‘So how do your children socialise?’ is one of the first questions I’m asked by people new to the concept of home education. Perhaps this week can help dispel those concerns. I’m declaring this week ‘Friendship Week’ having been lucky to have a visit from a good friend from the UK, enjoying every minute of her six days with us. I’ve also managed to connect with many of my home education friends, as well as a special friend that I’ve known from my childhood. Last but not least, I met up with my Aunt and Uncle for coffee. JJ also experienced a similar connection to her friends, as well as spending quality time with her adult friends and family, she has enjoyed plenty of time with her home education friends and, unusually, has had 3 sleepovers this week!
The week started off with group visit to JAG – The Johannesburg Art gallery, where I got to stand touching distance from a Van Gough, a Monet, several Picasso’s and some Salvador Dali work- as well as many other well known painters. The archetecture of the building housing the art is a piece of art work in itself. Its location could be better but we got there with little trouble, driving in a convoy of three, probably a slight over reaction but better safe than sorry! The saddest news of the day was being told that the gallery received little governmental financial support. It really looks like it will have to become the responsibility of private companies and generous benefactors if it is to survive the next few years.
JJ balancing on mats in the pool and the two of us playing an impromptu crocodile dinner game reminded me of a quote tweeted this week
“Play is the highest form of research” Albert Einstein
There were a few lovely home education wow’s this week. The first was when JJ plopped our globe of the earth on the outside table. She insisted that we set her challenges to find places on the globe. We sent her hopping around the earth, reintroducing the Tropics and the Equator as well as getting her to find numerous countries on the globe. In a true unschooling moment we found ourselves drifting into a discussion on the war over the Falkland Island. I think she was amazed that the island was so far away from the UK, but the people there felt British. We then spoke about Maggie Thatcher being the first and only female British Prime Minster. The other unschooling moment was when she watched A knitting a gorgeous jersey for her grandson, JJ voiced that she wanted to learn how to crochet, so I took the opportunity to teach her some simple stitches. I was impressed how quickly she picked up the pattern of stitches directing me as I crocheted for her. Then it was her turn, after a short while she told me she was extremely frustrated with trying to hold all the bits at the same time, as well as trying to do the stitches. Somewhat annoyed at her failure to master crocheting in its entirety, she decided to stop. Although she was pleased that she learnt how to master the stitches. It was a good start and I’m certainly she will return to try again another day.
My friend A from the UK flawed me with her kindness and belief in me when she offered to invest in a venture that I have been toying with. I was again reminded of the depth of kindness we humans are capable of. I decided not to journey down that path and turned down her generous offer, but I will always be in awe of her kindness.
While she was here I took an unusual break from the children and the two of us ventured off on a day trip to Askari Lodge in Magaliesburg, north of Johannesburg. The Magliesburg range being the oldest mountain range in the world! At the lodge the peace was palpable. We sat under the shade of a tree, having a simple lunch, watching two teenage male elephants drink, shower themselves with water from a swimming pool, then cover themselves with dust, play together on land and then wallow in a small lake. It was magical being so close to these magnificent wild creatures and made for a memorable day. Attempting to top that experience was going to be impossible, so I didn’t try, deciding to keep the remainder of A’s trip city based.
We visited Sandton City and took pictures of us standing below the huge Nelson Mandela statue, in Nelson Mandela Square. We visited the renowned Rosebank Flea Market which resulted in A purchasing her grandson an African drum, I hope her daughter is happy with that present! Everywhere we stopped required us to consume copious amounts of cappuccino’s and latte’s. We found time for A to learn how to mosaic. She made a stunning tea box, whilst I took the time to try sketching a portion of the face of an elephant. We concluded her trip with a visit to Walter Sisulu Botanical gardens where we were joined by our homeeducating group of friend’s. As normal for a group of un-conformists the conversation ranged from the legality of HE registration and went on to annoyed mutterings about governmental control, quoting the atrocities against recent home educators in Germany. As validating and stimulating the conversation was for us radical nuts, it was a baptism by fire for my corporate friend A who hadn’t previously been exposed to such extreme views. I needn’t have been concerned, it didn’t seem to have put her off the idea of home education and she started making noises of introducing the idea of home educating to her daughter, perhaps in time we will have another child who gets to walk their unique path of learning! Over time could home education reach the 100 monkey tipping point, becoming the mainstream option for most children?
I managed to find time to meet a very dear friend, J, for coffee, who lives in Magaliesburg on a fabulous conservancy come bed and breakfast, Olive Tree Farm. We chatted about deep stuff as we always seem to do. Then a day later we met my Aunt and Uncle in a coffee shop, in our local suburb – cappuccino’s and latte’s all around! My aunt went on to describe her pewter lesson which she had last week, which got our creative juices going. I’m looking forward to starting up my next craft project when we meet up on our regular Saturday morning craft session.
A introduced me to the concept of Word Clouds, having noticed them on websites previously and with little success in tracking down exactly what they were. I plan to put a sided a few hours in the next few weeks to incorporate this onto this site.
The last week has been so hot, with temperatures peaking around 35 degrees centigrade. One particularly boiling evening, I found myself sneaking off, when everyone else was occupied. Creeping out into the night I lay on a lilo bobbing around the pool gazing up at the full moon. It was surreal when the creepy crawly manoeuvred under me giving me a massage through the plastic.
My Labradoodle, Sweetpea, has not been eating. I’ve tried feeding her everything under the sun. In desperation I spent a few hours exploring the internet and found out it wasn’t rare for pregnant bitches to lose their appetite, a form of morning sickness. It goes to prove that dogs are like humans everyone is different, having been through many pregnancies this is the first time one of my girl’s have ever lost their appetite this early on in the pregnancy. I’ve checked if she is dehydrated by pressing my thumb to her gums, but they return back to normal instantly. Also the skin on her neck doesn’t peak into a tent. Her nose is wet and she looks and acts herself. I’ve taken to feeding her little and often and I’m finding this is helping to get some food into her.
My laptop is back from the hospital. It has been fixed with a new super huge 500GB hard-drive and all my data and software has been reloaded. We still have to get Outlook sorted out and internet explorer is not working grrr! Hubby has kindly taken over whilst I write this blog to meet my Tuesday deadline. It means I am back battling with JJ’s keyboard, on her laptop, for a second week running.
I sadly waved goodbye to my constant companion, for the last 6 days, at Oliver Tambo Airport. A’s flight time meant attempting the Johannesburg roads in rush hour, for our sanity we decided to travel in on the Gautrain. What an eye opener, I felt that I had time travelled to another continent. The train reminded me of the Heathrow Express, and the stations looked reminiscent of any newly built underground station, transporting us to the airport in record time. I had to pinch myself, the view from the windows looked very un-African and more European. It didn’t help that everything was unusually green, it is the rainy season, we whizzed past suburbia at high speed making everything look extremely first world. It was certainly unexpected. I still can’t quite believe it.
I visited the Johannesburg Art Gallery, my favourite display was Salvador Dali’s lobster telephone. I also saw these carved African pipes, there was a carving of a man on a horse that I liked best. I couldn’t see why Picasso was called a good painter because his drawings are so messy.
At my music lessons I learnt all about Bach being a great composer, I listened to his music and loved it. I also sang Over the Rainbow in my lesson. This week I’ve been practising my piano playing and been learning how to play different songs from my books.
In ballet this week I’ve been learning new dances. I learnt how to do the plie.
I wanted my Mom and Dad to test me on a globe we have of the earth. I learnt about the tropic of Cancer and the tropic of Capricorn. I saw that Cyprus was as far from the equator as South Africa but it is in the Northern Hemisphere. Mom asked me to find the Falkland Island and then told me about a war England had with Argentina taking the Island from England, even though England is very far away from the Falkland Island. The first lady Prime Minister of the UK Maggie Thatcher was in charge of the war. Then we got out an Atlas and Mom showed me the difference between a physical map and a political map.
I have been on my computer a lot. I taught a friend of my Mom’s all about Starfall, which taught me to read. I used a long time ago. I transferred music from my brother’s computer to my computer. I’ve been playing a lot on Pottermore, Harry Potter’s site, and have been learning how to brew spells, de-gnome the Weasley’s garden and collect chocolate frog cards. I have also been learning Spanish on Rosetta Stone. I found out on youtube how to make Iggy who is a Moshi Monster. Mom says we are going to get the material so I can try and make him myself.
I have been swimming every day it is really hot in Johannesburg, I have been swimming even in the dark with the pool light on. I like throwing in my gym mats and then trying to see if they will sink when I lie on top of them. When there is 1 mat – I sink. But when there are 6 mats – I float. Mom pretended to be a crocodile and rolled me around and around then she wanted to put me under a pretend rock to rot. She said she was going to eat me when I was rotten just like the crocodiles do. I am faster than her so I swam away and she could not catch me.
Mom has had a good friend staying for nearly 1 week. I got two tops and a denim skirt and some trousers with zebra’s on for a present. Because Mom has been busy and because we have been on holiday, I have had 3 sleepovers this week with my friends, I am very lucky. I have joined and played Sumdog with my friends. I have also played lego, Monster High’s and designed and made clothes for them with my friend.
I also made a painting on black paper using a tennis ball and different colour paints. I got the idea from a TV show, Mr Maker, it was fun. When my Mom was drawing an elephant I got out my water colour pencils and tried to paint a tree but I didn’t like it and threw it away. I also learnt how to crochet, I could do the stitches but could not hold everything at once, I was frustrated and had to stop.
We went to the botanical gardens in Johannesburg and had a picnic next to a waterfall that had a big Black Eagles nest next to it. I did not see the Eagles but sometimes they have babies and you can see them on their web cam. There were insects made out of metal, hiding in the gardens, and I took pictures of them all.
I also played garden bowls with my Dad and brother and my Dad won.