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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