3 Things That Look Good On Your CV

If you are looking to change or advance your career in the future, then the chances are that you have taken the time to examine your existing CV. When applying for job roles, your CV is the primary way of demonstrating your abilities and catching the eye of prospective employers – so it’s important that yours is as good as it can possibly be.

There are plenty of online guides that can help you write your CV already, so this post focuses on the elements of it; the actual facts that you can include about yourself, your experience, and your education. Here is a list of three things that are sure to stand you in good stead when it comes to applying for jobs in the future…

 3 Things That Look Good On Your CV

Unique Extra-Curricular Activities

Most people include a small, personal section on their CV that discusses their interests; while not essential, this can be an opportunity to show a depth of personality that is difficult to achieve elsewhere in the document.

However, it is best to include interests that are relatively unique. Recruiters see thousands of CVs with the interests detailed as reading books, watching movies, or spending time with friends – so be a little more original, opting for interests that are specific to you, and won’t be shared by every other applicant.

Further Education Courses

While it is always useful to have a strong academic background to include on your CV, this can be somewhat limiting, especially if you completed your education many years ago.

Recruiters like to see that an applicant has sought to continue learning, even when their formal education is complete. There are thousands of courses you can take that will look fantastic on your CV; from broad modern topics such as the Google online courses with Squared Online to more niche topics such as aromatherapy. Even if the course you choose isn’t particularly specific to your career, it will still boost your CV, as it serves to demonstrate a quality that all recruiters look for in applicants: a desire for self-improvement.

Clipart style CV picture

References

Over recent years, CV trends have led to more and more people stipulating that “references are available upon request”. While this is not outright damaging, it is rather restrictive, and requires extra work on behalf of the recruiter.

It is preferable to list two references on your CV at the time you submit it to a company. If you are not comfortable supplying full contact details, then just include an email address and make a note to say further details can be provided if required. Most recruiters will appreciate your transparency and the fact that you have sought to make their job easier by providing this information upfront, and they may look upon your application favourably as a result.

In conclusion

If you manage to include the above three things on your CV, then you hopefully have more chance of catching the eye of recruiters as you seek to change your career for the better. Good luck!

*This is a collaborative post.

Moving Away to University? Here’s What You Need to Know

Moving away from home to go to university is an exciting milestone. It’s the first time that you experience true independence; you’re in a new place, away from home and living the way you choose without rules or curfews. Despite being legally an adult when moving away to university, most people are actually far less prepared for the move than they think. To make life easier and to ensure the process runs as smoothly as possible, here are a few things you can do in advance…

Moving Away to University? Here's What You Need to Know

Get your accommodation sorted early

If you’re moving to a new place and will be living away from home, it’s up to you to sort out your accommodation. Don’t leave this until the last minute as places can book up and you’ll end up in the worst student places in the city. Halls are a good option, especially in your first year, as it allows you to mix and mingle with lots of new people and get a traditional university experience. However if they’re not right for you, there are lots of companies and landlords offering student accommodation. Decide if you want to live alone, or share with others.

Save some money

For most people, moving away to university means budgeting for the first time. You’re responsible for paying for your accomodation, your bills, your food and leisure. It’s a well known fact that students are poor, but if you learn to budget properly, and have some money saved to fall back on, then you will certainly make things easier for yourself.

The year before you go to university you could start putting money away. In the summer after you’ve completed your school exams, you could work full time up until the autumn when you leave for university. This gives you a few months of full time wages to put away and have as a safety net.

Start packing and organising in plenty of time

Don’t wait until the night before you’re due to leave before you start throwing things into bags and cases. In the weeks leading up to moving away, have a list of everything you’re going to need and start purchasing and packing it. There are lots of lists of items you’ll need online, from study equipment to storage for your room to kitchen stuff, toiletries and much more. The last thing you want is to end up in a new place without the things you need, so be prepared.

Learn to cook

You might think you can get by when it comes to cooking, but do you still rely on your parents home cooked meals multiple times a week? Are you really able to feed yourself without any outside help? Beans on toast, sandwiches and ready meals will only get you so far.

As a student, it’s well worth teaching yourself a number of tasty, healthy and cheap meals before you go away to fall back on. A big bag of pasta or rice could be prepared lots of different ways. Don’t forget meals that include vegetables and healthy ingredients to give your body everything it needs. Get yourself a student cookbook, and practice some of the recipes in advance.

Do you have any tips to share for new university students? Tell me in comments!

*This is a collaborative post.

YouTeachMeToo Tutorial Subscription Service: Review and Giveaway

YouTeachMeToo is an innovative educational subscription service that enables access to teaching videos. It allows parents and their children to watch and listen to teachers teaching in a range of schools across the UK, including mainstream, special schools and a Royal School for the Deaf. There are currently 2,000 videos to view, mainly primary currently, with new videos being added regularly.

YouTeachMeToo costs £10 per month and you can cancel anytime.

YouTeachMeToo screenshot of search page

Background

The idea originated as a video-sharing system for schools, created by a former infant school headteacher. The videos are shared with the learner for use in school lessons and can also be viewed at home, enabling parents see what and how their child is being taught, and therefore be able to support their child’s learning more effectively. This concept was then developed into a parent-friendly version of the same system.

How it Works

For £10 per month, parents access the teaching videos, choose which ones they wish to share with their child/ren, then share them through a viewing account made for each child. The child then views the videos chosen specifically for them via their own account.

YouTeachMeToo Tutorial Subscription Service: Review and Giveaway title image

The Review

I really like this system. The website is set up in a way that is very easy to use; search the subjects and when you find videos you want to share with your child, just click on the star. You can also add a whole series of video lessons in one click to make it easier too. You then send the videos across to your child’s dedicated account where they can view them.

There are no ads, no unnecessary screen ‘clutter’ and no risk of them stumbling across anything they shouldn’t; all they can watch is the videos you have selected and sent to their account. It is a very simple, and very effective, system.

The videos themselves are good quality, and vary in length and style, which means you can find ones to suit your child’s learning preferences. Squiggle needs short and simple tutorials that are visual, rather than auditory. I found what I was looking for in no time!

Screenshot of parent section You Teach Me Too subscription educational videos tutorials service

The only minor hiccup I found was that after she watched them once, a couple then seemed to disappear from her account even though she wanted to rewatch them. I am not sure this is meant to happen and might just be because we were on my android? However, I resolved this by adding the missing ones to her library so she could find them there, which solved it easily.

Squiggle has been keen to do some new art projects and develop her creative skills, so I found her some videos on sketching techniques and using oil pastels, which she has already watched and will be putting into practice soon! I have also found her some sports rules videos, which I think she will find useful.

Screenshot of Squiggle's pupil account. Educational teaching learning videos. YouTeachMeToo tutorial subscription service.

My Verdict

I really like the concept and it is carried out very well. The videos are good quality and are a helpful teaching aid. The website is well designed and easy to use. I personally feel £10 per month is reasonable for this service. We will certainly be using it alot more!

Giveaway!

I have teamed up with YouTeachMeToo for one lucky reader to win a family subscription for one whole year! To be in with a chance of winning, enter via rafflecopter below. Ends 9th Sept 2018.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!

*Disclosure: I received a year subscription to YouTeachMeToo for the purpose of this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

B.A.B Courses: Workshops and Courses For Parents Where Your Children Are Welcome (Bring A Baby/ Child Courses)

BAB courses (Bring A Baby courses) are workshops and courses for parents but without the childcare hassle and cost! Bring your baby or child with you where they will be looked after in the same room. Perfect for parents of young children and home educators. Develop your skills or pursue your own interests without worrying about childcare. Tutors focus on parents, skilled playworkers focus on children. Support not separation. Based in Harrow. North London. Discount code available – 5% off all bookings!

*Disclosure: The following post is not a sponsored post. I have not been on any of these courses or workshops myself but I love the concept behind them and genuinely believe they will be of interest to my readers who live in the London area. I know Maxine, Business Manager, personally and have no doubt that these are excellent – hence I am helping to promote them!

My discount code is LLOW18 for 5% off any booking. This is an affiliate code, which means I receive a small commission if you use it.

Bring A Baby Course - B.A.B courses for adults

Is every fun activity in your schedule for your kids?

Have you forgotten the last time you were able to do something for yourself?

It happens to every parent, and perhaps even more so for some home educating families. Between shuttling children around to meets far and wide, finding enriching activities, supporting their latest interests and providing their education, as well as all the other usual parenting stuff, time for anything else is often somewhat limited.

What if there was a way for you to carve out time for your own interests and you were able to take your kids along too?

A fantastic new business in Harrow, North West London, is providing our community with just that.

Bring a Baby Courses have developed an exciting range of courses and workshops for adults focused on teaching new skills from photography to cake decorating, embroidery to rock climbing! And the best bit? All students bring their children with them!

BaB Courses are fully home ed friendly and welcome children between the ages of 0-13 yrs. Business manager Maxine Taylor home educated her own daughter and is very aware of the unique set of circumstances that home educators face.

“Home educating families are so so welcome on a BaB Course. I know how hard it is to divide yourself so many ways when home educating and to have no time to put into your own self development. We have highly trained play workers to support the children in class while their parents learn. We plan and plan and plan our activities based on the ages of the children coming – so each course has a different approach for the children. Older children might like to learn alongside the parent too. Of course, children are children and some weeks a child may not want to leave their parent’s side. It’s normal and we don’t force anything. That’s why classes are an hour and a half rather than your typical one hour class. ”

Bring A Baby Courses for adults. Support not separation.

How does it work?

Classes are small – usually no more than 8 parents and their children. Tutors focus on the parents and specialist play workers focus 100% on the children. Everyone is in the same room and all students have their children with them, creating a wonderful relaxed atmosphere of support.

What may sound crazy is in reality a breath of fresh air receiving 5* reviews from London parents.

The BAB team have something unique and wonderful – being able to take children along and have them entertained and cared for without having to worry about leaving them was really refreshing. The children were always welcome to approach us if they needed to but generally didn’t as they were having so much fun and we got to focus on the course. Crystal Miles 2018

I cannot recommend this course enough! Being able to do something for me whilst not feeling guilty about it because my 2 year old was having just as much fun! The staff were amazing and I learnt a new skill which I will be able to continue at home. Rachel Moncur 2017

It was really good to be able to concentrate on the course knowing that my child was happily engaged but able to come to me if he needed me. We both had a fab time and my son enjoyed it so much he wants me to do more! Julie Grace Cunningham

Location

All courses are currently run in central Harrow, with easy access to public transport and free parking available.

September Classes

These are the courses and workshops available this September…

B.A.B Bring A Baby Course - creative family photography course

Creative Family Photography Course £235

This is a unique 6 week photography course for parents. You will learn how to get the most out of your digital camera and get the best shots of your family and the best bit is your favourite subject is there too!

Cake decorating workshop by B.A.B (Bring A Baby courses)

Cake Decorating Workshop £65

The Enchanted Teddy Bear Picnic cupcake class is a great way to get to grips with a range of skills. You will be working with both fondant and buttercream and the course will introduce you to various techniques to create a set of 6 beautifully decorated cupcakes to take home for you and your family.

Climbing workshop B.A.B courses Bring A Baby courses for adults

Climbing Workshop £45

B.A.B courses have teamed up with Harrowall to bring you an exciting climbing experience. This hour and a half session will take you through the basics but also to breathtaking heights.

Bring A Baby introduction to knitting course

Introduction to Knitting Course £200

This unique 5 week course has been created for parents to learn the basics of knitting and you’ll be creating two fantastic pieces to take home and show off.

Personalised jewellery workshop B.A.B courses

Personalised Jewellery Workshop £195

This unique Jewellery workshop teaches students how to create incredible replicas of their children’s drawings, handprints or handwriting as beautiful silver charms that can be kept forever and turned into a pendant, bracelet or cufflinks as an end product for students to take away with them.

Hand embroidery course Bring A Baby course for adults

Hand Embroidery Course £200

This beautiful course will help you take one of your child’s drawings or a drawing of your child’s handprint and using embroidery and scraps of your favourite children’s clothes turn it into a special personalised cushion to treasure forever.

DISCOUNT ON ALL BOOKINGS!

To get a 5% discount of any booking please quote the following code: LLOW18

For more information, or to book a workshop/ course, see the website or drop them an email.

Website: www.bab-courses.co.uk
Email: contact@bab-courses.co.uk

Why Home Education Works

Education is something everyone has a right to. It is often expected in this modern day and age that we will simply enroll our kids in school from age 4 and upwards, along with preschool and nursery beforehand. It is also sometimes assumed that this the right setting for every child; that they will hopefully thrive in the school environment, going on to become an excellent student with good grades and prefect standard behaviour. But this is not always the case. And a formal school setting isn’t the only way to educate someone; there’s plenty of alternative routes, and home schooling is one of the main alternative ways.

Educating your children at home has always been a hotly debated topic, but that doesn’t mean it’s something no one believes in! And there’s plenty of information and resources out there if you want to introduce it to your household. With all that in mind, here’s a couple of the main reasons why home education works…

Why Home Education Works. Faded background image of a number game.

There’s No Forced Socialisation

A lot of the discourse over home education is the idea that any kid that goes through it will end up isolated with zero social skills. But that’s simply not true, and it’s actually one of the main reasons home education works so well in the modern era. With all of our technology and social media, it is easier than ever to organise social opportunities, as well as find support and friendship from other home educating families, both online and in real life.

And as we get older, we often realise that we only made friends at our school because we saw these people five times a week anyway, and very rarely do we keep many of our school friends into adult years. Yet when you’ve got not school to socialise in, you go out of your way to find friends elsewhere, and form real bonds with them. Considering our new and improved ways to communicate with the rest of the world, something that wasn’t possible when the school system was invented, home educators can socialise just as easily as their school attending peers, and with a diverse range of people of all ages too.

Yellow school bus

There’s So Many Ways to Learn!

And that’s the simple truth of it; sitting down in a classroom with 29 other students, being able to get their head down and get on with work, and take in all the information the teacher is giving them, and without getting distracted, is incredibly hard for some kids. Being in that setting doesn’t benefit them. Plus if nothing is done about it, they can end up being labelled the ‘trouble maker’, with few friends and little teacher approval, which completely ruins their self esteem. Homeschooling (commonly referred to as home education in the UK because it often does not represent school at home!) on the otherhand, can be approached in a flexible way that works for that child, allowing them to thrive.

It can involve the online world as well; there’s a lot more use of technology for educational purposes now than there used to be, and developments in how it fits into our modern lives generally, so this can also help in making sure that all kids have an accessible platform to learn from without the need for school. Even the bigger institutions have noticed this shift towards the virtual, with programs such as masters in engineering management being available online.

With the help of all of these things, home education works because it let’s kids learn at their own pace, and it doesn’t force them to move on when they’re not ready to, or hold them back from their passions and interests. It allows for freedom and flexibility, whilst offering a tailor- made individualised approach to learning. Of course, every child must be provided with a suitable full time education, whether in school or not, but it is often a lot more relaxed compared to being inside an education institution.

Home education works, and it’s something that deserves more of a shining light in the modern day and age. Whatever helps your child to succeed should be implemented; go ahead!

*This is a collaborative post.

Draft Elective Home Education (EHE) Guidance: What’s The Problem?

You may or may not be aware that the Government is currently consulting on new draft EHE guidance. We, like many other home educators across the country, strongly oppose these new guidelines because we believe them to be unnecessarily restrictive and intrusive.

Our ultimate objective is to secure the home ed status quo, support action to reduce off-rolling, highlight the good work being done by parents, and put the focus back on OFSTED to deal with schools (including unregistered ones) rather than putting the blame on home educators. We urge the Government to put the huge financial cost and resources it would take to implement the draft EHE guidance to far better use.

Please sign this national petition to help us.

It takes less than a minute to complete the process of signing it. The reason why we are asking people to do so is to show the government that people all over the country are angry about what they are proposing to do. Please take a minute to sign it.

Please also take time to respond to the consultation. You do not need to be a home educator to do so.

Fill in the online consultation by clicking here

It has been made really easy by following this guide:

Dare To Know Blog – guidance for completing EHE consultation

The most effective way is to respond to the consultation online. Alternative contact details though are as follows…

Email: HomeEducation.consultation@education.gov.uk

Write to:
Elective Home Education: Call for Evidence
Independent Education and Boarding Team
Department for Education
Bishopsgate House
Feethams
Darlington
DL1 5QE

A note about SEND children

As a parent of an SEND child, who also has a severe anxiety disorder, the guidance is particularly concerning. This is because it proposes the potential for intrusive monitoring, and invasion of personal space, that could badly trigger anxieties and be detrimental to a child’s mental health.

Many autistic children, especially those with high anxiety – as is often the case – would potentially find it distressing to have a stranger enter their home, which is their safe space in an overwhelming world, and/ or be subject to a stranger speaking to them alone, due to their social and communication difficulties. Also, there is a genuine concern that the parents themselves might incorrectly be seen as non-compliant, because some people do not understand child refusal.

Whilst many families would view such procedures as inconvenient or intrusive, autistic families could find it a whole other degree of stressful and it has the potential to dramatically affect their mental health. For some, it could be extremely distressing should this draft policy come into action.

Whilst, theoretically at least, exceptions could be made for such children, it is likely in reality that parents would have to then fight for their child’s needs – and voice – to be heard. So it would be far preferable for these rights to be protected for all children, not just those most vulnerable to its impact.

FAQs about the draft EHE guidance

What’s wrong with having a home education register?

In short, optional registration for some kind of service is entirely different to compulsory registers for the purpose of tracking and monitoring.

Registering for a service is different. E.g. registering at a dentist, a doctor, library or a school – you are registering to receive a particular service at a particular place. The registration is so that the service knows who uses its services and often so that the service gets funded. You can choose to stop using the service at any point, and be removed from the register.

The other forms of registration are mandatory, based on a particular characteristic. Not to receive a service, but so that the individuals can be tracked and monitored. Why do home educators need this? If the argument was for a compulsory register of say muslims, or LGBT, you would most likely see the issue with it!

Why are you opposed to the government offering support? Surely that is a good thing!

Support – if it is actually helpful i.e. the right kind of support for that individual/ family – can most certainly be a very good thing of course! But when ‘support’ is really a code word for interference from authority figures who do not necessarily understand the family’s needs, or the value of different educational approaches, this can actually be somewhat detrimental to say the least.

The consultation has just two questions in the support section, yet 7 in registration, and 9 about monitoring. That should probably give most people a clue about the true purpose of the guidance!

It is somewhat like suggesting that OFSTED really only comes into schools to offer support!

But if it saves just one child…

This argument comes up often! But it short-sighted. Whilst, in theory, it could save a child from abuse (although statistically, there are far less abuse cases amongst home educators than school children anyway, and I am not even going to get into all the other reasons why this argument misses the point!) in reality the number of children it could actually harm with its interference is undoubtedly far, far higher.

Children who were removed from school due to bullying, kids with fragile mental health and/ or severe anxiety, could be irreversibly damaged – or lives lost to suicide – because of a system that is supposedly intended to protect vulnerable children.

As home educators, we are looking at the bigger picture and seeing the otherside of the coin. The Government sadly appears to be dismissing such concerns.

Surely if you have nothing to hide, what is the issue?

Firstly, see all the points above.

Secondly, if a stranger demanded entry into your home and started searching through your stuff just incase you had stolen something – with no actual evidence, or even a good reason to suspect you are guilty, other than that you happen to do your shopping at a particular store – would you mind? Would that be ok with you?! No, I didn’t think so. Not ok with us either.

As another example, I am not carrying a concealed weapon – it doesn’t mean I am happy to walk around naked to prove it to everyone! For the comfort of everyone, let’s just assume I’m not 😉

We have a right to quiet privacy in our home and wanting to protect that right does not make anyone criminals. And the truth is, there is absolutely no logic in suggesting otherwise!

But children have rights! We need to make sure all children have a good education!

We agree! That is exactly why we are fighting to protect our freedom and rights to home educate as it stands currently!!!

The draft guidance is extremely heavy- handed and unnecessary. It invades our children’s privacy, and restricts our educational choices. Sometimes children do need a different approach to education, such as SEND children for example.

Education is not, should not and cannot, be a one-size-fits-all approach. Square pegs, round holes…

The bottom line is: whatever your opinion is on education, please support our freedom and right to choose.

Rockford’s Rock Opera Review & Giveaway Bundle

Rockford’s Rock Opera by Sweetapple is an ecological musical story about extinction, biodiversity, the value of the natural world and bringing endangered species back from the brink. It was created by a group of friends (Matthew Sweetapple and Elaine Sweetapple, husband and wife, and comedian Steve Punt) in an attic in Barnet, Hertfordshire and was first launched on the web in 2008. Rockford’s Rock Opera is enjoyed in 100,000 schools all over the world. This year it is celebrating it’s 10th anniversary and is now in the process of being turned into a feature animated film! With a production budget of $38,000,000 it will be one of the UK’s
biggest-ever independent films.

Rockford's Rock Opera

The story is unique in it’s format and delivery; combining pictures, animation, songs and dialogue. It is a truly touching story with an important ecological message. In essence, it is a musical story about a boy from Battersea called Moog and his Dog, Rockford. The underlying message is that one day we’ll discover the greatest secret of all; how every species on earth can live together in harmony. The creators, who describe it as Jungle Book meets Jurassic Park, suggest it is aimed primarily at ages 6-12 years old.

I downloaded all four of the parts on my iPhone from the App store (part 1 is free, parts 2, 3 and 4 cost £1.99 each). Each app contains extras as well as the story itself; including the music, story background and useful learning material (did you know that 99.9% of all creatures that have ever lived may now be extinct?!) as well as links to environmental organizations and charities.

Rockford's Rock Opera app

The story itself is a good combination of stills and CGI (some quite psychedelic; it took me back to the Beatles yellow submarine), supported by clear narration and varied styled music – some with singalong lyrics (one of my favorite touches). Not wishing to give too much of a spoiler, the story centers around Moog and his rescue dog Rockford from Battersea Dogs’ Home, who find themselves travelling across the sea of tranquility to an island called Infinity; home to the last creature of all extinct species. Here they encounter many fictional creatures, including a small yellow sticky creature with a green stripe called a Cocklebur Ink, a ten tentacle octopus called a Dectopus and a menacing guitar playing mantis called The Registrar, to name just a few. Moog and Rockford must race to the centre of the island against the backward flowing river to stop the extinction of all dogs and humans on earth. But, given humans were the cause of many of the islands creatures’ extinctions, not everyone wants them to succeed.

Rockford's Rock Opera Island of Infinity

All four parts run to 2.5 hours in total but is divided into chapters, making it perfect for bedtimes or car journeys. It has no in app purchasing and does not require an internet connection, so it’s 100% safe for children to use unassisted.

I have to say I fell in love with this story. It really tugs on the heartstrings and inspires empathy in such an original way. It gets the message across very clearly, and is hard hitting, yet also simultaneously approaches it in a sensitive and tactful way; it is a delicate balance that has been achieved remarkably well.

The songs range from slow, emotional songs such as ‘This Tail is True’ to really rocky tunes like ‘I Am The Registrar’. My absolute favourite though, is the incredibly catchy ‘Tale of The Cocklebur Ick’. This one has literally not left my head! I think not least of all because it carries such a strong message and is so thought- provoking. That tale in itself can lead to many hours of valuable discussion; indeed there are entire lesson plans on the website to cover just that part of the story.

The website is filled with tonnes of useful information, from detailed lesson plans to practical ideas on how to protect our environment. It also has loads of other cool fun stuff too, so do check it out! RockfordsRockOpera.com

Giveaway!

I have an awesome Rockford’s Rock Opera giveaway bundle for one reader to win! Enter via rafflecopter below. UK only. Competition ends on 8th July 2018.

Rockford's Rock Opera giveaway bundle

Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*I was given free access to the apps for the purpose of review and was compensated for my time. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Kelly Allen – Home Education Guest Post Series

You may remember last year I ran a guest post series for fellow home educators. Well, incase you missed it, here is another one! This Q&A guest post is written by Kelly, who has home educated her two children for the past 2.5 years…

Home education guest post series

Introduction

My name is Kelly, I’m married to Warren and we have two home educating children called George and Molly. We live in Cardiff and we enjoy going on long dog walks, movies, arts and crafts.

How long have you home educated for and why did you decide to do it?

2 and a half years. My children were really unhappy, medical reasons and a lack of faith in the school system.

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

We’re probably semi structured, with days out and groups as well as little projects at home focused on their passions.

What was your highlight of home ed last week?

Having the realisation that they’ve suddenly grown up, and being able to spend those precious long days with them that will soon be memories of childhood. I’m glad I can be there during it all.

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

Freedom without the influence of school life or the pressure to pass standardised exams during childhood.

What do you find most difficult and why?

Other people’s opinions and the infamous socialisation question. I just find it incredibly judgemental and exhausting to answer time and time again.

What advice would you give to other home educators?

Reach out to the community, whether online or at groups. They’ll be your network of support and you’ll probably need it.

You can find Kelly Allen over at her blog and social media channels…

www.kellyallenwriter.com www.facebook.com/kallenwriter www.twitter.com/kallenwriter www.instagram.com/kallenwriter

Educational Resources For The Family Home

Whether you home educate or not, educational resources are an important part of every family home. From books and writing equipment, to art supplies and games, here are some of our top essentials…

Educational Resources for the Family Home

Reading Material

The number one must-have for all ages! Whilst this may seem like a given, I couldn’t write a blog post about essentials and not include it! And remember, it is not just all about fiction books; non- fiction material, magazines, catalogues, recipes, or anything else that is appropriate for the child’s level of development and that captures their interest also matters just as much too!

Squiggle reading Change It Cho by Clever Tykes

Writing Equipment

For older children, pens or pencils, and for younger children, a variety of markers, plus a good selection of paper, is of course a necessity for every child. Tablets/ computers etc.. are another form of writing that definitely should not be overlooked in this digital age, especially as those with SEND might find this form of writing easier. For a child-friendly email account to practise writing and communication, we use Tocomail.

Screenshot of a tocomail email with attachment sent by Squiggle

White boards and chalk boards are also another great way to practice writing. As Boo, Roo and Tigger Too explains: ‘Whiteboards are great for all sorts of activities. From drawing and counting, to practicing handwriting.”

Teacherboards sell a range of whiteboards and chalk boards, including larger versions for the wall and also individual, portable workboards too. Both are really useful to have in the home! They also have a lovely corkboard/ whiteboard combo that I just love, it would be perfect for keeping the family organised!

Cork and whiteboard combo from TeacherBoards

Creative Supplies

Whilst many parents understandably cringe at the idea of getting the paints out, particularly with younger kids, they are a vital resource! As are colouring pens, chalks, crayons, charcoal and other art supplies. Plus different items for collages. And don’t forget fabrics for textile projects too!

Squiggle drawing with art supplies

Musical Instruments

A small selection of percussion instruments for young children is on my essentials list. For older children, a chosen instrument to learn to play and practise is beneficial.

Kitchen Supplies

Measuring jugs, mixing bowls and a range of ingredients to carry out kitchen experiments are excellent for all ages! Perfect for maths and science.

Squiggle doing a science experiment using kitchen supplies

Messy Play/ Sensory Activities

For young children and SEND children, opportunities for messy play (such as cornflour, coloured rice, porridge oats, slime, sand and water for example) and sensory resources such as playdough, light ups, tactile objects, bubbles, and fidget toys are on my must-have list.

Nature/ Gardening/ Growing

Even if you don’t have a garden, you can have a go at growing your own food, such as herbs for example, indoors. Nature is without a doubt an essential resource!

A selection of gardening supplies for indoors and outdoors

Sports and Physical Games

Bats and balls, skipping ropes, hula hoops, and any other equipment that helps to encourage physical activity is of benefit. Most would consider a bike an essential, or things like scooters and skateboards too. Trampolines and climbing equipment is an asset but not all families have the space or finances for these of course.

Family Games

There are lots of educational games available. Orchard Toys is a popular brand, especially for younger children. Learning Resources also stock brilliant games, suitable for a range of ages. And don’t forget the classics like Connect 4, Dominoes, Scrabble and Uno for example; all of these are educational, as well as fun!

Orchard Toys game boxes

Electronics

Whilst we personally don’t have a strong emphasis on screens ourselves, mainly due to Squiggle’s specific needs and her own choosing, there are certainly plenty of educational websites, apps and games available to choose from. We personally liked Reading Eggs and Maths Seeds when Squiggle was younger and we found the Cbeebies website useful too. Soph Obsessed says Phonics Play has helped her son with alot his phonics.

Sticky Mud and Belly Laughs also recommends the LeapPad. She says ‘It has all kinds of games, songs, videos and apps that are both fun and educational.’

For older children, there are far too many excellent choices to name, but we did particularly like Smartick Method. Coding games such as Play Osmo are very popular at the moment. Minecraft is also a huge hit with many and has alot of educational value. Of course, the internet itself is beneficial for research purposes – and to develop actually research skills – too.

Squiggle using a smart phone microscope

Puzzles and Jigsaws

Puzzles are educational for several reasons. As well as fine motor skills, spatial awareness, problem solving and observation skills, as Big Family Organised Chaos pointed out, many also have educational things on them. Her children, like Squiggle, discovered alot about where countries are just from a world map puzzle for example.

For older children, larger complex jigsaws are a brilliant educational resource. Even adults enjoy doing these too!

Construction

Lego! So useful for counting, building and sorting! ~ The Mum Diaries

We use Magformers every day, for all kinds of learning for every age. Colours and shapes for the youngest, maths and engineering for the older ones, moving onto physics and more complicated experiments for the oldest. And all whilst they think they are playing. SO Great! ~ Inspire Create Do

What are your educational essentials? Do you have any favourite resources? I would love to read about them in the comments section!

Thank you to the following bloggers for contributing to this post, in addition to the others already mentioned:

Ankle Biters Adventures

Freddies Mummy UK

Joanna Victoria

Household Money Saving

*Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.

The 3 Biggest Myths Around Home Education Dispelled

Home Education (sometimes also known as homeschooling) isn’t for everybody, and there are many reasons why a parent might prefer a traditional educational establishment. When both parents work full-time, for example, an education at home may seem unachievable. Or for other reasons it may be, or at least feel, out of the question. And of course, many children do enjoy school.

However, there are misunderstandings about home education that put people off the idea. It works for us, but there are those myths that always seem to circulate about home education that need to be dispelled to give any doubters an informed choice. We have listed some of them below, so if you have been sitting on the proverbial fence about whether to home ed your child or not, we may be able to set the record straight on a few things…

The 3 Biggest Myths Around Home Education Dispelled title with faded background image of apple on a pile of books

Kids miss out on the social aspect of school

Home educated kids don’t spend time in a school with hundreds of children, but to say they don’t have the opportunity to socialise isn’t true at all. It can rely somewhat on the parent, but with a little bit of proactivity, their children can be out socialising with people their own age (and indeed a wide mix of ages!) within the home ed community, and in extra-curricular activities that take place outside of a school environment too. Many home educating parents work with each other as well, organising field trips, groups, activities etc… where their children can learn and mingle together. And besides, not all children fare well socially at school, especially those who are shy and awkward, have SEND, or who struggle to fit in with the varied cliques on the school playground.

Home educated children miss out on college or university

This isn’t true, and there are many colleges who will take home educated children, with or without recognised qualifications. You can normally find this out by checking the college website or by giving them a quick phone call. It’s also possible to study for the relevant GCSE and A-level courses at home and sit exams at a centre. Some study through correspondence courses, or with a private tutor, if that suits them better or the parent doesn’t feel able to cover every subject thoroughly. In some cases, parents home educate their children for a period and then children attend mainstream schooling to study for the relevant exams. So there are options available, meaning those who are home educated won’t miss out on qualifications or further education.

It’s also possible to study for the relevant GCSE and A-level courses at home and sit exams at a centre. Some study through correspondence courses, or with a private tutor, if that suits them better or the parent doesn’t feel able to cover every subject thoroughly. In some cases, parents home educate their children for a period and then children attend mainstream schooling to study for the relevant exams. So there are options available, meaning those who are home educated won’t miss out on qualifications or further education.

Children perform better at a mainstream school

While there are some brilliant schools out there – check out the Leicester High School for Girls with all their fabulous accreditations, for example – there are also schools who struggle under Ofsted’s scrutiny. Still, there are many factors that come into play regards a child’s performance, regardless of where they study. Home education actually offers benefits which could enhance a child’s performance, including customisable learning according to the child’s needs, and one-to-one attention. Mainstream schooling is great, but these two points are hard to achieve, due to their large class sizes and a strict adherence to the National Curriculum. There are pros and cons to any form of education, but to say a child’s performance is affected by home education is a misnomer.

An image of a child sat at a table holding a pencil, writing and drawing

Final word

As we said, home education is not for every parent, and it may not be for every child, either. On the flipside, this might be the preferred choice for both parties depending on the circumstances. Is it right for you? We can’t answer that, but we do hope we have dispelled some of the common myths around the situation.

*This is a collaborative post.