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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 Mon 18-Mar-13 12:00:08


I had forgotten that with a project you can incorporate lots of subjects. I must suggest it again. The last History project we did ended up looking at composers, it wasn't what we started with. I can't even remember what the topic was but it wasn't composers, lol.
My house too needs a good spring clean, I have tackled a large pile of ironing this morning and there's at least 4 loads of washing. I really don't know where it all comes from. Well ill or not dd will have to do her room I can't see the floor atm. grin more life skills here.

ToffeeWhirl Mon 18-Mar-13 16:03:28

Managed to get DS1 to put his washing on and clear out the rubbish in his room (including under the bed) - but you have never heard so much grumbling! Maybe I need to threaten him with another Freaky Friday, where we swap roles. We did this a couple of weeks' ago after watching the Disney film. DS1 lasted till midday doing my jobs, then begged me to swap back. I was quite enjoying being a 13-year-old boy though. It seemed to involve a lot of watching YouTube, being supplied with food and watching other people work grin.

morethan - could your DD choose the topic? I always remember DS1 choosing to study deep-sea creatures when he first came out of primary school. I was astonished because he'd never told me he was interested in them.

Is your DD seeing enough of her friends still, morethan? Following our venture into our local home ed group on Friday, I have been encouraging DS1 to invite an old school friend round. He chats to him online, so it would be easy to do, but DS1 can't bring himself to do it. Have also emailed someone with a son of the same age in the local home ed group to see if she would like to get together some time.

I hope everyone else on this thread is getting on ok.

morethanpotatoprints Wed 20-Mar-13 21:19:34

Hi Toffee.

Yes I think she would be fine choosing a topic, there may be a problem completing it though and chances are it would be musically related.
Had a chat with dh and we decided that too much music can't be healthy for a person. Sometimes she isn't interested in anything else.

I think your ds is doing fine and contact online is better than none. But yes I can see your idea of inviting a friend round to be so beneficial to him. I think he would cope well in his own environment.
We don't encourage enough play dates for dd, but its difficult. Even when she was at school all her activities meant she didn't play after school or weekends. We always have lots of friends over and visit them during the holidays.
She does complain about it a bit but when I explain that this hasn't changed she is fine and believes it is her choice what she does regarding activities and this is good for her to understand I think.

She is much better now and did the concert last night, today as usual a little bugger to deal with, another concert tomorrow with solos so Friday we'll have a Prima Donna for the day, then back to normal Saturday grin

ToffeeWhirl Wed 20-Mar-13 22:13:12

Hi morethan. It's fantastic that your DD has found her passion so early in life. She is very lucky. Am not sure if too much music is ever unhealthy. Maybe that's what she needs right now.

I'm glad she's so much better and was able to do her concert.

DS1 was very happy today because his best friend had a day off school and came round to see him this afternoon. It has really cheered him up. Also, I met up with a friend of a friend who has taken her son out of school and we are planning to get our boys together soon, as it turns out they have a lot in common.

Good luck with your prima donna on Friday!

morethanpotatoprints Wed 20-Mar-13 22:53:07

Wow Toffee that is amazing, a complete dream. A lot in common to boost.

This is brilliant as they could work together, at each others houses too, which ould give you and your friend alternate breaks. Oh, I would so love this, you lucky person. grin

Yes there is definitely too much music in our house, especially as dh practices most days and teaches from home as well. Seriously, I meet a colleague of his who know us well and they are all really sorry for me and offer sympathy. grin

ToffeeWhirl Sat 23-Mar-13 00:24:34

morethan - well, the other mother has just enrolled her son in a Steiner school, so he won't be home educated after all, but we are still meeting up. I hope the meeting goes ok.

DS's OCD has gone a bit haywire, so we spent today visiting the doctor, then cheering ourselves up with YouTube clips and telly. And DS practised his guitar. He has an appointment at hospital next week to see how much damage he has done to himself with his latest OCD habit sad.

How did your DD's solo go today?

morethanpotatoprints Sat 23-Mar-13 09:48:45


Latest OCD habit, I have tried to see if you mention it but can't find it. Hope is is ok Toffee. Sending both you and him bigs hugs. The poor lamb has certainly been through t'mill, as we say around here.

DD no prima donna tendencies but we did have tears and hurting boobs, don't know why I feel so upset and headaches. Hilda hormone called yesterday, lol. She seems to young at 9, she's still my baby smile

ToffeeWhirl Sat 23-Mar-13 16:08:45

Nine is too young, morethan - poor DD. Can't believe nine-year olds getting sore boobs and teenage hormones. Of course she's still your baby, regardless!

Thanks for the hugs smile.

ToffeeWhirl Mon 15-Apr-13 14:59:36

Am restarting our home ed tomorrow after today's INSET day for DS2 is over. We are getting a kitten next weekend (a much-wanted pet for DS1), so much of our week will be spent reading about kitten care grin. The week is looking quite varied so far, as DS1 has Maths, farm therapy and guitar lessons starting up again, as well as the usual Maths, Science and English with me.

We are also going to be spending time every day working through a workbook on OCD and how to manage it, whilst we wait for the professional appointment to come through hmm.

Hope home ed is going well for your DD, morethan.

justaboutalittlefrazzled Fri 26-Apr-13 20:49:29

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ToffeeWhirl Fri 26-Apr-13 22:58:17

<blows dust off thread>

Hi, justabout! This thread is running if anyone wants it smile. When it started there were several of us just starting out, so it was good to have each other to chat with.

I'm sorry to hear about your son's condition. That must be terribly difficult for you and for him. I hope he is getting the treatment he needs. It's good to hear that the school are being so supportive.

I can understand you being fed up with him watching telly, but there must be loads he can watch (and I'm sure does watch already) that would help him learn. My DS2 amazes me with the stuff he knows about history that he's learned from Horrible Histories.

Do you read to him? When my DS1 came out of school, I read books to him at first, as he isn't a great reader himself. We both enjoyed it and it was a good bonding exercise.

Must go as it's getting late here, but do come back and chat anytime.


justaboutalittlefrazzled Sat 27-Apr-13 00:52:13

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

nikkishe Wed 08-May-13 10:50:52

Hi. I have just withdrawn my 12 year old daughter from her school and am looking to home school her. There is so much information out there that I have found trying to come up with a good plan slightly overwhelming. Does anyone have any advice on any good books or web resources? Thank you!

ToffeeWhirl Wed 08-May-13 14:19:53

Hi, nikk, I have just bumped the thread on home ed' books for you. Am just about to go out, but will come back later with more info for you, if I can think of anything useful.

When I started homeschooling my DS (he was 11), we used BBC Bitesize a lot to start with, as he really enjoyed it and found it fun. I also read to him a lot (he is not a great reader himself, but enjoyed this).

However, if your daughter has just had a traumatic time at school, she may just need to relax for some time first. Maybe you should both enjoy some time together, making the most of the sunshine and visiting museums/gardens/parks, etc?

Will think about more work-type stuff for you later.

HTH (for now!)

ToffeeWhirl Thu 09-May-13 14:18:04

There's a thread which might be helpful to you here, Nikk.

I think it's normal to feel overwhelmed when you first take your child out of school to home educate. I found making a plan very useful. Like most new home educators, I also bought far too many books, but I am hoping they will get read one day by at least one of my children.

Every home educator does it their own way and every home educated child is different and needs different things, but here is what I did:

First, I looked at what DS1 would be learning at school and considered which subjects he should still do. I decided that he should keep studying Maths, English and Science. Other subjects were encouraged, but they were more his choice.

DS1 does a little bit of those three subjects every day. When I say a little bit, it really is only 15 minutes sometimes. We are working through a Science workbook with marked assignments from the Little Arthur School, but that is not necessary and I probably won't do it again. However, it made me feel better to pay for a course. Next time, I will just buy a textbook and we'll work through it together.

For Maths, DS1 has a tutor for an hour a week and then uses Galore Park workbooks, BBC Bitesize and Education Quizzes the rest of the time. The latter is good for all the subjects and I often get DS to do one of their tests after we've studied a particular topic. He really loves doing these quizzes.

We have tried various online Maths programmes and some children love them, but DS doesn't, so I haven't pushed him.

I am an English graduate, so I cover English myself. We read together and look at grammar (one of my bugbears). At the moment, I am reminding DS of how writing can be used for different purposes and he has written some pieces about our new kitten. So far, he has written a description of the kitten, then a leaflet about how to look after your new kitten and today he is going to do some research into how cats became domesticated and write about that.

We also study topics, as they cover so many different subjects. For example, we looked at slavery in Black America. This involved historical research, reading, writing, drawing, use of IT, etc. I like using lapbooks because they are easy to make and useful for revision. Currclick do some readymade, cheap ones that you can download. We did their one on Dickens at Christmas.

Left to his own devices, DS would simply be on his XBox all day, so I am quite strict about sticking to a timetable. Lots of home educators wouldn't dream of doing this. You need to do whatever works for you and your child.

We also go on some trips, but DS suffers a lot from anxiety (which is why he's not in school), so he often finds these hard. But when he can manage it, we go to animal sanctuaries, parks, etc. I also make sure he keeps in touch with old school friends.

Have you found a local home ed group yet? That will be a good source of ideas and support for you, as well as companionship for you and DD. I googled my local area on Yahoo and found a couple of groups that way.

I really hope that you and your daughter soon settle into your new lifestyle. I was much too frantic and worried about it all at the beginning. It took me at least three months to become a bit more laid back.

busygirl Sat 11-May-13 14:04:29

hi everyone.i'mpulling DD(5) out of school after end of term in july,can't wait!only thing is,where do I start?she can read well,not much interest in writing and math....many ideas i see are for older kids.can someone give us some practical suggestions to try and get started?there are 2 younger sibilings aswell.thanks!alsothere are some little wrkbooks in WHS and the like(tell the time,phonics etc)are they any good?

ToffeeWhirl Sat 11-May-13 17:17:16

Hi busygirl. As your DD is so young and she is finishing school in July, you can look forward to lots of days out and just letting her play. There is a helpful website with ideas for home educating little children here. It's a bit out of date, but still has useful ideas and links to craft sites and suppliers.

I really like The Woodland Trust website - it has loads of free activities and printouts for things to do at home and outdoors. My younger son (7) joined their Nature Detectives Club but, to be honest, it was a bit of a waste of money as we never do the weekly challenge.

I'm not sure about the WHS workbooks. It will probably make you feel better to get them, or something like them, but whether you will use them all is another matter! I did invest in a lot of books, but my son was older (12) when I deregistered him. Personally, I like having textbooks to work through with my son as it makes me feel that we are making progress.

If your DD likes computer-based learning, we use BBC Bitesize. There's a link to their KS1 page here.

Best of luck and have fun.


busygirl Sun 12-May-13 08:51:17

Wow thanks lot of links to go through!does anyone have some kind of routine?don't want a strict one,but don't want to end up staying all day in pjs watching tv!

ToffeeWhirl Sun 12-May-13 10:43:15

Our routine is simply to get some formal work done in the morning. I have to take my younger son to school, so DS1 and I start work after breakfast on my return, which is usually about 10am. We could get all the work done really quickly, but it never works out like that, as DS1 dawdles, prevaricates, goes off to have a snack, needs a break, etc <sigh>. We usually finish by lunchtime. I try to get DS1 out for a walk, then it's time for the school pick up and DS1 rushes off to get on his XBox and talk to his friends online.

DS1 has OCD and anxiety, so getting him out is often a major battle and we are waiting for therapy for him. If he wasn't like this, we would do far more trips out which is, hopefully, what you can do.

I think if I was in your position, I'd encourage lots of learning through play - making a post office out of boxes and posting letters (thereby practising handwriting) and that sort of thing. I also love reading to my children and did a lot of that with DS1 when he first came out of school.

Hopefully, you can also get in touch with a local home ed group and find out about meet ups and events. I just googled my local town on Yahoo and found two groups that way. I get events emailed through to me (not that DS1 ever wants to go to any, but that's another story!).

My DS1 still practises handwriting because he finds it really hard, so he completes a page a day of a Schofield & Sims workbook. There's one here for your daughter's age group, but I'm sure there are lots of other books out there that are just as good.

Just thought of another website I use sometimes - I use the secondary version, but you need this. You have to pay for membership, so you may not think it's worth it, but might be worth a look anyway.

There is absolutely no need to have visits from the LEA, but I have found it very useful because our LEA contact has been so supportive. If you do want visits, it's worth bearing in mind that it helps to have something to show for your time. So, take photos of what you are doing together, eg. cakes you've made, artwork, make and do creations - even of your child sitting and reading a book. And keep any worksheets to show evidence of formal work. I know a lot of home educators are very against this, but I feel it's good for my son to do some formal work, it helps me feel we are making progress and it is useful to show as evidence of work completed. I also keep a home ed diary to show what we've done all day.

As for PJ days in front of the telly - one of the joys of home ed is that you can have those days! If DS1 is having a really difficult time with his OCD, it is a relief for me to say, "No work today - let's watch telly!" We have watched some great things together (not necessarily 'educational' in the usual sense of the word, though everything can be judged as educational, I suppose) and it is very bonding. My LEA contact suggested that I get DS1 to write a description of things he's watched and so I sometimes suggest doing that so that we still have something to show for our day together. The other day he became absorbed in a YouTube film on the escape from Alcatraz and all the other work was pushed aside. I managed my frustration by suggesting he write about it, so he typed up a description and I dated it and popped it in the file!

Sorry, didn't mean to make this so long, but I hope some of it helps.

busygirl Sun 12-May-13 12:28:34

It does help,a lot!thanks :-) am terrified very excited about starting :-)

busygirl Sun 12-May-13 12:39:08

I'm already in contact with my local group,been to a couple of meetings even tho I don't feel like I fit in much yet,but will keep on trying God willing.also a few of my friends are thinking about home ed and there's a possibility to take turns once or twice a week having each other kids so that could evolve in some kind of coop,who knows :-)

ToffeeWhirl Sun 12-May-13 15:29:41

Taking turns with friends sounds promising, busy. I haven't made any inroads into my local group, although they are very welcoming. It's a bit tricky when DS doesn't want to go to anything. Hopefully, that will be easier for you with your DD.

I remember that excited / terrified feeling very well. It'll be fine, don't worry. Friends often tell me they are impressed that I am home educating, but the difficult bit for me was getting DS1 to go to school - home educating is easy compared to that!

tweety76 Sat 08-Jun-13 07:21:37

Good morning!
My DS had his last day at school yesterday! We are officially HE now! It is so exciting. I have a couple of questions about curriculum support/packs but I will start a proper thread.
My DS was bullied for being different (bright child who loves violin...) and was not supported by mainstream ed.
I need to find a local network - can anyone help?
We are in North Manchester.

ToffeeWhirl Fri 14-Jun-13 22:37:13

Hi tweety76. Sorry, not been on this thread for a while as it was so quiet.

How are you and DS settling into home ed? I'm sorry he had such a horrible experience at mainstream and I hope he enjoys his new life.

Have you tried Yahoo groups for a local home ed support group? Also, Education Otherwise has links, but not sure if you need to be a member.

tweety76 Fri 14-Jun-13 23:10:30

Our ed phil is on my blog.Please see
which has details of how we have spent our days so far.
The LEA haven't visited yet, but as soon as they do I will be sure to mention it! The blog is for our benefit really so that I can record what we are up to, but it will also be available to the LEA should they want a report of any kind.
We start with the Galore Park books next week which will be supported with lots of visits to galleries...
I have registered with the MN blogger network and there are other home ed blogs there too which might be useful for all the newbies. It was scary at first, but once we pulled him out of school and began this whole home ed business it has been so the best decision.
Looking forward to hearing what your LEA say. We are under Bury LEA and haven't had any contact yet other than when I have phoned them.
I haven't found any HE groups yet but hopefully will do soon!

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