Week 34 – How Natural Learning via Information Transfer Occurs

Week 34 – How Natural Learning via Information Transfer Occurs

This quote felt apt for this week, in relation to our home education trip.

“Perseverance is failing 19 times and succeeding the 20th.” Julie Andrews


This week marked the much awaited home school indoor climbing session. Having cancelled it last month, as the date fell on the day my parents arrived from the UK for my aunt’s funeral service. The Rockfit centre is run by brothers in the Sandton district of Johannesburg. When we first arrived there was only one brother to assist 10 children, I think he was out of his depth, it wasn’t long before the second brother arrived and everything took a turn for the better. The older children paired up and each pair was taught how to look after their partner during their climb. JJ and her friend S were a natural pairing, they climbed as many of the walls that they could climb scaling to the top almost every time. Their team work was impressive. AA was paired up with D and they both struggled supporting the other, each voicing concerns that the other wouldn’t be able to hold them. AA managed to negotiate to the top of the walls, most times, and sometimes paired up with J – an older boy in the group.

Then magic occurred when D, who had arrived nervous of this climbing experience and struggled for a much of the session to negotiate the walls, found himself suddenly three-quarters of the way up the particular wall which he had been battling with. What courage and determination. This time he was paired with one of the owner brothers and with this security anchor in place there was nothing stopping him. We were witness to much talent that day and I feel this home schooling excursion was one of the better trips we’ve experienced as a group, if the feedback from the participants is anything to go by.JJ Wall Climbing

JJ emailed me a video about Minecraft, with instructions that we had to watch it together. Twenty mins of my time was pleasantly taken up by listening to this person trying to build a skylight in his theatre, whilst a Minecraft character proceeded to undo all his hard work. His humour was infectious I can see why JJ, and her friends, enjoy him StampyLongHead He was an introduction by S & D. In one of her online searches JJ found a skin program, Skincraft, and in return introduced this to her friends. JJ seems to gather ideas from a variety of sources, feeding her Minecraft fascination. She tries things out herself, watching Youtube tutorials when stuck. She searches the internet for solutions and emails her friends for advice. When her friends come over for a visit much debating and passing along information ensues, such is the experience of natural knowledge transfer.

JJ is given freedom on the internet, we have outlined the potential dangers and have agreed that she is not to contact, or get into dialogue with anyone unless I am there with her. She told me once that she didn’t like a certain Youtube clip because the person swears and she won’t watch them again (the swearing was minor). We’ve discussed that everything on the internet, as elsewhere, needs to be critically challenged. She is learning to manage her interaction with the world with us supporting her. Also her work area is set up in the living area with people walking past all the time. I trust JJ, eventhough she is only 9, because of our closeness I know what is going on. Todate we haven’t had to deal with anything on the internet that she doesn’t see when out and about. The other day JJ asked me why there were signs all over the place saying Penis Enlargement with a telephone number. So I said some people get their penis enlarged by having an operation like some women get their boobs made bigger. She said I didn’t know people made their boobs bigger! This led into a discussion on how boobs were made bigger. All of this is part of her learning about her world, good or bad I can’t totally keep her away from things right in front of her eyes. If I had the choice I would rather she didn’t see that sign, second best is her trusting me enough to talk about it providing me the opportunity to give it some meaning.

JJ decided at the beginning of the week that she wanted me to tell her to do Maths and English, as it is done at school. In the past when this has been requested I said that there is nothing stopping her doing Khan Academy or Sumdog, or looking at First Language Lessons for the Well Trained Mind (by Jessie Weiss), whenever she felt like it, refusing to accommodate her. This time she insisted I was to instruct her to do these activities daily. As expected this latest two days before she told me she didn’t want me to do this anymore and I gladly stopped. In the meantime she watched some Khan videos on subtraction, which she described as easy, and answered the questions posed. She also spent time on Sumdog, a passion of hers a few months back, she played until she reached Blue Whale level. We never did get around to the grammar book. All of these educational tools we’ve heard about via fellow home educators over the years, some more recent than others.

JJ dedicated some time to finishing off draft 1 of her Labradoodle story. Her plan is to publish it as an ebook short story. The end word count is 1700 words a pretty impressive number for a nine year old and the story is pretty good. It is sitting in my in tray for checking. JJ must have been in a writing mood because she then produced a heart warming poem about missing England. I believe this was brought on by her very close friend N being away at present, visiting her father in Cape Town. Which set off echoes of the sadness that she had felt leaving her good friend T, in the UK, nearly 3 years ago. The Poem is below in JJ’s section for anyone interested and the Labradoodle Story will be published shortly.

JJ insisted on starting the exercises in Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain (by Betty Edwards). On the day she chose I was feeling ill and really didn’t feel like joining her, even though this was something I had planned for both of us to do alongside each other. I caved in and set her off on the first task which was to draw a self-portrait. She then did the following two activities getting frustrated at times. She was able to identify the frustration and realised that this was around the same time that she shifted from a left brain approach to a right brain approach in her drawing. When my life is less hectic I hope to follow in her footsteps, the exercises are well thought through and effective. We heard about this book when recommended by a professional artist friend.

I started reading aloud, to JJ, The Wee Free Men (DiscWorld), by Terry Pratchett, a most enjoyable book. B, my good friend, is Terry Pratchett obsessed – see B I am reading it ;)

My baking endeavour this week took the shape of Oaties, I attempted a new recipe for me, by Delia Smith. Making a few changes by adding some finally chopped prunes and a table spoon of syrup, as I really felt it needed syrup. It was delicious however the recipe produced only two squares for each family member. It made me wonder if recipes from over 20 years ago naturally result in smaller servings. In today’s climate of huge helpings this crumb of a serving just didn’t do. I will have to triple this recipe, at least, if I was to make it again in the future. It is possibly Delia Smith who caters for tiny portions as the children are forever tripling her pancake recipe.

We enjoyed a lovely morning which culminated in a picnic, with delicious homemade muffins and sausage rolls, made by our cousin’s. They chose Rietfontein Nature Reserve, in the northern suburbs of Johannesburg, as our place to explore starting off with a lovely walk spying a buck on route. The cherry on the cake was to discover there was a geocache hidden in the reserve. We took the opportunity of introducing our family to geocaching and found, with P’s keen eye’s, our very first larger cache that contained items which could be taken and swapped for something of equal size and value. JJ placed a mirror and a button inside the cache and took out a smiley face for her souvenir. P placed a beaded angel in the cache and now is the proud owner of a delicate silver charm. This was a successful muggle conversion and our motley band of fellow geocachers is growing standing.Rietfontain Reserve

JJ has started reading Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters, the second series in the Percy Jackson novels. The reading bug has significantly slowed down from last week’s flurry of reading. Yet she is still enjoying the book and progressing through it at a more normal pace. JJ heard about the Percy Jackson series via her brother, who heard about it from some good home education friends years ago in the UK.

It was a rare multicultural event at a 5th birthday party which JJ and I attended on Saturday afternoon. In attendance were individuals from the following cultural and national groups; Chinese, Swedish, English, Japanese, Zimbabwean, South African Afrikaans, South African English & South African Xhosa and other African cultures. The converstation was stimulating. A real experience of our Rainbow nation, with representatives from many of its 10 official languages, it would be lovely to experience this more often. Granted in the UK this is unlikely to have occurred yet here in Africa, with all the opportunities, this experience is unfortunately still a rarity.

JJ decided to give up Brownies this week. It meant I was left with the task of calling Brown Owl to explain the reason, which was she was getting bored with Brownies. I also had to call a family who rely on us for a lift and another family who we share the journey with. Brown Owl sounded upset and asked if JJ was coming to Brownies next week. I said yes she would be coming to say goodbye, Brown Owl said she would have a chat with her about this decision. JJ insists this is her final decision, I wonder if Brown Owl will be able to persuade her otherwise.

I started a much delayed project, a mosaic mirror in blue’s, at my weekly craft morning at my uncle’s house. I’m still enjoying the quiet time sitting there alongside my aunt Pam, as if she is still with us. It is here where I feel closest to her and even find myself shedding a tear or two, feeling her presence even if it is all in my head. I have been meeting, my uncle, B for coffee sharing memories, both attempting to reach some form of normalisation in our lives, yet life will never be normal again who am I kidding. I am going to be taking ownership on Pam’s car in the next few weeks, something I am looking forward too. My car is on its last legs it will be a pleasure to have a second reliable car in the family, it means I don’t have to borrow hubby’s car every time I need to travel further than 10 km’s.

Below are the interesting titbits I stumbled upon this week ….

‏@CrystalStarr78 shared this awesome story about a group of men who have been playing a single game of continual tag for the last 23 Years. It started in college days and now even their wife’s are used to assist in their endeavours. One is a teacher, another a priest, the creative ways in which they tag their friends is hilarious.

‏@libertas143  posted this article on the Twelve Things You Were Not Taught in School About Creative Thinking I found this an interesting read particularly in light of JJ’s writing endeavours this week.

‏@ilainie world traveller and her son had a priceless Unschooled Kid Experiences the Unveiling of a Mummified Head in Peru.  She asks: So, how often does this happen in a life?  

Keeping in the world schooling theme @NatParNet 10 posted this article Ways World-schooling Has Ruined My Childhood  offering an insight into a young world schooler’s take on being without fixed abode, the whole world being this families classroom.

Our story this year of our unschooling experiences visually displayed via word clouds for those allergic to reading too many words. It provides a visual story effectively capturing the highlights of our experimental unschooling year so far.

Thank you once again Dream Diva for the better photo’s.


We went to the climbing wall it was awesome. We went with the homeschoolers for a trip it was the best thing ever. I was partnered with my friend we  got taught how to hold each other on the ropes it was awesome, so what we did was go around and trying out different  walls because there were millions of themJ my friend and me were swinging on the ropes it was sooooo cooooool!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!. He he. After the climbing wall me and my friend begged for a sleep over so we had a sleep over at my house, I had to go to my ballet lesson so after we left we went home for 2 hours. I got dressed for ballet and we headed to ballet. I had been at ballet for about 10 minutes and we did one dance my teacher kept on saying that I was amazing at it then she got me to show it to everyone it was embarrassing but cool he he. When I got back from ballet my friend was there like I left her he he, we got home and we played Minecraft and had fun with Littlebigplanet it was awesome.

I went to modern dancing class and had loads of fun with my friends. I miss N though. I’ve been wattsapping her with my mom’s phone all the time I have free.JJ at Modern Dance

I did Khan academy it was fun and I did 30 minutes of Sumdog I got to a blue whale it was awesome he he.

I had my very last tennis lesson it was sad to leave my teacher :(

I cleaned Charlotte’s (my rat’s) cage it was cool. Me and my mom talked about my birthday party it is only in four months J so exiting he he.

I mosaiced a lid of a glass jar for a window in my hay bale house. I fainted at my music lesson it was scary but it didn’t hurt myself. He he.

I made a grave yard for my dogs in Minecraft it was fun but sad because three of my dogs had died. I watched Stampylongnose with mom it was funny here is the video we watched. I built a love garden in Minecraft it was really fun I copied Stampylongnose he he.

We had a picnic with my cousins it was really nice we found a geocache there it was awesome, I got a smiley face he he. At the picnic my brother threw his naatchie peel behind him and this is what it looked like he he ….

Naartchie bid for life

I went to a party and I met new people there it was nice.

I asked mom if I could start doing the book called Drawing on the Right Side of your Brain it was awesome but I got very frustrated with the drawings oomph. I still want to keep trying though.

I didn’t go to Brownies because I got sick and my mom was sick. We lay in bed and chatted about things.

I read loads of Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters it is sooooo fun.

I played Moshi Monsters because my friend asked me to look after her monster because she was in Cape Town. I miss her.

I made a christmas list, I know it’s too early, but it was sooooo fun he he.

I took pictures of Sweetpea sleeping on the chair – naughty dog he he.Naughty Sweetpea

I listened to some music videos on YouTube mostly One Direction – like them.

I really didn’t want to write this blog this week, 16 more to go :(

This is the poem that I wrote:

Missing England

When will I go back there,

to see what it has become.

When will I stop feeling homesick,

and face the truth all along.

I thought and thought about it,

but it never seemed to heal.

I doubt and doubt to feel it,

but memories only steal.

I Miss England … I miss cold … I Miss Chobham … I miss home.

Week 34 Cloud Tagxedo

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