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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 Thu 11-Jul-13 00:41:19

Scroll down for useful list of home ed groups here. HTH, mammy.

Also, if you're not sure about Brownies, you could think of the Woodcraft Folk as an alternative.

ToffeeWhirl Wed 10-Jul-13 10:53:47

Have you tried Yahoo for local groups, mammy? That's where I found mine. There is also a thread here somewhere about local groups and how to find them. Am just dashing out, but will have a look later.

mammmy Wed 10-Jul-13 00:39:37

I also have a question, how do you find local groups? I can't find anything on google for where I live (South Shields) and i don't have transport. x

mammmy Wed 10-Jul-13 00:36:28

Hi ToffeeWhirl, thanks for your replysmile

I think I would probably find anything held outside ok whether it was one other parent or a small group. Things like local park trips, or beach outings, that sort of thing. I can't feel hemmed in. But I guess if we just went to these places often enough on our own she would end up making friends naturally, plus kids in the next streets etc eventually.
I've been toying with the idea of the rainbows/brownies, although I am not sure how much of a religious slant there is to those groups and we are sort of anti-religion.
I didn't really have a proper friend till I was 7 anyway so until that age I am not going to worry .. she is fine with me as her mate and she will just join in with other kids so isn't socially awkward at all.
I'm hoping to HE till she's 11 but I think 7 will be a decider age too.

Sorry for waffling lol, I think I am trying to convince myself it will turn out ok smile I'm not very happy with the way schools are going, all they have to sway me is lots of kids for my daughter to make friends with :/

I'm going to make my way through this thread now, pick up lots of tips!

ToffeeWhirl Mon 08-Jul-13 10:24:02

Hi, mammy smile. I found the educating side was mostly the easy bit, but the social side is more difficult because my DS1 suffers from OCD and anxiety. That means attending local home ed groups is too stressful for him. I have suffered panic attacks myself and understand how debilitating it is. I would recommend CBT if you haven't tried it already.

Would you find it less stressful to meet up with one home educator and their child/children, rather than groups, maybe? Also, if your DD wants to go to any clubs/groups, she will meet children there and you won't have to even be involved! I'm sure you will find a way. And, at four, your DD will mostly enjoy being with you anyway.

tweety - that is fabulous grin. I had another read through your fantastic blog the other day and your enthusiasm and your son's happiness radiates off every entry. I'm so happy it's working out for you.

tweety76 Sun 07-Jul-13 16:13:40

Toffee Whirl - we love it!
Home ed is the best decision that we ever made. Our DS has learnt so much in only a few weeks and has had bags of time to just be himself and follow his own interests.

Thank you for asking about us. I am still having difficulties contacting any local groups but this thread is great.


mammmy Sun 07-Jul-13 13:00:20

Hi everyone, I found this thread while looking for support online.
I'm a 40 something mammy to a 4 yr old girl and I've decided that I'm going to homeschool her till 11 (unless she wants to go earlier). I don't plan on following anything in particular or doing any tests. I want to keep it informal and interesting.
I don't really have any worries about the educating part, more the social side as a) obviously alot of people my age have adult children! and b) I am social phobic and a panic attack sufferer and struggle with indoor things, however I've done a good job so far with her and she's certainly not held back socially in herself in parks etc.
Anywhoo just popped in to say hi!

ToffeeWhirl Fri 05-Jul-13 16:04:27

Summerlou - I'm really sorry your DD was bullied. Is she getting help for her anxiety? My son also suffers from anxiety (and was also bullied) and it's a nightmare, frankly. He has just started CBT with a new therapist and I'm hoping this will really help him. He is also on Prozac, which helped initially but doesn't seem to be doing him any good now.

Sparkly - I wonder what children do if they are involved in the performing arts. Surely they don't all go to private schools? confused. I would say Year 6 is a great year to take her out and have a trial run of home ed. I did the same with my DS1. His classmates spent the year practising for their SATS over and over, then sitting their SATS exams. When they arrived at secondary school, the SATS results were disregarded (because the secondary school knew they were all taught to the test) and the school retested them all. It was all such a waste of time.

Is there any way your DD could keep in touch with her friends if she leaves the school? Maybe you could promise to invite them over every so often.

Summerlou6 Fri 05-Jul-13 12:59:36

Thankyou toffeewhirl thankyou for your advice I have ordered history igcse with little arther as I don't think I could do this daughter suffers from anxiety as a result from bullying which leads to servere panic attacks.there seems to be a lot of people who home educate because of bullying.thanks again

Sparklymommy Fri 05-Jul-13 12:26:38

She does appear to be happy at school, but I also think that she coasts there. The trouble is, looking at the new proposals for absenteeism we are going to have the same problem at any school, unless we go private which I just cannot afford. I have four children.

Dd1 is concerned about losing her friends but she is currently in a very small school, only 12 in her year group anyway, and as I said before she doesn't socialise with them outside of school.

Going to work on mother and husband. In September dd1 is due to start yr6, I think I will persuade them to try for 1 year and if it doesn't go well I will concede defeat. I think once I start she will fly though.

ToffeeWhirl Fri 05-Jul-13 11:35:21

Summerlou - I am using the Science module for 12 - 13 year olds from the Little Arthur School. I have found it extremely useful as I would have struggled to teach these subjects myself. DS1 received a Cambridge Science textbook, which he works through (with my help) each day. I type up the questions in the book and he completes them as a worksheet at the end of each chapter. He has also completed several of the tests which the Little Arthur teachers mark. This has been good for both of us to see how he's doing.

I was tempted to get more of the subject modules, but it's pricey and I wanted to have a trial run first. It is a very straightforward way of keeping up with the curriculum, if that is what you want to do.

However, it would be possible to do this yourself and save yourself the money. You could just as easily buy a good textbook yourself and then set questions yourself. I wouldn't have had the confidence to do this at first, but I probably would now.

Sparkly - it makes it more difficult (not impossible, of course) to go ahead with home education if you are not being supported by your mother and DH. Is there any chance that your DD could change to a school that is more supportive of her outside interests? What does she think of being home educated? Is she happy at school?

The friendship issue can be difficult sometimes. My son missed his friends when he came out of school and he found integrating into the local home ed community too stressful because he suffers from anxiety. As a result, he now wants to go back to school and be part of a school community again. However, I know that most home educators seem to find socialising no problem at all outside school, as there are often lots of home ed events going on (depending where you live, of course) and clubs/classes to join. Presumably, your DD sees friends at her performing arts classes, so she will still have that, plus all the mixing involved with her performances.

It's great that you have a tutor involved too. I hired tutors for Maths and guitar, as those were the two subjects I really couldn't help with.

Deciding what to do is the hardest part, by the way.

Tweety - hope home ed is still going well for you and your boys.

Sparklymommy Fri 05-Jul-13 09:24:46

Hi all, hope you don't mind me gatecrashing the party but I am currently, very seriously, considering taking my eldest daughter out of school. I am currently facing opposition from my husband and my mother but the more I look into it the more I think it would suit my dd.

Dd1 is a performer. She is always in shows/pantos etc and I had a little run in with her school this week when I took her to London for an audition. I was given the whole "it'll be an unauthorised absence/we can't authorise ANY time off at all now blah blah blah". I phoned to let them know she wouldn't be in school and asked for some work for her to do. No work was forthcoming!

Then later this week a letter went out stating that the school are now not allowed to authorise ANY time off (unless for bereavement or religious observance) so don't even ask. I am thinking that this will affect dds panto options next term as last year she had 5 afternoons off to appear in a pro panto and this year the school aren't going to allow it.

Therefore I am seriously considering removing her from school and home educating her. I do feel that her education is important and I don't want her to suffer. I have a tutor who is prepared to help and make sure she gets all the subjects we feel are important (English, maths, science, history, geography, re, ict, etc.)

I am considering converting our garden shed into a workroom for her so that she has a designated area to work and I am aware that it will cost me a lot to get started but I think it will be worth it for her. Any tips?

My mother, though is against the idea. She feels dd will miss her friends (whom she doesn't see outside of school and would be going to a different secondary to dd anyway in a years time), and that I couldn't provide the same level of education for her as she would get at school. How do I bring her round? She lives with us and thinks that she is entitled to a big say (especially with dd1 whom she is very close to). She says dd1 is happy at school.

Also my husband thinks I am making a lot of work for everyone involved and thinks dd1 should be at school. Aargh! What to do?!?!? I just don't want to compromise dds talents just because Mr Gove won't let her have time of school!

Summerlou6 Fri 05-Jul-13 07:31:39

I I'm new to Home education would love to join this group.i removed my 14 year old daughter from school on Friday she has been severely bullied resulting in trips to AE.Not sure how I'm going to get her throw this as she really needs some gcse to go to college I was thinking of using the little arther school.Any advice would be gladly received thankyou.

tweety76 Sat 15-Jun-13 14:52:28

Ah thanks. I was really tired last night, standing on the field watching athletics finished me off! I think that is why my response last night refers to a message earlier on in the thread and has the blog address wrong!
I just thought that a blog would make sure that I wrote something everyday. Its the first time I have ever done a blog so I am really pleased to get positive feedback. Thanks so much!
I am going to try Yahoo in a moment. I know that there is a Manchester network, but I can't make head nor tale of the website! Hopefully your suggestion will work!

ToffeeWhirl Sat 15-Jun-13 10:32:38

Found the blog link on another thread and have had a read of it, tweety. It's a fantastic blog. I wish I'd done something like that, but I have kept a journal instead.

Your boys look as if they are thriving in home education. smile

ToffeeWhirl Sat 15-Jun-13 09:02:53

I can't see that blog, sorry. I don't get any link when I type in the address. Good idea to keep a blog though and I'd love to read it. Will have another go later.

We used Galore Park Maths and it was excellent.

Glad you are feeling less worried now. It is so scary to pull your child out of school, but I found that actually doing it was the scary thing - the home ed was fine.

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!

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 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 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!

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 :-)

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

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

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 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 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.


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