Beaumont Park – Huddersfield.

I must start by apologizing for not posting in such a long while. I have had so much to do recently that I honestly don’t feel like I have stopped. Anyway i’l try do a few posts over the next few days, just to give some feedback  on the adventures we have had recently and how much fun (and the learning experiences) that we have all had.

fullsizerender-1We are fortunate to live in a lovely place with some amazing parks. Beaumont Park has to be one of our favourites for many reasons. There is so much space for the children to run around, open fields to run & play ball games in, two fantastic play areas, a band stand which the little ones love dancing in & if you are brave enough, some woods which are fantastic for exploring nature.

We visited on Friday and the weather seemed temperamental so I made sure the little ones were wrapped up warm. The thing I love about children is how the weather really doesn’t bother them. Come rain or shine, I guarantee if the option to go to the park was there they would go. We were joined by little A (2) today and she loved the park so much that she cried when it was time to leave.

I parked the car at the end closest to the visitor centre as i’d been told by a fellow HE mum that you could pick up a ‘Monty’s Tree Trail’ booklet  and I thought that would be something that would be interesting for my Keira. It included a really handy map which Keira found fascinating – we both couldn’t believe how big the park actually was.

We then started walking & running along the paths, looking for the Monty Snail markings hiding amongst the trees. Scarlett (2) has recently become really sociable so we had to stop & talk to everyone. We stroked every dog, spoke to the gardener who was so lovely and gave all 3 girls a small bouquet of flowers each. Unfortunately they didn’t last very long and by the end of the visit most bouquets were now headless.

The girls then discovered lots of squirrel nuts and proceeded to fill their pockets with as many as possible. A (2) enjoyed it the most and her pockets were heaving with nuts. We were also privileged to see a squirrel jump from tree to tree and then jump to the floor in front of us, collect some nuts and run away again. The girls loved it.

We then reached the pond – unfortunately we never ever see any signs of life when we visit. Maybe we are just too noisy? However I have been told by a friend that they have seen frogs & tadpoles before.

fullsizerender-2

After this we proceeded to the play areas. You are fortunate to have the choice of two – One larger one and one smaller. I prefer the smaller one as I feel the children have more opportunities to use their imaginations and I absolutely love just sitting and watching them role play. There are little trees that they can hide amongst, a really cool tunnel, a climbing frame and a tyre swing which can comfortably sit 4 children on. Because of all the nuts also in this play area, we spent a lot of time in there. Little A is like a magpie and spent at least 20 minutes collecting nuts and making little piles.

During this visit we didn’t actually go in other play area but this has a slide, swings, a climbing frame, rocking animals, wooden stepping stones and another wooden climbing structure just outside it. Lots to do for little explorers.

Because of the size of the park, the possibilities really are endless when it comes to spending time here. Bringing a scooter or bike is a great idea and if you have a dog its a wonderful park for dog walking too 🙂

Hope you have enjoyed this review.

J x

Advertisements

Visit from LA & Elective HE Network Meeting.

I promised that I would do a post on the Elective HE Network Meeting that we attended on Tuesday afternoon and I thought I would tie it in with the visit we had on Tuesday morning from the Attendance & Pupil Support officer from my local authority.

‘Allowing the LA to get involved with your HE decision is your choice!’

For anyone considering home education or a newbie like myself, allowing the LA to get involved with your HE decision is completely your choice. From what I understand if your child has a SEN then in occasional cases permission or further discussions with the LA maybe needed but in most cases it should be your choice.

‘The LA Radar’

In our case, we are already under the ‘LA radar’ as Keira was registered within the school system. Because of this, her de-registration details were forwarded to the LA who contacted me to request a home visit. I accepted on the basis that I was intrigued to hear what they had to say and also because I wanted them to understand that no one wants to best for Keira than what we do as her family. I haven’t gone into the world of Home Education without doing thorough research and  I am confident that this is the right decision for Keira and I really wanted them to hear that from me. I was also intrigued to hear what support or advice they had to offer.

‘The Visit from the LA’ 

The Attendance & Pupil Support Officer that visited us seemed genuinely lovely. She seemed supportive of our decision and asked questions that I expected such as ‘how do I plan to HE Keira around my job’ but understood that because of my job socially Keira would have many opportunities to make friends and socialise with other age groups. Socialization seems to be many people’s main concern when I mention HE but both Keira & my youngest daughter Scarlett seem to have a better social life than I do. I had already prepared a folder for Keira which includes the National Curriculum for KS1, some of Keira’s work that she has already done and her school report that was sent from school a couple of weeks ago. She had a look through that but said she was impressed with the research that I had done and that she had no concerns in regards to Keira’s HE. She ended with the request to visit again in 12 months time which I gladly accepted 🙂

I understand why some HE families choose not to get involved with the LA. My only advice is that if you are faced with this choice, have confidence in your own decisions. I realized a long time ago that no matter what school I send my children to, they cannot possibly want the best for them in the same way that we do as their parents.

‘The Elective Home Educators Network Meeting’ 

I promised myself when I started this blog that I was going to be completely honest. I think sometimes I can be too kind for my own good. If i’m not happy with something I just won’t leave a review at all and i’l keep quiet. However I understand a lot of people who read my blog are researching and intrigued to hear about certain experiences that we face during our HE journey so this is something I must share.

The meeting was held at Cliffe House which is a lovely venue that I have visited before for various courses and even remember going many years ago for a school trip. I had to book a place on the course and when I called they told me various activities would be set up for the children which I thought would be great. Keira’s almost 5 and much better at entertaining herself now however Scarlett is only 2 and you are lucky if she sits still for 2 minutes! When we got there I was pleasantly surprised to see some other HE families. Some had been home educating for many years and some were just at the start of the journey just like us.

Colouring was provided for the little ones but that was it in regards to activities so I was a little dissapointed and it made it difficult to listen to what was been said as Scarlett decided 10 minutes in that she had better places to be.

The best part of the meeting was finding out that as Home Educators we can take advantage of BooksPlus which means we can borrow 2 boxes of resources per term to help us with the girls studies. We we’re given a list of boxes and you simply email them to request the boxes of choice. This has to be the best part of the whole meeting.

As Scarlett was by this point trying to make her way out of the fire escape it was really difficult to socialise with any other professionals or HE families. I also felt awkward because one lady who I think was from the council spent the whole time we were there watching me. I don’t know if it was because I am a ‘younger parent’, new to HE and shes observing how I deal with the children  or something else but I felt really uncomfortable and for that reason & the fact their was nothing set up for the children we won’t be attending again.

So that’s my blog for today. A little long but I hope it gives you an insight into the home visit from the LA & the E
HE meeting too.

Jenna x

beatrix-potters-quotes-2

So this week I have set myself the challenge to spend as little money as possible.

We have been home educating for over 5 weeks now and initially I planned so many activities/days out to ensure the girls days were as ‘fulfilling’ as possible but I spent an absolute fortune.

More experienced Home Educators have said to me that HE can be as cheap or expensive as you want it to be and they are completely right.

Today was a working day for me and we were joined by L (3) and A (2). I absolutely love Monday’s as both little ones are fantastic and get on so well with Keira & Scarlett too.

We starteIMG_3742d the morning making fruit salad which the little ones really enjoyed. Through my job as a childminder I follow the EYFS and the topic we are looking at this week is ‘healthy eating’ so getting them to learn about and try new fruit seemed appropriate. They did some drawings and coloring of fruit which we then stuck on the wall.
All the little ones then helped me get the picnic ready, ready for our day at the park.

We are fortunate that where we live there are plenty of lovely parks and outdoor areas. Today I decided to take the journey to Manor Heath Park in Halifax which all the children love. We were joined by a fellow HE mummy and her two children, J (4) & I (2) and it was lovely to see the relationships continue to build between all the children.

We spent time in the butterfly garden & they loved watching the fish and the terrapins. We then ran around the walled garden (queue me panicking that i’d lost Keira who thought hiding would be a good idea!) They played in the water area and spent a lot of time in the outdoor playground. All the children had waterproofs & wellies on so even when it rained it wasn’t too bad. Did find though that for the little ones in the puddlesuits slides are lethal! Ha. We even managed to eat our picnic sitting outside once the rain had taken a break. Scarlett just decorated the floor with our lovingly prepared fruit salad!

It was honestly a brilliant day and I spent … (drumroll please!) just £1.00!!

It cost me £1.00 for me & 4 little ones to enter the Butterfly Garden! A good result if you ask me. If you are looking for a nice day out I highly recommend this park. There is also a cafe onsite, public toilets (though you pay 20p for the privilege) and an outdoor gym area so plenty to do for all ages.

Tomorrow is my day off work and I have the dreaded meeting with the council lady about my HE journey! I will most definitely do a post on this at some point during the week and let you all know how it went. The lady I spoke to seemed pretty nice on the phone though so I have my fingers crossed.

Oh & just had to share this adorable picture of Keira & Scarlett cuddling up before bed tonight. Scarlett loves having her hair brushed & Keira is more than happy to play the role of hairdresser.

x Jenna x

FullSizeRender

 

Educational Websites & Resources.

One of the things I have been focusing on this week is putting a good plan together to ensure that we are providing enough opportunities to enable Keira to reach her full potential.

As Keira is still 4 years old (4 and a half to be precise!) her year group would have been following the Early Years Foundation Stage. Through my job as a childminder I implement this into every working day anyway so the EYFS is second nature to me and its safe to say we’ve covered all aspects with Keira. From September Keira would have been starting year 1 which would have seen her beginning the journey into Key Stage 1. I have already started implementing this into our daily routine to give her a head start.

We’ve bought a few workbooks – I absolutely love the shop ‘the works’ as can always seem to pick up something good for a decent price and we’ve also got some exercise books for each subject so we can keep a record of things we’ve learnt and look back on them as Keira gets older. I am also not ashamed to admit that we also use a few websites to download resources and also play online games or challenges which Keira really loves.

I thought it would be useful for me to share some of our favorite websites with you. Whether you home educate or not, I think anyone with children should take a look at these sites as I think there is something to learn from each of them.

The first one I have to mention is Twinkl. I actually have a Platinum Plus account as I originally started using it to download resources for my mindees. There are many different memberships available and some resources are also free to use. I personally cannot recommTwinklend this site enough. You can download so many different resources covering so many different topics. They cover the EYFS right through to KS4 and even have resources for people with Special Educational Needs which I think is fantastic. There is a section specifically for Home Educators which I find really useful as well as a secti
on for Parents, Childminders and even Adult Education. Many of the resources can be edited to suit you and you can even personalize some of them too. You can also request specific resources which I think is amazing. I haven’t had to use them yet but from what I have heard the support team is also fantastic so a good company to support. To find out more visit www.twinkl.co.uk 

When it comes to online gaming I am quite selective over what Keira plays. She really likes the BBC Bitesize Games which I completely approve of as the activities are based on KS1 Literacy, Mathematics and Science. Her current favourite has to be the Khan Academy. I have to be honest I think this site is fantastic and I am completely amazed that its also free. I have learnt so much from it myself and I really love sitting with Keira and being able to explore it with her. She has her own profile (which is very safe and secure) and can choose from a variety of subjects. We have focused on the early maths section at present as Keira’s really enjoying it so seems silly to move onto something else yet. I love how she Khan-Academy-logois given questions but if she doesn’t yet understand it she can select ‘I haven’t learnt this yet’ and it remembers that. It seems to then gradually reintroduce the missed question but at an easier level so she can slowly get her head around it. She can also watch tutorial videos which are available alongside every question asked which give a quick explanation on how to work out the question which is great. The bit that Keira loves is that for every question she gets right she wins points. The points add up and she has a little avatar that changes as she develops. As she earns more points she can then personalize the character. She absolutely loves it and it really does motivate her to work harder. I highly recommend you take a look. To find out more visit www.khanacademy.org 

Other websites we enjoy are however I haven’t used these enough to review them yet:

http://interactivesites.weebly.com/ 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/ks1/

http://www.what2learn.com/

https://allinonehomeschool.com/

https://uk.ixl.com/

Jenna x

 

Cannon Hall Farm.

So yesterday afternoon after a super busy morning, Keira asked if we could go to Cannon Hall Farm. As it was already 2pm my first answer was ‘it’s too late to go now but we will go another day’. This answer wasn’t good enough for Princess Keira and her response was ‘but please mummy, it’s not too late.. Please!’

I headed to the Cannon Hall Farm website to check opening times and check the admission prices as I felt reluctant to pay full price of we could only have a couple of hours there.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that on Monday to Friday’s during term time, entry is just £3.00 per person if you arrive after 3:30pm. Parking is also free which is great. You have until 5:30pm in the farm but until 6:30pm in the new Hungry Llama Soft Play so plenty of time for lots of fun.

We got ready (raincoats and wellies as it was literally chucking it down) and set off to the farm. We arrived just shortly after 3pm and was pleased to see that the car park was practically empty. I always love a good car parking spot especially when it’s near to the main entrance.

Off we went into the farm with a very happy 4 year old and a defiant 2 year old who had the privilege of her chauffeur driven pushchair because she decided wellies and socks weren’t on the agenda today. 

It really made me laugh when we came through the entrance and said to the assistant ‘I’m on a school trip and this is my teacher, Miss mummy’ She then proceeded calling me ‘Miss Mummy’ all the way round the farm. She’s really enjoying home education and I’m so glad! 

I have to say one of my pet hates is attractions during busy periods. I get so claustrophobic and anxious that our visits seem to he short lived if it is crazily busy. I was amazed at how quiet it was at the farm during this time and for that reason we would most definitely come again at this time! It was lovely watching Keira run ahead and not get lost in crowds of people.

The first place we headed was to the pigs! We were priveleged to see some 1-day old piglets that had just arrived back from their first injections. We met the cutest donkey family and Keira made friends with lots of goats! As it was quieter the interaction from the farmers was lovely too. A few of them stopped to tell Keira little facts about the animals and she was so intrigued. 


After spending a good amount of time looking at the animals we decided to give the Hungry Llama Soft Play a go. There is a buggy park outside the playgym which is handy – much better than a playgym full of unused pushchairs.

I have to say I was amazed at the size of it! It seems like they have considered everything when designing the playgym and there is so much for the little ones to do! We really could have spent the whole day in there! I know we would have done had the girls had their way.

I ordered some food for the girls as it was close to tea time. Keira had the turkey dinosaurs, homemade chips and peas and Scarlett had just beans on toast. Keira’s food was actually lovely and I was really pleased with the quality. Scarlett’s beans and toast was exactly what you’d expect but I have to say it was a bit overpriced as all she got was a small slice of toast and a few beans and it was £2.25. Other than that the food quality was good.


After running round the playgym after the girls for the past hour, I decided to sit down and have a rest whilst the girls continued playing. After about 10 minutes I realised I hadn’t heard Scarlett so went in to find her. You can imagine my panic after 5 minutes of searching I couldn’t find her. I reached that mown the of ‘oh my goodness! What do I actually do?!’ I kept searching and searching and eventually heard a ‘mum! Mummy!’ I looked up and Scarlett had managed to climb to the very top platform but couldn’t work out how to get down! When I finally got up there she was naked and shouting ‘I need a yee yee’ I have never felt so relieved to hear her say those words! 

For anyone thinking of visiting the farm, we would highly recommend. There is so much to do including feeding the animals, the outdoor adventure playground (which looks fantastic), sheep racing during peak times and then the Hungry Llama Playgym which I mentioned earlier in the post. 


All in all, Cannon Hall Farm is brilliant especially at that time and we will definitely visit again. If you would like to learn more visit http://www.cannonhallfarm.co.uk

Jenna x