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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!

ToffeeWhirl Mon 11-Feb-13 13:41:16

Hi TBex. Yes, DS1 is doing much better, thanks. The next step is to get him to go on trips out of our immediate vicinity, but he's not up to that yet. I really want to take him to a couple of things in London (have tickets for the Big Bang Fair), but says he won't go.

I'm glad to hear your DD1 is doing well. We found it difficult to settle back into home ed after Christmas too and DS1 ended up having a very slow start.

How do you feel about DD2 also coming out of school? I have the same issue with DS2 (7), who is not happy at school anymore and keeps asking to be home educated like his brother. I wouldn't mind, but DS1 has said he would hate it and couldn't work with his little brother in the house, and DH is against it, so it's not an easy option.

I think it's a great idea for you to home ed DD3 for a year instead of her starting school in September.

Please tell me what it is about school that bores you rigid, when you get a mo. This is exactly what DS2 complains about. He says he is bored all the time sad. He is such a bright, interested boy and it is a real shame that he is finding school so dull.

Home ed with DS2 is still going well. We are struggling through equivalent fractions, but at least we can go at DS's pace. Science is going ok and DS1 is going to complete his first assignment to send off to the Little Arthur school this week, so we are revising together at the moment. We are still working through the lapbook on slavery in North America.

Hope everyone is still enjoying home ed and that anyone just starting out is coping well.

Iris1 Tue 12-Feb-13 21:00:18

Hi everyone who is reading.
Thought I would post an update as hubby finally agreed I can take both kids out of preschool so today was their last day.
Huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders. I'm also writing to educational psychology and stopping their involvement as I don't plan on ever sending ds to school to be honest and I think he's had rather enough assessments in his four short years to be going on with.
I'm so happy. The preschool was a nice place but their happier being out and about with me, something we haven't been able to do much of as their always in preschool or tired after it! And now I'll have all the money I was spending on fees to spend on taking them to things, and still have change. It was a rip off at 14quid for 3 hours, even still a fiver for my son who had funding! I must have been made spending all that money when I missed them so much but my eyes are opened now so not any more!
We had a lovely holiday last week with the in laws at center parts. We did a fab session meeting farmyard friends at the rangers lodge (ducks and I chickens, etc) kids loved it and ds has started his nature diary by writing about them and drawing pics.
Sorry to hear about the hard times some of you are having., tbex so sorry about what you have been through with your husband, but we'll done for he your dd all the while. It can't have been easy.
My sister had a brain tumour but right at the top of her spine (a very rare bone cancer apparently, afraid i don't know too many details) after an op and lots of chemo and radiotherapy she's doing well and getting on with life. It's an awful thing to go through it hope your husband is doing well.

toffee completely understand about your elder son not wanting youngest about. With his anxieties you may see it best to put his education and happiness first and keep ds2 in school for a while. I can imagine it must be tempting to pill him out and get rid of school completely, I wasn't aware he was so much younger sister obviously he wouldn't be able to get on with things while ds1 worked. From how you describe him he would likely need an active social life anyway and as ds1 finds going out and about hard he would probably soon wish to be back in school. As he's so young he probably is a bit jealous and wants all that time with you too. Hopefully it will pass.

Well I am going to get going with learning French with the kids too, currently researching resources, and found an Usborne book and dvd I might get and I considered watching films and cartoons they like in French and getting some picture books in French. I'm a bit rusty but remember a fair bit from my a levels!
HE is so exciting!

Hope everyone is doing well.

ToffeeWhirl Tue 12-Feb-13 23:44:39

Iris - congratulations! It sounds as if home education is going to be really fulfilling and fun for you all. I completely understand the liberation of stopping the involvement of all those professionals. Although it is often necessary, it has the unfortunate effect of making our children feel that there is something 'wrong' with them, which is the last thing they should feel.

I'm glad you had such a good holiday. It's wonderful to start home ed with a good event like that. DS1's home ed started in the summer holidays, so we spent the summer just doing fun things together ('deschooling', I suppose).

Yes, it's tricky about DS2. He is off school sick at the moment and I'm quite relieved not to have to struggle with his protests to be honest. He is no trouble at home and is perfectly happy to go off and play on his own, but DS1 gets really tense when he is around and can't concentrate. You are right - I'm sure DS2 is jealous of DS1 being at home with me.

Good luck with the French. At least you studied it at A level. I have been looking into Spanish resources, as DS1 has mentioned twice that he wants to learn Spanish. DH speaks it a bit, but I don't speak it at all and am not sure where to start confused.

I hope your first days of home ed go well. I found it took me a while to settle into it and relax about it. At first, I kept worrying that we weren't doing enough. I'm much more relaxed about it now, particularly now I realise how little gets done in a school day (thanks, TBex).

DS1 had a very good Maths lesson with his tutor today. I'm wondering whether to subscribe to ConquerMaths as well, as it was mentioned on another thread and it looks good.

Also, DS1 completed his first assignment for his Science course today and it looks as if he's answered everything correctly, which means he's actually learning something with me smile.

Am managing to fit English studies into our topic work on slavery. DS1 wrote a mini biography on Nat Turner yesterday and we will be looking at various other forms of writing this week. It's great how one topic can encompass so much from so many subjects.

Let us know how you're getting on, Iris smile.

ToffeeWhirl Thu 21-Feb-13 10:47:02

DS1 achieved 34 out of 35 on his Science assignment grin. It was wonderful to see his face - he couldn't believe it. His self confidence is so low after struggling to cope with school.

I have bought him a guitar after he expressed an interest. He has asked for lessons shock.

Hope everyone is getting on ok. We are enjoying a week off at the moment (we keep to school holidays, thanks to DS2 still being in the system).

ToffeeWhirl Sat 02-Mar-13 10:44:53

Bumping in case there are any new home educators who want to chat.

busyhands Thu 07-Mar-13 11:52:47

Looking for advice on HE going for IGCSE's
Hello, my first post ever!

We are about to begin HE our 13 year old daughter,I have found lots of HE parents who want unstructured learning, but we would like to do a couple of hours structured lessons every day working towards IGCSE and then afternoons free for music, horses and adventures. We hope to tutor her between her dad and I for some subjects and then hire tutors for others.

Has anyone else done the Cambridge IGCSE? any advice would be welcomed with open arms.

Advice on keeping a good social life for my teenager and other thoughts welcome, there seems to be many threads on HE the younger children but not so much on the teenagers.

I look forward to all your views, from Busyhands

ToffeeWhirl Thu 07-Mar-13 16:42:16

Hello busyhands. I am also home educating a 13-year old, so I am at the same stage as you. We are semi structured, I suppose. My DS studies English, Maths and Science daily (only about 15 - 30 minutes each) and then we fit other stuff in around that. I find lapbooks very useful at the moment, so we have made quite a few of those. Have just finished one on slavery. CurrClick does cheap, ready-made lapbooks.

From what I've picked up on here, people either work through the relevant IGCSE syllabus themselves, using textbooks, and then sit the exam at a local centre or school, or they use distance learning, eg Oxford Home Schooling (but you still have to find an accredited centre to sit the exam). There is also the Little Arthur school, which provides distance-learning courses for KS3 and IGCSEs. If you fancy a trip to the Isles of Scilly, where they are based, they are also an approved University of Cambridge exam centre. We are currently using their KS3 Science pack (which includes marked assignments) for DS1 and are very happy with it. I would certainly consider using them for IGCSEs when we get to that stage.

There's a good thread here which discusses how home-educated children go about taking IGCSEs.

Did you know that there is a website for structured home educators? It's called A Little Bit of Structure.

As far as socialisation goes, many home educators seem to have an extremely busy social life. The children keep in touch with old school friends (if they have been at school before), they make new friends in the home ed community, they go to clubs and so on. It sounds as if your DD will be meeting people through her interests anyway. Have you been in touch with your local home ed group? Do a search on Yahoo if you haven't already. I am a member of two home ed groups here and there are all sorts of meet ups and trips going on every week, which provide ample opportunities for socialisation.

To be honest, socialisation is a bit of an issue for my DS1 at the moment, but that is mainly because he suffers from anxiety and has been avoiding mixing with other children, apart from his one good friend. I keep offering opportunities to him and he has spent the past year steadfastly refusing them all because he is not ready. He does, however, benefit from mixing with our own friends and neighbours, as well as from his tutors (he has a Maths teacher and a guitar teacher) and his younger brother. The great thing is that he is now beginning to miss the company of other children and coming round to the idea of meeting up with other home educators, which I see as a very healthy sign.

If you want advice from the more experienced home edders (as we are all newbies on this thread), I suggest you start your own thread on the home ed board.

I hope your DD enjoys her new life. Let us know how you're getting on!


busyhands Sat 09-Mar-13 14:37:40

Dear ToffeeWhirl, what a wonderful reply, so many heartfelt thanks for all the advice and practical links. I know that what we are doing is right for our girl but we have had so many negative comments that it had begun to wear down my soul!

I had heard of Little Arthur and Oxford and had good comments on both so I will now get on and decide which and order our first schooling exciting. I had not heard of the Little bit of Structure group so many thanks for that , I am going to join this weekend.

I will try again with the local home Ed groups, so far I have only found the free educators who seemed to frown on us for wanting to create a type of formal structure...I am sure there are some more people like me close by..the search goes on!

Thanks for the advice on Social life, so glad to hear that your boy is coming out of his shell and wanting to see other friends, time has to be the only answer to these things, you sound like you have great patience, I am sure..given time and love ... he will learn to like the mad world in which we live!

Daughter rides at a great yard 1 day a week, perhaps more once we are in full HE, and there are plenty of teenagers there, so hope that will all be good. looking for a choir for her and may be a drama group. She also has friends from school that I hope she will keep, I suppose that I am just fed up with being told that I am taking away my daughters chance to be well socialised and ruining her ability to get on with others. I dont think this is the case, school is not for everyone, I think often that other parents are just taken aback that one could choose not to school a child so HE so it is bound to be an alien idea.

Once again so lovely to listen to you and all the contributors to this thread, thank you for putting a spring back into my step.

from busyhands

morethanpotatoprints Mon 11-Mar-13 20:07:00

Hello everyone, hope you are all doing well. Haven't posted for a while and just reading back over the thread now.

Hello busyhands.
Just ignore the negative comments, they'll soon give up. It must be soul destroying when you know you are doing the right thing for your daughter.
Everyone on here is friendly and I would second the advice to join the facebook pages and also post a thread for any help, advice or just to moan.

Toffee. Have you found a guitar teacher yet? If not pm me or ask on here and I can give you some tips.

Really glad to hear everyone is doing so well. grin
Oh forgot to say, dd is actually reading for pleasure, I never thought I'd see the day. Still reluctant with Maths and some English but hand writing has improved lots. So I'm quite pleased atm. She is regularly doing play alongs with cd's and her Dad and can play quite advanced jazz for a 9 yr old grin

ToffeeWhirl Tue 12-Mar-13 00:34:29

Busyhands - sorry you are getting so many negative comments. Try to let it wash over you and seek out the supportive people. As morethan says, they will soon get bored. I try to drop positive things into the conversation with relatives who are critical, eg. DS1 just achieved 34/35 for a Biology test. They can't argue with that! Or the fact that he is making so much progress emotionally (eg. has gone from not leaving his room to being able to go on trips out).

I'm really glad my links helped. It sounds as if your DD is going to have lots to keep her busy and happy - riding, choir, drama, school friends - so I'm sure she is going to love her new life.

morethan - thanks for asking about the guitar teacher. Because DS1 is at home during the day, there was no problem for the guitar teacher fitting him in (he's fully booked after school hours). He is a wonderful teacher for DS1 - patient, intelligent, funny, quirky - and DS1 really enjoys his lessons. Also, it turns out he has OCD like DS, so he really empathises with him. DS couldn't believe such a successful, apparently relaxed person could have OCD, so it has been an eye opener for him and given him hope.

I think playing the guitar could be life changing for DS. He is already strumming it to relax when he's feeling stressed (can't say I've heard a tune yet, but it's early days wink) and I can see that it will provide him with a useful social prop in teenage years.

How wonderful that your DD is now reading for pleasure. I shouldn't worry about her English if she's reading. She will soak up spelling and grammar from her reading, I would imagine. It's great that her handwriting has improved. DS1's spidery scrawl has also suddenly neatened up, much to my astonishment. He practises every day. He still can't write for more than a page because his hand hurts so much, but at least his writing is becoming neater and legible.

It must be wonderful to hear your DD and DH playing jazz smile. I am looking forward to hearing proper tunes on the guitar one day.

This evening DS1 cried out for us and DH found him just waking from a nightmare, soaked with sweat and shaking. He was dreaming that we had to take him back to school because the authorities were going to send us to prison if we didn't. I think the dream was triggered by us going to a cafe today that he used to frequent when he was, briefly, at secondary school. It took ages for DH and I to calm him down and reassure him that he never, ever had to go back to school. It's shocking how traumatic school was for him sad. Thank goodness we have this option to home educate.

DS continues to make progress. As well as taking up the guitar and showing an interest in Spanish, he is going back to his weekly sessions on the farm again and has finally agreed to meet up with a home ed group this week. We are going to bake cakes for Red Nose Day and sell them with the local group. I don't know if he will be able to bring himself to speak to anyone, but it's a major step that he will even go!

Must sort out the dining room now so there is room for DS's Math's teacher to teach him tomorrow. I don't think she will want to teach surrounded by dirty plates and piles of washing blush.

ToffeeWhirl Tue 12-Mar-13 09:01:03

Oh, and morethan, I remembered what you said on another thread about taking home ed stuff to a cafe to work and we did that yesterday. When I took DS1 out for lunch yesterday, I took some BrainBox geography cards with me and we played whilst we waited for our lunch smile. I don't think DS1 even noticed it was educational - it was just fun.

milk Tue 12-Mar-13 09:27:14

Hello everyone smile I am new to being a home educator smile

DS1 is turning 2 so thought I'd get a start smile He already loves looking at books, and scribbling smile

morethanpotatoprints Tue 12-Mar-13 10:18:02

Toffee grin at the social benefits of playing guitar in teen years, he'll be beating the girls off with a stick. Its amazing how they swarm around musicians. Its the idea of excitement smile.
When I read your posts I'm always amazed at how far your ds has come, in such a short space of time and what luck finding such a perfect guitar teacher. I would have loved to have seen you in the cafe, did you get any looks. I never do I must admit, sometimes somebody may ask a question but haven't experienced any negativity whilst out and about. Well apart from one woman who asked what dd had done wrong to be expelled shock. I wouldn't mind but she looks so sweet, lol. smile

morethanpotatoprints Tue 12-Mar-13 10:22:20

Hello milk, its never too young to start, you are so lucky if you know H.ed is what you want for your dc already. It took me a long time to realise it was even an option and have 2 older ds who have been through the system from start to finish. smile.
Looking at books is so important, do you also read to him alot? Mine have all really enjoyed listening to me read and audio books.

milk Tue 12-Mar-13 10:56:42

Our classes so far:

- reading
- scribbing drawing
- Duplo/building blocks
- flashcards (numbers/shapes/alphabet)
- "science experiments" - water play,paper aeroplanes etc

Any other ideas of things we can do together?

milk Tue 12-Mar-13 11:07:18

I forgot music time smile

ToffeeWhirl Tue 12-Mar-13 11:59:50

Welcome to the thread, milk. It's such a full-on time when DC are as young as yours. You'll probably cover hundreds of activities in one day. This website has some ideas on crafty things to do with young children. Cooking simple things is always fun too - cookies or making hot chocolate, for instance. I always had to get out to the playground or park at least once a day when mine were that young too, otherwise we started climbing the walls.

There are lots of wonderful ideas for things to do outdoors at The Woodland Trust.

morethan - your poor DD being asked what she did to be expelled! No, we didn't get any funny looks in the cafe.

DH has told DS playing the guitar will turn him into a 'chick magnet' when he's older grin!

milk Tue 12-Mar-13 16:46:48

Thanks ToffeeWhirl smile I shall look at the website smile

milk Wed 13-Mar-13 13:00:39

Today I am showing my son origami smile

ToffeeWhirl Wed 13-Mar-13 16:00:47

There are some origami printables for little kids here, milk. Did your son enjoy it?

DS1 went back to the farm today. This is 'farm therapy' run by an art therapist who owns a smallholding. He enjoyed his last sessions there before Christmas, but going back brought back his anxieties again. I had to be ToughMum and not let him wriggle out of going. It is good for him to practise overcoming his nervousness, plus he needs the exercise and fresh air. We were very late because of his anxieties, so it was a short session, but he managed to last till the end and seemed to enjoy it. Am hoping it will be easier for him next week.

Hope your first few days of home ed are going well, busyhands.

morethan - I love reading out loud to my DC too, although I read more to my younger son these days. Have been thinking of having a half-hour reading session with DS1 though, as he is out of the habit of reading to himself and I'd like to get him back into it. He would always choose computer time over reading, given the choice.

ToffeeWhirl Fri 15-Mar-13 15:01:19

Just back from our first venture to a home ed group. We made cakes for Red Nose Day and took them along to a home ed cake sale in the High St. The people were lovely and very welcoming, but it was all girls in the group and DS1 was overcome with anxiety. He couldn't talk to anyone and ended up getting panicky and begging me to leave. He is now furious with me for putting him through it, but I had to try.

Trying not to feel downhearted now.

morethanpotatoprints Fri 15-Mar-13 15:08:18

Toffee, really sorry he had a bad experience. Did you find out if the group was always girls?
Are there any other groups local to you that you can check out before going along? I know its easy to say don't be downhearted, but don't forget your ds has come along way in the past year, this is a blip honestly.
Perhaps he will take his frustration out on his guitar playing. I would be tempted to talk to him and explain why you suggested he went and the importance of trying these things and also its not the end of the world if they don't work out. Maybe if he doesn't see it as a big deal he might be more inclined to accept it a bit easier.
Hey your thread is in most active atm, well done Toffee. grin

ToffeeWhirl Fri 15-Mar-13 15:56:05

Thanks for your kind words, morethan smile. You are right - he has made a lot of progress. That's what I need to hear. And I need to remind him of that too, when he is ready to listen to me again without resentment. I need to remind him too that mistakes and setbacks are normal and ok. He has such a low opinion of himself that he can't cope with anything going wrong.

This particular home ed group is for anyone, but it has ended up being all girls.They were all younnger than DS too, so it really wasn't ideal for him. I had hoped there might be a couple of boys there at least. Interestingly, they are all autonomous home educators, but I didn't feel in the least bit unwelcome, even though I confessed wink that we are more structured in our approach.

The one good thing about today is that we have a lot of cakes left over!

morethanpotatoprints Sun 17-Mar-13 21:49:21

Hello everybody hope you are all doing well.
Not a lot to say really apart from Toffee you have been hiding your talent in Latin under a bushel. grin
DD has an awful cold and 2 concerts this week including a solo with her choir. She has gone to bed so miserable as she thinks she won't be able to sing.
Music lessons are cancelled tomorrow so she will be even more miserable.
I have decided to have a whole re think in terms of subjects and timing of the things she is doing. I don't want to be too formal but sometimes panic about so many subjects she is not being exposed to. She did Geography for the first time in ages last week. Can't remember the last time she did History and she loves this. Science is none existent and the Italian cds haven't seen the light of day for months. Too much bloody music.

ToffeeWhirl Mon 18-Mar-13 11:12:05

No talent for Latin here in the Toffee household, morethan.

<shudders at memory of getting only 39% in last Latin exam> blush

Sorry your DD has a bad cold. DH and I are battling colds too, but I have to admit DH's is much worse. He is streaming sad. I hope your DD is able to sing this week. It obviously means so much to her.

You say you are worrying about subjects. Could you do more topic work, maybe? Then you would be encompassing lots of subjects at once. When we studied slavery in North America, I realised that we were covering tons of subjects: History, English language and literature, Geography, Human Rights, etc etc.

My house is a tip. A dear friend came to stay for the weekend, so I was spending too much time with her to notice the gradual disintegration around me. Today, DS1 and I are going to tackle the house together (good life skills for him grin), as well as doing home ed. We are looking at plants in biology and I might suggest we watch an episode of David Attenborough's series on plants, although I'm mindful that DS was very bored by the last episode he watched. It's an easy and enjoyable way to learn, though.

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