100 Ways To Home Ed; I Do It My Way!

100 Ways To Home Ed; I Do It My Way!

Stop cringing at my title! I’m an anarchist in the eyes of most so what better way than to quote The Sex Pistols?! ( Kind of).

There is a fabulous Blog hop happening at the moment( #100WaysToHomeEducate ) and it’s all so you amazing people can see just how diverse and individual each Home Educating family is. In some cases, how it’s individual to each specific child, which is how it should be. For those of you who already home educate, it’s a chance to pick up some ideas, share your own and enjoy a good read. I am following Lydia in the Blog hop, which happened quite by another’s choosing, without realizing she is the Home Edder I have the closest connection with in this Blog hop. You can find her post on A New Adventure .

Her Grandchildren are very entwined with mine in both their Home Ed and pre Home Ed life. I am also very grateful to Lydia for bringing her skill set into our lives and have enjoyed her support in showing my children how to do many new crafts, such as soap making. As has her husband, who was kind enough to show my children how to shoot a Crossbow among other skills.

I struggle to label myself. I have an aversion to labeling myself at the best of times but when I feel like I don’t really fit in any box at all but rather in parts, it is extremely difficult. I will try my best for you all though.In my own words, I am a Multi platform Educationalist. Or maybe I should call us a “mixed education family”. I’m not an unschooler, only because these children have my blood running through their veins and I’d end up in Bedlam. I’m not autonomous because I make them do academics when they don’t always want to. I’m not structured because if something better comes along, Academics can wait until the day after or later in the day. I suppose I fit in semi structured but loosely.

My eldest only came out in October and is still adjusting to life as a Home Edder. She is slowly getting her passions back, which she placed to one side and neglected as the demands of school life both academic and social became time restricting. Even if that means her oil pastels are out all over the place, I’m happy.

She is lucky enough to be in an area that has a 14-16 year old EHE provision in college and enriches her home education there. This also gives her the chance to get confident in going to college and it already feels like a familiar environment to her. She is treated like an adult and is shown the same respect she affords others. It’s a much more natural environment that we would expect within work, compared to the authoritarian overbearing Academy she was in previously. If a boss treated us in the manner some children are treated now, we would take them to a tribunal, yet we see it as acceptable for our children…well not me!

One of my other children was home educated but decided to attempt secondary school as the allure was strong. Seeing her friends get excited, she felt it was a right of passage. She does like it and does very well but that only adds to my sadness regarding that as she was doing amazingly well at home. She admits she misses many aspects of home education. Most of all the amount of time she had with her animals.

I have two younger ones who are and always will be home educated. Noodles had severe issues at school and was removed at 8 years old. Her Dyslexia and other issues went completely unrecognised until she suffered health issues. It’s taken us almost 2 years just so she believes in herself and her capabilities more. In a world where we are expected to send our children to schools where they will “gain exams and an education”, many go unnoticed and failed. SEND children are being failed on an increasing level. I only wish I had known about Home Education sooner, before she had to even experience what being treated like a failure or different felt like. Socialisation? What is social about being left out on the wall because you don’t understand the complex social structure of others who start to get very manipulative at the age of 7-8?! She is much happier mixing with people 1;1 or 1;2, she can take information in better that way and knows she can walk away if she gets too tired or upset.

My youngest and only boy went to nursery but never full time education. He was almost at the age to go up when I had removed his sister. After experiencing a few weeks of Home Education, I decided my son was not going down that same destructive path. Having him come home in tears because the teacher had shouted at him for not counting to 20 correctly was the final straw. He was 4 years old! Consequently, he self taught how to count to 100, learned that once the digits went up to 9, you started at the next group of tens. He then figured that’s how you count in 10s. He is 6 now. He picks patterns like that up easily because he has time and decides to see the logic himself.

So as you can see, with four children, all needing very individual educational plans, we can find our week varying and being high maintenance but some weeks roll very smoothly.

Firstly, a quick look into our week typically starts with just the youngest two, as the eldest is at college. We do academics in the morning. We use a mixture of online programs such as Conquer Maths, Reading Eggs, Maths Seeds, Nessy to printables like Twinkl. Currently the coding program Scratch is in high favour. Lego is being enjoyed slowly because whilst this may sound unusual for most children, my son and daughter become frustrated and infuriated with it if they don’t stick together properly. My daughter is suspected and being followed up for possible Dyspraxia, which makes fine and gross motor skills impaired. Later in the day we typically go to one of the two Home Education groups I help support. This is one of the positives of the area we are in, we have a number of productive and supportive Home Educators who volunteer to help groups run. No one person is in charge and all parents and children are encouraged to make these groups their own. By the time we get back, the older two are home and we get on with having our family meal. Everyone then does their own thing for the evening. Currently that’s typically audio books, Minecraft ( oops I said it!) or reading for pleasure. Current book being David Walliam’s Midnight Gang.

By Tuesday the children just want quiet time because of the playful and busy time they have at group. We use this day for academic work and again, mix it with plenty of self directed learning, playing and whatever else we decide. Currently we are using Cambridge Primary study books. These are colourful and easily set out. Relatively cheap at £10 each.

Wednesday typically starts with our other regular Home Ed group. Being early in the morning, this is not always an easy group to get my daughter to go to as waking her up early causes her distress sometimes. As I have mentioned, there are SEND reasons for this and for that reason, I do like her to wake naturally. Of course this is coaxed with a reminder to get a relatively early night the night before. At this particular group, we usually arrange for a craft such as weaving, painting, crocheting, paper craft etc. Different parents lead on activities and their is also pool tables etc available as it is a Youth club.

Thursdays and Fridays are another mixture of academics and free time. These days are the days we typically look for one off home education events and days out, rather than regular meet ups. Museums, country parks and similar. We either go alone or place an impromptu invite on our local groups to see if anyone wants to hook up. Last week we did this at a local skate park to get some lovely fresh air.

Weekends are family time as their Dad works Monday through Friday and we like to leave these days for ad hoc desires. Read into that; “Chores”. Mummy and Daddy catch up on DIY and household chores!…we do break out and do something like go to the Seaside, walk around a local Country Park etc but let’s be real, sometimes we have to do the boring stuff!

The things that don’t happen weekly but often are events such as Home Ed cinema meet ups. We are lucky enough to have a local discount for our group so we go every so often.

There are so many things my children enjoy doing that it would be difficult to pin down a typical week. That is the point to our Home Education journey, to add spontaneity to our lives. Summer looks so much different to Winter because who wouldn’t want to be outdoors more in the nice weather?…okay, so I’m doing that standard British thing where I reminisce incorrectly about our warm Summers that we rarely have and in reality we’ll likely get 3 days in August where it will be gorgeous. For now at least and in the end of Winter, I shall grasp that heartwarming imagery as tightly as possible!

So thank you for bearing with me and I will pass you forward in this blog hop to Lynn at The B man and the L girl.

Unfortunately I can not display the blog list but the first post in the blog hop has it at the bottom. Click here to view that post and blog link.

 

 

 

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Creating A Natural Love Of Books

Creating A Natural Love Of Books

Children will be children in whatever setting they are educated in, and that means that if a child doesn’t want to do something or doesn’t feel like doing it, they’re either not going to do it or you are going to create negative emotions connected with that particular task.

With Lukey, my 6 year old son, that task is Reading. He gets bored if he has to sit too long. He also hated it if he felt that books were “work”. This is where the school environment is going in the wrong direction in the last few years. Reading should be an enjoyable task where a child gets a story as reward for their efforts. When small children have to work so hard to read something, they don’t get the full understanding and so it’s like reading the terms and conditions on paperwork. It’s tedious, dull and most of us don’t bother.

I quickly learned with my son that organizing specific time to read and learn how to blend words, study phonics, wasn’t going to work. It had to be after his excess energy was spent and his brain had calmed down a little. So now, most reading is done at 9 and 10 o’clock at night. An extra bonus to Home Educating, he doesn’t have to get up at 7 for school so he can stay up later and utilize that time when his brain will allow him to concentrate.

He was very resistant at first but now I realize that just because Government targets say he should be reading and capable of doing A and B, he wasn’t. He is his own person and it wasn’t time for him. 6 months later and he now begs to read with me. We had to make a deal though. He reads one book and then I read him two back. He loves this because as I said above, he is able to just enjoy the story and develop a love for books. He is understanding the reward.

I can pinpoint the time he decided to participate. I bought him the Dr Seuss collection as he likes silly things and I thought the nonsense and incredible genius that is Dr Seuss would gauge his interest. I didn’t ask him to read them, I read them to him. He now tries to read them also and is doing well.

He does have Reading Eggs and he loves that but he sees that as academic study and so it is “work”. He has not yet associated certain books with working and study and this is exactly how I want to keep it.

Alongside the use  of books such as Dr Seuss, Julie Donaldson and Biff, Chip and Kipper, we also found a website that has over 250 free eBooks and he loves looking through the library to select books. It is called Oxford Reading Owls. You can select books by reading age, book type or series.

I highly recommend Oxford Reading Owls and I am a lover of a bargain and free is even better in my opinion!

Keep safe children;Don’t copy Mum!

Keep safe children;Don’t copy Mum!

We had a fabulous day on Thursday. It was not without it’s drama though. Firstly, anyone that knows me knows I am very anxious when driving somewhere I am not use to. Infact, my comfort zone is around a 20 mile radius, if that. I definitely hate motorways and I doubt that will ever change. To do the best for my children though, I regularly step out of my comfort zone and drive a good 40 minutes out in most directions. The SatNav is improving my confidence for unknown areas at least.

I did quite well and drove to a distant iJump. iJump is a chain of trampoline parks with a number of exercise equipments available, such as climbing walls and trampolines. We are in Home Ed groups that have negotiated a discounted session, every two weeks. Even though it’s out of the way, there were people I knew going and also it was a great chance to meet new Home Ed families, which is one of the bonuses of home educating.

So, after feeling very proud with myself, we entered the building. We watched a safety video…ahahaha how I laugh thinking about that. My friend sat with me and warned me “Hun, don’t worry but this video is very morbid. It’s “Don’t do this or you’ll break a bone…or die!”

I was so good. I watched with due diligence, even if I was laughing at the cartoon of a bone snapping every 10 seconds. I’m surprised my suspected Aspie didn’t just get up and walk out but instead she used her anxiety levels to upset her older sister. Don’t you just love sibling squabbles? Urgh!

So cool, paraphrasing here but “Don’t be an idiot or you’ll break a bone…or die!”

With that in mind, I followed Lukey around and made sure he didn’t go full on “Lukey crazy” until everyone was use to him. He did of course try and dive into the foam a few times. The foam is there for people to land in, so I had to instruct him on why that was dangerous a few times. I then moved on to Noodles. She was walking around calmly but anxiously. A friend noticed she was wearing ear defenders and informed us he was an Aspie also and that he recommended a different version that were more discreet. We have known this child through meet ups for almost 2 years now and he is absolutely lovely, extremely clever and very helpful. I was so grateful for his recommendation.

There is a tall tower at most iJumps. I’m guessing about 20 feet but I’m not an Architecture so could be different. My daredevil son threw himself off at least 3 times with no hesitation at all, landing securely on what can be described as a parachute style landing platform. As I have already stated, my daughter has anxiety in places she has never been and definitely with activities she has never done. Wouldn’t we all though?! So Mummy to the rescue. How do we show children there is nothing to fear? Why we do it first of course!

Did I mention that I am scared of heights? Halfway up a 3 step ladder I’m shaking and sweating. I confidently went up the staircase but immediately upon seeing the drop I froze. “Go on Noodles, you can do it, look your brother just did it!” A quick reply of “Not ready!” came. “If I go first will you do it after?”. To be fair, I don’t remember receiving a reply. I was by that time wondering what the hell I was doing. I soon realized that the longer I stood there, the more likely I would bottle it, so I told my inner voice to shut up and I ran. Now, I haven’t done anything like this for years…years and a few stone lighter. What was today’s lesson kids? Gravity! Gravity pulls heavier things down to the ground faster. Whilst my little lightweight son had flown off and landed in the middle, I went down like Wile E Coyote! Due to the surprise of the speed I descended, I did nothing to position my hands and out of natural instinct I must have placed them out and down as I landed on one, bending it.

Apparently I didn’t move very fast. That was probably due to the agony I was in but my children were watching so as us parents do, I sucked it up and rolled out with my hand in torturous burning agony. I also couldn’t be bothered with the martials checking me over with their first aid so had to smile whilst going past them…Noodles didn’t jump after that either and to be fair, which of us looks stupid now?!

I sat down for a while, thinking not too much would come of it and it was probably just sore from the immediateness of it all. I then drove for almost an hour, back home, to where I arrived, almost in tears. I had Mum duties though and soon had to go back out to collect AJ from the cinema.

The day after, my finger was becoming extremely tight and the bruising was discolouring the whole finger. I had to remove the ring from my finger with cutting pliers. I have since been to the doctor’s who sent me for an X-Ray but nothing is broken. I am just badly bruised and the swelling still isn’t dissipating after almost a week.

Safe to say it won’t be an experience I forget in a hurry and it somewhat changes a simple “Our Home Ed day out” story. Gave a few people a giggle and in a few weeks I will be back to normal.

Have you ever had a mishap on a Home Ed Meet? Share in the comments. It would make me feel better.

Why I love Home Education and always will.

Why I love Home Education and always will.

I think I am what is classed as one of the “new era” wave of Home Educators, amongst long standing Home Edders. I’ve been Home Educating for around two years now.So why am I a “new era” Home Edder? Well, because rather than knowing all about Home Education and raising my children in the knowledge I was always going to educate them myself, I fell about the knowledge and possibility to Home Educate because I had to look for alternative paths of education for my daughter. At the time she was 8 years old and as my 3rd child, it was obvious there were difficulties.

As far as Home Educating my other children, I do so out of choice. Wild horses wouldn’t drag me back into that system again. I had no idea what I was missing or what my children were missing.  This way of life really sparked the grey matter and relieved my family from the tedium of walking through the cloud of cigarette smoke at the school gates everyday with tired children who had been awoken far too early and had to eat breakfast before they felt they wanted it because of time restrictions.

Many families are finding themselves in the same position as I found myself in. A child with SEND, undiagnosed with neither the NHS nor the school interested in helping as either way, someone has to find extra funds. A parent trying to be polite until they end up having to take action either by starting complain procedures or removing their child from mainstream schooling. Unbeknown to many, Home Education actually suits a large portion of SEND children because they can differentiate their learning so they get the most out of it. Previous to Home Education my daughter was so far behind, over 2 academic years actually. She was anxious, self harming, wouldn’t take part in the classroom for anything and it got to the point where every day was a battle. So what is medically wrong with her? She has Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, Visual Stress and a recommendation that she likely has Dyspraxia. In my mind, all identifiable or at least common enough for a school to realize the area of struggle. No one ever did mention a thing. No one ever managed to listen long enough to try and work it out. It was only recently after paying for a private assessment that we got some answers. We still await many more.

There is a happier part to that story and the daughter who was so withdrawn from education, her own life, now takes an active roll and knows that if there is a maths problem or a comprehension problem she doesn’t understand, we will find another way for her to absorb that knowledge. She also gets more physical activity now, which strengthens the core and is very important for someone with the issues she has.

In two years we have gone from having to peel a child from a school wall to get her into class, to a smiling girl who sees a future, who has hope and who wants to live every day. She now reads, writes. If she doesn’t know something, she initiates research. She has an active roll in her own education and it makes such a difference.

Of course that is one child out of four and I better not go any further into the demise of mainstream education for SEND or this will no longer be a post about my love for Home Education. Be assured you will read posts about that subject also.

So, my eldest was always mainstream educated. She never had any interest in joining us in our Home Education journey and that was okay with us. The whole of their lives I have tried to make sure their individualities flourished as it can be easy to just be pulled along in life when you are a large family. She was at an Academy and they have for a while been a bit silly with their ego power trips. It came to a head when they refused her her human rights and so she decided herself that she would prefer to be Home Educated. She has her studies enriched via college courses.

My No2 was schooled and decided to join us as Home Educated almost immediately. After spending over 18 months with us, she decided she wanted to know the allure that was Secondary school. I miss her being Home Educated but I facilitate my children’s requests when they can be met. Currently she is doing well and always at the top of her classes. I personally cringe every time she tells me she had to ask permission for a drink of water or to take a blazer off when they are too hot but she knows her choices now, unlike most of the children in the UK who never get asked.

Then there is the baby of the family, my son. He attended nursery but has had no mainstream full time education. He hated nursery. He loved the other little children and the play but already, there was a teacher shouting at him when he mixed up numbers 1-20. He was 4 years old and he is very hyperactive so always thinking of the next activity. Being able to move helps him learn and keep his interest. He is a natural born fidget. His whole education is on my shoulders but I see that as a challenge and because of that, I can see his growth and know we got there together. He loves some of the colourful educational programs that are helping him learn to read and grasp maths among other things.

We’ve had a brilliant 2 years where for the first time in years we have had a positive outlook as a whole family. We have visited many places, both for education and fun. We have met people from all across the UK as we get invites to events for other Home Educating groups and we go for day trips over 100 miles away. Going to a “local” meetup here, ends up with us making friends with people who live 40 miles away. Yet we have the bonus of keeping some great friends local also.

Since we started, I have helped out in one of our local groups and we have seen that grow immensely. We have a few events we do regularly such as the Cinema, RollerSkating, iJump, Climbing etc. So many willing volunteers and they all enrich our community. I’m proud to be part of a progressive group.

15th October Pregnancy And Infant Loss Remembrance Day Is Time To Reflect

october-15th

These days it always seems as if each day has a “special meaning” and in some ways it desensitizes everyone. However “National Cheese Toasty” or “Wear Your  Pink Socks To Work” day do not have anywhere near the same, sometimes painful, heart-wrenching connections that the 15th October; Pregnancy and Infant loss Remembrance Day has ,for what most would see an obviously sensitive reason.

Why would I choose to write about this subject though? Well as everyone who knows me sadly knows, I am a member of the “club no one wants to belong to”. I’ve been a member for over 16 years…17 in February. Most know I am a member because never will I ever stop classing my son as a member of my family because well..he is! Never will I stop posting statuses on my social media when I feel like sharing my memories or thoughts about him, just like I do with my living children. That doesn’t come free from overthinking about other people’s perceptions however. As with anything you post on social media, it invites thought and opinion from others.

So why write anything at all on social media? Well, I have found thankfully that it is not only myself who has a strong desire and need to talk about my son and my loss. There is therapy and love in talking about losing a baby. It feels so hard and lonely when you feel you are unable to discuss what has happened. Somehow it feels as a mother that your child’s existence is being denied in some way. When people shift and squirm and try and stop the conversation, it hurts.

If it is a Saturday evening when I happen to write something, people assume I have had a drink and become melancholy. Whilst this does happen, it is not a typical reason for me, rather a coincidence. If I share something because it is special, I realize a large audience ignore it or pass it by as they either do not care or do not feel connected to it. Some simply do not know what to write or how to respond. Many other kind and loving friends will write “Thinking of you” or “Hugs” which actually make me step back and think “Ooh I didn’t write that to get sympathy, I merely wanted to share a special moment or thought”. I got such a response today for posting a quote for this special day. How can I expect a certain response from them when sometimes my own emotions overwhelm me when I think I finally have control over my experience?!

I have far to many friends who are in this club beside myself and it’s not that type of club where that is something you want. If you are reading this and are also a member, you have a knowing heartfelt recognition from myself of your pain. For many years I struggled just to get through daily life it was so painful. My son was 23 weeks, 6 days, 22 hours and 50 minutes gestation when he was born sleeping. For me in the UK it meant he was 1 hour and 10 minutes away from being registered and having a birth and death certificate. Even now that really stings. Don’t know why really as I don’t typically stand for many official pomp but part of me feels being so close, both he and I were robbed of his standing in history.

I am always thinking of the poor women that will suffer the same fate in the near future and so I try and offer love and kindness the best way I can. It’s not so much when it happens as I don’t think any such trinkets would make one iota of meaning compared to your child. In fact I know it doesn’t but it does when you are slowly mending and are desperate for any special keepsake from that very short moment with your baby. It can be a scan photo, a foot print, cord clamp, certificate or blanket and booties. That is why I choose to try and do something positive with my grief and my skills and am crocheting blankets and other items for our local hospital and connected charity. So, today is a day for myself to reflect and remind myself that I can offer kindness and compassion for other women experiencing what I had to.

Here is a moment of thought to all our much loved and much missed babies. We love and miss you always.x