Interview with Gracie – what’s life like as a homeschooler?

I’ve got an interview for you today, but it’s a bit different from my usual blogger of the month series.

I can’t remember why or when I started following Gracie’s blog, but she has always struck me as someone who writes well, with passion, and a strong commitment to changing the world around her for the better.

As I read more of Gracie’s articles, I learned that she is being home-schooled, and I had to admit that this is something that I don’t know very much about.

There is a whole community of children and young people who are experiencing a completely different kind of education to the one that I received, and as most of us never come across these young people, mainly because our paths just don’t cross, we don’t know anything about them.

So I decided to ask whether Gracie would be willing to answer some questions – here’s what she said:

1. What’s a typical day for you like as someone who is home-schooled?

In my family we like to say that for us everything is school, everything is a learning opportunity – real life situations, books, the internet, documentaries, conversations, being outside, helping someone else, just living our lives. Therefore, we never really have a typical day!

However, on most days we do our school work which is a curriculum we’ve devised for ourselves based on what we’re interested in, what we’ll need in the future and what we think is relevant to our lives.

2. I think you said you have younger siblings – do you learn together with them, all do your own thing, or do you teach them sometimes?

Yeah, I have a brother and a sister. When we were younger my parents would teach us a lot more often and so we’d do more projects together. Now that we’re all older and have different interests we tend to get on with our education ourselves, though it does sometimes overlap. A lot of the time I teach my siblings things I’ve already learnt or help them out if they’re struggling with something.

3. What are your favourite subjects and why?

My favourite things to study are socio-anthropology (the social study of humanity), sailing theory and navigation, spoken word poetry and science of all different types. I just have an interest in learning new things and these are all things I’m working on for my future. I do think it’s good to learn a diverse range of subjects and skills that will allow you to live and make a difference in this world.

4. How much input do you have into what you will study? How do you decide what you want to learn about and what kind of projects you will do?

I have a lot of freedom over my education. If there’s something I really want to learn, am passionate about and that will benefit me in the future (because essentially that’s what education is – preparation for the future) my parents will support me in studying it.

5. What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I love sailing, writing, having conversations with my friends, swimming/lifesaving, blogging, cycling, being outside, performing spoken word poetry and cooking/baking!

6. Have you read any good books lately?

I do really like to read. I have a love of and a fascination for words and stories so, in my eyes, books are a whole new amazing world just waiting to be discovered. Some of my favourites are The Secret Life Of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, the Swallows and Amazons series by Arthur Ransome, Where I Belong by Gillian Cross, Artichoke Hearts by Sita Brahmachari, The Order Of Darkness Series by Philippa Gregory and the Cherub series by Robert Muchamore. I recommend all of them!

7. What are three important things that you have learned since you became a blogger?

1. How important it is to be honest and open.
2. That you really can make a difference and meet like-minded people through blogging.
3. How important it is to have something to write about – to live an interesting, meaningful life.

8. Languages were my favourite subjects at school. Do you learn languages? If you wanted to learn a language that none of your family or friends could teach you, what would you do?

I have been learning Italian on and off for a couple of years now, but I’m still not very good. I’ve tried a few different methods of learning, but I still need to find one that works for me (and probably to put a bit more effort in)

9. Is there a community of young people who are being homeschooled, or do you create your own community using your blog?

I know LOADS of homeschoolers both on and offline. There is a huge, thriving, worldwide community of us – all with different views, ideas and ways of doing things. It’s so interesting and encouraging to interact with them all.

10. What is one common misconception that people have about homeschooling, and what would you say to give people the facts?

Haha, this is a good one. There are lots of misconceptions that people have, but the two main ones are probably that
1. we get to sit around at home in our pyjamas watching TV all day and
2. that we have no friends.

Both of these are completely uneducated assumptions that come from people with little or no knowledge of the lives of homeschoolers. I usually just explain the truth: we work pretty hard on our education too and, believe it or not, school isn’t the only place you can make friends!

11. I read somewhere that the idea with homeschooling is that students study things that interest them. This sounds like a great way to get students engaged, but how about those things that you don’t enjoy, but have to do anyway? I’m thinking about my job – I love my job, but there are bits of it that I find a bit boring. I can think of situations at school when I knew I just needed to get things done. How does this work for you if you don’t have to study subjects that you don’t love? I wasn’t a big fan of maths, but do see why it’s useful!

It really depends on your outlook, but for us…yes, there is a lot of emphasis on studying what you’re interested in, but we do also have to do our daily maths and science and writing and other skills that are necessary for us to thrive in a modern world.

12. Does any of your education take place outside?

Yep, lots! We live on a farm/campsite and over the years a ton of our time has been spent in the fields, rivers, woodlands, tracks and farmland that are our backyard. When we were little we’d play out in the dirt and explore, then as we got older we’d grow vegetables, look after animals, learn about nature whilst in the very midst of it, cook out over campfires and even just use the outdoors as our classroom – a place to read or study.

13. What’s an interesting place that you have visited recently?

We recently travelled up to Scotland for one of my sailing trips. It’s just the most beautiful country. We camped out for a few days on the edge of this loch where we could wild swim, watch otters, harvest and cook shellfish, create artistic masterpieces from shells, pebbles and seaweed, hike up mountains, go for stunning early morning runs and meet interesting local people all within walking distance!

14. Do you have to do tests or the same exams as people your age?

As a homeschooler, you don’t actually have to do any of the exams that school kids do. Some of us choose to do them and some of us choose not to. We can do them whenever we like, at whatever age, so whenever we feel ready. Personally, I haven’t decided yet. I feel like these standardised tests are something everyone has and it doesn’t set you apart like life experiences or an alternative education do. However, they might be a good thing to have, just in case you ever need them.

15. Do you have any pets?

We have a rescue partridge 😉 We’re just looking after it until it can be returned to the wild though. Then there’s loads of dogs, cats, chickens and ducks on the farm.

16. How important are the internet and online resources for your studies?

I do a lot of learning online. There are many resources out there and if I ever want to know something or learn about it, I can. However, it’s more important to me as a tool of communication with my friends as most of them live all across the world (America, Canada, Scotland, India, Dubai and so on)

17. Do you have any opportunities to take part in group work?

I am really into sailing and go on quite a lot of voyages where you’re on a boat with somewhere between 10-20 people who you live and work with 24/7. It’s a very intense experience and teaches you a lot about teamwork, tolerance and social situations. There are also a lot of home-ed study groups where people come together to learn something together.

18. What would you say is the main advantage of homeschooling?

The freedom to be yourself and think differently without being forced through a system which is turning you into a product of modern society. Look around and you’ll see so many young people failed by the system which is supposed to prepare them for their future. Homeschooling shows you a different future, doesn’t pile on the unnecessary pressure and allows you to flourish with your strengths and work on your weaknesses without being branded a failure.

19. What is something that you would like to learn more about in the future?

I want to work in sail training (charities that take young people sailing) when I’m older so I’d like to continue with my learning and understanding of everything to do with that. I’d also like to work harder on my Italian and to get better at performing spoken word.

20. Is there anything else that you would like to add/tell us?

I don’t think so. Just thank you for reading and to Kirsty for hosting me. If you have any more
questions about homeschooling, please let me know, I’d be happy to help out!

So, thanks again to Gracie for answering my questions. I know I learned a lot through reading them. If you have any questions, post them in the comments. I’m happy to discuss the different ways of doing things, as long as the comments are respectful.

Also, why not pop over to Gracie’s blog A light in the darkness and read some of her articles?

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Blogger of the month – Kathleen

It’s time for the next in my Blogger of the Month series, and today I’m talking to Kathleen, whose blog I discovered a few months ago. I like Kathleen’s blog because it covers a wide range of topics from beauty to books to travel, and sometimes she does bilingual posts, which gives me the chance to see how many Dutch words I can recognise and whether it’s enough to understand the sentence! I also enjoy Here’s what Kathleen had to say:

1. What’s the link for your blog and how would you describe it in a couple of sentences?

It’s The good, the fab, and the lovely. I have been blogging for about 3 years. I blog a bit about everything I guess: beauty, fashion, travel, books and lately I have also done some posts about food. Whatever interests me I blog about .

2. Have you always enjoyed writing, or did you only start recently?

I have always enjoyed language, but I started writing blog posts about 3 years ago. Even though I am from Belgium (the Dutch-speaking part), I decided to blog in English as I thought that would attract more followers and readers.. I know I write mistakes, but overall I think I manage! Anyway, I’ve been learning heaps writing in English.

3. What’s one of your favourite posts from your blog, and why?

I’ve been writing these ‘nostalgia’ posts recently like this one: Going back to the 90s and I certainly enjoy writing them as it is always a trip down memory lane 😊 I talk about my favourite events, music, books, games,… of a certain decade.
Another favourite post of mine is a post I wrote some time ago about organ donation, a subject which lies very close to my heart as my husband is a transplant patient. In this post I write about the struggles we’ve endured during his disease and what organ donation meant to us. Whenever I can, I try to convince people to put themselves up as an organ donor as it saves so many lives…

4. How do you make sure that you don’t run out of ideas? Where do you get most of your inspiration?

I’ve got a notebook in which I write down all my ideas. I get my ideas from everywhere: magazines, other blogs, television,…Whenever I think something is worth writing about, I put it down in my notebook and when I need inspiration, I browse in it. So far I haven’t suffered from writer’s block… yet!

5. What would you say is the best thing about blogging?

Oh I love everything about blogging! If I could I would make it my fulltime job! I like the writing, taking pictures, the interacting with readers and other bloggers,… I’ve been blogging for 3 years and haven’t regretted it a single minute!

6. What’s one of your most popular posts? Why do you think people liked it so much?

My most popular post is one about a beauty product from L’Oréal, the Revitalift laser peeling lotion. I honestly wouldn’t know why this keeps attracting readers, but it sure is good for my stats!

7. If you were asked to put together a beauty and lifestyle box with 4 products inside, which favourite items would you put in?

So difficult to choose only 4 products!!! For now I’d go for these 4:
– Chanel n°5 as that is one of my all-time favourite perfumes.
– Coconut oil:you can use it as a cleanser, as a bodylotion, to nourish your hair, with some sugar in it you can use it as a scrub,… i just love the versatility of this product!
– Estée LauderAdvanced Night Repair Concentrated Recovery Powerfoil Mask: this sheet mask is too good to be true… such a shame about the price 😞
– Urban Decay Naked 2 eyeshadow palette… it really lives up to its expectations!! I love the shades, it has great pigmentation and there are just so many possibilities with this palette.

8. What’s one thing you wouldn’t have done or learned if you hadn’t started a blog?

As I already said, my English has improved a lot since blogging. When I write a post I will also look up information about the brand, the destination,… so those are things I would otherwise not know. Blogging definitely broadens my mind!

9. Have you ever bought anything because a blogger was talking about it?

Frequently! The Urban Decay Naked 2 eyeshadow palette for instance, a highlighter from Maybelline, a mascara from Rimmel, and many other things!

10. What type of posts do you most enjoy writing? What type of posts do you find hard to write?

I love writing my ‘nostalgia’ posts. As I already said, they’re always a trip down memory lane! The travel posts are usually a bit harder to write as it takes me a bit more research.

11. Have you read any good books lately?

I’m in a book club so I read my ‘compulsory’ books. So far this year, I didn’t like them all, but I don’t mind as reading broadens your mind anyway 
I did read a fabulous book lately ‘The last days of Rabbit Hayes’ from Anna McPartlin. It’ about a woman who is diagnosed with cancer. She’s brought to a palliative unit and during her last days, she and her family look back on her life. This might sound a bit soppy and heartbreaking, but I really liked reading this book… and yes… I cried my eyes out at the end…
Another book I really liked reading was ‘Afterwards’ by Rosamund Lupton. It starts with a fire in a school. One mother sees the smoke and runs inside as she knows her daughter is inside. Both survive, but are heavily hurt. Afterwards, the mother must find the identity of the arsonist and protect her family from the person who’s still intent on destroying them. Afterwards, she must fight the limits of her physical strength and discover the limitlessness of love.

12. Online shopping or going to the shops – which do you prefer and why?

Both 
When I want something specific and I know it will be hell to find it in a regular shop, I will look online first! The shoes for my sister’s wedding for example. On the online shop I set as many filters as I could (colour, height of heels, price, size, style,…) which left me with plenty of choice. I ordered 5 pairs and kept 1 
We do buy a lot of stuff online (books, shoes, clothes, even our fridge and dishwasher!), but I must say that I like an ordinary shopping spree as well!!!

13. What’s a trend that you think should never be seen again?

Braided brows… I mean… come on!!!

14. If you were in a hurry and only had time to apply 3 make-up products, what would they be?

I would go for a mattifying foundation, mascara and lipstick (which I would use as blush as well!).

15. What do you need for the perfect night in?

I looooove a night in!! I’d start with some tapas or some French cheese and wine. Afterwards I’d settle on the couch with a good book, magazine or travel guide, Netflix and some more wine! I also like a board game (ticket to ride!).

16. What’s one thing that you would like to do this year?

Actually, I would like to have certainty about my job… at the moment there are major changes going on in our organization and even though I know I won’t be out of a job, I just want clarity on when/where but especially what!!

Thanks again to Kathleen for answering my questions and I hope you get some good news about your job soon.

To everyone else, be sure to check out Kathleen’s blog – you’re sure to find something you’ll enjoy.

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Blog of the Month – Kerry Life and Loves

Welcome to the next instalment of my blogger of the month series. It’s a way for you to get to meet the people behind some of the blogs that I enjoy.

Kerry is a regular commenter here and I’ve been a fan of her blog for a while, particularly her posts about make-up and skincare, and the ones in which she gets us thinking about real-life questions. I’m also happy that she recently started a skincare series as someone who works in the industry. Don’t forget to check out Kerry’s blog and show it some love!

1. What’s the link for your blog and how would you describe it in a couple of sentences?

Hi, my name is Kerry and I blog over at Kerry Life and Loves My blog was once described as a Lucky Dip blog, as you can find anything over there, and its probably a pretty good description! I class it as a lifestyle and beauty blog, but I have been known to discuss my love of gin, living in a car and dancing in a field!

2. Have you always enjoyed writing, or did you only start recently?

I have always had a love of writing, and its a long running joke in my family that every thing that happens in our lives will end up in “my book” I have a million notebooks full of short stories, poems and chapters of a book I have written. I love writing and the dream is to finish the book I have in mind.

3. What’s one of your favourite posts from your blog, and why?

Ohhh one of my favourite posts! That’s a hard one as I am ultra critical of all my posts. I tend to enjoy writing the posts that inspire discussion, as I absolutely love the engagement that can happen. My cuppa and a chat series probably holds some of my favourite posts. if I had to choose just one, it would be Your Just Not Everyone’s Cup of Tea. I think I love it because it was the first time I felt like I really connected with my readers and began to get the people who read my blog. It was incredibly satisfying

4. How do you make sure that you don’t run out of ideas? Where do you get most of your inspiration?

I have only been blogging for 18 months, so haven’t yet run out of ideas! I think because I cover all subjects, I always have plenty to write about. I feel inspired by anything and everything. Anything from a song lyric, a quote I have heard or something that’s come up in discussion with my friends/family. I am a massive over thinker, so tend to want to pull apart and understand everything! I also have a huge love of make up, so often have products to be shared with my readers if I have loved something. I do sometimes have times when I sit down to write, and can’t make it flow. I just go off and have a cuppa, walk away for a little while.

5. What would you say is the best thing about blogging?

I have gained so much from blogging, far more than I ever thought possible. It has honestly kept me sane throughout my husbands cancer diagnosis and treatment, as well as being an outlet and focus for me in the dark days of his illness. I have met many, many wonderful people that I consider friends, and I love everything about writing a blog. Sorry, I went a bit gushy and overboard there haha!

6. What’s one of your most popular posts? Why do you think people liked it so much?

One of my most popular posts to date was a product review, which really surprised me. It was for a Bobbi Brown eyeshadow stick, and even now, almost a year after it was posted, it gets views every week. I have no idea why! Perhaps the SEO was just right on that post!

7. If you were asked to put together a beauty and lifestyle box with 4 products inside, which favourite items would you put in?

Ohhh I would love to put together a box! Ok, I would 100% have a scented candle, I can’t personally get enough of them. I’d also have a Charlotte Tilbury Lipstick, an Environ Moisturiser and any one of the Urban decay Naked palettes.

8. What’s one thing you wouldn’t have done or learned if you hadn’t started a blog?

Starting a blog has taught me so much, as well as pushed me to come out of my comfort zone. I can be a little lacking in confidence, so making myself go to blogging events has been a huge challenge for me. It’s pushed me, I have had to dig deep at times, but I think it has taught me a lot about myself. I also know a little bit about SEO now, which is a miracle!

9. Have you ever bought anything because a blogger was talking about it?

Ohhh I have bought so much that a blogger has recommended, and in fact, I wrote a whole post on it last year. I am an easy sell. Being a make up junkie, I tend to fall in love with new products that are shown. Fleur de Force convinced me I needed a Chanel eye liner, Sam and Nic from Pixiwoo always convince me I need what ever they use as they are so gorgeous, and any book reviews always make me want to read the book! I’m a nightmare!

10. What type of posts do you most enjoy writing? What type of posts do you find hard to write?

I really enjoy posts that hopefully, give my readers food for thought. I am a talker, I love to talk late into the night with company, so if I can inspire discussion, encourage people to want to give their input, that makes me happy. I do find it harder to reveal too much of the inner workings of me, the more personal stuff, but I am getting better.

11. Have you read any good books lately?

I am a book worm and devour books! I love reading mystery/crime type books, and self development books the most. I have just finished a book called Then She was Gone and it was brilliant. I read it in 3 days. I also recently read the Jo Malone biography, which I really enjoyed. I like reading about people’s lives.

12. Online shopping or going to the shops – which do you prefer and why?

I love going to the shops, we have to support our high streets, but funnily enough, everything I went to buy today in Lakeside shopping centre was out of stock. I’ve had to come home and order it. I do ALWAYS use a blogger’s affiliate link if they have one on something they have suggested and I am buying, we gotta support our fellow bloggers!

13. What’s a trend that you think should stay in 2017 – something you hope will go away this year?

Ohhh I really would love to see the game playing on social media disappear. The follow/unfollow, the bots, the cliques. I just want it to all be fun and less serious.

14. If you were in a hurry and only had time to apply 3 make-up products, what would they be?

I could easily only apply 3 make up products, and if you have seen my “morning minger: moments on my Instagram stories, you would see a lot less than 3 products haha! my three would be mascara, lip balm and a bit of bronzer.

15. What do you need for the perfect night in?

My perfect night in would be a gin and tonic, fluffy blanket, maybe an Indian takeaway and my hubby and boys home. If its a night in with the girls, still gin and tonic, funny films like Bridesmaids or Identity Theft and lots of talking and laughing.

16. What’s one thing that you would like to do this year?

The last 12 months for us have been tough. This year I would just like my hubby to be well, and us to have adventure. catch up on the things that were put on pause for a while. I’m full of hope for this year!

Thanks Kerry for answering my questions and I hope that this year will be a wonderful one for you and your family.

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