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!

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!

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…

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!

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!