Explaining Home Education to Children

Today a friend and I took four children out for the day. One was T, the other was my friend’s child and the other two were our other friends’ children. All of the children went to school together, until I de-registered T in December 2018.  They have known each other through school since they were 3 years old.

One of the children asked me “Why is T homeschooled?” my reply was staggered, I wanted to say because T wasn’t at all happy, and that school (not just their school but any school!) is not right for him, but I refrained and simply said “Because I am able to home school”, T interrupted “No its because I wanted to be homeschooled” to which the asking child replied “Aw I wish I could be homeschooled, I absolutely hate school”. T and the child then proceeded to have a full-on conversation about school and how bad it is!

I then interrupted and asked the child if there was anything good that he could think of about school, his reply was “Lunchtime, but that’s not enough”. It reminded me of the endless conversations that I would have with T trying to get him to see the positive side of school, asking him to try to learn to enjoy it, when really deep down I knew that him just saying that he hated school was enough, but at the time I felt powerless as I wasn’t in the position to do anything about it! I know ‘hating school’ is a common thing said at some point in most children’s lives and in the past I would have just said “Oh well school is school” without much thought. But now I’m on the other side, I feel like a fraud saying such things as I know there is an alternative, well for us anyway!

I know children are going to be curious about T’s journey but I also do not want T’s schooled friends to feel down about their parents not choosing to home educate, it’s an entirely personal decision and not everyone wants to do it, or would ever want to entertain it, but how do I explain this to an 8 year old?!

Home Educating Sixth Week

This week was all about introducing T to the Big Life Journal Growth Mindset printouts. The printouts are printed, in a shiny new folder but we have yet to look at them… I’m learning that it’s ok to let go of expectations and to not feel guilty when things don’t go to plan!

T did his daily tasks (including Y4 Maths & English workbooks) and we discovered the Japanese Multiplication method and spent an evening doing multiplications. As a person that lacks confidence with Maths (I was never any good at school) I do sometimes worry about doing Maths with T, so it was great to find a method that I fully understand and be able to do it with him. How I wish I was taught this at school, it would’ve saved me lots of shame/embarrassment…

On Wednesday we went to a Climbing session for Home Educated Children. T was very excited until he realised that he wasn’t climbing alone. He was very upset and adamant that he wanted to leave… Luckily the group wasn’t that big, and after a bit of encouragement from me and the Instructor he joined in. After the instructor-led session, all of the children went for some free play and T absolutely loved it! It was good to see him having lots of fun and making friends (which was the entire aim) he’s now looking forward to going there on a weekly basis.

The rest of the week (mostly while I’ve been working) T has been making more Youtube Videos. He started making these when he was around 7 years old and is completely self-taught. He does all of the recordings and editing unassisted on a Samsung phone – his channel can be found here if you’re reading and you’d like to have a look Teo Blocks Gaming.

Our seventh week is going to be spent with some children from his former school (they’re on half term) and a sleepover with his best friend, so I think that our shiny new Growth Mindset folder will stay shiny until week eight…

Home Educating Fifth Week

Most of this week was spent at Ribby Hall (see previous blog posts!). We stayed in a cute little cottage, visited the swimming pool (and its epic slide) daily, met a variety of animals at the Wild Discovery Centre, had a joint Archery lesson and positively sucked at Squash! (I still love it though – I went to play it again today!)

I also realised that T much prefers being self-sufficient, rather than being told what to do, so looking at ways to facilitate this…

Friday, Saturday & Sunday have been more chilled in terms of activities, however, T did make cupcakes, taught himself how to use the cut / magic wand tool on Photoshop, and we played a few games of hangman, and had a go at painting Chinese lettering. The rest was spent walking our dog at Etherow Park (he missed her so much while we were away!) and visiting family.

We will be spending this week concentrating on The Big Journal Growth Mindset Printouts. These were recommended to me by a lovely home educating mum on Instagram to help T confidence-wise and to help him to have a healthy attitude with regard failure etc (see post Sucking at Squash), so very much looking forward to seeing if he likes them!

Sucking at Squash and Letting Go of Expectations…

We had a lazy morning today, after lounging around until 11am, we finally got ready and headed down to the Health Club to go and play Squash! Those that know me, know that I have very recently started playing squash (I still don’t know the rules of the game, and I still can’t hit the ball every time, but it’s fun so I’m going to carry on!) so I was excited when I realised that there were squash courts at Ribby Hall, and that children were allowed to play! I asked T whether he was up for having and go, and he said yes which was great!

The lady on reception was really nice, supplied us with our equipment and guided us to our court. We started playing (i.e. hitting the ball, missing it and nearly falling over) and I could sense that T was getting really frustrated every time he missed the ball. I started encouraging him, and laughing at myself when I unintentionally missed the ball, but his frustration was growing. He ended up throwing his bat down and sitting on the floor refusing to play – this was 10 minutes into the game! I let him be for a while and started playing wallie (like I did in the 80’s with a tennis ball and racket on my neighbours wall!) this inspired him to join in again, until he missed the ball, which resulted in him getting even more frustrated and sitting down again!

I have to be honest here, I have no idea what to do when I see him struggling like this, part of me wants to tell him to just get on with it (I don’t) and the other part of me feels really sad and responsible for what looks to me like a lack of confidence. Overall I start doubting myself as a parent. Do I need to change how I am? Is it because he’s an only child? Do I not do enough to help him? Do I need to just let him be? These are some of the questions that have been going through my mind today and after some lovely feedback and recommendations from some lovely Mothers on Instagram (you know who you are!) I’ve come to this conclusion…

I had an expectation that T was going to love squash as much as I did when I first played it – for whatever reason he didn’t. It doesn’t mean that I’m a bad parent, nor that he has serious issues that are going to get worse. It just means that I need to let my expectations go. He is who he is, and he figures things out in his own way, in his own time and has done this on many occasions with other activities he regularly partakes in (most recently Archery yesterday – he loved it!). I cannot protect him from everything, including his own feelings about anything at any given time – nor can I expect him to be ‘happy’ and engaged in absolutely everything I introduce him to! All I can do is what I do naturally, and keep positive, remind him that it’s ok to feel the way he does, and encourage him fully when he’s enjoying doing something.

We decided to leave our holiday a night earlier than planned, it was a joint decision as we’d done pretty much all of the activities on offer and it made sense to get ourselves home instead of rushing about for check out in the morning. T was ridiculously helpful, he cleaned the floors, packed the clothes away, and then packed everything in the car (while I was on the loo!) – all without asking, which blew my mind! He was very happy that he’d done all of this without me asking him, which shows to me that he likes to be self sufficient and take responsibility, rather than being given it, so this is what I’m going to praise and encourage. Right now I’m going to try and figure out ways that I can facilitate this ‘self sufficiency’. If you’re reading this and can offer any pearls of wisdom, advice or input, please do leave a comment! 🙂

(Thanks to @homeschoolingqueen, @fitinwiththechaos, @graceoverperfectionacademy, @home_educating_es for your words of wisdom and silencing the guilt queen!)

Animals, Archery and Fun Interactive Slides at Ribby Hall

We woke up around 9am, after a very comfortable nights sleep (as comfortable as you can be with a wriggly long legged 8 year old sleeping next to you!).  After breakfast we ventured out to revisit the Wild Discovery Centre as T was very keen to see Miss Piggles again (their resident pig!) On arrival we were welcomed by a friendly keeper (that remembered us from yesterday!), and we went straight over to the farm yard area. On our way we stopped to look at the tortoises and were greeted by Paul, a volunteer at the Centre. He accompanied us to Miss Piggles, who looked like she was settling down to go to sleep (again!).

After giving her a few back rubs and cuddles, we went into the bat house (it wasn’t feeding time so they were all hiding – unlike yesterday!) on our way back out, we saw Paul again and he asked T if he’d like to help him feed to sheep. T said yes (of course!), and we spent around 15 minutes feeding the sheep and listening to Paul who gave us lots of interesting information about the animals on site. A lovely friendly chap! We then revisited the Exotic area (nice and warm) and watched the lemurs play, and said hello again to the tiny tortoises (T’s favourites) and spotted the Jamaican Boa (we didn’t spot him yesterday). After we had warmed up a bit, we went back outside in the cold to revisit the lovely Kirk ‘DIk, Dik’ (a tiny antelope), the Dwarf Mongoose and the beautiful Wallaby.

After 1 hour or so we decided to leave the Wild Discovery Centre and take a walk along the woodland trail. This is a trail that goes along the perimeter of the holiday village. It’s a nice easy flat walk, burning off just enough energy in time for lunch. After our lunch we went on a pre booked Archery lesson (£9 each). This was situated on the ‘island’ at the back of the health club. It was very cold, but we soon warmed up! Our instructor Jacob briefed us on safety and taught us how to hold the bow and aim. Now this was easier than it looked…after getting the hang of it a bit, we ended up being able to actually hit the target (and not the ground!), Jacob kept score – T was very happy to beat me (hehe!). It was an hour long session and went so fast!

After returning to our lovely little cottage, we had a snack and then headed to the swimming pool in the Health Club (our 3rd visit this week, entrance is included in booking price!) T absolutely loves the pool, it has a couple of Jacuzzi’s, a nice sized pool, with various water features and slides to keep younger and older children entertained. One of the slides for older kids (height restricted) is a huge interactive one that allows you to pick a theme on a touch screen at the top of the slide, each theme plays different music / sounds and lights as you slide down , it was much fun! (I need to invest in a water proof go pro or similar to capture future moments like this!)  After lots of sliding and swimming and me jacuzzi’in, we got out and quickly got ready in the ladies adult changing room as the family rooms were closed. This wasn’t a problem, but I’d imagine that lots of other non parent / paying guests / members were not expecting kids roaming around in their space!

Tomorrow is our last day, we are looking forward to playing Squash (!?!) at the Health Club in the morning (£4 per person), swimming and sliding again in the afternoon, and then visiting the Bar & Grill Restaurant for a meal in the evening, to fill us up for our final night sleep!

Wild Discovery Centre at Ribby Hall

When booking our little getaway at Ribby Hall, one of the activities mentioned on the website was visiting the Wild Discovery Centre. Now, having an animal loving 8 year old, this was something that we didn’t want to miss out on, but I did have my reservations, I mean how could they possibly fit a zoo within the holiday village?! I read a few reviews on Trip Advisor and they were mixed, some saying it was great, some complaining about the extra entrance fee (£7 adult, £6 child), and others saying that there wasn’t much to see and that it was a waste of money as it was all over in 10 minutes…!

Regardless of some of the negative reviews, I thought we would check it out. We arrived at 11am, and were greeted by a friendly, kind, informative lady at the entrance, she advised us of the various animal meets / talks that keepers were delivering throughout the day, and gave us a receipt of payment so that we could visit the next day. The zoo looks more like a farm, and from the outset looks quite unassuming and small. We followed the track and started encountering the animals. These varied from Dwarf mongooses and Wallabies to Porcupines and Sheep to name a few!

We spent at least three hours exploring and looking at the animals, and had a chance to feed some Fruit and Seba bats in the bat house, meet and feed the meerkats and porcupines, pet some sheep and meet Miss Piggles the huge friendly pig that spends most of her day snoring (really loudly!) and loves nothing more than a back rub and cuddles!

If you’re visiting Ribby Hall, I would definitely recommend paying to visit this area, they have lots of timed talks throughout the day so you can find out more from the friendly keepers about the animals, as well as having the chance to interact at feeding time. It’s a great place to learn!

We ended the visit with a warming hot chocolate from the gift shop, and look forward to returning tomorrow, minus the entry fee:)

(Please note this is a totally unbiased review, we have not been compensated by Ribby Hall or the Wild Discovery Centre!)

For more information please visit:


Home Educating Fourth Week

Fourth Week Home Educating

Struggling for content to write in this post. Not because of an unwillingness to document and share, more so because the week has been very quiet and chilled out (apart from our exciting site visit!)

T’s task chart has been wonderfully helpful, to both him and me. He knows what he is doing each day, and completes each task with no trouble. As said previously these tasks are not massive tasks, just daily things that he needs to do (chosen by him so that I don’t have to keep asking him!) including cleaning teeth (self care),  feeding the animals (caring for others) and 10 minutes maths work out (keeping brain switched on). Once he has done all of his tasks he is free to do as he pleases, and if it’s after 3pm he is allowed some screen time.

The limit on screen time has been imposed after noticing that if he went on a screen (to watch Youtube or play Minecraft) in the morning, he would end up being on the screen for longer. Many will say that this is part of deschooling, however after watching this happen for a few days, I decided to step in and regain control of it. I read somewhere that kids becoming bored often leads to greater creative play, this is so true in T’s case, since moving the screen time until after 3pm, he has engaged in more imaginative play (after his tasks), just like he did in the first week home educating!

There is also something else that I’ve noticed in him (apart from the crazy dancing, singing, shouting random words as described here), he is so much calmer, he is not having any tantrums, and I’ve not seen any tears for AGES. The other night I asked him “Have you noticed that you’ve not had any tantrums – especially at bed time?!” and he smiled and said “Yes, I used to feel so sad about going to school, I didn’t want to go to bed because I’d have to wake up and go again!”

Seeing his little face smiling, reflecting on what was, and looking at what is now, absolutely warmed my heart and gave me even more reassurance that this lifestyle is the right one for him.

We’re off on a little 4 night break tomorrow (taking advantage of term time cheap deals!) so looking forward to what week 5 brings!