Forest School was a totally new concept to me when we started our home education journey. It bears no real relation to anything I remember learning in school apart from perhaps nature walks which may have happened once a year or so.

Forest School

What is Forest School?

Forest School is about getting outside and learning in a hands-on way in natural and woodland surroundings. In typical fashion, I decided if we were to do Forest School we needed a forest. So we have moved to a rural spot with our own small forest and a larger one at the front of the house. I know this sounds like absolute madness but it probably tells you everything you need to know about me along with the fact that months into our forest life, we have done very few Forest School activities.

However, with a new positive approach to our home education journey. I have resolved this is going to change.

Treasure Hunt

Today we started by listing the equipment that is needed for various projects. This shows how much I have learned whilst home educating as too often I set off with enthusiasm and then realise I have not got the kit or did not read the instructions correctly if at all. My 12 year old son is very vocal about the important of reading instructions – he is so like his Dad! My daughter and I are a bit more free-thinking or chaotic – call it what you will!

My list of equipment included nearly 50 items which looked very daunting. My husband read off the items so we could make it a bit like a treasure hunt with the children identifying where we could find the resources along with the gaps if we did not have them. The children were talking over each other so we decided that we would be a better team if my husband allocated different items to each child in turn. This worked much better.

Resources and tools

Some of the items were basic things easily found in the house such as bags, soap, water, bowls, chopping boards and scissors. My husband made me smile inwardly when he used this little adventure as an excuse to say we need more chopping boards. He does like plenty of chopping boards for some reason.

Some items were tools such as a palm drill, a hammer and a hand-held folding saw. The children and myself were not at all familiar with the names of some of the tools so my husband could really help on this score. It was decided my son and husband would do the treasure hunt for tools outside in the garage and the shed later. I was surprised that my children did not know what secateurs were. I guess part of home education is working out what they already know and what is totally new to them. Tea strainer was another item they were not familiar with but it was good to hear my daughter coming up with other ways we could strain the nettle tea we hope to make soon.

We need a stick as thick as a forearm which may be challenging but perhaps not considering where we live. We wondered whose forearm we should use as the measure. Pine cones are not a problem here as we have hundreds on the ground and hanging from trees.

Crafty ideas

Pipe cleaners caused some debate with my son wondering why pipes needed cleaning in the first place whereas my daughter has used them for crafting purposes for years. Pencils, papers, felt tip pens, permanent markers and wool are always easy to find in our house. With an artistic daughter, I have probably bought way too many such resources over the years but it does mean we have plentiful supplies. We do need to get some tracing paper, craft beads and some coloured cardboard.

We giggled when toothpicks appeared on the list as my husband always has loads of these. Mind you, the same could be said of me and blankets also on the list.

We all agreed a new flask would be worth purchasing in any event.

Sharp thinking

My daughter was nervous about the idea of using a pen knife and was shocked that Swiss Army knives are legal. My son was very keen to use such items. Funnily enough, I have always wanted a Swiss Army knife.

There was debate on where we would find clay and I guess this depends on the activity we choose to do next.

I love it when we absolutely throw ourselves into home education projects as a team. With more heads on the case we all learn more and there are so many laughs along the way too.

We are using this book to get us started.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Year-Forest-School-Outdoor-Skill-building/dp/178678131X

Wish us luck as we embark on our Forest School journey with gusto!

The Ordinary Moments

Run Jump Scrap

Not everyone approves of using dating sites but even as an old-fashioned romantic, even I have to admit that they can have advantages when looking for love.

People lead increasingly busy lives with long commutes and work. Finding the time and  money to keep going out on the off-chance of meeting someone compatible becomes more challenging as the years go by. That’s also the case for busy single parents.

Where is love?

Imagine you keep going out in  your town but your soul mate lives elsewhere? Online dating enables  you to communicate with people from different areas without initially laying out huge travel costs. Not  only that but by the use of effective filters, it helps you narrow down potential matches to people looking for similar things to the ones you are.

Shy guy

If you are like me, you will be shy about dating anyway. As with any social interaction these days, it is sometimes to take those baby steps on the Internet first. By  the time you work up to a telephone conversation and then a meeting, you will already feel you have a friend even if Cupid does not strike on this particular occasion. That friend might have a friend who turns out to be your soul mate. Life and love work in mysterious ways. Another thing to note is that if you have issues that you find tricky to discuss from having children to health issues, it is so much easier to share those online. The same goes for the discussion  of interest, beliefs and priorities in life. It’s very important to work out if you and the person you are chatting with are looking for a committed relationship or just some casual fun available on sex sites on the web.

Timing

Lives are not always traditional with  9-5 working hours and the evenings and weekends reserved for leisure. Online dating  allows you to start the process of finding love whenever the mood takes you so if that is 3am that’s OK. You can set up your dating profile and start reviewing potential matches.

Variety is the spice of love!

Before we know it in life most of us are mixing in quite small social circles with like-minded people with similar backgrounds and lifestyles to our own. That’s very comfortable but also perhaps a little boring. Through online dating, the world really is your love oyster as you come across people with jobs you have never heard of, from places you have never visited and with opinions that might challenge your own thinking. Variety is the spice of life and also the spice of love!

Safety

Recent news stories have highlighted how vital it is to stay safe whilst looking for love and how easily we can put ourselves in potential danger. Online dating offers a degree of protection as you don’t need to meet a person immediately or indeed quickly.

Finally, with  so many people struggling financially these days. online dating offers a cost-effective way to find that special someone. Dates are pricey with transport costs, dining and entertainment expenses. Is it really worth making that investment of money and time if you are not going to hit it off?

 

 

 

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Managing money is something some people seem to tackle with aplomb and some really struggle with. It’s a real shame that many young people are so worried about money and student loans that they leave education behind. Over the years, I have got into many a financial pickle so I thought I would share some of my lessons on how to avoid money troubles for yourself whether you are a young person starting out in life or a parent trying to make your kids money savvy.

Docupop

Talk to your children

My parents never really talked to me about money. They protected me when times were tight. I left school unaware of the ramifications of loans such as those available from Cash Lady or mortgages. That left me prey to the student offers and I got into trouble pretty quickly into my university journey. So I talk to my children openly about money. I know my husband finds this uncomfortable but for me, it is better that they understand money and how to manage it when they leave home.

Ask yourself a question

Before making purchases now, I try to ask myself one key question. Will this item bring me pleasure in the longer-term? An awful lot of our spending is to give us a quick fix whether that is a coffee and cake when shopping or that dress that  is going to suddenly transform us into a goddess. The cake will add to the size of your hips and the dress cannot work miracles. I am not saying don’t buy them – I am saying work out why you want them and whether they are worth what they cost.

Save up

I can give you one big guarantee. Every life has its rainy days. Crises will hit and you can overcome them easier with  a good level of savings in the bank. A friend of mine used to put every expenses payment from work straight into savings and it was amazing how much  small amounts built up over a year.

Seek help early

We all like to be independent but sometimes seeking help is actually a great sign of strength. When you ask family and friends for help, they may well get a buzz out of helping  you perhaps with a short or longer-term loan. Also please realise that if they knew you were really struggling and had not asked for help, they may well see that as hurtful and tantamount to an insult.

If you don’t have family and friends who can help, there are so many charities that offer debt counselling and welfare benefits advice free of charge and on a confidential basis.

Be proactive

It is tempting to despair when times are tight. However, it is a better idea to sit down quietly and work out what baby steps you can  take towards improving your finances. Could you do some volunteering to enhance your skills? Could you take on some extra education or training? If you can’t get out of the house easily, is an  onlinebusiness a possibility?

What lessons about managing money would you like to share?

For many parents, encouraging their children to play out more is a priority. They know that kids who spend plenty of time outdoors are often far healthier than those who sit in front of a screen all day. Numerous studies have shown this to be the case. So, I thought I would put together a few suggestions to help you to get your children to spend more time outdoors.

Buy some outdoor toys

There are plenty of toys, like the ones you can find at fashionworld.co.uk, that are far more fun when you play with them outside. For example, radio-controlled car. Sure you can trundle them up and down the hall. But, that soon gets boring. To get the most out of this type of toy racing them along garden paths.

Get them into sports

From an early age encourage your children to play sports. Kick a soft child´s ball between you, play catch, get them into racket games or rounders. If they want to join the local cricket or football team, do your best to facilitate this. They will stay fitter, learn discipline, make friends and pick up great social skills. So, do what you can to encourage them to play sports, without pushing them too much.

Get them a bike

Once they are old enough, consider getting them a bike. If you are not comfortable doing that consider buying them a kick scooter instead. They can get out and about with their friends on either of these. A skateboard could be another alternative.

Eat outdoors more

As often as you can, eat your family meals outdoors. Take your children on picnics too. Both habits will help your kids to enjoy being outside more.

Walk or cycle with your kids

At least once a week, try to go out with your kids for a few hours. Maybe get into the habit of attending your local park run, or going for a walk every Sunday, before lunch. This is good for your health and it gives everyone a chance to spend time together without any distractions. Spending time together like this can really help to keep the channels of communication open.

Getting into this habit early, and maintaining it through adolescence, has the potential to bring huge benefits to the family. You can find out more about the connection between well-being and quality family time by reading this article by Dr. Gail Fernandez. She is a board-certified child psychiatrist and is also an Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at a US University. So, it is a research-based article from which all parents can potentially learn a lot.

A few more ideas

If you would like a few more ideas, take a look at this article. I wrote it last year, so all of the suggestions are current. Plus, most of them are things you can do indoors as well as outside, so many of them will also work for cold or wet days.

Using Toys To Encourage Your Kids To Get Outside More

My Random Musings

Have you ever considered volunteering? My first major volunteering role came with the Citizens Advice Bureau when I left university. I had messed up my Law Society exams. Even though I had articles offered with a local solicitors’ firm, I had pretty much decided I did not want to do that sort of law.

So on my Dad’s suggestion I found myself at the Citizens Advice Bureau asking if I could help put leaflets out or something. I did not realise then that there are loads of volunteering opportunities available with Citizens Advice. I found myself training as a generalist advice worker. That involved going on training courses in Leeds. working through training packs and shadowing advice staff. I was so looking forward to doing an interview with a client myself but was a bit scared when my first case turned out to be about medical negligence which is hardly the simplest advice topic around.

After that first blip. I found myself coping well and specialising in money advice going onto a part-time paid job and then a full-time one. I guess I am trying to say that volunteering with the Citizens Advice Bureau is interesting and can lead to great things. Here are a few things you need to know if you are considering volunteering.

Initial contact

You can turn up at your local Bureau like I did but these days you can fill out an online enquiry form and then the Bureau will get in touch. You might be invited for a chat or to an open day followed by you completing an application form and having an interview.

Training

You will be given a full induction and training for your role. The training is free of charge and of a good quality. It is respected by so many different employers and educational establishments too so well worth undertaking. You will be supported by a tutor in the Bureau, self-study packs and a course away from the Bureau.

Time

There is no minimum time requirement as such and it is really about what you can offer and what the Bureau needs. Most Bureaux advice sessions take place during office hours but even if you work full-time you could get involved in fundraising, marketing or other roles.

Expenses

Your out-of-pocket expenses are covered by the Bureau. Bear in mind some Bureaux are unable to provide childcare or other carer expenses.

Conclusion

I am a big fan of volunteering with the Citizens Advice Bureau. I feel it can help you develop skills and qualities early in life that can last you a lifetime. It looks really good on a Curriculum Vitae if you are job-seeking whatever age you are. Many retired people find it helps them make friends and utilises their existing skills. It’s also a great way to meet people on moving to a new town or city.

You can find out more about volunteering with Citizens Advice really easily.

The Pramshed

Lucy At Home