Things were about to get interesting. As part of their summer challenge, the three older children would need to plan, prepare an itinerary for and execute a whole day in London by themselves. They would be required to visit 8 Victorian land sites, taking their photo outside each one. Their smaller challenges to be completed during the four weeks of summer would give them items which would make their time in London easier, as well as more frugal for them (not for us, mind you!)
I knew this London challenge would potentially be the toughest part for them. Two out of three of my older ones are natural leaders, and all three are strong, confident individuals who are all very opinionated 😉 Literally, this whole planning thing may very well have the possibility to cause world war three to break out. No honestly. I speak the truth. When I first mentioned this whole around London thing to Gary his first words were ‘Thomas and Charlotte will kill each other!’
However, if I am honest, this is the reason I was doing this. I’m all about teaching the children transferable skills and learning to work in a team is one such skill. Learning to submit to authority is another one. And learning to lead, is yet another.
Teaching the Importance of Submission and Authority in Order to Build a Strong Team
As a family, we all understand authority and are very willing to submit to those God has over us in authority. We are very happy to submit to our pastor; Gary and I submit to the overall youth leader who we work under as small group leaders for the youth; Thomas has absolutely no problem submitting to those in authority over him, from leaders in the church to his boss at work; and in our family, we all submit to the leadership of Gary and the children happily (at least most of the time) submit to Gary and I as parents.
The problem comes when a brother, who is 9 months older is in charge of his sisters, or (even worse) his sister, who is 9 months younger, is in charge of her brother. But God doesn’t say that to submit is to always like it. No. Submission, in its most glorious form, is when one person takes control and responsibility for any decisions which need to be made, and the followers submit to his decision regardless of whether they agree or not. Of course, they are allowed their opinions and to vehemently express said opinions (grin); but at the end there needs to be one overall leader, not several.
I wanted this whole challenge to grow the leadership skills of all three children, and I firmly believe that to be a good leader one needs to have first learnt to follow. So this challenge would hopefully give opportunities to both lead and follow. And this was the purpose of the planning sessions, which would provide a safe place for opinions to be stated and to be heard, and conclusions agreed upon, with submission occurring if necessary.
Preparing the Children to Plan their Trip Successfully
We broke their day trip to London into manageable segments. Each segments was given an overall leader. That leader oversaw the planning, the potential dangers/things that might go wrong and the problem solving for those problems. And on the actual day of the trip, that person would be in charge of leading that whole segment, whilst the others would have the responsibility of supporting their leader to help them be successful in that role.
We split their trip into the following segments to help make the planning less overwhelming:
- Home to local station to London Victoria (knocking off one of the 12 sites)
- From London Victoria catch no 82 bus from Victoria to Sherlock Holmes Museum (meet us here)
- Sherlock Holmes to Westminster Pier, where we will all be embarking on the circular sight-seeing cruise and lunch, sailing from Westminster Pier to St Katherine’s Pier and back again. During this tour we will see another Victorian site on the list, Tower Bridge, as well as many not mentioned (46 in all!).
- The children will then need to plan how to get from Westminster pier to SW7 to visit the Albert Memorial, the Natural History Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Royal Albert Hall. (segment three and four may be swapped as we haven’t decided the exact order yet)
- From the Victoria and Albert Museum to the Ragged School Museum
- From the Ragged School Museum to Leicester Square, to meet us for a treat at the Odeon Cinema
This week we have focused on segment one and two.
Planning the First Leg of the Journey to London Victoria
I asked the children to work as a team to plan this section. Lillie asked if she could be in charge as this is probably the easiest and least complicated leg of the journey. As Lil was the child who was the most concerned about this trip everyone readily agreed.
They opted to go down to the local station and request information about travel cards, what time they could be used from, the cost, train time departures and train time arrivals to Victoria. They discovered they could travel from 9.30am onwards with a travel card and chose to jot down three train times after this time.
They discussed things that could go wrong, from strike action to snack options (!) and came up with alternate plans. They jotted everything down, printing out maps and routes when necessary. I had already decided that I would produce an ‘information pack’ for each child for each leg of the journey. It was my hope that the pack would go some way to alleviating their worries about the whole day and ensure that each child could still have all the information at their finger tips in the unlikely event of them being separated from each other. The information pack for the first leg of the journey included the following:
- The itinerary
- A map of the route
- and stops the train would be taking
I’ve not shown most of the photo of this part of the journey’s information pack because it has our address on it:
Planning the Second Leg of the Journey From Victoria to Baker’s Street
As part of our Victorian studies, we have been learning all about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Sherlock Holmes. Holmes famously lived at 221a Bakers Street, so that had to be one of our stop points:
We will be going to the museum there and also the statue of Sherlock Holmes just round the corner. Charlotte would be in charge of this second leg of the journey, and the girls planned this segment together. They discovered that the number 82 bus would take them pretty much straight to Dorset Square, a short walk away from 221a Bakers Street:
Their information pack for this leg of the journey included the following:
- The planned itinerary
- A floor map of London Victoria Station, showing the exact route the children need to take to get to the bus stop they need
- A general bus map
- A map showing the route for the number 82 bus from Victoria to Dorset Square
- A list outlining each stop the bus would make between Victoria and Dorset square
- A detailed map of the area from Dorset Road to 221a Bakers Street, showing them the route they need to take
Nearer the date we will be discussing potential problems such as if they manage to get separated from each other or lost.
Each part of the trip they finish planning is discussed first with me, then with Gary and finally with Granny. This talking things over I hope will build familiarity with the plan and the route and increase their confidence and belief they can do this.