Category Archives: Driving

Since my last post here, we’ve been..

(amongst other things)

Tracing snowflakes

Making puppet shows



Writing fridge poetry

Welcoming new family members

Practising our handwriting

Ogling the fireplaces in a local stately home

Cycling with skeletons

Doing activity books. 'Pre-school workbooks', they call them. 'Pre-home ed fun books', *I* call them.

And gratefully receiving gifts of books. A whole boxful! Bliss.

We’ve also, this week, been creating maps of our local area – first from memory, then from walking around with a clipboard, then from sloooow driving, and stopping, and reversing, and driving again, then from Google Maps and Street View. Next, we’re comparing the current ones to some we have from 60 years ago, before the M62 was built, to see what’s changed and how. We’re also thinking we’ll do some treasure hunts. An easter egg hunt, with treasure maps!

This all came about because I thought Lyddie’s mind would suit cartography, so I suggested she try to draw a map. She’s always been interested in where she was, and where things were in relation to one another – ever since she could sit up and look around and talk. She has a practical mind which likes to organise things into their proper place and structure.

One of the joys of home education: having the time and the freedom to really get to know one’s own children, work out what they’ll like and – after a bit of trial and error – hit on the right thing and watch them run with it.


Filed under Aptitude, Curiosity - a delicate flower, Driving, History, Innate, Natural learning - how it works, Out an' about, Planning - or not, Pre-home ed, Writing

Learning last year

In and amongst the new year celebrations here, I’ve been thinking and chatting with the children about what we all learned last year. It’s probably quite easy for me to list some of the skills that some of us mastered:

Keeping accounts
Holding conversations
Getting dressed
Playing guitar
Playing piano accordion
Dismantling, fixing and rebuilding piano accordion
Resolving certain laptop malfunctions
Map reading
Drawing faces, with BIG smiles (but no noses)
Building Lego ships
Driving a computer mouse

I’ll let those of you who know us work out (or remember) who learned which of those skills in 2009!

And I think most of us have garnered quite a lot of information, in response to our own curiosity. Some of the areas that some of us have been learning about last year have included:

Where other countries are on the globe in relation to the UK
Other cultures, beliefs and customs
Letter sounds
Politics, economics and the history of these
The development of technology

But it’s a lot less easy to list what we learned in terms of thinking, ideas or principles. I’m struggling to do that for myself, let alone for the children.

I think I learned that it’s ok to apply a certain amount of teaching to completely unschooled children, as long as they’re happy about it and interested in what’s being taught. This was difficult for me to grasp at first because the older three, having been in school for a few years as younger children, had so much resistance to the idea of actively being taught something that they just learned more, better and easier under their own steam.

I assumed all children would be like that in non-coercive situations, but I now know from the younger two that they’re not, if they haven’t been damaged by the violent coercion of schooling.

I don’t think I worked that out in its entirety just in 2009 though. It’s been an evolving train of thought and experiment for the past three years or so. But last year probably provided enough clarification for me to accept it as being ‘true’.

I also learned that it’s ok if I don’t say ‘yes’ to every request that’s made of me, although after a childhood of violent training to the contrary, this is a hard realisation for me to put into practice all the time, even 30-40 years later. Those childhood lessons really do run so deeply, which is why our relationship with our children is so fundamentally important. But that’s nothing new, is it? Just yet more verification of something very old.


Filed under Business, Co-operating, Driving, ICT, Innate, Numbers, Reading, Russian

Driving again

Both Zara and Tom’s driving is going very well. Zara’s had more practice though, so she’s a little more accomplished than Tom. She can do three point turns now, and reversing around corners, uphill starts and backwards uphill starts – on steep hills! And she can drive forwards in the normal way, you know – which is also useful 😉 We’re running out of challenging off-road places for her to drive now, but she’ll be 17 in just over a week and is planning to have her first official driving lesson on that day. So we spent a good half hour yesterday looking at the various driving schools’ websites, trying to work out which one she should book with.

I learned with BSM and they were very good for me (even though that was 21 years ago) but now they charge £25 an hour! We looked at the all-female school, KanKan, which offers 10 lessons for £99 but insists that these are spread out over the whole course:

NOTE: the 10 lesson offer is split 5 at the beginning, 2 for your test day and 3 floating lessons during the course of your learning with your instructor.

and seems quite cagey about the price of the ones in the middle.

So then we got onto Bill Plant, who offers the first lesson free and another four lessons for £56, but who is also not telling us the price of the other lessons.

There doesn’t seem to be any available information online about any of their pass rates, or the answers to questions like:

  • What’s the average number of lessons people have before they pass with you?
  • How much actual driving do you offer, because we don’t want to be paying for very expensive roadside theory lessons?

and so on.

There is a Compare Driving Schools website, but it wants to harvest all of your details before it gives you any information.

I dunno. It’s quite tempting to get a quote from my insurance company and try to do the onroad teaching myself as well, if it’s cheaper. We should make a lot of phone calls, I suppose. I wish people were more up front with their online information!

As for Tom, his driving is coming on but I don’t think he’s sent off for his provisional licence yet: he’s evidently not quite as determined to be independently mobile as his sister is. But I’m pleased that they’re both learning so well and that they seem to have such good control of the car when they’re doing it.


Filed under Driving

This week, we’ve been mostly…

Learning how to drive:


This is going really well, mainly because Zara so passionately wants to learn. She isn’t quite 17 yet, so we’re still learning off-road but luckily there are plenty such areas around here in which to practice. I’m just glad to be able to give her the chance to get familiar with driving a car before she goes for her first on-road lesson ( – planned for her 17th birthday! She’s had her provisional licence ready for weeks!) It’s bound to make a big difference.

The baby spent a happy hour sorting nuts on top of the washing machine (as you do..!)


– which obviously addressed whatever stage of brain-development she’s currently at, because she was completely absorbed in the task, which was all self set-up and organised. I had no idea what she was doing, until she started doing it!

Ali has been learning more Russian, courtesy of a home-educating friend who supplied him with a great stack of resources last week, and Tom’s learning resource, unsurprisingly, seems to be mainly coming from his new business at the moment. I’m loving watching this take shape. He’s succeeding, and he can hardly believe his own success. He’s amazed that other people can’t do what he can with computers, when learning it seemed so natural at the time, but that’s the beauty of autonomous learning. It doesn’t feel difficult, and it invariably turns out to be eminently applicable.

Lyddie’s taking a natural break from the workbooks and folders that she loves so much and wants to be read to a lot of the time, which suits me down to the ground, because I love reading to her. We spend at least an hour, morning and evening, doing this and her understanding of quite complex narrative is growing every day, as is her enjoyment of the process of being swept up in a great story. Otherwise, she’s outside experimenting and exploring, or inside experimenting and exploring, or on her computer.


Filed under Business, Driving, ICT, Innate, Russian