Monthly Archives: January 2011

The ghosts of Badman and Balls, like poltergeists infect the LA here.

The DCSF was dead, to begin with….

We battled and we won. Oh well, let’s be honest here, we didn’t win, they simply ran out of time. We have a new government who have more than enough real problems to deal with, especially in education, that surely families who are home educating could be left in peace. You would think so wouldn’t you?

I received a letter and questionnaire yesterday from the LA. They say they want to improve relations between LAs and home educators. Well, that didn’t seem to be the case during the Badman and Balls bulldozer event. In fact the LA we are registered with were so honest and shiny that they managed to loose their response to the Government so that a FOI request could be denied. If they want trust, being honest would help.

The questionnaire wants to know all about our family inclduing how many children we have and what our post code is. Strange questions for an anonymous response methinks.

But the glaring omission in all the paperwork is what they have on the table for us. They say they want to improve relations, and I bet they do as they must surely be at an all time low after the Badman’n’Balls debacle. But their info and questionnaire STILL give the impression that they think they are the ones in charge of our children even though they admit they have nothing to offer.

Despite the fact that I have had visits here every year for 6 years and I know most of the other registered families have the same, the questionaire shows no understanding of the philosophies and methods that underpin much home education. In fact the only one the seem to acknowledge is Autonomous/Child Led. This is deeply frustrating.

The website info admits that parents do not need to follow the unbeleivably awful National Currriculum and then lists subject on the NC!

I don’t think I will attend the meeting. So far as I know the LA have no idea that I use a wheelchair. I don’t want to advertise the fact by turning up in one. But I do think I’ll fill in the acceptable bits of the questionnaire.  It’s just a bit depressing that after all that has happened, and all the information LAs could have and should have listened to, that it seems the people who think they are in charge of us, just HAVE to have boxes to tick and some strange need for us to tick boxes for them.

Frugal Friday Books and free lessons for Home Education

One of the ways Home Educators are often offered for saving the pennies is to use the local library rather than buying all the books children can get through on their educational endevours. Well, I have to admit I gave up on our local library quite some time ago. The selection and standard of books were just awful. The idea that you can order something only works if the book is anywhere in the system. 

Iona has built herself a pretty impressive aray of books from charity shops including  some good Oscar Wilde, Conan Doyle and de Maurier books. I’ve collected a lot of books over the years which she has inherited, such as the Poldark novels and some Dumas stuff.

A fellow HE mum has noticed that her local library have just shut down the school books supply and they actually had a reasonably good set up. Apparently local authorities faced with cutting costs don’t feel the need to cut down on extras at City Hall, when stopping educational resources is a way of clawing back the debt.

School libraries could step into the breach I suppose, but I bet they wont.

As it happens our family supply of books, which grows a bit at a time is shared within our little HE group and they share with us. I have donated quite a few books to church and hope that soon Father will sort out the bookcase there so people can borrow books at the weekend.

Communities could step into the breech here and people could donate good books to parishes for more parish based libraries that could be open to the local community.  Perhaps if parents were choosing, supplying and borrowing the books there would be a much better quality selection. (And perhaps if library budgets weren’t splurged on naff ‘teen’ fiction there would be money for books that actually have something to say).

Meanwhile Internet archive is a great resource for free books.I recently downloaded Five Children and It which I am reading to the children. It offers a lot of books for Kindle now as well, for those who use it.

 Also check out Freebie of the Day as there’s often books to download there and audio.

I also love  this HERITAGE HISTORY site which has the books colour coded from Green for beginners, to Olive and then Red for more advanced reading. The books are organised for time and place and they even have some good Catholic stuff there.

FREE LESSON set as I did a follow on to the Milgram lesson.  I think this lesson is just an introduction to a huge subject on what is legitimate authority and obedience. But I hope it will be a start for a good family discussion.

There’s more here for the organisation journal set and some more Greek.

Kalei puts up a lot of stuff herself so do keep checking her blog and site.

When did it become “normal” for children to be tired and miserable all the time?

Most mothers I come across love their children and want the best for them. Not all, of course, but most. But over and over I am finding myself in conversation with mothers who are telling me how difficult life is for their family because life is just so demanding and difficult for their very young child or children. I am talking about children as young as 5,6,7 here. The thing that is making life so difficult, producing tired, miserable and even frightened children is school.

Mothers speak in tones of shrugged powerless shoulders as they explain how their child has been bullied, has to face (at the age of 6) that he isn’t good enough at something and must be thrust with strangers for the morning. The same child having just about adjusted to this change is thrust into the exam fever as SATS approach. He is SIX!

Mothers tell me how they must rush hither and thither dragging tired and disgruntled little ones with them to fit school, afterschool and extra stuff into their evenings. Clubs, groups, events getting later and later so that rest and even getting food become a major obstacle.

It seems to me, from outside this lifestyle now (thank God) that we have made child misery “normal”. These mums don’t want this for their children. Who would? But they are part of the great “groupthink” that expects this and must have it.

Things aren’t that easy in my world either. But I tell you, something absolutely drastic would have to happen before I would allow a child of mine back into that life of school, misery and exhaustion. Especially as so little actual learning takes place.

I am normally very careful about not being too critical of sending children to school. I am well aware that most people think it’s the best thing to do. I am also well aware that far too many of us made that decison with no understanding and I am very aware that school is rarely the best place for a child whatever their age. But I am left shaking my head as mothers tell me how miserable they and their children are- and tomorrow they will do it all again.

I’ve been listening to HS through the hard times today. Get it while it’s there and check out the book download too. There is some great insights and she even mentions a HS mum who uses a wheelchair (so I’m not the only one). One part well worth hearing is about how she began to HS her nephew. Her experience of him just out of school rang very true for me. I remember the same problems when I pulled Alex and Iona out. Enjoy.

All I can say to parents who are unsure is, think very hard before putting your children into school.

My home education is turning into school at home I think.

I have read so many parents who insist that homeschooling is a bad word because it makes it sound as though all we do is School at home. The methods we all use are more diverse and tailored to the child than that, they cry and they insist we don’t spend all day around the table with workbooks and sheets.

It has been creeping up on me that we are becoming more and more schoolish in the way things are going. What would Charlotte Mason think if she saw us? I don’t know but I don’t think she would be too appalled. We have moved to more workbook type things, but even so they are well written workbooks and there is still daily time for some living books. It’s just that the books are now more just for reading rather than as jumping off points for all kinds of narration.

We’ve got more into the Seton and Critical Thinking books, which are essentially workbooks. However there’s a definate sense of Miss Mason in the way the Seton books are set out, so it doesn’t seem too far removed from her living books approach. I’ve also just invested in a good Greek set and have an eye on the Latin as well, once we’ve done the bulk of Mr. Linney’s book.

I don’t want to lose the sense of education being an “atomosphere” or a “gentle art,” but there is something reasurring about knowing someone has done the work of setting out coherant lessons even when I am incoherant, and has judged the right level even when I am at a loss.

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I have come across parents who, when they are ill either send their children to school or let them watch Discovery or National Geographic and call that education. I am tempted to both of these at times but the way I avoid it is to let them do workbooks. It might not be the very best education I could give them, but it’s a still a lot better than some other options. To be fair to those who have produced the books, the ones I have bought, are written to a high  standard.  It’s just not as gentle as a purely CM approach, and perhaps not quite as interesting.

But there’s still plenty of the spirit of awe and discovery from Charlotte Mason  in our lives, which they love and so do I.

Alex is learning…

Up in the attic ds Alex has been busy working with his online tutorials.

Here’s his first animation piece-

Apart from 3D animation he’s working away on colour theory. It seems these online tutorials have him on  a massive learning curve, which he is pleased with. It is worth noting that this level of skill wasn’t even touched on in collage.

Teaching our children about legitmate authority and obediance

I wrote a lesson on discernment before the Milgram incident. I think many people believe that discernment is just the process adults go through when testing a vocation, but of course it’s far wider than that.

It can be difficult to discern what we should or should not be doing with our every day lives. What we need is a good dose of wisdom, and common sense, followed by humility and lots of prayer.

The reason God says Love Me first is because THEN we will be willing to receive the grace He offers and have what we need to honour our mother and father and love our neighbour.

As parents we are under obligation to teach our children obedience. However we cannot take it for granted that all people who demand obedience should receive it. Obedience must come with eyes wide open, not shut or blinded. At Nuremberg the defence “I was just following orders,” didn’t wash.

One of the useful tools of discernment I was taught during my nurse training was to always know exactly WHY you are doing something, and to have all the information on something before inflicting a patient with it. Doing something because some doctor or other tells us to isn’t good enough. If you read my lesson on Milgram you’ll see a couple of us at least had to refuse to do something.

I have come across parents who openly boast about how they are teaching their children to disobey and disrespect people in authority. I am assuming they wont like it when those children become disrespectful, disobediant and generally nasty towards them. But something else  seems to happen with people who have never learned what should be obeyed and what shouldn’t — see Milgram.

Parents quietly groan about the peer pressure in school and even those of us who HE have to face this. Obviously it is easier to deal with when parents (the legitimate authority) have more time with our children in a loving home than when they are out with peers all day and with very little legitimate authority to guide them.

One of the major problems we have as parents in teaching obedience to our children is that words like “love” “Authority” and “power” have had their meaning stripped from them. “Obedience” then becomes a difficult concept to grasp. We have to reinstate the true meaning of legitimate authority in our homes, so that our children can learn true obedience and true freedom It’s a huge responsibility but all true authority comes with responsibility and comes with agape-charitas the giving-love.

If you listen to Catholic Radio for any length of time you soon come across people who are living the Milgram experiment in very real situations. They phone looking for advice on how to refuse to do evil to others when their workplace demands it of them. There are those who have been courageous enough to refuse to do evil even at risk of unemployment; and there are those who have lost their job.  These are ordinary people who have put God first. So merry gentlemen (and women) let nothing you dismay.

Homeschooling study. I wonder what it might show about Home Education in the UK?

Studies of home education in the USA seem to be happening on a fairly regular basis and so far always show that children who are home educated are doing as well or more often better than their schooled peers. A new study (opens pdf) has been reported in the New American that estimates as many as two million children are now being educated by their parents. H/T Zoe Romanowsky

Studies like this do not seem to happen so much in the UK, and after the way Ed Balls and Co behaved are hardly likely to happen successfully. But I do wonder if the increase in HS in America is mirrored by the same thing happening here?

Totally anecdotally, from my experience of American homeschoolers online whether on blogs or forums, I get the impression that there is more recognition over there that children need parents to be parents.  Over here the rights and responsibilities of parents have been so undermined they are practically crushed.

The media in this country has been largely antagonistic to home education, but even bad press has raised awareness and seems to make more people ask questions.

I watch the American HS community with interest. I think those who believe that the future belongs to HS families might be true.

Don’t look at me, look at Him!

I have some favourite images of Our lady; Our Lady of Guadalupe is my very favourite, her head bowed in prayer and the symbol of her pregnancy under her joined hands. I also like Our Lady of Kibeho with her bowed head and gentle appearance. But all (authentic) images of Mary and all authentic apparitions of Mary have one thing in common. She says, as she said in John’s Gospel, “Do whatever He tells you.” If she appears or is represented with the Christ Child or is shown standing at the foot of the cross, she always has the same attitude; “Don’t look at me, look at Him!” She points, her gaze to her Son.

One of the things I’ve always found a bit toe curling about so many tele-evangelists is they seem to say “look at me, listen to MY ideas,” rather than “look at Him and hear what He has to say.”

When John appears in the Wilderness calling people to repentance, he denies he is anything important, just the one making the entrance announcement “Behold the Lamb of God…” and he points his followers to Christ. “Go follow Him and listen to Him.”

He has no kinsman rivalry or fear of loosing the lime-light.

The same can be said for many priests. They are not the “look at me doing a show” kind, but instead their gaze is on Him as they say “Ecce Agnus Dei” or “Behold the Lamb of God,” pointing away from themselves to Him, just as all who understand Who is the priority in life.

Of course, I’m a slow learner and all this only came to me today. Still, better late than never eh?

Boudaries of Obediance and Migram’s oft repeated experiment.

A few nights ago one of the older ones was flicking through channels on the TV when he caught a part of a programme where Milgram’s experiment was being repeated. We didn’t see why the experiment was being done but the results were very disturbing. You see, over all, the results were much the same as the ones Milgram got back in the 1960’s.

One woman in the new experiment already knew about Milgram and so pulled out- knowing what would be asked of her.

None of the other subjects had heard of this very famous and very important experiment made in the wake of the Nuremberg Trials.

There are vast amounts of knowledge and events out there that we can teach our children about, or they can learn on their own. But it seems to me there are some thing they need to know. Even schools recognise that World War II was an historical event that should be taught.  Sadly what they teach is often far to narrow and wishy washy. But how the concentration camps came to happen is surely a good question, and if someone has a good answer that forewarns, surely we need to know about it.

The experiment consists of  subjects who are called “teacher” and two actors who are “the learner” and the “Guy in the white coat in charge of the experiment.” The Learner is put in another room and the Teacher is told that he or she is to give electric shocks to the learner whenever they get an answer wrong. The shocks range from 15 volts which is sharp to 450 volts which kills. The panel is clearly labelled.

The subject-teacher could not see the learner but could hear him screaming. Even though many subjects became more and more uncomfortable with the process if the man in the white coat said they had to continue they did.

I really think that if we understand Milgram’s experiment it will help us step back in times when we might be pressured by someone whose authority is not necessarily valid, and make sure we are in fact doing what is right.

Of course that means getting rid of all the “how does it feel for you, follow your heart, it’s all relative” rubbish and actually accept that some things are right, and some things – such as electrocuting people is by its nature wrong.

I’ve written a lesson for older children on Milgram’s experiment (opens pdf). It probably needs a follow on about genuine authority and obedience. 

My page of stuff on That Resource Site don’t  forget to click Home and see all That Resource Site’s goodies.

Life without internet.

Our old router finally gave up, after a few months of struggling. So we were internetless while we waited for the new one and had Tech Son get everything up and working.

It wasn’t that bad, for me. There are a few lessons I need internet for, but there’s plenty of books and other things the children can do in the meantime. In fact I realised they don’t have that much computer learning over all.

For the three biggies though it wasn’t so good. Josh had OU stuff to do and it had to be done online and Alex had just bought himself a month of tutorials. So it’s very good that we are back online.

I also realised that a lot of the worksheets and things I make need internet connextion.

A lot of what we do these days needs it.

So, I am glad we are sorted.

Should homeschooling families receive “government” money?

The question on whether families who homeschool in America and home educate here in the UK should received some sort of tax break or benefit has been raised many times. I am sure the same question gets asked in Australia and other countries where home education takes place.

In America Congress has (again) failed to pass a measure to offer tax breaks to families who homeschool. Zoe Romanowsky blogged briefly about it. Interestingly the comments are much the same as the reactions I have heard here.

To summerise the comments; most families are justifiably suspicious of money from the Government (even if in reality it is just being allowed to keep more of the money you’ve earned) because it will come with strings attached. The strinngs will undoubtedly be detrimental to the education and general welbeing of the homeschooled children.

What Gatto has to say about the abysmal educational system in America could just as easily be said of state education here. Isn’t that why so many UK HE families wax lyrical about him?

As a (cautious) Gatto fan myself I have sympathy with those who are saying that all families should receive tax breaks -keep the money they earn- and the Government should get out of education, as it has proved to be appalling at providing it.  It might also be argued (with justification) that teachers unions have undermined education and are the power behind the refusal to allow tax breaks to homeschooling families. Over here we certainly saw some poisonous union activity against home education during the Labour shenanigans.

Allowing families to keep the majority of their income would be just, presuming rights and responsibilites were handed back to families for the care and education of children, elderly, sick and disabled relatives and that there was a locally provided and resourced safety net for those who needed it. However, we all know that would never happen. The government is a greedy beast and there are too many poweful vested interests shouting for their piece of our flesh.

The NYT discussion is here. Comments are often the same old prejudices spouted over. It just shows how badly school has educated so many people.

Baptism now saves you, St Peter tells us.

We have barely got used to the idea that the Magi came to see the baby (or possinly toddler) Jesus, and thanks to Herod the Holy Family had to flee into exile in Egypt, when we come to the Baptism of Our Lord.

From His Baptism Jesus heads off to the desert for forty days and meets The Accuser.

A long time ago I sat in a tent to hear a speaker, who got up and pompously spoke about how unlike those other dark-reasoned Christians (and he particularly disliked Catholics) he, would not allow his child to be baptised but would do it “the way Jesus did.”

If I had been more on-tthe-ball I mighthave jumped up and pointed out that Jesus never did it. He never baptised anyone. But I didn’t.

I think this man had confused the baptism of John with the Trinitarian baptism Jesus asked His apostles to perform just before He ascended to heaven. They obeyed Him and that included baptising those they found who had only received the baptism of John. That baptism was purely symbolic, but the baptism of Christ gives actual Grace, as St Peter tells the Church (1Pet 3:21) Baptism now saves you.

John’s baptism didn’t save. It was pre-Covenantal as Jesus hadn’t yet begun His ministry,let alone established the New Covenant in His Blood. So what was the point in all those people walking into the Jordan and getting wet?

John was turning people around, making crooked moral paths straight and preparing the way for Jesus to lead the people to salvation. John called people to repentance, so those who received his baptism had to have reason enough to understand they needed to repent of actual sins.

I am not sure about this, but I think it is reasonable to say that John’s baptism did not effect Original Sin because it did not save. Jesus is the Second Adam, and it is only through Him and His saving action that we can receive a baptism that returns the Grace lost through Adam’s sin.

Certianly John’s baptism prefigures  Christian baptism, but it is not the same. St Luke in Acts tells us that whole families were baptised and brought into the Church, whereas we are not given that impression or information about John’s baptism, which is portrayed more as individuals making a symbolic gesture of repentance for actual sin. Christ’s baptism is the rite into the New Covenant as circumcision of 8 day old boys was for the Old Covenant. Now anyone can be baptised.

I think there’s a lot about Christian baptism replacing circumsion and us being children of the Eighth Day that I could go into – but perhaps at a later time.

Get my Little Lesson on Jesus being baptised by John

And Life of Christ cards from That Resource Site Mother

Frugal Friday freebies and a story of amazing courage

It’s Friday and so there just has to be more Freebies for a frugal home educator or other parent out there. First, note my “All thing free” bit to the sidebar.

It is the feast of the Bapstim of Jesus this Sunnday and if you want your children prepared for it I’ve written a little lesson on it so you can get to Church, ready for the readings.

Meanwhile Brian St Paul has posted about Egyptian Muslims making themselves human shields for their Copric neighbours. This is not a safe little protest. I think we know that terrorist Muslims are just as happy to kill their own as Christians or other people of various beliefs. I am so touched by the bravery of the Muslim people- that is quite a New Year gift.

First week of HE done and I’m shattered so I’ll leave it there- quite a frugal blogpost. But I’ll be back…

Home Education on Epiphany.

It’s the feast of the Epiphany today and for Latin Rite Catholics and most other Christians this is the 12th and last day of Christmas. However some Latin Rite Catholics like to keep Christmas until the Feast of the Presentation in February.

For our Eastern Rite brethren and most Orthodox Christians Christmas Day is tomorrow.

Christmas and Easter have had different dates since the beginning I believe.

Epiphany comes from the Greek word “epiphania” which means ‘manifestation’ or ‘appearance’. If I was a good HE mum I would have had the children writing out the Greek word today – but I’m not and I didn’t.

I do like to tell them the traditional story of the men coming from Babylon/Chaldea, which is now Iraq and travelling after the star to seek the baby King of the Jews.

Matthew tells us they came and brought gifts of gold, Francincence and myrrh, so the tradition began that there were three magi – one for each gift. Nevertheless we don’t know how many came and I heard once that some Russian stories have as many as 12 magi.

In Italy they remember the old story of Befana and so we have the Story of Old Befana by good ol’ Tomie dePaola. If you are interested in this book just click on the book in my left sidebar and check it out at Amazon or shop around.


 I am still producing freebies. Check out That Resource Site blog very regularly to get them, or if it’s easier you can check out my page on their site, but don’t miss out on the great and growing amount of resources That Resource Family offer; it’s all free but remember they are living off one wage, so if you can donate, please do so :)

I’ve added shopping list and budget pages and borrowed books and resources pages that a couple of families have requested.

Home Education getting the new year term under way.

I have decided not to rush into the new term. This week there’s medical appts to get through, so I think it will be reading and music and not a lot else.

If you are fans of murder stories, CSI or other such things, there’s a history of fingerprinting set with lapbook and notebooking pages that I’ve put together.

Reading the real stories of how these sciences were developed is more interesting that most of the murder and whodoneit tales you can read or watch on TV.

The history of science and the people who made the history is a massive subject. This is just a little lesson in a tiny corner of it. Enjoy.

New Year Freebies

 January 1st 
Happy New Year to y’all. I hope 2011 brings many blessings.

Here’s some more freebies for you. I hope you find them useful.

There’s some prayer and Bible Study notebooking sheets to go with the January organisation and calender sheets.

I have also made some Thank You cards in both ordinary and primary lined formats.

Please keep an eye out on That Resource Site and blog as they are working on revamping the site.  Just about everything made available on their sites are made by one home educating mother, working her socks off for our benifit.

Keep an eye on my Little Lessons page too as I am hoping to have more resources to offer soon.

UPDATE – even more freebies

Nature  Journal pages from me and Calender freebies from That Resource Family