The one thing I really love about home education is that we can make our own schedule. If we want to spend 6 weeks learning about bugs, we can. If we want to spend a whole day outside running around and exploring, we can. If we want to go to Costa Coffee in the afternoon for a babyccino, we can. If we want to devote two whole days to practising empathy, learning about charity, and dancing around the front room like loons, we can!
Of course, home educating our children means that the responsibility to teach them about these things is all ours and ours alone, and that usually means a bit of hard work and some thinking creatively. But it also means that we have the opportunity and the time to really explore the things that interest us and that are important to us.
Charity, empathy, kindness and helping others, are all things that are really important to me for our children to be exposed to and involved with. When I was thinking about Children in Need this year (ok it was the day before, advance planning is not my forte), I realised that not being part of a school community, we didn’t have the chance to do our bit by baking a few cakes for the bake sale or wearing our pyjamas to school and taking in a donation. If we wanted to take part in Children in Need (and I certainly did), then we were going to have to make our own event.
Deciding to look at this as a blessing rather than a curse, I turned first to the BBC Children in Need website, where I found lesson plans and resources to help with explaining the idea of charity fundraising to Mabel. We watched a few videos about the children that are helped by Children in Need, and then we started hatching a plan of how we could get people to sponsor us to do something. Mabel was really keen to ‘help Pudsy’ and raise some money for the ‘poorly children’, and when I mentioned the idea of an all day disco-a-thon, well she didn’t need any persuading at all!
So that was that decided. We were going to have a mini disco, on the hour, every hour between 8am and 5pm and we were going to harness the power of social media to share it with the world… live!
The day was just as shambollic as you might expect (scroll down for the evidence if you fancy a laugh). We had rogue babies, grumpy toddlers, some extremely embarrassing Mum dancing, and Mabel attempting to do a move from strictly come dancing on my shoulders! But by the end of it all we had raised £72 with a few donations still to come in (Carl, I’m looking at you).
Despite all the craziness, of course it was so worth doing. Not only did we raise a bit of money (and hopefully a few smiles), I hope that Mabel learnt a valuable lesson. She really connected with those children’s stories from the videos she watched, and then she consolidated it all in her head when she explained on video what we were doing and why (watch the first video for the sweetest explanation at the end). She also had to work really hard for every last penny of that sponsorship money, ok she loves having a disco, but she had to do it 10 times in one day which would make anyone tired. She danced at every single disco, even when she didn’t feel like it and even when she was in the middle of doing something else, because she really wanted to help the Children in Need.
That night as I sat down to watch the tv show, of course I felt emotional as I always do. I felt all the usual humbling feelings sympathy and empathy and of gratitude for all the paths that we are fortunate enough not to tread… but I also had an extra feeling this year. A whole lot of pride in my kind, big hearted children, and a little bit of hope for the future. Because if the whole country can come together for those in need like they did last week and they do every year, and if we can all teach our children to give, and be kind and have empathy, then surely… surely, there’s hope for humanity yet?
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