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.

Learning Success System: Help Your Child To Thrive! (Review and Giveaway)

Have you heard of the The Learning Success System before? It is an educational programme that helps children develop the key skills they need for learning. Whilst this is especially beneficial to those with SEND, the activities are actually useful for any child. It is available at the discounted reader price of $197 for a 12 month subscription, with a 90 day guarantee. You can purchase it here.*

How Does It Work?

In Brief…

It uses various approaches to overcoming learning difficulties, using new findings in neuroscience, as well as tried and tested techniques developed by experts in the field. New exercises are delivered daily via email, and there is also a support forum too.

The More Technical Details…

The first principle of the Learning Success System is small steps. In Japanese culture, it’s called Kaizen. It comes from the idea that crash learning doesn’t work, at least not long-term; continuous improvement over time is more effective. Therefore the tasks are only brief but to work well, the programme should be carried out regularly, although the exact amount in terms of length of time and frequency are flexible. Tasks can be approached in the way that works best for your child/ family.

In summary, the programme works on the following strategies for better learning:

Build up micro-skills

Trigger neuroplasticity

Build confidence

Brain integration

Build grit

The exercises focus on developing different skills such as working memory, auditory discrimination, cross- lateral coordination and other skills that help across many areas of learning. Find out more info here.

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The Verdict

The exercises are quick and simple, but also fun and engaging. They are all very much active learning techniques, not passive teaching. (This is a good thing!) If you do find the activities are starting to get abit dry after a while, you can easily be creative and adapt them to make them more interesting. As an ex teacher and SENCo, I have experienced the benefits of using exercises such as these in the classroom too and feel they do help alot of children.

I have also been told about some of the upcoming new features. I can’t share that information with you yet, as it is top secret still at the moment… but I will tell you they sound very exciting and I am looking forward to checking them out!

Further Information

There is a huge wealth of information over on The Learning Success Blog.

They also have an online dyslexia test with detailed report, which some people might find useful.

Giveaway!

One lucky reader can win a 12 month subscription to The Learning Success System. Enter via rafflecopter below. Competition closes 27th March 2018. Open worldwide. Other T&Cs apply.

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*Post contains affiliate links. This means I get a fee for each person that signs up, this does not cost the buyer anything extra. Thank you for supporting me in this way!

Disclosure: I was given a free subscription for the purpose of this review and giveaway.

Qualifications That Can Lead To A Job

When you are choosing a degree to study, you might want to pick one that has the highest possibility of getting you a job as soon as you graduate. With that in mind, here are three degree qualifications that can lead directly to a job…

Qualifications That Can Lead To A Job title on faded background image of graduation robes.

Medicine

Medicine degrees have the highest possibility of getting you a job straight out of University. This is partly because of the time you have committed to learning about medicine and training in one of its professions in that you know exactly what your career goals are. A qualification in medicine has a much clearer goal and destination that other degrees such as ones in English or other subjects. As you study medicine, you get a very specific set of skills that are in high demand for positions like doctors and nurses. These jobs are sought after due to the time it takes to become qualified and learn all of the necessary skills and techniques. This makes medicine one of the best degrees to study if you want a job as soon as you graduate. However, it does take far longer to graduate than other degrees.

Business

You don’t need a business degree to get a business related job. However, it will make it far easier as you will have a lot of knowledge from your degree to fall back on. If you have a degree in marketing, for example, and want to get a job in PR, then having this knowledge and the skills from your degree are going to surpass those from people with history degrees. Certain other business related positions require specific qualification. Accounting is a good example of this. In order to be an accountant, you need to have an accountancy qualification. This might be baked into your actual degree or something that you study for once you have graduated. Either way, having a business related degree such as a business management masters degree is going to give you a head start and make you a better candidate in job applications. For this reason, you want to have a business related career then you should get a business related degree.

Languages

Languages are an incredibly sought after skill. If you are fluent in a language and have a qualification confirming this, then there is very little limit to the type of job that you can do. You can work as a translator, work in another country doing whatever job you want or anything like that. This is because, in order to become fluent in a language it takes years of training, practice and dedication. It isn’t something that you can learn on the job as the whole job is knowing a language. This means that you will be highly sought after by employers across the world. Certain languages are more useful than others. Unfortunately, if you studied Welsh, then you won’t have the same opportunities as someone who learns French or Russian. However, knowing a language is always a good thing, and it will definitely open doors for you.

*Disclosure: This is a collaborative post.

Educational Gifts For Children (Gift Guide) 

Are you looking for childrens gifts that provide educational value as well as fun? This educational kids gift guide will give you some great gift ideas!

As home educators, we often look for gifts that inspire learning and provide educational value. There is no reason why presents can’t be both fun and useful! So I have compiled this gift guide full of fab educational ideas…

A collage of the items featured in the gift guide. 'A Gift Guide...' written at top. Title 'Educational Gift Ideas for Children' in middle.

Whotchilli Games

Whotchilli games by PLYT are competitive, fun and mentally stimulating number games, suitable for families of all ages and abilities to enjoy together. They are perfect to play at home or take on your travels so are a very handy addition to any family. PLYT games are also endorsed by National Numeracy and leading maths consultants, so these really are effective from an educational viewpoint too.

There are several different games to play with the Whotchilli set, and more games will continue to be added too. This helps to keep things fresh and fun, which makes this longlasting and great value for money! The games available so far are:

Lookin’ hot – This game is about reading the minds of your opponents to work out whotchilli they’re playing whilst using cunning and skill to bluff and double bluff each other. The hottest player wins the game leaving everyone else feelin’ chilli. A fast, fun game for 3 to 6 players

Salsa – A game of logic for 2 to 3 players as you try to work out whotchillis are in your opponent’s Salsa recipe.  Build your rating and try to be the first to unlock the recipe.

Chilly Chilli – A game for 2 to 6 players where you try to stay cool by remembering whotchillis have moved where.  The coolest hand wins the game.

Scorchio – The aim of this game is to build the hottest score by correctly predicting the number of tricks you will win. 

The rules for these and future games will be available on the PLYT website and they will also send them via email.

RRP £9.99

A photo of the Whotchilli game boxed.

Azoomee Premium

Azoomee is an amazing edutainment app aimed at children aged 5 to 9, which provides a safe and secure space for them to watch, listen, play, learn, make, do and share. Learn and have fun with 1000s of the best videos, games, tutorials, learning content and audiobooks along with a packed creative tool box for this age group, all carefully selected by children’s media experts, teachers and parents. With a huge library of content including favourite kids shows such as Charlie & Lola and Horrible Histories, there’s something for every child!

There are no in-app purchases and no adverts to worry about, making this super child- friendly. An online safety curriculum – Smart Safe KindOnline – is threaded through the app: a programme of short films, games and activities, unique to Azoomee, which shows how to be independent, safe and responsible online.

They’ve also launched a fantastic coding game called Run Marco which teaches young minds the concept of coding to not only stimulate their learning but stretch their imagination with creative and challenging ideas. No wonder they’re BAFTA nominated! It is even supported by NSPCC too.

The app is available on Google Play, the App Store and Amazon Appstore.

Buy an annual pass to Azoomee and give a child 12 months of unlimited safe entertainment on any mobile device. The gift card will be posted to any address in the UK on a beautiful coloured Oomee postcard. The perfect gift for any child.

1 Year Gift Pass to Azoomee £44.99

Readers can get 50% off monthly subscription for 12 months by using the code FAMILY.

An image of Azoomee saying the safe entertainment for kids. App logos. Photo of a tablet on a wooden floor with a few toys around. Azoomee app is open on the screen.

Wise(ish) Words – Book of Everyone

Wise(ish) Words is latest book by The Book of Everyone. This is a wonderful way to inspire children and offer words of wisdom and advice. The books are totally personalised so you can choose the style and content that will best match the child, from jokey to heartfelt sentiments. £1 from every book sold will be donated to WellChild, which is a brilliant national charity for children living with serious illness or exceptional health needs in the UK, and gives them the chance to thrive at home with their families.

In conjunction with the launch of the book, a photo series has been created in collaboration with WellChild with the aim to raise money for sick children this Christmas. The series, ‘3 Wise Words for Kids’ is a collection of portraits taken by award-winning photographer David Boni of inspirational people who all work with children, displaying their 3 wise words for kids this Christmas. You can join in by uploading a selfie holding up your own ‘3 Wise Words for Kids’ on social media using the hashtag #3WiseWords.

RRP £23.95 for paperback (other versions available)

An image of the front cover of Wise-ish Words by Book of Everyone and double page inside the book.

Katie’s Classroom

Katie’s Classroom is a fab online teaching resource and she also sells revision cards too. Katie’s Classroom delivers outstanding online video tutorials, with further examples of the practical applications in a lesson summary whiteboard-style tutorial, then there are also worksheets to complete for the final part of the lesson. This is currently only available for Year 4 Maths (which covers all National Curriculum lesson objectives and topics) but Years 3 – 6 in both Maths and English will be available soon.

Subscription is £10 per month or £99 per year.

Revision cards £10.50 per set.

Squiggle sitting in bed looking at year 4 revision maths cards.

Musical Instruments

Musical instruments of any kind make a fantastic gift for all ages. Music teaches many skills and brings out creativity. It can also support emotional development and mental health, plus builds confidence. From perscussion instruments for general musical enjoyment to keyboards, drums or guitars etc… to learn at home or through lessons, there is a huge choice to suit any budget.

A photo of Squiggle playing a Yamaha keyboard.

*Disclosure: I was sent some of these items to review/ for inclusion in this gift guide. The post also contains affiliate links.

#EveryMomentCounts Photo Challenge with Families Online

Families Online set us a photo challenge to capture a special moment every day for a week, on a different theme each day. This is the compilation post of our #EveryMomentCounts challenge.

Families Online have set selected bloggers an #EveryMomentCounts photo challenge to capture a special moment daily over this past week, with each day having a different set theme. The aim of this campaign is to remember that even the seemingly ‘little’ family moments throughout each day are precious and actually do matter. Every moment really does count! The themes for the challenge are as follows…

#EveryMomentCounts, Families Online, family, general life, family time, mindfulness, childhood unplugged, home education, photo challenge, Every Moment Counts, Living Life Our Way

I don’t think these are ‘official’ rules of the challenge whatsoever, but I also set myself the additional challenge of picking just one single photo for each day. Each ‘moment’ captured was on the actual day of the challenge too – no throwbacks – because for me personally, I felt the point was to focus on being ‘in the moment’ and embrace those special little moments as they actually happen. That was just how I chose to interpret the challenge though, and also I felt this is how I would get the most out of doing it as well. 

So here are my moments throughout the week…

Day 1 – Together

Monday was a tough day. But for days like that, it is even more important to capture and remember the special moments.

We don’t often spend time at home all playing together (it is usually either one or the other of us with Squiggle when we are at home, not both) so it was lovely to grab a few minutes together. I particularly love this photo because I captured Squiggle affectionately stroking her daddy’s stubble too.

#EveryMomentCounts, Families Online, family, general life, family time, mindfulness, childhood unplugged, home education, photo challenge, together, Every Moment Counts, Living Life Our Way

Day 2 – Tradition

I struggled to imagine how I might find much tradition in a regular Tuesday in September to be honest. But I decided to just get on with our day regardless, and see how it all worked out. After all, I feel that the whole point of the challenge is to just be in the moment, enjoying family time, and making every moment count!

As it turned out, we found ourselves outside embracing the beautiful signs of Autumn, collecting acorns and leaves. Of course this is a tradition! We do it every year, ever since she was tiny. I remember spending many afternoons during my childhood doing the same with my parents, as no doubt they did with theirs, and one day maybe Squiggle with her own children too.

However, I chose this particular photo, which is taken in the same spot we collected our autumn treasures just minutes later, because it is my favourite moment of the day. Squiggle had the biggest smile as she carefully jumped on and off the moving roundabout. And look at that lovely traditional style play area! They had those same rocking horses that you can just see in the background when I was her age, they were one of my favourites infact. Fun times!

#EveryMomentCounts, Families Online, family, general life, family time, mindfulness, childhood unplugged, home education, photo challenge, tradition, Every Moment Counts, Living Life Our Way

Day 3 – Laughter

On this morning I could hear lots of giggling from my bed, as Squiggle played with her daddy whilst I caught up on some rest. It is lovely to hear her enjoying precious moments, even if they weren’t mine to share with her! But ‘the moment’ I chose for Wednesday was when Squiggle was delighted to discover that the paddling pools are STILL open at one of our local parks (brrr lol!) and ran through them, giggling and laughing happily. This photo really captures that. Love it!

#EveryMomentCounts, Families Online, family, general life, family time, mindfulness, childhood unplugged, home education, photo challenge, laughter, Every Moment Counts, Living Life Our Way

Day 4 – Three Things

Continuing on with our Autumn exploration from earlier in the week, on Thursday we visited a beautiful local park that we hadn’t actually been to before, for a lovely nature walk and Autumn hunt. We found these 3 little treasures which we collected from different trees (obviously!) within a few metres of each other. We paused under a gorgeous horse chesnut (conker) tree with huge fabulous branches to take this photo of our little collection.

#EveryMomentCounts, Families Online, family, general life, family time, mindfulness, childhood unplugged, home education, photo challenge, nature, autumn, three things, Every Moment Counts, Living Life Our Way

Day 5 – Colourful

We had a day at home on Friday and we actually used the theme as inspiration for one of our activities. Squiggle and I went into the garden with the challenge of getting as many beautiful natural autumn colours into one photo as possible.

I adore this photo because of the vibrant red and orange berries on bold green leaves against the bright blue sky with gorgeous yellow and brown leaves in the background. So much colour at this time of year!

I really loved this moment of our day because it’s a great reminder that not only is it important to savour precious moments, but that sometimes we need to take the time and effort to actually create those special moments too!

#EveryMomentCounts, Families Online, family, general life, family time, mindfulness, childhood unplugged, home education, photo challenge, colourful, Every Moment Counts, Living Life Our Way

Day 6 – Love

Of course this picture would include Squiggle, whom I love more than anything! And this particular photo captures us outdoors in nature, which is one of our biggest loves.

But beyond that, this moment also captures us watching some charity fundraisers and volunteers at the park – an act that no doubt comes from a place of love. And even though these people were random strangers, we felt grateful that we were able to witness this for a few moments too.

So lots of love in this moment from Saturday, in various different forms.

#EveryMomentCounts, Families Online, family, general life, family time, mindfulness, childhood unplugged, home education, photo challenge, love, Every Moment Counts, Living Life Our Way

Day 7 – Reflection

For the last day of this photo challenge, how better to end it than with a moment of reflection. I stood on this bridge, looking out at the water, and took just a moment to myself to reflect on the wonderful moments we shared as a family throughout the week.

As a busy parent, taking a moment to myself is sometimes just as important as those precious family moments, hence why I chose this particular photo. I am grateful for the rare moments alone, as well as the many I share with those I love!

(By the way, we spent lovely quality time together as a family, right before and after this particular moment for myself, going for a wonderful walk in the warm sunshine. It was a beautiful sunny Sunday!)

#EveryMomentCounts, Families Online, family, general life, family time, mindfulness, reflection, peace, one moment, parent, photo challenge, Every Moment Counts, Living Life Our Way

I really enjoyed taking part in this challenge; I loved how much it helped me to really be in the moment and focus on, and celebrate, those ‘little things’ each day. It amazed me how I noticed things so much more than I usually would, depending on the theme for the day, and generally too. I practice mindfulness anyway, but I am still genuinely surprised by how much difference taking part in this challenge made!

Thank you to Families Online for inviting me to take part in #EveryMomentCounts 

Smartick Method: Online Maths Program – Review and Giveaway

I have to admit I hadn’t heard of Smartick prior to doing this review, but I am glad they got in touch as it is well worth knowing about! In brief summary, Smartick is an online maths program for children ages 4 to 14 years old. It is rather cleverly designed to be based on ability and progress with the child at their own pace, using latest Artificial Intelligence technology. This means it is not restrictive and challenges the individual child to go as far as they are capable.

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As an ex- teacher and home educator, I really like this program. I feel it teaches methods and skills clearly in a simple but effective way. It is quite focused and maximises learning, but it does have visual aids and some basic gaming elements that aim to help keep children engaged and improve concentration levels. I think the way it adapts itself to the individual to personalise their learning is really impressive!

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Each session lasts 15 minutes per day, set for maximum concentration and motivation. This is great as it is just a short, manageable burst of learning and isn’t ‘too much’. Smartick recommends that children do a session at least 5 days a week to truly experience the benefits of the program. This is fine for most children, but I knew we might find that challenging personally because if Squiggle perceives it as a demand, her anxiety goes up and she avoids it. As predicted, this happened very quickly!

We also weren’t able to make best use of the program because it is intended for the child to work on independently. Squiggle was not able to do this though because she felt that she needed me to explain it to her, which then added more time, so her speed and other data were inaccurate. Obviously this affects the function of the AI. I should point out though that this was not a reflection on Smartick; it is very clear and I think the majority of children would have no problem using it independently whatsoever. It was simply down to her anxiety and the high level of support she needs.

However, I totally admit that I knew from the outset that the structured approach might not really suit the nature of Squiggle’s particularly complex SEND needs, but I decided to trial it anyway because I was curious if we could make it work for her, and I was also interested in reviewing it generally for others too. So regarding the above comments, we are a very tough crowd to be fair! And we did find it very beneficial in our own way. Whilst we weren’t able to take full advantage of some of the best features of Smartick, it still motivated and inspired her, and provided an excellent springboard for maths practice off- screen. This is really valuable, and was totally worth it just for that!

Smartick, maths program, online resources, educational activities, maths, home education, review

Anyway, I feel that I am digressing a little now as this is probably not relevant to most families! Back to the review…

Smartick, maths program, online resources, educational activities, maths, home education, review

Parents receive an email as soon as their child completes the daily lesson with a summary of performance. This is really useful! Plus there is a parent dashboard, so you can log in and see study plans, questions and units that the child has answered, data about performance and other things. Also, there is a team of educators behind the scenes to answer any questions that parents or children have, via phone or email. I found the lady I emailed with was absolutely lovely and very helpful.

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Overall, I do recommend Smartick – it is a great tool for learning maths. If you would like further information, or to subscribe, see their website: www.smartick.com

To be in with a chance to win a 3 month subscription to Smartick, enter my rafflecopter giveaway below!

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Last but not least, there is also a referral program whereby parents can benefit from a £20 discount if they recommend a friend, and the new friend that subscribes will receive 25% off the first subscription they buy. So do feel free to mention me for a discount!

*Disclosure: I was given a free subscription to Smartick for the purpose of review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.


Little House Of Science: STEM Classes For Curious Minds 

Little House of Science provides fun and educational STEM classes for kids. Little House Of Science have a wide range of STEM classes suitable for ages from 6 months – 11 years in London and across the UK. Little House of Science also offers STEM parties, workshops and tutoring too. Lots of educational fun!

Little House of Science provides fun and educational STEM classes for kids. The company was founded in 2014 by a trio of entrepreneurial and enthusiastic parents, with a keen interest in the science community, who wanted to inspire their own children to explore and seek answers about the world.

“We at Little House of Science foster this natural curiosity in boys and girls and re-enforce STEM subjects in a fun, project-based way so that children can connect with science from an early age.”

There are many classes and workshops held across London, and has also extended to other parts of the UK due to its popularity; including Hampshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire. There are a range of classes suitable from 6 months right up to 11 years old.

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The youngest classes, Little Discovery, are from 6-12 months and 12-24 months, Little Maths covers ages 2-3 years and 3-4 years old, Little Science has classes suitable for 3-4 years, 4-7 years and 5-8 years old, then Big Science Academy is aimed at older children aged 8-11 years old. Each class covers a diverse syllabus with age-appropriate topics delivered in a fun yet educational way using a hands-on practical approach to learning.

Little House of Science, STEM, kids classes, science, educational, workshops, parties, home education, London, UK, Living Life Our Way

Little House of Science, STEM, kids classes, science, educational, workshops, parties, home education, London, UK, Living Life Our Way

As well as these classes, they also offer project- based creative science workshops, which include take-home items and parents notes, and tutoring too. They even offer educational fun-filled entertainment for kids parties!

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Their aim is to ensure the kids leave feeling inspired and enthusiastic about learning, with a desire to know more about the world.

“We would like to think of ourselves as creating or fostering the spark for the next generation of scientists, but the main aim is to provide a foundation for youngsters where after each session, they will have gone home knowing a little bit more about our wonderful world and how things work.”

As an ex primary teacher, and now home educator, I think these classes and workshops sound fantastic! Several years ago, when Squiggle was much younger, I genuinely seriously considered setting up an early years STEM discovery type session myself, but it never happened sadly. However, I think it is great idea and so valuable! If I had found something like this, I would have been very keen to attend and I would definitely consider the older age classes now if we were able to, or a home ed workshop would be fab. Hands-on, practical fun is definitely the way to approach STEM activities!

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For more information, check out their website at ​www.littlehouseofscience.com 

You can also find them on twitter,facebook and instagram.

*Disclosure: This is a sponsored post.

Home Education on a Shoestring 

This post discusses how you can save money on home educating and still provide plenty of home ed opportunities. It is a common misconception that home educating is expensive and unaffordable to most. However, many home educators successfully home educate on a tight budget and there are lots of ways to make home educating affordable. The truth is, home education can be as cheap or expensive as you want it to be. Plus with the money you would spend on uniform, trips and lunch money, school is not necessarily a cheaper option either!

It is a common misconception that home educating is expensive and unaffordable to many. However, there are actually various ways to cut the costs, and many home educators successfully home educate on a tight budget. Here are my top tips…

Trips and Activities

Join your local home ed facebook group

In many areas, home educators organise trips and activities together as a community, in order to access cheaper group entry charges or school rates. This often also includes educational workshops that wouldn’t otherwise be available to individuals.

Look out for discounts/ offers to local attractions

Find your local community magazine, join an online group that shares local information or sign up to attraction newsletters direct; whichever way suits you personally to stay up-to-date with the latest offers and discounts for local attractions. Some places also do free open days etc… that it is worth taking advantage of too. If you make a point of seeking them out, you’ll be amazed at how much you can actually save!

Research free places to visit

Following on from the previous point, there are lots of free places to visit, and events throughout the year, that offer great educational opportunities. From museums to sporting events, there is plenty to choose from without getting your wallet out.

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Form a co-op, or arrange your own groups/ activities

If you can find a free (or cheap) venue, many home educators lead groups and activities themselves, or with other members of the local community. You can play on each others’ strengths and expertise, plus pool together resources, which can be far more cost effective than paying for classes etc…

Resources at Home

Find freebies

There are lots of free good quality resources on the internet. Also check out freecycle for useful items that someone else no longer needs. Occasionally there is even old equipment from local schools up for grabs, if you know the right people!

Borrow

You can also borrow and swap with other home educators, which makes far more sense than investing in something that is only needed for a short term topic or limited age- range for example. And of course, there are libraries too!

Buy secondhand

There are dedicated home ed selling groups on facebook to find cheap secondhand resources. Charity shops are another place to hunt for bargains; there are some great finds to be had.

Sell the resources you no longer use

Obviously, as well as buying secondhand, it is also useful to sell your resources on if you no longer use them! Or hand them down to someone else who needs them, in a pay it forward type philosophy.

Make the most of subscription discounts

Some educational apps and websites charge an annual subscription fee. However, many offer a discount for home educators so be sure to find out before you sign up.

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Twinkl is great for educational resources

What About Income Though?

It is true that the loss of earnings can be a challenge. It is all very well finding ways to save money on the cost of home educating, but it doesn’t help if you don’t have any money coming in to begin with! (Note: Home educators are not entitled to any additional extra benefits simply because they home educate, and there is no funding specifically for home educators).

However, many home educators do also work. Firstly, it is important to remember that home education does not need to observe school hours and term times so there is flexibility as to how and when a full time education is provided. Secondly, there are various jobs that you can do flexibly working from home, or ways you can juggle home educating with working outside of the home. Here are some ideas…

Home Working

Just a few examples of jobs people do at home while home educating are; tutoring, childminding, workshops/ classes, blogging, making and selling crafts (e.g. etsy store) or other small businesses.

Working While Home Educating

Parents often share responsibility for home educating with each other, other family members or friends. Some use a childminder for part of the week, then focus on home education outside of those hours. Others take advantage of educational groups or childcare schemes that they can send their child to whilst they work. It is also possible to find evening or weekend work too. Bottom line is, there are various options available, much like you would choose at pre-school age.

Do you have any tips on how to finance home education? Or how to home educate on a budget? I would love to hear them!

The Pocket Money Debate: How Much, How Often and What For? 

We have recently been discussing pocket money and debating whether it should be earned or given? If it is to be earned, what should it be for? And how much is reasonable?

Personally, I feel that the concept of earning money is important. It helps to promote independence and a good work ethic. But I struggle on what it should be given for because I feel it has the potential to also encourage an expectation to be paid for things that I feel should be done for other reasons. 

After all, we should all help to keep our home clean and tidy because it is a shared space; we all live here, so we each have a responsibility toward it. And we should behave with kindness, respect and consideration toward others simply because it’s the right thing to do. It is intrinsic – at least I certainly feel it should be – is it not? What about for educational activities then? But does that then make them a chore, rather than doing it out of interest and curiosity and for the simple love of learning? I feel this way about sticker charts and the like, so surely money is no different. 

But, at the same time, I do also firmly believe that our main goal in life should be to find our passion. In an ideal world, people can do what they truly love and make money from it, but it doesn’t really feel like work or a ‘job’ because they would choose to do it anyway. In my eyes, that is the dream to aim for! So does paying pocket money for things the child would do anyway actually reinforce this mindset and therefore is a good thing?

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The fact is, I don’t actually have any answers! I think the best approach is probably different for each child, and family, depending on their priorities and personal set of values. And I also suspect the answer chances at different points throughout childhood too.

We have played around with a few different ideas over time, with varying levels of success, and certain pitfalls after a while too! One choice we are happy about though is setting up a goHenry account so she could have her own card and also be able to shop online with her own money. I think this is really good for independence and teaching essential life skills. You can set up a goHenry account online quickly and easily, and it gives options to write tasks and/ or transfer a set weekly amount so is quite versatile. We have found this works well for us! If you sign up through the referral links in this post, you get free custom goHenry card worth £4.99 plus 1-month free

I also asked some fellow bloggers on their opinions of pocket money and here are some of the responses I received:

Two Hearts One Roof ~ OK my little one is too young for pocket money, but I will be doing the same as my parents did for me. I had £5 a week in my money box and £5 in my savings towards holiday spending money, or if I really wanted to save for something big. Then I could earn extra doing chores or helping out my parents, neighbours or grandparents. I spent a lot of sunday mornings ironing as I could do that in front of the TV and I didn’t mind. Mum would price a whole basket depending on how difficult it would be and how many items. Our dude will have the same system when he is old enough. Plus any money from grandparents or for birthdays/ xmas – half goes in savings and half to keep on hand. We already do that and he is 1; half is in savings and half for something now.

Whimsical Mumblings ~ My little ones (2&3) have a ‘kindness’ reward chart and get a star everytime they do something kind. When the chart fills up I give them a pound or two to put in their piggy banks.

My Boys Club ~ We started our boys off in 50p for washing the car or making their beds each week etc. We pay for all their activities, clothes etc but trying to teach them the value of money from a young age.

Dark Tea ~ We started giving our daughter pocket money when she was 7 (she’s almost 9). She gets £2 and has to save half of it. She occasionally earns more by doing chores above the normal such as mopping floors and helping in the garden.

Champagne and Petals ~ We don’t really do a weekly pocket money. My 8 year old gets money for doing little jobs around the house. Feeding the cat, making his bed, opening his curtains. Or helping in the garden and washing the cars. No more than £5 a week. However as he gets older and is wanting to spend money on things then I’m sure it will increase, as will the jobs he has to do to earn the money.

Pack The PJs ~ My two get £5 each, weekly, paid direct to their GoHenry cards. All we ask in return is for them to take some responsibility of their stuff and their rooms. We have stopped it in the past when they’ve been a bit disrespectful of their belongings (or each other). It works well – it also means they have on average £50 to spend if we go out. When they spend their own money you notice that they stop and ask themselves if they really need it before committing!

Family Travel With Ellie ~ I have recently started a Go Henry account for my 10 year old son. He gets £2.50 per week and the gets an extra £2 if he cleans out the rabbits and and extra £2 if he mows the lawn/ cleans the car or similar. It’s a great adaptable account , he gets a debit card with it which gives him a sense of responsibility and independence.

Neon Rainbow Blog ~ We also use Go Henry for our 11 year old, he gets a card which is contactless and an app to track his chores. I get an app too which I can load ‘tasks’ onto so each time he ticks off a task, the money goes from my parent account to his Go Henry account. He does things like tidying his bedroom, hoovering, dishwasher, plus we give him perks for things like homework, SATs results, good manners, selfless deeds.

Hello Cuppies ~ My son is 12 and he gets £35 a month and it transfers straight to his bank account which he then has to manage himself. It does come with conditions though; no discredits from school, no missed homework and all chores done. I think we’re quite generous but this does have to pay for quite a lot of little luxuries which do add up.

Frugal Family ~ My teenager gets £50 a month which she uses to buy anything that I consider non-essential. My son gets £5 a week as he’s younger and doesn’t go out as much with his friends yet. I don’t pay them for doing jobs around the house as I think that should be an automatic thing, seeing as they make more than their fair share of mess. But I do link pocket money to behaviour, so if they suddenly refused to do their jobs or had a bad attitude then they wouldn’t be paid.

* goHenry is an affilliate link which means I generate a small revenue from referrals. All thoughts and opinions about goHenry are my own. Thank you for the support.