Do you get stuck with gift ideas? If you are anything like me, the answer is probably yes! I love thoughtful presents; something handmade, personal or unique in some way. But sometimes it can be difficult to come up with something that really fits the bill. So when I found about naming your very own star, I was excited to discover such a fab gift idea! It is ideal for the person who has everything (I bet they don’t have their very own star!), anyone with an interest in stargazing or who loves the outdoors in general, or for someone who just likes something that bit different!
Star Name Registry is the UK’s number one online registry company who offers this unique gift. There are a variety of packages to choose from, with prices ranging from £14.99 for a standard star to £69.99 for a binary star gift set, as well as several other options inbetween. Their gift set version of each package comes with a framed certficate beautifully presented in a silver box, whereas the regular version comes in an envelope. If you need it in a hurry, you can choose to have it sent via email for an extra £4.99 (sent within 12 hours of order received) or £6.99 for next day delivery (paper version). Gift sets can also be sent via next day special delivery for £8.49. So handy to remember as a last minute present too!
I was sent an extra bright star gift set to review. This lovely set includes my very own star, which I not only got to name but was also able to choose which constellation I wanted it in too, an explanation of the star, free download of software, map and framed certificate in a gorgeous silver box. It does make a really unusual and very lovely gift.
I took quite sometime trying to decide on the name of my star and considered a couple of different options; for example, I thought about naming it after my daughter, or even her nickname ‘Squiggle’. But then I came up with the perfect idea: I chose our family name, because then the star represents all of us together. Wherever any of us are, we can look up at the night sky and see our star, and know we are together. It even includes our furbabies! Perfect.
If you would like the chance to win your own star naming, enter my rafflecopter giveaway below. Good luck!
I’m he2kidsandme; HE as in Home Education, my 2 kids are Big kid who’s 14, Little kids who’s 8 and me, Jo. The name doesn’t give any credit to my husband who is a big part of our family but doesn’t appear much in our adventures because he’s usually at work or behind the scenes at home, cooking the dinner, keeping the four walls standing and the roof above our head. Sorry about that love. 😉
We’re relatively new to Home education, Big Kid came out of school just over a year ago, half way through year 9 and Little kid about 8 months ago at the end of year 2. School just wasn’t a good fit for Big kid, she managed through Primary in a tiny Village School with less than 60 pupils but the transition to secondary was a disaster from the start, she was very unhappy and taking her out was the best decision we have ever made. Little kid seemed to enjoy school but we didn’t feel the middle school he was allocated was suitable and since he has been home he has talked a lot about how unhappy he was with some things that happened at school.
I don’t think we have really found our home ed style yet, I don’t know if we will ever have a set style. I imagine it will forever be changing according to the kids needs and interest. At the moment we do lots of clubs and groups: French and a craft group for Big kid and Art, gymnastics, trampoline and STEM for Little kid. We go on lots of trips and visits and I organise a social meet up for the HE teenagers in the area a few times a month. This month I am trying a bit of ‘strewing’ on the subject of Space and we have had quite a bit of engagement from both kids which I am very pleased with.
Recently we have been doing ‘Field trip friday’ our last few field trips were the National Holocaust museum, The Classical Spectacular at The Royal Albert Hall and a Science Fair at Warwick Castle our favourite by far was the Classical Spectacular, we all thoroughly enjoyed it even though we’re not really into Classical music.
I think my favourite thing about home educating the children is watching them enjoy things, and get excited about stuff. They are both more confident and much better company since they have been home and I think that’s because we don’t seem to be rushing all the time (although we are always late!). I think the thing I find most difficult about Home education is that I miss my work, I miss my colleagues and adult conversation and I miss feeling I have made a difference to someone (outside of the family) but I’m starting a new very part time job soon so I hope to get that feeling back.
The advice I received which I found most useful was “Forget School! Learning at home doesn’t and shouldn’t look like School.” Every time I have doubts, to remind myself of that, I sneak off to the loo and look through my Instagram and remind myself about all the experiences the kids have had and try to think of just one thing they learned from the experience – the thing they learned is not usually the ‘learning objective’ a teacher would have planned but something I completely overlooked or was totally unrelated. It’s like having a toddler all over again, you’ve got somewhere you need to be but they’ve got 400 questions about the ant on a leaf floating in a puddle – now we’ve got time to watch the ant, hypothesise about how he got on the leaf or where he’s going, find out what leaf it is, learn about viscosity, look for other ants ……. . And, now you know why we’re always late.
If you are interested you can follow our adventures at he2kidsandme on Instagram.
I am the mother of the GWkid on utube! We are home Educators for a while every day changes therefore so does learning people always ask when do you stop edding the answer is never! We learn all day everyday baby! when we want how we want and what we want. We are very blessed to be able to enjoy learning in this way.
How long have you home educated for and why did you decide to do it?
We have been home Educating for approximately 2 years. We decide to home educate to provide God centred quality Education for our child.
Briefly describe your home ed style. Do you have a ‘typical’ week and what does it include if so?
I would say we are structure-flexible. Subjects activities and times within the day are set although we are very open to allowing the child to learn when they are ready in the format they most thrive in or enjoy weather it be outside with or without friends table learning games household chores or shopping. I use regular daily activities to teach the Bible along with Mathematics, Science, English, and my UTW (Understand the world) subjects. Again this style may change as the child develops to better support the learning more effectively and most importantly to increase the fun!
What was your highlight of home ed last week?
My highlight is at it is everyday watching my child grow and develop into the child God wishes him to be and me gaining confidence daily from God to know that my husband and I are blessed to be facilitating this beautiful journey.
What is your favourite thing about home ed?
Being able to bring our child up as we wish to.
What do you find most difficult and why?
Finding other families that match our way of HE was a struggle at first but to be honest it has become a plus as I think I was spending to much time worrying about creating a village of likeminded HE friends. When I stopped and just focused on my child and family God sent me friends that proved to be just what we needed rather than what wanted. Life has been stress free and easy ever since ! I love Home Education!
What advice would you give to other home educators?
Let the love for your child guide your guidance of them.
We are a larger than average family, with 7 children aged 22, 21, 17, 14, nearly 8, 5 & 3. The eldest 2 are now obviously grown up and getting on with adult lives and our 17 yr old is due to start college soon, but the younger 4 are still very much in full time home education stage. We have been home educating for 7 years now.
Our eldest 2 went all through school with a mixture of success and struggles, but when J & S (now 17 & 14 year olds) were in primary school we started to wonder if there were alternatives. I had friends in the States who home schooled and I had always felt quite envious, presuming that here in the UK it would not be a legal option. I cannot even remember what prompted the initial Google search, but something did one day when the kids were on summer holidays between J going up to year 6 and S going up to year 3. I can’t even remember what I searched or where exactly that led me, but I suddenly found myself aware that Home Education was not only something legal here – but also very simple to do and actually quite common! It was like a suddenly realising you lived next to an amazing garden that you never knew existed – I wanted to explore every single possibility, my mind swam wildly with excitement and everything seemed to make so much more sense.
J had never really been happy in school, he has ASD and struggled badly with the social side of things – and also the misbehaviour of classmates. S had health issues that meant she missed big chunks of time in class for hospital visits and stays. She was regularly sent home poorly or unable to go in for mornings – her worst time. The school were awkward about offering support, saying she was ‘clever enough and would catch up’. She struggled also socially because friendships were being forged in her absence and girls can be mean! We were struggling ourselves as parents, not really agreeing with the school system of over-testing and ‘one size fits all’ education.
Excited, but apprehensive I mentioned the idea of Home Education to my husband. Neither of us had enjoyed school, our kids were not enjoying it … so it just made sense! Cautiously I asked the children what they thought – no pressure, your choice. To be honest I expected reluctance, but they both jumped at the idea and that was that! We sent off de-registration letters during the holiday and they never returned. All decided in less than a week and we haven’t looked back!
We had one toddler too at that point (F) and have since had two more (R &E), none of whom have been to school – not even preschool. We hope they will always stay out, but the choice will be theirs.
We have tried many different approaches over the years. I love reading about the different styles of Home Education. I have never been one to follow a particular style strictly, I prefer to be inspired by the theories and take those that fit into our lifestyle. When life has been manic – house moves, new babies, etc. we have taken time off from scheduled work to be unschoolers/ autonomous. Inevitably though, both myself and the kids find ourselves wanting some kind of structure back in our days. I find it helps us stay focused and achieve more … even if those achievements are only those that the kids want for themselves. With so many children, at quite different ages and stages, all with different interests and personalities I found it too hard to meet everyone’s needs without some kind of routine. At least half of our household also like to know exactly what is happening each day too!
A typical day for us would involve me and the smallest 3 waking somewhere around 6.30-7am. When we are all awake enough we have breakfast together and do what I call our ‘breakfast basket’, which is basically a selection of books I read aloud. Typically it will include picture books for the youngest and some fact books on a given theme for the week, some poems or a moral story to discuss. On busy periods I may just read our current chapter book instead. We use Five In A Row with the youngest – which means we cover various subjects just through discussing the picture books we read and using them as a springboard for more ideas. I often use my own choices of books too though, but with the same idea.
By this point the teens are starting to rise and we all get on with our designated household chores for the morning. After this I like them to go out in the garden for a bit of exercise and fresh air, while I do one to one with S – working on her English. They come in, I do some activities with the youngest two and F (8) has some time on the PC (I found he concentrates so much better later in the day if he’s already gamed, rather than clock-watching or asking constantly “Am I done now?”). S then goes to do her independent work. Some days at this point we have scheduled lessons or activities with other people. Other times the kids like to play on the LeapTV or just go off and play.
Lunch altogether, while I read our current read aloud chapter book, then various lunchtime chores. I am hoping to get more chance to get a trip to the park in after lunch as the weather improves, but so far that hasn’t happened as often as I’d like. Then I work one to one with F. This has to be very small bursts (10 minutes per activity). We practice handwriting, reading and maths, etc. He has a few workbooks he chooses to do, but for the most part we play games.
The little two usually appear again at this point – requesting ‘work’ too, so I have some basic workbooks or sheets they can join in with. We have different activities during the afternoons, some I reserve for play dates, park trips or others we have family activities we do until dinner time – board games, cooking, arts and crafts, etc.
One of the highlights of our week is nearly always on Tuesdays when we have our ‘History Tea-Time’… with table set with sandwiches and cakes and hot chocolate in a teapot I read books or we watch YouTube videos of our current topic. Last year we covered explorers, this year we are looking at inventors and inventions. I like to find picture books that really bring the events to life, rather than just factual encyclopedias for example. Food + read alouds often go hand in hand here – it helps wriggly bottoms stay on seats and ears listening if the mouths are busy chewing!
My favourite things about home edding include seeing my children bond so closely with each other and also getting to spend so much more of their precious childhood with them. I love feeling so connected with their development, getting to see them have those ‘aha!’ moments and really seeing them progress. Or the times when they enthuse to others how much they enjoy learning at home. I also enjoy being able to encourage their individual interests, to help them make the most of their strengths.
Another thing that I love about home edding is the choices available for trips, the amazing opportunities that our kids get. A recent example being a trip to the Holocaust Museum, for my 14 year old – complete with a chance to listen to and ask questions to a survivor. It was an amazing, emotional and unforgettable experience. He was an incredible man and left an impact on everyone who met him. From PGL activity holidays to workshops held in The Royal Courts of Justice or The Houses of Parliament, from making pizzas in Pizza Express to a tour of the sewage works, our kids get some great experiences!
The hardest things can be not having enough energy/time in the day to do all that I want to with them. Likewise, trying to have realistic expectations of what is achievable! With such a large age range I can often feel disappointed that we don’t get to go on as many trips as I’d like either – but I console myself that as the little ones get bigger more will be possible!
My best bit of advice for other home edders would be that if something isn’t working, if your child is not enjoying it or it is hard work … try something different! Sometimes you only need a small tweak, other times a complete overhaul. Don’t be confined by a certain style or curriculum, what works for one might not for you and there is no point having all the freedom of choice that comes with home edding if you don’t make the most of it!
My name is Kate and my husband home educates our eldest son Dylan. We have two younger children who both attend mainstream local schools.
Dylan attended special education settings until year 4 when we decided to home educate using a ABA (applied behaviour analysis) approach. Our reason for home educating was because we felt that Dylans needs weren’t being met and as a quiet and easy child he was being overlooked.
Initally the education was overseen by a privately funded ABA consultant who visits us once a month to see how we are getting on. We review targets, trouble shoot and set new programmes. The set up is geared up totally towards Dylan and what he needs. When we first started there were lessons to hold a pencil. To come and sit down. To learn to write his name. It then became more academic with counting, working with money and time and basic reading.
As Dylan is now 13 we are looking at more life skill activities such as shopping for groceries, making basic meals, travel practice etc. There is no typical week. Some weeks are more productive than others. Some are spend consolidating previous skills. It’s flexible!
The favourite thing about home edding is the pace. Dylan was always so anxious with the unpredictability and rush of the school run and the school day it was a real barrier to his learning. He is so much happier now and thus able to learn!
The hardest thing about home education is the cost. With sen and no financial help it means that overtime at work is a must! It’s also hard in school holidays when every where’s so busy, and we’ve got used to everywhere being quiet and relaxed during term time.
Advice? Go with your gut instinct. The idea of home education is a frightening one but the reality is its really cool. As parents we know our kids better than anyone and if home education is something your considering then chances are it’s worth taking the plunge and doing it!
Follow Kate and Dylan’s journey over at their blog:
Are you looking to brighten up your home? As I have written about before, I do love unique interior designs and I think that photo wallpaper can be so eye- catching! A well chosen design can really create the atmosphere that you are looking for in a room; whether that be a nice chilled out vibe, a fun place to play, or even to provide some extra visual stimulation to a sensory room. Whatever your aim, customised wallpaper can help you to create the look you want to achieve.
This custom wallpaper by Colour Graphics looks brilliant and would undoubtedly transform your walls and brighten up your room. It comes in traditional wallpaper, which requires standard wallpaper paste, or a handy self-adhesive version that doesn’t require anything else; it is almost like putting up a giant sticker! The design can be printed in whatever size you need too.
One lucky reader can win up to £150 custom wallpaper printing from Colour Graphics; to be in with a chance of winning this fabulous prize, simply enter via rafflecopter below. Good luck!
As signs of Spring start to appear all around and the sun begins to make an appearance, there is no doubt that many of us are now looking ahead to summer; busy booking holidays, festival line-ups announced and summer events organised. Whilst I don’t personally have a do to arrange myself this year (although my 40th appears to be coming round rather quickly – only a couple of years before I will be organising that! Eek!) a few of my friends are already in the throes of summer party planning around London.
If you are one of the many people looking to get your party on this summer, Venueseekers is a handy site for finding places to hold an event in and around the capital. See their website for more info: Party Venues London. And here are just a few of their fun venue ideas in central London to inspire you and get you started…
Madison: This award-winning New York style restaurant and bar overlooks St Paul’s Cathedral. It holds 120 people (seated) up to 900 (standing).
Oxo Tower: Floor two of the famous OXO tower is a brilliant place to hold events in the summer, with riverside balconies and stunning panaromic views of the Thames from inside too. It can hold functions for anywhere between 50- 400 people, with the adjacent gallery offering additional space for larger parties.
The Artillery Gardens: If you are looking for somewhere to host a larger function, this venue holds up to 2000 people and is very cool, it even has a funfair! Well worth checking out.
If you are looking for somewhere near London but a little more suburban, here are a few other ideas…
St Michaels Manor: Set in the heart of historic St Albans, surrounded by pretty parkland and next to a lake view, this lovely manor hotel is popular for weddings and other functions. It is a short, direct non-stop train route into London and is situated not too far from the St Albans City station so is ideal for those travelling from further afield.
Four Seasons Hampshire: Set in the countryside with amazing views over Dogmersfield Park but yet highly accessible from London, this lovely venue has ample natural daylight flooding the indoor spaces and an outdoor terrace that can be used for functions too.
Do you have a summer party venue recommendation? Leave in comments!
In celebration of World Poetry Day today, Viking Direct kindly sent us a box of goodies to help inspire us to write some beautiful poems.
Squiggle has previously written several poems and we have discussed different types of poetry before too. For example, we talked about what a cinquain poem is and wrote one together. We have also made a shape poem, and Squiggle once wrote a descriptive rainbow colours poem using a poetry template from Twinkl to help her. But Squiggle’s personal favourite type are acrostic poems; she wrote one about nature as part of our 30 Days Wild challenge last June, and has written plenty more since!
To celebrate World Poetry Day this year, firstly we revisited different types of poems that we had already learnt about previously. Then we moved our discussion onto poetry form and structure, so focused on rhyming couplets in particular. We picked a favourite topic to write about (Squiggle chose Sylvanian Families!) then started jotting down ideas and rhyming words that fitted the subject, before turning them into simple rhyming couplets.
Here is one of her rhyming couplets:
Sylvanians are such fun,
I love to play with them out in the sun!
Next she made up an acrostic poem about seals, which are one of her very favourite animals, to celebrate both World Poetry Day today and International Day of the Seal tomorrow.
S ea and sand
E (a) ny seal is my favourite, I don’t have a favourite out of my cuddly toy seals but if I had to pick; Pierre, Seal Seal and Dots
A seal of mine jumps for cuddles
S ays uf, also mum!
(I didn’t think it was the time to remind her that any starts with a, bless her!)
Squiggle is very creative and comes up with wonderful ideas. Once she has inspiration, she tends to write fast in order to get her ideas down quickly before she forgets them! As Viking Direct explain in their article about The Importance of Writing, writing is an art form, and it helps us to make connections and process our ideas. I feel it is far more important to allow Squiggle the freedom to let her creative ideas flow, rather than interrupt her thoughts to remind her about presentation, or correct mistakes. So her writing tends to be huge and messy but it’s the content that matters!
However, once she had finished writing the poems, we got out the calligraphy set we were sent to have a try at some fancy writing!
She found it quite a challenge to use the calligraphy pen but she had fun having a go at writing with it and enjoyed decorating it too!
Happy World Poetry Day everyone!
Do you have a favourite poem or your own poetry to share? Leave them in comments.
Join in with the poetry celebrations on social media using the hashtag #VikingWorldPoetryDay
I’m Emma, married to Paul and mum to Chloe (18) , Ethan (14) and Tabitha (8).
I started home educating when Chloe was 5. She wasn’t enjoying her reception year at school, so we decided to home educate. My other two have never been to school.
We don’t really have a typical week other than our regular activities (swimming, basketball, piano lesson, Sea cadets, Brownies, dance classes are some of those!). We have just moved, so our routine has been all over the place for the last few months. My oldest is now at university, so I just have my younger two at home. My 14 year old is pretty much unschooled, whereas my 8 year old prefers much more structure to her learning. Home ed has allowed me to educate my children according to their needs and abilities. Even within our little family I haven’t been able to use a one size fits all approach.
Home education has given us so much freedom. We are able to plan our days. Be it a holiday, museum trip, theatre visit, or simple spending the whole day in the garden or absorbed in a book or craft project. There are no bells, and no rush to move on to the next thing.
I am also grateful for the time home ed has given me. To be with my children for their younger years. It goes so fast. My advice to new home ed parents would be to slow down and enjoy it. There’s no need to sign up for everything or spend time rushing from one activity to another. Just being together is enough.
Please note this was originally published in March 2014 and has not been updated.
People often wonder whether being home educated will somehow prevent access to higher education or otherwise limit future career prospects in some way. However in reality this is far from the case.
Here are some examples of various subjects that older home educated children have recently taken at university: Art, Medicine, Music, Veterinary Science, English, Child Development, Humanities, Psychology, Sociology, Media Make up and Special Effects, Law and Photographic Journalism.
These are a few of the careers that home educated people are now doing: Musician, IT technician, IT consultant, photographer, shop manager, professional athlete, carer, cinema manager, artist, music producer and BBC technician.
One such person was home educated in America from aged 9 onwards, using a part autonomous and part structured approach. When he got to high school age, his parents gave him the choice of going to school or choosing between various home school programs which would give him a high school qualification. He chose a program which had some structure and his general life experience also counted towards his studies.
He then took dual credit classes at a community college (university) that counted towards both high school credit and an associates degree. He now lives in England with his wife and children, where he works as consultant for a company’s Cloud product and is also mid IT degree, via part time study with the OU.
Compare the two lists above to any group of schooled children and you will see very little difference in the type of higher education courses typically taken up or in the nature of employment opportunities after compulsory education is complete. The only difference is that home educated children, generally speaking of course, often have greater freedom to pursue their own interests and gain life experience sooner.
The alternative approach to education might also enable individuals to tune into their unique strengths earlier on, which perhaps might enable them to develop a particular expertise sooner. This means that in some cases these children may be more likely to follow personal passions and/or find their particular niche in life earlier on. In these instances, being home educated supports long-term career satisfaction and personal fulfilment.
Lastly some famous people who were apparently home educated:
Hilary Duff (actress, singer songwriter, author and entrepreneur)
Tim Tebow (quarterback for Denver Broncos)
Venus and Serena Williams (tennis players)
Agatha Christie (author)
Thomas Edison (inventor)
Franklin Roosevelt (president)
Jennifer Love Hewitt (actress, producer, director, singer songwriter)