Sunday, 16 April 2017

Back to the Modern Day and Beyond

Does anyone recall our visit to the Muckleburgh Collection?  Can you believe that was three years ago?!


While we were in Norfolk, I thought it would be good to revisit this marvellous museum where Tiger and I spent a whole day carefully looking through every piece of equipment.


Strangely, this time it took us a little more than 2 hours to go through the collection, and we even spent 45 minutes at the cafe to have lunch!  Maybe it took us much shorter time now because:
  • Tiger is bigger now so he can read faster, walk faster, and
  • his interest in military history has moved past its peak from three years ago.
In any case, I am glad I was able to fully support his interest back then and gave him all the necessary exposure that he craved.

From the (slightly) historical military vehicles at the tank museum, we moved on to a modern luxury brand saloon car assembly plant.


 It was a fascinating tour of the Jaguar assembly plant, seeing the robotic arms at work.  No photos were allowed in the plant, but you'll get a good sense of what it is like from the video below:


However, I am more intrigued by the incredible corporate turnaround of the brand:


While we were not running around, we managed to do a bit of potting while enjoying the lovely spring flowers that in bloom.


Meanwhile, Tiger is devouring a new series of sci-fi books -- yes,  he has finished reading all the Star Wars books we can find.



He is now moving on to Star Trek.


According to Tiger, Star Trek is more relatable because the story has earth as the anchor planet for the crew -- a planet that Tiger has some familiarity with.  Despite this, Tiger remains a big Star Wars fan, along with his best friend at school.

The boys are currently in Wales enjoying their boys-only, male-bonding trip.


This gives me plenty of time for the much needed me-time, hence my able to write two blog posts to provide some catch-up news to all who are interested.  A few more days of peaceful and quiet time for reflection before I go back to the relentlessly frantic stress of work. 

Saturday, 15 April 2017

School-Holidays Homeschooling

I am becoming a half-term/school holiday blogger!  Since Tiger started school and I started full-time work, our time together has been limited to weekends and school holidays, much like most families.  While I miss certain aspects of our homeschooling life, such as having control over our own time and working to our own schedules, I am happy to report that Tiger has settled very well in school and has made a number of good friends.

Tiger has three weeks off school for the Easter break, so between my husband and I, we managed to cover the half-term child care arrangements using a combination of sleepovers for Tiger, alternate days off and working from home.

I feel as though I dropped back into my homeschooling mode on my days off, taking Tiger to various activities and field trips.  He spent a few days climbing, playing table tennis, and practising archery.


When we were still homeschooling last year, Tiger became very interested in the study of geology, specially fossils.  We had planned to visit the Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences but somehow never got round to it, but we finally made it there during this holiday.


While we were back in the swing of 'half-term homeschooling', and looking at fossils and prehistoric life, we went to Cromer,


near West Runton where a very exciting prehistoric Rhino skull has been found recently.


We were there to see the collection in Cromer Museum.


We also went along to the Lynn Museum to look at a significant Bronze Age monument,


the Seahenge.


The Lynn Museum is quite a remarkable little museum.  Not only does it house the Seahenge, which can be considered a water-based, timber version of the Stonehenge, the museum also holds an impressive collection of artefacts from prehistoric times through to the 20th century, including the skeleton of a Anglo Saxon warrior who was buried with his shield boss and spearhead.


When we studied Victorian Britain, and especially of Charles Dickens and Oliver Twist, we looked briefly into the workhouse system and peeped through the gates of a disused workhouse building in London near Dickens' residence.  While in Norfolk, we finally went inside an actual workhouse that is now the Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse Museum.


While previously we were under the impression that the workhouse was a unanimously oppresive place,


our visit to the Gressenhall Workhouse Museum has changed our minds somewhat, as we read accounts of a few previous inhabitants who were given help at the workhouse that they would not have had otherwise.  For example, young children in the workhouse were given lessons who would otherwise have had to find work as chimney sweeps or who would end up as street urchins.  There was also the account of a boy who had lost his legs due to an accident and who was given artificial limbs at the workhouse, and was given lessons such that he went on to become a teacher's assistant, got married and had a family of his own.


Of couse, I realise that such success stories are few and far between.  For 99% of the workhouse population, entering the workhouse is very similar to being given a life sentence where one is stripped of one's freedom and dignity.


Sunday, 8 January 2017

May the Force be with Us

One of the key positives for Tiger in attending school is to have found a best friend in his class, a French boy, L, who shares his passion for all things Star Wars.  Tiger spent a whole day hanging out with L at his home (talking non-stop about Star Wars, according to L's mum) and also went to the cinema to watch the latest franchise movie:


Since I have not totally forgotten my previous role as a homeschooling mother, I then followed up with Tiger's interest by taking him to the Star Wars exhibition.


Given his current obsession with Star Wars, Tiger really enjoyed the exhibition.  I am not a sci-fi fan in any way but I have found the slightly philosophical theme (about making choices) of the exhibition to be interesting.  We had the opportunity to 'mould' a character by the end of the exhibition, and the below are our Star Wars characters:


Back home, Tiger whipped out the dot-to-dot book that I got him for Christmas and started playing with it.  Doing the dot-to-dot is nothing especially intellectual, but Tiger enjoys it, as so I, and doing what we enjoy is a good enough reason to carry on with the activity.


Besides, this is how we have always supported and will continue to support Tiger's interests, aligned with his increasing fleet of Star Wars models.


If you happen to be as ignorant about the various space vehicles as I am, here is a video that I have found to be useful to bring me up to speed with what the Millenium Falcon is:


Of course, one needs to know about Walkers:


Where does this obsession begin?  I trace it back to two Christmases ago.   Since then, Tiger has caught the bug, despite my best efforts to distract him from it.  When I saw that I could not save him from it, I let him immerse himself by reading all the related books we could get our hands on.


 











Having said that, I must confess that I struggle to see the importance of knowing the entire chronological history of Star Wars...

Monday, 2 January 2017

2016 Recap in Photos

Looking back at 2016, I realise that our life has changed dramatically.

While looking through these photos, I could not help seeing that homeschooling was indeed a lifestyle choice.  There are many aspects of homeschooling life that I miss, such as the ability to control our time and to engage in many uniquely interesting activities.  Nonetheless, we are where we are at this moment in life, and I am grateful for the opportunities that we have been given to enable a smooth transition from homeschooling to 'normal' schooling.

Everything from September to December zoomed past in a blur for me, so it is important that I keep the memories of what life was like for us, so that I may look back and recognise that I actually miss a lot of what was so good about our homeschooling life (I certainly don't miss the difficult bits!).

January
Highlights:
  • Time: in nature, with family, with friends
  • Sports: table tennis, climbing, archery
  • Classes: Chemistry lab, model aircraft, zoology, English, History
  • Studying fossils
 




February
Highlights:




March
Highlights:
  • Time: in nature, with family
  • Classes: model aircraft, zoology, chemistry lab, programming
  • Studying rocks and minerals
  • Special event: jazz singing concert, short story writing submission



April
Highlights:


May
Highlights:
  • Time: in nature, with friends, with family
  • Sports: table tennis
  • Classes: physics lab, forest school, model aircraft design
  • Studying art
  • Field trips: Hertford Castle, Chartwell
  • Special event: Universtiy Challenge in Chemistry (First Prize)!




June
Highlights:
  • Time: in nature, with family, reading
  • Classes: physics lab, programming
  • Studying art, ancient history, geography
  • Field trips: quarry, geological excavation site
  • Special event: jazz singing concert




July
Highlights:
  • Time: in nature, with family, with friends
  • Classes: physics lab, astronomy, model aircraft design
  • Studying art, insects, circuits
  • Special event: jazz singing concert, model aircraft competition (First Prize), percussion concert





August
Highlights:
  • Time: in nature, with family, drawing
  • Classes: physics lab, programming
  • Field trips: Cheddar Gorge
  • Special event: 'geek' gathering



September
Highlights:
  • Started attending school.
  • Resumed mountain biking.
  • Attended another 'geek' gathering.



October
Highlights:
  • No photos!
  • I was completely overwhelmed by work, and was practically just trying to survive it so did not even think to take any photos.

November
Highlights:

December
Highlights:
  • Time: with family, climbing
  • There's an obvious theme in this year's Christmas presents....

There is a definite lack of photos now that we spend most of our week day times apart.  I am still not used to not being the main participant of Tiger's learning journey.  It is a bitter-sweet feeling for me to see Tiger diving into his new phase of life so readily and successfully, and I am certainly glad that he is so adaptable to changes.  While I always knew that my homeschooling journey would eventually end, I was a little surprised to have it come so quickly and so suddenly.

Everything happens for a reason.  I am just so grateful that we are all in a good place right now, having the experiences that we are meant to be having for this season of our lives.


Wishing everyone a very happy 2017.

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