Category Archives: Self-led learning

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!

Share this page...

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!!

Share this page...

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.

Share this page...

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.

Share this page...

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Share this page...

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.

 

Share this page...

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!!!

 

Share this page...

First Day of School with a Difference!

Around 9 years ago I took my shy 3 year old to pre-school, she clung to me and didn’t want me to leave. She didn’t make a big fuss, but she was upset. I came home and cried. L did a term at pre-school, she wasn’t herself, she withdrew, she didn’t cause trouble, so the staff kept saying she was fine, but I knew that the quiet child they saw, wasn’t the child I knew and the best thing ever was taking her out and not sending her back.

Today I took my other daughter R who is 10 and who has never been to pre-school or school before, to primary school for a taster day. I was pleased how excited she was this morning. She was ready when I got up and bouncing around. It has taken her a while to decide whether to try a taster day, I think her dyslexia is the main concern for both me and her. It will be very interesting to see how it has gone. We held hands on the way to school, and her grip certainly tightened as we entered the playground, but the office staff were lovely, as was the class teacher, so I expect she’s been fine.

I think it will be a bit of an odd taster as the class has had to be spilt up with the teacher absent, so she’s gone into year 5 with a few of year 6. This may be a good thing as it may take the pressure of the work a bit. We may ask for the chance of another taster day if R wants to, so she can really get to know more of the year 6 kids, who she would be with if she went to Secondary school next September. I think there will be a lot of talking about that!!!

It was as close as I have been to that feeling of leaving L at pre-school though, as R had rather a worried face as I left her…. but dealing with that for both her and me was much easier than when a child is 3 or 4, I know she is more than capable of coping in many different situations, she has been out on day courses without me, so it isn’t the first time away from me or anything, just the first time in an actual school class!!

It has been strange coming home without her and a taste of what it might be like if we end up with both children at school!!!! Sort of an empty nest taster for me! I’m having days where I’m beginning to understand why people (women especially) have such a hard time with empty nest syndrome! Time is going by so fast, and although my children feel more grown up at 12 and 10, and indeed look grown up too, I think as a parent it still seems so recent that they needed you to do so much more for them, and you can still see the young child you knew. I can see how rapidly teenage years are coming and all the excitement that lies beyond!!

The day is going very quickly though, as I knew it would. Time to get a few jobs done, but not much more, then it will be time to go and pick R up from school!!!

See how the day went here!

Share this page...

Getting lost in a book for the first time!!

R got lost in a book this week. We have been reading Wolf Princess together and we take turns to read, usually with me reading a lot and R reading as little as possible, so I’d handed over to her to read a paragraph and she carried on right down the page and over onto the next page and down part of that…. she emerged smiling and said she’d been so involved with the story that she’d forgotten to stop reading!!! YAY!!! Big moment for a dyslexic child!! Her reading is coming on in leaps and bounds which is great. Finally at aged 10. Writing will be the next thing.

Found a great site if you want to get a small taste of being dyslexic…..

Through Your Child’s Eyes

We’ve tried the reading and writing ones… a useful tool!!!

Share this page...

The Reading Discussion

A lazy start, with R having a lovely long bath… a lovely thing to do when it is dark and pouring with rain outside on a Monday morning!

Today we watched some excellent Mathswatchvle videos on probability. There are some sample videos on YouTube. Otherwise you have to subscribe.

I find MathsWatchvle is a really excellent way of learning maths, and R seems to find that too. The clips aren’t too long and you can pause and have a go at questions as you go along, with full explanations after you’ve tried it.

We then had a Mario Kart game or two and lunch,  before a really good reading session.

We are now reading Wolf Princess, which so far seems pretty good. I read a chapter then R reads a page. Her reading is coming on so well, she still only wants to do a small amount and has an amazing way of arguing out of doing too much… I think we have covered human rights and the right to our own decisions rather too well sometimes!!

We usually reach some sort of compromise, else my throat really does give up if I read for so long! She has a total handle on the idea that she might be dyslexic though and I do genuinely think she tires very quickly if reading too much.

Instead of her reading some more of a chapter… which is not an easy book…. (though she does cope very well with it when she does read it) she agreed that she would look at the common word flash cards we haven’t used for ages. A year ago she would have got a fair number right but certainly not all. She breezed through them, which I think pleasantly surprised her…. I don’t think she always believes me when I say how well she is doing, and occasionally it is good to have it actually physically confirmed for her.

The girls both set up the train track yesterday and had a really lovely play together (which is happening slightly less now L especially is getting so grown up), R carried on with the game by herself today too. She talked about how her and L play less than they used to which she misses, but then it is harder now with L at school, and with them both changing as they get that much older. I am happy that they still do manage imagination play together at 12 and 10. I think it is getting less common in kids that age…. which is such a shame.

Poor L came in soaked after school, so a nice warm shower for her… ended up with two girls sat on the sofa watching ‘Friends’ and having their hair brushed through. Love family sofa time.

 

 

Share this page...