Monthly Archives: July 2013

We’re all going on a summer holiday…

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I can’t wait! No rushing to leave the house, no cajoling, persuading, haranguing to get my sons to keep moving…No ridiculous homework (he’s 6 for heaven’s sake!)…No limit on days on the beach or time in the park…Sunshine, blue sky days…

We’re not off on *proper* holidays though…we already did that, a 4 night camping trip to the Isle of Wight…in term time…hush now, I know…it’ll be completely against the rules from September…for now, it is at the discretion of the head…the head at my son’s school has opted not to use her discretion at all…it’s just “No”…Ah well, thanks anyway but I wasn’t really asking for permission, I’m just letting you know my son won’t be in school, seems like common courtesy to me…Of course, I could have lied…Rung in to say he had D&V and regaled the school secretary with tales of projectile vomit & blocked u-bends…And I could have coached my son to lie…Hide his tales of the Dinosaur Isle & the pools dug with Daddy in the golden sand…not to talk about his rock pool discoveries or his swimming improvement in the campsite pool…

On our holiday my son had a very rounded education, not that he knew it…

Science & engineering – digging pools & channels on the beach; helping to erect the tent; rockpooling for crabs, shrimps, anemones & sand fleas; watching the rabbits at the bottom of the field…

Literacy & art – we read books & he drew illustrations of the stories; he drew pictures of his day & created certificates for himself, me, his brother & his Daddy and wrote our names and a message on each…

Geography – he read the map for a day out & followed where we had been & where we needed to go next…

PSHE – he washed himself at the shower block; dressed & undressed umpteen times between the tent & the beach & the tent & the swimming pool; helped prepare food – fresh vegetables for healthy eating; he looked after his younger brother and helped him integrate into a group of other children…

And those are just a few of the things about an ordinary camping trip that made it a learning experience for him, but none of them were *lessons*, I didn’t have to convince him or tell him or reward him, he just got on with life and learned as he went along…

Now, if you are a home educator, I can hear you nodding, I know…the honest truth is that I want to work, our finances also require that we work, and neither my husband nor my family would be supportive of home education…and I honestly do not believe I am cut out to meet all my children’s educational needs…I like a bit of space from my beautiful boys, it makes me appreciate them all the more when I have them home with me…

But you know what, my understanding of the law is that I am required to provide an education for my children…why can’t that include the reasonable opportunity to take them out of school for the odd day or a week once or twice a year for family experiences?  My sons have very little time off sick – just last week, I thought my son well enough to return to school only for them to send him home again sick (shame faced mummy on the return from work to find him with a close friend)…I occasionally get my son to school late, yes, a minute or two, but never more than that…and his attendance throughout his school life so far has been 95% or higher…

I took him out of school for 2 days in the run up to an INSET day…UNAUTHORISED ABSENCE…I may yet be fined, although I sincerely hope not, but it will still have been significantly cheaper than taking the same holiday 3 weeks later…

So, I rant & I rave…I want the best of both worlds, YES! Let me send my children to school, let me support them in their education, be involved in the school community, let me rail against 3 lots of homework for a 6 year old (a story for another day…) but let me choose to take my children on holiday when it won’t adversely affect our finances…

It won’t have damaged his educational welfare, Mr Gove, although you might left unchecked…Vote of no confidence was it? Unanimous in some cases, I hear…Small wonder…current proposals for educational reform are petty and punitive…

Will the proposals see children of families who do not care about education and who frequently arrive well beyond the start of the school day or fail to bring their children to school at all on numerous occasions be sufficiently chided to reflect & amend their ways?  Will you fine them for every day of unauthorised absence? Will that help that family, that child? Will it lift them out of poverty & nurture a collaborative & beneficial relationship between that child’s family & teachers?  If they can’t afford the fines & you imprison the parents, will that improve that child’s welfare?  Think on Mr Gove, attendance is not all…

We are too afraid to discriminate sometimes…for the majority of children, a few days or even a couple of weeks holiday in term time will not damage their education welfare…regular, unreasonable, unexplained absence is another matter – if you don’t want to discriminate, how about using good old fashioned discernment instead?

And I do not wish to enter into a debate about *valid* or *educational* or *cultural* value of family holiday time – whether it is camping on the Isle of Wight & getting back to nature, whether it is a cruise on your private yacht around the world stopping to call at world heritage sites, whether it is a famliy exchange to learn French, a package holiday to Benidorm, a week spent in a caravan in Skegness or a week on the sofa with the whole family gorging on delivery pizzas & engrossed in a Wii marathon gaming session…if it is what that family do, it is a valuable part of that child’s experience…I am not going to split hairs with you about activities which might be abusive or damaging to a child, use your common sense, those matters should be already on the radar of appropriate support services…

Children learn best through play and experiential opportunity in their early years, there is plenty of evidence out there to support postponing *formal* education until 7 or even 8 years of age…Montessori teachers will tell you all about it too…would that the state school system could reform to allow children to attend school but learn in the way that their brains & bodies are designed to accommodate…but I digress…Image

One day, I might want to flexi-school or home-school…right now, I just don’t want to lose the option of having a reasonable, affordable holiday with my sons because once again the requirement to furnish statistics and meet quotas is taking priority over the individual needs & welfare of our children…OFSTED & Mr Gove need to take a good long look at themselves…perhaps if teachers had more time to teach, more time to forge relationships with their students & their families, if head teachers had more time for the children & parents in their school, if the smiles & enthusiasm of children were seen as indicators of a school’s success rather than it’s attendance figures or the results of standardised tests that the majority of teachers hold no faith in, were the basis of ensuring our children’s educational welfare, head teachers might be able to exercise discretion based on knowing the families under their educational wing…Just saying…

And now, I have to do the last school run of the academic year…it has just started to rain…there’s another thing, the weather is almost always better in the two months before the summer holidays (isn’t it…or is that just me???)…

Sign the petition people…parents, for the most part, know better than Mr Gove or their teachers, what their children need…Stand up for your rights, before there are none left to stand for…

OMx 

Obstacle course…

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Life is a bit like an obstacle course at the moment…I think I can see the finish line in the distance but first there are quoits, skipping ropes, hula hoops, a bench, some netting, a bucket of water to carry on my head…

Every time I think I have a clear run, I spot the next obstacle…this time it feels like the task is swimming in treacle (Mythbusters proved that it is harder…well, probably…for the average swimmer…)

So anyway, the point…a year ago this would have had me on my knees sobbing…this time, yes I feel dejected and a little defeated and somewhat dispirited…but you know what, I am facing my obstacles with less gloom and more gratitude…these days, I not only know I have a lot to be grateful for, but I feel it…and in no small way, having the yoga studio and bringing more yoga to more people has bolstered its effects on my own wellbeing…

So for now, it is Ganesha mudra all the way…let this aspect of God help me clear my path, one obstacle at a time…

Along the way I may be lucky enough to strengthen my heart, and to receive God’s grace in feeling more courage, more confidence and dealing more openly and lovingly with the other human beings in my life…

Let me be courageous, compassionate, confident…let my heart open wide, let me embrace life and other people openly and warmly…

Let me love my way through life…

OMx

Ganesha Mudra - Portsmouth Yoga

Ganesha Mudra

 

Ganesha Mudra Meditation (adapted from Mudras by Gertrud Hirschi)

Adopt Ganesha Mudra with your left palm facing out.  As you inhale, keep your shoulders & arms soft; with your exhalation pull into your fingers and tighten through the arms & shoulders.  Work this way for 6 breaths.  Then rest with your hands against your heart centre, in the middle of your chest, for a few moments.  Change the orientation of the mudra so that you have your right palm facing out and repeat the 6 breaths, followed by a few moments again resting your hands against your heart centre.

Sit quietly in this practice, cultivating a wide open, peaceful heart: see yourself clearing obstacles from your path with only love and compassion for those you encounter and the confidence to greet all those you meet with an open heart and an attitude of love.  Feel your heart strengthen & open, feel yourself grow calmer and more assured.

Let love guide you through life…