Monday, 23 February 2015

Rainbow Garden

Books help to make a topic more exciting and capture the imagination. My younger two are learning about Wales and so reading Rainbow Garden, by Patricia St John, which is set in North Wales, and starts in late winter/early spring seemed ideal.

Rainbow Garden was given to me, as a child, and was one of my favourite books so revisiting it, with my children has been a pleasure. You can see, from the photo, that this is a loved book!

The story is of Elaine, an lonely, rather spoiled only child, being sent to the country as her mother takes a job in France. The family with whom Elaine will live are a noisy big family living in a cold vicarage with their minster father and busy mother. Wales in January isn't quite the beautiful countryside that Elaine expects and a large, boisterous family is rather unpleasant to a child who is used to quiet and her own way. In her culture shock, Elaine takes refuge in a deserted garden but the refuge turns sour as Elaine removes a shell from the unoccupied house to boost her standing with the other children.

Elaine is brought to confront her guilt and to the Lord for true forgiveness. The story doesn't end there: Elaine has to learn how to live as a Christian through happiness and challenges. A mystery is solved, a new friend made and there is a major decision.

I had thought that my eight year old would enjoy this book but my six year old has also been captivated by this book and I'm only allowed to read it when they are both together.

The book was published in 1960 but the book doesn't come across as dated probably because the major themes are either eternal or related to relationships and the countryside. There are one or two ends which don't quite tie up such as honeysuckle in early spring and a timing which didn't seem quite right. The children haven't noticed and this is only something that I have seen reading this as an adult. 

There are some parallels with Secret Garden which my eight year old noted. However, the books are quite dissimilar in other ways and Rainbow Garden has a Christian message absent from the older book.

Recommended as a family read aloud or for middle childhood independent readers.

If you enjoyed this post you may like to follow Delivering Grace by Google Friend Connect, G+,FacebookPinterest or e-mail.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Hampton Court Palace

Hampton Court Palace has been high on our list of must visit sites. Having a child who loves history and the Tudors, in particular, we couldn't miss this. We made the decision to go at half term when there were extra events available. All great until the aforesaid child was unwell. Now, I'm fairly robust about children and illness. Providing they aren't a risk to the general population or ought to be in bed, we tend to carry on as normal. Even so, I had some doubts but the offer to postpone the trip was refused so away we went with a recovering child!

We didn't arrive by boat but it would have been a traditional way to arrive. Interesting to think about the proximity of some important Tudor palaces to the Thames.



I loved the detail in the brick work.

In Henry VIII's Great Hall

The figure at the top is Cardinal Wolsey the original owner of the Palace. It was confiscated by Henry VIII after Wolsey failed to obtain his divorce.

Amazing ceilings

There was artifact handling but the children weren't keen. Hmm, this is what happens when half well children go out. They did enjoy the actors playing Cardinal Wolsey, Catherine of Aragon, Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn and Thomas Cromwell.

Henry VIII's kitchens were full of meat, thankfully of the model variety. I would have loved to see some replica Tudor cooking but that didn't happen while we were there.

Other highlights were the Georgian table decorations made from folded, starched linen.

We couldn't understand why William III had so much weaponry to decorate his rooms.

Younger Son was very keen to try the Maze and yes, we escaped.

I preferred the informal parts of the gardens.

We didn't exhaust Hampton Court Palace but by this time, I had children who needed to go home.

Recommended but avoid with children who are slightly under par!

If you enjoyed this post you may like to follow Delivering Grace by Google Friend Connect, G+,FacebookPinterest or e-mail.

Monday, 16 February 2015

Never is a very long time

A statement which always makes me feel shivery is

I would never put my parents in a home.

I've heard this so many times. Mainly, from people with healthy parents who are able to help them and not in any need to aid. Sometimes, and particularly when I was at work, from people who were now faced with managing a parent with complex needs. Sometimes, they would manage somehow and sometimes, they would have to sadly, and guiltily renege on a promise.

Should Christians ever allow their parents to go into a home? Is this ever right and should we promise our older family members that we will always prevent them entering a care home?

Of course, this statement assumes that the parent can't make that decision. As children, we can't dictate where parents live if they still have the ability (capacity) to make that choice.

What are the circumstances when it can be difficult to care for someone? These fall mainly into three groups.

Relating to the older relative: These difficulties are usually around issues such as wandering, aggressive behaviour, faecal incontinence, difficulties with transfers and hoisting, very high falls risk and difficulty with feeding. Some of these issues can be overcome with appropriate medical management but some will persist despite the best of intentions.

Relating to the younger relative: These difficulties often relate to poor health. Major health problems such as needing chemotherapy, severe depression or painful arthritis would make caring challenging in the extreme. A sick spouse or child may change a manageable situation into something impractical. There is good evidence that care givers have poorer health than the rest of the population and often fail to be able to make time to visit the doctor for themselves. 

Then the combination of the frailer person and the person providing care may just not work. There may be a personality clash or there may be the risk of elder abuse. Yes, none of us are exempt from this and there are going to be times when we are tempted to shout or worse. 


The Bible talks very clearly about our responsibility to older family members.

Honour thy father and thy mother.
Exodus 20 v12

If any widow have children or nephews, let them learn first to show piety at home, and to requite their parents: for that is good and acceptable before God. 
1 Timothy 5 v4

If any man or woman that believeth have widows, let them relieve them and let not the church  be charged; that it may relieve them that are widows indeed.
2 Timothy 5 v16

So, yes, we are responsible but there is nothing that says that we necessarily have to do all the hands on caring ourselves. The wife in Proverbs 31 had servants to help with her duties and we may need help with ours. For me, at present, that means that we have carers come into the house twice a day to help. Yes, I could do everything myself but it would be difficult to manage with my other responsibilities. 

For others, that means that an relative has to go into a home. I know about this from personal experience. My Mother was loving cared for at home by my Father and care workers but latterly, her health needs dictated that she was better being looked after in a high quality care home.

Why is it damaging to promise never to put someone into a home?

  • It can lead to broken promises.
  • It can lead to major guilt.
  • Making this promise, leads to placement in a care home happening in an emergency, often from hospital. Researching and finding a place in a high quality home most suitable for that person is difficult in this scenario. A thought out choice to go into a home means that time and care can be put into choosing and changes of care home are less likely to occur.
  • Sometimes, it can mean that someone struggles to provide adequate care as the amount or type or care needed is more than one person can provide.
  • It makes the assumption that once a parents is in a care home, the family is no longer involved. This need not, and should not, be the case. That would be reneging responsibility.
So please, think twice before making this statement. It isn't fair to yourself or your relative.

And yes, I have vested interests!  I currently look after my husband's Mother who lives with us. We hope that she will be able to live with us for the rest of her life but don't want to make promises we can't keep. My Mother was cared for beautifully in a Christian care home with nursing for the last years of her life. Although currently, I do not practice as a doctor, I worked as a consultant in Medicine for Older People for nine years until January 2011.


If you enjoyed this post you may like to follow Delivering Grace by Google Friend Connect, G+,FacebookPinterest or e-mail.


Friday, 13 February 2015

The Week before Half Term

We usually follow school terms so next week is a half term holiday. Personally, I think that half terms are wonderful inventions: not too long to forget too much but a break when a rest is needed. Yes, I'm looking forward to half term.

This week, the younger two started a project on Wales. We listened to a Welsh male voice choir singing traditional songs, looked at maps and made a gingerbread map.
I told them the story of Mary Jones and her long quest to buy a Welsh Bible. We read R.S. Thomas' poem The Tramp and watched a programme about Snowdon. Younger Daughter painted a picture of leeks and daffodils. We are hoping to do more work on this project after half term.

We have worked on the different parts of stories using the concept of a story mountain and reading several of Julia Donaldson's books: The Smartest Giant in Town, Zog, Tiddler, Highway Rat and the Snail and the Whale. This lead onto some story telling partly the long running Saga of King Ethelburga the Saxon (my husband tells me that Ethelburga was a woman's name but this has been running so long that I can't change the name) and Younger Daughter telling a fascinating story with strong allusions to Narnia.

Sadly, the end of the week has been a bit of a struggle with illness. One reading lesson had to be curtailed as the child concerned lost their voice. 

We did manage to get out to two home education group meetings. One was about Henry VIII, for the younger group. The children painted portraits but Youngest Son decided to paint a tree. There are times when I think that I have been too open ended about art.

The other group always includes cooking which is very popular. We also read a Five in a Row book and do activities related to that. I sold my manuals some time ago so the activities are probably nothing like those in the handbook! Today, we read The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Grey Bridge. The children made bridges using spaghetti, elastic bands and tins. 
They also produced a collaborative painting of a river using poster paints and a length of lining paper.

There has been a great flurry of taking cat photos. I think the children want to enter the local veterinary surgery competition.


Apart from the Julia Donaldson books, we have also been reading 
Children's Story Bible by Catherine Vos
Jake the good,bad dog 
Katie Morag
Pirates of Pompeii.
The Adventurous Four
Oscar's New friends-New Bridge Farm
One tiny turtle
Tracks of a Panda
Ice Bear
The Emperor's Egg
Growing Frogs

This probably sounds more than it really worked out to be. The Julia Donaldson books, Katie Morag and the last five books are picture books so quick to read. The last five are from a set of Nature Storybooks that I purchased from the Book People ages ago and are firm favourites with Youngest Son.

My personal reading has been rather less:
I don't have enough faith to be an atheist.
Road to the Dales: The Story of a Yorkshire Lad
How to teach story writing at Key Stage 1.

The latter is, as you have probably guessed, a teachery book but so far has some very practical tips. I hope to write about this later..

Over half term, I hope to think about how to store sample work and how to make the places where the children do most of their learning more attractive places. These are weak areas for me. Please do share any tips!

If you enjoyed this post you may like to follow Delivering Grace by Google Friend Connect, G+,FacebookPinterest or e-mail.


Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Around the Corner

On this grey February day, Spring is around the corner.



While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.
Genesis 8v22


If you enjoyed this post you may like to follow Delivering Grace by Google Friend Connect, G+,FacebookPinterest or e-mail.

Friday, 6 February 2015

Beginning February

February is about half way through the educational year and for some reason, this is a time of year for planning. I like planning months in advance, reading children's books, exploring curriculum and working out how we will use resources but planning for next week seems much more difficult!

Younger Daughter and Youngest Son have a bit of a pattern in the morning, where one reads with me and the other does mental maths or writing. It seems to work well, at present. Youngest Son is loving Reading Eggs. Phonics with me-not so much.

Veritas Self-Paced History still goes well. We have reached the Ministry of John the Baptist and I've started squirreling away the reading books to go along side the course for next year: Middle Ages, Renaissance and Reformation. 

We had snow this week, just a sprinkling but it didn't stop my younger two from having a snowball fight. By the afternoon, when we went out for a walk, most of the snow had disappeared except for in the coldest part of the woods.
Mainly, there was plenty of glorious mud,


trees, of course
and a glorious sunset. 
Definitely, worth going out and defeating the February slow down.

We've also had a trip out to the Natural History Museum, with friends. I realised that my younger two had never been. Their remiss Mother had taken them to the Science Museum on many occasions but really forgotten about the Natural History Museum. 

These photos were taken on my phone.
  



 The Natural History Museum is an amazing Gothic structure and in addition to the famous dinosaurs has collections of stuffed animals and birds. The latter really freaked me as a child! The best find  was the mineral collection and there are requests to go back.

What we've been reading:
Youngest Son loves Enid Blyton's Adventurous Four. This week, we acquired the first volume which is now called Shipwrecked so we are reading this. We had a quick reread of James' Mayhew's book Katie and the Dinosaurs before visiting the Museum.
Younger Daughter is enjoying Caroline Lawrence's Pirates of Pompeii although sadly, this isn't much of a hit with her younger brother. She also enjoyed the Andrew Matthews and Tony Ross children's version of Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra.
I've been having fun reading Gervase Phinn's Little School series probably an odd choice for a home educator but funny and relaxing. There are plenty of books on the "to be read" list but I'm struggling to find the energy to read anything more than light reading.
As always, reading suggestions are appreciated!



 If you enjoyed this post you may like to follow Delivering Grace by Google Friend Connect, G+,FacebookPinterest or e-mail.


Wednesday, 4 February 2015

February

February isn't really my favourite month: it is too grey and too wintery. Still, it has provided a sprinkling of the snow that the children were desperate to see


 and a chance to throw sticks at frozen ponds.

This a a time for curling up with books. As usual, we've been reading aloud and Younger Daughter has completed a book challenge of her own. The reward? A book,  of course.
A couple of years ago, we went to a home education group which, at that time, had a book club so I was interested to read a post about various formats for book clubs. I'm mulling over this one.

More about books, AnnieKate published her top twenty books for families to read aloud. I loved this list as so many were favourites of ours that I really have to investigate the books that I don't know. 

I loved this post about how not to be late. It set me thinking about when I am late and why.

I would be interested on views on this post about avoiding emergent reader frustration or 10 alternatives to forcing your kids to learn to read. Half of me says 
"Great" and the other half says 
"What about children who struggle with the mechanics and need additional help?". 

This isn't absolutely new but I was impressed. Some just found Roman mosaics.


If you enjoyed this post you may like to follow Delivering Grace by Google Friend Connect, G+,FacebookPinterest or e-mail.