Monthly Archives: March 2008

Another reason to homeschool.

The National Union of Teachers (not called NUTs for nothing) is the biggest teaching union in the UK. Recently the other big teachers union the NASUWT complained that too many kids in the classroom where ‘little princesses and little princes’ who had simply never had anyone say ‘no’ to them before. Teachers face abuse in the form of swearing, personal attacks and violence; I know this from friends who are teachers. However for some considerable time instead of being in loco parentis teachers have made themselves powerless in the face of this behaviour. The unions stratch their heads and suddenly say that parents need to take control of their children. Ah yes, but when we try the schools frequently over-ride us.

So there are all these really nasty children in school. You would think the unions would look at the schools where this sort of behaviour is somewhat less and think-how can we do that? Er, no. The nuts of NUT are actually looking at a vote AGAINST faith schools. Now, my experience of Catholic schools is hardly stella-but the fact is Catholic schools (and I think the few Jewish schools we have) are far far better than state schools. Other Christian schools some in close behind us and still ahead of state schools.

After Bishop O’Donaghue was subjected to bullying and “bizarre” questioning by Barry Sheerman et al in behalf of the ever tolerant government I am not surprised at yet another attack on faith schools.

Soon homeschoolers will be back in the line of fire.

Divine Mercy Sunday


Jesus said “My Heart rejoices on account of this feast.” (D998) He also said “I want to grant a complete pardon to the souls that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion on the Feast of My mercy” (D1109).“Whoever approaches the Fountain of Life on this day will be granted complete forgiveness of sins and punishment” (D300).

“The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion will obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment” (D699).
Our dauhter Avila was baptised on the Feast of Divine Mercy, the 3rd April- the morning after John Paul the Great died. It was the effort of that holy pope that gave us this wonderful feast day, an act of gratutitous generosity  from the Lord.

Jesus died for us and at the last moment St Longinus pierced Him with the spear and St John sae blood and water come from the heart wound. This blood and water pours out from the Sared Heart offering us Mercy and Forgiveness. TAKE THE GIFT!

Jesus told St Faustina that after the time of Mercy would come judgement.  Don’t wait for judgement-take Mercy.

I could write a huge amount on this-and perhaps when I get the time I will.

Dot survives the gas man-but only just!

On Thursday I took the children to the library and then we hoped to go and visit Dot as we usually do after a library trip. She is 83 and was our next door neighbour for many years until we moved-and has remained a friend ever since.

She was very breathless and blue around the lips; not at all well. She was waiting for the doctor to come. Her grandaughter and great grandson were there.

The gas man had been a couple of days earlier to check over her central heating boiler. He hadn’t bothered to put a cap on the top properly and so for two days gas had been leaking into her house!!

By the time we arrived another gasman had been and fixed the problem. He told Dot she must be a strong woman to have survived! She was nearly gassed to death.

She’s okay now, thank God. But I am shocked at what happened.

Veronica; the veil and the legend


As the Shroud of Turin is so much in the news right now, I thought I would also mention the other famous image of Christ- the Veil of St Veronica.

The legend of St Veronica goes back to at least the Acti Pilati and like most of these stories probably had an oral tradition before that. Veronica was considered real enough and important enough to be included in St Francis of Assisi’s Stations of the Cross where she remains (No. 6).

It is thought Veronica was called Berenice or in some traditions Seraphina and was a daughter of King Herod and wife of Zacchaeus, the chief tax collector of Jericho. She was the woman who suffered the issue of blood and was healed when she touched the hem of His garment.

It was thought that her high position in society helped get her past the guards to Jesus as He made His way to Golgotha and she was able to offer her veil to Him-on which was left His image.

She then received the name of her veil Vera (Latin for True) Icon (Greek for image).

The history of the veil is a bit hit and miss. It seems to have been kept at the Vatican- was very probably there under Pope John VII (705-8) and definately there in 1011 because it was written about. It remained there until it rather suspiciously vanished around 1611 and then Pope Urban VIII forbade copies to be made-presumably to stop shenanigans over the veil.

It then seems to have turned up at a monastory in Manopello Italy in 1660 -where it remains to this day. Images that seem to be copies can be found in other places around Europe.

The Veil of Manopello is a bit of a mystery all by itself. The image is seen on a cloth so fine it is transparent. The image fades and grows depending on the light and behaves a bit like a hologram. It is held between two pieces of glass in an ancient wooden frame that has been covered in silver.

Unlike the shroud the veil has not been subjected to lots of scientific investigation. The monks say they are in no hurry and are waiting for science to catch up and be good enough to look at the image closely without either getting it all wrong or destroying the delicate cloth.

However, so far it seems the cloth is byssal- a very rare and very fine cloth made from a particular kind of mussel beard. Byssal cloth has been found on the bodies of Pharoah’s and was prescribed for the Jewish priest’s ephod. Acccording to Chiaro Vigo one of the very few byssal weavers left in the world the cloth is so fine it cannot take paint.

From photos and microscopic investigations it seems the veil image is not paint and that it fits the image of the shroud exactly.

A lot more needs to be done before anyone can really say how the image was made and when-but the monks are waiting for scientists…hehehe.

I climbed the Waseley Hill

On Monday we went for a walk at the Waseley Hills. We managed to just avoid the snow.

I managed to get to the top!! WHoo-hoo! Thank God they have benches up It took quite a long time for me to get there and the kids were up and flying their kite long before I made it, but I am really pleased with myself.

We came back down to the visitors centre for drinks and cake. I managed that too. Actually coming down is a little harder because my balance is so bad, but I did okay. AND I didn’t need painkillers!

Oxford Pro-life 1 year Anniversary



3PM -4PM





This is my daughter Heleyna when she was 12weeks gestation. Far too many babies don’t get to live past this age. Far too many babies don’t get to live to this age.

The Shroud and the Sudarium pt2


The Shroud’s image was miraculously unharmed in a fire that melted the silver reliquary it was being stored in. Experts have been able to closely study the body of the man and as newer discoveries were made in Israel about just how Rome went about crucifying people, it became surprisingly evident that the image corresponded exactly to how it would have been done. The marks of scourging on the man’s back fit the Roman flagellum exactly.

But this man was also crowned with thorns and appears to be ethnically Jewish.  There is blood and blood serum on the shroud. The blood is of type AB.

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The Shroud and the Sudarium pt1


The Shroud of Turin is probably one of, if not the most famous relic the Catholic Church has. It has been and still is studied by scientists from across the globe and remains a great mystery. Twenty years ago it seemed that the question on whether this shroud really was the one that wrapped the body of Christ was answered when Carbon 14 testing came to the conclusion the cloth dated to around 1350 not 33. So that was it- the shroud was a fake. But two huge questions have remained; how was it faked and how is it that all the other scientific and historical evidence was pointing very hard at a much earlier date?

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“Oh my people, what have I done to you?…

crucifix.jpgHow have I hurt you? Answer Me. I brought you out of Egypt…”

We went to Veneration of the Cross at 3pm and as usual we began with a procession with the cross from the church, stopping outside the abortion mill and then walking around the block. We do it in silence.

Josh carried the cross with a cohort of altar servers behind him and Father in cope. Following behind came the rest of us.

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Maundy Thursday.

I haven’t done much homeschooling today. But Ronan and Avila decided to go to the bathroom and wash each others feet. LOL!!

Al and the biggies are at Mass. I’m home with the smalls.


I’m watching EWTN “I Thirst” Then off to Universalis for Night Prayer. So I’m not missing out completely.

A happy and holy Tridiuum to y’all and a Happy Easter.

divine_mercy.jpgBTW Today is the first day for the Novena of Divine Mercy. If you need to know what to say and what it’s all about you can go HERE. Jesus showed a great love to St Faustina and his promise of Mercy is one we should not neglect.

The Feast of Divine Mercy is the first after Easter. It was on the eve of Divine Mercy that the ‘flame’ that came out of Poland John Paul II (the Great)died-and on the Sunday morning of that Divine Mercy my daughter Avila was baptised.

Impromptu lesson-family tree

family_tree3_pop.jpgOne of the things I am planning to do with Ronan after Easter is set up a Family tree in Spanish to help his vocab building. It will also show him who the family is.

But today he asked “How can Grandad be daddy’s dad?”

So we drew a little family tree (in English) so that he could see how it all worked. It’s a good start to the one we will make after Easter.

Holy Week lessons Tues

Rosalind called this “The Day of Questions” so I used that as the theme with both Ronan and Iona. With Ronan I read the story of the cleansing of the Temple and parable of the Vineyard. He enjoyed looking at a map of old Jerusalem and the Temple. I pointed out the Court of the Gentiles and explained why Jesus was so cross.

His activity was NOT to make a whip and go around the house knocking over the furniture!

As he was helping Iona in the kitchen this afternoon with the chocolate making I thought that would do. He has completed some activities for his other schoolwork today anyway.

With Iona I covered the BIG question “Tell us by what authority you do these things, or who it is that gave you this authority?” (Luke 20:2)

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Holy Week Lessons (Monday)

I am using Rosalind Moss’s book REASONS FOR OUR HOPE with Iona beginning at Lesson 29.

I have begun the Easter Timeline with Ronan. Now, according the Rosalind’s book I really ought to have covered the Cleansing of the Temple today-so I did. However I also covered the story of how Jesus went to the house in Bethany of Lazarus and sat with him and Simon the Leper. Mary annoints Jesus with Nard and Judas gets all bent up about it.

The little ones made Jesus an alabaster jar each. They had a toilet roll, some sparkly white ribbon, glitter glue, feathers and pompoms (well they asked for the latter things) and they made a ‘jar’ which we stuck to the wall above the picture of Mary wiping Jesus’ feet.

With Iona I went into more depth about the place of Gentiles in the Temple; how Jesus was not just clearing the market out because it was corrupt but because they had taken over the Court of the Gentiles.

We also (using Ros’s book) looked at the prophecy of the Parusia-that is the destruction of the Temple and the slaughter of 600,000 Jews in Jerusalem.

Tomorrow we will look at the traps set for Jesus when he returned to the Temple and the big question of His authority.

Avila’s GP appt.

avila-on-swing.jpgI took Avila to the GPs this morning. Alistair was told we can have her meds changed and get her re-referred to the general paediatric team back at the Children’s. GP didn’t want to change her meds as he thinks the Paed can do that so he said he would simply start the process of re-referring her back to the Children’s. There are not biopsy results-he said it could take over 2WEEKS!

This afternoon the doc phoned me to say Avila had a hospt appt on Wednesday!! He gave me the Paediatric Surgeon Sec’s number and I phoned her only to find she had made a mistake. There is no follow up appt made and no sign of the biopsy results, which, if they exist might be still at City Hospt.

I called the GP back and said they were to continue with the  re-referral back to the Children’s General Paediatric team.

I’m a bit irritated. Over a year ago when she was so ill I asked for a proper paediatric assessment. But all they would consider was her kidneys (which I KNEW were okay). They did a kidney scan and surprise surprise they were fine-so instead of trying to find out what was going on, they discharged her.

Now I’m back with the same thing. They are interested in ONE thing and I want her tested for a whole load of stuff; coeliacs for a start. I was a nurse in the ‘system’ for 16 years or so and even I find it difficult to negotiate the hoops we are supposed to jump through. How on earth do other parents manage this?

Holy Week: Homeschool plans

bridegroom.jpg This is Holy Week. I have decided that we will suspend a lot of the normal homeschool activities and concentrate on the theme of the week.

Ronan is 5; Yr 0 (CM) or Reception (UK)- We have begun a time line that we will put along the wall of the dining room. I am using traditional art as much as I can for this. It will introduce him to some good paintings and their artists.

giotto16.jpgThis is Christ’s entry into Jerusalem by Giotto, a fresco dating to around 1306. This will go up on the Palm Sunday part of the timeline. Ronan will get to look at the picture and we will see that Christ is riding a donkey (ass) as the prophecy said the Messiah would (Zec 9:9). He will see the palms and the people gathering them and laying their cloaks down and which part of the Mass this is. (Hosanna…)

Jesus and Peter are dressed in red-a symbol of royalty. Jesus is king and Peter has been made Steward-prince and given the keys of the Kingdom. Red is also the liturgical colour of martyrdom and is used on Palm/Passion Sunday as the whole Gospel of the Passion is read on that day.

Jesus enters Jerusalem through the Kings Gate on the kings ass-a sign that he is a king who comes in peace. (In war a king rode a horse).


mary_of_magdala_big.jpgI don’t know who painted this, but it is rather lovely. The alabaster jar is there which will be saved until the day of Jesus’ death and burial.

Ronan will be told that it was polite to offer a bowl of water and a towel to wash the feet.

This had not happened and then this woman, traditionally believed to be St Mary of Magdala came and washed his feet with her tears and anointed his feet with very expensive oil. She was so happy Jesus had forgiven her many sins and she loved Him very much. Judas was angry.

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Homeschool Thurs and Friday

Ronan struggled with his Maths tasks on Thursday morning. He found the concept of counting on hard to grasp. I was a bit surprised as he has worked through his Maths book so far with no real problems. Iona did some work with him and a box of marbles and gradually he grasped what he was being asked to do.

In science we looked at what eyes are for and how they work. We even looked at how his own eye works and why he is blind in the other one. He was fascinated by the explanation and said “Wow mum! You know everything don’t you?” I wish!

Iona did her maths and we continued work on The Picture of Dorian Grey. She is writing an essay on the statement Lord Henry made about how he chooses his friends and enemies. Writing essays is something Iona finds very difficult and this is a good book for her to work on this skill. She loves the book and there is plenty of aspects of the story to get her to analyse without ruining the whole thing for her.

I am hoping to build on some of the essay writing from last year and push her a little harder without putting her off. So far this is going slowly but well.

After Bible story time with Ronan I worked with Iona on the St Luke book. I have decided to skip ahead to the Holy Week chapters now. There’s a lot to do in a week but the book is well laid out.

For Ronan we have begun a Holy Week picture timeline along the wall showing the main events from each day leading up to Easter Sunday. I might continue the line for a few days post Easter-but as we wont be homeschooling in the hols I am not sure.

Yesterday Karen came over with her children and one other child and we did some work in two groups. Iona and Emily worked some more on their 1920s project. They made costumes and looked at fashion for the time.

Meanwhile with the boys we were studying iron age life and how to make a pattern welded sword. They watched a couple of short videos on Youtube showing an iron age house and how an iron age forge worked.

They made a sword in card each.

After lunch we took the children outside and they planted seeds and plants. Each of them had a sunflower seed in a cup to take home.

Finally Josh was around and as we had been talking about swords he gave an impromptu lesson on fencing and the lads got to dress up in the gear and hold the foil. You see we never miss a learning fun moment.

We’ll continue with the iron age next time.

Space-and not having it!

When God created the universe, He made sure there was a lot of space. He seems pretty good at organising that space as well.

As a homeschooling mum I have the space I live with and I am struggling to work out how to arrange it so that work, books, ‘stuff’ gets properly stored and not wrecked. Now that Heleyna is well and truly on the move I have realised that the book corner and Ronan’s workbox are no longer safe next to the sofa-they need to go on a shelf and there are other books and resources I would like to have easily to hand. So I have begun the task of trying to rearrange things so that all the homeschool stuff is in one easy to get to place and out of Heleyna’s reach!

If anyone has ideas about storage and organisation of this stuff let me know!! (Like many homeschooling mums I dream of a house with a classroom…aah). I don’t think we are really short of space-I just need to work out how to use it more efficiently.

Murder, Enid Blyton and don’t mention heroin!

Homeschool Wednesday.

We ran around getting the house ready for everyone to come back here for Sign Language in the Afternoon; got the slow cooker under way; packed the bags with the murder trail, handbag snatch incident, fingerprinting and wanted posters as well as Heleyna distraction toys and a big sheet for snack time.

Karen and Ruth came and picked us up and away we went.

We had a ‘mother’s meeting’ on Saturday night in which we agreed to change the way the group runs a bit in order to curb some of the less desirable behaviour from some of the children. Although the rules have not been agreed as yet (that will happen in a session after Easter) we are beginning to make the changes.

So-first games were quieter and calmer with a song to finish and time to explain the session to everyone. There was the chance to do a bit of Sign too.

Then the group was split into older and younger; I took the younger ones for Noddy Stories and Ruth took the older ones to discuss Enid Blyton. Now, according to Nicki one of the mums, Ms Blyton was a heroin addict; which if you ask me explains a whole lot! Ruth managed to talk all about the prolific author without mentioning that aspect :)

smbearspicnic.jpg For snack we had all the children sitting around on the sheet and we passed out the drinks, biscuits and fruit. This keeps the mess to a minimum and kept the children in one place while the next session was set up.

After snack the children were split up and one group went with Iona on the murder trail following the clues we had placed around the room to find out ‘who dunnit’. Some children went to the poster table to work. I manned the handbag snatch table where the children had to look at the evidence and witness statement and by going through a number of police files that had a face, blood type and fingerprint, match the crook to the crime. Two people were then arrested and a cloth piece finally matched to catch the culprit.

On the fingerprinting table everyone could do their own fingerprints and then work out what kind of prints they had; whorl, loop or arch.

So you see all the forensics study Iona has been doing is quite useful!

Everyone came back for lunch and then we had a Sign Language session. I have just started them on an Easter hymn, ‘Alleluia, Alleluia, give thanks to the Risen Lord’ as well as the other songs and stories we have been practicing.

It all went very well.

Flowers always help :)


UKOK has kindly given me this award. One of the joys of blogging is the friends we can make all over the country and all over the world. I find it very heartening to be able to talk with people who I may never have otherwise have had a chance to get to know.

We can support one another on our Faith journey and in being mums; in homeschooling or just the general everyday stuff of life.

Those of you who have offered prayer and support for Avila at this time are friends indeed.

Stuart-tears of a Clown (if it’s okay to give a man flowers) I am sure Stuart can take it, being secure in his masculinity and all that.

Kit at her Brookside. I really love her blog.

Therese as her Aussie Coffee Shop

SwissMiss-who has already had this bouquet from me; she’ll have virtual hayfever at this rate.

Leigh of Mommy Memoir who has a great sense of humour and like me has recovered from feminism.

And Marie and Ginny from the Pews- who offered a bouquet to all homeschoolers ages ago and I never got around to posting it! And shock horror ladies I have just seen you are not in my blogroll here or on WSNS! To be rectified forthwith.

BTW I recommend the post these ladies did on ROSES AND THORNS.


Murder most useful

 Gun This might seem a little weird, but I am writing a murder trail for homeschool group for Wednesday. I am hoping it will be something the older children will enjoy doing. It’s quite complicated! Anyway I hope it will help stretch the older children-maintain their interest and stop them getting bored.

There will be a guess who game for the older and younger children as well as a feely box session and fingerprinting session. We’ll get the children to check out what kind of fingerprints they have; whirl, loop, arch.

A good way to use some of Iona’s newfound knowledge from her forensics project hopefully…


Avila had the biopsy done this morning. Daddy took her and stayed with her, bringing her home late this afternoon. She’s very proud of her ‘bravery’ and ‘been to theatre’ stickers. She’s a bit dozy and weepy but she’s okay.

They are testing her for Hirschsprung syndrome.

It seems that I have then to get her re-referred to the paediatric team when the results come in.

Homeschooling with technology; good, bad or indifferent.

 Throw Computer Having written about the ‘amishness’ or not of homeschoolers I thought I would take a look at how we use computers and the TV in our family and any other bits ‘n’ pieces of technology.

The computer is a wonderful tool for a homeschooler-until it eats the poor kids work or wont work at all; then I get tempted to chuck the thing out of the window. However, we use the computer a lot.

So how do we use it and what are  da rulz?

Starting with the youngest member of the family;  Crawling Baby Heleyna who is nearly walking now. She is not allowed to use the computer although she would very much like to drool and chew on it.

Avila (3) doesn’t use the computer.

Ronan (5) uses the computer on very rare occasions. We might use the Cbeebies site occasionally for things such as ‘Something Special’  or time telling games. I also use the Usborne quick-links site for our work on the Planets. I do have other sites we have used and will do so again-but not at the moment. I am teaching Ronan to be familiar with a qwerty keyboard. Typing skills are very important and I also believe a basic understanding of how a computer works is very important. Unless something drastic happens in the future he will need computer skills for just about anything he does. Ronan does not use the computer without me, and he is doesn’t use it every day or for long periods of time when he does use it with me.

Iona (14). Iona uses the computer for Powerpoint presentations; Publisher for her magazine and Word for essays or worksheets. We haven’t started using Excel yet, but she will need to for the Sweet Shop Business Plan. She uses the net for research and is a member of an online forum dedicated to the work of Eion Colffer. It is fully moderated. She does not use MSN and the computer is in the lounge. She is not online unless supervised and I know each and every site she visits and for what reason. The Internet is a great tool giving her access to books, information, music (no she isn’t into nasty stuff) and art. A lot of the books are free to download and there are some excellent up to date articles on historical research. A great deal of this sort of thing is simply not available in the library. It is a blessing to have easy and free access to so much.

She is also learning to use Movie Maker for her filmwork.

While she does use pen and paper for a lot of work, finished pieces are usually produced on the computer. The layout and standard of production are much higher and it is what will be expected of her if/when she goes to college and later if she chooses to attend university. She does quite a lot of her work at the computer although she also likes to be in her room and read and write.

Alex (16) is now in college. He uses the computer for homework, research and his art work. He is learning more and more about the intricicies of Photoshop and a 3d annimation programme he was able to download for free. He gets help with the artwork from people who use the Deviant Art website. He has an MSN account in which he keeps in touch with friends NOT STRANGERS. I know who they are and I know when Alex is talking to them. I am aware of the general content of conversation although nowadays I give a little privacy (not a lot).

Da Rulz for Alex are that he only visits sites for fun that I see and approve of.  He is a member of a forum which I have seen and is moderated. I have never had to ban him from any sites.

Josh (18) is a bit cursed when it comes to ‘puters. It must be his electric personality, but they don’t like him. Nevertheless, when the computer lets him Josh uses it for letter writing,  essays and job searching as well as websites he enjoys that are within da rulz. Again I’ve never had a problem here.

The computer is off at night. Although I have a laptop no one is allowed to take it upstairs to go online.

Da Rulz have always been there and the kids have always understood why they are there. So far I haven’t had a problem.


We have one TV which is shared with all the family. No TVs in rooms EVER. The only time I have met resistance on this was when Alex would have prefered to use his Wii upstairs. The answer was no and he accepted it. Once he got a job and was earning his own money he bought himself an Xbox360. He is allowed games for older children but he is not allowed to play them when the little ones are around. This works well at limiting him game playing time. It’s naturally limited by being at college and work and also by the fact that we have one shared TV.

Da Rulz on TV are No TV in the mornings. On a Sat and Sun the smalls are allowed an hour  if they are up early. No TV during Homeschool time. The smalls are allowed up to hr in the afternoon if they want it and nothing else is happening.

The TV does tend to go on after the little ones are in bed. Usually (at least at the moment) it’s for a DVD. We have the Babylon 5 universe to watch. Sometimes Al wants to watch Norm Abrams build a table, or Mike Holmes rebuild parts of someones home. Sometimes there is a series such as House that we enjoy or a Jane Austin series. Iona and I like to watch some cookery shows for ideas. You get the idea. NO soaps, NO nasty stuff such as Big Brother and that kind of thing.

There’s a lot of really well made educational TV programmes. You have to pick’n’choose between some of the less educational and more silly stuff.

Finally there’s the question of MP3 players and mobile phones. Josh has a phone and MP3 player. He’s in charge of both although I know what he has on the MP3 player. This isn’t because I have policed it particularly closely; we just like the same music.

Alex has a phone that is also an MP3 player. Now, he’s only 16 and some of you might be thinking I’ve let my standards slip; but he is in college and working and sometimes I need to contact him. He keeps in touch with college friends events and pays for it himself. I know who he phones/texts and he doesn’t have the phone switched on during meals or other family time. I have never actually set that in da rulz- he just knows.

Iona has no phone. She doesn’t need one and anyway she’s only 14. She does have an MP3 player. I know what’s on it. Some pretty good stuff actually. I can also give her programmes I want her to listen to.

So that’s this homeschool family and technology.

Dorothy Sayers.


Dorothy L Sayers was a forthright and very wise woman. I love her writing-but I am a little pleased I never met her. I think I would have been rather scared of her.

She says things that need saying and there are number of Quotes from her.

I have just added her wonderful essay on THE LOST TOOLS OF LEARNING to the resources section on the sidebar.

Her book THE MIND OF THE MAKER is in the Living Books (factual) box on my sidebar.

You might also like to read her first Lord Peter Wimsey novel online; WHOSE BODY?

Then you need to buy the rest.

Yr 9; 14 yr old curriculum.

portraitofdoriangray.jpgOne of the big advantages of home education is the fact we are not tied to the National Curriculum. This means we can work out what suits us and what Iona wants to learn and achieve for each term or year.

So this year, here is an overview of what she has been studying:

Maths: Edexel IGSCE which she will sit in May in Bristol. We booked the exam through 3A Tutors. It is possible to sit IGCSE Maths, English and Double Award Science without coursework. I think you can also sit an exam only history.

For other GCSE’s a lot of homeshoolers will use the Oxford courses. They are expensive though.

Iona has started a magazine which she hopes to publish bi-monthly, called “Common Sense” which will incorporate articles and ideas for homeschool and which she hopes some other homeschoolers will contribute too. This will also go towards her portfolio and is teaching her editing, layout and IT skills.

We are presently studing Oscar Wilde’s “A Portrait of Dorian Gray”. I bought her a cheap copy which she has already read. We are using Sparknotes, some essay ideas from GradeSaver and CliffNotes

 Chocolate The Business Plan for the Old Fashioned Sweet Shop is underway and will become a Powerpoint Presentation for her portfolio as well as, we hope, trying it out as a small business for real.

Her media project, a 3minute film on home education is nearly complete.

We are using the Ros Moss book “Reasons for Our Hope”-a study of the Gospel of St Luke and I would like Iona to have a go at reading “Reasons to Believe” by Scott Hahn. I am reading it first to judge the level-but he is good at pitching his Joe-Sixpack books at a sensible level.

The Forensics project is still under way and should be an excellent addition to her portfolio. For general science we are using modules from Apologia as well as her research into Poisonous Plants.

In cooking-or as schools call it, food technology, Iona is building up her skills in chocolate making as well as planning and cooking family meals. She has also moved towards more complicated dishes that require balanced spices such as making her own Rogan Josh lamb dish. It was lovely.

For art and craft we will continue with art appreciation and her work with the sewing machine as well as craft work with chocolate. She made a beautiful chocolate village for Christmas. Photos of that will go in her portfolio.

I am also encouraging her to read the Kon Tiki Expedition.

She is learning Sign Singing with the group here on a Wednesday and I would like to find the time as we build vocab to teach those with more interest, including Iona, up to Stage 1 standard, or even a little more.

Iona didn’t really want to learn Latin, but as I always do the Linney sessions with Ronan when she is in the room, she is accidentally picking it up (hehehe).

Finally she is working on a joint project with Emily one of her fellow homeschoolers on life in the 1920’s and 30’s.

I think that’s it. Anyway there’s some ideas.

Are homeschooler “Amish”?

amish-mother.gifThere I was, quietly reading a blog when someone said he disagreed with homeschooling for a number of reasons.  There was the usual stuff about lack of socialisation (yawn) and not enough science equipment, and then he said homeschooled children are “Amish”.

I have always had a lot of respect for the Amish people and I must admit I was a bit surprised to see it used as an obviously pejorative term. I am quite sure he did not mean homeschoolers are more likely to forgive those who hurt our children than others.

I suppose the general view of the Amish is that they are innocent, modest people who eschew technology. My guess is that while the commentator may object to the innocence of Christian homeschooled kids, what he was really getting at is the idea that we don’t like technology.

Now I have to admit to some leanings towards the Amish. For example I travel around a lot in one of these:

scooter.jpgMine has the added bonus of a kind of sawn off shotgun contraption on the back for my crutches and…erm…red Christmas lights tied around the front.

But if we were more Amish I think we should go around in one of these:

amish-horse-buggie.jpgThen I wouldn’t be waiting for the silly DVLA to get my medical records. A horse and trap is such an elegant way to travel. I envy them.

Of course I think what the accusation was really about is a view that homeschoolers are afraid of technology. That we don’t have TVs or use computers and therefore live in some kind of dark ages.

Homeschoolers are a mixed bag. I know some homeschoolers who choose not to have a TV in the house. I don’t see anything wrong with that. It’s their choice surely. I also know a couple of homeschoolers who have no computer-or do not allow their children to use a computer. While I personally do not think this is a good idea, I respect their right to choose to educate their children in that way. Is it really harmful to be educated without a computer?

On science equipment, I reckon most of us have a pretty good supply of equipment and we can share it among ourselves. We have a good microscope with slides as well as telescope and petri dishes, glass jars etc that are needed for experiments. Not only that, but because there are only a few children per set of equipment; they actually get to use it.

I will do a post about use of TV and computer in a homeschool setting.

Perhaps the commentator knows very well that homeschooled children have the same things as his children BUT-and I think this is more general among homeschoolers than I have seen among ‘schoolers’- we police very strictly what our children watch and what they do on the the computer. We are stricter about video games and more likely to encourage book reading. That’s anecdotal from what I have seen.

Research from both the USA and now from here in the UK shows that on average homeschooled children are better socialised and better educated than their ‘schooled’ peers.

I do have some doubts about some of the research because many homeschoolers in the UK are doing it because of the dreadful lack of special needs provision here.

So overall while I would like to think many of us do share some aspects of the Amish community; modesty, morals and for a lot of us Christianity-in others ways, like the lack of technology and the enclosed community we are very different.