earliest friends I made back then was Merry who ran an email list, home educated her children and organised two annual Home Ed camps along with running a small business selling hama beads and other craft materials. Merry was an early source of inspiration to me both as a Home Educator and as someone managing to run her own life alongside it, combining a business she was passionate about that complimented her family life. Over the years Merry's family and business have grown and I have bought various products from her over the years - hama beads, fimo, craft kits.
Merry sent us some pens to try out from the Djeco range which are available from PlayMerrily. I handed them over to Dragon and Star and left them to it. One of my real bugbears with kids stuff is that it is so often inferior quality, so Dragon and Star have long since grown out of cheap felt tips, plastic feeling crayons and dissatisfying low pigment content watercolour paints. They have decent, proper quality art materials which are up to the job of creating decent, proper quality artwork. Quite apart from the false economy of buying cheap kiddie stuff which doesn't last anyway it feels patronising to expect them to use it. They were very pleased with the Djeco quality, it's not over packaged, a decent cardboard box and then a hard plastic case which will stand up to plenty of opening and closing. The colours are fab, a really good selection which they have used for solid colour blocks, shading, blending and Star has tried some smudgy effects too.
They both commented on how they feel like drawing with lipstick (although I can't quite think when they would have tried that!) but having had a quick go myself I can see what they mean. The pens are satisfyingly chunky to hold and glide across the page leaving a lovely vibrant colour behind. A real joy to use. They assure me that once they have used these pens up (which if they keep producing artwork at the rate they have since we opened these two days ago won't be long!) they would like to replace them so it looks like gel pens have earned their place in their art boxes.
The inspiration for their artwork has clearly come from them - I had no part in any of this. It does show a nice range of effects created with the pens, solid blocks and general shading and hopefully gives an indication of the colour range too, but mostly I think you'll agree it shows how right this next move in our lives is for Dragon and Star.
|Map of Rum by Dragon. Note colour use on the sea|
|Map of Rum by Star, note intense colour with rather stylised shape.|
|It's Willow! I reckon this boy is looking forward to having a home again.|
|Whereas this girl is just happy wherever her hamster is!|