November 22, 2023

Book review: The most inspirational books on education and home-schooling

Five years ago, I completed a post-graduate diploma in education at Bristol University. I mostly focused my research on bilingualism and language education. Back then I discovered Ken Robinson and his most famous publication ‘Creative schools’. When we started home-schooling our children two years ago, I was greatly inspired by “Kreda”, a Polish magazine on education and home-schooling (sadly, the print version will be discontinued from September 2023). But recently, I felt this urge to read more on education and home-schooling to get even more inspired and broaden my horizons on these subjects. Here are the books that are a great inspiration to me:

Home Education. Vol. 1. by Charlotte Mason

“The resourcefulness which will enable a family of children to invent their own games and occupations through the length of a summer’s day is worth more in the afterlife than a good deal of knowledge about cubes and hexagons.” (p. 191)

Charlotte Mason’s publication can be treated as a framework for home education. It was written more than a century ago, at the turn of the 20thcentury, so you might think it would represent some old-fashioned values and ideas, but I think her vision is as relevant today. For example, she sees education as an atmosphere, where the child’s natural surroundings, people and things form the home-schooling life together. She also points out the importance of forming habits whether in regard to education, healthy diet, savoir-vivre or having a rest. She writes fondly about the outdoors, nature, foreign languages, music and art. Charlotte Mason references many books (would love to read some of them!) and even provides some detailed instructions on how to teach children to read or write.

Free to Learn by Peter Gray

“When language play is carried into adulthood, we call it poetry.” (p. 123)

This is a fascinating read on the role of play in children’s education. It’s so well-written that when I read it, it felt more like a detective story than a non-fiction publication. On many different levels it made me sad. When we look at a school’s compulsory system, the obligation to sit and learn, to follow the teacher’s guide, to spend hours indoors and only short breaks outdoors, to be quiet and follow the rules, etc. Why? Because we want our children to succeed, to go to a ‘good’ university, to have a ‘good’ job and a ‘good’ life. But we don’t need to take away this tremendously important learning tool of letting our children play. Our children can still be successful and happy in their adult life. Just some food for thought. I’d make this book compulsory (!) to any parent (before their child/ren starting any form of education). 

Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv

“Not everything that can be counted counts and not everything that counts can be counted.” Quote attributed to Albert Einstein

This book is as fascinating and eye-opening as it is sad. It tells some realistic truths about our disconnection from nature, how children no longer play and explore freely the outdoors. It says that the value of knowing and understanding nature is less and less important for schools and universities, even though “[a]ny natural place contains an infinite reservoir of information, and therefore the potential for inexhaustible new discoveries.”. [p. 68] Through his extended research and interviews, Adam Louv not only tries to analyse children’s relationship with nature in the modern times, he also provides solutions on a micro and macroscale. Last Child in the Woods beautifully corresponds with the ideas presented in Free to learn, but obviously with an emphasis on nature. I couldn’t read more than a few short chapters in one go, as I needed time to digest its content. It’s written from an American perspective, but also includes some references to Europe.

What are your most inspirational books on education? Please let me know in the comments below.

October 18, 2023

My home-schooling journey with 3 children in Bristol, UK

When I speak with my friends, many of them (especially those who don’t home-school!) ask me about our home-schooling routine. It makes me think that perhaps more parents might be interested in reading about our home-schooling life, hence today’s post.

We started home-schooling 2.5 years ago. We’re a family of 5: one set of parents and three children aged 8, 4 and 1. The first year was quite difficult, as we didn’t know many other home-schooling families, and our home-schooling life felt a bit lonely. But, it all changed when we joined the first group.


The very first group we joined was a forest school and our daughter has loved going there from day one. We made some friends through it and it became a core social activity of the week. The second one was gymnastics: all my children are full of energy, so I was looking for some physical activity and gymnastics was a great choice. Then we started attending piano lessons, as music is an important part of our curriculum. Lastly, we joined (even though a bit irregularly), a drama club which is a wonderful way to awaken children’s imagination.  We attend it irregularly, because as I don’t drive, it takes us around 1.5-2 hours to get there, one way!

Nature, reading, music and art

If I needed to describe the key elements of our home-schooling life, it would be: nature, reading, music and art. Nature is present in my children’s lives via forest school, our garden, nature walks and weekend trips. On fine days, we can read a story sitting on our garden’s bench. We read books in two languages every day and go to the library at least once a week. On top of that, we enjoy playing and improvising on different instruments, listening to classical music, children’s tunes or singing songs. It sounds very simple, but I trust it gives them the foundations for an amazing memory, good music taste and awakening their creativity. Music is closely related to art. We all enjoy hands-on crafts, like painting, drawing or postcard making. We also read about painters, analyse their paintings in the albums, visit museums and galleries. My children like playing pretend games and occasionally I overhear them calling themselves van Gogh or Monet (!).

Free play

I feel from the bottom of my heart that free-play is important. I love to quietly observe my children, especially in their free play. I only wish they could have more free play in nature; that’s something I’d like to include more in this academic year.


Yes, my children are home-schooled and raised bilingually: Polish and English. Even though we’re both Polish, my husband mostly reads in Polish and I mostly read in English. I also use English when our home-schooling context is mainly in English. I think our bilingual routine works well now, but when we started our home-schooling journey, it felt a bit chaotic and confusing, mainly because we all needed to adjust to some language changes.

Books on education

I like reading myself and I’ll be posting a series of short reviews on the books on education that inspired me most. That’s going to be next month!

I think these are my core ideas around home-schooling right now. Would you like to read more about home-schooling here? Please let me know in the comments below if you’d like more content like this, e.g. reading more about our daily routine or how we navigate two languages in our home-schooling life.

September 20, 2023

Travelling corner: My 3 campsite recommendations (summer 2023)

I think camping, like swimming and cycling, is in my DNA. But even though I really like them, I still need to put some boundaries on my enthusiasm (please read here what I dis/like about camping). Last summer, we experienced our first camping as a family of 5, but, we also travelled to a few other places and today I’d like to share my recommendations:

Lansallos, Cornwall

This was our first camping trip we went on as a family of 5! We went to a NT campsite in Cornwall and you can read about our first camping experience here.

Maker Heights, Cornwall

There are two little towns next to each other with a few beaches to share: Kingsand and Cawsand, Cornwall. The camp-site, Maker Heights is located on the hill, within a walking distance from the towns (20 minutes on foot). You can walk to the towns via a countryside path and a little wood. We went there for four days and it was the long weekend in May, so on Sunday the campsite was full and it felt a bit over-crowded, but it had a really nice vibe. The campsite was family-friendly, had one of the cleanest toilets (oh yes!), and very nice staff. On top of that, there was a canteen with some delicious food (we tried their savoury buns and they were good!). But the most exciting thing about this campsite were the campfires! You could join one of the communal ones or have your own. We loved our stay!

Brixham, Devon

This place was recommended to us by my dear friend. The campsite, Wall Park, is located in Brixham, Devon. You can reach the town centre in 15 minutes on foot. We went camping for a weekend, but outside season, so it wasn’t so busy and felt rather (positively) quiet. The staff are nice, there is a little café, a bar and a small playground. There are many toilets and showers and also a couple of washing machines and dryers. Within a 20-minute walk, there is a beautiful pebble beach, Breakwater Beach, with some crystal clear water, and a bit further away, a marine swimming pool, Shoalstone Pool. What a choice for sea swimmers!

What I most like about those three campsites is their diversity: you can adapt your stays according to your desires, make them more urban or more wild, slow or active, enjoy walking and/or swimming. How was your summer? Have you been camping, too? Please let me know in the comments below.

July 5, 2023

Travelling corner: Our first camping as a family of 5

Oh yes, this was exciting to plan and to actually experience it. We went camping when I was pregnant two years ago, but didn’t use our tent at all last year. So this year we got so excited by the idea of camping and sharing the tent space as a family of 5.


We chose a similar location that we travelled to 5 years ago when I was pregnant with our middle daughter. It felt really emotional to be back there. We decided to go to a NT campsite in Lansallos in Cornwall. It’s beautifully located next to a sheep field, an old church, and many birds flying around (in May!). What’s truly amazing about this campsite is that there is no major road nearby. What a treat to wake up to the sounds of birds and sheep and nothing else!

How long

We decided to go for 4 days, just enough to explore the local area and still enjoy the campsite life. We still needed to take many things, e.g. nappies, many different-weather clothes, blankets, pillows, etc., but not so many toys and books (one book and a few small toys per child).


We cook our meals while camping, so we pre-prepared our simple menu beforehand. We had porridge for breakfast, bread and beans for lunch and pasta for dinner (obviously all those meals with different extras). On top of that, snacks and fresh veggies and fruit. To be honest with you, I loved this simplicity and repetitiveness, so when we came back, we enjoyed cooking that was a bit more sophisticated (!).


From the campsite, there are many walking paths: towards Polperro (a small fishing village) or to Polruan (from there, you can take a boat to Fowey). What a choice!


The Lansallos beach is a 20-minute walk from the campsite. It’s a beautiful, wild beach with its very own waterfall. Having a splash under the waterfall felt so refreshing and invigorating. Worth a try!

Simple life

Camping always reminds me of the simple life that humans used to have or still have somewhere in the world. You need to walk to get some water, wash the dishes or visit a toilet. It’s a beautiful way to connect with nature and admire its beauty. This year, we barely had any plans for our weekend; we went with the flow of each day and that felt so liberating.

You can read more about my previous camping experiences here and here.

Have you been camping this year? Where to? Please let me know in the comments below.

May 17, 2023

Travelling corner: My recently discovered beaches in South Devon, UK

Some of my favourite beaches are in South Devon, but they have one drawback: their waters are super cold! Even last summer, when the weather was hot, the sea water could be very cold. So which beach have I recently discovered?

Sugary Cove

It’s a hidden treasure for those looking for some quieter time on the beach and more wild swimming. The beach is shingle and rocks. It’s located near Dartmouth Castle and can be reached from Little Dartmouth car park (on foot) or Dartmouth Castle (by boat / car and on foot).

Blackpool Sands

It’s a family-friendly shingle beach with crystal clear water. The only drawback is that the shore is quite steep and creates bigger waves / some difficulty when getting to the water. I recommend barefoot walking on the beach, it’s a bit achy, but so relaxing afterwards.

Thurlestone Beach

It’s definitely my favourite beach in South Devon. We keep returning to it since we discovered it two years ago. It has a nice shore: shallow to deep, has a beautiful lagoon / marine / deep blue colour of the sea, and is super clear. But, it has one of the coldest water (I know, a shame!). It’s mainly visited by the locals, so there is a nice friendly vibe on the beach. Back in 2020, when I wrote about it here, the golf card park was free, now you need to pay a (reasonable) parking fee (as in summer 2022). I like coming back here so much: it’s a feast for my body and mind.

You can read more about my travels to South Devon: here and here.

What’s your favourite beach in South Devon? Please let me know in the comments below.

April 19, 2023

My 5 favourite dark hot chocolate cafés in Bristol and Bath

I don’t drink coffee and I don’t like the sweetness of the ‘ordinary’ hot chocolate. One day, I discovered dark hot chocolate and fell in love with it. Below you’ll find my favourite cafés in Bristol and Bath where you can treat yourself to it:

Ruby Jeans in Bristol

This family-run café is a cosy little place in Shirehampton, Bristol. It’s right in the heart of Shirehampton, a short walk from the train station and a walking path by the river Avon. My favourite treat there is dark hot chocolate and kombucha (why not!).

Two Ways in Bristol

This is my newest discovery—it’s in Clifton, not far from the RWA building. I loved their thick dark hot chocolate, it reminded me of all the cafés I visited in Prague one very cold winter, where I often treated myself to this delicious dessert.

Better Food in Bristol

My favourite deli is on Whiteladies Road, and they actually serve hot cocoa which has a more delicate and velvety taste. It’s usually my little treat when we go to Clifton. I’m so happy they put the seating space back inside and outside!

Society Café in Bristol and Bath

The Society Café was one of the first cafés in Bristol where I discovered dark hot chocolate. I like going to the café to do some reading and writing or just stare outside the window. And of course, to drink my delicious beverage. A very idyllic time!

Café au Lait in Bath

I already mentioned this café when writing about Bath. I haven’t been there for a while, but plan to visit soon. It’s a cute little place opposite the train station and their dark hot chocolate is my favourite.

Do you like dark hot chocolate? Do you have your favourite café in Bristol? Please let me know in the comments below.

March 22, 2023

Bilingualism: the sensitive part of it

You know I’m a huge enthusiast of bilingualism. All three of my children are raised bilingually (Polish and English). I read many books and publications on bilingualism and I feel I am a confident advocate for this phenomenon. However, what struck my attention recently were two stories where bilingualism became a struggle and I wanted to look at those examples to see first, if we can understand bilingualism better, and second, how we can implement bilingualism without sacrificing a child’s overall wellbeing.


Both stories had the same effect: the introduction of the second language affected the child’s speech. In one case, the child stopped speaking all together (in any language) and in the other example, the child started stuttering (mostly in the second language). They both were raised mostly monolingually, started nursery (second example) and then went to school in England (both examples). They were both sensitive children.


So now I’d like to analyse a few points here. The first one is an observation. When we want to raise our child bilingually, we need to be sensitive to their language development in two languages. If there are any amber / red lights flashing that something is not right, we need to analyse this deeper. If needed, we need to first speak with close family about it, then the nursery’s or school’s professionals or seek professional help. This is important to act upon any abnormalities as promptly as possible to avoid more stress for the child and also a worsening of the circumstances. 

Child’s personality

Every child is different. For some children, starting school with no language skills in the second language is absolutely not a problem, and after a few months, they’re nearly fluent, with many friends. However, other children may not react like that. If they’re shy, introverted or perfectionists, they may find it difficult to express themselves in the second language, to make new friends, or speak when knowing they may make mistakes. Also, we know that from around the age of 3-4, children are more prompted to make friends; if they lack language skills, this may impact their social interactions and make them feel worse or lonely.


When I started my bilingual journey, I was certain how I wanted to have it organised. We spoke mostly Polish at home and English was the language of formal education. However, when we started home-schooling two years ago, this whole philosophy was turned upside down, because suddenly, I needed to speak to them both in Polish and English. I did that (although, our bilingual system is still a bit chaotic; I need to rethink it!). I adapted and I’m glad I did that, because I could observe my middle daughter gaining language skills in two languages, and being more and more confident in using both of them. I could see her struggles and victories and I could comfort her or celebrate with her at the time. With a multilingual family, it’s important to remember flexibility when it comes to plans / routines / goals; we’re humans and we need to adapt our visions to the given reality. I’m not speaking here about giving up, but more about finding ways to accommodate new circumstances or adapting our plans to our children’s actual language needs.

How do you find your child’s bilingualism? What’s your language routine (especially if you’re home-schooling)? Please let me know in the comments below.

February 22, 2023

Goodbye 2022 and hello 2023

Happy New Year 2023! I know it’s already February and I’ve only now had time to sit down and write my first post of 2023! It was the beginning of our winter term at Bristol Language School that took most of my attention, but it was good to be available for last minute questions and enrolments. Thank you to all our students for joining our winter language courses.

Before writing this post, I went through my last year’s reflections and plans. It’s interesting to see what was important to me then.

So first let’s see what 2022 was like. It was both a challenging and also beautiful year. This year definitely belonged to our baby boy, as this was the year when our third baby was born: how we all fell in love with him! He’s so adorable, but we’d love to have a better evening routine, as he usually wakes up a few times in the evening (yes, evenings are me-time / me-and-hubby-time / work-time / doing nothing time, hence very important time for mama!). We still continue home-schooling. This was actually our second year of home-schooling; obviously, it was slightly different because of my last months of pregnancy, then postpartum and first months with our new-born baby. However, I think we managed to enjoy the home-schooling time together, although there were some little crises and difficult days (maybe even weeks ;). My girls had their 4th and 8th birthdays in 2022 and that made me think about time (also after reading Four Thousand Weeks); how it’s important to cherish those everyday moments and each other’s company.

In business, we celebrated our 10th year anniversary at Bristol Language School! Yes, the school was founded in August 2012! A little project that turned out to be an exciting hub for learning and improving language skills. There was an anniversary party, cake and wonderful guests. It’s amazing that we could celebrate this wonderful event together.

Personally, I didn’t have as much time for my passions, as my priority was my little baby. But, I’ve managed to read some interesting books, listen to podcasts in three different languages, writing inspiring blog posts for you here (!), do some wild swimming, cycling and long walks. Also, I was supported by my family and friends, which made this year a lot easier. I’m so grateful for that. I also became a dark hot chocolate enthusiast, so maybe I’ll prepare a post about my favourite cafes?

So, what are my plans and dreams for 2023? I think last year I talked about patience with my family and I think I was a bit more patient in 2022. For 2023, I’d like to bring more joy into our daily life, and maybe to express it in the form of playing music together, singing and dancing.

In business, I’d like to introduce a series of talks with interesting individuals on interesting topics. I also want to support our language school by creating a patreon’s site for the friends of Bristol Language School. I’m very excited about this project. You can find out more about it here.

Personally, I think I want to keep the right balance between all the different hats I’m wearing right now, and remember the importance of having time for myself. I also want to have a clearer vision for the daily or once-in-a-while rituals. Also, I’ve already started planning some sustainable family trips in 2023, of course!

These are my reflections on 2022 and visions for 2023. Have you made plans / visions / dreams for the New Year? Please let me know in the comments below.

December 14, 2022

Book review: Four Thousand Weeks by Oliver Burkeman

Practise doing nothing. [p. 244]

I planned to write a long and thorough review about the most fascinating book I’ve recently read. But instead, I spent most evenings with my teething baby, reading one or two pages, before being too tired to read and simply falling asleep. But, as the festive season is approaching (and January!), I thought I’ll still write a short review and choose a few quotations to give you a little flavour of this intellectual treat.

Why ‘four thousand weeks’? As we read in the introduction: “[t]he average lifespan is absurdly, terrifyingly, insultingly short. […] Assuming you live to be eighty, you’ll have had about four thousand weeks.” [p. 3]

It points out the absurdity of our modern ‘better’ life: “Life, I knew, was supposed to be more joyful than this, more real, more meaningful, and world was supposed to be more beautiful. We were not supposed to hate Mondays and live for the weekends and holidays. We were not supposed to have to raise our hands to be allowed to pee. We were not supposed to be kept indoors on a beautiful day, day after day.” [Charles Eisenstein, p. 12]

“You breathe a sigh of relief, and as you dive into life as it really is, in clear-eyed awareness of your limitations, you begin to acquire what has become the least fashionable but perhaps most consequential of superpowers: patience.” [p. 170-1]

And I also want to mention my two fav words: happenstance and finitude.

Finally, I want to use this opportunity to wish you a joyful and peaceful festive season and a very prosperous 2023. Merry Christmas!

November 2, 2022

Travelling corner: My summer 2022 in South Devon, UK

I know it’s already November but I still dwell on our travels in summer 2022. It was our second trip as a family of 5, so still a big adventure for us all. Also, at that time, I really felt I needed a break from our daily routine, so we decided to make the most of the summery weather and we headed to South Devon.

Little Dartmouth and Dartmouth

We decided to stay near Dartmouth, a river-side town. We recently enjoyed coming back to places we visited in the past. This time, we even started our trip with the exact same location. We parked our car in the Little Dartmouth car park and went for a walk. However, this time we took a different direction (but to the same final destination, as the routes link together later on) and we went towards Dartmouth and its castle.

Dartmouth Castle

The walk from the car park is not very strenuous, but the last part is very steep. You can also come by boat / car. The castle is beautifully located, just on the banks of the river Dart with the views over the river and Dartmouth town. I really enjoyed climbing the tower and visiting the medieval church of St Petrox. My children loved the little café next to the castle, as they had ice-cream (!). So we finished our castle trip sitting with our treats, and enjoying the river views…

Greenway House

That was an unexpected day trip! In our summer chalet, we were going through the local leaflets and we found a picture of a beautiful house. It turned out it was the summer house of Agatha Christie, aka my favourite author in my late-teens. That trip was the cherry (icing on the cake?) of our stay in Devon. Our little trip started with a boat ride from Dartmouth to Greenway House, or as Agatha called it, ‘the loveliest place in the world’. The summer house is a beautiful white building with a rich collection of items inside (apparently the family enjoyed collecting things and they collected cca  (what does this mean? About?) 12,000 of them!). Also, I could spot books in all the rooms I’ve been to (including the toilet!). Outdoors, we went for a walk in the garden and then down to the boat house. The boat house was the place to relax, set on the river with a small swimming pool downstairs, and a living room with a fire place and a balcony upstairs. I could see myself relaxing there!

These were the highlights of our summer in Devon. I also plan to write about our favourite beaches there too, so watch this space!

What are your favourite memories from summer 2022? Please let me know in the comments below.