The Importance of Playing Outside: Play More with Sudocrem (Giveaway)

My readers already know how much I value spending time outside; my blog features heavily on outdoors and nature. So I was somewhat surprised, and saddened to be honest, to read that new research reveals that 1 in 9 British children have not visited a beach, park or forest in a year, and on average a British child only spends 4 hours a week playing in the great outdoors.

Squiggle outdoors in nature in the rain

Many kids are so disconnected from nature that over half of those surveyed admitted that they had never climbed a tree, a staggering 89% didn’t know what a buttercup was and 77% couldn’t identify a sunflower. The survey, carried out by Sudocrem, also asked 200 children between the ages of 4 to 8 years old to identify some of the creepy crawlies in Britain. It revealed that 89% of children were unable to recognise a butterfly, 51% didn’t know what a bumblebee looks like and 29% didn’t realise that bees make honey. These results are truly shocking!

The Importance of Playing Outside: Play More with Sudocrem (Giveaway)

There are so many benefits to spending time outdoors in nature; both physical and mental. This is why Sudocrem set up the award-winning Play More campaign, an initiative designed to encourage parents and children to get back in touch with nature.

According to children’s TV presenter and Play More ambassador Chris Packham, parents should be encouraging their children to explore the natural environment around them. “I was very fortunate when I was a child because I was encouraged to interact with the outdoors – looking under rocks and searching under logs and hedges to find creepy crawlies. If you just open your eyes, you’ll see that there is an incredible natural world out there waiting to be discovered.”

Chris Packham holding a Play More box

Vote For Your Local Nursery

As part of the campaign, Sudocrem are offering nurseries around the UK the chance to win support for playground regeneration or a mural, which will be painted by award-winning artist, Joy Pirkle. They have so far helped hundreds of UK nurseries improve their outdoor area. If you think you know a nursery that deserves to win, you can nominate them on the ‘Play More’ section here.

*All nurseries must be based in the UK and nominations close on 31.08.2018. For full Terms and Conditions, please visit www.sudocrem.co.uk/social-hub

Giveaway!

I’m also working with Sudocrem on their Play More campaign, giving away an adventure kit worth £40, which has been carefully put together to encourage children to play outside. The kit includes:

– Play More t-shirt

– Play More sun hat

– Bug Pot

– Frisbee

– Butterfly Net

– Magnifying glass

– Trowel or fork

Contents of Play More giveaway kit as listed

To be in with a chance of winning this fab prize, simply enter my rafflecopter giveaway below. Open to UK residents only. Ends 05/08/18. Other T&Cs apply.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Disclosure: This post is written in collaboration with Sudocrem.

Garden, Growing, Grounding… A-Z of 30 Days Wild

G is for…

A-Z of 30 days wild

Garden

We spend alot of time in our garden. We help to encourage wildlife and nature into it, then take the time to enjoy it! During 30 Days Wild, we did many simple activities in our garden that embraces the whole concept of 30 Days Wild. You don’t have to just go on adventures to appreciate wildlife and nature; you do that anywhere!

Growing

We also use our garden for growing our own food. This is something we loved doing as part of 30 Days Wild, and generally too!

View this post on Instagram

#30DaysWild – Day 6: Grow Your Own

A post shared by Katie (@living_life.our_way) on

Grounding

Grounding is such a simple but effective act – walking barefoot on the ground – and one Squiggle does regularly. I really should do it more often too!

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.

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

Forest Holidays: Our Winter Retreat to Forest of Dean

Back in January we decided to book a last second escape to the Forest of Dean for a winter retreat at Forest Holidays. This was our first time visiting but it came recommended from friends who have stayed at a different location on one of their other sites. Squiggle’s anxiety was high, so we figured some extra time relaxing outdoors might be just what we all needed. It didn’t work miracles in that regard (but then again, I am pretty sure they don’t claim to either though!) but it was still a lovely holiday! Here is our review…

Title written on image of Forest Holidays cabin.

The Cabin

There are three main styles of cabin; golden oak, silver birch and copper beech. The main differences between them are that silver birch has a hot tub, and golden oak has both a log burner and a hot tub. We intentionally wanted to avoid having a log burner for personal reasons, and silver birch was fully booked, so that made it pretty easy to choose!

Despite copper beech being their cheapest (and most basic) option, we were absolutely amazed by the size of the cabin! The whole place had a wonderful air of luxury about it, whilst also feeling very homely. I loved how beautifully in keeping the decor is; very natural. I was very impressed! And everything is eco- friendly wherever possible too, which we were really glad to see.

Eco friendy kitchen kit

I was quite worried that it might be chilly in winter but the underfloor heating took care of that! If anything, it was actually abit too warm when we arrived but the thermastat was easy to use and had separate settings for each room too, so that was soon remedied. I don’t know how hot the cabins might get in a heatwave with all that glass though! But given that they seem very well designed overall, I am assuming there are measures in place to maintain optimum temperatures. We were certainly able to do that during our winter stay anyway, despite having both sunny days and snow in the time we were there! They are really cosy and it is easy to feel right at home there.

Here is my video tour of the cabin…

The Setting

The cabin we had was in the meadow so it was very open, whereas some of them are tucked away amongst the trees. Honestly, in my opinion, regardless of where your cabin is situated, you can’t go wrong.

Our view from the cabin. A meadow with cabins spread out.

The site is in a beautiful location, in the Forest of Dean, with stunning scenic walks all around. Regardless of the time of year we visited, even in Winter, we couldn’t fail to be in awe of the forest setting. Here are just a few of my pictures taken, the first onsite and the others literally a few moments walk off the main site…

Stunning forest setting of the Forest Holidays site.

Beautiful views at the Forest of Dean

Winter scenes at Forest of Dean

Forest of Dean

By the way, the sheer drop on the above photos is less breathtaking and more heartstopping when your autistic child suddenly bolts!!!! Especially if you happen to suffer from vertigo as well, like I do! So I recommend if you explore this area with a young child, or one with SEND, that you not only have nerves of steel, but a very tight grip of their hand!

We don’t have a dog personally, but the site is very dog- friendly and it would be the ideal holiday to take a dog if you are an owner. This is probably also worth noting though if you are nervous around dogs though I guess! Squiggle loved seeing all the dogs about going for walks, she was delighted!

Facilities

Forest Retreat

The Forest Retreat is the main hub where you check in and book activities, and is home to the shop and restaurant. It also has pottery activities for children.

The shop sells a lovely range of gifts, books and activities that are carefully chosen to be perfectly on theme for the nature of the holiday. It also sells a wonderful selection of food and drink; including an extensive range of cider, wine and beer, fresh produce and a range of Cook meals for easy self- catering dining options.

Forest Retreat photo strip showing selection in store.

Food

The menu has plenty to choose from, to either eat in the restaurant or take away. The food was consistently good and service was prompt.

Bike Hire

Bike hire is available onsite from £28 per break per adult or from £25 per child. It is recommended you book these in advance. We didn’t hire bikes on this occasion but Squiggle did ask about it (towards the end of the holiday!) so we would definitely consider it next time.

Cycle Hire building from the outside.

Play Area

The play area was sectioned off during our visit as they were carrying out work on it. It looked more suitable for younger children, but Squiggle would have had a quick go if it were available no doubt!

Bug Hotel

Granted not really one of the facilities per se (at least not for humans!) but I wanted to mention the bug hotel anyway. We have seen these in many places but this one is particularly well made!

Large bug hotel with information sign. Squiggle is stood next to it.

Activities

There are a range of forest ranger led activities available for various ages. Some are shorter at 90 minutes in duration, whilst one survival course is half a day. As well as daytime activities, there is also a night-time ranger adventure so you can spy on the nocturnal forest inhabitants after dark! Dogs are allowed on some of the activities but not all courses, and some have a minimum age for children, so do check details before booking. There are also a selection of activities off- site that can be booked through Forest Holidays as well.

Squiggle on the winter trail.

Squiggle wasn’t up for any of these due to her anxiety, so we opted to do their self- guided seasonal trail instead. This cost £6.95 and she got a prize at the end for completing it. This was a really engaging activity. She started off reluctant to join in but as soon as we got to the first few stops and solved the clues she was hooked! We really enjoyed it and it was definitely one of the highlights of our holiday.

Seasonal trail clue

Local Places To Visit

There are numerous walks nearby surrounded by beauty and tranquility. Aside from that, there are several local places to visit that might be of interest. Forest Holidays have some suggestions of what’s nearby. I would really love to visit Clearwell Caves and also Puzzlewood sometime in future.

We did go to Beechenhurst, mainly to go on the sculpture trail. However, Squiggle was very near tired and nearing meltdown, so we didn’t actually find any sculptures and ended up just having a quick wander instead. I would love to return when it is better timing for her though; it looked like a lovely place to spend a day and I really want to see the sculptures – from the photos they look brilliant!

One thing I will remember from our trip though was that, as we drove up into the carpark, something moving in the forest caught my eye. As I turned to look I thought at first it was dozens of rabbits scurrying into the bushes. But then I realised, whatever they were, they weren’t hopping – they were running. It was a huge group of baby wild boar!

Now I know they are very common to the area and especially at that time of year, but I had never actually seen any before. I was so excited! They were gone in a flash; no time to grab a camera or even point them out to Squiggle, but that was a personal highlight that I will always remember.

We also visited Symonds Yat briefly, on the bank of River Wye. I took a few photos, but I could have taken many more of these stunning scenic views…

River Wye

Stunning scenic view of river Wye

Symonds Yat

In Summary

We really enjoyed our stay at Forest Holidays and loved exploring Forest of Dean. We are very keen to return here sometime in the future, and also would like to try other Forest Holidays locations too. We would definitely recommend it – at any time of year!

Last but not least…

Here is a video clip I put together summarising the highlights of our holiday:

*Disclosure: I was given a discount when booking this holiday in exchange for a review post. However, as always, I have expressed my honest opinion and all thoughts are my own.

My Biggest Accomplishment

I guess like many people, some days I feel like I am absolutely nailing life, whilst others I feel like I have accomplished pretty much nothing. (Although I know that is never true in reality).

But what do we even mean by accomplishments? It is so subjective, isn’t it? What one person considers an accomplishment, someone else might take for granted completely. For some people, sometimes, just managing to get out of bed and take a shower is an accomplishment. And I think we should acknowledge that; every success should be recognised, even if it looks very different to our own idea of what it means!

I believe it is important to celebrate, or at least acknowledge, all our achievements, both big and small – not just the huge stuff. It is good for our wellbeing to focus on our daily accomplishments as part of having a positive outlook.

Living life our way, about me, accomplishments, teacher, parent, SEND, achievements
Graduation Day

In terms of bigger accomplishments, I am proud that I achieved a first degree BEd at university. But then again, I am equally proud of myself for going against the grain by leaving the system, adapting my lifestyle and choosing to home educate in order to meet my daughter’s individual needs. I wonder if I would have made the same decision if I had not been a teacher though? Funny how life works out!

What is your biggest accomplishment, big or small? Tell me in comments, I would love to celebrate your successes with you!

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.

The Learning Success blog, The Learning Success System, SEND, learning skills, educational resources, home education, homeschool, online education programme, learning difficulties, discount

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!

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Dicovery Channel Smart Phone Telescope and Smart Phone Microscope Review: Educational Resources – STEM Science

Over the past couple of days, we have been having fun trying out two Discovery Channel products; a smartphone microscope and telescope. I was kindly sent both of these items to review from Paladone. Here are my thoughts…

Dicovery Channel Smart Phone Telescope and Smart Phone Microscope Review: Educational Resources - STEM Science

Discovery Channel Smartphone Telescope

RRP £19.99 (Buy here via Amazon)

Description

Capture images from a greater distance than ever before with a standard smartphone or tablet camera using this 11.5cm telescope with an incredible 10x zoom. The Discovery Smartphone Telescope can be easily clipped onto the phone/ tablet and has a mini stand to steady it further.

Review

I found this abit fiddly to use with my particular phone (Samsung Galaxy S8+) as it took a few minutes to get it aligned. When I tried to adjust the lens it then slipped again. However, perhaps it is easier to use on different make/ model phones or other devices.

Discovery Channel Smartphone Telescope

I was abit disappointed to discover it didn’t seem to work in the dark, unless I was doing something wrong maybe? But I did expect a telescope could be used at night to study the stars to be honest.

However, I decided to try to spot Santa in his sleigh indoors under artificial light instead, to see how it fared under those conditions. I used the telescope from about 5 metres away and found it zoomed in very well, it lost a fair amount of quality to say the least, but it did the job of making it seem closer up.

I think it would probably be better to invest in an actual telescope but this does make an interesting novelty item. It is ok for exploring the principle of telescopes and discussing how they work.

Dicovery Channel Smart Phone Telescope in use - photo on phone vs telescope

Discovery Channel Smartphone Microscope

RRP £9.99 (Purchase from Amazon here)

Description

This microscope smartphone lens captures images in microscopic detail and is compatible with most smartphone cameras. The lens has a powerful 30x zoom, enabling you to capture images with your camera phone in great detail.

Review

I really liked this smartphone microscope. It aligned easily on my phone and worked well under a range of conditions, including in the dark. See the photo below for an example; it is of ice particles and was taken outdoors at night under the microscope.

Ice particles under the microscope

I tested it out using different items, including man-made materials and natural items too. I compared it to the zoom on my phone and was really impressed with the detail and quality!

Discovery Channel Smart Phone Microscope: comparison of photo taken on phone with no zoom, zoomed in on phone vs microscope.

In summary, I think this is really good value for money and works very well. It is definitely worth buying in my opinion!

Discovery Channel Smart Phone Microscope - leaf under the microscope.

*Disclosure: I was sent both of these items for the purpose of review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.