Wednesday, 25 September 2019

What felling in the woodland has reflected in my life

I love it when something unexpectedly triggers thoughts and feelings. 

Today DH and I visited our woodlands to check out how the felling is going. We got the woods back in 2013 and DH (who spends a lot more time there than the rest of the family) has been observing the woodland over those years. This year he requested a report from the Woodlands Trust about how to manage our woodland over the next few years. Part of that report identified that up to 20% of the trees needed to be felled to allow the woodland to mature into a native woodland that will also allow us to occasionally make money from felling (continuous cover forestry.)

20% is a lot of trees considering we are used to the woods the way they are and it was definitely something that we were nervous about. We knew it needed doing as the woodland was sold to us after having been used as a plantation but how would it affect the feeling and look of our woodland?

Today the 'feller' (see what I did there?) / woodcutter had done about 80% of the cutting down and it looked amazing. New ground cover plants were already beginning to show as the sunlight was getting through to the woodland floor. 

The destruction was noticeable but I was surprised by how it felt like our woodlands but seemed so much better. I felt I could breathe more and it was so much fun finding the new mushrooms, moss and other things that were beginning to grow.

Anyway, why am I telling you all of this? Well, it got me thinking about parallels with life. In fact, I posted about it on Facebook when I was actually walking around the woods. 

I have been contemplating how much I 'do' in an average week especially as I have just relaunched my Essentially Shamanic business now dd is at college one day a week. I started wondering how the activities I do add to my life (or not.) Did I need to think about pruning back / felling or letting more light / breath into my average week?

I am aware of Tony Robbins 6 human needs (1 = certainty; 2 = variety; 3 = significance / love; 4 = connections; 5 = growth; 6 = contribution) and it was weird how well it mirrored in our management of the woodlands as well as my life.

Woodland Me
1Our woodland will thrive now there is more spaceMy family is ok, my children are happy, my DD is still happily home educated and
I am happy with the life I have. 
2Getting rid of most of the spruce (non-native) and some of the pine allows the silver birch, oak and other trees to flourish as well as allowing more  ground cover plants to growYou really don't get more variety (or uncertainty) than me - I home ed. which is always full of variety as we don't follow any curriculum but live free-range.

I have a paid part-time job, am part-time self-employed as a shamanic practitioner and an essential oil educator and volunteer at my local community cafe. No day is ever really the same!

3We want a mature, native woodland. It beings my DH much joy and it is very significant to our plan to live lightly on this planet.I feel that my shamanic practitioner work could be my most significant contribution to the world as there are not many of us in the country and it is important valuable work.

I also get significance from my home educating status especially as a home educator who has radically unschooled / free-range educated / not followed any of the national curriculum. Again there are not that many of us around and I feel it is an important way to show that it can be done and your children can thrive.
4More ground cover plants, leads to better quality soil, etc. allows for more connections between plants and especially allows for mycelium and mushrooms to flourish which we love.I get many connections from my MLM essential oil work. It is one of the things I love about it strangely enough. I am in a UK team that has the best leaders from the point of view of leading with care, consideration and ethics which is massively important to me: it is about being of service rather than money.

I feel more disconnected from the home education community now that my children are older and one is at York College but I have made some lasting friendships from home educating my children.

I love being a cafe volunteer and value the connections there as well.
5Better soil, better growth, more space for native trees to grow and for the woodland to grow and mature.Being a shamanic practitioner and essential oil educator has forced me to grow as a person over the years. CPD and learning about both of these healing modalities is important to my need for growth and variety in my life.
6Better soil, better quality and healthy plants, more oxygen into the atmosphere, more carbon absorbed from the atmosphere.I help people through my shamanic work and essential oil work and feel that these are important roles to play.

I also like that I volunteer at my local cafe and give my time for free to anyone who wants advice about home educating their children and not worrying about standard education that I feel is out of date and not relevant to today's climate or the well-being of our children.

Anyway how weird is that all that came out of a visit to the woods this morning!! 

I think I have some contemplating to do looking at the thoughts of mine above.

I am glad I got to revisit these human needs just because of a visit to the woods - isn't nature brill?

Tuesday, 10 September 2019

Home educated to college

I've been meaning to write about this for a long time now but just didn't ever seem to be able to find the words.

When you start on a rather odd path like home educating, especially a free-range, autocratic, child-led home education, college or structured education seems a long, long way off and for some it never comes at all. But like all things, if and when it does creep up on you, it can be a shock or at least for me it was. I started recording Facebook 'lives' last year and my August / September ones were all tinged with an air of sadness and the emotional-ness of the loss I was feeling over my eldest going off to college after 12 years of not being at school and 17 years of being with me pretty much 24/7. Don't get me wrong, I was excited as well but it was a big change for the whole family and I really had no idea how he was going to emotionally cope with the environment of a college with over 4,000 students (I wasn't bothered about the academic side).

Anyway off he went, my gorgeous, sensitive, free-range child and we were blessed to have him looked after, nurtured and cared for by total strangers. There were ups and downs of going from no academic study to 3 days a week of Maths, English and a level 2 Games Design course plus the fact that the college only catered for people re-taking Maths and English GCSE not those who had never even studied Maths or English GCSE. But the staff were absolutely amazing - DS was given extra work to do and was helped in every way possible.

DS has never been diagnosed with dyslexia but when he started trying to read when his sister was teaching herself at age 4 (DS was 7) he showed classic signs of it. I am dyslexic so knew what to look for. At that point I asked if he wanted to read and he said no so I told him to stop - he was only doing it because his sister was. We always brought our kids up to play to their strengths and at that age his strengths were climbing trees, drawing maps, playing computer games and mental arithmetic so why learn to read when you don't want to or need to - that was our philosophy. Left to his own devices, he eventually taught himself to read some time between the ages of 11 and 12 with no issues at all.

At college he was supported by the learning support team and assessed with additional needs due to his dyslexic symptoms and at times he availed himself of the mental health services when he felt overwhelmed or needed some time out. All this was done with no judgment or stigma, as I feel it should be. We all have mental health and need support from time to time and the same with a helping hand with academic work.

Anyway, I'm here to let you know that all went well. He coped, he passed all his courses with the best mark he could get and he managed that all in 8 months from an academic standing start. He started the equivalent level 3 course yesterday.

Why am I telling you this though? Am I just wanting to blow my own trumpet on how amazing I am as a mother and educator!! Nope. Instead, I want to remind everyone out there that there are alternatives to mainstream education that don't need you, as a parent, to be a teacher or amazing at imparting knowledge to your children. When my DH and I decided that DS was not going to school because we didn't want him to be taught to read or anything until he was ready, we decided that as the main stay at home parent, I was there to parent my children with guidance and love, not educate them in the ways of Maths, English or anything else.

Although I have helped other people's children pass GCSE Maths (I am a geek who LOVES maths) I am appalling at imparting my mathematical wizardry to my own children. I am mean, short-tempered, have no patience and become possessed by the worse teacher you can imagine. Not at all Mum of the Year material!! In contrast, I am their Mum, I am their taxi driver, I am their confidante (if needed) to name just a few but I am not their academic teacher and I don't need to be. Most of their 'education' from me has been around emotions - trying to have empathy for where someone else might be coming from if they act in a certain way that causes upset; not taking offense (as it is pointless - read my post here); holding your boundaries whilst being kind; not labeling someone as something but rather labeling the behaviour; the 5 languages of love, etc.

All the academic stuff is better taught by teachers and that seems to have been borne out by DS's experience. I am hoping that the emotional resilience he showed over the last year is due to my DH and my nurturing of him and his sister over their lifetime but I can tell you that his academic prowess is all his to congratulate himself on as well as the college staff who facilitated his learning.

So remember:
  1. there are alternatives to our education system
  2. you don't have to be a teacher to home educate - you just have to care about your kids :-)
  3. children DO NOT have to follow the national curriculum
  4. it does NOT have to be expensive to home educate
  5. it is possible to pass Maths and English GCSE in 8 months having never seen the curriculum before (3 hrs a week per subject whilst doing another course)
  6. you can get a job without any qualifications - just thought I would throw that in there in case you are still reading!
  7. if you are MY child, don't ask me to teach you Maths unless you want to see my Mrs Trunchbull impersonation!! In fact, don't ask me to teach you any academic subject
  8. MOST IMPORTANT - you are all unique and AMAZING (watch my FB 'live' to really instil that in you) 
If you would like further information about home educating please feel free to get in touch.