The beginning of March was our first official week of home education using the nature curriculum Exploring Nature With Children. Our seasonal study unit this week was nesting birds. We ended our week by making these no bake chocolate birds nests. They were just too delicious not to share with you.
This particular recipe makes 8-10 birds nests.
You will need:
200g Milk Chocolate
85g crushed Shredded Wheat
A packet of Mini Eggs
Simply melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over gently simmering water. Carefully remove and stir in the crushed Shredded Wheat. Spoon into cupcake cases and make a well in the centre. Add 2-3 mini eggs to the well. Let set (about an hour).
Below is a handy print out of the above recipe.
Chocolate Bird Nests
N is for Neiva
A delicious easy no bake treat that your children will love.
For those of you who read my last post you will know we have made the decision to home educate Neiva following a nature curriculum. In the early stages of planning it felt like a mountainous undertaking, but, with lots of research, an enormous amount of guidance from friends who home educate their children, and the nature led learning community on social media, we feel confident enough to start this.
Those who know me IRL, know that being organised is not something that comes naturally to me. I do have to work very hard at it. I hope this is encouraging to those of you who are the same and this may be one of the reasons holding you back. I hope I can reassure you that, it hasn’t taken me as long as I thought to get into these new habits which have made home education seem less overwhelming.
As well as the worry of being organised came an overwhelming feeling of self doubt. Teaching would fall solely on my shoulders, not Paul, who is the naturally more academic and more patient of the two of us. Will I be able to give her the same level of learning that she was currently receiving in mainstream school? Neiva isn’t your typical 7 year old. Her hyperlexia means she is already an advanced reader and an overachiever in mathematics. The challenge that would be encouraging her conversational and social skills. Would she be patient enough with me? Would I be patient enough with her? Again, becoming more organised and prepared in advance has alleviated a lot of these fears.
Over the last few weeks, we seem to have gotten into a very consistent organised rhythm, which has only benefited us as a family whilst preparing this exciting time. What have we found helpful so far?
Have a designated room/space
Firstly, we agreed to have a designated school room, in our case, the summer house in the garden which was previously used as an office for Paul. Since Neiva thrives on routine, having a designated place for schooling means that she will adapt better during learning time. The outdoor environment is perfect for her nature schooling. A lot of home educating parents I have connected with over the last few weeks have similar ethos. I’ve seen really creative ways of curating a learning environment, from a large unused room to a small but clearly defined corner of the house.
Make sure you have “me time” each day
Paul has taken over Neiva’s bedtime routine from start to finish. So the whole brush teeth, toilet, finding the right teddy, read 50 stories, chatty giddy stage that happens right before bed is solely on him. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate this help! This has helped massively because I know everyday I have a slice of time in which to catch up and clean up ready for the next day, as well as calving out some very important relaxation time. I am sad to have given this up as reading to her was my favourite part of the day, but we get a lot of opportunity to read during her school day and she is happy with our new arrangement. She’s very much a daddy’s girl and does miss him very much through the day. so having this one to one time with him is really good for her. Although, the down side for me is that we have currently gone from the gentle adventures of Enid Blyton to the chaotic yet fun escapades of Captain Underpants. He does brilliant voices for each of the characters which she absolutely loves, hes a much more exciting reader than me!
Invest in a planner
For probably the first time in my whole adult life, I have a planner. This has been revolutionary. Actually writing tasks down and crossing them off as finished is so cathartic. I finally feel one step ahead. There are a number of planning apps for smartphones, but personally I prefer a physical paper planner, but you can choose whatever works for you. My planner was very inexpensive, designed for teachers, and works really well for what I need it to do. The only downside to it (that I didn’t realise when I bought it) is that it is an American planner and had US holidays bookmarked instead of UK bank holidays, but I’ve manually written those in so it really isn’t the end of the world.
Keeping costs low
It is easy to get carried away when preparing to home school. Pinterest for me was a nightmare. I fell down a rabbit hole of beautifully creatively elaborate recreations of a school classroom when all Neiva really needed was the basics. So, the walls have been painted white which makes the wood look stunning. We have a whiteboard, a bookcase and a plain white desk and two spare dining room chairs. We already had this sideboard which we have used for extra storage and a nature table. We also have a couple of photo shelves for the walls (you will soon see what these will be used for). A blank canvas, so we have plenty of room to showcase her work as time progresses.
The mud kitchen outside was made from a pallet and an old potting table. The muffin tins and cups are all recycled from family and friends. The whole mud kitchen project cost next to nothing and has proven to be such a useful space for Neiva.
Books are an integral part of our schooling and could be something that could really send your budget spiralling out of control. I am an total bibliophile and have shelves full of books so I feel I am qualified to preach here a little. The most cost efficient way of ensuring you have the right books at the right price has always been for me our Amazon Prime account. More often than not, Amazon will have the book at the cheapest price with the added bonus of free fast delivery. If not, then I always look under their used section. Many books in used but good condition start as little as 99p. We also have a library a short walk from where we live if the occasion should arise that we cannot source a book we need.
I hope these tips have been useful to anyone looking to start their home educating adventure. Thank you for taking the time to read and if you have any questions just pop them below and I will be sure to try and answer them.
This has been such a difficult post to write. It is very bitter sweet. For the last four years, Neiva has been in primary school. A wonderful one. One of the best. I have never seen a school so committed to the well being of its children. A school that has given Neiva all the support they could possibly give. A school that gave us the kindest, most patient and loving support teacher that has been with her since her nursery days and held her hand all the way through to today.
Why then, have we made the decision to take her away from all this?
The best way I can explain why is with an illustration. I’d love to take credit for it as it perfectly describes a child with sensory overload. I heard this in a Facebook group for home educators and it really resonated with me. So here is is.
Imagine you are terrified of spiders. A very real phobia. The very thought of one sends you into a panic. Even the mere mention sends your heart rate rising. You have butterflies in your stomach, you start to tremble. Panic starts to creep in. All your senses are now heightened. You are told to go into a room and sit at a desk. You are going to learn something new. Its going to be fun. You are going to be taught by the best teacher in the world.
Now imagine, you open the door and that room is filled with spiders.
That is how Neiva feels in a general classroom. Even with the best will in the world, she will struggle to cope in this environment. A quote you will have probably seen going around social media is “when a flower does not bloom, you fix the environment it grows in, not the flower” This, is us.
Wherever possible, the school made provision for Neiva to learn outside in a more natural environment. Anyone who knows Neiva knows she is calmed, soothed and comforted when immersed in nature. To build on this, we have made the decision to home educate Neiva on a nature curriculum starting March 2019.
The last few weeks Paul and I have been planning. To capitalise on outdoor learning, we have converted our summer house in the bottom of the garden to a school room. It’s a wonderful space that we can dip in and out of the garden throughout our learning time, as a lot of our lessons will be garden based. The school room also gives a designated learning area and a good structure for Neiva who thrives on routine. She will have a clear vision on when her learning time starts and ends. It will also save my sanity, meaning my house will stay tidy. We are in the processing of creating a mud kitchen and I will be writing a whole post on it when its finally finished.
The curriculum we will be following is Exploring Nature With Children. This is designed to be a step by step guide to an entire year of nature learning. To support Neiva’s academic learning we have subscribed to Twinkl, a primary resource that is used in most UK schools. Every fortnight she will be attending Forest School, and of course we have our much loved National Trust Membership.
Saying goodbye to the teaching staff and her best school friend, a lovely boy who has been her friend since they started nursery together, was so difficult. We are going to make an effort to keep in touch. At the same time, we are excited for our new learning adventure to begin. I will be using this space to document our journey, so I hope you will follow along with us. You can stay up to date by subscribing below and of course following us on Instagram.
If you have any questions, just leave me a comment below.
Where to next?
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