You don’t need GCSEs!!!

Before reading this.. note that I have used the initial ‘I’ for the person we met, I’m aware this makes it a slightly harder read!

A lovely meet up this week with a student from the local Uni. She met our group through a Robogals day our group went to run by students at the uni. I has been home educated right through and even when home ed friends were deciding to do some GCSEs by going to college or doing them at home ed classes, or by themselves, I and her parents decided that actually that didn’t suit her and it there were other options.

We met for ice-cream (Chocolate Brownie, now you ask) and a chat, R and I got on very well and we all had a good chat about how to do things differently, and how not to get dragged into the panic of having to get GCSEs.

I think the GCSE and A Level route is probably an easier route if your brain works that way… because you then have the piece of paper expected and face less of a battle to get to where you want to. But if exams and classes really don’t suit you but you still want to go on further and do something academic, there are ways of achieving this! I that we met did this by studying with the Open University for a year (or two?) and this gave her enough credits (or modules, I’m not sure of the lingo!) to get into University, no GCSEs, no A’Levels.

We didn’t just chat about exams, though it was so good to know that there are other options around. There was a lot of common ground around YouTube and funny science videos, maths, playmobil, all sorts. Lovely to meet a young adult who is such a good advert for home education … especially as it sounds like we are home educating in a very similar way, with self-led learning.

We hope to meet up again, and we’ve already been sent some excellent links to interesting YouTube channels and websites which I will going through and sharing on here too.

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Fabulous Fridays

We’ve had a couple of fantastic Fridays recently. The first was at the Scout hut we go to with our home education group and resulted in a pretty impressive musical instrument.

Making amazing music from junk
Making amazing music from junk

 

 

 

 

 

 

The chap who ran the session was brilliant, he brought the guitar shapes and stems ready, then the kids had to glue on the frets (or get adults to, because we ended up having to use superglue due to time constraints!!!!!… yes I was careful, but still almost managed to glue my fingers together!!), then string it.

There was a lot of excellent physics covered easily, and the electric guitar the man had made himself from a Roses chocolate tin was very impressive.

There was also the usual playing in the woods and getting muddy and having lots of fun.

The other Friday was a trip to a Food bank. We shown around, split into groups and given useful things to do. The kids really got into the challenge of labelling the donations with dates and sorting them into the correct piles. It was such a lovely set up with tables set out for tea and biscuits, all done really nicely for anyone coming in, and the volunteers were all so nice. So easy for anyone to need a food bank when things go wrong for them.

We learned all about how the system works, and actually how few times people are allowed to come in… 3 times a year… though if people are really desperate they will do more. They ask people’s preferences, are careful about allergies, religious beliefs and vegetarians etc. Some excellent discussions came up and we also had such a laugh with everyone, a really happy place.

We found out that they often have far too many baked beans, and would prefer tinned tomatoes, toiletries, sanitary items, tinned custard, tinned rice pudding, loo rolls and the boxes of laundry tablets, so they can be split and shared out in smaller bags.

Food bank trip

We then went to the local supermarket and got some donations with the children picking useful things to donate.

 

 

We’re so lucky to belong to such a lovely home ed group, there always seems to be something exciting to go to.

Shame the Government yet again seems to be stirring up ready to hassle home educators again.

 

 

 

 

 

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Time to do what you like

R has been thoroughly engrossed in Minecraft over the weekend, hours and hours of it. Sometimes it worries me, sometimes I can’t stop myself from getting her to take a break from the screen to eat and drink and move around… but letting her have a really good chunk of time to do what she wants has really shown her passions. She has built an entire hunger games land… this was only a small project she set herself. Now she is onto a serious project which she says could take a really long time … even a year (I’m not totally convinced it will take that long… we’ll see!) R is building a massive kitchen (possibly whole house) … not a normal size minecraft house…. this is REALLY big, the kitchen is half done, with sink and taps that work with levers and switches, cupboards, fridge and freezer… with food inside, microwave, cooker, etc….. The design is excellent and is all from inside her head. Not a copied kitchen. A designed kitchen. She is proud of it. She doesn’t say that much… so she must be really proud.

Having had unrestricted Minecraft time, R was then much more engaged when I suggested other things. We’re in a transitional stage I think, R very much knows her own mind, but I’m not totally convinced that she will widen her interests without a bit of steering / guidance, so there is a bit of negotiation going on at the moment. I know some of it is my own problem not hers, but I also am often right about things she might enjoy if she tries them. Really lovely to see such passion though, with her really delving into mod design, YouTube videos etc. Some very valuable skills, and fun too!!

Here’s R’s YouTube Channel

In between the minecrafting all weekend and part of yesterday and a bit early this morning, we have also read the whole of ‘Fortunately the Milk’ by Neil Gaiman which we both enjoyed, we both read bits and finished it in one sitting!!

We also watched some excellent logic puzzles on YouTube which R has then repeated word for word to ask people we’ve seen….

The prisoner hat riddle for one, along with others by Alex Gendler.

Today R has been at a friend’s house, for lego, forest outing and cake making. She had a great time. I basically blitzed the house!!! And did some painting too (art, not decorating :-))

Then Woodcraft this evening for R, L and S for their planning meeting for the term.

L has been back at school for two days, she bounced in and bounced home. She definitely needs to jabber away at us constantly when she gets in, but it is lovely to hear about what she’s been doing all day.

 

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Radio 5 Live Home Education Discussion

As the BBC have recently researched and found that home education is dramatically on the increase I was asked just before Christmas to take part in a discussion live on air:

Radio 5 Live link

From  2:39:25 for just under 20 minutes, with Graham Stuart MP, who is a great supporter of the home ed community, also with a home educated teenager, myself, my 12 yr old daughter who is now at school, a man from Campaign for Real Education, and a headteacher who was very anti home education, whilst seemingly knowing very little about it!!

The link is only available for a limited time, so I’ll give a rough summary of how I think it went!

There was this on the same day: Rising numbers of children home educated

I think the home ed side came over very well, Graham Stuart picked up on the headteacher’s ignorance of how home education works, I thought the teenager came over very well indeed as well rounded, confident and well educated. We ran out of time it felt, my daughter was ready to say more, and so was I, but we found it hard to butt in over the teacher!

I am still amazed how ignorant some people are about the different ways of learning and how much more effective some methods can be than traditional school ‘lessons’. Yet there are ‘experts’ like this who would like to come and assess what home educators are doing! We do not look like school in any way. A lot of how we learn is invisible, it isn’t timetabled (I know some people are more structured), but the results of the learning keep on coming. I’m regularly surprised by something my daughter knows! I haven’t ‘taught’ it.

Socialisation always comes up too, yet most home educated kids have chance to mix with a wide range of people, of all different ages and backgrounds… at school L has found it easier going into such a big environment with so many people, than many of her peers who had been in the same small primary school for years.

I do love home education and the different opportunities that it has offered me and my family.

A few years ago I would never have agreed to a live radio broadcast, I think all the library campaigning has helped both me and my daughters to feel able to speak up about things we believe in. What a valuable lesson for all of us!!!

 

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