Monthly Archives: March 2010

Ditched the NSPCC? Good. Here’s a better place to send your money.

I have recently come across EF Pastor Emeritus blog. He writes well.

He wrote this amazing story of nuns who negotiate to buy the time of child prostitutes in Brazil. The parents bring the children to do the “work” because they believe this is the only way to make money to live on.

The sister has written a book which you can purchase here and it seems they work with children all over the world.

Father finishes his blog entry with this:

Sister Mary Beth Lloyd and her colleagues are probably spending Easter working miracles in a Brazilian transit terminal with little more than the price of a bus fare.

You can help by making donations payable to Religious Teachers of Filippini and mail to Sr. Mary Beth Lloyd, MPF at Villa Walsh, 455 Western Avenue, Morristown, New Jersey 07960.

There are many many people who need our help and who are genuinely doing very good work at the sharp end of horror. So forget Govt sponsored psuedo-charities who will ditch their remit to look good for their master. These sisters work for one Master and He is worth looking good for :)

Home Education in Holy Week.

This is what we are up to for Holy Week. The activities are a bit limited as I have a chest infection (again) but I’ll update this post as the week goes on. We plan to have an Easter party on Good Friday. Not a brilliant choice of day but it’s the only one we can all make.

Bible stories start with the Raising of Lazarus which is the story for Sat gone. Then yesterday was Palm Sunday so the children heard the story of Jesus entering Jerusalem on the donkey. We are using the Hamlyn Catholic Children’s Bible. I can’t link to it because it is the one I had as a child and I’m not sure they still exist. I think the nearest approximation is The Golden Children’s Bible.

Today we looked at the Stations of the Cross together. I printed this Pdf booklet of b/w pcitures the children can colour,  courtesy of CatholicMom.

Instead of out usual Latin lesson the children listened to this:

They learned Via Crucis and Via Dolorosa and we looked at the first verse of the Stabat Mater.

I’ll try and update for each day.

Tues: Using the Faith and Life Book Jesus Our Life the children learned the prayer for the Stations of the Cross

We adore Thee Oh Christ and we bless Thee

Because by Thy Holy Cross

Thou hast redeemed the world.

It also happened that Ronan’s grammar sheet for today was about how to use capital letters when referring to God (Language of God Level A Catholic Heritage Curricula).

Having watched some of Market Kitchen yesterday the children have a refresher on the seder plate items and they watched this little vid of the first question’ Why is this night unlike any other night?’

Petition closed.

The petition to the bishops is closed and ready to be sent. You can check it out here.

There are good signs that a couple of bishops are prepared to speak out alongside others.

Home education and the law of subsidiarity.

Taking a gander around blogs I see the debate over what has been dubbed Obamacare is hot and furious.  One of the subjects that comes up among the more thoughtful bloggers and comments is the issue of subsidiarity and how Big Fat Nanny Statism massively undermines any hope of it.

This argument fits well into the situation of the CSF Bill (which hopefully will drown in the wash up) and home educating families.

But even if the Bill fails – no forced sex ed and no forced licensing of home ed parents- the chances are that whatever happens at the GE  the next Govt already knows about us and  mutterings of “they will have to register” are being heard.

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This weeks books for home education

These are some of the books we have been reading this week.

The Librarian who measured the earth is a beautifully illustrated story of the life of the difficult to pronounce Eratosthenes who after some difficulty with camels found a better way and managed to pretty accurately work out the circumference of the earth.

Nicely written, and with the maths explained in such as way that I think makes it easy to grasp.

We love it.

We have also read Grandfather’s Journey which is quite a short but moving tale of a Japanese man who travels from Japan to America and back to Japan where the Second World War keeps him.

Ronan is still reading Here We All Are the second of the 26 Fairmount Ave books by the ever wonderful Tomie dePaola. We have been using some Youtube vids with this story (it’s amazing what you can find on Youtube) so the children have heard Tomie’s famous cousin Morton Downey Sr the tenor.

Heleyna loves having her Peppa Pig book and We’re Going On A Bear Hunt read with her and she plays bear hunts with her friend, which can involve rather a lot of toddler shrieking. (ouch).

We had a couple of fairly quiet days the end of this week so more stories could be read such as The Story About Ping which comes with a great CD that offers a couple of Chinese greetings, some basic info on Chinese culture and a couple of songs. I think it’s good and I recommend it.

Teacher mock shot in front of children and 5yr old left up a tree. Home educators continue to have to defend themselves.

The fact that elf’n’safety meant a 5yr old was left up a tree and his rescuer had the police called on her is nothing compared to the fact that a school thought it a good science lesson to pretend to shoot a teacher in front of children, one of whom lost her father when he was shot dead. Please not the head isn’t sorry the deeply wicked charade took place, but only that it took a while to let all pupils know it was just a “joke”.

As this story follows so quickly on the fake holocaust story where children were told they would be taken from their parents.

Now I don’t trust the MSM at all. They couldn’t tell the truth if it bit them-but these stories are apparently true; at least no one seems to be denying them.

So why, I wonder, are we EHE families facing such a massive battle for the rights and well being of our children?

While Deech and fellow cronies complain that HE children don’t – or some people insist can’t- do science, I have to say if that story is an example of a science lesson then Deech et al are right; we don’t do that kind of science because it is plainly cruel.

A baby

My friend Jo gave birth to her son Emrys last night. We had her girls here for the afternoon while she was in labour at home.

Al took the girls home some time after 7pm and Jo has just told me they were just ready for bed when the baby arrived and they could come downstairs and meet him. Marvellous!

The Annunciation- The Fiat

I love the paintings of Fra Angelico. They speak volumes about what he knew and thought of God. I was so pleased that Alex got to study his work as part of his BTEC.

The Archangel Gabriel bows to the Woman and She bows to the Holy Spirit giving her Fiat to the Will of God. “I am the handmaid of the Lord, be it done to me according to His Word.”

The priest who painted this must have known a lot about the old Temple. He paints the encounter of Mary and the Angel in a church like structure but it is more than that. The image between her and the angel over the arches could be God the Father or the Son (He who has seen Me has seen Him) or perhaps it is the prophets. She sits beneath a ceiling of sky blue dotted with gold. The Temple, we are told was the image of the Garden of Eden with the ceiling blue like the sky above the Garden and dotted with stars. We see beyond her to a quiet place of prayer- but unlike the Holy of Holies this is open and unveiled.

Behind Gabriel we see Adam and Eve being cast out of the garden. Clothed and bent beneath the weight of their sin and shame they leave weeping, the Angel that guards the garden (St Michael??) behind them.

Just as Eve said MY will and refused her Fiat to God closing the door of heaven, so here we see Mary the Woman the second Eve saying His Will be done, so the door is opened- or it will be at the Resurrection of her Son.

It is good that this feast falls in Lent when struggling to do anything God might want sometimes might seem a bit more trouble than it’s worth.

Last day of petition

The petition to the bishops is closed tomorrow. If you haven’t signed yet and want to add your voice to asking the bishops to support us against the CSF Bill’s attack on families than grab your chance:

Bearing in mind how sex education is already going on in most schools, including Catholic schools, and that this Bill demands more of the same (something I believe Einstein saw as madness- that is repeating more of the same hoping for a different outcome)- this vid might shine some light on outcomes.

If you want to understand what is happening to Home Educators read the Bible.

I think that if ever I wrote a course to teach human psychology I would have the Bible as a core book. If you truly want to see the whole spectrum of human behaviour from saints to abject sinners, this is the set of books to go to.

Beginning in the Garden we see the great dragon gets right into the middle of the place, it’s heart, and starts his mischief. He asks Eve a question that has a hint of a lie in it.

“Did God really say you cannot eat from any tree in the Garden?”

This is Satan asking just how mean can God get. There is an assumption that Eve couldn’t possibly believe God was on her side could she?

It’s such a tiny shift in language, just a little poison there. Nothing to worry about?

If Eve has nothing to hide she has nothing to fear from answering such a tiny question right?

Just like we EHE families shouldn’t be too concerned when the suggestion is made that our children are hidden and so just possibly, not that this is an accusation mind, but you know children can be forced into domestic servitude and marriage and otherwise abused.

Eve points out that of course they can eat from the trees, just not the one that would kill them.

Forget the subtle lie-go for a neat twist of the truth. “You wont die (the death), you”ll be like gods knowing good from evil.”

This lie is tougher to deal with; it’s the kind the MSM are good at. Take a bit of truth in a story and twist it out of all recognition.    Satan looks to be truthful; they don’t die it seems, and they do suddenly find themselves knowing good and evil so what’s wrong with his remark?

What’s wrong with saying Khyra Ishaq died because she was home educated? What’s wrong with saying she was hidden (as that eejit on Woman’s Hour said to Fiona Nicholson)?

Eve fell for it. I have some sympathy with her as Adam just stood there and let this nasty huge beastie threaten her and tempt her and he said nothing. Silence far too often helps the bad guy doesn’t it?

Eve may have been full of Grace at this point, giving her an advantage over us, but we have years of this kind of behaviour to study both in Scripture and other histories so what is our excuse for falling for it exactly?

Eve takes a bite from the fruit thinking it might do some good. Is this like those people who support the CSF Bill because they think that the vague promise of money for registration or the ridiculously impossible promise that if home ed families apply for a license to educate their own children that some child somewhere wont get abused!!??

She ate the fruit and wow suddenly her eyes were opened- her innocence lost (and a great load of Grace lost with it) and she apparently wasn’t dead.  Or was she?

Adam joins her.

Then we are treated to the conversation between Adam, Eve and God. Adam,  blames Eve rather than apologise and Eve with more apology but still not much blames Satan. Satan doesn’t get to speak again; he is a liar and a murderer you see.

Adam and Eve are dead and soon their bodies will die too.

You often find that where there are lies there are corpses. It’s not like we don’t know this now is it?

As the wonderful old cynic Ben Sirach wrote “There is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecc 19)

So I just wonder; why is anyone falling for this CSF Bills attack on families? Do you really think it will save a child? Do you really think the Government’c approach to sex ed isn’t going to help the abortion industry?

The Pope’s Letter suggests the Ent Moot may be over.

The Letter the Pope has written ostensibly to the Church in Ireland is obviously, as Fr Boyle points out, meant for the rest of the Church as well.

Fr Ray has seen the promise of what he calls Bootcamp in the letter. He interprets Pope Benedict’s words as,

without this National Mission, I don’t have confidence in you, not only do I think you are incompetent, unlearned, the fruit of a hermeneutic of rupture, separated from the mainstream Church but also, faithless.

I haven’t had time to read the letter yet and I haven’t bothered to read the stupid, shallow and bigoted response from The Times and some other MSM outlets. There is something despicable about blaming the innocent and gleefully manipulating the horrendous grief of the victims.

Nevertheless I really do think it is past time the slow decisions of the Church, like some kind of Ent Moot, were done and some action seen by us hobbits here. The problem we have of course, the problem the Church has; Her pope and hierarchy, is what to do that is really justice and healing while avoiding the revenge that can come from anger and frustration.

Perhaps there would be a lot less anger and frustration if hobbits could see that those who were destroying the Church we love were facing tough discipline up front.

Kate picks out more of the prescription for healing and that is a calling to all of us. Anyone with an ounce of catecheses should know that priests, because of their special calling are on the front line for special attacks as well. We should be praying for our priests and bishops. If we are not praying we will need to be circumspect in throwing stones.

That brings me back to the question of justice verses revenge. I think there is a feeling that something very strong needs to be done and done soon. We have suffered through quite a few years of horrendous cases coming to light and the cover up that went with it.

Most of the cases do come from the 70′s and 80′s as well a quite a few from further back than that, especially the shocking institutional violence in some (mainly Irish??) schools run by the Church with the State.

Some have asked “How on earth could anyone think the men who went after these boys and young men be ‘cured’ rather than incarcerated?”

Well, I worked in psychiatry in the mid 80′s and back then it was STILL believed that sexual predators and rapists could be “cured” with the right therapy.  I did some work for Rape Crisis and the women there didn’t even accept that boys and men could truly be victims. Apart from some cases that came through the community services I can’t see where male victims back then would have got anyone to listen to them at all.

Meanwhile there were places set up to work with rapists and other sexual abusers. I tried to get a placement in one to follow on from my Rape Crisis work, but was denied a place. By the time I was working with adults in rehab it was already (about 1990ish) being recognised that these people were criminal rather than sick and that cure was probably not possible. Worse still, it was finally coming to light that rapists and pederasts were habitual offenders.

There were a few scandals; therapists and teachers came out rather badly in the ‘who is likely to sexually abuse?’ stats.

Fr Ray asks what role Freudian psychology played in the cover up. I don’t know, but by the time I was done training at the end of the 80′s Freud was considered more of a Kook than a guru. However we were in the thick of  “I’m Ok, You’re Ok” and Rogerian therapy. Our mantra right through the 90′s was

Warm, empathic, non-judgemental, unconditional, positive regard.

As you can see the idea that some things are right and other things are wrong, let alone mortally sinful doesn’t equate.

The Church in too many places at local level bought into this secular agenda. On top of that, let’s be blunt, too many bishops wanted to cover their behinds. Whatever the silly Rogerian view of there being no such thing as right and wrong, “no ought ” as that old harridan on BBC radio used to say (what was her name? Ann something I think), the Church has always taught about sin and the dignity of the person. For a bishop to silence families is beyond the pale simply because the Church is NOT the SECULAR WORLD so they should have acted like bishops not some kind of agency.

Even in the hospitals we knew that sexual abuse was a horrible crime leaving victims mentally scarred, depressed and sometimes suicidal.

Fr Dwight has a good overview on the myth of paedophile priests. The MSM seems to be confused on the issue as usual.

So now what?

We wait. And perhaps the Holy Father will start asking for resignations from those who handled it all so appallingly badly.  Priests who are guilty need to be prosecuted and stripped of their role.

Finally, the ridiculous over reaction that happened when all this initially came to light has damaged some very good and innocent priests falsely accused. No one is daft enough (Times journalists and those who believe them aside) to think this is easy to deal with. But common sense and respect go a long way.

So if the Ent Moot really is over, it’s time to burn down Saruman’s tower isn’t it?

Confessions of a (semi) Structured home educator

Now that all the damage is done the DCSF have rather strangely decided to start some research into home education. They state the object is

Close the gap in educational achievement for children from disadvantaged backgrounds

Of course I laughed. If they really want to ensure hardly any EHE families come forward this has to be the way to do it.

But I do wonder, just how my family and group would fair in research like this.

I have wondered if on the surface at least, my family and group set up looks quite good to someone of Badman’s mindset. After all he could turn up and quite often find a load of children sitting around a table doing history and mapwork.  That might look “suitable” to someone with a ‘school-knows-best” mindset because it looks a bit schoolish. But then I wonder what he would make of the lessons.

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The petition asking the bishops to stand with us as we will stand with them.

You may remember that I posted a link asking those who wished to to sign.

I wrote this:

I wrote to my bishop (Archbishop Longley) and to the Bishop of Birmingham David Urquhart. I have received no reply from the latter and the former refused to meet up with his local home ed parents, instead telling me to contact the CES (Catholic Education Service) as the bishops apparently defer to them!

Amanda and Mark, -home educating parents who like nearly all of us, are concerned about our children’s future have written this petition which I ask you to sign.

To:  Bishops of England and WalesWe, the undersigned, call upon the Bishops of England and Wales and the Catholic Education Service to fulfil their duty as guardians of our Catholic Faith and unequivocally reject recent Government measures forcing Catholic schools to teach what is explicitly condemned by the Church, viz: presenting active homosexuality as an acceptable alternative lifestyle, and providing information on the nature – and provision – of contraception and abortion services. Compliance on the part of the Bishops and the CES in such measures would effectively render our schools no longer Catholic in any meaningful sense, and would place the faith and moral life of our children in jeopardy. As Catholic parents, teachers and pastors, we earnestly beg of you, our Shepherds in Christ, that you do not allow this to happen.


Perhaps if the bishops see they are needed and we would support them in speaking out-they will do so.

The petition remains open until the 26th March having been extended from closing today.

There has been some considerable discussion over the petition centring around the difficult decision Fr Ray had to make on whether it was morally acceptable to sign a petition that may be, understandably, miscontrued as not to much a petition but an attack on our bishops.

The silence of the bishops and their acceptance of the stance taken by the CES has concerned many of us. As a parent I am completely at a loss as to why Oona Stannard has been given apparent carte blanche over our children’s rights and innocence.

I cannot stand by while the CES  says sex ed will be fine in schools (and of course Balls wants families forced to take on his version which certainly doesn’t protect the rights of children to their innocence).

I have to run so I’ll post this and update later.

Please read as many posts on Fr Ray’s blog as you can to see the full picture.

We made lava lamps for science week.

As part of my nod towards it being International Science and Engineering week we made lava lamps today.

It was great fun and carried on from the oil and water experiments we did last week which was good.

You need a bottle and some water, Pour about a couple of inches worth of water in and then top up with cooking oil. (This is where the gallon bottles from Costco come in handy)

Add some drops of food colouring and let the whole thing settle for a short while.

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So now the DCSF want to do the research! ROFL!

Having no actual evidence or even basic information to hand Baroness Morgan decides to announce that home education can be an excuse for forced marriage, domestic servitude and other forms of abuse. Therefore the Balls sent out his hound Badman to sniff out some actual evidence. On finding none at all Badman made up some statistics and the NSPCC helpfully provided support suggesting among other things that a toddler killed at her home was home educated. She wasn’t. The two cases where home education was a factor were jumped on gleefully and the fact that the first abuser was a registered foster mother right under the eyes of SS and the second was a mother whose children were in school and who was also right under the noses of SS was duly ignored (though not by the MSM thankfully).

The year went on with half truths and lies being told by so many people in positions of power that I can barely be bothered to list them. If you’ve paid attention you will have seen it play out.

Finally we reach the point where the Bill looks set to fail to get through. We might sigh with relief at the thought that forced sex ed (grooming) and forced licensing of home educators might not happen (for now).

The country is financially embarrassed and a general election is due. Education is in the papers as schools churn out the illerate and innumerate and children can’t attain basic GCSEs even when they are free at school. Children go to school in stab vests and at my local comp children are locked in as police are called to try and stop a riot.

In the light of all this the DCSF announce their research into home education. It is set to begin in April. How much will it cost I wonder? And how on earth do they expect home ed families to forget what has been said and done and just go along with it?!

I would love to see real research done in the UK. I am curious about the outcomes of those of us who home educate. We know that American outcomes are very good. So good in fact that some universities over there make a special effort to recruit homeschooled youngsters. But in the UK we have less data to go on. It would be better if some Unis got together and pooled resources to do the research-but that probably wont happen any time soon.

Perhaps the next Govt will ditch all this and try and rebuild some trust with home edders first. We’ll see.

In some ways it doesn’t matter.  Is the research useful? I wonder.

National Science and Engineering Week

As it is National Science and Engineering week  I am getting the children to do some stuff with these sites:

Harcourt Health and some of the free bits from HSP Science along with the Hubble site. We’ll probably be doing some experiments and continuing with the astronomy book. We also have a trip to Think Tank planned for Thursday.

A tale of two mothers with cancer.

There are two things to observe in this story; the first is that both mothers home educate and will continue to do so  come hell and high water and the second is to compare the care these ladies have had/are having.

K is a mother of two and just over 3 years ago was diagnosed with breast cancer. She found the lump and waited a few weeks for the scan. Once they found the cancer the hospital staff got going. She had a mastectomy and chemo. During the time of post surgery and chemo her parents were there to look after the children as her husband couldn’t take much time off being self employed. The education the children received was adjusted so the grandparents could easily keep up with it and then adjusted again as K got through it all. There were many days and weeks during chemo when she just had to get on with it-staggering to the table and sitting with her head on her arms while the children did their work. I am sure Lord Soley would have been appalled, but the children knew what was happening with their mother and because they were there and did not have to deal with whispered secrets or strange things happening while they were shipped off to school, they were able to deal with it. All questions were answered and K’s dd is proud of being there for her mum bringing her bottles of water to drink. It has been a good and healthy experience for them.

K has had a lot more surgery since then and is taking a rather unpleasant drug called Arimidex. She has coped well with all that has been thrown at her. But these last three weeks or so have been a real trial. She has lumps and she shouldn’t have them. When she went to GP it turned out that she couldn’t see her oncologist and so the GP had to re-refer her through the rapid referral clinic. As it turned out it wasn’t that rapid and she had to phone the breast nurse to get the appt pushed through.

She turned up and waited…and waited. Three hours after her appt time she was seen by a doctor who had obviously just had enough. He didn’t want to give the scans she needed and said appts would be sent and he would see her in three weeks. He then told her erroneous info about her breast cancer, having apparently confused her with another patient. She went home.

No appointment came. She phoned and found that she wasn’t in the computer system. The breast nurse had to sort the situation out and finally appointments for her scans came through; all on one day at two different hospitals. But it was the only way the scans would be done before she went back to see the Consultant -two days later. So she had waited nearly three weeks for the scans.

The first scan (bone density) involves radio active dye which needs to go in the right place to show the right things. It didn’t. It went wrong. She had to go back later for another go. Finally she went off to the other hospital for the ultra sound scans to her hand and back (where the strange lumps lurk).

Two days later she sat before the doctor who of course had no results and began telling her results that were from a year ago. He then had to chase down the other results. Bone density was clear, he said. It turned out there simply were no results for the lump on her back so he had to send her for another scan to get that. While she was there she saw the actual results of her bone density which was “inclusive” because the dye had gone to the wrong places.

She was sent away being told she had a couple of “boney lumps”.

Understandably she is not a happy person right now.

The second mother is J who also has two children. She had a cyst. She went to her doctor and within a couple of days the cyst was removed. She had another one and again she went into hospt and it was removed within a couple of days. Two days after that she had histology results showing she has ovarian cancer. A few days after that she was in hospital for the hysterectomy.

I visited her today. I went into the hospital and approached reception where the lady at the desk made immediate eye contact and greeted me. She gave me the directions I asked for.

I went to the ward where J was in a 2 bedded room as the only patient. Bathroom ensuit. Nurses came in and out, always knocking before entry and always efficient and polite. I was given a cup of tea.

We talked about plans for her son’s home education. You see, (Lord Soley might like to know) when one of us is ill the others pick up the slack. Of course we will see to it that the children continue to receive an education that suits them, and her son will be there and have his questions about his mum answered. He will be treated with respect as K’s children have been and will continue to be.

I am sure I read someone suggest that there was really no such thing as a Home Educating Community-and perhaps that’s right; because when something like this happens, it feels more like family.

The consultant arrived and spoke clearly answering all questions put to her. The care J is getting is excellent and she will probably start chemo in a day or two. She knows what is happening and when.

Why is K on the Economy Package and J on the Fortnam and Mason version? Simple. K is being treated by the NHS and J has Bupa.

I wonder what the people of America really want…just asking.

Please pray for my friends. They both need your prayers.

Even if the CSF Bills runs out of time, is it too late for our children?

I did listen to the whole debate in the house of Lords, and have tried to read it too and I suppose I should go back over some of the points raised by such excellent speakers and Lord David Alton and of course Lord Lucas, but I haven’t had chance yet. Too busy helping my children get an education :)

Lord Lucas seems to think the Bill will run out of time and will not even make it to the wash up. I certainly hope and pray he is right about this.

Even so, I wonder if it is all too late for our children. All the way through this fight I have been concerned about what exactly the Conservative party had planned for home education if and when they get into power this year. The hint is that for this time around they plan nothing much, but the suggestion that registration is inevitable has been raised more and more often.

Perhaps it is. Perhaps, as I suspected, it always was. Perhaps I can even give the Conservative MPs the benefit of the doubt and believe that they will bring in some form of registration that should keep the appalling Labour MPs quiet should they get back into power any time soon. You see the Tories are looking at victory with some trepidation, and with good reason. The country is in an economic shambles and culturally,  sunk so low that it is beginning to look like Rome just before it’s complete collapse.

I don’t know what form the ‘inevitable’ registration with take. I doubt it will effect my family at first as we are registered and so far at least the LA here seems fairly good about EHE. How long that will last, we will have to wait and see. I hear rumblings from across the boarder that the LA woman there is lacking in knowledge and understanding of both EHE and the law as it stands. Unless some very serious training and work is done with LA staff registration will be a problem for a lot of people very quickly. I would hope the Tories have noted the willingness of EHE families to stand and fight and will not play to the LA and Badman allies like the discredited NSPCC.

It will take a long time to rebuild the trust between home ed families and the LAs-if it ever happens.

So, what does the future hold for our families? In schools the forced sex ed- what amounts to the grooming of- primary school children is going on anyway. Seven year old children are sat in front of videos that show a cartoon of a couple having sex while a patronising voice over tells the children how exiting it is. Ed Balls thinks this is great for children but even Youtube want you to state you are over 18 before they let you access it. It is long past time to get that pervert Kinsey and his research out of the classrooms of our children. But sadly the kind of parents who let their seven year olds sit in front of Eastenders and Coirrie are not bothered about a bit of cartoon porn in the classroom.

Home educating parents are weird because we don’t want our children stripped of their innocence. While people of the ilk of Soley and Deech talk about “children’s rights” (Soley said “children have rights too”) what they mean is forcing THEIR agenda onto our children. As Soley said: (col 99)

Very often we talk about our children as “my children” or “my child”. That does not mean that the child belongs to you; it does not mean the child does not have rights.

Soley has no problem with children being assaulted, mugged, strangled and stolen from at school (like my son) – they should see it through. A parent like me who when the school refused to intervene removed my son to home educate is “over protective”.  (col100)

Many parents seem to want to home educate-I am reading between the lines here-because of bullying. However, bullying has always been around and is always a problem; you cannot avoid it altogether. Parents have different views on this. I say this gently, but parents have to make a decision about how much they protect a child by removing them from a situation, or how much you protect them by keeping them in a situation and helping them to find their way through it. I certainly come into the second category. I have never played what I regard as an overprotective role. Where bullying is concerned, it is necessary both to intervene with the school and help your child to see the process through because, however long you live as a parent, you are not going to be able to look after your child for ever.

The utterly bizarre view that because bullying in it’s many varied and violent forms has been with us for as long as say murder and rape that children should be forced to endure it on the grounds that once they are adults their parents might not be there is astonishing.

While being beaten at school is just part of life to Soley he was appalled to know of children who helped care for their mother when she had bouts of depression, even though when she was well she was a good home educating mother. Nothing there about learning through life experiences, oh no! Those children’s rights were being violated by their mother’s illness. This propaganda against parents with illness or disability is deeply disturbing.

I can’t bring myself to write about Barroness Deech whose spiteful vitriol was actually shocking to me because I (mistakenly) thought the House of Lords was somewhat less political and more honest that Parliament. You can see good overviews HERE and of course HERE.

Grit picks up on Deech’s draconian ideas (draconian even by Badman and Ball’s standards!)

And she and Soley are surprised we don’t trust the Government!

There were many very good points made in the debate which was quite interesting in many ways. There really is no evidence against home education at all, otherwise those who wanted to come after us (and Deech really wants to) would produce it.

So, now we await the next bit.

[Published with no apology to Baroness Deech if there are typos or other grammatical iniquities]

CSF Bill in the Lords

You can watch it here - starts at 4hrs 6min

Hansard transcript HERE

I haven’t watched it yet.

Okay I have watched it now. There is a lot to say I suppose but the real thing that struck me was how dishonest some members of the House of Lords are. For some maybe it was simply ignorance but I was still amazed at what some people said and how they said it.

I don’t think Baroness Deech likes us. We are, to her view, uncaring of the rights of our children. That was such an utterly deplorable and dishonest speech.  But she was by no means the only person who wore jackboots and carried erroneous information to the debate.

I lost a lot of respect for the House of Lords to be honest. I had thought they were a more robust group of people. I have to say that the Bill must be pretty shoddy if those who wish to support it need to be dishonest and selective in presentation of information to force their view. If it really is going to shore up the rights of children and improve access to education then there should have been speakers able to say so honestly and with real evidence to back their claims.

The Bill has been around over a year and yet still those who want it to go through had nothing to say that showed it’s merit.

Third week of Lent: veneration of the cross

“We adore Thee oh Christ and we bless Thee because by Thy Holy Cross Thou redeemed the world.”

It’s already the third Sunday of Lent. I think I am letting these forty days pass me by somewhat and I need to stop and focus a bit. In the Eastern Rite today is the Veneration of the Holy Cross which for us Latin Riters doesn’t really happen until the Good Friday service.

But the whole of Lent is about how willing we are to obey Christ’s command to “Take up [our] cross and follow [Him].”

Lots of us have pretty heavy crosses to drag around and I know I have a lot of times when I resent this and don’t want to take it up, I want to leave it there and walk away. Lent is a time to try to put aside the battle and to use the old advice “let go and Let God”. This, of course is always easier said than done.

I don’t think I will ever quite make it as a saint, although I know I am supposed to strive in that direction. I saw a quote from somewhere that summed up my level of holiness; I couldn’t be a saint but perhaps I could be a martyr if they killed me quickly (and I had my eyes shut).

I am not making a particularly good go at praying the Seven Sorrows. So I thought I would try and blog on them one at a time:

The first sorrow: Mary receives the prophecy of Simeon, “And a sword will pierce your heart also.” A terrible sword that would pierce her mother’s heart as she watched her Son suffer so much to the thoughts of many would be revealed and so we could receive forgiveness.

Plenty of mothers, many of them saints like Monica or my own St Bridget of Sweden, have suffered because of their children. They saw their children get into terrible situations or have health problems or even die.

I am not sure what happened to Bridget’s daughter Katrin that has made her the patron saint of mothers who miscarry their babies but my guess is she knew that pain.

Mother’s learn to carry their children’s crosses along with their own to make the burden lighter for their children. It is part of the job of being a mother.

There is a moment in the Passion of the Christ (Mel Gibson’s film) where Mary rushes to her Son as he drags his cross through the streets of Jerusalem. Gibson cuts with a scene of her rushing to Him as a child who fell. As Jesus falls under the weight of the cross she arrives to comfort Him and He says, “See Mother, I make all things new.”

In the stations of the cross we see her there to comfort Him so that He is strengthened to carry the burden.

Carrying crosses is all part of the Lenten journey. Yes, we might do it all year round, but in Lent we must surely walk a little closer along the Via Dolarosa without so much resentment.

Teaching my child to read.

I am in the process of teaching 5 yr old Avila to read. Ronan reads well already and although I will make sure he continues to practice and build his vocabulary the main teaching side of his reading is done. He knows how to read and so can work his way through new words.

Avila had been learning in much the same way as Ronan but I soon noticed that she was doing things rather differently. When working out what a word said she would start with any letter in the word and then make a wild guess at what the word was based on what she thought the other letters looked like. She confuses b and d and p and q and sometimes b and p and in maths I notice she gets 6 and 9 confused.

I have two older children with dyslexia. Now, these days dyslexia has become a contentious issue. There are mixed views on what it is and what causes it. There is a growing view – that apparently dates back to 1929, that dyslexia is a learned disorder; that is children get taught to be dyslexic because of the school’s approach to literacy. Reading some of the research more closely however it would appear that it isn’t quite so simple as all that.

There are children who apparently have a predisposition to dyslexia and therefore the one sized fits all approach to teaching children to read doesn’t fit all and can lead to those with a predisposition to dyslexia finding themselves with serious reading problems later on.

Alex was taught in two primary schools. In the first one (top of the league tables at the time) he was taught using what they called “The Real Book” approach and later with “Thrash” chartes. He became more and more unable to cope with reading. His younger sister was using the same method and his older brother had learned this way too.

Now interestingly Josh had been on a SEN program for reading because he was struggling but he soon came off SEN as he overcame the problem. Alex didn’t.

When they changed to a different primary school (after we moved house) they were in a school much lower down the league tables but the SENCO soon had Alex under her wing and used a strongly phonics based approach with him.

Meanwhile it was noticed that Iona was unable to read and her writing was appalling. Like Alex she reversed letters and letter order, but unlike Alex she was unable to differentiate the beginning and ending of words so her written work was essentially just a string of letters, some of which were reversed.

Iona had many dyspraxic symptoms too. She couldn’t tie shoe laces (still has to use a special method) and couldn’t coordinate a knife and fork. She constantly walked into doors, chairs, tripped over things, dropped things. She was, quite frankly, a bit of a pain to live with at times.

Alex had not had those problems and soon appeared to have overcome a great many of his dyslexic symptoms. He should have done reasonably well at secondary school had his SEN work continued. But it didn’t and the next two and half years were pretty rough to hellish.

By the time I had the guts and gumption to home educate he was functionally illiterate.

Through home ed I thought his dyslexia was fairly mild and put a great deal of his school problems down to the massive bullying problem and to some extent I think that was right. On attending college he received a full assessment and was found to have dyslexia at level 4. The assessment stated that having an IQ of 136 had helped him overcome many of the dyslexic tendencies.

So, the question remains. Do I have two dyslexic children because they were not taught to read properly at school, or is it just one of those things that happens in our family?

Avila is showing signs of struggling to learn to read. I have been using phonics and Oxford Reading Tree books with her-as I did  with Ronan. I have noticed that she is far more distracted by the pictures in the ORT books than Ronan was and I have read that colourful picture books are unhelpful for children with a tendency to dyslexia. I have no idea if this is true or not. There is so much argument about what is best for dyslexic children that I wonder how any parent or teacher can decide what is best.

Well I don’t know who is right about dyslexia but I do know I want Avila to be able to read well. So this is what I am doing:

She spends time on Starfall each day reading through the strories and completing the games and videos so she learns all the phonic rules. She has the worksheets from their download site to accompany the reading. This is her primary letter formation work as well. I also use some of the printables from MoreStarfall, especially the ones where she can learn the shape of words.

Alongside this we are working through the McGuffey Primer which she enjoys. It is strongly phonic based and doesn’t have too many distracting pictures. So far this seems to be working.

Finally I have bought the ebook Visual, Perceptual Skills Building Bk 1 from Critical Thinking Co.

I think we probably will go back to the Oxford Reading Tree books at some point. She had reached level 5 and was reading the More Stories set which have more sight words for extended vocab. Two or three people, including a teacher have said this puts her well ahead of her peers in Reception at school; but that doesn’t change the fact that we are seeing difficulties in her approach to reading.

I’ve just bought Kinderbach

I’ve just signed up for a years subscription to Kinderbach. It’s a music and piano course aimed at children aged 2 to 7.  We had a go with the two weeks free lessons and all three younger children have enjoyed it so far. It gets good reviews around homeschool blogsites so I am hoping it will work well for us. A year’s sub costs $95.88 (£63.44) which is $7.99 (£5.29) a month. There are six levels with 10 week of four lessons each at each level. I think I read a seventh level is on the way.

It looks good so far, I’ll do a fuller review once we’ve been using it a while.

A lot can happen in three days.

I feel like I’ve barely stood still over the last few days. It gets like that sometimes.

But we’ve done some great stuff and I’ve had some lovely surprises.

The stand up dustpan that Deb so kindly had sent, arrived and it came in a box that Heleyna really loved. It was a house, a nest and a boat.

Already my new dustpan and brush set are proving their worth.

Lots of learning has been going on and Roni received a visit from his godmother who brought him his birthday pressies – a book called Flat Stanley which he has really got into and Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr Fox. We also got given two whole crates of science kits and equipment. There’s tons of stuff to look at. Ronan has taking a liking to the telescopes and we’ve started making a kind of solar system thing and there’s a stand up star chart. Lots to explore there.

We babysat some younger HE children while their mum went for an antenatal scan. There was a lot of singing and older children reading stories to younger children that afternoon.

Then I rushed off with Avila to her ballet class. She loves ballet. It does seem to really suit her and now the new diet is apparently working reasonably well, she has more energy and can easily keep up with everyone for the full lesson.

Then yesterday we headed off to Think Tank for the day.

There was loads to do there. I bought a family season ticket with a view to going there at least once a month. There is no much for the children to learn about there. They have classrooms as well so I want to ask if we EHE folks can use them while we are there.

J has already asked if -baring in mind we are all buying season tickets-we can have the schools pack. it was said we could so next time we go I think we should ask again.

I was a bit shocked at the price of parking-baring in mind the entry fee-but J knows a cheaper place for next time.

It’s wheelchair friendly throughout with good sized lifts so a disabled parent can fit her children in the lift with her.

Doorways are all easy to access too.

Staff are helpful -which is good because the

place isn’t well sign posted inside.

There was a schools invasion near lunch time and that made things difficult so we left at about 2pm. However I am told that the schools leave after a couple of hours-just after 2ish themselves so next time we might sit tight until the place is cleared again and then we’ll have the run of it until about 4ish.

Then this morning Ronan had a hospital appointment which his dad took him too.

Recap; Ronan has a cataract in one eye which was missed when he was a baby (despite me querying his vision with the HV). Finally it was diagnosed when he was 18mths old-and too late to remove it. It appeared he had no vision in that eye and wouldn’t learn to have any even with surgery to remove the cataract. So we decided not to operate. Then he told me he could see out of his ‘bad eye’ and I tested him and found he had some periphery vision-so back to the hospt we went. They did further tests and yet again it seems he will never really learn to see with that eye so we have decided (again) not to operate. If they did the surgery he would then spend months maybe a year even with his good eye patched to try and force the other eye to see and with no really good outcome. I thought he would loose a lot of learning at a critical stage and Ronan said he would rather just have one eye. So that’s where we are. The Doc has said he wont discharge Ronan but will see him yearly to make sure his good eye remains good.

So that’s it.

The silence of bishops.

I wrote to my bishop (Archbishop Longley) and to the Bishop of Birmingham David Urquhart. I have received no reply from the latter and the former refused to meet up with his local home ed parents, instead telling me to contact the CES (Catholic Education Service) as the bishops apparently defer to them!

Amanda and Mark, -home educating parents who like nearly all of us, are concerned about our children’s future have written this petition which I ask you to sign.

To:  Bishops of England and WalesWe, the undersigned, call upon the Bishops of England and Wales and the Catholic Education Service to fulfil their duty as guardians of our Catholic Faith and unequivocally reject recent Government measures forcing Catholic schools to teach what is explicitly condemned by the Church, viz: presenting active homosexuality as an acceptable alternative lifestyle, and providing information on the nature – and provision – of contraception and abortion services. Compliance on the part of the Bishops and the CES in such measures would effectively render our schools no longer Catholic in any meaningful sense, and would place the faith and moral life of our children in jeopardy. As Catholic parents, teachers and pastors, we earnestly beg of you, our Shepherds in Christ, that you do not allow this to happen.


Perhaps if the bishops see they are needed and we would support them in speaking out-they will do so.