Home Educating Thirteenth Week

We’re now in our 13th week home educating and I haven’t written a blog post since the 6th week! I’m a bit disappointed that I didn’t document the last 7 weeks, they’ve been full of ups and downs, trying out new learning techniques, establishing routines and managing my work load. It’s safe to say there have been a few wobbles too, ‘Can I do this?’, ‘What am I doing?’, ”Have I made the right decision?!’  I’ve been advised by more established home educating parents that these wobbles are normal and get easier as time goes on so I’m trying to keep that in mind…

In terms of T’s learning journey, we had another breakthrough with Maths. T liked Maths in school, (up until Y3, when his confidence started waning) he’s been working on a Y4 maths curriculum book almost daily since February, but kept avoiding doing fractions. I decided to try out Prodigy Maths, an online game, and to cut a long story short, some fraction based questions came up and  T (after a few attempts) was able to understand them and answer them correctly, which made him very happy! I’m not sure if prodigy maths do this purposefully (they probably do), but the  questions are asked using audio and lots of visuals, and I believe this is completely suits T’s learning style – a learning style I’m still learning about…

We’ve also discovered OutSchool, a wonderful website full of online classes, from art classes to virtual field trips. T chose to do one about Electricity, led by a super knowledgeable Engineer and home ed Dad of 10) based in America. I wasn’t home when he took the class, but by all accounts, T was fully engaged for the entire hour, and was joining in asking questions. He was very talkative about it when I got home, and is looking forward to signing up to more classes.  We have also implemented library visits to our weekly routine to help T focus on and work / topics without the distractions of home…the big one being our dog & DanTDM!

Overall T is much happier and a lot more content. He is enjoying his weekly climbing sessions, has advanced to the next stage in swimming and is looking forward to starting a forest school 1 day per week after the Easter holidays.  In the meantime we’re embracing my time off work and spending lots more time outdoors . This week we have been kite flying in Lytham, and walking up Rivington Pike (see instagram) and we have lots more planned for the next week!

Until then!

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!)

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 – 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!