Tag Archives: home education


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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Ways of reading

I have found myself struggling to find the time to write these last few weeks.  I think it’s the late nights the boys keep having, largely due to the light and bedtime reading.  Does anyone else have a problem with the lighter evenings?  Or have to confiscate books at bedtime from a little bookworm?  He his going to sleep later and later which consequently means my free time starts later and later!

Continue reading Ways of reading

History in Hastings – incidental learning

Our Easter ‘holiday’ seems to have lingered on, partly because we have continued bits of learning throughout what would have been the school holiday and so are still in holiday mode for another week, with some craft projects still to complete before we get back into routine, whatever that is these days!  There are plenty of blogs, Pinterest links and Facebook posts about Easter activities and so I won’t bore you with our Easter related learning here.

I thought instead that I would re-acquaint you with Katie, our classroom in a camper.


The sun was shining, she was looking lonely and so, deciding that a sleepover was in order, we headed in the direction of Hastings, with a quick stop off at Scotney Castle (which is beautiful).  The times table practice folder was also in the van for some learning on the move.  No slacking here!

Continue reading History in Hastings – incidental learning

Harry Potter Week

Harry Potter Week didn’t really start out as Harry Potter week.  Until Wednesday I had never even seen any Harry Potter films and yet somehow most of the week here at missmummy has been all about the wizardry!

We started as planned.  We made our lava lamp as per our list of science challenges to explore.  This was very exciting, leading to gasps of “wow” as the mixture fizzed. Once the the mixture had been made he wired up a bulb to provide the light.  My little guest blogger has returned and below you can read how to make this yourself at home, take heed of his warning at the end:


You will need : an empty water bottle,

Vegetable oil,


Food colouring,

Alka seltzer tablet


First fill the bottle 3/4 full with vegetable oil, then top it off with water and about 10 drops of food colouring (or enough to make the solution appear fairly dark).      

Next, cut an alka seltzer tablet in to pieces, put it in to the bottle, put the cap on and tip back and forth.  The oil dos not mix with water what do you think will happen…     

Finally, put a strong light underneath.                   


DON’T use a bulb thru 4 batteries   



our lava lamp instructions came from our set of Dyson challenge cards
our lava lamp instructions came from our set of Dyson challenge cards

More ‘inventing’ has been happening in a very ad hoc way.  I daren’t let on that most of these things have in fact already been invented.  It’s wonderful to watch him trying out his ideas on the circuit board and evaluate his findings.  He now knows, from above, that if you have too much power running to a small bulb it will blow and is so confident in his new skills that when I explained we needed to put a new battery in the doorbell he asked if I want him to fix it by checking the circuit!

The week’s learning changed direction dramatically after a Harry Potter themed day at our HE group and then at Beavers the same evening.  You guessed it… The dressing up excuse.  C only remembered at tea time that he was allowed to dress up at Beavers and so began frantically researching costume ideas.  I was quietly impressed by his googling skills as he thought to type in ‘Harry Potter home made costumes’ as his search.  A fun evening enjoyed at Beavers subsequently led to his being dressed up for the remainder of the week.  Should I admit that I am writing this on Thursday night and he still has his lightning scar? Should I admit that my son washes his face day and night, baths every night and has managed to actually wash around this patch on his forehead?  We sat and watched the first film on Wednesday evening which inspired me, not to dress up but to create some maths learning around Hogwarts house points and spells.

Last week I had identified a need to recap finding the difference as a method for subtraction.  This one is often tricky, but necessary, for younger children to visualise what it is they are doing when subtracting by working out the difference between 2 numbers.  C keeps telling me he “doesn’t like maths” and so I am trying to think more creatively about IMG_7047how we teach it; my solution for this was to incorporate ‘finding the difference’ into some play with the Scaletrix.  We  had timed races and when the timer was up, calculated how many laps we had each done by recording along a blank number line.  This enabled him to draw out the jumps, for example from 32 (no. of laps left) to 45 (the total no. of laps on the dial).  Our Scaletrix dials countdown from 45 so you can easily see how many laps are remaining:  It’s not so easy to see how many you have completed.  To follow on from this the next day, I stuck up some envelopes containing house points for the Hogwarts houses.  With these he had to work out the differences between the different houses and the winners.  We started together, with me modelling how Dumbledore would have mentally calculated how many more points were needed to put Gryffindor into the lead and then I left him to do a few more calculations independently.  This has all served to be successful scaffolding.  We started practically, followed up on paper with support and then gradually took away the support.  He’s got it!  And very pleased he is with himself too!

IMG_7051  IMG_7058

Upon leaving for Nursery one day this week we discovered a letter on the mat from Dumbledore himself, giving ideas for us muggles to make potions. IMG_7062 Once the letter was read and digested we set about, the three of us, creating some pretty disgusting tasting potions (recording and adding up the quantities as we went along).  The boys are convinced they made it snow with these as sudden snowstorm began while they syringed and mixed apple juice, lemonade and milk, yuk!  And of course, our crazy L loved it – drinking a fair bit until I insisted he stop before he was sick!


I have been so lucky with our HE community here.  Our lovely group organiser set up an online HP quiz for us all to take part in.  C has thoroughly enjoyed re calling his (limited) HP knowledge from his one film viewing and attempted all 6 rounds with very little help from me.  So good multi media comprehension there from him.   Some amusing, some random guesses, Professor Spinach instead of Sprout was my favourite I think.

To end this week, here he is sketching a portrait of Harry Potter, obsessed?   Who him?!


harry potter maths download

Bringing our Victorian learning to life

One of the reasons I like writing this blog is that it really helps me to reflect on all the wonderful learning going on without me planning for it.  Some weeks (and this has been one of them) I think this is an incredibly important part of the Home Ed experience. We beat ourselves up about what we have or haven’t achieved from day to day and so to sit down and write about it can be very rewarding, giving me the opportunity to evaluate our learning. Continue reading Bringing our Victorian learning to life

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
personalised too!

Continue reading The Plenary!

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…


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