Goodbye 2017

Overall another very good year. We have definitely had some fantastic trips, lovely home ed groups, productive times at home and lots of more relaxed meets chilling with friends.
Been a year of change too, there is definitely a far more grown up Sam. Home ed has become more book based as we have moved to KS3, socialising has seen a move towards the kids spending time together with less adults as Sam and his friends gallop towards their teens.
Politics and history have become the main interests.
Noticed a definite drop in productivity in the last two months of the year as Sam seemed to be constantly under the weather without being able to pinpoint anything, so here’s hoping for a healthier 2018.

Me – I smashed my book challenge by reading 58 books from a challenge of 52. Possibly might manage one more if I go to bed early enough.
Activity Village went subscriber and has taken up far more of my time but mainly in a good way as I do love my work.
8 cross stitch pictures finished but still not taught (retaught?) myself to crochet. Can not see the crochet happening soon, I love stitching too much and have too many projects in the cupboard ready to start.
I had a break at the start of the year when videos wouldn’t work on my Kindle but couldn’t avoid be tempted back when the problem fixed itself and in the end completed 13 FutureLearn courses.

January – Had so many photos to chose from as we were into a very practical human body project, having fun with friends on a combined construction project and learning about Dickens and the Victorians with various trips. This is from a trip to the Foundling Museum and Charles Dickens’ House.
February – Another busy month as all of January’s projects continued. Home ed groups were thriving, this is a game of ‘chair football’ after one activity.
March – A very eclectic month starting with a St David’s Day trip to Wales. Lots of hands on experiments on bridges and tunnels, a trip to Christchurch and a home ed architecture workshop in Winchester.
April – Some Easter science, Hamlet, a trip to the Geffrye, Kidzania again, some lovely spring days out Pokemon hunting, lots of board games and our second Great Home Ed Bake Off.
May – Treasure Trails were our ‘thing’ of the month. It was a busy month for being out, Sam discovered a taste for sushi as we studied Japan, we were in London at the Olympic Park and walking a Jack the Ripper tour, Winchester for Jane Austen exhibition and lots of time with friends at home.
June – Was hot! I think this is the memory of the year, the kids playing in the sprinklers outside the QE2 Centre in 34 degree heat after a trip to Westminster Abbey. We also had an absolutely brilliant if soggy few days in Bristol, a lot of fun with creative writing at home and at a workshop and some fun with catapults at home ed group even if the ammo (marshmallows) melted 🙂
July – the month started with a fabulous day out at the British Library, a day out on the Watercress Line to round off our Victorian project and some tie dye at home ed group. Half the month was spent in Pembrokeshire.
August – the month was spent quietly chilling as a family, this is a day out with Grandad at Little Woodham.
September – marked a big shift in how we work at home becoming much more curriculum focused, Saxons were the main theme and we took trips to Romsey Abbey and Butser Farm and had a workshop at the hall. Fun was also had with a block of Lego Robotics sessions.
October – We marked the move from Saxons to Normans in our studies with a brilliant few days in Hastings and Battle. Productive time at home. We also managed a trip to Winchester for an Alfred the Great workshop and the History of Magic exhibition at the British Library and some Halloween fun with friends.
November – illness was definitely slowing us down but we had a trip to the Tower of London and some days with friends at a new park. Lots of reading and documentary watching and plodding on with stuff really.
December – there was a definite fizzling out as the year drew to a close but we had some lovely times with friends. A trip to the Globe and Tate, the Festival of Christmas, a chocolate session and some lovely Christmas wreath making as well as Christmas shopping with friends, a trip to Santa with some younger friends and a family panto trip followed by a lovely relaxed Christmas.


This time of year is when you really feel the isolation of being neither a full placard waving Home Educator cheerfully crying ‘we’re not back to school’ or a push them through the gate and dance a jig of freedom school parent (I know most people don’t really feel that, bit tongue in cheek based on FB feed). For me, and I think others in a similar situation, its a time of conflicting emotions and a general mehness.

Our local HE group always have a big Not Back to School Picnic the week before term starts. I feel a bit guilty about not showing my face to chat to newbies, but never in the mood to celebrate ‘not back to school’ when it’s the last few days of having elder one home.  Once he actually goes I’ll be fine, will embrace the excitement of a new HE term and will spend the first day of term out catching up with HE friends as we usually do, on a much smaller scale ‘new term’ picnic.

For the first time ever I wouldn’t jump with excitement if he said this evening that he didn’t want to go back (he’s half way through GCSEs it would be daft to leave now). But accepting that school is the right place for him doesn’t stop me being sad that he won’t be around as much. Doesn’t stop the sinking dread at the prospect of the homework, the revision, the nagging him to get going on cold, wet mornings (well most mornings really) – it’s going to be a long old year.

I’ve been putting off HE prep too. I don’t know if it is denial that these few weeks are over. I’ve enjoyed having the space and time to focus on work and not having to be places, as well as having J about.  A lot closer to being there with the planning than I was this morning though.

HE wise, I think I am so conscious of the jump to KS3 and Sam’s needs for a bit more academic stretching that I’ve made myself a bit nervous and stressed with the planning. Once we settle down into routine we’ll be fine and I think he’s definitely ready for the routine. Planning is pretty much done, need to start punching holes and filing some bits and then some making resources and fleshing out and booking trips. Just not feeling the new term excitement yet.

Anyway there is filing to be done so…

P.S. If you are in a similar situation of having children in and out come and join this group. One of the best things I’ve done in recent years is set that up. Lovely non-judgemental group where we are all just trying to do the best for each child as an individual. It was pretty much universally agreed on there this morning that we all feel today is a bit pants!



It’s Okay to Worry

This post has been shared on my FB feed a lot in the last day or so.  It’s a very nice reassuring one so I am not surprised.  Home educators do hear the word socialisation a lot!

What is noticeable but perhaps not too surprising though is posts like this always feature photos of very young children and the people sharing it all have still quite young children. 

My personal experience is that many people (myself included) do worry. Particularly after the age of 10/11. Not about socialisation really or social skills, home educated children do not exist in a little bubble nor are they chained to the kitchen table, they are out and about in society talking to all age groups and generally are polite, confident, well-functioning human beings. But people do worry about friendships!

Firstly it is lovely that people feel so comfortable and welcomed and happy in the home ed community be it local or national. I don’t mean to undermine their experiences, they are lovely to hear. But at the same time there are many people who for many reasons – chronic illness, children who struggle in groups, social anxiety (child or adult), parents working, home eding around school runs, lack of transport, financial constraints… I could keep going – who struggle to access groups/activities at all. 

Home ed socialising requires far more effort from parents than dropping at the school gate. You can’t drop them off and know that they have all day with a group, you need to facilitate them meeting up with others. That can mean arranging not just attending meet ups.  Groups need parents who are proactive about organising meet ups and that can be a problem as groups get huge and numbers a bit overwhelming as it’s not the least stressful thing to do.

For those who can access groups they don’t always ‘gel’ into a community (adults and/or children). Not talking about people not getting on, talking about people not finding those people where something clicks and acquaintances become friends. It might be that a group gets dominated by a certain parenting/education philosophy and someone doesn’t quite share it and doesn’t feel that comfortable, it might be that local groups have older/younger children, activities/venues might feel wrong somehow, might just not be children in the group of similar interests who attend the same activities, might be nothing in particular.

The home ed world is like life you get on with some people better than others. Most people are nice enough and hopefully you find a few kindred spirits, but sometimes personality clashes do arise.  The home ed world is populated by people who can be a bit evangelical about the choices they have made and particular philosophies and by people who are often strong characters who are in a habit of fighting for their kids and defending their choices so unfortunately fall outs between adults happen and adults get drawn in to kid’s disagreements and things escalate. Not often, but the home ed world can be like a more intense, more geographically spread school playground so sadly things like bullying do happen. 

Friends and friendships do change a lot in the teen and preteen years. Children in school often start secondary school with one bunch of friends and by the summer they have made a whole new bunch as their social circle expands hugely.  In home ed though the opposite happens the social circle seems to contract massively. No idea where people vanish to but they definitely do seem to. Some go back to school for secondary, most I think do reduce the number of groups they go to, trying to go for quality over quantity as suddenly the whole home ed thing feels more serious.

Plus the children themselves get a lot more picky about what they do and sometimes reluctant to leave the house (teen hormone stuff). Primary age socialising is about going along to activities (play or structured) and parents chatting and children hopefully playing with others. Young children are very good at accepting new people and welcoming them into games like they have always been there. This sort of thing doesn’t work so well as children get older. Not that they are unwelcoming but they are generally going through that shy awkward age and chatting to new people is not always easy. Particularly for those coming out of school.

The final point about older age friendships is that in the home ed sphere they are very different to school ones in the level of independence and freedom children have. Arranging to meet up independently and going in to town or just hanging out with friends at skateparks etc is much harder to do when people are not living in the same village/area. Where children make those sort of friendships it is often through other groups and can be trigger to go to school. Home ed socialising tends to happen as a family with parents and siblings along. For some that is definitely a good thing, for others as they get older they need something more.

So what was my point? It was simply that people’s experiences even in a same community can be very different. It is lovely how positive many people are about home ed socialising. It doesn’t mean it’s like that for everyone though. It doesn’t mean that there is a problem with the local home ed scene or that those who find it harder are anything but unlucky. It’s fine to admit that there is something that makes home ed not perfect. It doesn’t mean that your children aren’t happy or home ed is failing them or isn’t completely the right thing, life isn’t perfect everything involves compromises and home ed is no different.  In our case Sam is happy, he has friends, attends plenty of activities and gets the down time he needs, it doesn’t stop me worrying that things will change though. Worrying is normal and people shouldn’t be afraid to voice concerns, you never know it might lead to new opportunities or at the least the reassurance that your worries are shared by others.



Review 16/17

Struggling to write this one as another very successful year so not a huge amount to say.

Did we stick to all I’d planned? No of course not but managed the majority.  I think the only thing that changed from the plan was dropping the computer science/programming and the art award for most of the year. Although we did pick both up again towards the end of the year when we finished off other stuff. 

One of the big goals for the year was to work on writing. Not so much creatively (although had lots of fun with that) but more working towards being able to answer essay questions. I started off by pushing it as a blogging/typing exercise thinking that would make it easier but it ended up falling by the wayside as felt a bit forced. We talked about answers to questions in books also it became obvious from English writing course that he has got the basic skills there to neatly handwrite and begin to structure answers. We’re not ready for essay level stuff yet but question and answer style paper is not as far off as I thought before this year. Having looked through a couple of GCSE papers this year for minor subjects (General Studies/Classical Civilization) I don’t think either would have been a mammoth ask of him now.

The other big goal was working on control and ‘ownership’. Breaking the work down into jobs he can move about on the planner was definitely a smart move, really helped with him being able to visualise what needed to be done.

We continue to rely heavily on a Charlotte Mason style of education for subjects, lots of reading and documentary watching and discussion. Spent an awful lot of time reading aloud this year which has been nice.

In terms of general knowledge he is thriving, continues to have an insatiable thirst for history of all types. The surprise hit of the year was a visit to a Russian Revolution exhibition at the British Library (we’d actually tried to find a day we could go without kids and failed so he was a tag along really), normally he quietly absorbs things and looks like he’s taken nothing from trips and then out it flows 6 months or so later, this one though has been a big topic of conversation. A year long Victorian project has convinced us both that Prince Albert was amazing in what he achieved for this country. I think the project and particularly our look at the slums and factory working conditions and many conversations about Chartism have fired a political animal in him.

Geography, he has a brilliant knowledge of where places are and flags (I’d love to take credit but suspect his love of military conquest strategy games is real reason). He’s loved looking at Asian culture this year, India and China didn’t excite him too much but Japan and Korea really did. 

Science we’ve had fun with a lot of handson learning how much of that translated to in depth understanding I am a little sceptical on but hopefully it will have sunk in a little.

The most positive thing though that comes from the year is that we’re both still really enjoying home ed. At the crossroads where many home ed kids talk about and consider school Sam is sure it isn’t for him. I have noticed him switch in conversation when discussing this from focusing on perceived negatives of school to actively stressing the good points of HE and that is rather gratifying.  I am happy to admit I’ve found the juggling it all hard over the last 8 months. Work has been pretty full on and I’ve gone from a small number of hours to work around to being able to work as much as I want. Sounds ideal but comes with a load of guilt.  I love my job and am relishing the opportunities to do stuff that time hasn’t allowed but HE is a big commitment and huge drain on time to do well, it is a full time job easily. I know though that I am lucky to love what I do so it’s worth the ridiculously early mornings (5.30am is a lie in!) and late nights and grey hair 🙂


Going with the Flow

We’re well and truly off the boil now and drifting towards the summer break.  Ideally we’d stop now and take ourselves off to beaches and cliffs of Pembrokeshire to clear the muzzy heads and cleanse the soul. Humidity and hayfever is no good for any of us. Unfortunately with one in school and sitting a combination of mocks and real GCSEs then escape is a distant dream at the moment.

Days are still passing pleasantly and productively if less follow the plan and more roll with it. Just crashing of an evening so expect blogging to get more erratic. We’re close to the end of what I’d planned for us any way as I know this dip is coming. I’d hoped to keep momentum up until half term but hey ho, lesson is that a nice day in the woods isn’t worth the week long headache after, need to try and persuade nature loving home eders that the beach is better, we can do that 😉

I say it a lot I know, but I think it is easy to take for granted the positives of home ed when you’ve been doing it a while but every now and again get a mental reminder that really do love it. 

Had a good example of the benefits on Thursday. We were reading a book about Japan together and looking at a picture in the book with lots of different flags on. Sam started pointing out ones he knew and it turned out to be quite a lot more than me and this is something I pride myself on being good at.  So we decided to do a jigsaw that I’d bought on spec a few weeks before and we spent the rest of the morning on that and quizzing each other about it.  We did pause to consider where he’d gained this knowledge as not something we’ve really done formally or informally, not one of his pet subjects that he’s taken up him self either. We could only conclude it was all the hours playing military strategy games on the computer 🙂  Knowledge he’d probably still have gained if he was going to school but whether he’d have the same time for the hobby or the time and scope to spend the time demonstrating what he knows is questionable. Also to be honest whether he’d have the same pride in knowing these things or whether it would have been displaced by shame because he doesn’t know what a subordinate clause is, or kicked out of him on the playground for being geeky, I wonder.

Friday and I fancied a day out. Actually it was more I didn’t want a day in. Sam was very amenable, although he did point out that we’d been out Monday, Weds and Thurs to home ed activities.

We decided that the main aim was to get sushi for lunch as he was keen and we’d been reading about Japanese food this week. We were a bit flummoxed as I was sure there was one at Gunwharf but apparently not any more. So we headed to Southampton instead, quite happily as we quite like Southampton and really, really hate Portsmouth.

We spent an hour pottering in the art gallery. Quite pleased to find a Lowry and there was a very intriging Mounties and Geishas picture that we spent an awful long time discussing.

  Then lunch in Yo Sushi! Sam even had raw fish, I didn’t!

Finally a bit of shopping. We found an oriental shop that sold us some Japanese sweets and biscuits. Sam also found a man willing to teach him how to play Warhammer.  He’s teetering on the brink with this one as he could fall headlong into it as a hobby as ticks so many Sam boxes but he is seriously put off by the price (phew!)


A Short Note

I am not really in the mood to spend long reflecting on home ed today so much more to reflect on.

Positives of the day are Sam just getting on with stuff this morning not taking the excuse of lack of internet and my distraction.  Good habits obviously well ingrained.
Plus another lovely home ed group session.  Lots of Shakespeare and playing in the garden fun had.  I can’t share the photo I took because a friend was centre shot and she doesn’t do photos. So here are some of the crafts.

We did have our first science fail for a while.  Sugar cube arch that I don’t think will ever come off tray and was supposed to be a lot bigger and upright.

As to the rest of the day, while that has been spent watching the news. As you know we nip up to London fairly often, and will continue doing what we always have.  Events like this don’t make me fearful they make me sorrowful, for those whose lives will be forever scarred and for the hate filled reactions in response that will help no one.


The Whatever Works Approach

Part of the #100waystohomeeducate blog hop from Jax’s Making It Up blog. You can read about how Heidi unschools in yesterday’s post on Tending the Vegetable Patch.

Sometimes I think we’ve tried 100 different ways to home educate ourselves at least 🙂  When I speak to new home educators one of the things they sometimes need reiterating is that there is no magic ‘correct’ way to home educate.  You have to be prepared to find a way that works for your family.  Every child needs different things, every family has different dynamics, every parent has a different skill set and philosophy, every area has its own varied home ed community.  You need to marry all of that and then be prepared for it to change, often!  Our weeks now with a nearly 15 year old in school and an 11 year at home are very different to when I had a 5 yo just reaching compulsory education age and a toddler causing mayhem.

Before I try and explain where we are now I suppose I had better explain where we came from.  I enjoyed primary school, secondary much less but not in a ‘it was awful’ way. If you asked me at 6 what I wanted to be when I grew up it was a primary school teacher, at 18 the wish was just as strong.  However the shutters started to be lifted from my eyes pretty much immediately and by 18 months into the course I quit.  It was the National Curriculum that stopped me carrying on, I couldn’t bring myself to teach to a scheme that I truly believe fails most children.  To be honest I would still really love to teach just not the NC.  My thoughts on the NC are a whole other post, sufficient to say I was disillusioned with the system at 20 and had mentally already noted that I would be looking in to alternatives should I have my own children.  About 6 months after I quit my sister raised the idea of home education for her children as she didn’t want them to go to her local school, it wasn’t something she did in the end as she moved but the idea that it was possible had been planted.
2 1/2 years later I had my own children.  One day when the eldest was about 2 my husband said ‘I wish he didn’t have to go to school’ and I said ‘well actually  he doesn’t’ and that was pretty much decision made.  I asked my husband if he wanted to look around schools, state and private, when the time came and he didn’t.

We read lots of books and websites, joined the local and national groups which were all Yahoo in those days and tiny by today’s standards.  Because we knew no one locally we did 2 mornings a week at preschool (pre EYFS) alongside 2 home ed activities a week.  When the time came to drop preschool it wasn’t a big deal.  While swayed by the idea of unschooling I can remember being so excited to do a ‘project’ in our first week.  I can still see 4 yo Jack interviewing passers by on their favourite chocolate bars for a chocolate lapbook (I have developed a hatred of lapbooks over the years, too much cutting out).

In the early years of home ed our patterns were very seasonal, we’d do some projects over the cooler months, some workbook maths and more computer based education programmes.  In the warmer months we’d do bits of maths and reading set by me or more often Pete for 20 mins max and play for the rest, outdoors a lot of the time.  We gradually slipped into more structure as it seemed to suit better but how much and how that structure worked has changed a lot.  Slipped makes it sound like it was a lot smoother than it was but in reality lots of doubts, soul searching, mistakes, changes in a approach, swinging one way then the other was more like it. 

Fast forward about 6 years which have seen a fair few about turns in home ed approach, lots of wobbles along the way and one child decide to go to school for the social aspect.  The wobbles and doubts have long since receded.  Partly seeing what J covers in school means what little respect for the system I had is pretty much gone, there is very little that J has done that we can’t do better.  I worry far less about home ed than school.  It is also partly that I have been doing this nearly 12 years if you count from when we made the definite decision at preschool age and 10 years with a child of CSA and I have the confidence and evidence that I am doing a good job and the trust that we’ll adapt and fit around the challenges that the future will bring.

So how do we home educate?  I commented a few weeks ago somewhere that if there is a continuum from radical unschooling to school at home we would probably be as close to the centre as it is possible to get.  Labels are pointless. We could be called semi structured as we do have a structure to the level of spreadsheets and being able to tell you what maths we’ll be aiming to be doing in any particular week, but neither of us like to feel constrained so we aim is the key word and plans are always seen as a framework of ideas rather than something to be rigidly adhered to.  An unschooling friend commented that my approach was some serious strewing which made me smile as I had never thought of it that way.  In my opinion Sam ‘needs’ structure, he doesn’t necessarily want it but he is more relaxed, less anxious and happier for it.  The deal I have with him is I need to feel like I am providing an education, I need to see positive steps and him being engaged in activities, he gets a lot of input into the practicalities but I have non-negotiables. 

The biggest impact on our home ed has been the need to fit around J being in school so as time has gone on it has become easier to adopt school terms and school days.  Very little of that is what many would think of as traditional schooling, but idea is we spend 9-2 every day actively engaged in projects of some type.  I try to make sure I am about at this time, that I don’t work or do more than 5 min put the washing on style housework.  Friday’s do tend to wind up at lunch time though 😉

Day to day lessons are short we use lots of different resources for variety.  What I call our core work takes about 1hr – 1 1/2 hours max 4 morning a week.  This is Maths, English, Spanish and Latin.  Other subjects get covered by a combination of read alouds, documentaries, trips and hands on projects.  I am starting to introduce recording his work and more writing projects as we’d left them for years as they caused unneccessary stress.  While still along way off I feel we need to baby step towards essay writing and exams as keen that they don’t take over and become huge causes of stress, but important to me that we do some. 

We use an online planner and Sam is able to structure his days as I add jobs to it on a weekly basis.  If jobs are left at the end of a week either they carry over or we delete depending on how relevant/important we judge them to be.  Maths and English are planned annually in August, other projects are pencilled in and fleshed out in holiday’s closer to it.  We find we drop some stuff completely as do tend to find August always makes me over ambitious.

Social activities take up a lot of our week and could take up more easily we have a huge thriving local community.  

Roughly our weeks go like this

Monday – Home of a morning doing jobs from the planner. In the afternoon we have a science group with a small group of friends very close in age fortnightly at our house, or we’ll do a big hands on activity or now the weather is improving we’ll go out geocaching or slot in one of our rarer activities like laser quest.
Tues – PJ day.  This is our designated day at home, only something very special can intrude.  Work from planner usually followed by some sort of strategy game.
Weds – This is our social day.  We spend nearly every Weds afternoon with friends either meeting at a local hall, a trip somewhere or sometimes just coffee and play.  If we’re home we work from planner of the morning.
Thurs – Work from planner of a morning. Afternoon with Grandad, either boardgames at home, park or beach in summer or fortnightly trampolining with the local HE group.
Fri – The most flexible day.  We might have work left on the planner to do if we’ve been out for a full day earlier in the week, often though it’s a free day.  Once a month I run a craft group for the younger ones and Sam potters about town.  Pete is usually off so sometimes we take opportunity of it being a good day to grab a lift to the station and go up to London.  Other times we play games, go out geocaching (alone or with friends).  It is the day that if we have errands or appointments I try to stick them on.  A whatever comes up day.

Which takes us back to our whole educational philosophy which is basically to do whatever works at this particular time and if it isn’t working change.

Some photos of this week.

A Good Problem, But Still a Problem

That old chestnut, socialisation, is starting to rear it’s head as a problem again but not in the way outsiders might expect.  Actually been an issue in this way for some time just happens to be in my mind.

The problem in our local area is actually the sheer scale of numbers of people home educating.  Once upon a time I probably knew nearly everyone home educating with in a 30 mile radius of our house by face or at least by online presence (well on the mainland).  Now I am aware I almost certainly don’t know everyone in a 3 mile radius!  In fact there are probably similar numbers in that 3 mile radius now that there were in the 30 mile radius 12 years ago.

How can this possibly be a bad thing? Well obviously in many ways it is wonderful, there are many more people to gel with and many more activities to chose from.

I do worry about new members though.  As the groups have grown people understandably separate out into smaller groups (I hope not cliques although can see why people would say that).   People don’t see the same people so regularly so at events new people get missed as it’s not obvious they are new or just someone you don’t know. Plus people are often distracted, catching up with someone they have known for 3 years but haven’t managed to cross paths with in 6 months, and despite best intentions might not make it over to talk to that person on their second visit. 

Also where do you start?  When I started out the local HE group had 2 activities a week and if you wanted to meet home eders you went along to them.  I can only imagine what looking at this whole long list of stuff on offer does to people and how scary it is to try and find your way in.  Because there is so much on so easy to put it off to another day if you are nervous about going along.  Sadly for shy/anxious children, those with ASD, or those newly deregistered the scale of numbers must be off putting.  We regularly get at least 25 and can be 50+ children to social activities, the group that runs tutorials gets many, many more.  That many children even when actively engaged are noisy.

As an organiser the biggest problem is how do you cap numbers without guilt (lots of guilt)? I find myself frequently booking more than one workshop from the same people just so we can fit in more but that is still not enough.  In the middle of a set of two workshops where we will end up accommodating around 70 children. The same activity was offered on a drop on basis a very easy trip away only a month ago and still I ended up with a waiting list.  Not just me doing it either, virtually every local trip/activity fills really quickly.  I can imagine running a trip/activity is a scary prospect for many now.  The organising is a much bigger job than it was.  Invite only stuff makes me feel uncomfortable, we’ve been left out and hasn’t felt nice but when you can only accommodate a handful I get wanting to make sure it is your child’s friends.

One real positive of the growth is after a few years where every activity was dominated by younger children and the only way to ‘socialise’ with over 1o’s was to attend tutorials is we do have a real thriving group of 11-14yo out and about at trips and social activities, which is very nice to see.

I am not sure where I was going with this (started it too long ago!) more a general observation and wondering what the next 5 years will bring. Already we see moves where organisations are taking responsibility and creating events for home educators to book with them. Wonder if that is the future? More organised with services provided professionally/semi-professionally? Is it the death of every one bringing an activity to do at a church hall table style of group? What will all this mean for the feeling of ‘community’?

For us personally we are happy, we get a good mix of big group socialising with lots of ages, time with friends, time with family and time just us. We don’t have anywhere near enough time to spend as much time with each friend as we’d like unfortunately, but have accepted that we can’t do it all.

Puberty is Done!

Part of me would love to completely unschool I completely and utterly embrace the idea that children learn what they are interested in.  However, ignoring the fact that both Sam and I are creatures of habit and life is a lot happier when we have a ood routine, I major reason for not totally embracing the whole unschooling thing is a lack of faith they will learn everything they need to this way and a feeling that waiting for children to show an interest is limiting to them.  Sam has embraced many things that aren’t his natural interests and he probably wouldn’t have got to on his own but by presenting something to him in the right way to grab his attention it has sunk in.
The reason for this is that I have been waiting for ever for Sam to ask ‘those questions’ I don’t believe in the birds and the bees talk I believe in answering questions when asked to the level they can understand and need to know.  Only child number 2 has been flatly refusing to ask questions about things he probably needs the answer too in the not too distant future.
Hence opting to do a human body project for science this year as a route in.  Normally I let Sam choose the projects but I felt this one needed doing.
So we’ve read books and answered questions from scientific point. I expect more questions but at least it is now planted in his mind.  This is the book we have – highly recommend – they have a girls version too.
Dealing with reproduction from a scientific perspective meant that we spent a lot of time discussing dominant and recessive genes.  I have a lot of recessive genes and Sam has a lot of dominant ones! 
I learned the name for the lump some people have on their ear – it is called Darwin’s Ear Point. I love how much HE teaches me. Sorry for sideways photo.

In a not really anything to do with home ed more a pointless pottering thing to do, we filled a balloon with water beads.  It is great fun to squish. 

Life Skills Day

One of the criticisms levelled at home ed is that it encourages clingy children, that parents are being selfish and indulgent and irresponsible by not sending their children out there.

In my experience the opposite is true.  Don’t get me wrong I’m pleased that mine can read, know their tables etc but what I am proudest of is who they are.  Free thinking, confident and capable human beings.  We’ve got to where we have by letting them have the independence to do things when they were ready.

Some of the independence at home came about purely through my, I was going to say laziness but that is not right, busyness is actually more fitting.  I get up before the kids so have usually had breakfast and am in to doing something else before they are up so from about the age of 5, I’d get down the bowl and leave them to make own breakfast.  As they asked I showed them how to make things like toast, porridge, scrambled eggs.
From about 8/9, they make their own lunch and occasionally mine about 1/2 the time.  If they want something different or on a weekend to eat at a different time then they make it.  Has never been a decision made “now they should do this”, just as they have become capable of doing stuff I leave them to it.
Untidyness aside they are both pretty capable around the house.  Never been an allocating chores person, more we’re a family so please muck in.  Being around in the day means that no housework fairy ever comes when they are out so they have always been a part of it. 

Sam rarely strayed far from me when he was young.  Even now he’s not that keen on groups unless I’m running them.  Not so much because he wamts to be with me,  I think it’s more that he’s comfortable in the expectations and boundaries.

I am sure some people looking in see Sam as quite over protected. Yet yesterday he confidently headed off round town with money to buy a birthday present for his friend and card, giftbag etc so he had it prepped to hand over.  He usually does go round the shops now while I run a group for younger HE children, this is town not our village where everyone knows us.  He decided what he wanted to eat and took himself to Subway to buy and eat lunch.  So was able to order (and budget – I’d handed over some cash for present and lunch).  Then be back on time to help me pack up.
After that we headed to Gosport where without a backwards look he was off on the ferry to Portsmouth to meet a friend for a sleepover. 

We did have some discussion about whether he even wanted me to meet him at the ferry today for the return leg. He did think seriously and decided he’s seen me have too many issues with bus drivers not understanding what ticket I wanted lately to feel confident buying a ticket. Sympathise with that one!  It is lovely to see them confidently stepping away, knowing they have the freedom to take steps when they feel ready for steps no problem with saying no I’m not ready; no heading off to a strange environment at 5, no having to catch a bus for school at 11, no class residentials where they are made to feel a baby if they don’t want to go.  All those things will come when they are ready if they are left until they feel safe.