We had our first official home educating year in 2019 - 2020
I really took this first official year week by week, not really planning ahead too much to enable us to explore and notice how we were using our days and what we enjoyed and what we didn't enjoy so much, I wanted to leave things open in case trips of social meets came up and allow us to find new friends and go to groups but also I knew that academics are not something I was prioritising until George is nearer to 7. We did have a strong Rhythm during this time but there was plenty of time for free play and social gatherings.
I spent a lot of time observing different things and documenting things through writing and photographs which has been helpful now in a reviewing process where I am able to see from a larger perspective how we have been using our time and what has been happening in these little moments when I thought we were not doing very much. When actually I realised there were some brilliant things happening there looking back at the documentation. Especially the things that were unplanned that George was interested in that just were great opportunities for learning, exploring, and playing.
I read lots of books about how children learn, and the importance of play and child development and brain development.
I spent time considering what was important, what was non-negotiable.
I spent time thinking about FAMILY - what it means and what EDUCATION and LEARNING really are to me. Because I realised how could I make choices without knowing these things. I have worked on our family values with my husband and we have considered what is truly important in our lives for now and in the future. These are things we base all our choices from.
All these things have been a fundamental part of what makes our family work, what helps us in our lives to get our needs met, and that everyone is ok and what we do when we are not - what is in place for this time?
I have also taken note of where our strengths lie and what we need to work on to improve aspects of our family life so that things can run more smoothly.
Lockdown has also given me some interesting perspectives on what we were doing that was not needed, what we were doing too much of and perhaps how we can reign back and simplify everything that bit more so that life is not just enjoyable but the life I really want to create for my family, one that feels free, rhythmic and peaceful rather than robotic, hard and sluggish.
What have I learned from this first year?
I feel like this has been a year of figuring things out. Of unlearning, of peeling back the layers of conditioning from my own education, and stepping into this new space. One that is new, one that is waking up every day and really considering what is it that we really want from this life and how will we start creating this?
I have learned that in order to live the life I want to live, I cannot sit and wait for life to happen to me and hope for the best. I have to create the life I want to live.
I have learned to let go of what learning looks like and what play looks like and what doing something you enjoy doing has to look like.
I have learned to just let go a little more of expectations I have of myself, and as I do I find each day easier. I stop putting myself under so much pressure and things just happen.
I am working on planning at the moment and did start doing some planning back in April 2020 when I was thinking about where the next year could go and reflecting on where we had come so far. What would we create? What might we do with our time and energy? How will we spend our days? Who will we spend our time with? What are we interested in exploring? Where will we be?
I feel like however you home educate you do need to have some form of planning or the days do go by and you may not have done things that you wanted to do, whether it was places you wanted to visit or learn about things you were interested in or pick that book up you wanted to read. Or maybe it was to learn a new skill and you just haven't got around to supporting your child with that. Or maybe it was your own personal growth, maybe you booked yourself on to that online course and have not even looked at it. So whatever it is, I have realised that although an element of spontaneity is really great and welcome, planning is also essential. For yourself and for your child. I never really thought about it before but I have realised that Home education is just as much about your children as it is about you. We have to continue to grow, evolve and learn to nourish ourselves and to be able to be there to support them too with their interests. In doing this we need to find ourselves and grow in our own strengths and interests.
So I believe that planning is a really necessary part of home education and for our family lives if we want to create a life that makes us feel wonderful and fulfilled and not stressed and tearing our hair out. I have taken planning quite seriously this time around as there are going to be some changes in our lives that will mean that I need to be more intentional about how I use my time and organisation so that we have everything we need and I'm not on amazon prime two days before thinking oh gosh we need that book for next week!
We just purchased our first house and are moving in the Autumn time which means that this could potentially affect and uproot our Rhythm quite a lot. So I am already thinking of ways to prepare for this time. I will have systems in place to support us. I'm also open to the fact that some things we may not manage to do. I am preparing my self emotionally in knowing that it's OK if I can't do everything that is planned because there are external things going on around this time that will set us back and that is OK. The truth is we are not behind, there are no major issues here. We are going at our own pace and there really is nothing to worry about.
I'm unsure if our Childcare arrangements will be changing due to changes they are having and may no longer be suitable. This is potentially going to be a problem as I really do require a day in the week for myself. For my emotional health, I need it - I do also spend some of this time writing content and creating courses for The Rooted Family and just resting with headspace.
I started a new business during lockdown - The Rooted Family
Alongside this, I also work the weekend as a P A 2 x 12-hour shifts which I start a year ago when I finished my first business as I was deciding where I might like to go for a career in the future - I thought that I would be taking a break from running a business and perhaps just stick with a part-time job and focus on Home education for a while - but turns out the universe had other ideas and my intuition had been prodding me for a while to start The Rooted Family, so it turned out that Lockdown was a blessing in some ways as I realised how much this would be needed to support families now and in the future. It helps me reflect daily about how I support myself and my family and this really flows into the work I do to help others.
What am I doing to prepare for Autumn?
I have made a 3-month plan for September, October, and November.
I bought myself a home education planner from amazon and I have planned out our Rhythm for the next 3 months.
This includes meal planning, what food we will be eating over the next 3 months (slight differences each month) I have a meal planner book. I have never had one of these and it honestly feels quite exciting!
I have written out our Rhythm, which is changing slightly from what it was before and could well need tweaking as we settle into it. Within our Rhythm there is plenty of time for play and doing things we enjoy.
There will also be festivals to celebrate and the Autumn Equinox which we always love.
Creating our Nature table, social meets with friends which we currently are doing a couple of times a week.
I'm unsure what is happening with our home education groups because none of them have reopened yet and currently have not heard anything about them reopening any time soon either so this is a waiting game currently!
Discovering my Strengths and learning what I need to work on.
Meal Preparation and food has definitely not been a strength ever for me.
I did not grow up in my home learning how to prepare and cook meals and it is just something that my husband enjoys doing and so I have never taken the lead on this. I make meals sometimes.
My husband's job has become very busy during the lockdown and I have noticed how much pressure it has put on him to then have to prepare a meal after working 13 hours with hungry people waiting to eat which he has not complained about but he's been starting work earlier and finishing later. I have thought that it would help him immensely if I could cook some meals in the week that would help him out too. Also most of the time we don't really know what we are having for dinner in advance, my husband does the shop and plans meals in his head. We don't seem to have an idea of what day we will have what though. I want to change this. I want and need more stability and I believe this will also help our son too. If we have been out all day and we come home later, I don't feel prepared to cook. Then I feel stressed if Adams working late and we need to eat. I therefore want things to change. I have in months past struggled with fatigue a lot and have need to go for an hours sleep in the afternoon sometimes. My health has improved a lot and I have improved my diet also which has helped but my plan is to do batch cooking when we move house as we will have more space to have a chest freezer in the garage and this way I am able to spend a couple of days a week cooking and batching things up and freezing them freeing up more time for us. I would enjoy cooking more this way, as I don't want to do cooking every day but I feel like doing it in splurges will be more enjoyable for me. Then it's just a case of putting things together, less work at actual dinner time which is perfect for me!
I want to focus on this one first along with spending time getting the new house sorted. I've been working on being consistent over the last year in our Rhythm, taking care of myself so I can be a better parent and person to be around. The cooking one is a big one for me. So along with moving house and working and home educating it is more than enough to work on right now!
Being more organised with things that might need ordering is something I am being more mindful of.
I have looked three months in advance to see what books we may need, and have created a list online so I'm able to purchase those.
Any craft materials or art supplies we might need. I have scouted and had a look through what we have and we only require a few things as we are fully stocked up on most things.
I will keep a list at the back of the diary to add any materials to that we may be running low on.
We usually have some things to look forward to throughout the year which could be things like the monthly forest school which I believe is starting up in October.
We do enjoy a theatre visit, the ones we had planned were cancelled.
We will mostly go for day trips out in Nature which will be thoroughly enjoyed as this is how we love to spend our time.
All in all, I am very much looking forward to carrying on but it feels very fresh in that I am just more prepared this time around. I felt that I have unlearned and learned a lot.
Are you preparing for your home education year or are you thinking of home educating? I would always love to hear from you. We can learn so much from one another through a conversation!
Lots of love