Home Educating – “He’s learning all the time”

Someone asked me the other day “Do you set times for schooling?” my reply was “No, as I believe he’s learning all the time”.

Today we went on a site visit for an art project I’m working on (we were looking at tunnels!) – he’s really excited about it, and even helped me decide on which bit of the tunnel to utilise! It also inspired lots of questions from him about the history of the tunnel, and what it and the beautiful building it is under used to be (an old railway station / line).

Tunnel in Manchester from Home Educating Manchester blog

He would never have had the opportunity to accompany me on anything like this in the past so counting my blessings that now he can and looking forward to seeing what it inspires in him.

Home Educating Third Week

third week home educating

This week has flown by, come to think of it nearly all of January has. I’ve been quite busy in my work this week, I have led 6 workshops and working on finishing an arts council bid for a project I’m working on – which is ridiculously time consuming! In between I have been trying to do all of the usual home stuff whilst trying to ensure that T’s needs are being fulfilled in terms of his learning. In order to fit this in I have been waking T up 1 hour earlier rather than allowing him to wake up naturally, and he had the idea to make a task chart so I don’t always have to tell him what to do!  We created the task chart together – he painted a piece of card board, then talked about his tasks, wrote them on pegs, and created little tags with the days of the week.

On the pegs we wrote;

  • Breakfast
  • Clean teeth
  • Get dressed
  • Feed dog
  • Feed cat
  • Drumming
  • Maths
  • Reading

The very next day he had done all of his tasks by 11.30am, including Maths, which I was very shocked about. Maths has been a touchy subject for the last year or so. In Year 3 his lovely teacher said that she was impressed as he had created his own method for figuring out answers and that she personally wasn’t bothered about it because he always got the answer right, however she was sad to admit that he would have to learn to do it the ‘correct way’ in order to reach targets!  This obviously was one of the main reasons that his confidence was knocked, for the most part of Y3 & his short time in Y4 he had gone from loving the subject to saying negative things like “I’m rubbish at Maths”, “I’m stupid”, “Maths is stupid!”. So in short it was good to know that he wanted Maths on his task chart, and was able to complete it.

He’s been to his usual swimming, cubs, drumming class and had a play date, however we haven’t been to the den! This has been due to part bad weather and part time issues (I usually do 3 workshops per week, not 6!) so hoping to get back out there this week. He hasn’t had trouble bringing the outdoors in though, and has discovered this amazing Youtube channel ‘Evolution Technology’ he has been totally mesmerised by it, making me realise more about just how much he LOVES outdoors, nature & building things. Check out this video below:

I’m still educating myself on home educating and still finding myself explaining home educating to family members. Today I showed my Educational Philosophy to my Dad (he totally gets it) – and think I from now on I may just send it to others when they ask instead of explaining it…! My thought management technique seems to be working at keeping any guilt / anxiety at bay (after my weird wobble last week) so all in all things are good, and I’m looking forward to seeing that this week brings…

The Home Educating Wobble, The Guilt Queen

Mum guilt, parent guilt or whatever you want to call it is something that I’ve suffered with from the moment I became pregnant 9 years ago. It manifests itself in some horrid ways, and although I’ve become pretty good at identifying it and stopping it before it starts, sometimes it sneaks in and manipulates my thought process, making me feel down and anxious.

This happened at the end of last week. After going from feelings of clarity, excitement and joy about our home educating journey, I was feeling anxious and filled with worry, thinking about everything I was / could be doing wrong (see Second Week Home Educating – Sleep Patterns), and how I should be doing more. Focusing on worrying thoughts, especially those placed there by the guilt queen can do no good.  Once the thought has been focused on for more than a few moments, it grows tremendously and effortlessly spreads like a computer virus, a virus that causes shut down.

Thankfully I am not a computer. I spent last night and this morning focusing on good thoughts, thoughts without worry or guilt and today I have felt much better and I’m sure I’ll feel even more so tomorrow.  Re- reading my own blog posts have helped me focus on why I am doing this, leaving no room for the guilt queen to speak so I guess my guilt about spending time writing this blog was pointless too!

So here is a little tip for you. If you’re feeling like crap, you’re probably having crap thoughts. Take a few moments to concentrate on a thought or scenario that makes you happy. This can be something great that you’ve experienced or something that you want to experience. (The former is probably easier to do when you’re feeling bad as its easier to remember something great, rather than trying to imagine something great from your worried state!) If you start to notice the bad feeling reappearing, repeat the good thought until it disperses it completely. Repeat as necessary…

Happy thinking!

Is it lazy letting sleeping teenagers lie?

I know he’s only 8 so not a teenager yet  – but this has just settled my mum guilt a bit re sleep routine! Thank you Ross Mountney! 🙂

Ross Mountney's Notebook

 Five thirty every morning and a cheery little infant face would be pushed into mine. We could almost set our clocks by our early risers when they were little and nothing we seemed to do changed it. We tried keeping them up later, lots of exercise, busy days. It didn’t work. We just ended up with tired grumpy children.

Fast forward ten years and it was a miracle if our teenagers were up before midday. Then we had to make the decision as home educators; do we get them up to get on, or do we leave them to sleep and work later?

I got into a fierce argument about this with an old traditionalist non-home educator once. His argument was that lying in bed till midday was ‘lazy’. My argument was, if they’re doing the work later, studying till the early hours and in the case of one family…

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Second Week Home Educating – Sleep Patterns

As I write this we are at the end of the second week home educating, and tomorrow is the beginning of the third week. Yet again it has been a positive week, and although things didn’t go to plan ‘Learning wise’ on Tuesday (See What We Learned today) overall T has been enjoying his new found freedom and is more content, calm and less stressed. He’s created a 30 slide PowerPoint presentation about animals, finished his bookcase, made progress on his den, and spent time with friends and family.

In addition to noticing the change in him, I’ve noticed a change in sleep patterns. We’ve had a routine since he was born, he would usually go to bed at 8pm, fall asleep around 9pm and wake for school between 7.30am to 8am. He is now going to bed at around 11pm and waking at around 10am, and I’m going to bed much later, and getting up later than I usually would too – around 9am instead of 7am! This is ok as none of us have to be up or out of the house at any particular time (My work is flexible – usually after 3pm during the week and at the weekends), however I have found myself feeling guilty that I’ve let his sleep routine slip… A routine that I’ve held so dearly since he was a baby!

Now part of me knows that I need to let it go, just go with it and not worry (we are deschooling after all!) but there’s a little nagging voice that keeps popping up in my mind, telling me I should regain control and not let things slide too much… Is this just part of the deschooling experience with a sprinkle of the dreaded mum guilt?!

It would be interesting to hear stories similar to this so it would be great if you could share any wisdom / experiences! In the meantime I’m going ‘Home Educating Sleep Patterns’ blog post hunting!

Day 11 – Home Educating Writing the Educational Philosophy

Yesterday I received a letter from the Education Caseworker at our Local Authority requesting that I make contact regarding T’s education.

I had heard of Education Philosophies but up until last night had no idea how to write one. I took to twitter for help (to no avail – oops!) and then to the local Home Educating group on Facebook who came back with lots of useful advice / links to info to help me figure out what to write!

Once I got into it, I was really enjoying writing it. It was good to get my aims, objectives and thoughts down on ‘paper’ and made me even more excited about our journey! Below is a copy of it – I have no idea if its what they need and I may have missed bits out (!?!), but its what my philosophies are and someone else might find it useful to read!

Note: Some of the text I used is from templates available on https://www.theschoolrun.com/writing-an-educational-philosophy

Educational Philosophy

Parent Name –

Child’s Name –

Date of birth –

18th January 2019

Educational Aim:

To provide T with an opportunity based, flexible, child centred learning education, with access to a range of activities and resources to assist and facilitate his learning and educational journey.

Educational Delivery:

As my approach to T’s education is largely opportunity based, child centred and flexible, it is not possible to submit a timetable, or to specify in advance the activities we will be undertaking (other than the weekly swimming, drumming & cubs activities under Social Opportunities as per below). On the whole I aim to facilitate learning through T’s interests rather than to contrive situations in order to reach pre‐determined outcomes. However I am always on the look-out for any gap that may arise and will make any necessary adjustments to ensure that such gaps are filled.

T is a very curious, creative and practical child, that enjoys learning and discovering, with an interest in a variety of topics. As outlined above his learning journey will be led primarily by the topics that he is interested (at any given time) to instil and ensure a continued love of learning, desire for knowledge and overall confidence in himself. T is always encouraged to communicate and take part in discussions regarding his likes, dislikes, his learning and his future, and encouraged to use his own initiative and make his own judgements to aid his overall educational journey, development, self awareness and confidence as a person.

T is learning all of the time therefore I strive to provide a fertile learning environment at all hours of the day. This includes unlimited access to craft / art / stationary materials, a laptop, age appropriate fiction and non-fiction literature, board games (including scrabble / monopoly / chess – games that he loves) and KS2 maths and literacy books (10 minute workouts that he currently enjoys completing). In addition to the home learning environment, we have weekly opportunities to access outdoor learning environments of interest such as museums, libraries and art galleries.

Currently his main interests are focussed on making items, these are items made of wood, household materials, recycling discarded toys, lego and he enjoys digitally making videos and doing all the necessary things involved in the process of video making such as filming, editing and adding music / narrative. He also enjoys making music and has his own drum kit and plays in a band via XXXXXXXXXXX.

Other interests include geography and nature. We spend a lot of time outdoors on walks and he has recently built a den in the meadows near our home, a place that we visit every other day to play, communicate ideas / interests and discuss animals, plants, tree’s and birds. He also enjoys geography and enjoys using his world map and globe at home, crucial items that enable him to explore and learn about the world. (This has led him to identify places that he has visited, write down places that he would like to visit, explore journey times and identify languages spoken in these countries.)

A recent example of his self directed learning includes creating bookcase out of cardboard to house some of his books. He measured each piece to ensure that it fit the amount of books he wanted it to hold using his maths and logic skills. He then decided that needed some extra materials to complete his project. This involved researching the correct materials on the internet, looking at prices, writing them down, adding them up and working out the total cost to a budget – thus covering subjects such as maths and literacy. Another example is driven by his curiosity for animals. He researched animals on the internet, downloaded images and created a PowerPoint presentation based on these animals, detailing their characteristics, what they eat / their habitat / life span / where they can be found etc thus covering computer skills, literacy and comprehension. These types of self directed projects are crucial to his learning and development as an individual and compliment my educational aims.

Social opportunities:

In terms of socialisation, T attends swimming, drumming and cub scouts on a weekly basis with other children, and we spend a lot of time at the weekends with friends and family at home and/or their homes and on days out at large parks such as XXXXXX, XXXXXX, XXXXXX. During the summer we often to go on camping trips with other families with children of similar ages. In addition to this I have joined various helpful / supportive home education groups on social media, and have made lots of friendly connections to ensure that T has the opportunity to form friendships with other home educated children and participate in the range of additional home education activities offered in our local area.

Home Educating – What We Learned Today

Today was our first official Home Education meet up, The Greeks’ Takeover at Manchester Art Gallery an activity open to both schools and home ed groups. The company was great, and it was wonderful (for me mostly) to meet and talk to other ‘established’ home ed parents.

The morning consisted of a very traditional ‘school trip ‘ set up, a lovely knowledgeable story teller guided us through the gallery, providing an interactive tour. I was enjoying it! However around 30 minutes into the 2 hour session I realised that T was not. I put this down to settling in to new surroundings with new people so encouraged him to sit with the other children and to try and join in when asked. He sat with the other children, however they were very engrossed in the workshop with most of them participating, so there was no communication between him and the other children. Seeing his discomfort I sat by him and asked him what was wrong, his reply was “This is too much like school” and then it clicked with me – this is not what to do when deschooling! So soon after we left session (with much understanding from the more experienced parents!) and reflected over an apple juice and cake in the gallery cafe. Even though he’s always shown interest in Greek stories / mythology (the main reason I booked him on) he felt as though he was being taught and not learning of his own accord, he even stated “It smells like school”.

So the unexpected lesson we (I) learned today is a better understanding of the importance of focusing on deschooling, and to concentrate on playing & child led learning rather than taking him to places where he feels as though he’s being taught until the whole school thing is out of his system! .

Before we left one of the other parents suggested a play date on Thursday, this will be a great opportunity for him to connect with other children and form new home ed friendships in a non learning environment, so very much looking forward to that!

First Official Week Home Educating

Its been our first week of no school runs. I actually used to enjoy the walk to school, what I didn’t enjoy was the alarm at 7.30am, and the mad rush out of the door!

This week has been focused on ‘deschooling‘ i.e. treating every day as if it were a Saturday. We didn’t really do much on Monday, he spent most of the day making a book case for the second hand Minecraft books that he bought using pocket money savings from Ebay, and googling for Duct tape (the best quality at the least cost!) and he later attended his drumming session when I went to work. On Tuesday, we decided to walk the dog to the meadows, 10 minutes from our house to do a little exploring. We would usually take her to the dog friendly field, but as this was an exploring / non rushed day, we went to a different part of the meadows. While there T decided he wanted to explore the wooded area, somewhere that we’d never visited before. Once we got there he quickly decided that we build a Den, so we got to work collecting logs and large fallen branches, and soon his den was forming nicely!

Wednesday morning he accompanied me on a couple of errands, and in the afternoon we drove over to see my Sister who lives about 30 minutes away by car. It was great to hear him talking to her about home educating and discussing the things that he’s interested in and wants to learn about. At the moment he is purely focused on making things!

Thursday he spent the morning playing with his cars. I was completely shocked at this…I hadn’t seen those cars for around a year! It was lovely to hear him engaged in imaginative play, something that I’d not witnessed in a long time. I worked that afternoon / evening and he went to cubs with friends so he had lots of fun!

Friday we revisited the den, once there he decided that he wanted to go further in to the woods, so we did. After about 15 minutes of exploring, the dog had found something. T quickly ran after her, and as I approached he was shouting “Wooah, look at this, treasure!” We soon realised that he had found a jewellery box, with lots of costume jewellery (in his mind it was pure gold!) After his initial excitement had calmed he decided that he would bring it home, clean it up and take it to the Police station as it was obviously stolen. It was a joy to see him explore and find something special, and do something good about it. As he said, “I would never have been able to find this treasure if I was in school!” – I very much agree!

Saturday (today) he wanted to revisit the den, this time armed with gardening gloves, tape, a pen and glue (?!) he was amazed that everything was still in its place, and wanted to explore to find some metal objects to add to his den. Oh and also revisit the jewellery box scene. We did and he found more jewellery! On returning home he spent over an hour on the kitchen floor cleaning / sorting the items and talking about the ‘crime scene’ and declared that he is going to write a story about his & our dogs discoveries. We later played scrabble for the first time and T WON (the adults were actually trying too…!) and now he’s looking up the ‘fastest dog breeds’ on Youtube. So all in all its been a great week!

Home Educating – Things He Is Doing That I’m Noticing

“Living is learning and when kids are living fully and energetically and happily they are learning a lot, even if we don’t always know what it is.”

John Holt

Whilst this is all new to us, the fear of the unknown and him not going back to school seems to have faded fast. I’m now experiencing wonderful feelings of excitement and eagerness, its a great feeling, a mixture of relief and clarity.

While I’ve been relishing in these feelings I’ve been observing him. We’ve been hanging around the house most of the day, he’s been playing with our dog, playing minecraft, he’s made himself and his Dad lunch and washed up after himself, now he’s watching youtube clips.

In addition to this I’ve been smiling inside watching and hearing him…

  1. Roaming around the house with no top on
  2. Loudly singing ‘barbie girl’ (Ugh!) at random intervals
  3. Doing crazy random dances at random intervals
  4. Giggling at Youtube Vids

Noticing these little simple things further validates my decision. I know they’re only small things (and it is usually how he is on the weekends!) but its sad to think of him in the past having these same urges during the week at school and not being able to release them, when all he’s doing is being himself & growing! I’m not going to fall into the trap of feeling guilty for sending him to school in the first place (Just mentioning that proved I nearly did!), I’m going to concentrate on feeling glad that I took him out when I did and embrace the fact that from now on I can witness him being himself EVERY DAY!