Tag Archives: discussion

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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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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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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Genetics and Evolution

We had an amazing session at our home ed group this week. A friend of one of the parents came in and gave us a talk about genetics and evolution, and mapping the human genome.

It was the best explanation of Evolution I’ve had and cleared up some of the things that I wasn’t sure about too. So much recent science… a relatively new field.. of mapping the human genome, and now other animals too and the comparison of those and how important technology has been in this, needing fast computing speeds to help analyse so much data, but how even that is still not fast enough for the amount of data and how long it takes to plough through looking for patterns and changes in the chains of DNA. (My biology knowledge is appalling, so excuse me if I haven’t used a correct term!!)

Having said how bad my biology knowledge is though, I was inspired by his passion and found it very interesting. I’m much more a chemistry and physics fan, but I could see the fascination of his subject.

He works at Southampton University and is researching motor neurones disease, so as well as a run down of evolution and genetics, he also explained what they know about motor neurones disease and what they don’t know. It was all fascinating and what was going to be a 45min talk turned into 1.5 hrs of discussion and questions because everyone was so engaged. Apparently he was very nervous and doesn’t have much to do with children… you wouldn’t have known it!!

I’ve not even  mentioned R. I was hooked and engrossed, at the end it looked like she was too. Usually the lure of the woods outside calls to her, but she was there asking lots of questions at the end too.

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The Education Dilemma with a Dyslexic Child

We’ve recently had the letter from the Schools Admissions team for R for next September. I knew it was coming, but it still threw me. It seemed a gradual progression with L when we went through this two years ago, just taking each step as it came and deciding as each option came along.

R has decided that she would like to go into a local primary, just for a 2  day visit, not a permanent place, just to see what it is like. She has been adamant for a long time that she won’t go to secondary school…. but this is where things are now slightly wobbly…. she now is still mostly saying she doesn’t want to, with occasional glimmers of maybe she might try it.

So, now we hit the… do we apply for a place in case?

With L I could see that as the decision came closer that she was ready and happy and wanted the independence of making the decision and has been happy with her decision.

R, I think is beginning to want the independence side of things, and to perhaps widen her social circle further… but in terms of school I am very worried that all the confidence building we have done around her dyslexia could be undone within a week, even if she does just go and try school. Her reading is coming on, and we read teenage level fiction / young adult, she often struggles on small words and is amazing on larger more complicated words! I don’t think she’d have chance to read higher level books at school, it’d be dumbed down…. we’ve seen it with L, where they have to read a certain colour and can’t move up until they’ve passed tests on the lower coloured books.

R’s maths is great, but I generally read out the questions, as she struggles reading, thinking and writing all together.

We are covering some really lovely stuff at the moment… we have had several theatre visits recently, including today when we went to see ‘Lord of the Flies’ at the Mayflower theatre, with questions and answers with the actors afterwards. Although surrounded by school parties of 13/14 and 15 yr olds she asked two very good questions, and we have had such in depth chats about it all before and after.

We’ll go with a couple of days at a local primary and see where we go from there.

Watch this space!

Anyone been through the same with a dyslexic child?

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Learning in Chunks

A sociable Saturday with visitors and an anniversary party.

A chunk of gardening and woodwork

Then we had S’s parents and Auntie J round on Sunday to help clear a load of bits in the garden so we can move our old shed and put up a new one. We achieved loads, especially the clearance of a particularly large buddleia. L and R came out in the garden too and helped clip up the pieces into more manageable sizes. R decided that when the new shed is up, there will be room for a den behind it… so she is keen to build it. There were some pieces of wood with lots of nails in them, so Grandpa showed R the easiest way to remove them and L helped too, so they both spent ages sorting out the pieces of wood, ready for den building.

A chunk of games

The last library session of the term yesterday, with board games and card games, we had an excellent laser board brought it, with puzzles to solve of sending the laser round different ways using different mirrors. Someone else brought a Bakugan board which was popular, most of the kids played Tsuro,

2015-07-14 17.08.57

which is up to 8 players and most ages can cope with it. We also had Happy Families. So, a good session. There were also judges there looking at the library borders, which our group had planted some of the bulbs for.

Friends round in the afternoon to play playmobil, and out in the garden too.

 A chunk of Maths, Spanish, Art and Molecules.

Today has been a very constructive day with a huge chunk of maths, we looked at Straight line graphs, distance-time graphs and real life graphs. Videos on MathsWatch VLE.

Further Algebraic simplification… Multiplication and Division.Expanding brackets. Also videos and questions on MathsWatchVLE. R was really enjoying it, we only stopped when her numbers started to be written backwards which usually shows she needs a break.

We then had a chunk of Art, R is designing mythical creatures and lands,

 

2015-07-14 17.09.34

and we had a Learning Spanish CD on while she was drawing. A Michel Thomas CD, who is absolutely brilliant for learning how to speak various languages. Worth getting out from the library if you can. R moved on to playing with the molecule kit we have, but still wanted the Spanish on, and must have listened for a couple of hours (in amongst chatting over some of it… ) not full concentration, but she was obviously getting something out of it. We also managed a chat about the structure of diamond.

This isn’t an average day, we have some much less ‘formal educational’ days, but when R is interested and chooses to she picks up an incredible amount…. and takes in far more than if we had a lot of days of forced learning without her being engaged. She is excited about Algebra, so we can carry it on as much as she likes… and she is really understanding it. We definitely work learning in chunks, and we can adapt the size of each chunk of each thing on each day to suit the circumstances. So sometimes a five minute chunk of maths is all that is needed, other times it is twenty minutes, today it was an hour and a half solid. Other days nothing. It is all valuable. 🙂

 

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Gentle days

We are enjoying having some gentle time at home more often recently. R and I have been making the most of sitting in the garden reading together, having water fights, doing art together and chatting. We’ve also carried on with more algebra related maths. It is a chilled out time and the days fly by. R has also been challenging herself to improve and gradually be able to do full chin-ups… she still can’t quite manage it yet, but she has improved with trying every day.

We had a student round this week. I met her at the library, she is here for a year from Taiwan to do a Masters degree and wanted to meet some non-students…. normal British people (I can’t help with the normal… but we are outside University life.) She came round for the afternoon and we chatted lots about all sorts of things, differences and similarities in culture, travel, families, education etc. R came and chatted with us for quite a while too. K has offered to cook some Taiwanese food for us another day, so we’ve got to decide on some English food to introduce her to as well.

Woodcraft was a walk around the old city walls, which the girls really enjoyed.

R had drama, which has one more rehearsal before the show next week and a play with friends here, they built another den in the front room.

L had a trip to Paulton’s Park with the school. She loved being able to go with her friends and not have to be with an adult.

Today has been a Granny and Grandpa day for R, which involved an hour of badminton and then a catch up with some Great Aunts.

I had some time to catch up on a few things and also do some painting in the garden which was lovely to lose myself in.

A twelfth birthday tea after school this evening with our “baby” group… we’ve met up pretty much every week since our oldest kids were babies and they’re all turning 12! Amazing. All so grown up and so lovely. 🙂

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Choosing to stay at home

Today we had all sorts of nice possibilities …. I had researched a trip to the beach by train as it was yet another warm day. The Hat fair was on in Winchester which we do usually go to with the local home ed group, we could have met with friends, gone for a cycle ride, or many other options….

We talked for quite a while about it and R was adamant that she wanted to stay at home and have time in the garden.. Although I was up for going out it would probably have wiped me out for the weekend, so I was happy to chill at home too.

We had a lovely day. We sat and read together… I read some more of The King’s Curse by Phillipa Gregory out loud to R and she read some Secret Seven to me. She laid in the newly decorated hammock I was in my comfy camping chair… in our lovely shady garden, with the guinea pig in her run by us. It was great.

We had discussions about Henry Tudor and the goings on around 1500.

We then chatted more about elements and atoms and molecules and listened again to the Periodic Table song …The Periodic Table Song which we listened to ages ago and R remembered an impressive amount of! We talked about ionic bonding and covalent bonds. We then watched a couple of videos of the alkali metals reacting with water, and chatted about some science sessions R had been to quite a while ago and how they connected.

It was then time for some art, R started a minecraft style picture of herself, which is going well. I especially like the small squares that are her eyelashes.

R went off to play some minecraft and I got my paints out, sat with my feet in a bucket of water in the shade in the garden and got lost in some painting which was lovely.

R then went to a friend’s house and is staying for a sleepover, so some time with L this evening which was good too.

See also: What do you do when you are totally free to choose?

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Hot Wednesday

R went to drama this morning and carried on with rehearsals for ‘Where the Wild Things Are’, sounds like costumes are going to consist of dressing up in a mishmash of bright clothing…. the sort of costume that even I can cope with sourcing!!! (I wish I was the type of clever mum who quickly throws together some amazing creation… alas I am not!)

It was 25 degrees by 6am this morning, so apart from R going to drama, we stayed at home, with friends round to play in the afternoon. R and W and L got the water pistols out and J and I sat in the shade, though when it got really hot in the afternoon it was cooler in the house…  the advantage of a Victorian house. Sometimes I do wish it was lighter in the house, but it is perfect on hot summer days 🙂 we all moved into the house later in the afternoon and the kids played playmobil, we also got out the chemistry molecule set that J had brought round and had a go at building a few molecules, J and I also looked through some chemistry books, we regularly swap ideas of things to try. He has recently done some electrolysis experiments with W and L which have worked well… and would be worth a go at.

L came home very hot from school, though she said ICT and English had both been lovely and cool. Thankfully she didn’t have PE today. We got the bucket of water out to sit with feet in, which helped. S went out for a run! Bonkers!

We popped round to friends in the evening to deliver belated birthday presents, some of S’s photos on Canvas which our friend requested. Just took a while to sort. We bought some smaller ones for us too, which arrived today… one of London, one of the Golden Palace in Japan

Kinkaku-ji
Kinkaku-ji

 

and a Mount Fuji pic S took last year while we were on holiday in Japan and a Grand Canyon pic taken as we flew home from Los Angeles a few years ago. Now just to decide where to put them!!

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