Thursday, 24 May 2012

Hedgehogs and birthday cake

I've found another benefit of Home Ed... when your garden is visited late at night by a pair of hedgehogs, it is perfectly OK to wake your child so they can come and see, safe in the knowledge that they can sleep as late as they like in the morning :)  That is what DS1 and I were doing last night.  I was tempted to wake the others, but DS2 had only just gone back to sleep after having woken for a drink, and he's not a child that likes having his sleep disturbed - and DS3 would have been more than happy to wake, but I would have had a real job getting him back off to sleep again, so I decided to leave him asleep.  In fact, he slept through in his own bed until 5:30 this morning!  I don't think he's ever done that - all the fresh air & exercise yesterday must have really worn him out! :)  Anyway, DS1 and I had a lovely time snuggled by the patio door, watching Mr Hedgehog (who we named Harry) endlessly circling Miss Hedgehog (who we named Sally), trying to get a good sniff of her bottom (she wasn't having any of it).  It went on for hours, so eventually DS1 went back to bed, followed by me about an hour later :)  Anyway, that was the exciting topic of conversation this morning.  We made a trip to a large pet store to buy some hedgehog food to see if we could tempt Harry and/ or Sally back again (and of course we took the chance to look at the other pets while we were there, too).  In the car on the way home, I asked the boys if they could take it in turns to tell me something interesting about hedgehogs.  DS1 was bursting to share his knowledge, and got a bit carried away, so when I asked them if they knew what hedgehogs do late in autumn, he said, "I know!  The mummy hedgehog tucks up the baby hedgehogs in bed, reads them a bedtime story and they all go to sleep"  Great fun :)  This inspired DS2 to say "let's write a hedgehog story!".  DS1 wasn't keen though, and I knew DS2 would run out of enthusiasm for writing it on his own (it would take him too long), so I offered to type the story as DS2 dictated it, with the following result...

The Baby Hedgehog Who Was Born
Once upon a time there was a mother hedgehog.  It was nearly time to give birth to her babies.  One baby got out the first and that hoglet was called (DS2's name), and then another one came out and that hoglet was called (DS3's name).  Then another one came out and that hoglet’s name was (DS1's name).  One night the hoglets played water gun fights in the garden, because the night was pretty warm, until their mother told them to come inside the nest, and the babies sucked their mother’s milk out of her tummy.  Then in autumn they were cuddling up with their Mum and it was another night so they played water gun fights again but their Mum said it was too cold and she asked them to come back inside the nest, and my amazing thing about hedgehogs is that they sleep the whole winter, and then the whole family lived happily ever after.
The end.

I tried not to interfere too much, so as not to make it a negative experience for him - but as we went along I did make a couple of suggestions (eg he was going to have them play during the day, but I reminded him that they sleep in the day and play at night, and I also told him they live in nests when he suggested dens).  However, I left it there so it could be as much his own story as possible (I particularly enjoyed the way he mixed the birth order so that his older brother became the youngest hoglet... ).
So much of HE is about spotting the learning opportunities as they come up... we hadn't planned to learn about hedgehogs, but when such a perfect opportunity presents itself, it seems daft to ignore it!  Another perfect opportunity presented today was because it was Grandma's birthday... they had already made some lovely cards yesterday, and today DS1 had a go at wrapping a present all by himself, plus they all helped Mummy to bake a cake: DS 2 & 3 helped make the cake itself, DS3 also helped make the icing - and DS1 drew a design of how to decorate the cake with chocolate buttons and sprinkle stars, which all 3 boys followed - one doing the orange buttons, one doing the pink ones and one doing the stars.  DS1 cheerfully announced "I'm going D&T!" (design & technology) - he was right, too :)  Of course, cookery is also a valid life-skill to learn - and while I'm not sure baking is as vital a 'life-skill' as learning to cook a meal, in this house it comes pretty close ;)

DS1's design with the finished cake

So that sums up the highlights of our day.  A couple of friends who have read the blog have now commented how busy I always seem - it makes me laugh really, as I have just felt so relaxed since starting HE!  I do feel the pressure of needing to fit in some 'learning' at times, but I'm still tending towards deschooling & don't think the boys are generally doing that much at all!  Admittedly, today was quite busy - but that was mainly because we had to go into town to buy (amongst other things) kids' shoes, which took a-g-e-s!  There was quite a lot of TV watching today as well (I console myself with the knowledge that I made sure half of the programmes watched were 'educational' ones), a visit to Grandma's to deliver (and share - yum) the cake, and a good while messing outdoors, playing water fights - but really, all they essentially did from a vaguely 'educational' point of view was chat about hedgehogs (one little star invented a story), and they helped make a cake.  So this paragraph is for the other Home Edders out there, just in case anyone is feeling inadequate - you can write a whole page of 'what we did today', but it still doesn't quite shake the feeling that we didn't do very much regarding their education!  It doesn't really bother me to be honest, as if they'd been in school today I reckon they'd still have learned very little in this heat - I just wanted to point out that Home Edders everywhere (particularly those with little structure) all have 'not-doing-enough' concerns - it comes with the territory I guess!  But meanwhile, if my kids are learning to love wildlife and being outdoors as much as sitting indoors playing on the Wii, that will continue to count as a really valuable contribution to their education in my eyes :)


  1. Just a thought ... There is keeping children busy and ticking boxes and there is learning. Sometimes they look the same, but often they aren't.

    When my DS1 was 8 we finished any formal school work for the summer. All summer with no formal work, DS1 spent his time dreaming about the future and what he could do and how old he would be when he could. When summer was over we came back to formal Maths, he had exponentially grown at his ability for mental Maths... Just from day dreaming

  2. that is very true, Sally - and inspiring as always :)