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Published!

So today my boys and I have made it into the pages of a magazine.  Woohoo!!! We’re a bit excited in our house today, with our new found fame, so forgive me if you follow me on FB or Twitter and you’ve seen my photo popping up everywhere!  Army and You magazine is circulated to all British Service families so I am very excited to be spreading the Home Education message and hopefully being able to support more families by doing so.  It’s been in the pipeline for some months now, hence the excitement!

Why do I want to share our story? We’re not desperate to get our faces known, or to achieve some kind of local celebrity status I can assure you.  But I meet a lot of parents who are unhappy with the school placement they are offered, or who start in one school and then move when a preferred place becomes available.  This always saddens me:  Service children move a lot as it is and some then make another unnecessary move because the law is interpreted as children need to be in school. Children need to be full time educated.  That’s it.  That’s the bit we need to adhere to.  It’s all outlined very clearly on the Ed Yourself site.  The key phrase in the Education Act is that this education needs to happen by either by regular attendance at school or otherwise.

Otherwise.  Other than at school.  Learning can and does happen elsewhere as we know.  It seems to be that there are many parents who would like to HE but think they need to be qualified, or they worry about the emotional relationship.  Whilst it is true in our case that the journey can indeed be an emotional one;  HE does also mean connecting with the children in such a special way.  It’s hard to fully emphasise just how much I value having this precious time with them.  Even on the bad days!  Yesterday we argued a lot, but it was still valuable time.  I was able to explain to C why I was frustrated, he was able to tell me I should cry, bless him! “you should cry, it’s good for you, and healthy to cry mummy” (we had been to a funeral the day before and so have had a lot of conversations about the importance of showing emotions). I feel I should add that I wasn’t actually crying, although the introduction to long division did bring me close!  For me, the positives and the consistency of education I can offer far out weigh my emotional involvement.

As for being qualified, it isn’t necessary.  I can see why it concerns some, which is where my planning helps.  Many people I plan for only need to use me once:  Clients who just needed that little confidence boost to confirm they are doing / can do the right thing and that they can see progress being made.  Those are people that want a little bit of structure.  My plans can be very structured or just a series of activities with adult prompts and key questions to guide the learning. It really depends on need and learning styles.  But again, I want to reinforce, HE doesn’t require a teaching background, or endless planning.  You just need to have an awareness of what your child needs to do next in order to make progress and this doesn’t have to be measured using school measures or tests.

At home we cover a lot of ground by playing.  One of our favourite games for maths learning is Shut the Box.  This is one I often take out when tutoring.  It’s great:  A very simple dice game that requires mental addition of 3 numbers (I use this to assess which strategies a child is using), followed by partitioning the number to then shut boxes totalling the same.  When no more boxes can be shut the players turn is over and the remaining numbers have to be added together to find the score. This last step involves long addition, often of 2 digit numbers.  Both mine love this.  L can count the dots, do the  basic addition and develop his number recognition and C adds up his score for him, although I doubt it will be long before he can do this too!

We also love Mastermind (are you spotting the retro theme here?), mine is so old the pegs are still kept in an old beaded purse of mine from the 70’s.  It’s a time for reminiscing when we play this!  Mastermind, if you don’t remember it, is a game of simple strategy with one player creating a hidden sequence and the opponent trying to crack this code.  As always I’ve created a link for you, and in doing so was very excited to see that my version is available – as a vintage version.  Am feeling old!

These are just two examples of games that we happen to use.  There are lots more.  Some are clearly maths focussed (Sum Swamp for example, is another that mine have enjoyed) but they don’t have to be.  Anything involving a dice or a board reinforces number recognition and counting on and so has a place in the maths learning, as do games like Hungry Hippos or Elefun.  These last two really helped L to cement his 1:1 correspondence, but we also adapt the rules so that the yellow butterfly or ball is worth a different number.  This started as an adaptation of the rules to make it more exciting (otherwise it’s game over when one player gets the yellow) but also gave C the opportunity to practise mental addition.

I could write just as much about literacy at home, there really is so much you can do, but this post would become very long!  If you have come across my blog as a result of the Army and You article, I hope that these few ideas have given you some reassurance that there is a lot you can do.  Please do get in touch if you have any questions.  Quoting your code will mean I can help in lots of ways too.  And I really do want to!

 

 

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History meets technology

Creating a timeline to develop a sense of the past
Creating a timeline to develop a sense of the past

Another busy fortnight in home school, and the uniform is slipping away.  No longer do I have to teach my son looking like a street urchin from Dickensian days!  Having said that, we started a new topic on The Great Fire of London and he did decide that this warranted a fire damaged outfit and so the shredded shirt made an appearance on Tuesday.  Tuesday is our home ed group day when we meet up with lots of other families and last week C went along armed with props and costumes to encourage his friends to take part in a photo shoot so that we could create a photo story of the Great Fire of Rochester. Continue reading History meets technology

The Plenary!

A planned group trip to Howletts zoo this week has been a perfect way to conclude our Explorers/Deadly 60 learning.  We were able to reinforce so much of the topic here and it has been so rewarding to hear C talking so knowledgeably about the animals we have been researching.   Wild animal ‘Top Trumps’ have been better than any homework could have been for enriching the learning after the trip as he is now retaining all kinds of facts.  But what better way to round off a Deadly 60 topic than to receive a letter from the man himself!  Well his manager anyway.  I’m not sure who was more excited when the post came!

his treasured post card
his treasured post card
IMG_5910
personalised too!

Continue reading The Plenary!

Classroom in a camper

Who knew that spending a day at ‘Grill n Chill’ could be so educational.  Grill n Chill is an annual VW meet; we are now feeling the love of being part of a really cool club…v dub! Stickers for the van bought, interior design inspired and new carpet ordered, Katie is going to have a make over…!

And so it was while treating Katie that we managed to make links with, and reinforce, our evolution learning – through some great window stickers showing evolution of a camper (stays the same, was already quality to start with) a Lego man (starts as a brick) and of ‘man’ who, after evolving to become upright is then sat in a campervan.  C was very pleased to apply his new understanding to a sticker stall of all places! Continue reading Classroom in a camper

crazy golf and green gloop rescue the would-be end of the honeymoon period!

I had a horrid feeling on Monday that the honeymoon period was nearly over!  After the ‘easy’ day we had on Friday I put pressure on myself and C to achieve a lot more on Monday.  Not sure why I put this pressure on us, but I did nevertheless and poor C was having none of it!  He was still incredibly tired and just couldn’t focus.  We spent a ridiculous amount of time on what should have been a 10 minute exercise.  Suffice to say that had I found an apostrophe shaped implement I probably would have done some damage with it!  Apostrophes for omission should have been omitted from our day, and yet still I persevered and still the battle and the nagging (me) and the staring into space (him) continued! On reflection though, we had been to a barbecue the evening before and he was clearly still tired.  We gave up in the end and continued with our deadly animals research and a bit of maths.   Making green slime in the afternoon lightened our mood.  It didn’t work – it is basically regular gloop with food colouring.  But we do like a bit of gloop: Sensory exploration isn’t just for Early Years! Continue reading crazy golf and green gloop rescue the would-be end of the honeymoon period!

Late to bed on a school night, tut tut…

Friday,

The boys had their first swimming lessons yesterday. At almost 4, this was the first ever for L, who was pretty nervous! This did not have the usual (desired) effect of tiring out my children. No. In fact it had the opposite: They were over excited and still awake at 10/11pm. Needless to say nobody wanted to get up this morning and after a mad rush to get L to nursery we tried to start our HE day in the usual way, with some piano practise. C yawned his way through and had absolutely no concentration whatsoever. A friend of ours had also stayed so there was not much point in trying to do anything too structured. This is where HE comes into it’s own. Unfocused child not engaging + No curriculum constraints + No timetable + No lesson observation or book monitoring to worry about = Scrabble. Continue reading Late to bed on a school night, tut tut…

Miss Mummy!

 My son (C) jumped into my bed on day one most disappointed that nothing was ‘set up’ downstairs! Seems he was expecting a classroom of some description. Oops! He had already told me he wanted books, the colours they needed to be and that they needed to be in boxes, social arrangements had been made,we had planned our first topics; as far as I was concerned we were ready, but on Wednesday morning…

“What about my uniform?” Continue reading Miss Mummy!

Starting out

The school summer holidays begin and we are about to embark on an exciting ‘gap year’, a break from the state school system that I have taught in for 15 years and my son has been taught in for 3.   Unhappy as we were with his school provision, I have made the radical move (for us) into the world of home ed (and unemployment!) by taking full opportunity of my husband’s unexpected reposting out of London. Continue reading Starting out