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! 

100 Days of Home Ed #LoveHomeEd – Day 38 (Rebecca)

Introduction

I’m Rebecca, I have two boys. Stanley is 5 and Ronnie is 2. 

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

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


We’ve home educated Stanley from the beginning. It started when we were offered a school place at a school which was not good at the time. Once we looked into home ed I fell in love with it and we decided to go for it! 

What was your highlight of home ed last week?

Stanley getting out the art basket and creating freely and experimenting with different materials. 

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

What is your favourite thing about home edding your children?
Spending my time with them and watching them grow and develop 💙

What do you find most difficult and why?

At first it was being different that scared me, I didn’t have faith in myself I guess. Now I’ve seen how amazingly Stanley is doing, I don’t doubt our decision!

What advice would you give to other home educators?

Have faith in yourself and your children! There will be harder days but it’s all worth it!! And get outside lots, it helps with concentration too! 

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

Here is my YouTube channel. I’d love you to follow our journey. 

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJ7XiEI2hNfPGl6lr-JKH-w

A Quick Cuppa With… Eco Fluffy Mama

Today my guest is the absolutely lovely Tamsin. She is a fellow blogger who writes about green living, eco products and aiming for a zero waste. She is truly inspirational. Read on to find out some of her top tips…

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Introduction

My name is Tamsin, I’m 29 and I live in Suffolk with my son and fiance. I used to work in the motorcycle industry, but sadly lost my job in 2011 before having my son in 2012. Before my son was born, I was really into power lifting but unfortunately had to give that up when my health declined suddenly. I suffer from multiple chronic health conditions and at times I find things hard. But lucky for me I have a supportive family and the most wonderful readers who constantly spur me on.

Name one random fact about yourself.

I hold a full motorcycle license.

Who is your biggest inspiration?

Amanda Tapping

Tell me about your blog. Have you always been passionate about green living and working toward zero waste? What inspired you to start the blog?

I’ve always been interested in natural skincare and holistic healing. But it wasn’t until I was pregnant with my son that I found out about cloth nappies, which opened my eyes to green living. I had no idea how truly wasteful our society is. Like many others, I never truly understood that there is no such thing as ‘away’, and that rubbish is a huge problem. After discovering cloth nappies, I kind of fell into the world of green living and have progressed towards a zero waste lifestyle (although I am absolutely not perfect or 100% zero waste! – I am still making progress, too!)


I started the blog as a diary of sorts for my working out and talking about my experience as a first time Mum. I wrote about cloth nappies and babywearing as it was something that I really wanted more people to know about. From there I expanded my topics to include reusable menstrual products. It’s what really what launched my blog from a little space of internet for waffling, to a trusted site for others also seeking information on living a greener life.

What is the best piece of advice you would give someone just starting out on their journey to zero waste?

Don’t panic and remember to start small. It’s all too easy to find out about zero waste, then realise about how wasteful society is and feel like we need to make loads of changes immediately. You will end up overwhelmed, stressed out and feeling defeated.

So my advice is to make a couple of changes at a time. Start with analysing your rubbish and work out what it is you’re throwing way – from there you can easily work out simple solutions. Also, invest in reusable bags and drinks bottles. You’ll make quite a big impact by just refusing single use plastic bags and drinks bottles.


Remember, it’s not all or nothing. Do as much as you are able.

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

I am a really keen amateur photographer, so I enjoy taking photos whenever possible. I also really enjoy reading and crochet. For me, crochet is a great stress reliever and I have found it has helped my mental health a lot.

Since Living Life Our Way is a family lifestyle blog, I’d love to hear more about yours…

What are your favourite family activities?

As a family, we really enjoy going on adventures (As my 4yo puts it). We pack a lunch, go for a walk and just enjoy the beautiful countryside.

Where is your favourite outdoor place to visit?

Clare County Castle – it’s in a little village and has a big hill with the ruins of the old Clare castle. There’s also an old railway and a park, too. It’s just a lovely area to visit.

Best family day out?

Gosh, tough question. I couldn’t possibly pin point one as I struggle to get out due to my health. So every time we’re out as a family is special to me. Especially the simple things like watching the sun set from our garden and the deer walking up past out back garden. Our place backs onto a field and all you can see for miles is fields and forests.

Find lots of useful advice, support and info on green living from Tamsin here:

Blog: www.ecofluffymama.com

Twitter: @EcoFluffyMama

Facebook: facebook.com/ecofluffymama

Insta: instagram.com/ecofluffymama/

This is the final Q&A in this series for now, but I hope you have enjoyed it as much as I have… and do keep your eye out, as it might well make a return sometime! 

100 Days of Home Ed #LoveHomeEd – Day 37 (Tracey)

Introduction

I’m Tracey. Mother to 2 boys, step mum to 1 girl and wife to Dan.

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

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

2 years. Deregistered Feb 2015. My eldest is autistic and has ADHD. School was not supportive at all and nearly broke me mentally with the constant fighting for help. My son lost a significant amount of weight and wasn’t sleeping. Verbal and physical bullying was being ignored by the school. I wish I had took him out earlier.

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

Unstructured except for the regular groups J attends. Weekly forest/coastal school, weekly media & history, weekly swimming and weekly Spanish. Everything else is based on whatever J is interested in at the time or going out on bike rides/beach walks/playing with his friends.

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What was your highlight of home ed last week?

J teaching himself to solder by YouTube videos and making a little circuit to power a fan.

What is your favourite thing about home edding your child/ren?

Seeing him light up when finding something that inspires them. Seeing him become independent, happy and finally making real friends.  Having his community paed lower his medication due to his anxiety lowering and his concentration improving.

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

What do you find most difficult and why?

Having to defend my decision to HE and prove we are not weird hippy hermits.

What advice would you give to other home educators?

Relax. Have faith in the deschooling process when they are glued to screens and video games and never forget that children are ALWAYS learning.

A Quick Cuppa With… Abi Bumbles

Today’s cuppa is with Abi, who has one foot on either side of the blogging world. Yet both feet are also in Wales, and also often on skates! Read on to find out what the heck I am talking about 😉

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Introduction

I’m Abi. I’m 27 and live in North Wales. Not the super pretty bit with mountains and claims of dragons, but a sort of nice, large village. I share my abode with my husband and two Jack Russells. They’re all silly and I love them to pieces, even if between them they chew too many things and get annoyed at me for forgetting to do anything around the house. You might be able to figure out which does which.

I’m a PR with marketing agency and do my damnedest to not be one of the awful ones that gets ripped to shreds in blogger groups. I’m on both sides of the blogger world so end up with some pretty good insights. But that also means that no one really wants to listen thinking I might be biased. Still, it’s enjoyable and I’ve learnt a heck of a lot from all the flipping amazing bloggers out there.

I am, unsurprisingly, a feminist and am making efforts to live a more body positive life as well. These are topics I cover on my blog a lot because the conversations matter. I try to be as open minded as I possibly can, but hate for the sake of it is not something I can abide.

I’m also a bit tattooed because I think they’re super pretty. I’m starting on a half sleeve in February which I am excited and terrified about. I also blog about tattoos a lot because I find them fascinating and I think the more information available, the better..

Name one random fact about yourself.

I play a sport called Roller Derby, for a team imaginatively named North Wales Roller Derby. For those that don’t know, and that’s most people, it’s played on roller skates, on an ovaloid track, it’s full-contact, and no, you cannot elbow people in the face. It’s one of the most inclusive sports I have ever comes across, with women (and men) of every shape and size you can imagine coming together to make a team. There really is a place in the game for every shape of person, from super petite size 2s to big women who want to throw their incredible hips around.


I started playing at 23 and I couldn’t skate at all, could barely stand, and now I’m fully in the sport – on a team and learning to ref. If you’re up for the challenge and aren’t afraid to fall over then it’s the best thing you could get involved with.

Who is your biggest inspiration?

This is a hard question. I guess in recent years, my other half has had a massive impact on my life. We went through some tough stuff a year and a half ago which tested us to our limits and beyond. But we got through it. We survived and I can’t help but be inspired by him. He helps me find my better side when I forget it’s there.

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

I mentioned a bit already about the sort of topics I cover. It’s a mixed bag – well and truly a lifestyle blog. I do muse upon topics somewhat and maybe tend to border on train-of-thought writing, but I enjoy that.

I attempted to do Blogmas, with no prep, and that pushed me out of my comfort zone. I wrote a makeup review, stuff on days out, and even a film review or two. I failed Blogmas after 13 days, but I wrote a post about that too – silver linings and all that.

I’ve been sporadically blogging for the past few years but never managed to stick at it more than a few weeks, each time forgetting how much work it is. But I began my PR job in August last year and began blogging in earnest. I spent hours researching bloggers and matching them to campaigns, chatting to them, editing with them – the whole shebang. I realised that I loved it. I’ve always enjoyed writing and seeing behind the scenes made me realise I could do it. Thank you blogging world!

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

I work full-time so my compromise with myself is to post a minimum of once a week. It’s about all I am willing to dedicate to it at the moment. I’ve tried to do it more in the past but failed because it started to feel like a job. While it’s be great to get the the point of earning from my blog it is primarily a hobby.


My advice, leading on from that, is – as fun as it is to throw yourself into blogging, make sure you keep the enjoyment. If posting once a week is all you can do without going mad – so be it. If writing about hair colour is what gets you going – do that. There are no hard and fast rules, so make your own.

What is the best piece of advice you can give to fellow bloggers?

I’ll put my PR hat on here and give some advice I’m dying to say but always hold back on – if you can’t do a post you’ve agreed to, tell them. Don’t ignore emails, or make up whatever excuse, or even ghost us (yes, it’s happened), be straight up and cancel on us. That way a PR can find someone else and not bother you for a month about something you don’t want to do. When a blogger does cancel, I’m not heartbroken and I don’t resent them. I’m actually really likely to use them again for a different topic – I trust them because they were professional. But when I’m put in a position to chase and pester, I probably won’t because I don’t have time and don’t want to peeve people off.


I always say that I’m willing to help in anyway I can, and I mean it. My job isn’t to yell at you until you do something, it’s have a professional relationship we both benefit from. Bloggers and PRs both need the other, so let’s be pals.

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

I pretty much like being sedentary when I have free time. And eating. Telly, lying down and eating. I suppose this is where I should say more about my love of blogging and roller derby, but I’m going to go with laziness instead.

Since Living Life Our Way is a family lifestyle blog, I’d love to hear more about yours…


What are your favourite family activities?

My family consists of two hyper dogs and big, slightly clumsy, man, so our favourite things to do together are play fight and take long walks. I guess that works for kids too if they’re particularly feisty.

Where is your favourite outdoor place to visit?

My grandparents live along a canal just down from the World Heritage site The Froncysyllte Aqueduct. I also used to work on one of the boats doing tourist trips across it and when I visit still like to go for a wander along it. Despite knowing it so well I love walking across it – the views are amazing all year round and there’s always the fun of people terrified of the heights.

Best family day out?

I don’t know if I’m qualified for this question but I am very eager to try Bounce Below. It’s an old mining cave that has been turned into a multi-level trampoline park. It’s beautiful and fun and scary – what kid wouldn’t love that?

Thank you for taking part!

Read more from Abi here:

Blog: www.abibumbles.com

Facebook: facebook.com/abibumbles

Twitter: @AbiBumbles


Bloglovin: abi-bumbles-18188781

100 Days of Home Ed #LoveHomeEd – Day 34 (Becky, Self-Directed Homeschooler)

Introduction

I tried, and failed, to come up with some catchy intro, so we’ll just have to make do with the plain vanilla one.  I’m Becky.  I blog at www.selfdirectedhomeschooler.com.  

I’ve been married to my college sweetheart, Clint, since 1996.  We have three kids: Jarrod is 18; Erica is 15; and Jillian is 8.  

We’ve lived in Arizona for the past 11 years.  Arizona is a fantastic state to homeschool in – the government doesn’t meddle and there is a ton of resources available for homeschoolers!

#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 what made you decide to do it?
Our first official year of homeschooling was the 2003-2004 school year.  Jarrod, having a late fall birthday, didn’t make the cut-off to start kindergarten that year like many of his friends.  I was sick and tired of being a slave to the preschool calendar, so I decided to spend that year as a trial run of homeschooling. 

Way back when, I remember that my biggest concern was, “will he demonstrate that he will learn from me?”  In hindsight, as a seasoned homeschooler, that concern was really actually silly.  It completely discounted all of the learning he had done for the first four years and ten months of his life.  But, back then, I was approaching homeschooling from a very schoolish mindset and I was focused on making sure I didn’t “miss anything” that he needed to know.

By the end of that year, Jarrod already knew nearly everything the school district reported that he needed to know at the end of kindergarten and a lot of stuff he needed to know by the end of first grade.  I decided that my son being bored in school would be a recipe for disaster, so we kept going with the homeschooling…and we’ve just never stopped.

#100daysofhomeed, #LoveHomeEd, 100 days of home ed, freedom to learn, guest post, Home Education, interview, Q and A
My teenagers in the US Naval Sea Cadet Corps uniforms, in Hawaii for the 75th Anniversary of the Pearl Harbor bombing.

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

My kids are self-directed learners.  They learn the same way we all learned before we reached school-age, and the same way we all learn as adults.  They recognize a need or a desire to learn something or acquire a skill.  We locate the best possible resources for them to learn the knowledge or acquire the skill of interest.  They study or practice until their need or desire has been satisfied, and then they move onto the next thing. 

It’s basically “just in time” learning – they learn what they need to know as they actually need to know it.  A need to know something is personal; it typically ends up meaning that there’s a gap between where they are right now and where they want to be, and in order to bridge that gap, they must learn additional information, a new skill, or improve upon what they already know or can already do.

I don’t really have a “typical” week, other than having several standing commitments for activities and groups my kids are a part of throughout the week each week.  We generally operate on a loose, flexible schedule.  

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What was your highlight of home ed last week?
For Jarrod, it was having him get through the second phase of his application to Praxis.

For Erica, it was seeing her finished product after a four session bronze sculpting class she took.

For Jillian, it was hearing her admit that maybe reading isn’t so bad after all.

And because I believe it is crucial for parents to be modeling lifelong learning themselves, for me it was publishing an article based on an interview I did with Isaac Morehouse, the founder and CEO of Praxis, and getting a hugely positive response to it.  You can read the article, called “Rethinking College: How Isaac Morehouse and Praxis are Expanding the Options Our Young People Have” here: https://selfdirectedhomeschooler.com/rethinking-higher-education-isaac-morehouse-praxis-expanding-options-young-people/

What is your favourite thing about home edding your child/ren?

Do I have to pick just one thing?!  In all seriousness, I was never that mom who just knew she was going to homeschool her kids.  I came to it rather hesitantly, because I saw it as the better of two options the year my eldest turned five.  

But I’m telling you, it’s been one of the absolute best decisions I have ever made.  I have two teenagers who love me and want to spend time with me, rather than being embarrassed by me or pushing me away.  I have three kids who genuinely like and love each other.  All three of them have had lots of freedom and flexibility to pursue what makes them tick.  All three of them have spent years making meaningful decisions about their lives, under our guidance.  I got to be the one to see all the “ah-ha” moments.  I wouldn’t trade the experiences I’ve had homeschooling my kids for anything.

What do you find most difficult and why?

13 years and counting into it, I don’t find homeschooling difficult at all.  But, when I first started, feeling like I had to duplicate what Jarrod would be getting if he was in school, worrying about gaps in his education, and wondering if I was doing enough…that kind of mental and emotional stuff was probably the most difficult thing about homeschooling for me.  It took me several years to work through that, and once I did, it was smooth sailing.

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

What advice would you give to other home educators?
First, don’t buy anything right away. Nearly everything you will buy at the beginning of your homeschooling journey will be a waste of money.  You don’t need as much as you think you do, and most of what you do need can be found for free online.

Second, make sure you figure out what you believe about education before you start homeschooling.  Everyone has heard about learning styles.  Everyone probably knows that homeschooling exists on a spectrum from school-at-home to radical unschooling.  But, what many people fail to consider is what they believe about education.  By this, I mean your personal answers to questions like:

• Whose agenda should drive the scope and sequence of education?

• How would you define the roles of student and teacher?

• What makes a “good” education?

• What do you believe your kids need to know?

That’s not an exhaustive list, but it’s enough to get you started.  Knowing what you believe about education will guide you to the right spot on the homeschooling continuum for you. Knowing what you believe about education will save you lots of money and aggravation because you won’t waste either on things that don’t resonate with you. I have free resources available on my blog for helping with this.  

For traditional or eclectic homeschoolers, I have a free e-course called “7 Steps to Becoming a Confident, Successful Homeschooler” and that can be accessed at ogdenonline.leadpages.co/7-steps-to-becoming-a-confident-successful-homeschooler

For people with a more self-directed or unschooling bent, I have a free e-book called “The Fast Start Guide to Unschooling” and that can be accessed at selfdirectedhomeschooler.com

Find out more about us here:


Blog: www.selfdirectedhomeschooler.com


Facebook: facebook.com/The-Self-Directed-Homeschooler

100 Days of Home Ed #LoveHomeEd – Day 33 (KJ)

Introduction

I’m Katie-jo, but my friends call me KJ. I have two gorgeous children (not that I’m biased); a boy, William, who is nine, and a girl, Lila, who is six.

#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 what made you decide to do it?

We have been home educating for nine years! My husband and I got married in second year at university and graduated five months pregnant with Will. He was hoping at the time to be playing rugby for his career and the travel would have left me alone for a large portion of the year; so we felt it would be better to home educate and take the family on the road with him.

Unfortunately, he suffered a very serious injury which meant that he could no longer play at a professional level, so plans changed, and we started working in private schools, but our plan to home educate never wavered. We love it!

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

I would say our style is eclectic… and evolving!! The children really enjoy choosing their own activities and my six year old will often say ‘can I make this my home school?’ meaning – ‘am I allowed to do this with you every single day please mummy?’ She loves art and is really into fimo at the moment. 

My nine year old likes to have work books. He loves independent learning and gets frustrated if he feels like you are watching him. He rarely asks for help, so when he does it’s tears and frustration that have brought him to me. I’m always amazed at how much he accomplishes on his own. I shouldn’t be. His favourite book when he was four years old was a Haynes manual about steam engines!

We have a ‘no screens after 3pm’ rule in our house (to protect sleep patterns) and also a ‘no screens until something productive has been done and we’ve been for a walk’ rule. It’s super important because both myself and Will struggle with low vitamin D levels in the winter months and getting out and getting some sun light helps to set us up for a productive day. That and Lila is obsessed with nature and insects, so she likes to go and inspect the local park for changes each day. In the winter William will race through his workbooks and show me because he is desperate to join some of his other home ed friends on a minecraft server, but in the summer he frequently chooses to forego screens in favour of playing outdoors. 

We attend a few clubs, and these have changed over the years, but they have included art classes, parkour academy, gymnastics, trampolining, swimming, skiing etc… and the co-op we are in allows them to go on a trip most Wednesdays. This week we went to see Fantastic Mr Fox at Milton Keynes theatre. I highly recommend it, it was fab!

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Playing in the forest with friends

What was your highlight of home ed last week?

My home ed highlight last week was William asking me for help with programming his Arduino board. Like I said, it’s rare that he wants help with stuff. He usually likes to figure it out on his own, but with Lila out an art class, we got two hours alone together and he eventually conceded that he would like my help 🙂

That and we hatched some new chicks. One of them was born with a malformed leg and was clearly dying. Lila made her a ‘private nest’ in a tissue box with a wheatie bag and fed her from a syringe. I told her the chick was going to die anyway, but her response was very of factly, ‘she doesn’t need to be thirsty whilst she’s dying mum.’ She even diffused essential oils to help her be less scared (because ‘you’d be scared if you knew you were going to die’). I love that she is learning compassion and emotional intelligence – way more important to me than curriculum ever will be.

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Lila with her favourite chick ‘Topo’

What is your favourite thing about home edding your child/ren?
My favourite thing about home ed is how much time we have together. My children are so close. They fight sometimes (all siblings do) but mostly they are best friends (true fact. Lila even made a poster with both of them on and ‘You’re my BFF’ on it). I love watching them grow and plan together. When they are adults they plan to own a farm (with their cousin Ruby) and adopt children to live with them, who they will home educate, obviously.

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Will teaching Lila how to bowl

What do you find most difficult and why?
Second guessing myself. I’m a researcher. I love to research EVERYTHING and make sure that I’m being the best mum there ever was. Unfortunately, I don’t have that capacity. I do believe I am the best mum for my children, and I try to be the best mum I can be, but sometimes the pressure of that can lead me to feel very stressed. Then I have to let go, and remember, that God placed these children with me because He wanted them to be raised by me. All I ever have to be is what I was made to be, and that is enough.  

I think the pressure to be ‘perfect’ when you are doing something a little different is immense. If my children went to school, no one would think very much about their faults, but because they are home if they are shy it’s because they are home educated, if they are too boisterous it’s because they are home educated. It’s not true, but it can sometimes feel like that. 

I have to remind myself regularly that most people probably aren’t judging me, but even if they are, so what? 

What advice would you give to other home educators?

Relax, have fun, and enjoy your children wherever possible. Be gentle with them, nobody learns well from somebody they’re scared of. Relationship is always more important than academic outcomes. 

Katie-Jo blogs at www.katiejogracie.blogspot.co.uk and/ or find her over on twitter at @KJGracie 

A Quick Cuppa With… Hansla 

Today’s cuppa is with 20 year old Hannah. She is a student studying medicine, and is a massive formula one fan! And you can find my Q&A answers over on her blog now too – thank you Hannah for having me over!

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Introduction

I’m Hannah and I’m 20 years old from Yorkshire in England. I’m currently living in London while I’m studying Medicine at University College London. I love my family, animals (growing up on a farm will do that!), books and most of all, babies!

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Name one random fact about yourself.

I’m a massive, obsessed Formula One FAN!

Who is your biggest inspiration?

Jenson Button is a massive idol for me. He’s a Formula One driver and he’s been through so much. When I read his autobiography of his 2009 winning championship season I saw how much strength he had behind the scenes to even secure a drive for the season, let alone a win.


The past few years, his courage dealing with his father’s death in such a public way has been awe inspiring and then in addition to that, his simple positivity while driving a non-competitive car has shown his commitment and dedication to his career and passion. I hope I can only continue to apply the same to my own life and career.

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

My blog is simply about me. I started writing 2 blogs originally, one more public and one more personal (diary entry like). It began as something to document my life but over time I fell in love with sharing my thoughts and ideas and I liked to hear back from other people.


Now, it’s a whole array of topics including reviews (products, movies, TV shows, books, hauls, recipes, DIYs and my personal favourite, my Thursday Thoughts Series. I also include behind-the-scenes of my youTube channel vlogs. Anything and everything; a lifestyle and beauty blog all rolled into one!

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

I blog part time but I don’t make any money out of it. I’m pretty busy with university study on a packed course so it’s defintely hard to juggle my time but I just write what I want, when I want to. I think that’s key. At the moment, it’s a hobby and when it stops being fun, I’ll stop writing.

What is the best piece of advice you can give to fellow bloggers?

Everyone has a different opinion on everything but don’t let others change the way you think.

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

I love hanging out with family and friends. My favourite activities are bowling, eating out and going to the cinema…all in one day if possible! Usually, I have some downtown before bed and I either spend it catching up on TV, watching a film or reading a book – if I haven’t already exhausted my brain that day!

What are your favourite family activities?

I think being so close to my family, everything can be a family activity. I think my favourite is probably when we play a board game. Yes it usually ends in fights and arguments but that’s where we make the memories.

Where is your favourite outdoor place to visit?

Oh gosh…my favourite place is the Sky Gardens in London which is like an outdoor place but inside. I’m not really a fan of the cold so it’s hard to pick in England but I defintely enjoyed the Yorkshire Sculpture park that I recently went to with my father and of course, every year I’ve been to the Great Yorkshire Show which I LOVE!

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Yorkshire sculpture park

Best family day out?

I feel like I’ll have more of an idea of this when I have my own family and I honestly can’t wait until I have children of my own. I’ve loved seeing my niece grow up in the 4 short years of her life and I can’t wait to see her little sibling (due June!) growing up right alongside her. I loved when we went to the zoo because she was in awe of the animals and seeing that joy is amazing.

Thank you so much for the opportunity to write in this series. It was so fun to read some of the previous bloggers answers! I would love if you came to visit me on any of my own social media! I hope you all have a great day 🙂

Find Hannah here….

Blog: hansla1000.blogspot.co.uk

Instagram: instagram.com/hansla1000/

Twitter: @hansla1000


YouTube: youtube.com/user/hansla1000

100 Days of Home Ed #LoveHomeEd – Day 30 (Squished Blueberries)

Introduction

I’m Louise, a 29 year old Mum of three from Hampshire. I’m an ex Nursery Nurse, turned full time home educator. I live with my Husband Carl and our children, Mabel who is nearly five, Greta who is three and Ernie who is 1.

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

Well, Mabel could have started school in September last year but didn’t. Her compulsory school start date isn’t actually until this September but she hasn’t been to any preschool for about a year so we consider ourselves home educating. I was always interested in home ed and thought of it as the ideal way to bring up children, especially for their early years at least. I had a little wobble after I had Ernie, 3 children under four was quite a shock to the system and for a while I wondered if I would cope and if it would be fair on them all. In the end though our minds were made up by listening to Mabel. After a couple of months at preschool she started refusing to go and getting very upset saying there were ‘too many kids’, so we took her out. We gave her the option of trying school or trying home ed and she decided to go with home ed.

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

There’s no typical week! Because all of the children are so young we don’t really have a home ed style yet. If I could try to describe it I’d just say it’s mainly a lot of free play, outdoor time is a big part of it, books are a big part of it, and encouraging creativity is a priority of mine. Most of the time we just achieve that through free play and following their leads, allowing them free access to pens, paints, scissors, glue etc. 

We have recently started a little bit of structure to our week which is in the form of a weekly activity plan that I make up each week around a ‘book of the week’. There’s usually a writing/story telling prompt as well as a numeracy activity, a creative activity amongst a couple of other things. It’s pretty low key, in my eyes it’s just a way of getting my eldest used to some of the skills she’ll need when she’s a bit older and able to do more in depth topics.

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What was your highlight of home ed last week?

Probably acting out the story Whatever Next! by Jill Murphy with the girls. They dressed up in ‘space boots’ and ‘space helmets’ and flew to the moon in a cardboard box space rocket! That was really fun, but there were loads of little things too. Mabel was doing a bit of writing, she only does a bit here and there, and she wrote a word so clearly and her handwriting had improved so much and I just thought ‘she’s taught herself that’. It’s nice when you see proof that you don’t have to force children to sit down and practise things, they still learn if you let them go about it their own way.

What is your favourite thing about home edding your child/ren?

The freedom, most definitely. I love that I’m not dreading Mondays every week, I don’t have to nag them every morning to get dressed and out the house before the sun is up. If we want to have a pj day we do, if we want to spend all day at the beach, we do.

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What do you find most difficult and why?

Getting enough time for myself, keeping on top of the house, balancing my blogging work with the kids. But it’s getting a bit easier as they get older. It’s just about organisation and setting expectations, when Ernie’s having his nap then I say to the girls that we’re all having quiet time and Mummy is working. So if they have anything they want me to do with them we save it till later when Ernie wakes up. It’s hard to juggle and I feel guilty and sometimes I put the laptop away and just go cut out paper crowns with them or whatever they want me to do… but I find I am a lot more content when I have an hour or so to get ontop of my to do list.

What advice would you give to other home educators?

I don’t really feel like I can give much advice, most people have probably been doing it for longer than us! I suppose I would say to anyone who’s children are under school age and are thinking about home ed… just give it a go! Keep an open mind, be prepared to be continuously changing your plan and readjusting your expectations and go with the flow. Nothing is ever set in stone and school will always be there too.

Find out more about Louise and their adventures here…

Blog: www.SquishedBlueberries.com
Facebook: squishedblueberries
Twitter: @blueberriesblog
IG: instagram.com/squishedblueberries

100 Days of Home Ed #LoveHomeEd – Day 29 (Favourite Things About Home Educating) 

Ok, so for today on #100DaysofHomeEd I have something abit different; I asked a selection of home educators (all with SEND children) what their favourite thing is about home educating. Here are the answers…

Sharon Incidental learning is so much more enjoyable because it is fun to learn . Wish I had taken this path a long time ago.

Lyndsey  Hearing my son giggle, watching him smile and be proud of himself.

Karen  The empowerment!!!! Knowing that you don’t have to listen to a bunch of people who mostly don’t seem to give two hoots about your child and at times don’t even seem to know who they are talking about!!! It did me the world of good knowing I could make my own decisions based on what I thought was best for my child… but more than that, it has left them with the underlying knowledge that they can confide in me and I will listen to them and I will trust them… and I will NOT send them somewhere that makes them unhappy.

SamanthaFlexibility!

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Christine Sharing the good times of childhood.

Sally I get to watch her face when she makes a connection or a discovery, not someone else who may or may not notice and it won’t be precious to them.

Josie  Not having to (try to) dress my son every morning and attempt to get him to school (which would never happen!) 

Samantha Not have the trigger points of bed time and get up time. Also I love how his natural curiosity means he is learning about so many different things.

Jo and AlmaFreedom!!!!

My answerThe freedom and flexibility that home ed allows; being able to go with the flow and adapt to her needs makes all the difference.


Thank you everyone for taking part!