This blog began as a documentation of our travelling adventure in 2011, has morphed into a diary of our new life here as crofters on Rum but is also a representation of one of the many different ways to home educate in the UK, even if it only represents our unique family's journey. I know how much comfort, support and inspiration I took in our early days as home educators in reading the daily, weekly, monthly accounts and musings of other Home Educators. I know that being able to peek into other people's worlds, celebrate and commiserate alongside them on their ups and downs was the equivalent of the school gates chit chat for me. I did keep a specifically Home Ed related blog for a few years, which can be seen at http://monsterteeny.blogsome.com/ and covers some of the earlier stuff (way back when Dragon was Monster and Star was Teeny) but when Jax at Making it Up started up a new blogring and Merry at Patch of Puddles (another two fellow blogring members from 10 years ago now very much real life friends even if they've not made it to Rum - yet ;) ) assured me as a family who Home Educate we qualify to join with this blog I was persuaded to jump in and add the little box to the blog.
If you have arrived here by clicking on that box from someone else's blog then welcome, it's good to have you here. We have Home Educated our children from the very beginning, never using school or nursery. Dragon is 12, Star is nearly 10 and we follow a very autonomous, learning through life type philosophy. Our children have a lot of freedom, very big voices (literally as anyone who comes close enough to hear will know and in terms of being listened to, taken seriously and having a equal say in what happens in our family) and in our opinion a pretty perfect childhood, learning what they need to know, as and when they need to learn it.
If you arrived here by different means then bear with me while I blog the odd post here and there related to Home Education - it's very much a part of who we are as a family and underpins a lot of our choices and directions in life. We are by no means a definitive example of how people Home Educate and if you 3/4are interested in learning more or finding out about other approaches then clicking on that little box and having a read of other Home Ed family blogs would be a great place to do so.
Some of the bloggers on the ring have been talking about the National Trusts 50 things to do before you are 11 3/4 which is a really interesting challenge. Helen at Petits Haricots did a fab post inlcuding many pictures. Another of those now real life friends, infact I was peering closely at her pics as I am fairly sure we've done a fair few of the 50 things alongside their family and Anni at T Bird Anni Rides Again (yet another, infact the first fellow Home Educator we ever met way back when...) has also gone through the list. I think that as I was intending a specifically Home Ed slanted blog post to celebrate being part of the blogring it is a great way of showing just how Home Ed works for us here at Wondering Wanderers, so here goes...
Climb a tree.
Hard to believe there is a child around who hasn't really. Dragon and Star have been doing it since they could walk!
|appropriate footwear not essential!|
|that's Star at the very top there, Ady can't bear to look!|
Roll down a really big hill
I'm going with the same really big hill as lots of my friends rolled down because we all rolled down it together. We've done hill rolling in other places too but I think this was the most fun!
|At our friends, Stepping Off The Path, *the* best hill for rolling down, ever.|
Camp out in the wild
We have done a lot of camping. In tents, in official campsites, in friends gardens and fields aswell as on our own croftland. In our campervan in all sorts of places and Dragon and I spent a night under a tarp on a campcraft weekend for his tenth birthday present.
|very tiny, I think our first camping trip.|
|what's that in her hands?|
|proper wild camping - Dragon and I slept under this tarp for a night|
Skim a stone - Aside from our couple of years living in Manchester we have never lived more than a mile or so from a beach. Skimming stones is something Ady takes very seriously as a skill to be passed on to his offpspring. I meanwhile have still to master the art! We've also skimmed stones on lochs too!
|banks of a Scottish loch - stone skimming is not just for seasides|
|finding the perfect skimmer can become something of an art form!|
Run around in the rain - so we live in the UK!, Currently we even live in one of the rainiest places in the UK. My children rarely stop running around, therefore running around in the rain is something they do a fair bit of! I put 'rain' into my flickr stream as a search and it turned up over a thousand pictures, all featuring Dragon and Star getting wet. Here are just a few...
|open air concert in the rain (running around happened afterwards)|
|nature spotting whatever the weather|
|not her real hands!|
Fly a kite - ah yes! When we lived in Sussex we would try and get to the kite festival in Brighton every year. It was a fab day out and always had the best examples of extreme kites. We participated in a couple of kite making workshops (infact we ran one at Home Ed camp one year) and Dragon got kites for this birthday and his previous birthday.
|on holiday in Cornwall|
|Brighton Kite Festival|
|Rosemarkie beach, flying his birthday gift stunt kite|
Catch a fish with a net - Star spent ages when we first arrived on Rum standing on the river bank catching fish with her net. We've also caught fish with rods and eaten them too but that's another story!
|Kinloch river, Isle of Rum|
|sometimes the best ones are just out of reach...|
Play conkers They certainly gather them every year - they already have an impressive haul from the Rum horsechestnut trees this autumn. I don't think they have ever done the threading them on string and bashing them together...
|looking for the perfect conker|
Throw some snow - given we have never really lived in a snow-rich part of the country this is still something Dragon and Star have managed to do. From full scale snowball fights with lots of friends to a rather memorable indoor / outdoor snowball fight one year through downstairs windows in the house they have certainly lobbed their fair share of the white stuff!
|pink cheeked and full of fun|
|nothing makes kids smile like a snowball fight!|
|serious treasure hunting!|
|note the armfuls of 'treasure'|
Make a mud pie - Dragon and Star not only make mud pies they have created a whole mud world! Down on the river bank next to the croft exists GloopaLoopa world, a whole kingdom created from mud with monarchy, parliament, shopkeepers, farmsteads and a whole micro society. Pies are apparently for mud amateurs!
|mud, mud, glorious mud|
|Hoover dam standard yet to be reached|
Go sledging - We do have sledges and there are grand plans to be heading down our rather steep hill on the croft should the weather cooperate this winter but we have yet to manage sledging, due only to weather conditions never proving suitable. They have slid down all sorts of other things, just not snow!
Bury someone in the sand - again I refer you to earlier comments on beaches, buried others, been buried, never lost the car like in that famous vehicle recover advert of my childhood!
|where exactly did you bury the Star?|
Set up a snail race - complete with proper finish line and nail varnish dots on shells to mark who was who!
|see the ambition in his eyes to race this monster!|
Balance on a fallen tree - you betcha!
|with the aid of a trusty stick!|
|playing with perspective too|
Swing on a rope swing - many a rope swing. The sort of activity that parents either can't bear to watch or queue up to join in with. I'll let you guess which of those Ady and I might be...
|some pictures of a halcyon childhood can only be shot in sepia!|
Make a mud slide - Oh yes! Now we live on a ready made one!
|look out below!|
|but someone has to wash all those muddy bottomed trousers!|
Eat blackberries growing in the wild - no photographic evidence but stained purple fingertips are enough to incriminate them!
Take a look inside a tree - living and dead
|we could live in there!|
Visit an island - the Isle of Wight by ferry, Anglesey via bridge, St Michaels Mount by walking the path and little boat back when it got cut off, wee islands in the middle of large lakes by rowing boat. The isle of Eigg last year, Canna very recently and of course we now live on a remote Scottish island ourselves. I think we can tick that one off!
|rowing to an island|
|Great Orme, North Wales|
Make a grass trumpet -another one Ady has done with them because while they managed it before 11 3/4 I have reached 38 3/4 without being able to do it!
Hunt for fossils and bones - various visits to famous fossiling haunts such as Lyme Regis on the Jurassic coast and a very exciting fossil huntingworkshop session with paleontologist on Hastings beach including smashing rocks open to find the treasures within.
Climb a huge hill - Hmmm, that feels like a daily occurance. We've scaled a hill or two in our time, probably most recently Hallival here on Rum.
|atop Hallival with Vikki|
Get behind a waterfall - yes, can't think where but I know they've done it because I remember it being in an Enid Blyton story we read and them being excited because they'd done that themselves.
Feed a bird from your hand - Oh indeed. Chickens, ducks, geese, quails and bantams that belong to us and a whole host of other birds that didn't.
|Star with Lucky, one of the ducklings she hatched.|
|feeding geese at a sanctuary before we kept our own!|
Hunt for bugs - Most definitely. Hunted for, found, identified, photographed, named and written biographies for bugs and beasties of all descriptions!
|bug hunting in the back garden|
|a cool find|
Find some frogspawn - we've found frogspawn in ponds and rivers and rescued some from grandad's fish pond before it all became fish food. We bought the frogspawn on from tadpoles to froglets. We also created a nature pond at our allotment back in Sussex and hoped for frogspawn.
|searching for frog spawn|
Catch a butterfly in a net - and moths too. Most recently as part of a ranger event here on Rum infact.
Track wild animals - We have often been out armed with spotted books looking at footprints, poo and other tracks and trails of animals. Our most rewarding remains finding otter footprints and spraints along a river bank and then being treated to a glimpse of one. We also spent hours this summer aboard the Shearwater boat trailing dolphins, whales and seabirds and were treated to all sorts of sealife spotting experiences.
Discover what’s in a pond - from garden ponds to dew ponds, organised pond dipping events at nature reserves to simply dipping in their toes and seeing what nibbles them there is no shortage of pondlife discovery here.
|Grandad's pond - haven for introduced fish|
|Organised pond dipping event|
Call an owl- many times while camping we have listened to owls calling and called back to them. Both children have also experienced wearing a gauntlet and calling an owl to land on their arm with some food.
|Longleat, Barn owl|
Check out the crazy creatures in a rock pool - rockpooling is a family favourite activity - I think we've explored north, south, east and west coasts of UK rockpools now along with some of the surrounding islands. Crabs, anenomies, wee fish, limpets and barnacles all seen, identified and marvelled at.
|spot the starfish|
Bring up a butterfly - we've done this a few times. Once with an official set from Insect Lore with a pop up butterfly garden and a pot of little caterpillars and then several further times with caterpillars we collected from the garden along with a few of whatever leaf they were on. We've hatched painted ladies and cabbage whites. One of those amazing things to witness along with collecting frogspawn and incubating eggs.
Catch a crab - Very comprehensively! From rockpooling to setting out crab lines off the side at Weymouth, to going out with Uncle Ian in his boat to collect creels and bringing them home to cook and prepare them for eating. I'm not sure that is quite as far as the 50 things list is meaning but never let it be said we are not thorough!
|crabbing with lines at Weymouth|
|preparing it for dinner|
|cooking the catch|
|admiring the beauty|
Go on a nature walk at night - again we've done various nature reserve organised events - bat walks, badger walks, moth trapping etc. Plus lots of being out at night when camping, or just going for a walk in the dark, armed with torches left off for as long as possible. We've gazed at stars, listened to owls and spotted bats. Star has a night vision monocular which we have taken out for better vision at night too.
|night time does not make for the best photos! This was pretending to be bats on a bat detecting walk.|
|and here is a toad discovered while on a nighttime nature walk when we were camping.|
Plant it, grow it, eat it - yep, at home in the garden, up on our old allotment and hopefully for many years to come here on the croft. While WWOOFing last year they also did plenty of every step of sowing, growing, harvesting and eating but of course moving on so frequently they only got to do one bit of the cycle at any one place.
Go wild swimming - Yep, in rivers, seas, lakes and lochs.
Go rafting - I'm not sure they have actually. Rowing boats certainly and canoes but maybe not rafting.
Light a fire without matches - both have had their own firesteel for years having attended Forest School, bushcraft sessions and other such firelighting activities. They have also managed to light by sparking iron pyrite against flint and had a go at friction fire lighting with bow saws and old fashioned rubbing two sticks together! Oh and of course magifying glass and sunlight!
Find your way with a map and compass - they have also been taught how to use stars or the sun to navigate. Something we'd like to do more of and live in the perfect place to learn more about with our rugged landscape and off the beaten track places to explore.
Try bouldering- I didn't actually know what bouldering was I have to confess. But I've looked it up and it turns out they have! I've found a few definitions including low level rock climbing without ropes and the climbing wall type stuff using harnesses too.
Cook on a campfire - marshmallows and bannock bread to full on dinners cooked over the fire.
Try abseiling - No! Star is actually quite scared of heights so this would certainly not be one for her. The opportunity to try has never come up.
Find a geocache - I should probably get out of the way here and now that I personally HATE geocaching. I hate the idea that in order to have a walk you need to be lured with the promise of 'treasure' or something to find. I hate the competitiveness of the last minute scramble to be the one to find the cache if you are doing it with a group and I hate even more the exchange of plastic tat. For that reason I stand very aloof with geocaches. However lots of our friends are really into it so actually we have done loads of them, mostly with me at the back of the group flatly refusing to look and moaning loudly! Dragon and Star quite enjoy it though so it can certainly be ticked as done, many times over.
Canoe down a river - Dragon has done this with Badgers when at camp. Both have been out to sea in canoes and on lakes and replicated the experience on numerous theme park rides!
I make no apology for the photo heavy post - I've really enjoy trawling back through years worth of pictures and reliving memories of holidays, day trips, adventures and times with friends. In searching through my flickrstream I was amazed at how many photos are tagged with things like 'beach', 'rockpool', 'nature' and 'river'. Dragon and Star are certainly not out of touch with the natural world, adventures out of doors or an education in all things nature and wildlife based.
We are very fortunate to have such a diverse landscape here on Rum with rivers, lochs and miles of coastline, peaks and valleys, woodland and moorland, miles of empty countryside occupied only by wildlife and our own little version of urban with Kinloch village. We have on hand so many wildlife and natural world experts - Ranger Mike, two members (and one ex member) of the red deer research team, the SNH team with huge knowledge of the wildlife here on Rum and many other passionate and knowledable people to help us continue our learning and love of nature and the world outside our home. This means that far from preventing us from continuing with our outdoor adventures we now have a whole new world to explore and a plenty of help in discovering and decoding it on hand too.