We are just in the process of putting issue 47 to bed. It’s been an easier lifeline this issue as we’ve been able to work with the energies of the New Moon. This always makes the whole process smoother and less stressful. If only it was possible to schedule the lifeline for every magazine with the New Moon. Actually looking at our schedule for the new two editions, we will be aligned with the dark moon so each magazine should be a breeze!
We’ve chosen a Go Wild theme for our next edition and there’s so much inside to inspire. Articles on wild swimming, camping with teens and foraging for food sit alongside pieces on biodynamic beauty and how to create a baby naming ceremony. Plus one of our readers went meat-free for a month with her family and shares her diaries of the experience. We have lots of simple tasty family meal ideas and a gorgeous craft project too.
As well as heaps of great articles in the mag we’ve put together a packed guide to the summer with our Free Festival Guide. This free pull out guide has loads of green events taking place this year and a chance to win tickets to plenty of them. Jez has put together a new design for the guide this year and it’s really fun and exciting.
We received a review copy of Natalie Fee’s new book; The Everyday Alchemist’ Happiness Handbook and are super proud that this brilliant author writes for The Green Parent magazine. Her book is vibrant and life-enhancing and packed with tools and techniques for readers to bring greater joy into their lives. This would make a great pick me up pressie for when the weather is soggy and grey.
Apart from the good soaking that the garden is receiving, another plus point is that working at a computer is easier when the weather is like this – the rain is pouring down in torrents outside the window and I don’t feel as though I’m missing out so much. So, better plough on…
The latest edition of The Green Parent has just landed on my desk – it has a gorgeous fresh cover and plenty of enticing cover lines. Jez and I are really pleased with how it’s come out and want to say a big thank you to everyone involved in our forty sixth issue! This is a our Natural Home special; inside there’s article on going off-grid, clearing clutter and how to make space for learning at home. Other exciting features include Claire Ashbourne on how to heal your children’s teeth, Lisa Hassan Scott on Awareness Parenting and Sally Butcher on jewel-like edible delights from the Middle East. Tasty!
An interesting book also arrived this week – Moontimes by Lucy Pearce takes a look at the menstrual cycle and explores ways in which we can celebrate each part of the process from ovulation through to our blood time. There are some great ideas for tuning into the body and a wealth of heartwarming information that I needed to read on the Crazy Woman time of the month! I particularly enjoyed the section on creating a menarche ceremony, written by Rachel Hertogs. Her story was inspired by many years of planning and co-ordinating these ceremonies at the Sacred Arts Camp, which takes place every spring in Oxfordshire.
Talking of camps, whispers of festival plans have been heard in the office this week. We’re planning our Family Festival Guide, which will be free with issue 47 (out on 11th May) and we’ve enjoyed the first burst of spring-like weather, prompting us to think about plans for the summer. A favourite and annual treat is Sunrise Celebration in Somerset, which this year will be held on the Solstice. Jez and I will have just put an issue to bed as the gates open to this marvellous event so we’ll be there as soon as we can after finishing. I expect the actual Solstice will be spent by the sea in Sussex, getting creative, making fire, night swimming and enjoying the company of friends and family.
Another festival that we’d love to be part of this year is Buddhafield. We had such a magical time last year. There was a real sense of love and heart centre expansion during the festival, which lasted long after we had left the beautiful wooded site near Taunton. I’d like to go back and allow each of us to experience the freedom and joy that we enjoyed last year. I had hoped to teach yoga here but spaces get booked up almost before they become available. Maybe in 2013?
Our enewsletter is going out tomorrow with some juicy content. You’ll be able to read about ways to celebrate Spring Equinox with your family, get some knitting inspiration and explore a month of meat free meals. It’s free to sign up.
Have a great week!
PS: Great pic for this week’s post features the treehouse at Bewilderwood in Norfolk, featured in our Green Holidays on the Coast article in the current edition.
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Okay, so we are weeks away from finishing our education special – it’s looking super chunky with loads to get your teeth stuck into from articles about making own medicines from the backyard to stress-free parenting – yes really!
We also have lots of inspiring writing about education – different methods, how to set up your own home ed group, exciting green projects taking place in mainstream schools etc. One piece that I am still putting together is an article on different methods of home educating. We posted on the forums looking for families to talk about their experiences but so far have only had a few responses. Well, I figured that it might be an idea to answer the questions myself about our approach to learning at home. And that it might encourage others to get involved.
So here goes: Structured or autonomous and why?
A mixture of both. When we started out on our home educating journey my eldest was just four. I was over-the-moon excited that we had discovered a different path – I felt such a sense of relief that she didn’t have to go to school, it was all I could do to stop myself crying when I spoke about it. Anyway that first year we did lots of craft projects, reading together and trips. I recorded everything that we did and made books of all the books we read and the places we visited. After a year or so of this, we settled into a more organic approach and Jez started working on the Green Parent with me from home so I had a home educating buddy! This made a big difference – we divided our week and both got to spend time with the girls and time in the office. It took a while to get used to but I can’t imagine life any other way now. So now the girls are 11 and eight, we provide a little structure in the form of a workbox system that they can do in the mornings if interested and if nothing else is going on. This means they can work alongside us and we get involved in their projects. They have created much more structure for themselves than we have ever imposed upon them. They run a school for their bears with a timetable, certificates, school inspectors – the lot! After watching this regimented approach unfold for a couple of weeks, I brought in the workbox system as I figured that they needed to create something that was missing from their daily lives. So far, it has worked pretty well – they only have six boxes – not the twelve that Sue Patrick, the US based home ed mum who came up with the concept suggests. It is interspersed with physical activity, fun stuff like making raw fudge and some fairly dry maths worksheets from enchanted learning etc. However, we take an autonomous approach to this work and other classes that they attend in that they are free to decide whether or not they want to do it. This is based on the belief that if you don’t want to study something then it is unlikely that any worthwhile lesson will be learnt.
Do you have an educational philosophy?
I do have an educational philosophy. I even wrote it down when I was young and feverish about home education. I can’t remember much of what was written but it has boiled down to a sense now that I want my children to grow up with a sense of freedom and a belief that anything is possible. I also want them to question everything. Oh and to be able to listen to their own bodies and follow their own daily rhythms, rather than those suggested by the state.
Do you follow a curriculum or particular programme?
I go through phases of getting excited about systems and programmes, though I have lacked the ability to actually follow one. I like to look at the Five in a Row website and even treated myself to the book outlining the programme for 8-12 year olds recently but as predicted it hasn’t got further than me reading it and getting all excited about the possibilities – the organised projects, the neat workbooks etc. Then real life surfaces through the daydream and I remember that my children are mostly happier poking sticks in the fire, and setting up a charcoal making workshop than ticking neat little boxes.
Do you have a space set aside for home education?
This is something that I have always longed to create. I read Amanda Soule’s The Creative Family book and cried at the wonderful gift she gives to her children, in making SPACE for them and their interests. We have a dresser full of art equipment and projects in progress called “The Home Ed Cupboard” and the boxes take up an inordinate amount of space but this is in the office so it doesn’t really count. I wonder what a whole room would look like? When the girls were much younger I used to browse through the pages of the Community Playthings catalogue and look longingly at the handcrafted wooden desks and chairs made by an Amish community not far from here. Now, I think about an art studio out in the woods, filled with ideas and inspiration. Dream on, dreamer!
What does a typical home ed day entail in your house?
There is no such thing as a typical home ed day – why did we ask this silly silly question? In retrospect, I’m sorry. Sometimes, mornings workboxes and afternoons a cycle ride, trip out with friends, home ed group, art class or french lesson. Lots and lots of eating and a serious amount of play.
What are your children interested in and how do you foster those interests?
My eldest is interested in most things at the moment. She loves reading and has recently started expanding her reading choices beyond Jaqueline Wilson and the Lady Grace Mysteries to take in Mrs Frisby and the Rats of Nimh, Little Women and the Railway Children for example. She wants to be an author. In terms of fostering her interest, I make sure that some of the projects in her workboxes push the boundaries and get her thinking about new ideas and concepts. She is very good at pushing her own boundaries however and is v self-motivated.
Her younger sister is into more physical pursuits – she loves moving her body, playing instruments, cooking etc. I try and make sure that she gets a good dose of high octane activity everyday. I also make sure to make her boxes appealing to her sense of fun rather than relying on worksheets etc. She has recently decided that she would like to be a designer who lives in a caravan so she is drawing and creating a great deal at the moment.
Are there any particular skills that you would you like your children to gain from their home education?
There are lots of things that I would like my children to take from their home education – I think a sense of responsibility for self is very important. A knowledge of basic survival skills – how to make clothes, grow and cook food etc. How to be self reliant – emotionally as well as physically. And also the importance of deep connection with others. I’d like them to learn a new approach to maths that is both creative and practical. I love the concept of art within mathematics and the incredible structure of nature for example. I also want my daughters to have an understanding of living maths too though – things like running a business and managing household finances etc. Mostly I want them to have a thirst for knowledge and an understanding that we create our own reality – literally life is what we make it.
What does home ed look like in your house? Write and tell us and your story could be in our next issue!
We’re off to Big Chill in the morning so I thought I’d post a quick update before we go. Had an amazing time last year and am looking forward to experiencing some more good stuff this weekend.
Last year we cried to Lamb, discovered Steve Judd, watched a crystal healing and contemplated whether the sun is a conscious being. Other highlights were of course Orbital, the healing space and magical ambient tent hidden in a woody clearing.
The lowlights were mainly the loos, which were quite disappointing after a weekend at Sunrise Celebration and even Camp Bestival, both fully equipped with compost toilets. Perhaps they’ll have upped the green ante for 2010. On their website the green section suggests taking a coach as the cleanest method of transport closely followed by a carful of people, which is greener than a train, and advises festival goers to purchase a tent from the green tent company (Or perhaps borrow one off your mate).
Have had a great day finishing off sections of the Oct/Nov edition of The Green Parent and starting to take a look at new publication Green Events, which Jez and I are now officially the publishers of – woohoo! For the next edition of TGP we are doing a readers tried and tested with raw chocolate and we have been sent some to photograph for the feature from the lovely Jennie at Detox Your World, Lisa at the Raw Chocolate Company and also Emma at Consious Chocolate (my favouritest favourite of all raw choc bars ever!) so our office smells absolutely out of this world divine. It’s a hard knock life! Actually it’s blissful and lush and I’m loving it right now. So a big thank you to the ladies that have aided and abetted my wallowing in raw chocolate state.
Interested what the food will be like at Big Chill – have packed some superfood crackers and a basket of fruit to take with us and after that it’s pretty much what’s available on the stands – so let’s hope there are lots of adventurous vegan chefs who like experimenting with raw food. In a couple of weeks time we are going to Sunrise Off-Grid, which promises the Buddhafield Cafe and Pachamamas. Then in September we are going to Out of the Ordinary, which is just down the road from us.
I also really fancy Rivenstone on Dartmoor at the beginning of September with the lush and super earthy Carolyn Hillyer and also a yoga festival that I just got wind of around the Equinox, called the Yoga Groove Festival, which is based in Seaford, East Sussex.
So anyway, better go and pack some festival kit. Where are you off to this summer? Share your favourite festivals here…
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Every edition is packed with ideas and action that people can take to make the planet a greener, cleaner, happier place to be. From nutrition to education, breastfeeding to holistic health we’ve got it covered. So for your chance to win, simply visit Green Baby and send an email.
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Welcome to the new blog from the Green Parent office. Here we'll talk about what's going on in the small and quite leafy headquarters of the UK's leading green lifestyle magazine. We'll share news that interests us and talk about green issues and natural parenting. We'll share advice and information from our own experiences of living a green lifestyle. And we'll even tell you what we are reading, eating, drinking and thinking. Hope you get plenty of food for thought here.