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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 Thu 06-Sep-12 21:43:24

Wanted to add my good luck wishes to other newbies, but am a bit late as just back from holiday. Starting tidying loose ends tomorrow and will start on monday. Glad to see alot of you are off to a good start here's hoping it goes well for us too. I can't see dd wanting to do much but has said she would like to record a presentation of her holiday memories. Very good for her as although usually confident she would never listen to her own voice or even like being recorded.

mam29 Fri 07-Sep-12 08:01:57

Glad everyone had a good thursday was such a sunny day here.
It was 1st time in 10weeks i just had 1 child at home as

6year old school
3year old-nursery

so just had baby 17month old and played with him.
was intending to do housework but dident do much.

dd had gym at school she loves it.
need to ring ballet company for trial for 3year old as is a surprise for her birthday a shes 3on 16th but looks so much older.

Shes having a small party so been planning that.

well thur update.

pushy mum cornered me after morbing drop off to say

because she brought the entire oxford reading tree and did it hour a day over summer her dd who was behind mine has climbed 3levels and is higher that mine-felt like saying something very rude but resisted.I hate the overcompetativeness and obsession with flipping levels. She said shes been in and had a chat with teacher and she agrees that she needed to be moved up level 6.
She must have done that 1st day as in morning they seem like they have no time for parents and yesterday afternoon a supply teacher let them out!.
Of course pushy mum knows what levels people are on as she volunteers as guided readersad.I refused to get engaged in her silly games.

dd informs me they set the tables for numeracy and shes on bottom.

Guess i feel dissapointed they not noticed any of work we done over summer or wonder if kids differerent at home to school.

On a more interesting note

spoke to french mum.

french school changed days depending what year they in.

do her eldest will have thur off now
and her younger one who just started reception will have wed.

I just think this could be good as demonstrates school willing to be flexible and makes me slightly more hopeful.
But I realise its different , it really does depend on how anti home ed head is.

I want a thur and thats a pe day but she does hour gym after school on thur and cheerleading friday so hoping that would count and willing to take on extra homework to make up whats missed

T bex last year the ta seemed to hlep the bottom tables and teacher ith the top ones.

I know they have ta this year -dont know her hours and havent met her yet.
I dont want to be mirco managaging the teacher and telling her what she should e doing as that would do their heads in and not helpful has to be correct level for child not what parent wants.

I dident do any official books over summer.

because dd as fixated with levels-dont think its healthy
we went to lobary got out books |@she wanted and told her to read for enjoyment, that levls taked the fun out of it and she read quite a bit-I dident

buy entire oxford reading tree from amazon-as they quite boring and not my style.

I also let her have time to relax over summer and not been formerly academic with her want her to love learning.

can anyone reccomend any nature books that are easy to read?
like a fact based book but for younger kids so like a little persons encyclopedcia?

last year she was coming home with level 3 books and reading with ease.
she says this term shes level 5 but wont know for sure until later.

Guess I can discuss somethings ith head but dont want to come accross as

competative pushy parent
negative and non supportive of school.

Think will have to tread carefully

going to ask for 1 day i think as dont think he will give me 2.
if gets go ahead then will use hopeful success in year 2 to try get 2days in year 3.

Socially dd likes school jsut worry about jher in class not in playground.

Spoke to another parent whos child had help last year and she was told he would continue to get help this year with literacy.

But i havent been told that she had 8weeks extra help with ta last year and heard nothing since and no support with numeracy.

ToffeeWhirl Fri 07-Sep-12 11:04:44

Welcome, morethanpotatoprints smile. The holiday presentation sounds like a lovely idea.

Today is our 'informal' day. So far, DS1 has watched half a film with DH and now we are just off to visit an animal sanctuary nearby. Fits in neatly with the 'life processes' stuff we have been looking at in Biology, although DS just thinks we are looking at rescue dogs grin.

Will come back later and chat properly.

<waves to morethan, Helen, mam, colleger and Tyrannosaurus, Iris and gulp>

Helenagrace Fri 07-Sep-12 11:35:33

I just ordered the galore park french course. Should be here next week.

I also found a maths book in the library which is all aboout rollercoasters. DD really enjoyed it this morning. Must look and see if there are more of them. I think what we did was revision BUT she learned that you have to be very careful to check what data set you need when looking up numbers in a table.

Geography later - weather. Think we might make a rain guage (we live near the Lake District - it will be well used!!)

Science after that - electricity.

Then we're going trampolining again as DS wants to try it. Well when I "we" I mean "them" - I'm sitting in the cafe area with my book and a coffee!!

DH has been offered a job in Croydon. I think we're taking it so that means moving. No idea where but I'm quite drawn to West Sussex.

CuttedUpPear Fri 07-Sep-12 12:23:51

Watching this thread, new home edder, hoping for clues in how to proceed!

Iris1 Fri 07-Sep-12 16:55:01

Hi eveyone not posted for a couple of days been rather busy making the most of thebdry and rather sunny weather! We have been to a few different parks, stay and play at the park sure start and played in the garden. When it comes to learning i think academics are pusdhed too early here and playing is very important which brings me to my thoughts for mam29. If i was you that pushy mum would have done my head in too, its good you just ignored her she was obviously showing off and got no response!!! I think its awful kids are sat at tables according to ability and your dauggter knowing she is bottom - what a way to destroy confidence she is6!!
I think you are right reading should be for enjoyments not levels!! as a child i never did level books with my mum but we went to the library and i read for enjoyment and as such my reading was great. I alway read for pleasure and i got As at gcse in english so i definately thimk children should be taught the wonder of reading and magic of books not havinvg this all taken away by schools!
anyway must go for now ill pop back on tonight.

morethanpotatoprints Fri 07-Sep-12 19:35:38

Hello all.

We have done very little of significance today really. She labelled a book for spelling and writing sentences that we are doing in mornings. I have a time table printed with wk 1 and wk 2 which alternates the order of musical activities and paractice during the morning. She is pleased she gets do play so much and is looking forward to a new string ensemble and choir starting again next week. She chose Ancient Egyptians for history topic and for maths I thought she could work through a book until she comes unstuck. Not chosen a Science subject yet but imagine it will contain ants, worms, slugs and snails. My dd is so charming.

morethanpotatoprints Fri 07-Sep-12 19:51:01

Have just noticed some posts about ed philosophy. Completely unjudgemental here but how on earth can you fill 4 sides. Should I do one for in case the LEA get in touch. I already know they can't come here as my dh has pupils during the day and it wouldn't look right for them I mean.
Thought of meeting them in library with my pen drive full of resources, plans etc.

TyrannosaurusBex Fri 07-Sep-12 20:12:40

I have to do an education philosophy for week after nextsad. And timetables, which makes me think our LEA takes no notice of anything home edders tell them. I do not intend to use timetables.

mam29 Fri 07-Sep-12 20:33:02

wow a home ed philosopy that sounds heavy and complex.

I think mission statement would have been better wouldet think would fill more than 2sidess a3.

I woud start with

why-short paragraph on reasons wanted to home ed.

How-breakdown of subjects with rough idea of topics wanting to do

splut into term 1 , 2,3
maybe add educational day trips to x place linked to this topic.


to improve levels and help child achieve potential.
encourage independant learning
to instill love of learning.

T bex when say timetables-think window dresssing.

type something up for show.
dont stick to it.
at end of year if lea come back

progress from child and full portfolio of work should be all they would need to reassure. them surly as you not a school, you not tied to curriculum.

Maybe toffee whirl have some ideas as her la seem home ed freindly and helpful.
I guess you could always try ringing them to discuss.

well day 3 of school done and its already doing my head in.

had letter home with year 2 curriculum sounds so dry and boring.

in confusion over daughters reading level.
couldent speak to teacher as she was cornered by pushy mum who was itching to get into class room.

oh well mondays another day and have weekend to do fun stuff.

TyrannosaurusBex Fri 07-Sep-12 20:57:50

Think you're right about typing up timetables for show, Mam, I want to keep things as cordial as possible and am not confident enough to be all militant about it. Btw, do you have several pushy mums at school or is it all the same appalling woman?

Toffee, do you do timetables for your nice LEA lady?

morethanpotatoprints Fri 07-Sep-12 22:33:02

The ed phil thing got me thinking. I could do an essay as I have several books from teacher training days but worried they would only pull me up if I didn't keep to my original thoughts.
Ha, the time table is a crutch really and doubt very much if it will work. I am dyslexic and dyspraxic with other difficulties as well, so if I plan in a systematic way it seems to help me. I also write alot of notes and lists. My family have suggested I complete a list of lists I need to do, sarcy lot, lol.

ToffeeWhirl Sat 08-Sep-12 00:11:22

Hello everyone. It's good to see all this chatting and idea swapping on here.

Re: educational philosophies. I had a look here for some ideas. My own educational philosophy began with a short background (why we had decided to home educate), then went on to explain our belief (mainly that we believe children learn best when they are happy and relaxed and then suggesting why home would provide this environment for DS1 more than school). I could have stopped there, which would have kept it down to one and a half pages, but I decided to go on and summarise the resources we would be using (so I suppose, strictly speaking, this was not part of the educational philosophy, however I had noticed other people did this). This was as much for myself as for the LEA. I ended by explaining how we intended to keep records of DS1's work.

I made sure to note that, as we were just starting out, our ideas might change over time. I also included a paragraph on 'socialisation', demonstrating how DS1 would still be seeing friends and having the opportunity to make new ones.

Helen - sounds like another good day smile. I especially like the way you managed to fit in sitting down with a coffee and reading <takes notes>.

CuttedUpPear - welcome. I'm sure I've seen you on some recent threads, but I can't find you now. Am I right in thinking you have an older son? It's a daunting task to undertake home education, but I must say I am absolutely loving it now I've made the decision. DS1 is much easier to be with, too, because he isn't stressed all the time. I hope it works out well for you and that we can help out on this thread.

Iris - I like the sound of your playful day smile. Long may the summery weather last. I agree with you about reading. Am re-reading Roald Dahl's 'George's Marvellous Medicine' to DS2 at the moment - so much fun for both of us.

morethanpotato - I'm glad home ed is going well. Choosing topics and labelling books for home ed both sound very significant to me. How lovely that your DD has more time to play now, as well as to concentrate on her music. I like the sound of the Science project rather you than me. DS2 and I did try to set up an ant farm in the summer, using a kit I bought at a discount from Yellow Moon. I'm afraid the ants came to a sorry end (left out in the sun to fry sad), but it was fun whilst we were setting it up. I still feel a bit guilty though. As far as an educational philosophy goes, see above! Oh, and I am a list maker too.

Tyrannosaurus (and more) - I tried using a timetable during my last attempt at home ed. It was useless. The biggest advantage of home ed is that it's flexible, so it soon became apparent that sticking to a rigid timetable was destroying one of the very things that made home ed so enjoyable. What I do now instead is fill a box file with DS1's morning's work (English, Maths, Science, current reading book, handwriting) and tell him that has to be completed by lunchtime. If he meanders off or wants a snack, or if we start discussing something else interesting and want to look it up, it doesn't matter. But I do try to make sure he finishes that work by lunchtime. I am much more flexible after that, but have to be mindful that work finishes by 3, when I collect DS2 from school. And no, I didn't have a timetable to show the nice LEA woman and she didn't ask me for one. The questionnaire I was sent by the LEA simply asked us why we had decided to home educate and how we were intending to go about it. No mention of timetables.

mam - I completely agree with you about the educational philosphy and that is mostly what I did, even down to discussing what sort of outings we would go on. I did not split it into terms and I don't think the LEA would think this were necessary (but I suppose it depends).

We have had another really good day. DH drove us to an animal sanctuary. Although this has neatly provided material for our look at 'life processes' next week (am going to get DS to compare a toy chinchilla with the real one we saw) it was also good practise for DS1 at going out, as he was confined to the house with anxiety and OCD until relatively recently. He really enjoyed the trip and lasted for over an hour before he asked to go home, which is an improvement. We can just take small steps with him, whereas at school he was constantly faced with overwhelming challenges.

In the afternoon, DH and DS1 watched an old film of 'Mutiny on the Bounty' together. Next week, DH is going to show DS a modern remake of it and then they are going to discuss the differences between them.

We had such an interesting conversation in the car on the way to the animal sanctuary this afternoon. I am really enjoying having the time to discuss things with DS1. I am constantly surprised by the level of questions he asks. When he was at school, he was too tired/stressed to discuss anything, so I had no real insight into what he was capable of. Over the last few days, I have had to rush off to check things for him several times. I can see that home education is going to be as educational for me as for DS1.

Hope you all have a good weekend.

MoreCatsThanKids Sat 08-Sep-12 01:11:49

Just jumping in to say Hi, and mark my place. Be back tomorrow - thanks Toffee <waves>

mam29 Sat 08-Sep-12 06:28:55

T bex just thinking producing one but not following it in order might be easiet solution/

Well dds class 27 i think this year.

have appalling pushy mum no 1 who I have mentioned she really bugs me.

at least 2others who forever talking to teacher.

the 4th compatative mum is a freind and her dd july baby and she makes me and my dd feel like crap.

but as shes amate its very difficult when she moans her dds gifted and talented and ot being stretched enough hen she was in class if 10 and mine was 30last year!

so i would say 5-5competative mums
possibly a few secretive pushy mums doing tutoring at home,

my mission this year is to make new freinds and talk to more chilled out parents.

have looked at new reading book seems easy think dd will breeze it today.

dd upset tonight as she wants to be the best and worried she never catch up and that younger ones in the year who were in smaller class were ahead.

I dont know wheres shegit attitide from as we as parents not competative

Helenagrace Sat 08-Sep-12 09:56:01

I didn't know how many educational videos there are on YouTube. I've found several basic ones about electricity for our science project. I'm going to use some of the lightening videos too to link with our weather project. I've also found a lesson plan about weather data on the TES site so I've incorporated part of that into next week's geography. I thought I'd take the data we collect into our maths sessions and do some manual tables and graphs and then do a bit more using excel, thereby incorporating IT. I'm feeling very pleased with myself. Of course it could all go horribly wrong next week...

I'm planning to look at the Khan academy for maths stuff. I was watching the "click" programme on the BBC news channel and there are schools in the US that have moved over to self paced learning using the free resources on the site with the teacher being a facilitator. DH is taking the children out this afternoon so I can have a good look at the site.

Trampolining went very well and I got my coffee!

ToffeeWhirl Sat 08-Sep-12 10:45:34

Hi, morecats. Good to see you here! <waves back>

mam - you seem to be very unlucky with pushy mums in your DD's school. And your 'mate' with her 'g&t' DD sounds very annoying! The thing is, DC may be ahead at an earlier stage, but be overtaken by slower children later. Being first really means very little. I'm sorry your DD has picked up on the competitiveness sad. She shouldn't even be aware of this at her age. Good mission of yours to make new friends and seek out more chilled-out parents!

Helen - I will check out YouTube after what you've said. I really need to find some video clips to make DS's learning more interesting. I like the way you are neatly fitting all the subjects together. I don't know anything about the Khan academy for Maths. The LEA woman gave us the password for MyMaths so that DS1 could continue to access this as a resource. She also recommended Nrich as a Maths website.

Glad to hear you had your coffee break and that DD is still enjoying trampolining!

I have planned a 'life processes' Biology lesson for DS1 next week which incorporates photos from our trip to the animal sanctuary. He will have to compare a toy chinchilla with a real one. Have found a useful acrononym for him to remember the seven life processes: MRS GREN. His next lesson from the book is on plant life processes, so I have printed out some sheets from The Woodland Trust kids section and plan to take him seed hunting in a local park next week (thereby covering plant reproduction and getting him some exercise and fresh air into the bargain).

I have to do something about Maths. It is my weakest subject and the one I find least interesting. I need to chase up a tutor and, in the meantime, work out what DS is going to do every day. I think I should probably start with one small topic and use a variety of methods: Galore Park, MyMaths, YouTube, etc.

English - DS starts his lessons with his tutor on Monday (when I will get my cup of tea and a sit down) and we will continue to read 'Shadow'. Will start on grammar and spelling too.

Am wondering how to start teaching the Tudors for History. I think I might start by just reading a chapter from 'A Child's History of the World' to give him the narrative. I think he should know it as a great story before we go into any more depth.

He is off to a birthday party today - swimming, then a sleepover. It will be a big achievement for him if he manages it all. I will be on standby for a panic-stricken phone call later (based on previous experience).

Hope you all have a good Saturday.

mam29 Sat 08-Sep-12 10:52:51

Toffee whirl-so glad the trip went wekk sounds like you had very good productive day and weathers been so nice.

Helena grace-yes I found a few science experiments on you tube as wanted to do the teabg rocket initially found on pinterest but failed think we have the wrong tea bags.

Theres so much free stuff out there-god bless the internet.

I thinkn some self paced learnings good as how often do we read from unis how kids can plan their time and want to be spoon fed.

well thank god its sat, weather looks good.

I have read dd new reading book.
she thourght it was easy.
will read again tommorow and put note in homework book.

Asked on primary and ginn level 3 is same as ort level 5 its so confusing.

shes spent nearly hour doing keystage 1 science games on bbc bitesize.

she spent 20mins practicing her handwriting.

she needs to do some maths with carol later as not done any last 3days as been back in school. and had clubs after school thur and friday,

we need to finish off butterfly project as want it to show head next week.

Tommorow we writing a letter as my freind in reading has dd same age and year so they becoming penpals.

we going to go out this afternoon to local park.

I discovered our resevoir has visitor centre which think might add to must visit list.

Also odd question to ask

we have small veg garden, hubby left bucket in it.
filled with water . There,s something growing in it.
looks like midget tadpoles? could they be tadpoles?
what else could they be?
will we have garden full of frogs?
could be a very educational and interesting project.

we have 3nearby ponds.

dd school doing some french this year.
not sure if should start doing some at home and what level they work at?Or maybe start with 2nd language.

Getting nervous about thusday need to type up proposal for head .
plus visit to libary next week to print stuff off

Hope everyones having a lovley day

mam29 Sat 08-Sep-12 10:58:46

Toffee whirl-sounds like you doing fab.

lea sound amazing shame they cant all be like that as home ed save them money.

Hope he has lovley time at party.

acronyms so useful cant remember biology one but can with chemistry

katy nails little cats magestically along zinc fences probably could aggravate auntue- reactivity series/peroidic table.

could have just been crazy chemistry teacher.

im very visual and sometimes when revising gcses would write info dow with arrows and place in circles and diagrams.

Im dismayed at the competativeness and fact dd was crying last night as wants to be the best and think its fact younger ones doing better but with smaller class think they had an advantage.

mam29 Sat 08-Sep-12 11:02:55

Toffee whirl this any use for history?

it looks quite good.

and this

all look fab lots ideas, places to god, free prints outs, resources and advice how how to teach tudors and broken down into sub topics.

Jamillalliamilli Sat 08-Sep-12 15:05:26

Been reading your lovely thread, and it’s so nice to see you all starting out together. smile

Just wanted to suggest to anyone being asked for timetables that there is of course no requirement for any such evidence, and if you don’t use one, or educate in that way, tbh supplying a made up one in order to ‘comply,’ is more likely to cause you more stress and later problems than stating it isn’t your chosen educational system/at this time.

If you feel you can’t do that, one option’s to offer a vague monthly or annual timetable to meet halfway, without restricting yourself or making things up.
Ie; ‘Approximately X number of hours minimum maths/English/science/ Latvian/, or whatever you wish to include, will take place per week / per month, per term,’ etc.
‘However it is intended that a more spontaneous/autonomous/ unstructured approach will be followed regarding R/E, Gardening /Sport/ Spanish.’
‘This may later take the form of timetabled subjects, or may not, according to what learning style best suits X.’

If you’ve been sent something with boxes to fill out and wish to do something more relaxed, just staple your version to theirs. smile

They’re only asking for a timetable as a (lazy) way of judging if you’ve thought things through. Don’t be intimidated by it, they don't actually mean you to be.

I understand well the ‘not the moment to be militant’, but would say it may be important to be politely assertive about how you will be educating if you think your LEA to be hostile, as mine and many others experience of hostile LEA’s, is they only generally push those they think will allow it.

Although writing an ed phil/mission statement can be a bit daunting, making it your first task will actually help you firmly form your ideas, give you strength and often makes the rest drop into place.

I didn’t know what one was, and started out with just this line: ‘An unhappy child doesn’t learn well.’ Wrote a huge rant about what was wrong with everything done to him, and turned it round into how it ought to be done, and discovered I did have a philosophy, I just didn’t know to call it that. smile

(ended up with an edited down three sides, on dual exceptionality in ASD children and educating to their abilities not their disability’s! :D) It was from there I stood up over timetables, because for my (ASD) son, being told to stop learning x because that time has ended and now you need to hurry up and pack up/ forget about it and go on break/ learn y, was one of many things crippling him.

Not timetabling became part of my ed phil even though we were structured.

I hope that’s of some use to someone and I’m not interfering, you must do what you think is best for you; it’s just a suggestion, because I know how much difficulty I had at the start.

Jamillalliamilli Sat 08-Sep-12 15:08:08

Mam 29 I think your project is going to eat you alive! grin as I think you have a bucket of mozzie larvae. smile

(Ps, If it’s any use to anyone, we started the Tudors by looking at Tudor education, which hooked them instantly, and opened out from there.)

mam29 Sat 08-Sep-12 15:25:47

weird you should say this been googling and come to that conclusion.

hubby needs to get rid of that bucket.

Thourght maybe photograp mini toddlers before they depart,.
do a bit on mosquito life cycle and stick in her nature journal.

just thourght of mosquitos makes me itch.
they too small to be tadpoles although did see 1toad last year.

had lovley afternoon at duck park unsure if ducks were hiding or migrated.

Helenagrace Sat 08-Sep-12 17:58:28

DH has taken the children to Liverpool so I've had a nice afternoon looking up loads of interesting links and clips to use next week. It's quite time-consuming but I guess that's my "job" now. I'm sure I'll be able to let her be a bit more autonomous as we go on but she doesn't know where to start and seemed really overwhelmed last week. I thought if I could plan some headlines then maybe (hopefully) she'll pick up and run with things.

A lightbulb went on this morning. I was chatting to DH about my childhood and said I would always be with the adults at family events and never sought out the company of children. In fact I hated school and thought my peers were childish(!). I didn't really settle in any educational establishment until university. It turns out that DH was exactly the same. Which explains why DD is like that too. She's much happier now and I recalled something that julienoshoes wrote I think about it not being as natural as people think to socialise with people whose only connection with you is to share a year of birth.

The Galore Park French course arrived today. I only ordered it yesterday so I'm really pleased. I ordered the pack so I have a book, answer book, CD and vocabulary book. We're doing it as a family at the weekend so DS can join in and I can revise my very, very rusty O level French. It looks very good.

For history I've planned a WW2 session. I found an audio archive of Chamberlain's war announcement and I have a book of mass observation diary extracts from the period which I thought we could read. I also found a clip about life in the 1930s so she can see what pre-war life was like.

I found some great YouTube science experiments for our electricity topic and we're going to try to replicate them.

Even with DS at school life has been so much easier. I've gained an hour a day from not having to do two extra school runs. It's made masses of difference to my life.

I need to refine my Ed Phil but I'm viewing it as a living document which will evolve as we do. It's been good to get down on paper what it is that we want to achieve and I plan to review it every three months to see if it still meets our needs.

Still feeling very positive.

Helenagrace Sat 08-Sep-12 20:00:54

Khan Academy is good. Probably more junior and secondary stuff but there are some good videos. I found a good one on subtracting decimals - if nothing else it'll save my voice!

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