Daily Drudgery - or - Life is Sweet

February 9, 2015

6 Weeks and Counting – A Trial Home Education Day


Indi playing a piece called 'Back to School' - ooo the irony!

Indi playing a piece called ‘Back to School’ – ooo the irony!


Monday morning loomed, and my mind was focused on W’s residential trip to Fairthorne Manor. We had packed, packed again, talked about how to dry clothing out, where to put stinky clothing and how great it would be to try everything they had on offer. He was excited and nervous, I was excited and nervous, and Indi was….ill. He sneezed his way into the bedroom, his nose looking as though it had a loose washer. No temperature, no lethargy, just a nasty, sneezy irritating bug that rendered him permanently attached to the tissue box. Daz and I looked at one another and knew we weren’t going to send our poor five-year old out to fight another day in Reception constantly worrying about where his next tissue would come from, or whether he could have a little snooze.

I have spent my countdown weeks in a haze of research. This involves, for me, reading and reading and reading some more! Reading home education blogs – I love doing this. There are so many wonderful families out there doing a superb job by their children. Adventures in Homeschooling and Angelic Scallywags I return to daily, but there are many others. Not only do they offer engaging educational ideas, but we have an insight to their lives, which I have found fascinating and reassuring. Home Education is no longer mysterious, weird. I have surrounded myself by the blogs of home educators for 9 months now, and it just feels right.

I have also read ‘Taming the Tiger Parent‘ by Tanith Carey, and am part-way through ‘21st Century Boys‘ by Sue Palmer. Reading the first was like a slap in the face. I spotted myself in these pages with the way I had brought up my anxious first-born, and immediately changed the way I was parenting him. It was not a drastic change, but I can already see the benefits, which is hopefully good for the pair of us. My desire for him to be perfect, for him to understand everything, was unrealistic and unfair. I now actively remind myself to appreciate him for what he is – a sweet, polite well-meaning boy with plenty of passions. I tell him not to worry now, all the time. After 6 hours of being in school all day, at the age of 10 I remind him that homework is just homework, and that he can spend the alloted time completing it to the best of his ability, and if he goes over, then that’s it, finished. I’ll write a note on it for teachers – he’s done. Otherwise, he can’t enjoy the freedom he needs or deserves outside of school.

As a mother of three boys, Sue Palmer’s book broke my heart. It is so important for anyone raising a boy to read this book. The first part has enough haunting messages to make anyone want to chuck the screens in their home out of the window, and get boys back out in the streets and in the communities enjoying freedom and learning how to be a citizen. Locking them away for ‘safety’s sake’ and convenience in front of a lantern sets up a whole host of problems, preventing them from understanding and respecting the community that they live in, and preventing the community themselves from watching  young boys grow and taking some responsibility in helping them grow, before they become petrified of the great gangling youths they are presented with years later. Boys are seemingly dangerous (they’re not, it’s perceptions), and showing an interest in helping them in this day and age is also sadly controversial. I am so glad screen time is monitored closely in this house (the 30 minutes golden time) which is never challenged as the system is so embedded in our routine.

I digress. W was waved off on his coach, and was all smiles, as was I.

I returned to Indi, excited that mummy was to be teacher today. So, we started with some number formation and number bonds, using some resources from the Twinkl (spelt this way) Premium website. Click here for Twinkl Primary Resources

The table was a bombsite, in a good way! Twinkl resources worked well.

The table was a bombsite, in a good way! Twinkl resources worked well.

Eti seemed to be determined to ruin the show with a screaming fit, so we escaped upstairs to read a book, where he calmed down and listened. It made me laugh as Indi questioned why we were reading a book in the middle of the day, as it was not bedtime. This made me feel a little sad. We are great believers in the bedtime story (Will still has me read to him and vice versa every night too!) but I was surprised he saw the story as simply part of a ritual rather than something to be enjoyed at any time. That will change! I also started to look at the chaos around the home and realised I would have to give up semblance and order for the forseeable future. Indi then had his literacy computer game (Teach Your Monster to Read), followed by some piano practice.

Indi practising his 'tricky' sounds such as 'ure' and 'air'

Indi practising his ‘tricky’ sounds such as ‘ure’ and ‘air’

After some Playmobil play in the bedroom I thought I’d better go out to the garden and check on the new ex-batt hens we’d collected this morning. William had named his ‘Sweetie’ based on an animal in one of his ‘Wimpy Kid’ books, and as it was Valentine’s Day approaching, our rather ugly new hen with wonky beak was named ‘Valerie’. My new favourite! Hope Holly and Star, who now look like feather balls, don’t see them as a snack. On my return, the boys wanted to impress me and had tidied their room completely in my absence. Sweet! Lunch listening to ‘Fantastic Mr Fox’ and ‘Horrid Henry’ audio books went smoothly. Indi was desperate to do an experiment, so I found a nice straight-forward one  that turned Indi’s cup of milk into a rubber ball. Happily, when explaining to daddy when he returned from work, Indi was able to explain that the milk had to be heated, then mixed with vinegar to change its state.


Indi heats the milk to extract the curds, then mixes the curds with vinegar to separate the fats from any liquid. An hour later, you have a ball!

Indi heats the milk to extract the curds, then mixes the curds with vinegar to separate the fats from any liquid. An hour later, you have a ball!



I work on a Monday and get the dinner ready before I leave. Indi seems to really enjoy cooking, so he helped me with every step of the Quorn Spaghetti Bolognese, and if he keeps helping, hopefully the preparation and processes of cooking will seep in.

Indi cooking his bolognese

Indi cooking his bolognese

Indi's chef pose, frying the onions and the garlic.

Indi’s chef pose, frying the onions and the garlic.

It was nearly time for dad to return and for me to disappear for a few hours to teach my drama classes, but we managed to fit in doing the online shop! This task, with an ultra-sensitive laptop and irritating most-recent version of Windows required the patience of a saint, but with Indi’s finger poised over the ‘mouse button’ he was able to click and add the food that I requested, and it gave him some understanding of how the ‘shopping man’ magically appears with our food from time to time.


In my next post, I shall also discuss another book I am reading called ‘The Well-Trained Mind – A Guide to a Classical Education at Home’. At first I was daunted, but it has helped me put into some kind of order what was flying around my head. With six weeks or so to go, planning is fairly essential now!




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