2012, Chichester, children, Firstborn, home education

Dancing In Her Converse

I know I’ve been ranting like a good ‘un and I thought, for balance, I would share with you the talents of my eldest daughter affectionately referred to as Firstborn on here.

Firstborn is a very keen photographer and currently studying at Level 3 on a BTEC Graphics & Photography course. Firstborn was one of our 2 children who were accepted at the younger age of 15 onto the Level 2 Art & Design course last year purely on the merit of her portfolio and the impression she gave at the interview. Having been home educated since the age of 7, Firstborn has avoided going down the GCSEs route. She completed the Level 2 course last year with a distinction.

Firstborn is probably one of the most amazing young women I’ve ever known. She’s sassy, conscientious, opinionated and passionate – qualities which I feel many young women struggle to hold on to under the societal’s pressures of thinking they need to be pretty, witty, pleasing and compliant. She is definitely the 17 year old I would have preferred to have been at her age.

I think she takes such beautifully evocative photographs. Firstborn appreciates the encouragement that she receives on her Facebook photography page, after all when you are that young, it takes a lot to be so open about what you are passionate about, for fear that the response might be less than encouraging.

But occasionally, something will rub someone up the wrong way. No matter what your original intention was.

This one stirred a fair bit of response.



Thankfully, others did not think it too.


If you are in the Chichester area and surroundings, and you are looking for a photographer, Firstborn is available for commission work. She’s long stopped accepting Oreos as payment and is now very keen to see hard cash for her hard work. 😉

Firstborn maintains both a Facebook page and a WordPress photography blog. She would be very thrilled if you would wander over and have a look.

Dancing In My Converse

Nadia Stephens Photography

2012, children, home education

Educating Ferals

Recently, since the arrival of stacks of books from Slaveboy’s flat, I stumbled upon my old copy of Roots Of Racism booklet, a remnant from my old teacher training degree. It led to track own another copy of How Racism Came To Britain as I had lost my original copy.

The How Racism Came To Britain graphic novel was my first introduction to the fact that there is more to graphic novels than just The Silver Surfer and The Fabulous Freak Brothers. Being terribly literal, it surprised me just how effective the comic medium for conveying quite a meaty topic like racism.

This got me thinking about a racism and immigration activity I took part in at college for my Geography module. It was quite similar to this A Class Divided activity I recently found online and it got me thinking about just how aware (if at all) my children are about their bi-racial status.

Those who have seen photos of the seven children would know that they are all varying shades of skin colour – from fairly pale to light freckly skin to pink to olive to dusky. The Small Shouty One refers to herself as yellow. Firstborn gets mildly offended when people assume that she is Thai and laughs at the fact that her best friend said that she was chinegro.

I’ve also been rethinking the laid back approach we have been taking with the children’s home education. I’m hardly wishing that we have done things differently, but I’m aware that the needs of the youngest four are different now that th eldest three are so much more mature and able to direct themselves toward what interest them.

What with the constant battle to regain our home educating space which is very much sabotaged by my dining table with is doing its version of The Magical Rice Pot (in which the table seems to procreate and produce never-seen-before objects and crap on a dily basis), I’ve decided to trial a new multi-faceted approach.

Over the next month or so (time is this amorphous thing for us), I’ve sourced several books, music and film to get us going. I appreciate that some of this woud be too overwhelming for The Small Shouty One but there is a lot to be said about shared learning across a range of age groups. What I might not be able to explain simply enough myself more often than not can be explained more intuitively by an older child to a younger one.

I’m going to be starting with this film. I’ve been wanting to watch it for ages and I think it would grab the children’s attention. The setting. The costumes. The music.


With most of the materials I plan to use, I doubt we would really be doing much written work on them. I’m hoping that it might generate discussion, open their horizon to different approaches to story telling and also give them a basic understanding of how much history still affects our day to day living.

Potato Bottom who is a voracious reader (hurray to children who wait til they’re 9 before they started reading!!) should find the both the storyline and language to To Kill A Mockingbird intriguing and challenging. This is one of my favourite books, and Slaveboy’s too. In fact, The Seventh Wonder is named after its author.


I’ve chosen several easy going books for the much younger ones too. Not all of them are about race relations but they are about tolerance, differences and prejudice. Again these engages the questioning side of children through images and simple concepts.













I absolutely love well thought out children’s books. It just cuts through the crap and delivers the message without spin, jargon and feigned political correctness. Good children’s books cuts through the self censoring bullshit that adults can’t help but think they need to apply when discussing sensitive issues.

I’m waiting on this book. I have great expectations for it.


Finally, I think I’ll be introducing the younger children to this album. When it first came out, I was immediately grabbed by the substance it delivered. Anne Braden is a favourite.


What topics have grabbed you? Enough to feel that I need my children to know this urge? I’d love to hear from you. You don’t need to be a home edder, parents invariably impart knowledge to their children – school or no school.



This Is Our 2011

And I am ready to lay it to rest. This year has been bittersweet, seeing us giddy and nauseous from the roller coaster ride that 2010 had presented us. Steeling our bellies, and struggling to regain equilibrium and initiate some momentum into our lives as a family. 

Blogging has been a release. A channel where I could focus on harnessing the ever-decreasing circle which had inhabited my mind for the past to years. It has also made me take up writing creatively as i am a passionate believer that everrything hinges on the telling, not the tale itself. 

Baking was an exercise in re-learning that some things are just a process, that you could mess up one component of a process and slow down its completion but these components are fixable, replaceable and afterall, part of the process. I sort of like to apply this concept to life itself, that rather than short, brief moments defining you forever, you’re actually involved in a process and that there is no race. You can see no one chasing you in the wing mirror. All you have is this unreaching horizon of what is the future and all you have tangible in your hands is the now.

Roller derby was a way to make peace with my physical self which at some deep rooted level, I felt had failed me when I was pregnant of the 7th Wonder. My physical self and I can look each other in the eyes now. 

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blog, challenge, Chichester, children, Crazy life stuff, home, home education

Dare I Mention It?

The Seventh Wonder, I am ashamed to admit, does not get to go out very often. It’s a carried on habit of mine, from when she was really ill and us still recovering from the experiences we had. It was only last week that she acquired her first ever winter coat.  
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home, home education

A Rose Is A Rose….

I was expecting life to be a whole lot more different now that I have two teenagers attending college. We almost considered having some sort of celebratory wake to commemorate the end of their home educating era. After all, we are sending off our young like virgin human sacrifices, ripe and ready to be devoured by the big bad world of mainstream education. The sanctity of our family home will be tainted by the outside world and our family dynamics will never be the same again.

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