Category Archives: Education

Little Woodham 1642 Village

We recently went to the fabulous Little Woodham 1642 village. We have been several times before and this time they opened just for our home education group. L had an inset day, so she came too, so it was a bit like old times when they were both home educated…. Not exactly the same as L is now as tall as me and both of them are happy to disappear off to watch what they want to.

The people at Little Woodham are all amazing, 1642 is their hobby and that is how the whole village is set up .. it gives such a real feel of how a village would have been in those days, and the people have so much in depth knowledge. Who’d have thought there were so many uses for urine!!!

It attracted a large number of home educators, so was a lovely day for catching up with people we hadn’t seen for a while.  It is bizarre realising how many people hadn’t met L before, now she’s been in school for three years!! It was good having some of the new teen home edders there who haven’t been to many trips before… getting a taste of the fun side of home education, not just signing up for gcse classes which there are a lot more of in recent years.

We have repeat visited Little Woodham as they often have different people with different skills, depending on when you go.

It is such a gem. Can’t recommend highly enough.

https://www.littlewoodham.org.uk/

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Finding our rhythm

We are settling back into home ed (we never left but it did feel like we were in limbo for a while as R thought about going to school). It now feels like we are back, fully submerged in the wonderful world of Home education.

We are seeing other families at Sign language, environmental management, drama and a few other things too. Wednesday this week was lovely, R had her new home ed drama group which was lovely, and I sat and chatted with other home ed mums, then environmental management where I again sat and chatted with other mums, play in the park & more chatting. My wobbles have lessened considerably and how lovely it is to be at the stage of being able to chat. It doesn’t seem that long ago that conversations were hard to have as one or two little people would need me a lot.

R and I have settled into a more comfortable pace of doing a few things together and then spending time doing our own things. She’s good company and likes doing her own thing with me around in the background doing mine. She’s creating a drawing of a whole community at the moment, so she stops occasionally to fill me in on how things work in her invented world. Love it. So much imagination and it also leads to political and philosophical chat too!

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Old hands have Home ed Wobbles too!

This September would have been the start of Secondary school for R. L started school at the beginning of Secondary so it wasn’t an unreasonable conclusion that R might want to do the same. We went to the open evenings last year and applied for a place with a view to keeping options open and having a serious think about it all. This is how it had all gone previously with L too.

R went into a local primary school for a day to see what it was like and to meet a class full of kids who’d also be going to the same Secondary. It all went well, R was nervous but went in without any problems and enjoyed herself. Despite struggling with dyslexia she also had a good go at the work (I did speak with the teacher beforehand).

The next step was then going for a couple of hours at the Secondary school with other children who weren’t from local feeder schools, she made a couple of friends and was then excited about the whole trial day with everyone else going to start the school in September. She walked to school with L and friends and did a whole day in the tutor group she’d be in and doing various classes. We went to the meet the tutor evening afterwards. It all looked like we could be following the pattern that L went through.

R then pondered, and wondered and thought and talked and thought some more over the next couple of weeks. I did suggest that if she decided not to go that it would be good to let the school know before the end of term so that if someone on the waiting list got the place they’d still have time to go in and meet the tutor etc. It was totally R’s decision, we talked about the pros and cons and after a meeting with L’s teachers to talk about L, we asked about dyslexia and how the school would handle it… probably R’s main concern… and surprisingly the teacher actually suggested that R would be better off at home.

I had started to ready myself for R choosing school and have been spending time on other things http://www.redbubble.com/people/lahickmana/portfolio/by:LaHickmana

Where my art is now being made into some lovely gifts.. I’m so pleased with it all!! The bags and cushion covers are especially fabulous!!!

Now, R is still home ed, it has rather felt like starting home education again… I have actually felt daunted by it, but things are calming down and we are finding our way. Things have changed as R is changing and there is a bit of external pressure to do more formal work.. as well as feeling that a bit myself too. The options open to us are different now too as even the home ed world does divide a bit between primary and secondary ages. We still go to things with all ages, which I think is lovely and also valuable, but now there are also other things that we can join in because R is Secondary age. Shs has started an Environmental Management GCSE, one hour a week for two years as a taster of things to come, she’s enjoying it so far. We’ve started a sign language class together too, mixed age, and R is starting a drama class soon too. Other than that there are nice trips out, books read together, interesting documentaries, cooking, and so much more! R has even almost finished the Rome project she started in May!!

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Life when your home edding child is a bit older

Now that R is 11 and L is at school, time works differently for us. It is not as full-on as when they are younger. R is happy to disappear for a few hours to do her own thing, so I now have more time for myself than I have had for a long time.

R also seriously considered going to school for Secondary, so we went through the stages of applying, going for visits etc and after much thought R decided that unlike L, school was not for her. So, I had also started to think of what I would do if she did go to school!!

This has led to me really having more time for art, and most recently I have put some of my art work here: Redbubble LaHickmana

I am so pleased with how it is going and how lovely the products are!!! I’ve bought quite a lot and am really delighted with how good it makes my art look!!! Confidence builder! I’ve only just reached the point of feeling brave enough to show people my paintings and this is really helping!

img_0942

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Fabulous Italy Trip

We had an amazing trip to Rome this year. We managed a trip during term time as L had been offered a water-sports trip to Spain in term time and as we have previously gone on educational trips around that time every year before L started school we wrote to the school and asked for permission.. our Rome trip for all 4 of us was about the price of the school water-sports trip for L!!! We got ‘unofficial’ permission… so unauthorised absence but without fine or further action. Good enough!!

Rome was amazing. None of us had been before. We got accomodation through AirBnB, a fabulous apartment, right by a metro station (I mean literally outside the front door!)

Vittorio Emanuele Apartment
Vittorio Emanuele Apartment
Vittorio Emanuele apartment
Vittorio Emanuele apartment

We had read up quite a lot before and had watched Mary Beard documentaries and also an Alexander Armstrong one about the Colosseum. We also learnt some Italian in preparation.

Despite documentaries and guide book research before going, nothing prepares you for the scale of things.. the Colosseum especially, and also just how many 2000 year old buildings there are. Some gems didn’t even make it into the guide books!!

Fountain by Bernini
Fountain by Bernini We used WithLocals.com to book a tour with a local guide just for our family for our first day, Andrea was great and adapted the tour to suit what we were interested in and to give us a good starting point for the rest of our week.

 

 

 

 

 

Roman Forum
Roman Forum

 

 

Giolitti
Giolitti

 

Colosseum
Colosseum

Marcus Aurelius Column

Chiesa di Sant'Ignazio di LoyolaMarcus Aurelius Column, telling stories of his travels and battles

 

Big nose water fountain
Big nose water fountain

 

Opulent churches galore!

 

 

 

 

 

Pantheon, largest un-reinforced concrete dome in the World! 2000 years old!

 

 

Fresh water from aquaducts still available from fountains around the city!

 

 

2000 year old 150 unit shopping centre!! Trajan’s Market. Amazing! One of my favourite things, so completely intact, with views of so many other things too. We enjoyed how relatively compact Rome is, so easy to see lots! And there really is so much to see. We didn’t even make it to the Vatican. We decided to focus on Ancient Rome.

We’d thoroughly recommend it!!! May was a great time to go.

Trajan's Market

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Major Breakthrough with Reading

We have been using the EasyRead system with Oxford Learning Solutions.

http://www.easyreadsystem.com/index/index.html

It is really not a cheap option, but we have tried so many other options, and once we tried the free 10 day trial R was hooked.

Parent – Free Trial

The first time something had really clicked for her. It rewires the brain to put in the bit that many dyslexic children miss out… the decoding and breaking down of a word. R was sight reading quite well, but her spelling was not getting any better, she still struggled with small words, and wasn’t ‘sounding’ out anything very well.

R is now reading in a completely different way and can decode words. She is a pretty much fluent reader and reads Harry Potter to herself (and to me) with feeling.

It took 80 lessons for the really big breakthrough but early on her confidence had already increased and her attitude to reading. It is 15 minutes a day (commitment from the parent as well) and R has been KEEN to do it EVERY day! Anyone with a dyslexic child will understand what a big deal that is!

The support from EasyRead staff is fantastic, with regular e-mails, with questions and suggestions for your child, plus phonecalls too.

I haven’t received any discount/payment for this, I am writing it purely from being a delighted parent!

We are only just beginning to see some spelling improvement, but this will no doubt come along as R reads more and also because she is noticing how words are built, which she never had before.

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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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