Monthly Archives: June 2009

Home education; It tends to happen regardless


P1000033My philosophy of education is based on the view that each of my children are as Charlotte would say “born persons”. I do not see them as potential consumers, or only existing for the economic well-being of the country. Obviously I want them to have a place in their community, but it is their person-hood that concerns me most as their parent. They are each made in the image of God and are gifts from Him and that is the driving motivation of our home education.

Lots of things happen and the children learn often regardless of distractions, stresses and huge unnecessary hugs from passing older brothers. I am not just ‘teaching’ Ronan because he is of the UKs school age but the girls are learning too. Avila is 4 and wants to read, so she does; she loves Math U See and is really pretty good at it. Heleyna is 2 and she loves the manipulatives and I have to admit she is rather fond of Mr Demme the tutor on the DVDs.

In a day there is reading, writing, singing, doing weird experiments with water, oil, lemon juice and baking soda. There is Latin, Greek myths, stories of famous people and events as well as history. They do art whether painting or models or making things from bits of card and raiding the recycling for things to make boats, rockets or treasure maps.

may 09 018We meet up with other home ed families three times a week. The children sing together or make huge project pieces together. We are learning about life around water at the moment so we go to the parks around here where there is a lot of different kinds of water to look at.

Some of the things the children learn about are in structured sessions and some are just things that happen, while others are things they find to do for themselves. It happens at all times of the day and any day of the week.

There is something quite sad I think about people who having never seen any other kind of education than that which goes on in school, cannot and even will not comprehend the sheer vastness of other learning that can happen if children are allowed to.

I do believe in Charlotte’s ‘discipline of habits’ where a family can work together to ensure everyone learns. I am sure I am learning as much Latin as Roni and with Iona I am enjoying “An Ideal Husband” as well as learning from her about how vitamin D works. Isn’t that what education should be like?


This photo shows an impromptu science session that the children set up for themselves after watching some science programme on TV-Nina and the Neurons. Ronan started just wanting to see if oil and water really did separate in the glass-but he went on to make under water volcanoes with baking soda and some lemon juice and adding honey to the oil and water -seeing it sink and make three layers in the glass.

They tried to see if acid such as lemon juice made a better fizz with the baking soda than an alkaline like milk. All of this was their own doing with just a few ideas thrown in by me.

I am bemused by those who insist education cannot happen anywhere outside of school. That only teachers can teach and that children loose out at home. All the home ed families we know have such a wide variety of education-often different from ours as their children have different interests- but then the children get together and share those interests with one another.

I know the photos I show don’t ever show other families (I prefer not to unless I should ask permission) but other than that-WHAT is it about how my children learn that is so difficult for others to accept?

Year of Priests under St John Vianney

sjv_2x25The year of priests begins under the patronage of St John Vianney who was an excellent and holy priest who became known as the Curé d’Ars. He spent hours in the Confessional just being there for his people. I hope they were grateful for his willingness to offer this beautiful Sacrament.

He was a simple priest who just did what a priest was meant to do. What a great patron for our priests in this year dedicated to them. It’s a year to pray more for our priests. Do you know what, I actually think it is harder to be a priest these days. We live in a pretty nasty culture and as I certainly believe it is much harder to parent these days than it was for our parents, so being a spiritual father is so much harder.

What is a priest?

The central role of a priest is to offer sacrifice. He offers back to God some of those things he and his family-his bride and children, value most to show not only gratitude to God for all that He has given; but to remind the family that things come from God and are not the most important aspects of life. It resets the focus of the family on what is important. The priest leads the family in offering sacrifice as he is a father and a bridegroom.

Adam was the first priest. His role as bridegroom (and eventually father) was to guard the holy place (Garden/temple) and his bride, and to offer the necessary sacrifice when required. Guarding the garden wasn’t that easy it seems and the Serpent entered, getting through the hedge and making his way to the centre of the garden where the two trees stood; the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Adam and Eve were near the tree and the serpent picked on the Bride.

Adam could have spoken up for her, but it would undoubtedly have cost him; he would have to sacrifice the only thing he really had to sacrifice-his life. And he didn’t. He held on to his life and allowed his Bride to fall and even fell with her.  Not a good start for the priesthood. It would take another priest to embrace the Tree of Life and offer the sacrifice of His own life on it for the Life of the Bride and her children.

Then came Cain and Abel and their priesthood-but that’s another story to be told soon….

Pro-Life Witness




We meet at St Anthony of Padua Church, Headley Way (car park available) and

witness just at the entrance to the JOHN RADCLIFFE Hospital, Headley Way. (In front of the Church)

The J.R is the only provider for abortion in Oxford area and they will do abortions up to 16 weeks and up to birth for all handicapped babies.

PLEASE join us to fight this battle!


Sadly we live in a world where a mother can be catigated for going ahead and having her baby with Down’s syndrome. It is apparently legitimate today to say not killing your baby is wrong. Then when children with disabilities or sicknesses come into our communities and schools they are lesser people and can be treated as such.

When it is alright to kill people who aren’t perfect enough, then it’s alright to mistreat those who are less perfect and see then as life unworthy of life.

Badman and Balls. We’re fighting back.

Lord Lucas is still open to views as he looks for a way to help us. He sees registration as inevitable and he also believes there needs to be some sort of umbrella organisation (he mentioned Education Otherwise) who can be part of helping ensure LA staff are properly trained to understand the aspects of home education.

A lot of people have said no to EO and I think I would concur. Other organisations have been suggested. I have to say as things stand I don’t like the idea of any of these organisations training LA staff and seeming to speak for all home educators. I think part of the reason so few of us are members of any of these groups is they don’t speak for us-and there would have to be a lot of groups to cover all types of home edders I think.

This does leave the difficult question asked by Lord Lucas of how we can work together when we have such disperet views. It would be great to say that although we all have different ways to home educate that we all believe in the right of every parent to choose the education for their children and that the role of government is not to deny rights but to protect them. Umm not sure though.

I wonder if there is a chance that home edders in local communities can offer awareness training for LA staff, social workers and others who may come in contact with us; health care professionals spring to mind. I don’t know if this is possible in the current climate. Let’s face it Badman has really scuppered any kind of trust between home edders and most professionals. It was an idiotic thing to do.

Many home education families want to fight this battle on the grounds the Government are undermining, and even removing, our rights. But there is some doubt that we can win by pushing the human rights issue-especially imho if we use the UN and EU charters on rights. Rights that are made up by people are just that: made up. And the very people who made them can either reinterpret them or unmake them whenever they like. Britain claims to be post-Christian (when in reality it is anti-Christian) but it seems to me we are post-pagan as well. The days of understanding natural law as many pagans did are gone. Can we go back to a natural law understanding of human rights? Can we appeal to the great pagan and Christian philosophers and the long standing human cultural understanding that parents were the primary carers and educators of their children?

Can we appeal to history and show how the one major culture to make the state parent was Sparta and they are all dead and gone. They didn’t survive once they started taking children away from their parents. Charlotte Mason points out that even they didn’t do it until the child was 7 (and it was only the boys).

Don’t forget to write to MPs over this. I am choosing to write to Conservatives because it seems more likely they will be in power next year. I am concerned that so far replies do not give full assurances that recommendations will not be implemented. I am also going mto write to a  bishop or two. 

Which brings me to-

The document submitted by the Church of England is available, which I was going to fisk, but won’t bother now as most people have picked up already on the fact that Badman grossly misrepresented their views with his very selective use of quotes. This dishonesty is a bit of a god send when it comes to letters. Nothing like a blatant concrete example of deliberate dishonesty by Mr Badman to help us out I should say.

On the other hand I am left thinking that someone apparently intelligent like Badman and Heppell et al who put this report together didn’t seem to put much effort into making it airtight on logic or even with some basic research. Badman says “I believe” in the report about 16 times without ever backing up his personal opinion with any research or stats. He even goes as far as saying the peer reviewed research on the merit of home education carried out in the USA and here in the UK is not worthy of his respect. He just dismisses it out of hand-giving no reasons!

That level of arrogance and deliberate ignorance must come with some assurances. No wonder none of us believe this report was even remotely “independent”.

Tory MPs are writing back and showing their support but I am increasingly concerned that no one is making a clear promise that none of this would be implemented under them. I find this silence on the matter more worrying that the behaviour of Badman and Balls. I think the damage they can do this next year may be small-but if the  Tories go along with it, then we are looking at a bleak future.

 The consultation documents are written in such a way as to imply Badman’s report has any merit; as though one unelected man can decide the future of parents and children all over the country.

Dawn Primarolo is apparently the new Children’s Minister. She has asked for views and you can give them here. However if her voting record is anything to go by I’m not holding out much hope she gives a monkeys about families or children. She seems to be supportive of Sure Start (battery farming kids) as well. Ah well. Send her your views if the website will let you-which it won’t for me at the moment.

It is good to see that as the report has come and to a large extent in the media, gone, that some people are still fighting our corner with us.

Peter Hitchens posts are somewhat broad and eclectic but he still manages to remember the attack of home education in his writings.

Feast of the Sacred Heart and Immanculate Heart


It was the Feast of the Sacred Heart yesterday and it’s the feast of the Immaculate Heart today.

With the children we made some hearts  to put on the wall next to a picture of the Sacred Heart and then they made heart shaped biscuits with Iona and decorated them with red icing and some choc drops.

Can’t show you a photo as we are in the land of bust cameras at the moment.

After making their hearts for Jesus the children had some ‘secret’ things to do to get ready for Father’s Day on Sunday too.

I read them Beauty and the Beast in a version they have never heard before. It is pretty dark in places and they were getting genuinely nervous.  The proper version is much deeper in meaning and myth than the Disney or other sloppyfied versions.

It was really quite fascinating and rather lovely to have the children listen and react to the story as they did. I stopped half way through (it’s a long story) and they did other work and discussed what might happen next. They know the whole story now and that will never happen again. Don’t forget to enjoy your firsts.


You can buy the icons HERE btw. I tend to prefer the less sugary Icons of our Eastern brethren to the sentimentality of the Italianesque paintings that are more traditional in the Latin Rite. Can’t say I find love all that sugary when you have to do it every day.

What to do with an empty insulin pen?

Did you make that perfect birthday cake and forget the candles? Did you have a power cut and need a light? Worry not! Josh is at hand with his empy Novo Rapid and Solo Star pens. Novo20FlexPenOnce they are empty he wonders what to do with them. (This is Josh remember-the man who built a boat thing about of empty Guiness cans and called it The Black Arthur before launching it into a huge puddle during a massive downpour).

Josh takes out the glass inner tube and fills them with various things; one had rum, but that didn’t work. He tried olive oil, but for some reason that didn’t work either and finally vodka.

And there is a lamp-candle thing ready for any celebration!

Home ed Noos cam June 09 006

He gets through a lot of these pens. If I buy a bottle of vodka and a roll of string (for the wicks) we could have light in all circumstances.


Going off on one…where Home education can take you.

Home ed Noos cam June 09 007I do actually have something that is semi-timetablish for the smaller ones this term. It’s really just a list of things to try and get through each day-but it’s pretty flexible.

As I have said before I am using a mixture of Ambleside and Matar Amambilis with a chunk of things we want to do ourselves. Ronan is very interested in space, the night sky, Hubble and all that kind of thing. 

We started the day with the NASA for KIDS site as Ronan asked to have another look at it. We printed off a sheet where he had to cut shapes and get as many as possible to fit inside the cargo of the Shuttle without overlapping.

After that we went on to other things such as a bit of reading; Faith and Life and the A A Milne poem “Four Friends” from an old copy of “When We Were Very Young”.

It so happens that we are on the chapter in Our Heavenly Father about how the magi came to visit Jesus. I asked if the children remembered what gifts the magi brought. “Gold!” said Roni but after that he and Avila were a bit stumped.

“Something that smells,” I hinted thinking they may remember we use Frankincense at Church for Christmas.

“SOCKS!” shouted Avila.

Well a small child is always in need of socks it is true.

Ronan wanted to return to his space studies and mentioned he was interested in meteorites and what could we find out about them. From there we learned all about the Tunguska incident of 1908 and how Jupiter ate the Shoemaker Levy comet and how Jupiter is the vacuum cleaner of the solar system.

We got out the model solar system and Ronan used some Plasticine to make models of comets and meteorites. We watched a NASA film on Youtube about how the next big rock to come to earth will be gently shoved out of the way and Ronan made a rocket thing like the NASA one and we enacted that too with the solar system model.

I don’t know how I would prove all that to anyone-but it seemed like a good lesson to us.