Friday 21 July 2017

"The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart."

It is always great as a parent when your kids take a keen interest in something that you love, or something you loved as a child yourself. I think we are all guilty of introducing our kids to things that we are interested in because we either want a reason to relive them or it can just make your own hobbies a little easier, letting you enjoy them guilt free. Parenting has been one long exploration into my own childhood so far, the boys have always loved hearing stories about what I was getting up to at their age and things like base building, Lego creations and tinkering with bikes are things that have definitely rubbed off.

I loved reading comics when I was a kid and I'd get lost in the trials and tribulations of Peter Parker's complex life, juggling his everyday teen issues, School and of course his secret identity. It was something that I had hoped Seth would have got into but he's not really shown an interest as of yet. Recently though Opeie has discovered the wonders of comic books and has become quite the avid reader.

It all started with the show Teen Titans Go! Opeie loved it so much that I googled it, pretty sure that there was a run of comics to accompany it. Not only did I find that, but I also found Tiny Titans which got me thinking "what else is out there for young comic enthusiasts". So I began my hunt to find some of the best Comics suitable for an 8/9-year-old reader. I'm a firm believer that if you can install a love of reading into your children then that is the best groundwork for their education. We read all sorts of things together and have done for years but what comics have given us now is fun reading time alone for Opeie, which is great as it takes out the 'having to get it right' element and replaces it with extra confidence and more questions. "Dad what does this word mean?" etc.

Since Opeie's new favourite past time started a few weeks back I have found some great titles to add to his collection, including 'itty bitty Hellboy', itty bitty Mask, Li'l battlestar Galactica and Super Hero Squad which have been great as I've been able to get complete runs of the comics for his iPad. Our weekly trips to the library have also given us DC Super Pets (Art Baltazar), Mighty Mighty Monsters (Sean O'Reilly), Monster heroes (Blake Hoena) and the Monsters Like Us series (Steve Barlow/Steve Skidmore). 

When I think back to Seth learning to read at school, Opeies learning has cut out all those boring reading in stages books and has replaced that tedious learning with a real love for the written word.  I have always said that comics have a bad rep in the world of literature but there are so many levels to the stories and they are ongoing (like an intelligent and creative soap opera). Sure, when it comes to the super hero comics there is action and adventure (which is great) but when you start delving into the personal lives of these heroes there is a deep understanding of emotion. For a 6-year-old, Opeie is getting a great start into understanding the complexity of relationships and the way we feel through comics (and all the questions he asks about Country songs that he loves helps too). This to me is so much more important than a lot of the unnecessary academic information that is thrown at Seth.

Home schooling has so far given Opeie the chance to fully explore his imagination and pursue the things that he is passionate about learning, which for a 6-year-old is what they should be doing. This way of learning has taken out the anxiety and the stress of preparing him for standardized testing in mainstream schools, making him a far more well rounded child with a real love of learning. 'Concentrate on the reading an the rest will come organically'  is what I told myself from day one.

Wednesday 19 July 2017

“There is no school equal to a decent home and no teacher equal to a virtuous parent.”... and LEGO

As the school year comes to its final week I am reminded that it's business as usual for us homeschooling families. There are no term times for Opeie and although he gets to spend some awesome quality time with his brother over the 6 week holiday, our learning continues because the home education has become a way of life now. This morning as we chatted about what we were going to be doing, I said 'time for us to wind down a little this week' but with out realising we transformed our morning game of hockey to a fun spelling exercise. This is the magic of being a creative and ever evolving teacher to an equally creative 6-year-old.

There is something to learn in literally everything we do and LEGO has added creativity into so many of our fun activities. The building, following instructions and symmetry of many of the builds have been such great lessons for home education and the huge variety of parts, figures and animals mean that there is no end to the mini role playing we can do, which does wonders for both creative thinking and confidence building. Remember our post about the Berlin wall?

The great thing about LEGO is that they are constantly reinventing themselves with new themes and when it comes to their brand, LEGO City has for us been the strongest line for its educational value. This range has given us the chance to talk about volcanoes, arctic exploration, Space and last year the Fun in the park kit gave us such an amazing chance to talk about diversity throughout the world.

LEGO has now joined forces with National Geographic kids on their LEGO City jungle range, which has again given us everything that we need for another LEGO themed project. Weve been learning about the wildlife that can be found in the jungle, different foods that can grow in the climate and about indiginous tribes that live in these jungle areas. as with many of the newer city kits we've also been able to cover the importance of gathering information and learning from these areas and what a huge part science plays in findings.

"The partnership has come about to inspire children to explore, discover and learn about jungles and the importance of their preservation", Which really is a great reason to be partnering up. I like to think that a lot of Opeie's learning is making him more aware of his surroundings and he is also receiving a great understanding of the amazing world that is out there for him to investigate.

the new range has been a huge hit with the boys and Opeie's new love of jungle animals has got him looking at the Jungle exploration site kit and the Jungle halftrack mission kit so that he can roleplay with the new jungle cats from the range (I'd like to get my hands on these myself).

The entire range can be found HERE.

This amazing team up also offers LEGO fans the chance to win a very exciting prize with the LEGO City Jungle competition. Further details can be found at

Good luck to any of you entering.

Tuesday 18 July 2017

"I don't have pet peeves; I have whole kennels of irritation."

I'd love to be able to say that I've become a real dog person since Snuffy joined the family. As much as I love that adorable grumpy faced Pug, I could happily give her away tomorrow. Its not a personal thing, I just really don't like having animals in the house. Negative feelings aside though, Snuffy and Polly have brought a lot of joy into the house and having a friend there all the time has had a great impact on Opeie, I may not notice it all the time if I'm in a micro rage and distracted by pooh in the back garden or wet patches on the carpet, but when I look back through my photos I see that maybe pet ownership isn't all that bad.

Sunday 9 July 2017

The art and science of asking questions is the source of all knowledge.

A couple of months back Opeie lost his first tooth and he was so excited about putting the lovely sparkly tooth under his pillow. There were a lot of questions being asked about the tooth fairy that day, so you can probably imagine his excitement when he woke up the following morning and found not only a cash settlement for his central incisor but also a very special note from his own personal tooth fairy, in very small handwriting...

Finding out that his toothfairy rides on a bumble bee or a ladybird when she is tired got that brain of Opeie's ticking and he had so many questions to ask. So, Opeie set about writing a note to put under his pillow for the next time he lost a tooth (which wasn't going to be too far away as he had another wobbly one). Last week while Seth was sitting wiggling one of his own wobbly teeth they both got into a 'mines going to come out first' heated conversation and before I knew it both boys were holding a tooth in their hand (never underestimate the true power of sibling rivalry). It was time to put Opeie's plan into action, but would he get the photo that he wanted?

It turns out that Penelope Sparkelbottom was more than happy to oblige and was excited that someone had seen past the money and wanted to get to know her. It made me wish I had taken more of an interest in my toothfairy all those years ago. I didn't think for one second that she would send Opeie a picture of herself, Toothfairies are very secretive right? That gappy little cherub of ours was so happy with the picture that she had sent, she really does have a dazzling smile!

I'm intrigued by the next line of questioning and Opeie is already trying to work out which tooth will be the next wobbly one.

Sending love to all those hard working Tooth fairies working those unsociable hours! x