13 February 2014

wildlife tots

When we moved to the Island, I went along to the local Primary school toddler group. Although it was lovely to meet the other mums, I'm not that into talking about mum issues that much. I also met some very welcoming teachers there. They all said that the toddler group is a great introductory to pre-school, and pre-school is a great introductory to primary school. This info did not sit well in my stomach, and with the crucified Jesus bearing down on us from the wall above, we shimmied our way outa there!

I'm worried about the school situation around us, there is not much choice and we would have to send her to a religious school as there are no non-religious primary schools here. I find this fact disturbing, although I'm sure many of you will disagree. I wish it could be a personal choice but it seems the government think otherwise.

Anyways, I try to keep my blog free of politics!

We are thanking our lucky stars that we discovered that the Wildlife Trust runs all kinds of great outdoor educational groups for kids of all ages...free of religious influence I might add ; )

It's just half a mile from our house, win win!

we bought our own supplies as we did not know what to expect, however they do supply all kinds of warm tasties.

there is lots to do, with different areas to explore that the volunteers had set up. Seating areas made of logs, bridges and ponds and dens and a lovely big camp fire!





and idea for some jewellery engraving from this twig...hmmm?


 although not pictured, there were loads of other kids there with their mums and dads.



our amazing neighbour keeps making us cakes, this banana cake went down very well with the littley.
In fact she loved every second of being outdoors, she has a tantrum when we have to go indoors!


Its so great to have some men there too! this is one of the Wildlife Trust people, he told us all about the trees in the woods and which ones need to be cut down and why and all kinds of interesting woodland stuff. And then he carved a spoon out of a twig.







There are quite a few of these set-ups around the country, if you are interested see here

So education is a bit of conundrum to us, we are pretty sure that we want to avoid pre-school, I never went when I was a nipper. ...and then maybe homeschooling during Primary school years? We still need to think about it a lot as there are so many positives and negatives to consider. Hmm.....

60 comments:

  1. Hello! I've been reading your blog for a while now and it always brings me so much joy to read your lovely posts! We actually moved back to the island a very similar time to you. I have a little niece here who also attend nature tots, she absolutely loves it there and the people who run it are great! We're expecting our own little nipper soon so I've been looking into the local primary schools etc, I came across this potential http://thesylvanschool.org.uk it's a primary academy (not religious not run by the government)

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  2. Hey a local!..and congratulations! Yes I'm really excited about the Sylvan school opening, but they don't have a site yet so it maybe too far for us to travel. I hope it is over this side of the Island though ; )..there should be more schools like that I reckon.

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  3. Just throwing in my two cents as a mom of grown kids who were both homeschooled and attended public (government) school here in the US. Being flexible when it comes to education seems like the most important thing--following your instincts, as you've done so far, about what feels right for her. I came across this, though I am American and have no idea how complicated it is to homeschool in the UK, this looks like an interesting group on the Isle of Wight: http://iwlearningzone.co.uk/index.php/about/

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    1. Hi Liz, great to read your comment...yes I had contacted the Isle of Wight learning zone, it was through them that I found out about the wildlife tots. It's great to know that some people of tried both home schooling and government school too. We'll keep an open mind and see how we feel when she gets a bit older. x

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  4. there are some great homeschooling blogs out there and if we had been blessed with little ones it would have been the way we would have gone. i have nothing against folk having beliefs and religions but for us it would not be something we would want imprinted on our children... as you say v tricky when there is little choice x

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  5. You look like you had such a fabulous time and it brought back lovely memories for me as i used to do the samewith my little un (she's 21 now), we got her one of those bug thingy kits, a jar with a magnifying glass so she could put poor little creatures in to study them (we always taught her let them go in the same place), kept her amused for ages and me scared to death (not a fan of creepy crawlies). She once (aged four) collected ten snails from the garden and insisted on taking them out shopping in the car, i made her leave them in the box in the car, but unbeknown to me she took the lid off "so they could play!": three hours later i was still hunting down missing snails and cleaning slime from all the car windows, yeuch!! Don't envy you the education system! I'm non religious and my ex-hubby was one of those go with the crowds type and insisted on a christeningl. She got taught all sorts of christian stuff at school i just counteracted it at home with loads of books, discussions and even some celebrations of many other religions/beliefs wanting her to find her own answers in her own way, she loved it and it worked a treat. I'm sure you'll get it right whatever you do. X

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    1. your daughter sounds like the kinds of people I like (even though I don't like bugs or slimeys either!).
      Yes we may have to do what you did, if we end up sending her to the local CofE.

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    2. My son had a bit of a snail thing going too. I think he was about the same age. Anyway, his were breeding all over the place. Try explaining that to a 4 year old!! They're hermaphrodite!! We ended up having so many snails and out them in buckets, took them down to Peckham Rye and hoped they could find a nice life there!! But I bet many made their way back up Barry Road ( for any South Londoners out there!)

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  6. Try and see if you can find a local home ed group and see how it feels. Youve got lots of time befor you have to make a decision.

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    1. you are right...and I'd love to meet up with some locals who are doing home schooling...that should help us decided whats best.

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  7. Oh this looks so fun, I think the main reason for having kids is to get to do all this playing and discovering again right? Haha.

    I went to a Christian school from 9 to 18 and all our events and things were held in churches and cathedrals and I'm not one bit religious myself. It obviously depends on how hard the school drills it in, we sang hymns and such but I always just saw it as a nice tradition and not as anything too Gody, so I wouldn't worry too much. I'm sure she'll grow up to be curious and question things which is the most important I think :)

    Although defo don't envy you having to make decisions for a little human being, I can barely decide on things for myself.

    Ps that spoon is wicked!
    x

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    1. Thanks Isabel thats good to know! Yes that spoon is very impressive and he did it in about 5 minutes!

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  8. Artemis, so lovely to read that you aren't religious!! I am not either and although I don't have children yet, it is something that plays on my mind already as a lot of our island schools are fairly religious. Home ed is definately an option for us and just wanted to send you a message to say I hope you find the right path for you. Jenna, islandbluebird.com

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  9. I'm not at all religious but my lass goes to a C of E school and it's really good! They do seem to give a well rounded view of the world.
    Lovely to see how your beautiful daughter is growing up x

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  10. Hi , schools are a difficult subject. We are not religious and we were a little concerned when our children moved to a Church of England junior school. However I have been really impressed at the balanced way they have been taught about all religions. They have learnt about many faiths, and I feel that the school has respected that children form other religious backgrounds (including atheism ) attend. We live in West London, so we may just have been lucky. Good luck with decision making!

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    1. That sounds much better! I think the schools in London have to encompass many other religions and cultures and are maybe more inclusive than schools in the countryside. This is a drawback from moving to Isle of Wight!

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  11. My children both went to a C of E primary school for similar reasons, but because my husband and I are not religious our children are making their own minds up about what/who/if anyone is their god. I think children's strongest influence is their parents/home, if they are bought up in an open and informed way about all aspects they will not be affected by their schools doctrines. Lovely photos as always.

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    1. It's good to hear that! My Primary was just a County Primary (not c of e or catholic) but we still sang hymns and were taught the bible stories as fact etc... I thought all my friends and teachers were all bonkers as they all believed it and I felt a bit excluded, it was very confusing. You right, ultimately most children will decide themselves what they believe...but it's still a shame that time could have been spent learning about other things maybe?

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  12. I think homeschooling is a great idea, i would have got out of there fast too..i think seeing a crucified Jesus would be a bit traumatizing for children, as an adult i still find it disturbing. There's another blog i read called Bradshaw & sons and i don't think her kids are home schooled but she teaches them a lot about nature and wildlife ect
    http://emmabradshaw.blogspot.com/2008/09/back-to-school-back-to-nature.html

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  13. I pretty much had similar feelings and found that by joining up with local home-ed meet-ups from when my daughter was 3, I was able to get a good feel for it and find out lots more info. Most home ed groups have yahoo groups (do a search on yahoo groups for your area) where they post what activities are going on. If you look into now, you'll be well informed by the time you have to make the decision... we mixed up a little pre-school with home-ed things and then when the time came for school, we just never took that road and I have to say, we have never looked back :-) Looks like your daughter is having the most wonderful childhood!

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  14. I loved reading this post! I can totally identify with that whole toddler group situation and at 13.5 months - we've avoided them for the most part. I'm not sure what our local provision is, but I agree, the toddler group to pre-school to primary school just sounds like it's a bit much! I've found a local group that meets in a park and does all sorts of outdoorsy things, so we are going to try that when the weather becomes a bit better (we are up north!) Lovely blog - always a pleasure to see the latest developments in your home, as well as your summer adventures! :)

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  15. I considered home schooling my daughter many years ago, as well as sending her to a Steiner school. I decided to send her to the local nursery and primary school though, as we were a one parent family and I had to study and work. She also loved the company of other children and I wasn't confident that I could provide the right learning and social environment. I don't regret the decision although I would have liked more alternatives at the time. There is a Steiner School IOW group on Facebook (not sure if still active) and the Steiner Waldorf Schools Fellowship Facebook page might be useful if you are interested (although I was distracted by the miniature crochet animals post). Wildlife Tots sounds brilliant!

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    1. Thanks Emily, Yes I would be really interested in a Steiner school here, but I contacted the Steiner HQ and they said there was nothing going on, on the Isle of Wight : ( There is a different free school opening up but they don't know where yet, it maybe too far away from our house. Oh hum...

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  16. Good to see you've found something fun and outdoorsy - and not mumsy, religious-y. I am of the exact same thinking as you - not a religious bone in m'body, I find toddler groups and mum chat very hard work (tedious), so I've become a bit of a hermit and have lost a lot of faith in the education system today. Maisie (being 13) is doing fine, having been through 'standard' schooling, but there are so many flaws that we've decided to go down the Steiner route for Bertie and Otto. Not sure if there's one in your neck of the woods? Like you, I didn't go to preschool, but it seems to be the thing now. Bertie goes four mornings a week, but I wouldn't want him doing any more than that - they're so young. Hope you find a path you're all happy with :)

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  17. Well, looking at those photos of little Pehr I can see the temptation to keep her home, cuddle her all day long, give her banana cake and keep her away from crazy grown-ups but then I have a feeling she is going to have a very healthy imagination and be very well balanced wherever she goes to school since she's getting so much incredible input from you guys.

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  18. I do believe in a creator God who is perfect goodness and the action of perfect Goodness is Love. However, I'm afraid many of the churches have introduced many rules and regulations that do not teach Love, so I am pleased to hear that there are nature programs that will help Pehr learn to be kind and caring to everything around her which I believe is what we are meant to do....receive love and pass it on to everything.....be kind and gentle and be a good role model for her. This is what you are already doing. I applaud your great discernment!! Blessings to you all.

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    1. ahhhh thank you Liz! I do feel though, that all babies are born to be loving and caring, it's that, any hatred or malice is learned from the adult world around them as they grow, sadly. I think it is not 'love' that needs to be taught, but rather 'not to learn any hatred'. We are learning from our daughter everyday, about how amazing the world is and how simple feelings are. Children have a very pure and unpolluted way of looking at life I think ; )

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  19. I live in Guernsey in the Channel Islands and my two children, now 10 and almost 12 go to the local schools, I was raised catholic and didn't want to take that path for them, they seem to learn about all faiths at their school and even have learnt about people who follow nature rather than a Christian belief, I was very impressed and I would say that just because you live on a small island, don't worry too much, my children have taken my lead and learn from me as well and respect people and nature and treat others as they wish to be treated. I hope this helps a little.

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  20. " And then he carved a spoon out of a twig." As you do. ha

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  21. oh and on the school thing:
    When i was in my first year of Primary school (this is in Australia) my mum sent me to the first religious education class of the year. when i got home she asked what i thought, and i don't know what i said but mum could tell i thought it was weird, so for the rest of my schooling years i got to sit outside on the verandah and draw during the R.E. classes.
    i'm an atheist now, and it really disturbs me that religion is even a regular part of public education.

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    1. Yes I agree, I don't think it's right either.

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    2. Not sure if this has been mentioned before as I've not read thru all the comments here, but have you looked at www.thesylvanschool.org.uk here on the island? might be more up your alley. Laura (Cowes)

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    3. Thanks Chris, yes I have been following the progress of the Sylvan school, but as far as I know they don't know where it will be yet, I doubt it will be over this side of the island though, sadly.

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  22. I don't have kids, but I went to religious schools all my life. (growing up in Catholic Ireland)! However, this did not shape me or my points of view, as I feel our parents and home environment have more of an influence than school. I think it's good for young kids to go to school, if only to meet people and form friendships, and I'm sure having yourself and Nao as parents, will make little Pehr a very open minded, free thinking human being. Anyway, it's your guys choice and whatever you choose will be right for you. Little Pehr is getting so big, and cuter by the day! Take care and bring on the Spring........Ireland is being battered by bad weather too......

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    1. Thanks for your comment Ruth. Yes I wasn't swayed by the Christian stuff at my Primary school either...but my gripe is that I don't believe little children should be taught one religion over another (or any!) and taught it as a fact rather than something that is a belief. I think it's more a moral question I suppose. Anyhows, it's not the end of the world, like you say, we can bring her up to be open minded hopefully! x

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  23. Our family made huge financial sacrifice s so I could educate our kids, now 19 and 21, at home. We found the schools to be impersonal and narrow-minded. Our kids have gone on to achieved highest Merit Honors including a full ride to an exclusive honors college. They are the two most interesting people we know! You and the hubby have impressed me with your parenting style, you are both uniquely creative and curious, and are the best teachers for that darling tot. As long as she gets to hang out with other kids--of every age (I find it absurd that the only situation in life that forces us to only be with people our own age is school! How does that prepare you for the real world?)she will have a great experience. I'm an agnostic but practicing Episcopalian but left that up to our kids to figure out, and it infuriates me that the government forces religion of any kind on its citizens. I schooled them here in California (lessons on the
    beach!)and among the cacti-filled hills in Phoenix AZ and loved every second! The home you made for your familyon that incredible nature preserve is the best possible classroom Pehr could be in! She has incredibly creative and curious parents--seriously, I already thought you were amazing and then you went a gave her Lou Reed for Xmas and it sealed it for me! Research unschooling. I didn't realize it at the time but it's what I was I did instinctively from the day they were born and I just couldn't trust people with no emotional stake in my kids to spend 7-8 hours a day with them. Our daughter wanted to try high school and we supported it, but she has said she'd never send her kids to school before then. Trust your instincts!

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    1. Great advice! thank you so much : )

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  24. Reading your blog for a while and loving it. As a mum of two girls (3 and 1) I can totally sympathise with your feelings about pre-school and the whole toddler group thing. Second time around we generally avoid these, get outside and do our own thing, my two are right scruffs and are happiest digging in the mud in our unkempt garden or looking for treasures at the beach near our caravan, but, and this is a big but, I would say don't totally write them off, I met one of my closest friends at a toddler group, we bonded over the fact that we both felt like fish out of water when everyone else was talking about nappies, weaning and all that other stuff. You never know who you might meet.

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  25. You might be interested in nature-play.co.uk, although there isn't one in your area you could always set one up!

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    1. Thanks Victoria! We are really happy with the Wildlife Tots so far, they have so many activities set up, I don't think I could do anything as good and well organised ; )

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  26. My sister home educated both her daughters & she's a qualified teacher. She told me IOW has one of the largest home education groups. The Isle of Wight Learning Zone should help answer any questions!

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    1. Thanks Jenny, yes the IWLZ have been a mine of information so far! We have lots to ponder (and a few years to decide yet ; )

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  27. Hello Artemis, I've been following your blog for some time, but this is the first time I've commented. I really enjoy the engaging way you write about your family's exploits and the beautiful accompanying photos. Your camping pics were the main reason I hunted down a woollen picnic rug and hamper (yet to be used, I might add!).

    You are so right to be concerned about getting the right education for your daughter, and nowadays there are quite a few options. I know many people who have home-schooled with excellent results. It can be challenging but very rewarding.

    One of the main arguments against home-schooling is that the children do not have as much socialization as those who attend regular schools. However, as the homeschoolers I know have been Christians they have had a lot of interaction with others at church and at different sports/art/science activities offered at schools/community centres. As a Christian, I am a little saddened that you don't have a very good view of us! However, I agree with you that we all have a right to choose the path that we take. BTW I think that Jesus must be the ultimate Junkaholique - he takes what is broken and cast aside and makes it into something new, beautiful and useful (as you do so wonderfully). Something for which I am extremely grateful to him. Blessings to you and your family.

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  28. When my daughters were young I found they benefited from social interaction with other toddlers through groups, also language got better and sharing.

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    1. Indeedo! That's why we were so happy to find out about the Wildlife Tots group...loads of other kids...all outdoors...and with some Dads present too! Its like all the good stuff in one.

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  29. These photos are wonderful. Pehr looks delightful in her red outfit!

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  30. I agree with all you say Artemis, after reading your latest post, I thought about my schooling and yes, religion was taught as truth and I believed it for many years......until scandal and sense made me SEE sense! It's so easy to be an arm chair expert, especially as I don't have kids. Anyway you guys WILL bring up little Pehr to be open and exploring and whatever you choose will be the right choice. All the best, Ruth.

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  31. Isn't it lovely to be out of London! (We've recently moved back to Scotland and are so happy to be here). I rarely comment on blogs but I just wanted to chip in about mums groups. I know they certainly aren't everyones cup of tea and I was sceptical of making friends with people just because you had kids the same age. However (and maybe I'm one of the lucky ones), I made such wonderful friends in my mums group that I really think its worth it. I'd have really struggled in London without them as it can be such a lonely place. Also, I'd be so disappointed if I was discounted as being a boring mum just because i'm in the midst of potty training! Sometimes its quite nice to have other mum friends, i'd just hate to see anyone put off because not all mums are boring, it just takes a while to find other common ground! Best wishes to you and your family from a former south london

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    1. Thanks rmforde, I'm sure there are some lovely ladies at Toddler groups just as there are in other walks of life...I have some friends that have kids and some that don't, I don't feel that it makes too much difference. I'm really glad to hear that you found some great mum friends, we have made some lovely new acquaintances here as well, but none of them have kids and they are all older than us! I find it a relief to be honest ; )

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    2. Thanks for taking the time to respond! I guess I wasn't really directing my comment at you but maybe new mums who might be unsure about throwing themselves into group situations like that. I must say, now my toddlers, well, a toddler, I feel the need to make new 'mum' friends less. And I agree, its bloody lovely to have a conversation that doesn't revolve around baby chat, much as i love it all, I definitely have a limit before i have to talk about something, anything, else! We're are also thinking about school and are hoping to go down the Gaelic speaking education route, thinking about it all has come round very fast. Take care

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  32. Hello, just want to add a little. We sent our daughter, who we realized was very social early on, to a religious play school until she was 3.5 years. My husband and I are not religious, but that school was pretty much the best care around. She started going just a few mornings a week and then went five days. Anyways, she doesn't remember much of anything from that time. We don't regret it. It was great to get a break and not worry about her being under questionable care.
    Because you take your precious one to London, could you try out a really good program there? You would probably dislike the "scene" of the well-to-do parents, but the care will be excellent and a great environment for your daughter.

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    1. Thanks Unmy! We're not looking for any childcare as such (she has two parents with her most of the time!) just thinking ahead about her schooling like most parents ; )

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  33. this place is so amazing wish I can be there too haaaaa.

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  34. Recently discovered your blog and really like the honest way in which you write. Your photography is inspiring and as for the Littley...totally gorgeous. Sorry I can't advise on the school, have no kids myself but like you would find a crucified Jesus staring down at me somewhat disturbing.
    ..........

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  35. Ha! I am so with you Artemis! Here in Ozland they have 3 year old Kindergarten with Nationalised Curriculum!?!?! What ever happened to being three and being free?? I remember a sand pit, a dolls house, a pool, paint, mess, cars, dress ups… and basically that's what's on offer at schools BUT with curriculum, and order and limited outside time (have to get them recognising their letters, holding their pencils right, learning their numbers…blah blah blah) Eeeek - don;t get me started on the lack of emphasis on play… its vital!! I think the Wilderness Trust have got a sensational thing going here.
    Choosing schools is tough one though… I too struggle daily with the whole "religious banter" thing - even though I completely respect the faiths all people… I just feel that by it's very nature Religions EXCLUDE rather than INCLUDE.
    Faith is something altogether different… a knowing that humans are born innocent, curious, non-judgmental, fun… oh to be a tot again. Our son has attended a religious school (we chose it for it's small size, bush setting, trees and flexible attitude when I said "I'd like to have hime home most of the time in the earlier years") and we talk a lot about ignoring any of the dogma and just letting other people believe whatever they want to believe. Sometimes I look back and realise that many parts of being a parent are so darn scary… making important life decisions for another little person! Now that my dude is a teenager I try and give him as much input in as is possible….. Sorry that I haven't had any helpful advice but I stand in solidarity with you!

    Recently I read this UK article on the importance of Play and I thought Mr Gray nailed it!!

    http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/give-childhood-back-to-children-if-we-want-our-offspring-to-have-happy-productive-and-moral-lives-we-must-allow-more-time-for-play-not-less-are-you-listening-gove-9054433.html

    and the young kid at this TED talk really blew my mind!! - just goes to show what schools should be focused on….

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h11u3vtcpaY

    Have a great week!!
    Catchya

    Angy
    xx


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  36. My sister just showed me your blog so I'm jumping in here with this comment & I hope it's helpful. I went to a Catholic school in Dublin (I'm Catholic) and there was a Jehovah's Witness & a kid with no religion in my class & it was no big deal, they just went off to study in another room when we had Religious Education every day (30 mins). The girls whose family were witness' said she felt a little left out at Christmas with the gifts but that was it (she's my best friend & still says in her 30s it wasn't an issue.) I'd be surprised if you couldn't just opt out of RE in a CofE. There might be other parents who want to by the time you get there.

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  37. Hi Artemis,
    Loving the woodland playgroup. What a lovely experience for Pehr!
    We moved back to the UK having lived abroad for many years, with our 3 year old and one year old daughters. I was convinced we would homeschool (especially if we continued living abroad) but then I had a wobble and realised at this point in our life it wasn't for us (maybe in the future..). Anyway, we were too late having missed the deadline to put her name down and being in a busy city - there were no places available at our top 3 local schools. So she ended up missing reception (ages4-5) and I had a whole extra year with her at home with me. She then got a place just 5 months ago (she will be 6 in May) and soon caught up with her peers once she started! It's like a lot of european countries don't start their kids until 6-7 anyway, why are we in such a rush to formally educate our little ones? So if I were you, keep her at home with you as long as you can! :) x

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  38. Hi there, I'm a teacher in Aus and I am just flabbergasted that the public education system in the UK is religious! I find it bad enough that religion is taught in schools at a primary level AT ALL in Aus... Children are so vulnerable and I don't think it's fair to expose them to it in schools when they don't have perspective or critical thinking to question it. Anyway, after all that I'm actually going to be teaching in a Catholic school next term because I think I should have all the facts before I come to an absolute conclusion!

    Best wishes and goodluck!
    -Kate

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