Support thread for new home educators

(591 Posts)
ToffeeWhirl Sun 02-Sep-12 12:53:17

There seem to be a lot of us around at the moment, so I thought it might help us all to have a place where we can swap ideas, chivvy each other along on the bad days and cheer for each other on the good days.

I have two boys, the oldest is 12 and is just starting out in home education. My youngest is 6 and is still at school. Fortunately for me, he has just told me he's missing school and looking forward to going back <phew>.

We have had a good summer, with lots of dog walking, excursions, get-togethers with friends and family and minimal rules on television watching and computers. I have had a lovely time ordering books for our home ed library (failed to reign myself in on this blush) and planning what we are going to study grin.

The plan at the moment is for DS1 to do a bit of Science, Maths and English every morning. He has a tutor for English once a week and we are going to get him a Maths tutor too. We will spend the rest of the time doing projects, reading together, practising handwriting, art, etc etc. Fridays are going to be 'free' days for informal learning, such as excursions.

I have been in touch with the local HE groups and we are planning to meet up with other HE families.

I'm spending some time today organising everything - plans, timetables, files, folders, lapbooks, etc. We have a visit from the LEA next Thursday, which gives me a good deadline to work towards.

I would love to hear how the rest of you newbies are getting on. And words of wisdom from the more experienced home educators are very welcome too!

FalseStartered Sun 02-Sep-12 13:07:56

i had to search you out, but found you eventually!

well, this coming week sees the start of a new school term & year, but not for us. Until we've won our appeal for a place at a different school, at least.

Just googling 'unschooling' as DD is only just 5 so would be going into y1 and not used to formal ed at all.

it's pretty scary stuff - i'm not sure i'm doing the right thing, just know that sending her back to that primary would be the wrong thing confused

ToffeeWhirl Sun 02-Sep-12 13:23:02

Welcome to the thread, False! I'm sure the fact that that particular school is wrong for your DD means you are doing the right thing in home educating at the moment smile. At five, you can do lots of fun stuff together and no need for formal ed at all.

mam29 Mon 03-Sep-12 08:30:02

Just wanted to say good luck for new term toffeewhirl.#

You sound very structured and prepared I would be the same as like set routines, having a loose plan as ensures everything i want to do gets done.

Lol at the book buying-there,s so much out there bit overwhelming

I am sure the trips will be fun for all and dome places cheaper for home ed price.

also good luck with lea from what you out they be hard pressed not to be pleased.

My dd been doing carol vordmans maths factor over hols I think its helping. shes 6.5 was reading still not perfect but virtual carol talks through what she has to do. she then independantly of me logs on works through it getting gold stars and badges.

tempted to keep it up next year as probably cheaper than so many books and it tailored for their year group but like look of ixl too so im torn as appprently ixl explains the answer and how they got to that answer,s.

I found some mad scince experiments on pinterest and you tube.
we going to start a mad scince journal with photo, how to do it and what happens and why we did 2this summer

tea bag rocket
frothy potiion of soda crystels and vinigar.
and hubby did one other that failed.

we keeping a nature houranl as loads of country walks round here.

have fun , look foward to hearing about your fun home ed adventures.

ToffeeWhirl Mon 03-Sep-12 08:48:37

Hi, mam29, I was hoping you'd join. Funny you should mention the Carol Vorderman books - I picked up the Carol Vorderman English revision books in Aldi (reduced!) and they are really good for revision. They are for ages 9 - 11, but I thought they would be useful for DS1 to go over topics he might have forgotten.

I used to use the books with gold stars for DS1 when he was your daughter's age - he absolutely loved getting the stars grin.

The mad science plan sounds great fun. Good idea to keep a mad science journal with photos. And the nature journal too.

I am planning to photograph loads of what we do, both for my own records and to show the LEA what we are doing.

Spent some time going over Geography stuff last night and wondering how to turn the dry textbook stuff of the first chapter - map-reading - into something more interesting. DH and I decided that we'd just head out with a map into the countryside and let DS1 learn by doing.

I am hoping to get the boys to a Tudor house tomorrow, as there are Tudor-related activities on that day and it would be good preparation for DS1's History.

Colleger Mon 03-Sep-12 14:17:45

I start when my eldest goes to school on Wednesday afternoon so Thursday in reality. All I have organised is a Latin tutor but that's it.

mam29 Mon 03-Sep-12 14:51:26

Thanks toffee whirl. smile

yes we have the books with stars from sainsburys

havent got aldi nearby so dont go in.

but got some letts ones in age groups in lidls for 99p for maths and english..

Best buy was lidls its called

collins primary world atlas-says free online games and quizzzes on front.

has all the latest maps , photos and every flag as eldest watching olypics kept saying which country is that all time.

have found the workbooklets bit dry but done a little.

The maths factor we joined late as was link on primary board.
was 14.99 for summer camp so reveiwing everything the should have covered last year.

The next day it was reduced to £5.99 so rang and they refunded the difference so we have it until 30th september so she still has time shes half completed it and enjoyed it more than the workbooklets.

we also quite like the bbc bitesize educational games.

eldest has wrote and ullustrated a story book and i glued and laminated.

we nearly completed butterfly lapbook not bad for my 1st attempt.

ran of of time to do olympics and wanted new printer as found loads free printables on pinterest.

we did trip to butterfly farm think left it too late to get eggs now as wanted to hatch our own.

Did 2museums and art gallery but dident learn much was fun though.

we done nature walks
some cooking
crafts

still feel we ran out of time and maybe should have tried to do more but wanted some downtime too.

plans are to keep a

recipie book again with photo and ingrediants/instructions.
probably keep in ringbinder and poly pocket and by end of year will grow.

Thinking doing a some poetry

write her own comic and illustrate
produce own newspaper.

might do huge collage to decorate her bedroom wall
she wants me to teach her how to sew so might get cross stich set and she can make some xmas pressies for nannies.

The science and nature journals could do 1 every other week and by end of year would be huge portfolio of work. wasent sure if nature bit girley depends on what you do i guesss and autums right season for it.

we will be foraging blackberries, nuts and plums next few weeks.
maybe doing some leaf crafts.

like idea of working with the seasons.

one thing realised over summer is just doing short bursts of work a day add up to somethung fab eldest so proud of her book and shes really learnt some things about butterflies.

she loves watching nature programmees on cbbc.

hubbys trying to take her swimming more often and teach her to swim.

Toffee im sure you will find you have loads and lea be well impressed you sound motivated and organised and both of you positive its right choice for you.

Just athourght on the geography.

some globes are talking and what about trying to find a local orienteering group as did it when I was in school was great fun.
My memories of geography in school was not really where countries ere that would have been too useful.

secondry geography we covered

a country
farming
weather.

we started looking at spain this summer remembered read a book and learnt few spanish words and said we cook paella but not had chance..

History not sure what days out tudor related.

I was thinking doing romans at some point as we live near bath.

Collerger-found this online any use? seems to make latin bit more fun

http://www.minimus-etc.co.uk/

good luck guys.
im booking a appointment with head for next week and hope he agrees to flexi schooling as had such a lovley summer eldest really has enjoyed it.I have enjoyed being more active .

ToffeeWhirl Mon 03-Sep-12 18:26:55

Colleger - we are starting Wednesday as well, but then LEA is turning up on Thursday and we are calling Friday a 'no formal work' day, so won't really be settling into it until next week, I should think.

Wow, what a busy summer you've had, mam. It sounds as if you have all had a lot of fun. Well done on the lapbook! I bought a file from WH Smith the other day that I thought would do for our first lapbook as it was quite stiff cardboard and opened up like a book.

How fantastic that you got a refund on the difference for Maths Factor!

Thanks for the tip about the local orienteering group. DS1 finds social and group situations very stressful (a big problem at school), so he wouldn't be up for any groups at the moment, but I'll bear it in mind.

You have some great ideas, mam - I especially love the collage-on-a-wall idea, the recipe book and the comic/newspaper ideas. Oh, and it's a lovely idea to go foraging for wild fruit too.

Let us know how the appointment with the Head goes next week.

I can't wait to get started on the home ed now...

Helenagrace Mon 03-Sep-12 18:56:03

I've been planning a bit today.

DD is 11 next week. DS is 6.5 and staying in school as he's doing well in school and it suits him. He changes school for juniors next year so I might HE him then.

DD's confidence needs building and she's dyspraxic. We're working on a lot of study skills, eye exercises (she has convergence insufficiency) and hand exercises.

We've found a trampolining club with HE sessions. I'm really pleased with this as we were told it was the best sport for dyspraxia but she couldn't go before as she got back too late from her prep school for the beginners sessions.

We're working through 11+ material for English and maths as a revision course and then we'll switch to Common Entrance exams to mirror what she would be doing in prep school (just in case we opt back in).

We're doing weather for geography, WW2 for history and electricity for science.

I've been to the library today and exhausted both DC's library cards.

We've joined a local HE group. I think I'm a bit mainstream for them (one said "oh you're doing structured" rather like one might say "oh you have leprosy" but hey ho!).

I'm starting on Wednesday - with trampolining!

take3 Mon 03-Sep-12 18:57:32

We're not that new to home ed but thought i would recommend some things we have found useful... we are not autonomous, but really quite structured with mornings of school and afternoons of trips, activities and playing

- schofield and sims maths workbooks (brilliant sound phonics books too)
- Conquer maths - use 'homeed' as a code for 40 % discount, very good maths online website, with plenty of free lessons if you don't want to sign up.
- Nancy Larson science - expensive and from the US but very easy to use and our kids love it
- keeping a nature journal and doing a nature activity once a week - nature detectives website is excellent.
- For english we use 'Language Tree' from Amazon - very good scheme and cheap to buy with little preparation, quite formal though

Hope that helps

mam29 Mon 03-Sep-12 19:04:07

Thanks toffee bit nervous think he may consider me mad.

I like things that can do little at time and turns into something big over course of year.

I had another idea for your geography as vaugly remember doing it as a kid.

what about doing a project on the environment-excuse me if sound like deranged hippy.

it would be geography/slash science I guess.

You can get pollution kits as i was thinking of testing the stream and the 3local ponds.

you could cover global warming and its effects
carbon catching complex interesting idea
recycling-visit local tip
rainforest guess bit far but maybe eden!
could cover things to do to help the environment in terms of

what we waste.
eco products
natural products
the effect on the weather in recent years.

im sure organisations like green peace and freind of earth provide free or cheap resources.

not sure if you have sky but the documentry channels are fab.

Not thinking turn him into next tree hugging eco warrier but maybe put a more scientific and boyish slant then just nature walks for flowers and slightly more grown up topics as hes bit older.

Loving your enthuisiasim.

ToffeeWhirl Mon 03-Sep-12 19:29:54

Hello Helen. Glad you found us! That's fantastic news about the trampolining club and great that it's on your first home ed day smile. Brave of you to go to your first HE group. I'm sorry you had that reaction when you said you were structured though. How ridiculous for people to be so patronising. We are all just doing our best for our children, surely, and we will all have different ways and means of doing that.

take3 - thanks so much for all those tips. I will enjoy looking up all those websites.

mam29 - I'm sure you won't be the first parent to suggest flexi-schooling to him. Have you thought of what you will do if he says no? Thanks so much for all your ideas for Geography - I will add them all to my ideas book. You are not exactly lacking enthusiasm yourself, you know!

I am quite proud of how organised I am so far (not rivalling Helen, of course wink) with all my subjects divided up into folders and all the home ed books lined up together on a shelf in DS1's bedroom. I have even bought a small box file to put his daily work in. Thought I'd add his English, Maths and Science work, plus any extras I think of and then the rest of the day can be more flexible and we can plan it together or simply see how it evolves.

Have just received 'Shadow' by Michael Morpurgo and 'One Dog and His Boy' by Eve Ibbotson. As DS1 is mad about dogs, I looked for quality fiction on a dog theme and came up with both of these. The Morpurgo sounds quite a serious read and explores the war in Afghanistan and the plight of asylum seekers, so there is lots of other stuff in there to discuss. I thought it might lead DS1 onto 'War Horse' later too, if he's interested.

One of the things DS1 and I both enjoyed most of all, during his last HE adventure, was reading together - so at least if the rest of HE is a struggle, this part of it will, hopefully, be good fun.

Helenagrace Mon 03-Sep-12 19:45:02

toffee The Book People have a really good Michael Morpurgo offer on at the moment. It works out at about £1.50 per book iirc - just in case you want more. They make great presents so I often buy a set and break them up.

ToffeeWhirl Mon 03-Sep-12 20:03:56

Oooh, thanks, Helen.

mam29 Mon 03-Sep-12 20:12:36

Thanks toffee whirl and take 3

useful info there.

so many resources its finding the free.cheap good ones.

I wonder why theres a divide in home ed in uk?

whats wrong with structure and plans?

Is it they feel that a structured education is too instituitionalised.

I can see some room for autonomy depending on childs age and maybe how many you have at home.

I joined well trained mind interesting read lost of structured educators but few brits and some very full on bible bashing mums.

wonder if I just go to heads office and tell him its gods plan- its rc school that it would convince him.

Thinking if im asking for 1day why not be rebel and push for 2 and if have to comprimise with 1 I be happy.

ToffeeWhirl Mon 03-Sep-12 22:13:39

He'll never give you two days, mam! grin at you telling him it's God's plan though - you could tell him you are studying the Sonlight curriculum (creationism too!).

I don't know why there's a divide about structure vs autonomy here. I think it's a shame. I suppose structure is too much like school at home for the autonomous educators. Also, I can see that if you read John Holt (which I have) and accept his writing about autonomous learning, then you could feel quite evangelical about it, especially if you see it working well with your own children. I can see how it works, but I just couldn't cope with that in my own situation, particularly with DS at secondary level. Surely the most important thing is that the child/children and parents choose a way of educating that suits them all, depending on their characters and needs?

Iris1 Mon 03-Sep-12 22:34:01

Hi i have just found this thread and would love to join in!

My son is 4 next week and we have just moved areas so he isnt going to nursery. Im glad as I don't want him to go or to school for that matter (but hubby does!!). Hes ASD and school just isnt the place for him at least right now, I know this because he attended pre school for 18 months and he never wanted to go, he didnt make one friend or even know the kids names and he always came on in leaps and bounds if he was off for a few weeks. He actually started talking while he was off for 3 weeks at christmas and recently as he has just been with me and our 2 year old daughter and obviously dad (when not at work) hes so much happier! Its been about 9 weeks now and hes just so much happier and getting more confident!
I know 4 is too young for rear 'education' but we do lots of learning, part of his ASD he loves learning very clever, so were doing lots of learning through play, Hes creative loves playdough, painting, making and cooking, Also outside so lots of trips out.
Im planning on being super organised now, keeping all his 'work', well both his and sisters really, and taking pictures doing journals is a fab idea to an above poster!
Want to hopefully meet some people in same situation and prove to hubby that home is best for him and wont make him weird as he seems to think it will!

Iris1 Mon 03-Sep-12 22:35:10

Thats meant to be real education btw not rear!! Type way too fast sometimes!

ToffeeWhirl Tue 04-Sep-12 00:23:54

Welcome, Iris1! It sounds as if home education is exactly what your DS needs for now and you are providing your son with a fantastic opportunity. School is often so, so difficult for ASD children.

Maybe, as DH sees how well your son is doing at home, he will gradually begin to change his views.

Taking lots of pictures and keeping journals is great - provides evidence to the LEA (I know we don't have to provide it, but it makes me feel better to know I have it there) and a lovely record for ourselves.

Helenagrace Tue 04-Sep-12 07:08:45

I'm sending a letter to the LA this morning. Our situation is unusual. DD was in a private prep school and I gave them notice at Easter that she was leaving at the end of the Summer term as we were planning to relocate. Since then we've decided to HE so I've no one to send a dereg letter to.

My LA is supposed to be reasonable about HE. I'm actually Chair of Governors at one of their schools but I don't know if this will help or hinder!

Iris1 Tue 04-Sep-12 08:34:47

Thanks toffeewhirl i do hope it will all work out! I think DH is of thinking thats if he doesnt go to school he will never function in society as an adult as the asd means he cant socialise at all now so he does need to learn, however i know that he will learn this from home ed and tbh i think he will learn better as he can do it on his own terms and have me there to support him. I know you get some fantastic supporr staff in schools but some arent and none of them will care and help like i can.

I love keeping records anyway i keep a lotof scrapbooks on the kids development and there artwork and photos of days out, we have artwork all over the house so journal seem perfect as like you said if nothing else they are a lovely record for us.

ToffeeWhirl Tue 04-Sep-12 09:16:00

Helen - sounds like you would just slip off the LA radar if you didn't inform them. I hope they are as reasonable as you have heard. It is funny that you are on the board at one of their schools!

Iris1 - I agree with you about your DS learning to socialise on his own terms, with you there to support him. My DS is borderline AS and has other diagnoses and school was just awful for him. We stuck it until the beginning of Year 6, then he tried secondary school, which was even more disastrous. In the six months since he left school (during which he did e-learning with the LEA, so we are only just starting home ed now), he has begun to blossom (if you can apply that analogy to a cheeky, oft-unwashed near-teenager hmm).

You are right about the support at school: DS1 rarely had the support he needed and when we fought for help we were always fobbed off with 'but he's very able' and 'there are so many children who need help more than him'. As for socialisation: DS1 ended up being bullied at primary (by one of his so-called 'friends', sadly) and becoming desperately depressed, so that did him no good at all. He now socialises only with those he trusts and really wants to see. He is very excited that his best friend is coming back from holiday tomorrow and has ordered his friend's favourite food and drink to welcome him home - it's so lovely to see his enthusiasm. Much better to have one good friend than to be stuck in a class of 30 with no friends.

Your scrapbooks and artworks sound brilliant. What a lovely record for you all.

gulpfiction Tue 04-Sep-12 11:39:13

Hi, handed in the dereg letter to the Head this morning so can officially join in grin. DD is 9 and we're in Cornwall, home edding because school didn't fit her in so many ways and it finally sunk in for me that life's too short to spend bringing up an unhappy child! (even if that means we live in chaos!)

The plan for the summer was to have loads of nice days out, talk a lot about home edding, do loads of research and make loads of plans.

What actually happened in summer was running here there and everywhere doing a lot of work, being ill and dealing with various other life stuff and the home ed chat got cut to a few conversations here and there and dd jumping at the idea.

So that's changed the plan for this term from starting it today all planned and ready to starting it next Monday because we all need time to get our heads together blush. And instead of having meticulous planning we're opting for the organised chaos approach instead but I think that'll work fine grin. DD wants structure, I want autonomy and think DP wants to stop being asked to play Lego quite so much - we'll sort it in the end! Looking forward to finding some home edders/groups around here, if there are any.

gulpfiction Tue 04-Sep-12 11:40:31

*sank, not sunk - I could learn a lot too wink

Helenagrace Tue 04-Sep-12 12:34:24

toffee I thought about trying to stay under the radar but I was advised (by the local HE group organiser) that if I go to them and tell them they'll be happier. She's been heavily involved in working with our LA and revamping the way they deal with HEers so hopefully she knows what she's doing! DD's old school keep pressurising me to give them the name of the school she's moving to so I don't think we'd be under the radar for too long anyway. I figure it's less likely to arouse suspicion this way.

I've sent them a letter telling them we're HEing and quoting the act. I've asked for communication in writing. We'll see what happens. I did say in the letter that it will be a temporary measure until we relocate and that we're probably relocating before Christmas. Hopefully this will mean they'll leave me alone!

I've drafted an ed phil this morning. It's 4 pages long!!!! It's quite inspiring to write down what we want to achieve and why we're home edding.

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