100 Days of Home Ed #LoveHomeEd – Day 54 (Lynne)

I’m Lynne and I home educate B, my only child, who is 7. We love to get out and about and cram as much as we can into our lives. We’re big nature fans, and spend a lot of time outside walking our crazy beagle Stripe. When we’re not roaming the fields, you’ll probably find us in London in the museums.

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We’ve been home educating for a little over a year. It was on my radar before B started school as a potential option should we not get the school we wanted. Bullying, and some issues with supporting B with potential dyspraxia, led to us removing him from our chosen school in the end anyway.

I’ve dipped in and out of styles. We tried unschooling and its not for us. We both end up a little stressed and B asked me to provide more structure for him. He find out it really tricky to direct himself, although he has always been very confident in making his own decisions. I think because he knows he’d like to go to secondary school, he worries he may not be doing enough. We’ve looked a little at Charlotte Mason, but have settled into our own semi structured routine. We have goals of work we’d like to achieve over a few week period, and we factor in plenty of days out and hands on learning. Should a fabulous opportunity pop up we wouldn’t turn it down in favour of our routine, but without the structure we both end up feeling a little lost.

B has a lot of hobbies so our week is roughly scheduled around swimming, ballet, modern dance, drama, ice skating, performing group and tap. We normally meet up with other families once or twice a week, either for something planned like an educational trip, or for some informal fun. I usually look at where we can fit in some formal maths, English, and science during the week to make sure we stay abreast of where we want to be. B absolutely loves sitting down with his books, learning from an educational app or working with me so its never a chore.

A recent highlight of our home ed life would be a trip to the Celtic Harmony Camp in Hertford. It was arranged with a group of home edders we’d not met before, and we had the best time. New friends for both of us, and an opportunity to do something we wouldn’t have previously considered.

Personally I love the freedom that home education gives us. We can follow so many of B’s interests, and he can learn at a pace that suits him. He works a few years ahead in maths, and I love that he can explore as much and as far as he likes at home. Being solely in charge of your child’s education can be daunting, as the onus is on you to get it right, but its worth the challenge.

100 Days of Home Ed #LoveHomeEd – Day 53 (The World Is Their Classroom)

We are a family of seven from Yorkshire, UK. We discovered Home Education before having children back in 2001 and we just knew it was something we would love to do with our own children one day.

Children climbing trees

When I had my first child in 2003 I was adamant she wouldn’t go to school. I wanted her to learn in her own time, follow her own interests and develop a love of learning. I now have five children who have never been in the schooling system ages 14, 11, 9, 6 and 3 and HE is normal family life for us!

Child playing amongst bluebells in a wood

When the children were little we spent our time outdoors exploring or in the local library reading books. We still take our classroom out and about as much as we can, but now the older ones are reaching a stage where they are deciding which subjects they would like to study for IGCSE’s so we are a little more structured.

Two of their children doing a science experiment at home

We work at the kitchen table when we are at home as this allows me to cook alongside them but if it’s a lovely day we take our classroom to the park! Even though it’s known as ‘Home Education’ it certainly isn’t ‘school at home’ and we make time to go on plenty of trips to places such as the canal, picnics in the woods and other educational trips which tie in with the topics we are covering such as a tour of Yorkshire Water.

Children playing in the river

We are quite structured Monday to Thursday mornings with a timetable covering English, Maths, Science and Arabic. We spend our afternoons out and about in the local park or woods. On Fridays the children get plenty of free time to follow their own interests and weekends we keep busy with Art, History, Geography and ICT.

If one of the kiddies wants to build with wood then they will do that, another may choose to learn some Spanish etc. I go with whatever interests them. They also do swimming, taekwondo and cricket and have completed some alternative qualifications such as The John Muir Award and Arts Awards.

Den building

The younger children do lots of ‘learning through play’. Whilst my older ones use textbooks for the three core subjects. I don’t plan too much as many friends, who are school teachers, advised me not to ‘bog myself down with paperwork’ as I know what I am going to cover each week. I do make notes of what each one of my children needs to revise and work on. Sometimes topics just arise randomly or a particular topic takes their interest. For example, a volcano erupted in Iceland which led to a project on that country.

Home Education has benefitted us as a family. The children have had the opportunity to bond as siblings and socialise with children and adults of different ages, backgrounds, ethnicity etc.

One of the best things about Home Education is the fact that it’s not ‘school at home’ and there’s no ‘being behind’, the children get to learn what they want, when they want and in a way that suits them. I also believe children are always learning wherever they are and whatever they are doing.

Children on an educational visit

It’s quite amazing to see the little girl I taught to read many years ago, is now choosing her career path, studying for IGCSE’s and has been on work experience at various places!

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Blog: theworldistheirclassroom.blogspot.co.uk

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100 Days of Home Ed #LoveHomeEd – Day 52 (The Penny Three)

My name is Francesca and I’m Mom to nearly 5 year old Xanthe, and 3 in a fortnight Hugo. We live in the West Midlands. We have a blog that records our home ed journey called The Penny Three.

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Xanthe and Hugo

Xanthe was diagnosed with Autism, development delay, learning difficulties and severe anxiety around a year ago. To begin with she was in a mainstream nursery. Rated outstanding by ofsted and with myself as a parent governor, they tried really hard to make it work. She had one to one support and small group work, they put emphasis on her making friends and becoming integrated but Xanthe’s anxiety just continued to grow.
When it came to choosing a school for her Reception year and onwards, I began to worry about how she would cope. I did some research and discovered that due to her birthday I could possibly get a “Summer Born Deferral.” I approached the local authority and armed with evidence from the senco at the nursery and Xanthe’s consultants – they agreed.

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Picking daisies

I thought that was the answer to all our problems. Sadly that wasn’t the case, when Xanthe went back to the nursery after summer, they had changed things such as the room her group met in, the children had changed too and they left her pretty much to her own devices whilst they settled in the new children. Her anxiety became so extreme that she began to regress, and could no longer count to 10 for example. Getting her to Nursery became a huge battle. I spoke to her consultant at CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service) and they agreed that the nursery was causing more harm than good.

#LoveHomeEd,100 days of home ed,freedom to learn,guest post,Home Education
Finding ducks to feed

So in November 2016 I removed her from the Nursery. I was really anxious about my decision, and questioned whether it was the right choice – I soon discovered that I really didn’t need to worry.

To begin with we thought about purchasing a Waldorf Steiner home ed curriculum, as certain aspects of the philosophy I really like. The emphasis on child led play, and using natural resources, reducing screen time and being outdoors… but I soon learnt that sitting down with a set routine of work, was not the best way to reach Xanthe. So we firmly headed into Unschooling territory. Unschooling means that I very much follow her lead and interests and I’m pleased to report that her ability to count to 10 came back, and further breakthroughs have been made. She now is attempting to write, and will listen to stories.

#LoveHomeEd,100 days of home ed,freedom to learn,guest post,Home Education
Reading in a cafe

We spend a lot of time outdoors, as that is where both Xanthe and Hugo feel at home. We have a number of home ed groups that we join in with as and when we can – Forest School, Trampolining, Science events. We also have other clubs that we want to get involved with – swimming, horse riding, ice skating and craft club. There are many more to choose from!
Our highlight of home ed last week, was getting out into the garden now the weather is improving and Xanthe being able to identify a number of different flowers. We also headed to Norfolk for a few days and stayed on the Broads. In a couple of weeks we head to North Devon for a week and having just bought a tent, we have lots of trips planned for the summer. We have a couple of festivals booked and some uk based trips,  and then next year we are planning on a longer European trip with the tent. We are currently thinking France/Italy/Switzerland. We can’t wait!

I love that Xanthe and Hugo get to learn at their own pace and explore their own interests. The hardest thing is making sure that as their education falls solely to me, that they get a well rounded view of the world and grow up with love and tolerance at the forefront of their personalities. My role is not to “teach” them, but give them the tools to explore, learn and discover.

My advice to other parents considering home ed would be… do it! It seems like a big leap, but you soon fall into your own rhythm and routine, and no decision has to be forever – you can always go back to school if that ends up being the right choice for your child. Throw yourself into the home ed community – we have so much going on, that we can’t possibly join in everything! Give yourself a few weeks to settle into your new life and then watch your children blossom -the really will. It was the best decision that I’ve ever made, and for Hugo he will go straight into home education.

100 Days of Home Ed #LoveHomeEd – Day 50 (A Welsh Unschooling Journey) 

My name is Emma my son is Jordan but every one knows him as Jay. 

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Jay is 17

I’ve home educated since May 2011. My son was failed educationally at school and was 6 yrs behind in Maths and 2 years behind in everything else. He was also very badly bullied and the teachers refused to deal with any of it and in fact on occasion they themselves made fun of Jay. I pulled him out when he was suicidal at age 11. Had I not I firmly believe he would not be alive today.

We are radical unschoolers. We never have a typical day or week, everything is 100% child led, no structure, no timetables, no arbitary rules, no screen limits, no set meal times or bedtimes. He has chosen to sit GCSE exams but they are totally his choice as are any subjects…..he started out looking at 3 for June but dropped it to one exam. He has decided to do another next year.

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There’s so many highlights it is very hard to pick just one. Jay is disabled plus has a chronic illness and uses a wheelchair. So what may seem insignificant to others would be a major thing to us. Despite being disabled Jay does a lot…..he is a Level 1 golf coach. He volunteers at Hensol Golf Academy at various times through the year and volunteers with Golf Development Wales. 

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He was an ambassador and mentor for Swansea Inclusive Futures when it ran, and he is a member of the Golf Development Wales National Youth Panel. He has been a Rhondda Cynon Taf Future Champion for 3 years, he is a Gold Young Ambassador, and he is on the Disability Sport Wales National Youth Board. He has played for the disabled Welsh team 3 years running. He has won awards for all he does for and in disabled golf off The PGA, ISPSHanda, The Golf Foundation Presidents award and more. He was a finalist in the BBC Sport Wales Young Coach of the Year category in their awards in 2015. He has played in ProAms with famous golfers. 

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Giving an award at the Golf Union of Wales annual awards at Celtic Manor

He is a total cat whisperer and can tame even a feral cat. He is straight edge by choice so no drink, no fags, no drugs etc… He is totally open to anyone and is anti racism, anti homophobia, anti cruelty of any kind to anyone, etc… He is a huge gamer and has his own You Tube account. He has taught himself to play the electric guitar and taught himself to draw/art. None of this was forced on him, he chose to do whatever he wanted to do, no timetabes, only time we work to a time is for hospital appointments. He has had 5 offers of jobs including at big places where it’s hard to get a job.

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The best thing about home education is the total freedom and its 100% what fits you and your family not a cookie cutter class room where they are just another kid going through the system. Theres nothing I find difficult about home ed and I never have found anything difficult. 

My biggest advice to other home educators is please don’t just do a school at home with heads in books and strict timetables. Let your kids be kids, let your teens be teens, let them follow passions and interests. Trust them and they will amaze you.

My blog though woefully needs updating is A Welsh Unschooling Journey

A Quick Cuppa With… Mumma and Co

Hi everyone!

I’m back for a quick cuppa with fellow blogger Laura! So grab yourself a brew and read all about her lovely family of six below…

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My name is Laura, I’m 24 and a mother to two children – Alfie, 7 and Holly who is almost 12 months old. We are a family of 6 including my fiance and his two boys. We live in the south coast and enjoy long walks, adventures and beating each other on Sonic racing. (I always win, of course.)

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Tell me about your blog. What is the main theme? What inspired you to start it?

My blog is a motherhood, parenting and lifestyle blog. I mainly cover things which are parenting based, my own experiences and I try to use as much helpful information as I can to help others. I did try to make it more of a ‘crafty’ blog, but I am absolutely awful at crafts, so I guess my dream to become a cool, Pinterest mum will never work out! I wanted to start a blog years ago but never got round to actually starting one. I did finally start up my blog in summer last year, and it’s the best decision I made!

Do you blog full time or do you work as well? How do you juggle your time? Any tips?

I’d say I blog part time, for now. I do have my current job and I work there 3 days a week. I find it really hard trying to juggle my time, with two kids, work and household chores! The only tips which I would give would be to try and figure out how you’re able to manage your time wisely. The only time I am able to sit down at the laptop with a cup of tea when Alfie is at school and Holly is napping, or in the evening when they’re both in bed. It’s good to keep yourself in a strict routine so you don’t fall behind.

Name one random fact about yourself.

My blood type changes in pregnancy!

Who is your biggest inspiration?

I don’t actually have one! I mean, I guess I have a girl crush on Selena Gomez.. can she be my inspiration? Haha!

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?

Probably “sleep when the baby sleeps” is the best piece of advice I’ve ever received! After having Holly, my house was an absolute bomb site, but I’m so glad I slept whenever I could. I didn’t spend any time worrying about the state of my house & I felt so much better for it.

Where is your absolute favourite place in the whole world?

Probably Ireland, my mum and sted-dad immigrated there two years ago and I love going there to visit! Everyone is so friendly, it’s peaceful and some of the scenaries are incredible.

How do you relax/ spend your ‘free time’?

I like to relax when the kids are in bed by getting into my pyjamas, grabbing a glass of wine, putting a face mask on and watching a film! Ah, bliss.

What are your favourite family activities?

Our favourite activities are probably playing football at the park! (me vs. 4 boys doesn’t always go down well).

Where is your favourite outdoor place to visit?

My favourite outdoor place to visit is probably Lulworth Cove, we walk from there all the way to Durdle Door! Despite me almost having an asthma attack half way, it really is a lovely day out, especially when the sun is shining!

Find out more about Mumma and Co’s adventures here:
Blog: 
mummaandco.co.uk
Facebook: 
Mumma & Co
Twitter: 
@_mummaandco
Instagram: @_mummaandco

100 Days of Home Ed #LoveHomeEd – Day 48 (Katherine)

Introduction

I am Katherine. Iain and I home educate our two girls – T(10) and E(13) (and ourselves).

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How long have you home educated for and what made you do it?
We had decided that E, our eldest wouldn’t be going to school by the time school admission forms came around, and have been involved in the online and local home ed community since she was four, and her sister T was a few months old. That is now ten years ago.

We had three main reasons for choosing home education:

E was not ready to spend the day away from me. She wasn’t ready to separate having just turned four. She is also very chatty and we didn’t want her to have to tone that down to have to fit into a classroom.

I am an info-junkie by nature so when it came to thinking about about education I read up and talked to friends about the various options. It just so happened that a work friend was the daughter of education academics, and another had gone to Summerhill (a very different kind of school) – so I discovered autonomous education. A.S. Neill’s idea that the aim of education is to be happy and interested in life, and that children need freedom to find their interests struck a chord with us.

A couple of my friends from baby groups had already decided to home educate and it seemed to be a natural progression for us.

Briefly describe your home Ed style. Do you have a typical week and if so what does it look like?

We are autonomous, or unschooling.

That applies to me and Iain too, not just the children! We aim to meet everyone’s needs and interests. We each do our own thing, or do things in pairs, or as a family, in a very fluid way. We are a techie family and we take full advantage of the opportunities for fun and learning provided by gaming, Youtube and other techie things!

So our youngest gets lots of opportunities to play, and do her own thing. Time to play online with friends, and run around the park, interrupted with bursts of watching her favourite TV shows and creating and making wonderful things.

Our eldest is now 13 and doing some structured learning most days. She is studying for Psychology GCSE, and developing her study skills.

Iain is catching up on some gaming, and playing the guitar. I can often be found satisfying my info-junkie needs by going off on my own tangents when topics come up, and running a Big History group.

We have a core group of friends we see one day a week. And in the summer the girls kayak once a week.

The other things vary from week to week. The girls go to a couple of tutor lead groups for drama and creative writing. Monthly youth group, and soft play. Then a couple of small groups with more structure where we share topics.

What was your highlight of home ed last week?

We are having a few unusually quiet weeks at the moment. Lots of time at home, each doing our own thing. Lots of photography for a daily challenge, gaming, and enjoying the warmer weather.

The highlight has been board games evening. 

One thing I hadn’t expected about home educating was that it has given us a whole new extended family. Because my girls and I are making friends with whole families rather than individual people. So Tuesday evening we went round to a friend’s house. Most of the children disappear to play, and the rest of us play board and card games. Iain works full-time so it is always nice to do things with home ed friends that include him.

Another highlight has been the day E spent baking and decorating a cake in the shape of our rabbit for a friend’s birthday, and then the house full of people chatting, and playing, and eating the cake.

What is your favourite thing about home edding your children?

There are so many favourite things – I can’t narrow it down to one!

Definitely the social side, as you can tell from the last week’s highlights.

Apart from that – it is the freedom we each get to follow our own interests, and live and learn in a less stressful way. I love how each of us develops in our own unique way – that we can get involved in something, whether in short all consuming bursts, or over years of exploration. The girls really value the freedom they have to be self-directed, and independent.

It is fascinating how disparate things, and going off at tangents can years later turn out to be an in depth exploration of something we parents hadn’t seen at the time, but for each child was the obvious line of inquiry.

What do you find most difficult and why?

I find this a really difficult question to answer. Since our girls have never been to school we don’t have that to compare it with. The hardest parts are often just parenting, rather than related to home educating. Things like continuous tidying and laundry.


At points it is easy to become caught up in concerns about a child’s ability, or progress. Is this normal? Is my child doing OK? But then again every parent has these concerns, and we have the freedom to find ways through this that aren’t bound up in the school model.

What advice would you give to other home educators?

I’ve found it vital to get a good support system – one that values home education.

Make friends with other home educators online and in your local area. Make sure that you include yourself, and supporting your needs as well as your children. We have had a huge amount of support from other home educating families, and a big part of that has been that the parents are my friends too.

It can really help to talk to home educators whose children are older – their experiences can be a great source of knowledge and support. Finding out about a range of different approaches and experiences gave us the ability to try different things if something isn’t working, and the confidence to see that things are working but not in the way we assumed they would.

100 Days of Home Ed #LoveHomeEd – Day 46 (They Grow So Quick)

Introduction

Hi, I am Emma, mum of three boys Seb who is 6, Alex aged 4 and Barney who is 1. We live in West Yorkshire. 

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How long have you home educated for and what made you decide to do it?

Seb became compulsory school age last January so officially we have been home educating since then. None of my children have ever been to nursery or school. 

I first joined a home ed group on Facebook when Seb was around 2 years old and I found that it just made sense to me and I wanted the home ed lifestyle for my own children. So I began to find out about the local home ed scene and met some lovely people. 

Briefly describe your home ed style. Do you have a ‘typical’ week and what does it include if so?

I have found the longer we home ed for the more autonomous we are, I did originally plan on being fairly structured but it really didn’t suit us and we work much better with more flexibility. Each week is different and I love that. 

What was your highlight of home ed last week?

We had a fantastic day at a local farm. Going midweek meant it was very quiet so we were able to take our time and look at everything in detail. Another random highlight was Seb (who would be in year 1 if schooled) adding up at the shop, we had 3 books at £2.99 each and he told me how much it would total without thought. Little things like that show menthat he is progressing well even if his education doesn’t always look like traditional learning. 

What is your favourite thing about home edding your children?

It has to be the freedom and ability to be spontaneous. We are so lucky that we can wake up and if it is a beautiful day we can head off to the coast or to explore a new park. 

What do you find most difficult and why?

Some days are stressful! Like most siblings my boys can be best friends one minute and arguing the next. I think this is the same in all families though, schooled or not.

What advice would you give to other home educators?

Deschool yourself and don’t compare your child to others because we all learn at our own pace. 

Find out more about their wonderful home ed adventures over on their blog at www.theygrowsoquick.com 

100 Days of Home Ed #LoveHomeEd – Day 45 (he2kidsandme)

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. 😉 

#100daysofhomeed, #LoveHomeEd, he2kidsandme, 100 days of home ed, freedom to learn, guest post, Home Education, Living Life Our Way
On a ride at Alton Towers

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. 

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Climbing trees

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. 

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Our annual Christmas carousel ride

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.

100 Days of Home Ed #LoveHomeEd – Day 44 (GWkid)

Introduction

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.

#100daysofhomeed, #LoveHomeEd, 100 days of home ed, freedom to learn, guest post, Home Education, interview, Q and A

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.

Find them on YouTube here.

100 Days of Home Ed #LoveHomeEd – Day 43 

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!

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Practising addition

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!

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Recent trip to Holocaust Museum

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!