Month: February 2017

100 Ways to Home Educate : B Man and L Girl Style

100 Ways to Home Educate : B Man and L Girl Style

100 Ways to Home Educate? What’s that all about then? Don’t worry, I’m not about to give you my definition of 100 ways, it’s a wonderful collection of just how diverse and different the paths of each home educating family can be. Yesterday was the turn of Elin Sion giving us an insight into “Doing it Her Way” and today it’s all about us so here goes…

When I think about how we started on our home education journey, it’s like we didn’t find home education, it found us. B had started at a sought after local primary school and couldn’t wait to get started. He lasted a year and a half before we made the decision to deregister him and home educate instead. Home education was loosely on my radar as I’d considered it when looking at primary schools and never being convinced I’d found the right one. After bullying and potential SEN issues raised their heads the boys mental health took precedence and here we are. The funny thing is when we started I thought we’d maybe home educate for KS1 and then look at schools again. Now we talk of the possibility of going all the way to A level via home education, it truly opens your eyes once you embrace it.

We’ve tried a few methods before we’ve settled into our groove of what you’d call a semi structured approach. We de-schooled, timetabled, unschooled and then decided on a combination of the two. Despite my desperate attempts at pretending I’m a laid back go with the flow type, I’m lost without a plan and B has always needed structure and routine or he panics. So we have devised a weekly plan and here’s how it looks at the moment.

Monday

Monday is usually spent at home. We tend to knuckle down at the kitchen table and work through a variety of subjects. We follow the curriculum for maths using a range of resources from online sites like Conquer Maths and Khan academy through to work books from Schofield and Sims. We also use Twinkl which we’ve found to be invaluable for a range of material. We’re more interest based for other subjects and can cover buildings, Native American headdresses, hedgehog habitats, human skeletons, English counties and French days of the week in a morning. Some topics may lead onto something bigger, others a general query. We swim with friends on a Monday and B has Beavers too so we tick that “oh so often asked” socialisation target too. Win.

Tuesday

Similar to Monday’s in that it’s a day for getting some structured learning done. We’ll try and include some piano if we can. After a year of formal lessons B lost his interest and now just wants to play tunes from Frozen. I’m in a quandary with this as I’d love for him to pursue the instrument more, but pushing him leads nowhere. At the moment I’ve found if I play, I soon get a buddy playing alongside. We’ve a new allotment so some planning and work there will be taking place on Tuesday’s I think. B has ballet and modern dance classes for a couple of hours in the afternoon. I get housework and shopping…

Wednesday

Usually a day for getting out and about either at organised home education events or by ourselves. After a year I’ve found that there is SO much to do, I have to be careful not to say yes to everything. This week we are off to see Romeo and Juliet at the National Theatre which will be B’s first foray into Shakespeare so fingers crossed. We’ll no doubt have to have a ride on the London Eye while we’re nearby and have a discussion on engineering and structures. Trips to London provide us with a lot of life learning, from journey planning to observational moments. As they say, if you’re tired of London, you’re tired of life. Or something like that.

Thursday

Thursday is our usual trip to London for B’s drama class at Sylvia Young Theatre School. It’s a bit of trek each week, but he is buzzing when he finishes his class and we usually fit in a museum beforehand. This month we discovered the Design Museum, and need to plan a return trip. I find the joy of not having to cram an entire museum into a day in the school holidays, makes the whole process more relaxed and enjoyable. This week we’ve a visit to Anglian Water to learn about the water process first. Wish me luck!

Friday 

This is a day that can go one of two ways. B can be pretty tired from the day before so it’s usually spent locally. Ideally at a drop in kind of event rather than an organised one in case his brain is fried. If we’re at home they’ll no doubt be Minecraft and YouTube involved. B loves a documentary on anything from canal building to the new cross rail train line so he’ll happily watch anything along those lines.

So that’s a snapshot of a week in our home ed lives. Sometimes I have to pinch myself at how lucky we are to live like this. It’s everything I dreamed it would be and so much more. I’d say to anyone considering it to go for it, and to my fellow home educators who paved the way. I salute you.

You can continue the 100 Ways to Home Educate over at REO Life tomorrow for day 13.

Powered by Linky Tools

Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…

The Design Museum

The Design Museum

Always on the lookout for somewhere different to explore, we made our first visit to The Design Museum yesterday and wow what an amazing place. Situated in Kensington (you’ll be wanting High St Kensington not South Kensington if you’re going by tube), the building itself is a beauty. Personally I love this part of London. From marvelling at how the other half live, to taking in the amazing buildings. The pace always feels a little more child friendly this side of town, if you’re used to the hustle and bustle of the city.


We decided to look around the main part of the museum and not opt for any extra exhibitions on our visit this time, but these are available if you’ve more time. We managed to see all that we wanted to in a few hours and left feeling like we’d had a good explore. Sometimes a single visit just won’t do a large museum justice, or can be a little overwhelming for some visitors.

With plenty of eye catching exhibits and lots of hands on activities be prepared to immerse yourself. You will need to keep an eye on little ones as the exhibits change from hands on to ‘Do Not Touch’ quite frequently though. We looked at products you might use to design a babies toy, through to which products would be best for a reusable cup. The exhibits spring forth a lot of questions from enquiring minds. It certainly makes you think about the story behind all that we have in our lives and homes. Be prepared to feel ancient as you relive your youth looking at Sony Walkmans and technology from the not too distant past.

With workshops available for children KS2 and above, this looks like a museum that will easily earn its place in our top ten!

Educational Apps and Websites

Educational Apps and Websites

Educational apps and websites can be a bit of a minefield to navigate. What works for one family might not strike a chord with another, and you can end up making some costly mistakes if you fork out for one that ends up unused. Fortunately, with the serious dedication and hard work of some experienced home educators there are some excellent discounts available to home educators on some of these websites and apps which may help you on a day to day basis.

When we embarked on our home education journey I already had a huge supply of exercise books from Bond, Collins, Letts, and Schofield and Sims. B liked to do them for fun so we started off with these. We thought that he would be going back into school at some point so we did hover around the curriculum quite a bit. It gave our early days some structure and continuity from school, reinforced what B already knew, and gave him confidence that he would learn just as well at home as he would in school.

At this point, aside from free apps on the phone and tablet I was clueless as to what was available. I knew I didn’t want us to work from exercise books all the time as we’d used these to complement not to educate in their entirety. Our first discovery was Twinkl and we’ve used it consistently from our early days. B had often come home with worksheets from school from the website so it was an easy progression. I love the breadth of what is available on the website. Covering so many subjects at so many levels its been invaluable. We use it a lot for maths, from exercises to print outs plastered all over our kitchen, its not only helped B but its been incredibly useful for aiding me with long division, fraction terminology and all the things buried in the depths of my brain. With a dedicated home education area, there is an absolute wealth of material here.

As we’ve progressed I’d read a lot about the dedicated apps available and knew I wanted to add some into our armoury so to speak. If in doubt of what might be a good fit for your family there are tonnes of discussions on these in the home education groups on social media. Our children are surrounded by technology in a way that has been unprecedented for previous generations. Computer games when I was small really were limited to shoot em ups and in depth fantasy wizarding type scenarios. One such app that combines games and learning is Literacy Planet. Its appeal for us is how much fun it makes each exercise. I’ve been blown away by how much B’s spelling has improved since we’ve started using it, and he is always so keen to get on the app and work. With the facility to add in your own spellings for your child to practice, we’ve been using alongside Schonell’s spelling list to link in with our other literacy work. I’ve also found that B is beginning to identify where his strengths and weaknesses are within his literacy work, and going to exercises which he finds tougher to improve in these areas.

Maths wise we are hooked on Conquer Maths. With the comprehensive videos to help with explanations and the user friendly interface, its a big hit in this house. Like other educational programs available, its worth looking out for a discount in the home education groups. We do follow the curriculum for maths as I find it works well for us. Building maths knowledge in manageable blocks has helped B with his confidence and knowledge. We tend to use tangible aids to reinforce ideas using fraction blocks and cubes where needed. Being able to set specific tasks is really useful within the website and the printable certificates are great if your child enjoys the recognition.

I’m sure over time we’ll add more to our must have list, but for now these are our recommendations. If you’ve any you’d like to share, we’d love to know!

Home Education Anniversary – One Year On

Home Education Anniversary – One Year On

I can’t quite believe that we’ve been home educating for a whole year now. Like lots of parenting aspects, some parts of it make me feel like it’s flown by, others like we’ve been doing this forever. So the big question is what have we learnt from a year out of school and do we like it?

The resounding answer from both of us is yes.

For me I love the freedom. I love the time spent watching the boy learn and grow. He is smiling again. I love the endless days out, and the cosy days in. The questions, the experiences, the opportunities.

We always thought that this would be a temporary measure and we’d find a new school for juniors or KS2. After a few months in, it became apparent that B would stay out of school for the whole of primary. Well that’s the current plan. Who knows if he might feel the urge to join a school before then!

Like any change in life there is always a lot of emotional investment. You’re putting yourself in the line again and again socially as you venture out into this new way of life. We’ve tried a lot of days out, groups and clubs and have now worked out what works for us. This has been particularly hard for me as this is one of those areas I find immensely hard. I’m rubbish at social occasions and all that goes with it so it’s probably been good to get me out of my own comfort zone. I was quite happy spending my school holidays with my books up a tree so don’t really buy into how much people need to socialise. I’m more a believer in you need to do what makes you happy. B is pretty similar to me and gets burnt out by constant pressure to see friends so we’ve learnt to pick and choose our events and days out. If social events aren’t your cup of tea, choose things where your quite hands on with the kids. The sitting around drinking coffee events are infinitely harder if you’re not a social butterfly.

I’ve learnt it’s quite OK to spend time just the two of us.

I’ve also learnt to become a little more tidy. That’s a win right there isn’t it? I think spending days in constantly looking at “stuff” has led me to become more ruthless in purchasing, de-cluttering and tidying. I’m constantly amazed by how much I’ve learnt about trains, space, minecraft and Pokemon from day to day life.

Lots of people will be interested to hear your story. Being out and about with a school aged child during term time does create some interest. We’ve been asked many a time by strangers about the ins and outs of home education which has always been a positive experience.

There is a wealth of stuff out there if you need it. Social media is full of groups, meet ups and events. It might take some time to unearth them all, a lot of groups are quite secret, and you need to meet someone in person to be allowed to join. Kind of like some kind of home educating masons. I’ve not found any that made me do a funny handshake yet though.