Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Plastic Free July - Day 17 - Compost

A friend of mine reminded me this week that, actually, it is more important for the environment to focus our efforts on reducing waste than just on avoiding plastic. He is right. The real issue is waste reduction.

A few years ago, I watched the wonderful film by Grant Baldwin and Jen Rustemeyer, the Clean Bin Project, a really fun documentary about a couple's challenge to live waste free for a year, in competition with one another. This coincided with my Lenten challenge to try and reduce my waste. I had also come across The Rubbish Diet - The Slimming Club for Bins, which is worth a look.

One of the things I realised early on we needed to do, was to compost more. So much of what goes into our bins is actually compostable, and recently we had our first 'emptying' of beautiful earth from the bottom of our composter just in time to spread over my son's veggie patch. He was delighted!

I was slightly concerned about rats invading warm compost bins, but was advised that if you do not put out any meat or cereal scraps, you should avoid vermin. But egg shells, tea and coffee grounds, all fruit and vegetable scraps and peelings can be composted, along with leaves and grass clippings, sawdust, hair, dust, newspaper, cardboard. You need to add a mix of 'greens' and 'browns' which isn't difficult to do, and what could be more natural than returning the goodness of this waste to the earth? Give it a try.

#breakfreefromplastic #plasticfreejuly


Lovely picnic in our local park today to celebrate home education and to declare, along with others up and down our country, our children are not invisible, as the media likes to assert. "There isn't a right way to become educated. There are as many ways as there are fingerprints." (John Taylor Gatto) One size does not fit all. Protect parental freedoms to educate in a way which suits each child. #HomeEdInSight

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Plastic Free July - Day 16 - Waste Less

Anyone who watched the documentary, Hugh's War on Waste, a few years ago cannot fail to have been impacted by the shocking amount of food wasted in this country. Whilst the programme drew attention to supermarket waste - the waste of the system, if you like - it didn't focus so much upon household waste, the amount of food people like you and me buy and then discard, perhaps unopened, and uneaten.

This seems a fairly sensible problem to tackle if we want to reduce the amount of throwaway plastic packaging we are simply discarding - and also contribute less to the global problem of food waste, and the negative impact on the environment.

You might find buying food in smaller, more regular 'shops' reduces food waste, as you are more likely to buy only what you need. This practice also makes it more feasible to shop in smaller, local shops, as mentioned in previous posts.

It is also good to eat up any leftovers, and to befriend your freezer. Cooking batch meals is easily done, and a portion can then be frozen for another day. I have to confess, with 5 hungry men in our household, there is often not a lot left over!

What tips do you have to reduce food waste?

#breakfreefromplastic #plasticfreejuly

Monday, 16 July 2018

Plastic Free July - Day 15 - The Meat Counter

For those folks that eat meat, so much of it comes in plastic packaging. Apart from buying and eating less of it, what can we do? Well, maybe you have a local butcher or deli you can frequent? Our local butcher does deals on say, three meats, which makes the cost a little more reasonable and, if we ask him to, he will put our meat into a container we take into the shop with us. It really is as simple as asking.

I don't shop at Morrisons, but recently I heard that, if you take your own container to their meat counter, they will put meat into your own box, thereby by-passing the plastic packaging. I wonder how long before other supermarkets follow suit. Steps in the right direction?

You just need to remember to carry your own containers with you - along with your reusable bags. Are we up for the challenge? Remember, the more people that ask, the more demand businesses see, and the more change occurs. Why not give it a go?

#breakfreefromplastic #plasticfreejuly

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Plastic Free July - Day 14 - Eat Less Meat

As a young teenager, I decided to turn vegetarian. My chief reason for doing so was environmental. I was shocked to read about the amount of land deforested, given over to the raising of livestock for beef, and then laid waste. It also seemed crazy to me that grain which could feed humans should be fed to livestock to produce meat. A heavily meat-based diet cannot be sustainable on a planet of finite resources.

I was vegetarian for many years, and would really encourage you to look at eating less meat and more plant-based meals. Even if you do not turn vegetarian, having several meat-free meals each week can still be one of the best things we can do for our planet. And the more food we cook from scratch, at home, rather than depending upon pre-packaged, processed food, the less plastic packaging we bring into our home, and the greater the health benefits. Even small steps in this direction can be a positive change.

I live with 5 men who love their meat, and my husband does a lot of the cooking in our household, so at the moment I am not a vegetarian, I am very sorry to say. But we don't eat much red meat, and we do try to have several vegetarian meals each week.

More tomorrow on how to reduce our plastic even when eating meat ...

#breakfreefromplastic #plasticfreejuly

Plastic Free July - Day 13 - Personal Hygiene

It can be really fun to have a go at making your own personal hygiene products. As well as being better for us, avoiding lots of chemical nasties, this is also a great way to avoid the accumulation of throwaway plastic bottles and tubs containing lotions and creams etc.

Blogs like Wellness Mama or a search on Google will bring up numerous recipes to experiment with and try for yourself. It is worth considering the minimum products you really can't do without, and then product by product, try and replace them with plastic-free alternatives. This can take time, and some trial and error.

I have many friends who swear by coconut oil for use as a moisturizer. Coconut oil is now widely available, has many uses, is inexpensive and can be bought in glass jars. Some friends and I tried making our own body butter using the following recipe. It was a bit oily for me, but you may like it ....

1 cup organic raw shea butter (solid),
1/2 cup coconut oil (solid),
1/2 cup olive oil or almond oil (liquid)
Melt shea butter and coconut oil on top of a double boiler, remove from heat and add olive oil. Allow to cool for at least 30 minutes in a freezer or until oil starts to solidify and then whip up in a free standing mixer. Add essential oil if required and store in a jar at room temperature.

One real win for me in this area has been home-made deodorant, and I definitely recommend giving this a try. My husband and I had long been looking for an alternative to regular deodorant; him because of sensitive skin which reacts to deodorant, and me because I had heard of the risks of aluminium in deodorant and links to breast cancer and Alzheimers. We had experimented with a few recipes. I have to say the deodorant bar from Lush worked pretty well for me, but this recipe has been the best one yet - and I haven't looked back. It's the Coconut Oil Home Made Deodorant from Wellness Mama. I have found, after a short adjustment period, I sweat less when using this. A tub lasts ages, and it is so simple to make. Why not give it a try?

6 tablespoons coconut oil,
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) baking soda (bicarbonate of soda),
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) of arrowroot,
and essential oils.
Mix the baking soda and arrowroot together in a medium sized bowl. Mash in the coconut oil with a fork until well mixed. Add essential oils if desired. Store in a small glass jar and rub on to underarms as required.

What products could you try making yourself?

#breakfreefromplastic #plasticfreejuly

Saturday, 14 July 2018

Plastic Free July - Day 12 - Bread and Milk

Daily staples ... Bread and milk. If you're at least as old as me, you will remember the days of the milkman, when most people received milk delivery to their doorstep in returnable glass bottles. What a great system. Of course, now people's working patterns mean we have totally moved away from this 'old-fashioned' practice, and most people buy milk in disposable plastic containers from their local supermarket. What can be done?

The milkmen are, in fact, making a comeback, and it is definitely worth looking into milk deliveries in your local area. This way, you can eliminate the plastic bottles, support your local economy and be contributing to a more sustainable system. I hope this also includes a better deal for dairy farmers than our big supermarkets seem to have been offering them in recent years.

Unfortunately, when I last looked into local milk delivery, the switch would have tripled our household milk bill, which my husband was not prepared to do. I don't drink milk at all, but my husband and four sons do, so we get through a lot of milk in our household. It might be worth me looking at again, though, as options in this area seem to be increasing all the time. Definitely worth considering.

With more and more people switching to a dairy free diet, the other thing some people are doing is making their own nut or oat milks. Recipes are readily available online. I tried making almond milk once, but not being a milk drinker anyway, it was not for me. Worth a try, though.

I know at least one person who is able to go and buy raw milk from a local farm. I guess it depends where you live. At the very least, if there is no option but the plastic, try to buy the biggest containers you can, so as to be discarding as few as possible. Not an ideal solution.

Bread is another daily source of plastic frustration to me. It always seems to come wrapped in a throwaway plastic bag, even if I buy it fresh from a bakery counter. I remember living in Turkey for some years where, in each neighbourhood, there was a bakery where people could buy freshly baked bread daily - even dough to make into other baked goodies. It was so good!

Although this is no longer the case in this country, it is perhaps not such an impossible thing to imagine. There seems to be something of a resurgence in artisan bakeries. I was delighted to discover a local job-creation project, providing training and employment opportunities to refugee women, a lovely bakery producing fresh sourdough loaves - without any packaging. Hooray! Once they are up and running, I am looking forward to placing my weekly order.

Maybe you'll find similar start-ups close to where you live. Or, even better, maybe you could start baking your own fresh bread at home?

#breakfreefromplastic #plasticfreejuly

Friday, 13 July 2018

Plastic Free July - Day 11 - No to Freebies

Freebies … You know the kind of thing … I recently went to look around a college with my son, and on arrival we were handed a plastic bag full of leaflets, a free pen and a few other bits and bobs. I said, "No thank you." We took the leaflets that looked important, but why did we need them in a plastic bag? I told the person handing them out that we were trying to reduce our plastic usage, and an interesting conversation ensued.

If we walk around shows and events, we are often handed an array of useless stuff which we probably don't even need - a lot of it plastic - and often in a plastic bag. If it is not something we need, we can say, "No thank you." If we do not take these offerings, and even better if we explain why, companies will begin to get the message that consumers do not want these things, and change will be affected.

We can also teach out children to see the value and quality of 'things' they are offered … Plastic McDonalds toys? The plastic toys inside Kinder eggs? Cheap tat that entertains for a moment, and is often then broken or discarded. We need to think before we accept these throwaway freebies, and consider whether we really need to take them. We can say no to freebies. I mean how many plastic biros do we actually need?

#breakfreefromplastic #plasticfreejuly

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Plastic Free July - Day 10 - Soap and Shampoo

Think about your bathroom, a place where plastic bottles can abound. Shower gel, shampoo, conditioner .... What can we do to replace these products and prevent these throwaway plastic bottles coming into our homes, to be used - oh so briefly - before being thrown 'away' - too few to recycling, too many, sadly, to landfill?

The first thing we can do is to acquire a few soap dishes and rediscover the simple bar of soap. Now available in so many places, in beautiful colours, fragrances and designs, and often unwrapped, or wrapped only in paper. You can even find bar soaps in cardboard packaging in your local supermarket. Why not replace each soap bottle in your home with the humble bar?

Shampoo is perhaps a little more of a challenge for many of us. Some brave folks go the route of 'no poo' and there are online groups to support you if this is something you want to do. I have stopped using shampoo on my youngest son's hair, using only water to rinse it through now when it needs a clean. And his hair looks and smells absolutely fine. I am convinced our hair becomes used to products, which makes it need the products more.

I have quite fine, greasy hair, but I was determined to try and get rid of those plastic bottles in the shower. So I discovered shampoo bars, which come, like bars of soap, wrapped in paper. I cut a big bar into four pieces, keep three in the cupboard and just one piece in a soap dish by the shower. This means the bar lasts several months, and I wash my hair every other day.

I just lather the bar up and rub it into my hair, rinse with water and then finish off with a quarter cup of apple cider vinegar diluted with water, which acts as a conditioner. I pour it over my head and then rinse it away. It sounds pretty weird, but it actually does the job. I was really delighted to discover apple cider vinegar in glass bottles in Boots recently, at reasonable cost. So the plastic can indeed be banished from the bathroom! Why not give it a try!

#breakfreefromplastic #plasticfreejuly

More than a score ....

This is everything that is wrong with our current schooling system ....

SATs results day, and Dr Mary Bousted, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, has commented on the release of the latest Key Stage 2 SATs results, saying “Today’s announcement means that, despite the hard work of teachers and pupils, over a third of 11-year-olds will arrive in secondary schools in September labelled as ‘below the expected standard’."

How can we continue to support a system that tells over a third of children they are 'below the accepted standard' before they reach the age of 12? And I would go further, arguing that the system is equally damaging for those that succeed, setting children against their peers in a culture of individualism and competition rather than co-operation and mutual support, making them believe they are successful, better than others, despite the narrowness of the measurement criteria. This is a broken and damaging system. Can we not imagine better ways of raising compassionate human beings?

Dr Bousted goes on to say, "“The real story of SATs isn’t the headline figures, it’s the damage that our test-driven system is inflicting on primary schools day in, day out throughout the school year. A narrow curriculum, stressed children, over-worked teachers: these are the signs of an assessment system that needs root and branch change.”

You can read her comments HERE.

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Plastic Free July - Day 9 - Toothbrushes

Plastic disposable toothbrushes ... How many have you used in your lifetime?

This is a very simple swap you can make with a range of bamboo toothbrushes now readily available.

I have not found plastic tubes of toothpaste so easily replaceable. I have tried a number of home made recipes, but the baking soda is abrasive and always leads to very sore gums. I am on the lookout for new recipes to try, and am also advised that charcoal tooth powder works a treat. If you've any toothpaste alternatives, please share them in the comments.

#breakfreefromplastic #plasticfreejuly

Monday, 9 July 2018

Plastic Free July - Day 8 - Fresh Produce

I once did an experiment where I ate raw vegan food for one month. It was a bit extreme for me, but it was interesting in terms of waste. I bought all the fruit and veg I needed at our local market, which was brilliant, and very reasonable. I went along with my reusable bags and was able to buy almost everything I needed without packaging. The only culprits were cucumbers, which come in plastic wrap everywhere I look, raw beetroot, which come bunched with an elastic band and label wherever I buy them, and the little plastic tags and labels through the pineapples. But still, in terms of packaging, it was pretty good. And, save the afore-mentioned exceptions, all the waste was compostable! Our local greengrocers is also very good in this way. Where can you shop like this in your locality?

Berries are another problem, in their plastic punnets which prevent them from getting squished. Picking berries fresh from the bush on the hedgerows or on the allotment seems to be the only way to avoid that packaging where I live at the moment.

If the thought of taking on an allotment is just too much, consider involvement in a community farm or allotment. There may well be such a project near you. This has been a great experience for our family, as we have benefited hugely from the wisdom and companionship of others, the open space and sense of peace in our urban environment and the stash of berries in our freezer!

Fruit and vegetable packaging can be a real stress point for those of us trying to reduce our plastic use, and it is easy to feel overwhelmed by the size of this seemingly insurmountable problem. Failing all else, we need to flex our consumer muscles and put pressure on supermarkets - and on our governments - to rethink food packaging. There are rumours of plastic free aisles coming soon to supermarkets near you, and bulk stores seem to be springing up in our cities. Support these intiatives, and let's demand more top-down solutions which will make is easier for us all to make plastic-free choices.

#breakfreefromplastic #plasticfreejuly

Sunday, 8 July 2018

Plastic Free July - Day 7 - Reusable Cutlery

Disposable plastic cutlery ... Again, it is all about convenience. Produced at great environmental cost, used for just a few minutes, then thrown away to pollute the land or sea. These items do not break down in the environment. It was a wake-up call to me to begin to think differently about throwing things 'away' .... because there is no 'away', not really. We are beginning to reap the consequences of our throwaway lifestyles, as pictures such as the one above, which depicts rubbish floating in the Caribbean illustrate.

Disposable plastic cutlery is a really easy thing to stop using. Really, the secret to beating single-use plastic is simply to be prepared. It is easy to carry in our handbags, or in our cars, a fork - maybe even a spork - and whatever other implements we deem necessary when we are out and about. If we are catering an event, it is more of a hassle to wash up after everyone, but it could be good for community if we enlist everyone's help, and with dishwashers to help us, there isn't really an excuse. You can buy sets of reusable cutlery made of metal or bamboo; some come in lovely cases. Some creative people make their own.

I am always so encouraged to hear about innovative solutions to our throwaway plastic problem, and love this edible cutlery being produced in India ... Check it out by clicking HERE.

#breakfreefromplastic #plasticfreejuly

Saturday, 7 July 2018

Plastic Free July - Day 6 - Period Products

So far, the steps I have suggested for reducing our plastic usage may seem pretty straightforward and obvious. It's really not too difficult, is it, to be part of this movement? Today's suggestion might be a little more challenging for some of us, and it is perhaps a bit more difficult to talk about, but it is an important issue to discuss: period or menstrual products.

Now, if you are male, please don't just stop reading, because you may have a wife / girlfriend / sister / daughter who needs to hear about this ... Most of us have heard about reducing plastic bag usage, or about ditching the plastic straw, but we might not realise that one sanitary towel is equivalent in waste to four plastic bags! That's shocking, right? And sanitary products are filled with toxic chemicals which 1) we might not actually want to be putting so close to our intimate regions and 2) leak into the environment upon disposal. Eeeuch!

Recently, I looked in a box of tampons and found that they are no longer packaged with cardboard tubes, which were probably plastic coated anyway, as they were when I was younger, but that each tampon comes with a single-use plastic dispenser. I was actually quite shocked at the amount of single-use plastic in one tampon. And these menstrual products end up on our beaches, in our oceans or leaching into landfill where they take 500-800 years to decompose. If each woman uses over 16,000 menstrual products in her lifetime, then it's pretty clear we need to be looking for alternatives, and passing on a much healthier legacy to the next generation.

Alternatives are actually out there ... Yes! Option 1) The menstrual cup. There are many different brands to choose from, and I would really recommend giving this a go, particularly if you are an older woman, post-childbirth. Honestly, the mooncup changed my life. :) A one-off purchase of £20 from Boots (Yes, think of all that money you are saving every month) and, whilst it takes a little getting used to, persevere. No leaks and a shorter period are two other benefits of this clever little invention.

Option 2) If the menstrual cup thing really isn't for you, how about considering cloth pads? There are some really funky designs available now, or if you're clever with a sewing machine, you can even make your own. And failing that, definitely try to find a more environmentally friendly / chemical free sanitary product. Time to flex those consumer muscles again, folks! Come on!

Click HERE for more info on the mooncup or watch the video HERE.

#breakfreefromplastic #plasticfreejuly

Friday, 6 July 2018

Plastic Free July - Day 5 - The Issue of Fast Food

So much of our plastic waste is due to our need for convenience. We are always rushing. We don't have time to cook properly. We need food - FAST. But, so much of the plastic litter in the environment comes from fast food. This is a real problem, and an area we need to confront if we are journeying to reduce our plastic waste.

We live not far from a road junction known as 'Fatty Island' because of the number of fast food outlets there - McDonalds, KFC, Greggs, Subway, Pizza Hut. They're all there. And I have four boys - including two teenagers who love fast food. It is all just too convenient.

Even if we do eat in such places - and I try to do so less and less - there are ways we can reduce the amount of waste we produce, but it is actually quite a challenge. Recently, I took my reusable mug into our local McDonalds when I was there with my son, and we asked for a hot chocolate in our own mug. The cashier was unsure what to do and called a manager, who told me she could pour the chocolate into my mug from their disposable mug, but she had to serve it into the disposable mug first. Whhaaattt?? "What would be the point of that then?" I asked her, and she just looked a bit blank. But after she had gone away, the cashier (a young girl) said to me, "Why can't we do that? I definitely think we should do that." And so I left feeling that even the asking is important, because it makes people think. (Btw there are lots of places that WILL refill your reusable mug, and even give you a discount for using one!) ;)

This short video from The Environmentals is quite fun to watch if you are a bit of a fast food junkie, and need some help as to how you can reduce your waste when eating fast food ....


Certainly try to avoid the single-use plastics like a cup lid and plastic straw by asking not to have them.
Avoid having to order a drink entirely by taking your own in your reusable bottle. (The cups in fast food restaurants are not recyclable because of a layer of thin plastic which keeps them watertight.)
Try to order items from the menu which have minimal packaging. (Unfortunately healthy options like salads often have the most plastic packaging.)
Share a tray with your friends to avoid multiple tray liners.
Use the ketchup station to squirt sauce directly from the tap rather than having to use the little ketchup holding packages. Squirt your ketchup on to your cardboard, or directly on to your food.
Take your rubbish home and recycle it. Despite signs to the contrary in our local fast food restaurant, the way the rubbish is sorted makes it extremely unlikely any of it is actually recycled.
Write to the fast food companies you visit and use social media to demand change.
Don't underestimate the power of consumer choice!

#breakfreefromplastic #plasticfreejuly

Plastic Free July - Day 4 - Refuse the Straw

Another very simple pledge we can all make in our journey to reduce our plastic usage is to REFUSE THE STRAW. It is actually not as easy as it seems; it is so easy to forget to say "no straw, please" when we order, and before we know it, we are served a drink with the offending item already there before us. But do not give up! The more we keep trying to remember, the more often we will succeed.

If I am somewhere and I notice plastic straws being served, I try to email the company when I get home and challenge them to either get rid of straws, or to find an alternative. We are seeing more and more small businesses and larger companies hearing our consumer voices and making decisions to stop serving plastic straws. Even giants like McDonalds are rumoured to be getting rid of plastic straws in the UK to reflect the public mood following the powerful BBC documentary, Blue Planet 2. Do not doubt our consumer power when we all act together.

If you really need to use a straw, you can buy reusable stainless steel or glass straws, some that come with special cleaning brushes to help keep them hygienic. And, in case you need a bit more of a push to understand why we need to stop using plastic straws ....

If you missed the video a few years ago of a sea turtle with a straw stuck up its nose, you can watch it by clicking HERE. It is not very nice, but sometimes we need an image that sticks in our mind to remind us to say, "No straw please". We can do it!

#breakfreefromplastic #plasticfreejuly

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Plastic Free July - Day 3 - Coffee on the Go

Day 3 is all about those disposable coffee cups. Again, like plastic bottles, we might think these are recyclable, but we'd be wrong. Most single-use coffee cups are coated in plastic which makes them non-recyclable. And they often come with a second single-use component, the plastic lid.

In the UK, we get through 10,000 throwaway coffee cups every 2 minutes! So this is one area of plastic waste we can really do without.

This is my reusable coffee mug. It's ceramic and cost around £5.00 from Sainsburys. It has a practical silicon lid, and is dishwasher and microwave safe. There are so many of these beautiful reusable cups around now for you to choose from, including some lovely designs in bamboo and, at less that £10, this is a purchase we can all afford to make.

Keep it in your bag or in your car, so if you're out and about, or at the motorway services, it is always close at hand. Most places will fill your reusable cup if you ask them to. And some places will even give you a discount on the price of your coffee, which is an added bonus! It's always worth asking ...;)

#breakfreefromplastic #plasticfreejuly

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Emergent Writing 5

Sometimes people ask me how I know my children are making progress. It always makes me smile, because when you see your children growing and progressing each day before your eyes, it is clear that they are learning, that their skills are improving and that their understanding is deepening. So the question is a bit like asking, how do you know your plants are growing ... You put the seeds in the ground and weed and water them, and shoots appear, leaves unfurl, the plant grows taller. It is kind of obvious. In recent months, I have been documenting my youngest son's emergent writing as it has happened. Remember this is not anything I have introduced or steered, this stems from his interest and desire for understanding and mastery. He explores the idea of writing at his own pace, in his own time.

Recently, he has been interested in written codes, for example, Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs. He has enjoyed looking at Egyptian tablets in museums, and trying to decipher the characters. He has practiced writing the characters for himself. This links in with his ongoing fascination with the Ancient Egyptians. He has also enjoyed Rudyard Kipling's Just So Stories, "How the First Letter was Written" and "How the Alphabet was Made" about the development of picture writing.

This year, he has also demonstrated a keen interest in drawing, and his drawings have really improved as his fine motor skills have developed. He loves drawing and creating characters and stories where he draws the pictures and then narrates the words for me to write down. He is very proud of his 'books'. He and his brother have a drawing club with their friend on Friday afternoons, and have enjoyed the opportunity to meet several illustrators over the course of the year, including the infamous Nick Sharratt and James Mayhew, who wrote and illustrated the Katy in the art gallery books.

If he were in school, he would be almost at the end of Year 1. He was six in March. And yet all these tasks he busies himself with are the precursors to writing, the foundation stones. Just in recent weeks, he has been wanting to write more extensively. In the past, he has written perhaps a brief thank you letter, or a card. But now he wants to write letters to post to his friend, postcards from our holiday. And the skills he has developed through his drawing make the formation of the letters easier. It is not a struggle. It is not as frustrating as it might be to a younger child. I help with words, spellings. He likes to get things right. Some of his letters are still back to front. But he enjoys it. I am not nagging. This is what he wants to do. We write what he wants to write - and then we stop.

Examples ....
Here is a list of Star Wars characters he wrote last August:

Here's a letter he wrote to our local MP in January:

A list of names he wrote in February, about the same time as the hieroglyphs above:

Here's a card he wrote to his friend in May:

Here he is writing a card to his friend just a few weeks ago (June):

And here he is writing his own letter to our local MP in response to the Draft Guidance on Elective Home Education:

His letter said: "Being home educated helps you be free, and when you are free, you learn. I learn a lot! I like learning at home." It's interesting to observe how children's learning does not seem to be linear, but rather skills will suddenly improve dramatically, and then plateau for a while. I love observing children learning like this, free from adult interference. Yet still I am regularly asked, "But how do you know if they are making progress?"