The moon hung low and clear in the January sky, as we sped along the road beneath. Orion and Venus were also visible. Finlay and Isla were keen to do some stargazing and it seemed there were a number of UFOs out that night too. I smiled to myself; sometimes the best-laid schemes do not gang a-gley. It was a fantastic evening to take the children to their first winter lecture at the Royal Observatory in Edinburgh.
With 2009 designated as the International Year of Astronomy, we had embarked on an Earth and space project for JanuaryFebruary. We've done a variety of reading, writing, painting, researching, and so on, at home. But getting out, hunting for experiences and meeting people engaged in areas we're investigating seems to us to be a vital part of our home-school curriculum.
The talk by space scientist Maggie Aderin-Pocock was all we'd hoped it would be. She spoke animatedly about her journey from childhood to adulthood and how, despite being female, black and dyslexic, she'd had such a desire to know about space, that with the support of her family and significant teachers, she was able to achieve her dream. We were then taken on a journey through space and our eyes and minds opened by the stories and images she presented during the hour.
The inspiration and deeper understanding we have all gained, as a family, has been huge and, possibly because we home-school, there is a sense of the subject naturally being kept alive, even when official school work is done for the day.
We have been fortunate too, to have a helpful museum curator who will call me if a hands-on exhibition is coming up. We are always made welcome by staff and, with our small group of home-schoolers, we have been treated to first-class talks and experiences.
With it also being 250 years since the birth of Robert Burns, we've been learning a few Scottish poems in his honour. And there's a lot going on all over Scotland to mark the anniversary. Mebbe a wee carrant ower tae Ayrshire micht be a guid idea ...
Flora Dunnett is a trained primary, Rudolf Steiner and TEFL teacher. She home-schools her two children in the Borders.