It’s Wednesday Again!

Since Jess joined us at home, mornings have been a lot more relaxed. No rushing to get up, dressed and out by 8.40, unless we have a meeting or trip to go to. Apart from Wednesday’s.

Wednesday is busy from start to finish. The children have to be up by 8.30 at the latest, that doesn’t sound too bad, unless you have an Abbie! This strange creature doesn’t seem to like surfacing before 10am (11 if she can get away with it). I now try and organise things to start after this time where possible as she’s like a bear that’s been woken early from hibernation when she’s made to get up and she doesn’t want to.

We have to leave the house just after 9.30 (this will change to 9 in a few weeks but I’ve not given her the bad news yet) to get to their parkour session. The 30 minute drive though gives her time to properly wake up.

We got home again just after 12 and grab a bite to eat then it’s out walking. We try to do a minimum of 3 miles a day as part of our #walk1000miles challenge. We did 4 miles today but Jess cheated today as she took her scooter 🛴  😠

Back home again after the walk and we have around an hour until Abbie goes to St John ambulance cadets. Tonight they were doing casualty simulation and Abbie did a bullet wound on her friend with latex. I’m impressed!

 

Why Home Education Is Right For Our Family

We have been home educating 21 months now.  But, the decision to home educate didn’t come easily.  I suppose the main concerns we had were where we capable of doing it? And, were we going to cope with having no child free time! Although once we realised that if it didn’t work you can always put a child back in school again, we decided we had nothing to lose?

One main thing that made it right for us was the flexibility. I’m self-employed so I can work around the children most of the time by working in the evenings or early in the morning before they get up. Being self-employed is also a perfect opportunity for the children to learn about running a business and more importantly keeping accounts. If both parents need to work then home education would, I feel, be very difficult.

I like the fact that we can go on days out during the week in term time when it’s a lot quieter (I don’t like crowds) and you can get some really good prices for flights out of season. I see a trip to Sweden coming soon 😃. I also like that we can go at each child’s pace and if they don’t understand something then we go over it again. If that still doesn’t work we try a different method which is something schools don’t have the time to do.

Because one-to-one, or one-to-two in our case, is much more effective, the whole school day (around 6 hours) can be condensed into 2 hours maximum. This leaves so much free time for the children to do what they are interested in. It’s also easier for the children to say if they don’t understand something as they aren’t ridiculed in front of their friends.  I’ve also found that the eldest seems to like (sometimes anyway) going through work with her younger sister and they have even worked on projects together despite a 2 1/2 year age gap.

The amount of testing they do on children these days (sorry making them sound like lab rats…) is too much for many children, mine included. Seeing a child coming home deflated because they only got 90% in a test (yes really) and made to feel like a failure because of this was too much. I don’t normally tell them actual ‘scores’ on the rare occasion I do test them, all I will say is you passed or you did really well, and that’s all the child needs to know.

The local home education groups have been fantastic for the children when it comes to new activities. They have tried several things that have been arranged at a discount price due to the number of children taking part.  The horse riding lesson was a favourite and they enjoyed screen printing their own t-shirts. We visited the theatre for the first time last year and the eldest even spent 2 days in a local university studying animals. A new activity is parkour which they both love. None of these would have been possible without the home education. Neither would getting up at 2.30 am to see a lunar eclipse on a school day!

From my point of view I now don’t have to iron the school uniforms and mornings are a lot more peaceful as we don’t have to rush to get the children out of the house in time to get to school. Also illnesses and colds have been minimal since they have been out of the school environment. But the big thing is head lice!!! Since both children came out of school no head lice, not even a single one. I think that alone would stop me ever putting them back!

Since I started to home educate my brain has (I think) started to work again. Long since forgotten maths formulas have come back, OK sometimes google has helped, but my brain is actually working again.

I think having the children at home can be really tiring and you can feel very lonely at times. But it’s also making me closer to the children and we are (hopefully) going to be passing on skills to the children that will set them up for life. I think home education is totally worth trying if the school system doesn’t suit your child.

 

#SaferInternetDay #SID2017

As a home educator my children spend a fair amount of time using the internet. They are often doing research for a topic, looking for answers to a question or even just watching a documentary online.  I do of course monitor what they are doing but it’s so easy for them to stumble upon some inappropriate content.

Safer Internet Day is celebrated globally each February, this year more than 120 countries worldwide, including all 28 countries of the European Union are celebrating it for the fourteenth consecutive year.

Safer Internet Day addresses concerns by helping parents to understand the problems that children can face when using the internet and then arming them with the right tools to keep their children safe while they are online.

Evidence shows that whilst children are taught internet safety at school, or by parents, not all behave safely online.

  • Ofcom found that 45 per cent of 12- to 15-year-olds understand how search engines operate but one third say they think all search engine information is truthful.
  • Ofcom found that around 20 per cent of 8- to 15-year-olds with a social networking profile have it set to open.
  • EU kids online found that 29 per cent of UK children have had contact with people they had not met before.

The NSPCC have a fantastic online guide which is well worth a read if you have children who use the internet, which I’m assuming is most of us.

Appologies

This is an apology in advance to my followers for the mixed ups posts that will be coming your way over the coming days/weeks. I used to do 2 blogs and I’m now combining the 2 together in this one. I’m going to add some of the more important old posts on here as newer posts won’t make sense without them.

So sorry if you get excess posts that go back over a year or so. Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible

They Said I Can’t Home Educate I’m Not A Teacher!

A lot of people don’t seem to understand that parents are equipped to home educate their children even without a teaching degree. After all, who teaches them to walk, talk, use cutlery, who helps them learn their colours , numbers and shapes?  We do! I taught myself to build a basic website and cook. My husband taught himself to do plastering, plumbing, leatherwork plus loads of other things.  If we can learn to teach ourselves things like that why can’t we teach our children maths and English?

You don’t have to know the subject in depth to teach it. If you’ve got a computer I’m sure you can find the answer if you don’t know it.  Buy text books with the answers in them or sign the children up to sites that ‘mark’ the tests for them. I don’t have to know all the answers in order to be a good teacher, I just have to know how or where to find the answers. I’m also willing to learn with them, I’m not too proud to say I don’t know what the answer is to that, lets look.

There are of course things that I just can’t teach them. My youngest loves drawing but I’m no artist, but people on youtube are and there are some fantastic tutorials.  So if anyone tells you that you can’t do it as you are not a teacher, just tell them, yes I can!

What Happened To Our Plans?

Today is Abbie’s 12th birthday, where on earth has the time gone? I remember clearly the 110 mile trip to be at the hospital when her mum was in labour and the anxious wait until the nurse brought her out and she was handed to me.  It does make me feel ancient though, I remember feeling old when my children got to secondary school age but this is my grandchild! Do I feel old enough to have a 12 year old grandchild? Mentally NO, physically YES!

I’m sitting here waiting for her to wake up so she can open her presents and my mind is working overtime. I had so many things I wanted to do and now I just see myself sat stagnating, feeling like I have achieved very little and the years are going nowhere. I brought up 3 children of my own (not very successfully or I wouldn’t have custody of 2 of my grandchildren) and now is supposed to be time for me and my husband, but it’s not. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t regret the situation we are in, it’s really nice being such a big part in their lives (most days anyway) but I feel we’ll be too old to get what we want by the time they are adults.

One of the hardest things is finding people to talk to who understand. We have very little in common with people who have children the same age as they tend to be 20/30 years younger than us. But, we also have little in common with people the same age who have raised their families and are now enjoying their new found freedom.

This isn’t the vision we had planned once the (first lot of) children had left home, but it’s what we’ve got and we will work through it, like we always do.

 

 

#Walk1000Miles Challenge – End Of The First Month

Well, we did it. We got to the end of January and we walked everyday. If the weather was really bad we just walked to the local shops, the long way round, which can be as much as a 2 1/2 mile round trip.  We’ve been out in the rain, high winds and temperatures of -2  but I can honestly say I’ve enjoyed every walk.

The walks also act as a replacement for the school PE sessions the children miss from being home educated. A 3 miles walk and 30 minutes on the play equipment in the park more than make up for a couple of 30 minutes sessions they would have at school. Abbie has mild asthma and used to get out of breath regularly when we walked and also got ‘stitches’ in her side quite often.  All that seems to be changing after such a short time, no more stitches and she can walk a lot further without stopping.

The walks are also very useful as topic starters. We have spoken about so many things over the last 4 weeks ranging from evergreen trees through to the hole in the ozone layer and so many things in between. In seems that almost everyday we see something that sparks a conversation and quite often a project to do at home.

Now the important information, the mileage:

I managed 113.62 miles

Abbie did 104.46 miles

Jessie did 105.36 miles

I should point out that these are ‘boots on’ miles, we only count the mileage where we have purposely gone out for a walk. Miles around the house aren’t taken into account. it is amazing how many you do. Just in case anyone is interested my total mileage for the month was 228.14 miles WOW!!! This is just me, I just keep track of all my fitbit miles.  I make sure I do a minimum of 5 (fitbit) miles a day, even if that means that I end up jogging around the kitchen at 10pm to make sure I get to my target (and yes I’ve done this several times).

I’ve taken so many photographs and it was so hard to choose but here are a few of my favourite photo’s from January:

Usborne Quiz Tins – Review

Another home educating mum recommended that we try the Usborne quiz tins for the children. Being home educated we make a lot of general knowledge information into games whenever we can and these were ideal to save my brain from trying to work out the questions, and answers, myself.

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I bought them mainly for my then 8 year old Jess who suffers from dyslexia. I loved the idea that the cards can be used over and over as they are wipe clean. We tend to just use a piece of kitchen towel, this cleans them perfectly.

The tin contains 75 wipe clean question cards, 5 answer cards and a scorecard. There are 5 categories on the cards which are Long Ago, Science, Dinosaurs, Animals and Travel so will suit lots of different interests. There are 15 cards in each category which have 8 questions on each. That is a total of 600 questions. All the cards are colour coded for ease of sorting them out.

Most of the questions are multi choice which are perfect for children, the rest of the questions (about 5%) are simple one line questions.

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As I said earlier I bought them for our 8 year old but I have caught her older sister having a look on a few occasions she seems to like the long ago cards. My adult son and his girlfriend have also been sat answering the questions more than once.

So far the cards have already been used in several different ways. We have given them to her just to write the answers on by herself and then marked them, we have asked her the questions and given her a choice of answers and also asked the same questions without the answers to check if she is learning.

I would recommend them for when you are going on holiday or long trips as they are perfect for warding off boredom and stop the ‘are we there yet’ type of questions. Perfect for ages from 5 upwards, but some of the questions are quite challenging, even teenagers and adults will have to think about the answer so they are perfect for the whole family.

Available Now At Amazon

Newstead Abbey

Yesterday we went to Newstead Abbey. I’d seen a post abut a home education meet up there and we’d never been so thought we’d have a look.  The children don’t, yet, have the interest that I have in history  but we still find something that we can talk about or research later, everywhere we go. This visit the topic for home was Boatswain.

The Abbey was founded as a monastic house in the late 12th century, and it still retains much of its medieval character. The most famous survival is the iconic West Front of the church that dates from the late 13th century and is now a scheduled ancient monument. Inside the house the medieval cloisters, Chapter House (now the Chapel) and a collection of medieval stone carvings and manuscripts enable visitors to discover the Abbey’s early history. We didn’t actually go inside the house this time but will in the future when Tom comes with us.

There was one very famous resident of the abbey, Lord Byron who lived at Newstead Abbey at various times from the autumn of 1808 to the autumn of 1814. The house contains many items which belong to Byron including furniture, letters, portraits and even his pistol.

One of the most interesting things to do with Byron for us was Boatswain. As animal lover’s the story of Boatswain was the one of the highlights of the visit. “Epitaph to a Dog”  is a poem by the British poet Lord Byron. It was written in 1808 in honour of his Newfoundland, Boatswain, who had just died of rabies. When Boatswain contracted the disease, Byron reportedly nursed him without any fear of becoming bitten and infected. The poem is inscribed on Boatswain’s tomb, which, as a matter of interest, is larger than Byron’s, at the abbey.  The tomb was intended for Byron and Boatswain but Byron was in fact buried at the family vault in Hucknall.

It’s difficult to read much of the poem on the monument now as you can see by the photo below. But I loved it so much so I’ve printed it below:

Boatswain's Monument

Boatswain’s Monument

Near this Spot
are deposited the Remains of one
who possessed Beauty without Vanity,
Strength without Insolence,
Courage without Ferocity,
and all the virtues of Man without his Vices.

This praise, which would be unmeaning Flattery
if inscribed over human Ashes,
is but a just tribute to the Memory of
Boatswain, a Dog
who was born in Newfoundland May 1803
and died at Newstead Nov. 18th, 1808

When some proud Son of Man returns to Earth,
Unknown to Glory, but upheld by Birth,
The sculptor’s art exhausts the pomp of woe,
And storied urns record who rests below.
When all is done, upon the Tomb is seen,
Not what he was, but what he should have been.
But the poor Dog, in life the firmest friend,
The first to welcome, foremost to defend,
Whose honest heart is still his Master’s own,
Who labours, fights, lives, breathes for him alone,
Unhonoured falls, unnoticed all his worth,
Denied in heaven the Soul he held on earth –
While man, vain insect! hopes to be forgiven,
And claims himself a sole exclusive heaven.

Oh man! thou feeble tenant of an hour,
Debased by slavery, or corrupt by power –
Who knows thee well, must quit thee with disgust,
Degraded mass of animated dust!
Thy love is lust, thy friendship all a cheat,
Thy tongue hypocrisy, thy heart deceit!
By nature vile, ennobled but by name,
Each kindred brute might bid thee blush for shame.
Ye, who behold perchance this simple urn,
Pass on – it honours none you wish to mourn.
To mark a friend’s remains these stones arise;
I never knew but one — and here he lies.

The gardens were beautiful. The children particularly liked The Japanese Garden  with all the water, see a couple of images of it above.  Because of the amount of time spent in the Japanese Gardens we did run out of time before we had a chance to properly look around the rest of the gardens. I’m hoping to go back again in a few weeks.

 

 

#Walk1000Miles Challenge Week 1 Totals

We went out walking everyday this week, only local walks though. Jess managed to go for a walk  everyday which made her happy as she didn’t think she could o it.  We saw a couple of interesting birds but the weather was wet and miserable most days so not many scenic shots.

Blackbird with partial albinism

Blackbird with partial albinism

Treecreeper

Treecreeper

The 1000 miles sounds very daunting but it works out at just 2.74 miles a day. The weekly total we are aiming for is 19.18 miles a week. Of course if we do more we will be finished earlier.  Our total miles for the first week were; me 29.11 miles; Abbie 27.11 miles & Jess 28.29 miles.

I think we did brilliantly for the first week!

I’ll be updating on a monthly basis from now on. Back with an update at the end of January.