Beautiful Barbados: A Home Ed Holiday

I’ve ended up with an unexpected child free day and night due to the hospital messing up my scan appointment date so I completely forgot it’s ‘Blog Night’ until now! It turns out my appointment is tomorrow rather than today (as the wrote on my notes) so the kids decided to stay over at their friends house rather than come home only to go back tomorrow anyway.

I didn’t write last week as we were doing our bit for World Schooling (that’s where people Home Educate whilst traveling the world, I read an article about it recently!) otherwise known as having a holiday in sunny Barbados! I’ve never been to the Caribbean before and this was a real treat to myself; a chance to relax in luxury before the baby comes and have a holiday to remember forever. It didn’t disappoint and really was like being in paradise. Actually the mosquitos would have to go – they have no place in paradise, but otherwise we’re good to go!

One of the great luxuries of Home Educating is being able to go on holiday outside of school holiday times (without the worries of fines and repercussions.) Schools seem to be getting stricter and stricter about children taking time out for holidays, and yet, it seems obvious to me that a holiday is such an enormous opportunity to learn. You’re immersed in a new place, a new culture, a new climate, possibly a new language and that’s before you even start ‘doing’ anything! So here’s a look at our holiday through a Home Ed lens:

I first took Jessy swimming when he was 4 months old and we’ve been regularly. Despite this he seemed to grow more wary of the water as he got older and has always has an intense dislike of water on his face which has hindered his progress and enjoyment somewhat when it comes to swimming. I bought a couple of snorkel sets for the holiday though and was really pleased to discover that the mask helped Jessy feel confident enough to finally put his face in the water. Once he got the hang of snorkeling there was no stopping him!

Ready to go snorkelling

Ready to go snorkeling

Face in the water!

Face in the water!

In between the copious amounts of relaxation (adults) and play (kids) we went on a few trips. The first was to Harrison’s Caves. It’s one of only 4 caves in the world that you can travel through on a tram which meant I could go, as my wobbly swollen legs wouldn’t have managed otherwise! Before we went into the cave we saw a film about how the island of Barbados was formed. It’s a young island in geological terms and is mostly formed from coral. We heard the story of how the first explorers crawled on their bellies in the dark in order to discover the phenomenal caves with huge open taverns. The guide talked about where the water in the caves comes from and how a lot of it is fresh enough to drink. We learned that stalagmites and stalactites form at a rate of 1cm per 200 years which was hard to comprehend when surrounded by some pretty large ones! These two, for example are expected to join up and form a column in about 20,000 years time. It made me feel like a rather insignificant little blip in the big scheme of things!

Only 20,000 years until we finally meet!

Only 20,000 years until we finally meet!

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051120131959Our next trip was on the Atlantis submarine. We took a boat ride to the submarine. A had never been on a boat before and none of us had ever been on a submarine. We were all impressed to discover it was a real submarine. A had asked if we would have to climb through a little hatch and down a ladder and I’d said I thought it was only like that in films, but sure enough that’s how we got in! We descended to 143ft which felt very exciting! There were lots of fish to spot, as well as a huge eel which looks green but we learned is actually blue but covered in yellow slime. In fact colour was one of the unexpected interesting things about being on a submarine. The kids soon noticed that all their clothes looked different colours. Greens went yellow, reds went purple and pale colours went white. Our tour guide explained that it happens because the water filters out many rays of light from the colour spectrum, so colours look different.

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We saw the eel shown in the bottom corner

Our final trip was a turtle spotting trip on a glass bottomed boat. We were taken quite a way out from the shore, first of all to see a sunken ship and secondly to look for turtles. We all put on life jackets and snorkel sets and climbed down the ladder at the back of the boat. Before we left A had adamantly said she would not snorkel out in the sea. No amount of attempting to alleviate her fears would change her mind. However, once we got out there she found her bravery and despite being nervous at first she turned out to be the most enthusiastic of everyone! It was quite hard work swimming back to the boat, but great fun being whizzed along the last few metres holding onto the float at the end of the rescue rope! The fish were spectacular – huge shoals of silver ones right near the surface, beautiful blue neon spotted black ones, pink and green ones, yellow and black striped ones – so many! My friend S spotted an enormous one the size of a small shark but I’ve forgotten it’s name. I saw it from the safety of the boat!

At first it looked as if we weren’t going to find a turtle and everyone was a bit disappointed. Going up and down the ladder was hurting my legs and the boat was making me seasick and we were about to head back. A, in her new found enthusiasm wanted one last snorkel though and as I pointed out, I’ve just spent 3 months feeling permanently sick so I could manage a few minutes more! It was lucky we stayed as the turtle emerged! There was a great flurry of shoving on snorkels as all the others rushed to get back in the water, mostly simply jumping in over the side of the ship. The turtle was coaxed to the surface so I saw it from the boat and the others swam out to be near it and even stroke it. A named it ‘Sylvester’ which the guides seemed to find amusing.

We enjoyed other wildlife during the week too. Every evening as the sun went down the crabs came out on the beach. The kids loved trying to catch them and eventually got this little fellow. A rather large one crawled into the swimming pool which gave us a good view! Apparently it happens a lot – it was still there the next morning!

One of the many crabs.

One of the many crabs.

We also saw this snail outside the caves. There were lots of others on the surrounding leaves.

A large snail.

A large snail.

One evening the kids were very excited to find a tiny turtle on the beach. A local man told us it must have hatched early as they aren’t usually around at this time.

Tiny turtle.

Tiny turtle.

I found some tiny millipedes only a few centimetres long. They’re probably quite regular sized millipedes really but our pet ones at home are about 8 inches long so they looked tiny to us!

The trips were wonderful, but as always I’m sure the kids learned just as much from the hours of cooperative play. They certainly didn’t lack for physical education either as their water acrobatics showed!

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It would be a shame to tell you what we got up to without showing you how beautiful our surroundings were, so here’s just a taster:

View from the hotel balcony.

View from the hotel balcony.

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Our homecoming was unfortunately a sad one as our cat Penny-Patch suddenly collapsed and died in the kitchen shortly after we arrived. She was only 3 years old and it was a huge shock. She was Jessy’s cat and having to take her to the vet and make decisions about her cremation was a very sad moment of learning.

While I got some much needed rest after an 8 hour flight, no sleep and unexpected trauma, the kids opened up the big bag of clay that had arrived the day we left for Barbados. A made a lovely collection of little hamsters and accessories but I could only find these ones to photograph. Jessy made a transmitting device and a smurf hat. I’m not sure what the others are!

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Well, it’s bedtime for me! Hope you enjoyed our Home Ed Holiday!

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