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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!

morethanpotatoprints Wed 02-Jan-13 22:16:36

Hello everyone. HAPPY NEW YEAR and hello to hamstered,* betterthan* and richmal, I hope your first days of H.ed go well and that you feel welcome to post any questions or suggestions for others.

I have found everyone so friendly and helpful here which was so important when starting out.

Toffee, wow your ds has come a long way and I'm really pleased for him and you. Long may it continue, just goes to show how wrong school can be for some dc. Congratulations. smile

ToffeeWhirl Tue 08-Jan-13 12:18:11

Happy New Year to everyone - regulars and newbies smile.

It's very quiet on here. I hope that means home education is going well for everyone and that the Christmas holiday period was not too stressful (or even fun...).

Helen - I hope your house move was successful and that you are settling into your new home OK.

morethan - thanks for the good wishes.

DS1 has enjoyed a school-holiday break from home ed, alongside his school-educated brother. I can't really encourage him to do work when his brother is on holiday and, anyway, I was too busy with Christmas stuff and it was good for us both to have a break.

We had a relaxing, bonding day yesterday. We chatted about what we'd study next and have come up with a plan. DS1 is not interested in the Tudors (says he has studied it three times at school already!), so we are going to drop that topic and study slavery for History instead. I have lots of material ready for that: downloadable lapbook, films and books. It won't be an easy topic sad, but DS1 is very aware of social injustice and is of an age where he wants to learn about such things.

DS1 has also become very interested in experiments during the holidays and wants to do more of that, so we are going to hurry up and finish the bit of Biology we are studying, then do some winter experiments involving ice cubes and Kool Aid (anyone know a British equivalent of Kool Aid? confused).

He is also a bit bored with 'A Christmas Carol' (and we are both a bit fed up of Christmas stuff now) so I have ordered Michael Morpurgo's 'When the Whales Came' because we are hoping to go to the Isles of Scilly later this year and it is set there.

We made some carrot soup yesterday (fits in with our healthy eating topic last term wink). It was a lovely way of spending time together in a relaxing way and we enjoyed eating our efforts too.

Saw DS1's Maths teacher today. DS1 wasn't feeling well, so I ended up chatting with her instead and going over plans for this term. She is going to try and fit some of the Maths into the slavery topic, eg. distances travelled, percentages, etc.

Yesterday, we also did a questionnaire to see what sort of learner DS1 was and whether he is a right-brained/left-brained learner. Unsurprisingly, he is overwhelmingly right-brained, which fits with his dyslexia diagnosis. This means he learns best using pictures and colours and real-world experiences, but hates lists and worksheets. I'm going to use a lot more computer and DVD stuff in our work together from now on.

Speaking of that, DS1 wants to practise fractions on BBC Bitesize, so I'm going to have to get off the computer. Actually, he doesn't want to practise fractions at all - I'm sure he'd rather browse through funny YouTube videos - but I've told him he has to do some Maths!

Would be lovely to hear how you are all getting on and how the newbies are finding their first few days.

morethanpotatoprints Tue 08-Jan-13 21:25:26

Hello Toffee, wow you do planning.

We are both recovering from flu atm, all the family had it just after xmas. So with that and dh very poorly from boxing day, a crap time really. So glad it is over, lol. So I don't think we'll be doing much until next week.

I love your slavery topic, I don't suppose you are close enough to Liverpool. I took a group of students to the slave trail complete with guided tour, it was just as suitable for primary/secondary as Further Ed. I am also going to show dd The Colour Purple when we do this topic, maybe couple of years yet though.

A good way of recording facts that your ds might need to retain is on a poster, maybe within thought bubbles. My dyslexics used this method to learn case studies and theorists in Sociology. Obviously it cuts out the blurb leaving fewer words to concontrate on.

ToffeeWhirl Tue 08-Jan-13 23:48:26

Hello morethan. Sorry to hear you've all been ill. Sounds like convalescence is very much in order. One great thing about home educating is being flexible, so if you decide to take it easy this week, you can! I am still really enjoying this aspect of it.

I don't know anything about the slave trail in Liverpool. DS1 refuses to go on any trips outside our town (apart from our holiday or to see family), but we hope this will change in time. In the meantime, I'll see if there's a good website about the slave trail that we can look at. I hadn't thought of The Colour Purple - that's a good idea.

Re: planning. I had never really sat down with DS1 and discussed what he wanted to study before - not that I hadn't tried, but he wasn't interested. However, as his confidence grows, I think he's beginning to want to have more choice and control. Obviously, he'll be more motivated to learn if he's chosen a subject he is interested in.

Thanks for the tips on recording facts using a poster. That's a great idea. DS1 loves designing pictures on, so that would be something he'd enjoy, I think. Any more tips on teaching dyslexic-type children are very welcome! DS1 is so very different from me and I am still learning how he works.

Reading more about right- vs left-brain thinkers, I now realise school is predominantly aimed at the left-brain thinkers. So poor DS1 not only had to cope with his tics and OCD and general anxiety at school, but also with a learning system that didn't fit him at all sad.

We had another relaxed day today. DS1 read up on fractions on BBC Bitesize, then we made cookies. He really enjoyed mixing the dough - I think it reminded him of being younger, when we used to bake a lot together.

He even washed up afterwards!

richmal Wed 09-Jan-13 20:31:07

Happy new year to you all.

Morethan, we've had flu over Christmas too. Christmas dinner consisted of a bit of salad so on the plus side I lost a few pounds.

Hence it's been a bit of a bumpy start to HE. Mostly it's going well, but there's one or two things I'm having to re-think as I go. For example, I thought I'd be OK with most subjects, but I'm about to go on Amazon to find better books for English. The first few days have been hectic but I'm more confident now I've started.

I hope all the other new home educators are getting on well.

ToffeeWhirl Wed 09-Jan-13 21:19:33

Happy New Year to you too, richmal. Sorry you've had a bumpy start to HE. How horrible to be so ill on Christmas Day sad. On the plus side, if you are having a rough day healthwise you can always reschedule home ed (one of the advantages of home educating being its flexibility).

Hope you find some good books for English. Galore Park are a good series.

richmal Thu 10-Jan-13 19:55:48

I'll take a look at Galore Park. I've found something in a Letts series that I know she liked doing the maths version of; lots of stickers and wizards which she loves. But something more serious as well could give a good balance. So thanks for the recommendation.

morethanpotatoprints Sat 12-Jan-13 22:31:05

Hello Richmal , Toffee and others.

I found that dd read quite a lot during the early weeks and had I bought more books than I did we would be skint now.
Our library is seeing us a lot more recently and whilst its not brilliant it certainly helps to keep down costs.

As far as resources go I am still finding the tes website very good. Its a good informal monitoring/assessment tool for when you have maybe wondered from the curriculum and want to do a topic from the N.C, as all the resources are listed in year groups or key stages (upper, or lower). Also very cheap to print.

Hope everyone is better if been ill, we are mostly recovered now.

ToffeeWhirl Sun 13-Jan-13 11:21:56

Hi morethan. I use the TES website too. I also use the Teachit English website. Teachit have websites for the other subjects too, but I haven't used those so far.

I also use the Khan Academy website (kindly recommended by Helen). DS1 and I are covering fractions at the moment and there are videos explaining, for example, equivalent fractions. They explain them much better than I ever could!

richmal - I have Galore Park books for Maths, English and History. DS1 is 13, so we are using the ones aimed at 13+. The Maths one is excellent - really clear examples and questions to test understanding. We are working through that. However, I find the English and History ones too dry and academic for DS1 at the moment, although I have used them myself to give me ideas to try. DS1 might be ready for them at a later date.

DS1 and I watched 'The Hunger Games' on DVD on Friday. Later, I downloaded a really useful teaching resource from National Films Week, which DS1 and I will use on Monday.

Summersbee Sun 13-Jan-13 19:55:54

Hi, I'm not a home-educator but have moved around a lot with my children and dipped in and out of different education systems, and I love being with my children at home. If you use the TES website, have you tried out A Green Mouse language resources and if so, for what ages?

morethanpotatoprints Sun 13-Jan-13 20:12:07

Hello Summersbee.

I haven't seen A Green Mouse, my dd is 9 and interested in learning a foreign language, if this is what the resources are. Her problem is she can't decide which!
I will have to have a look, as I haven't been on for a while. I downloaded too much in the beginning and have files full of resources we probably won't use. I do find it so useful though because you obviously get a chance to view the content and of course they are all free. The only main problem I have is sometimes something really good isn't adaptable to one child. But that's hardly the fault of the author.
Thanks Summersbee I will have a look.

Summersbee Sun 13-Jan-13 20:58:05

I've just had a bit of trouble finding A Green Mouse within the TES website, but then, just by typing A Green Mouse TES into Google, it all came up.

morethanpotatoprints Sun 13-Jan-13 23:02:40

Haven't looked for the ominous green mouse yet as been procrastinating tonight. Mainly looking for new long or intelligent sounding words to impress my dh, a little game we play. Caveat is my word of the day, lol. This flaming green mouse is playing on my mind so could be a late night again.

Summersbee Tue 15-Jan-13 10:27:41

Hi morethanpotatoprints, if your dd likes animals as well as languages, this would be a sweet one (it's free):

morethanpotatoprints Wed 16-Jan-13 17:47:53

Hello Summersbee.

She's not particularly into animals but obviously wouldn't wish any harm to any. It is something I would like her to have a bit of an interest in but atm its Music, History, (Maths and Eng) that I sort of cajole her into. She did start Italian but this is hard as few free resources (probably as not a nc subject). Now she said she would like to do German that seems a bit more accessible.

morethanpotatoprints Thu 17-Jan-13 22:12:19

Thanks Summersbee.

Putting the thought of animals into my head I suggested she started a topic on anything she wanted to. Well not exactly an animal but she came up with Ladybirds.
She googled it and found a really good website with children's pages. I think it was just Its really good and can really recommend it as a starting point. I never knew there were so many different types.

ToffeeWhirl Sat 19-Jan-13 10:02:08

morethan - I googled the Liverpool Slave trail after you mentioned it. It looks wonderful, especially with the guide who has made it his life's work to find out about the history. However, it would mean about six hours' travelling for us to get there, so is not an option for us, sadly.

There's a factsheet on ladybirds at the Woodland Trust website here and probably lots of other stuff too if you search on their website.

Hi Summersbee. I use the TES website a lot - not for languages, but for other subjects. It's very useful.

How is everyone getting on? DS1 and I have had a good week. He had a really good Maths lesson with his tutor on Tuesday and also had help on setting up his Raspberry Pi from someone who knows a lot more about IT than me or DH!

We have been tackling fractions <sobs quietly>. Anyone have any good ideas about teaching them? We are using strips and circles to show different sizes (downloaded from Mathsdrill), but it's a struggle. The Maths teacher is , as you would expect, much better than me at explaining it all, but I still need to work with DS on them during the rest of the week.

Science is going well (we are working through 'Core Science 1', published by CUP) and DS1 has just started a touch-typing programme that we ordered years ago (NessyFingers - designed for dyslexics). He wouldn't use it before, but he's changed his mind.

He has also decided to take up a climbing class with his best friend. This is the boy who couldn't leave his room a year ago, let alone go to any classes shock. He may not be able to stick with it, but the very fact that he wants to go is progress worth celebrating.

I would love to hear how everyone else is getting on.

morethanpotatoprints Sat 19-Jan-13 13:37:05


What a shame about the slave trail, but you are right about the long distance. I wasn't sure where you were and I think its worth it if you are quite local. Re thought The Colour Purple as well and not sure that's a good idea. On reflection I think there was a rape scene. I'm not very good with my suggestions I'm afraid. grin
Will check out the ladybirds at Woodland Trust (well get dd to). From my own experience learning fractions was so much easier if I had a working model like for e.g a large circle/ pie with different shaded areas representing different fractions. You could also colour coordinate other resources such as red are halves, blue quarters, green eighths etc. Visual applications really helped me to get a grip in Maths and I struggled such a lot.
So happy he is out and about now, he is doing so well.

She is still doing lots of music although I think the exams are going to wait until summer now. I think too many exams can make some dc lose spirit and I don't want this for dd. I'm sure its more important to enjoy what you are doing. I also found that all her interests include an exam, not really my doing but part of the activity. So lots of music making fun with a bit of maths and English, Ladybird project, and whatever takes her fancy atm.

ToffeeWhirl Sat 19-Jan-13 14:27:39

Thanks for the suggestions, morethan. We have 'Roots' to watch, but I seem to remember there are rape scenes in that too, so will have to check it first, or maybe only show certain episodes.

You are so right about the visual representations for fractions. I will try and do more of that and use real-world things, not just books. DS's teacher is using practical applications for geometry - getting him to measure rooms to find out area and that sort of thing.

On the subject of DS doing well - he has gone out sledging with his best friend this afternoon shock. Turned out another boy was there too, which will make it a bit more of a challenge for DS, but it's a good thing for him to mix more. I hope he's having fun. I can't believe that he's able to do this sort of thing at last. I was reading an old diary just now about how ill he felt at school and how I was told to keep sending him in regardless. What hell he went through sad.

I'm so glad to hear that all is going well for your DD and that she is enjoying being able to study music as much as she wants. How is she getting on with Maths and English? You were thinking of getting her assessed late last year because you were concerned. Any progress with that?

morethanpotatoprints Sat 19-Jan-13 14:48:09

Hi Toffee.

I had to respond as your post made me remember Roots. I can remember the series on t.v when I was about 11. The story of Kunta kinte (don't know spelling) was so compelling. An awful time in history, but as with the wars we mustn't forget. I think your ds was very brave attending school for so long and he will remember and appreciate the efforts you went through to remove him from such a damaging situation.
I am still amazed at how many parents don't know that the law states it is the parents responsibility to educate their dc either school or otherwise. So many just follow the masses believing they have to. Myself included here.

The maths and English are still very slow and she doesn't like them if I try anything too formal. So still quite a few practical type exercises, such as diary and journal which are the only things I will push her to do. I am still considering an assessment as I think it may help if she goes to music school for them to understand the problems she has. Apart from this though I don't know what gaining a label will do for her.

ToffeeWhirl Sat 19-Jan-13 15:15:51

Hi more.

It sounds as if you are taking the right approach to English and Maths by keeping it informal. I find that just doing 5 - 10 minutes a day of formal work on the things DS1 doesn't enjoy but has to learn, like handwriting, is enough for him to make progress without too much stress.

DS1 has loads of labels and they all seem irrelevant now he's not at school. However, they have all been useful because knowing the issues has meant we have been able to find out how to help him. And they have helped him to understand himself and know why he is different. We certainly never made a big deal of it and we didn't tell him all of them at once. So I would always advise going for an assessment. In fact, a friend of mine has just received a diagnosis of dyslexia in her 40s and it has been a weight off her mind. She just thought she wasn't as bright as everyone else (in spite of many qualifications). It would have been so much better for her confidence if she'd known earlier.

I wasn't allowed to watch Roots when it was first on, but watched it a few years ago with my DH. I particularly remember that first heartbreaking episode where the boy is taken away from his family forever. It haunted me for a long time.

I hope you are right about DS appreciating the efforts we made to remove him from school. I worry that we didn't do it soon enough and that he will resent me for the many times I made him go in when he was ill with anxiety. I had the weight of so-called 'experts' on my back and I believed he needed to go to school to have a decent future. We all assume children have to go to school until we have to look for an alternative and then it's a revelation to discover that they don't! And then it's another revelation to discover that they don't have to follow the National Curriculum and can study whatever they want! In fact, home education is one revelation after another smile.

DS2 is keen on being home educated himself now. He says school is awful and he's bored. I would home educate him too (particularly after a friend who is also a TA at the school told me how dreadful she thinks the state school system is and why sad), but DS1 would struggle with sharing me during the day (he needs a lot of one-to-one help still) and DH doesn't support me in home educating DS2, so DS2 needs to stay at school for now. He doesn't have the SNs that DS1 has, is doing well in his work and has lots of friends, so he's ok, but he knows there's an alternative, which most children don't.

morethanpotatoprints Sat 19-Jan-13 21:01:34


I'm sure he already appreciates what you have done for him. I spoke to dd when she said she wanted to H.ed, although obviously not the same situation as you. I said that if we found it wasn't right she must say so and she could go back if she wanted. Also at that time it seemed the right thing to do.
If you tell your ds you did something about the situation as soon as you were able/ knew about H.ed he will never be under any doubt as to your intentions. I'm sure he won't need this reassurance because just talking to you a blind man on a galloping horse could see it was the right decision for your ds. If he does though remember that we all believed our dc had to go to school, we would be prosecuted, fined etc if they didn't.

ToffeeWhirl Sun 20-Jan-13 00:11:55

I hope DS1 appreciates why we did what we did, more. Maybe as he gets older, he will ask more questions and we can explain more then. I like your analogy about the 'blind man on the galloping horse' grin. Even my contact at the LEA says that she thinks home ed is the best thing for DS1.

DS1 has decided to stay overnight with his friend. This is about the right amount of socialising for him at the moment. He will come back happy and ready for some time to himself tomorrow.

morethanpotatoprints Mon 21-Jan-13 21:10:49

Hi toffee the analogy is a northern expression I believe. Although both dh and I use it we were from different areas. Me Cheshire coz I'm a posh bird and my dh from Lancashire.
How did your ds go on with his play in the snow? Hope he was ok.

Have you any idea what has happened to the others. Not heard from Colleger or Helen since before xmas. Have a feeling they have gone back to school.

ToffeeWhirl Mon 21-Jan-13 23:30:20

DS had a great time with his friend, thanks for asking more. He is just so happy at the moment smile. He didn't ring me until 2pm on Sunday as he had been out sledging with his friend again.

Tomorrow he is going to a taster class in climbing. He has also asked if he can learn the guitar, as he had a go at his friend's guitar and really liked it. It is wonderful to see his interests developing as his confidence grows.

I have no idea what has happened to Helen and Colleger. I assume they are just busy with their lives. Was there a possibility their children might go back to school? I thought they all seemed quite happy with home ed.

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