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Road Schooling, the verdict…

23 Oct

It was parents’ evening this week.  A chance to find out how effective, or otherwise, our attempts at schooling our children have been.  The results were mixed.

First up, Eve, who actually did some school work when we were away. The odd half hour every couple of days, sometimes less, sometimes more. This clearly paid off, as her teacher said that he wouldn’t know she hadn’t been at school last year.  He praised her maturity and said her writing and imagination are excellent.  I like to think that some of that is down to our influence and the fantastic experiences she’s had.

Ned did very little school work, some maths during the first three months or so, the odd postcard, the tiniest bit of reading.  As a result, he’s quite behind and is having extra help in maths and literacy.  The good news is, that he’s catching up quickly and his biggest problem is a lack of confidence in his abilities, particularly when it comes to reading and writing.  When we told him that his teacher had said very nice things about him, he said “I didn’t know she was a liar.”  He’s picking up new maths topics easily and his teacher is going to start recording his stories because his vocabulary and ideas far exceed his writing abilities, for now.

Dickon did absolutely no school work at all apart from a half hearted attempt in the first weeks in Hawaii, when he insisted on being bribed with Oreos for every question answered correctly.  As a result, he’s basically starting school from scratch in Year 1.  He’s very behind is peers, which is compounded by him being the youngest in his class.  So lots of his problems are age related, such as dodgy fine motor skills, rather than travelling related, but it’s nothing terminal and he’s also getting lots of extra help.  The good news is that he is one of the best behaved children in class, a fact that will astonish anyone who’s met him, with excellent listening skills and a great attitude to learning.  I actually laughed out loud when his teacher told me that, every time I asked him to do some work last year he yelled “No!” and ran away.

All three children have settled in well and have either slotted back into their old friendship groups, or made new ones.  They all seem happy and are enjoying telling their classes about our trip.  One of my biggest worries was that taking them out of school and doing something so different, would make it hard for them to fit back in.  Their fantastic school and lovely friends have meant that my worries were unfounded.  Ned’s teacher said as we were leaving, “It was a good decision.”


My day at school

15 Feb

By Eve, aged 8

Eve and Zoe

Dear Mummy this is what I did yesterday at school.  First we got in the car and watched dispikerbal me in the car welst Kylie drove us to school.  Next we whent to the class room and practiced our hand writing.  After that we did PE witch was running and netball.  Then we whent to the NEW! AIR-KONDISHOND…library!!!  But I only got to read one book because we where playing hide and seek.  But I dident mind because I like hide and seek.

Then the bell range and we went out to morning tea and I had a flat peach.  Morning tea is what we call snack time.  I also played ‘’’it’’’ witch involves lots of running and a bit of saying ‘’’ít’’’ and tagging people and there is also a homie.

We had had a lot of fun but it was time to go back inside so we hurried back inside for our next lesson.  The next thing we did was maths with cubes and fold up things but we where making numbers a different way – by adding cubes of thousands hundreds tens and units.  And it was great but with the fold up thing it was even more fun.

Then the bell rang and it was lunch, we all ran outside!!!… for lunch and I had a chicken sandwitch.  I also had pine-apple some other so boring I cant remember what they where things then me and Zoe whent to the school tuck-shop and got ice lollies or icy-poles as they call them here.  We had a race for the 5 cents change and I won it but only because I got a headstart.

Then the bell rang and we whent inside for an after or end of school game.  We whatched a moovie about ponds and played the web of life!!!  (I was a raimbow-lorakite) then school was over and I said good-bye and went home.


My day at school: written by Eve King.

Help and support: Stephen King.

The idea of this thing: Victoria Wallop.

Distractions: Ned and Dickon King.

What do we do all day?

17 Jan

I mostly blog when we go somewhere or do something.  OK, so I know my last post was about car sick, but generally it’s true.  There are, however, plenty of days when we don’t do very much, or certainly don’t do anything of earth shattering significance.  So what DO we do?

Well… we have lengthy skype chats, wash clothes, go to the playground, the beach and the library, we sort out travel arrangements, upload photos to Flickr, play card games, queue in the post office, shop in the supermarket, draw pictures, go for a wander, watch TV, build dens, do school work, write postcards, bake biscuits, poke things with sticks, read books and write blog posts.    We’re quite busy really.  It’s a wonder we have time for anything else.

It’s not school, but…

10 Nov

Yesterday morning was a bit fraught.  We were awake at 4.30am and it was very difficult to keep the children quiet until 8.30, as the rules of our condo require.  The other residents are mostly ‘snow birds’, retirees from other parts of the States escaping winter, who like their lie ins.  As a result we both gained a warning from the manager and forgot to do any school work.

Before we left, we’d resolved to do a little school work every day.  Feeling guilty while we were bobbing about in the five hundred year old fishing pool on the beach, I gave Eve a quick times tables test and did some phonics actions with the boys, resolving to do a bit later when we got back to the condo.  But we didn’t get back to the condo until tea time and by then we were all tired.

Then I thought about what we did do yesterday.  Both not very much and really quite a lot.  We found a dead eel and a dead pufferfish.  They got a good poking.  We found five different kinds of seed that we’d never seen before.  Some of them were really good at floating in the river that Dickon made using the outdoor shower.

The tiny whale museum just over the road from our condo is lovely.  We marvelled at huge whale bones, looked at sand under a microscope, played with stingray and hermit crab hand puppets, singing the ‘Stingray’ theme tune obviously, did umpteen fish jigsaws and an ecology worksheet.

We wrote our names in the sand, learnt that the Hawaiian for snack is ‘poo poo’, watched crabs scramble over the black rocks, were surrounded by a shoal of tiny silvery fish and discussed the merits of coconut collecting as a career choice.

Without even noticing, Ned swam entirely by himself without armbands for the first time.  He donned his mask and snorkel, and spent hours floating around in the shallow water.  He was in his swimming things before breakfast today.  This is the boy who used to be terrified of swimming.

After tea, Eve read the book we bought her in Disneyland, a novelisation of their new film ‘Tangled’, while the we read the boys a children’s book we found here about Barak Obama.  He used to work in Baskin and Robbins in Waikiki.

I can’t help wondering what would happen if we jettisoned the school books entirely.  Would they return to school and be absolutely fine?  My sneaking suspicion is that they would.


For any grandparents and teachers reading this, please don’t worry, we’re not going to jettison the school work entirely.  I promise!

First week

7 Nov

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It’s hard to believe that this time last week we were kicking our heels in our local playground on Clapham Common, hoping that one of the children wouldn’t fall off the play house and end up in casualty.  It seems like a very long time ago.

Since then we’ve survived our first long haul flight, battled jet lag and won, and spent five days in Disneyland.  It’s been a very, very good first week.  Exhausting but good.

Disneyland was a huge hit with the children, which isn’t a great surprise.  They’ve shown amazing levels of stamina and walked for miles with very little complaint.  As long as they’ve had regular applications of Mickey shaped food, they’ve done well.  We’ve been on countless rides, many of them twice, watched two parades and three shows, a highlight being the Playhouse Disney one, really, and travelled by steam train, monorail and horse drawn tram.

Away from Disneyland we’ve been swimming most days, eaten a huge variety of vibrantly coloured cereal, done three washes and a little bit of school work every day.   All staying in a single hotel room, isn’t ideal, especially when you’re up at 5am with jetlag, but hasn’t been as bad as I’d feared.  The adults have got loads of sleep, far more than normal and the children have been very good about going to bed.  Being utterly exhausted helps on that front. As does bribery in the form of endless Disney keyrings.

For the next few weeks we’ll have a kitchen and a car, as well as proper outside space, so life will get easier.  No more meals created only from what we can buy in the hotel shop.  I really miss vegetables.

A week in Disneyland has been a surreal way to start a nine month trip, but I guess the whole concept of a nine month trip is fairly odd.  Next week will be the start of our new normal.  I’m looking forward to it.