Monthly Archives: January 2010

Home Education; A day in the life

It was quiet when I got up and came downstairs. No one got up and followed me!

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The Nazi Law that Badman is ambiguous about gets blasted by Judge in the USA

(I was going to say I thought Badman admired the Nazi law-but he is a bit more careful than that.)

This post by Blogdial is excellent. The Romeikes, a family who have found asylum in the USA from Germany’s gross behaviour is not the first. Germany is perhaps the country most sunk in the totalitarian approach to education, but the disease has spread throughout Europe with Badman even able to say:

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Home education: new books

I always keep an eye on bookshops and curriculums for ideas for books for the children and with some careful planning I can often get books off Amazon for less than £3 – you know those books that cost a penny but the p&p is £2.76 or some such.

I also love AdoremusBooks where I think the prices are reasonable even with shipping and I get the parcel usually about 10 days after ordering which is pretty fast. Faster than some books I’ve ordered from UK shops.

Anyway I have received three new books in the last couple of days. A Story of Beethoven is a lovely book simply written and illustrated with black and white drawings. It’s just right for Ronan and Avila enjoys listening to it. As he was a pupil of Haydn it has gone well with this months Classics for Kids programs. Nature in a Nutshell for Kids is set out Spring to Winter with very straightforward little experiments to do for each season.

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Home Education Review: take it to the Lords

The Bill to make the state owners of our children has got through it’s second reading. The HOC committee has been and gone and although much good sense was spoken there especially by Graham Stuart MP and Chloe Watson a home educated person aged 17 who managed to speak such good sense that she silenced the entire room at one point 🙂 still Badman and his mates have not so much as admitted their stats are wrong. This in the face of the maths (as Mr Stuart pointed out).

Now we take it to the Lords:

It seems likely that the second reading of the Children Schools and Families Bill in the Lords will come soon after we return from our winter half term on 22nd February, and that Clause 26 will still be intact.To interest peers in supporting HE at second reading, aim to canvass us before 9th February – we rise on the 10th.

Hints on canvassing us:

– keep it short. We have no staff, and too much to do. Make your main points on the first side, even if you say more thereafter;

– understand our limitations. We are most of us more or less ancient, more or less establishment, and conscious that political power rests with the Commons. Liberty plays well – but there are few absolute libertarians here;

– your aim is to find friends, not conquer enemies. You will find plenty;

– do offer to meet in the Lords, if that’s easy for you, or if you are part of one of the HE organisations ask if the peer would like to meet a HE family who lives near their home (peers have no published home addresses by and large, so only organisations are likely to be able to find a good local candidate).

After Second Reading comes Committee, when the whole house (meaning those who take an interest) go through the Bill line by line. What we will need for this stage are suggestions for amendments – different ways of having oversight of HE, different ways of supporting it. I know that the whole concept of oversight is anathema to some of you, but that’s the way we work and our strengths are more in grinding the government down gradually with practical arguments than cutting them down with politics. So do send in your ideas for amendments, as we can put them down straight after Second Reading.

Information on the Lords can be found on www.writetothem. com/lords
We are not obliged to communicate with Lords who are close to us geographically – we can seek them out according to their special interest and voting record. See previous posts 22nd January on contacting the Lords.

I recommend not only Lord Lucas but Lord David Alton as interested in freedom for families. Got to say though no one else springs to mind and I’ll had a look through the lists.

If anyone else can recommend someone, let me know and I’ll add to this post.

Confessions of a registered home educator

I am a registered home educator. In the UK the way it works (at the moment) is this. If a parent puts their child into school they become registered with the school. Then if you decide to remove the child the school (not the parent) is obliged to inform the LA. This is because the school is obliged to say they are no longer educating the child (if they ever were-but that’s another issue) and so aren’t entitled to that great wad of dosh the taxpayer has been handing over for said child.

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Home Education: a Day in the life

Friday mornings consist of much the same thing. Get up pray, clean, prepare the day, get the “stuff” together we are going to use. Plan the art lesson-or finish off the planning I started the night before and as I do try and get the Sign Language lesson ready I don’t have to do that…usually.

By the time the children are ready and the house is tidy and set up the families have arrived. Sometimes when I truly on a roll there is time to hear at least one child read first.

Everyone arrives and we get the kettle on and make tea. This, Iona tells me, if a very important part of the day. The children get a few minutes to play and sort themselves out. We mums and Iona catch up on news and plan the day.

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It would have been Donna’s birthday today. Please keep her and her family in your prayers. Please especially remember her daughters.

We had a quiet Mass for her this evening.

In the photo with her are Em and my daughter Iona who both miss her a great deal.

CSF documents are up

The transcripts and memos for the CSF are up. I notice the poisonous approach by the National Children’s Bureau and the Family Planning Association.

But I am blown away by the NASUWT! A teachers union thinking they have any remit whatsoever on what families do in their own homes! WOW! Even the NUT wasn’t that arrogant!

First there’s this:

he NASUWT remains opposed to the right of parents of pupils up to the age of 15 to withdraw their children from Sex and Relationship Education (SRE).

As though teachers own our children now, and then this:

Whilst there is a strong case for the Government to consider whether the right of parents to educate their children at home remains appropriate in the context of a modern education system, the NASUWT generally welcomes as a positive step the provisions of Clauses 26, 27 and Schedule 1 which take forward the recommendations of the Badman Review in establishing more effective monitoring and registration arrangements for children educated in this way.

(I’ve bolded the words). I wouldn’t want any child of mine taught by people who think like this.

Gluten free bread recipe

Avila is 5 and as many of you already know she has had health problems more or less from the get go. Thankfully we have not had a hospital admission for over a year and half and the Paediatrician finally discharged her. However her health remained poor and although she has been seeing a chiropractor which has helped there are still lots of problems with her bowels and general energy.

She had a blood test some time ago to see if she had Celiac disease or wheat allergy. Both came back negative and she was discharged soon after. Even so I remember that when she was on a gluten free diet she seemed to get better. So in frustration I decided to try again.

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Hoc Committee Children Schools and Families Bill. Badman at it again.

In between educating the children I have been watching or listening to the HOC children, schools and families Bill. It begins with a discussion of how Special Educational Needs can be better met and the appalling situation for parents who try to get a statement for their children.

(around 14:57) there was talk of OFSTEDs role in assessing SEN provision in school. From the way Mr Lamb was talking it seems OFSTED is only just about getting its act together in this area. This makes me wonder how they think they can assess something as completely different as education within family life when they have barely got to grips with an area they should have been prioritising, SEN provision within schools?

Graham Stuart talking about specifically children with autism who are home educated noted that children with autism (or on the spectrum I would assume) are supposed to get extra monitoring. Does this mean all of us with children who may have an illness, disability or SEN have to be ‘monitored’ more closely? I got the impression that a parent of a child with some level of autism who hasn’t had a formal diagnoses and put in place something obvious for the child’s needs then they could be prosecuted for neglect-even if they know the child’s needs and are dealing with them. Lack of a ‘label’ for the child could cause trouble for the family and if they don’t “cooperate with the authority” they would get an SAO and loose their right to home educate. Did I hear that right? (about 1:06) Did anyone else get that?

Then at 1:10 the next set of witnesses appear; Badman, Fiona from EO, Sir Paul of the National Children’s Bureau (got a knighthood; I wonder how); admitted to being involved in the PSHE (you know little kid grooming by the Govt) Chloe HE Youth Council,  Beth National Autistic Society.

Poor old Badders fell at the first question.

Then he had to answer the question on how he felt about the fact that Autonomous Ed might be allowed rather than a National Curriculum like prescription. Interestingly he tried to fudge and said that many home educators use a structured approach that was “high quality”. Now, it could be just me, but I got the impression he was saying he thought a structured approach was good and AE wasn’t. That would mean I am doing a good thing with my younger ones, where I am fairly structured-give or take- but my older AE child is failing to achieve her 5 outcomes or some such.  He is well miffed that some parents might not want to set hoops for their children to jump through.

Apparently it would be remiss of a parent not to ensure their child gets to know about “climate change.” He is fixated with that isn’t he. Anyway rest assured my children have full access to all sorts of information on that 🙂.

It is a very alarming meeting with so much deliberate misinformation and some misinformation I actually think Badman believes somehow all being re-hashed and never altered over and over again.  Worse than that Badman LIKES the fact that the European approach has been to remove the parents inherent right and duty to the education of their children. (I take it he has never leaned about natural law. Neither have some others and there is a struggle now to understand how rights and duties are inextricably linked. Sadly I think too many people have bellowed ‘my rights’ when those rights don’t actually exist).

He talked about listening to the child again. Only no one is listening to either home ed children who want to be left to learn OR children in school who hate it and want to be home educated.

Then the question of a suitable education came up. I think I need to write on that one separately.

That man Badman has so taken on the spirit of Balls as to appear possessed. He even made a snide attack on Graham Stuart over whether he went to “a better school” than he did! How Balls like! How lacking in maturity and thought! Later one he has the nerve to say “I wont give you figures that I am not certain of.”

I have to say too many people in the room simply didn’t understand the legislation. Graham Stuart does, but I was amazed that this late people sit around that table and STILL have not understood what is going to happen!

There is a huge amount more to write but I’m tired. Later.

What if Balls gets his own way? What if…?

I am sure that in the Home ed world as it stands that we mums and dads take care of one another in a crisis and one another’s kids when it’s needed.

So a day might come when a home ed group includes a couple of children without their mum that day because she has to work; or a couple of children on another day without their mum because she has an antenatal scan; or a couple of kids without their mum one day because she is at hospital with one of the other children. It’s normal life. We would want to take care of one another. However, what if Balls gets his claws into us? We are facing having to have a CRB just to be at home with our own children, what chance then or being allowed to take care of other home ed children to help out?

What if one of the mums is fluent in a language the other children want to learn, or has skills in media or one of the older children wants to teach the younger ones to make curry? Will they need a CRB?

And yet still the LibDems are wondering if there really is anything wrong with cracking down on EHE.

Just doing home education and Cabbage as universal indicator recipe.

Despite a lot of “stuff” going on, I am managing to continue to educate my children and fortunately for me they are also continuing to educate themselves. I’m not good at reading out loud at the moment but yippee doo I have found that good ol’ Librivox has some goodish recordings that we can use so the children got to hear the stories of Hengist and Horsa and naughty Vortigern. They looked at some art work to so with the stories and we had a good discussion about the Scotti being their ancestors and the Saxons also being their ancestors.

In the kitchen we did some science experiments to do with acids and alkalines. I bought a pretty good book from Costco with posters, zip pockets and lots of science experiments to do. This combined with a nice little chemistry set means we can do all sorts of things.

We have had a good time making red cabbage into a universal indicator but also using universal indicator paper to test various liquids we had in the kitchen. Ronan decided to find out for himself what he thought he could mix from the acid and alkaline test tubes to make a neutral. (Just in case you want to know lemon juice mixed with washing liquid (ariel) worked really well).

To do this

Cabbage as universal Indicator recipe.

chop half a red cabbage and boil in water for a few minutes. Drain off all that dark purple water and pour it into three jars. Save the rest in another jar with a tight lid.

In jar one pour lemon juice; it should turn red for acid.

In jar two add a spoon of bicarb and stir. It should turn blue or green for neutral. (don’t add half a pot of bicarb as Miss Avila did or you will get a blue volcano in the kitchen sink. Fun I admit, but not exactly what the experiment was all about).

In jar three pour some bleach and give it a stir. It should turn yellow for alkaline.

After this you can use the other cabbage water and test whatever you like.

We are using THIS SET which I managed to get for £20 at the time. It says for age 10+ but I can’t see why the child needs to be that old if you want to get going with some simple stuff. Ronan will be 7 soon. We have used the test tubes a few times but the chemicals will be useful fairly soon I think. There is plenty in this set to keep us experimenting for a while to come.

In history we are learning about Rome and Carthage. Hannibal and his elephants with their painted ears and Scipio and his chickens. The children rather enjoyed the story of the sea sick chickens from Story of the World. In fact that caused more of a stir than the elephants. It was decided after due consideration that E and M would not be studying how their chickens eat to determine the future. LOL.

The activity was to imagine themselves as a Roman soldier and then we drew round them all and they found various parts of the house to roll out the paper and get to work drawing themselves as soldiers. As we had looked at a Sammuri warrior that morning as part of art there were some decorations of a somewhat Eastern flavour on a couple of the soldiers.

BTW I get a schools catalogue and noted that you can buy ready made cut outs of people. HOW BORING! The fun is drawing around the child so they are drawing themselves-all sizes of person. The clone like sameness of the bought ones would be a bit disturbing and frankly in the light of the present educational climate is a bit of a comment I feel.

Could free schools help the home ed community?

This article in the Catholic Herald this weekend is interesting. On the face of it this looks like a good idea and a perfect way for children to have access to better tailored education. Could home ed groups like mine apply to be a ‘school’ and get a little funding—-without too many strings attached?

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Lets talk special needs first.

I have been reading the transcript from yesterdays House of Commons Debate on the Schools and family Bill. It begins with the debacle over sex ed forced onto primary school children, which I will try and cover in a later post.

Then some Labour bloke called McShane admits that there is some concerns over clause 26 of the bill which he said was about “home teaching”. I have to say that while he was cautiously asking for “flexibility” because of the concerns, I wasn’t impressed. First of all, what kind of flexibility does he think there can be over removing family rights? Secondly I would like to think that those debating a bill, especially the more contentious parts-and baring in mind they take home a pretty good wage for doing so- would have at least read it and know the difference between home teaching and home education. But I realise that will never be the case.

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But what about the bad ones?

The whole business of registration is a constant bugbear. Even otherwise reasonable people think that home educating parents need to apply for a licence. In the good old days the reason was simply that ‘the others’ couldn’t see how a mum or dad could know all the subjects required for a “suitable”  and “broad” education. With everyone stuck in the school model of teaching, there had to be a register so an ‘expert’ could come along and make sure all the parent lessons were set up and answer questions about how on earth you intended to teach a subject about which you were fairly ignorant. Interestingly, most of those who would insist that we need to apply for a licences to make sure we are capable of teaching our children would never dream of asking the simple question “How are your children learning that?”

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A couple of recipes: Aubergine Parmigiano and mulled apple juice

Here are a couple of recipes.

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Fighting on all home fronts for our children’s education.

I have often thought the main reason Lord of the Rings gets voted best book in those competitions, year on and year out-even when the ‘experts’ do their level best to ensure it isn’t- is because it has something special; it is truthful. Tolkein has some kind of deep understanding of life that shows through in his “not an allegory!” book.

When we fight a battle we fight it on all fronts-and there are times when you even have to enter Mordor to get things done. There is a really sad moment when we learn in LOTR that orcs were once elves, who gave up the fullness of their elfiness and fell to orcness. This was written by a man who has seen war up close- he had seen men who had given up their humanity to become orc-like.

I look at so many politicians and their journalists and I wonder what it was that made them give up the nature law and become less-than people.

This Government has made it clear that under Brown and Balls families are targets for attack. But they obviously thought of parents as a bit of a soft target, perhaps because so far we have been. But then they came after home educators. I think they saw us as just a bunch of slightly hippy white middle class housewives. People of no importance. There is irritation that Home Educating families dared to fight back-it being a gimmick you see. I think Mr Flynn’s open disdain for us just about says it all don’t you?

It’s been hard getting different politicians to recognise just what an attack on the rights of families this Badman and Balls review is going to be if it is allowed to go through. It seems odd to me that so many of our politicians have so much lost sight of just basic justice that attacking the rights of families being a bad thing has to be explained to them. Nevertheless there is some hope from the Lib Dems that the second reading of the Bill will get a hostile reception. I am worried though that even now there is this view- that even the Select Committee seem to agree with that there NEEDS to be a register of ALL home educators and yet when asked to explain a reason for this-there is never an answer. The Select Committee simply wants to know how many of us there are and to use the information for research. Can’t think why they don’t do some research with those of us already registered first and then decide where or if there is a need for anything else.

Meanwhile as Lib Dem Sarah Scarlett points out in her blog (above) the Government are all for finding the £99million to set up the bureaucracy to force us to obtain a license to home educate our own children, but that not a penny will actually go to help the actual education of any child. Even recognising this she thinks there needs to be a register-and yet doesn’t reply to questions asking why, and she writes that even NOW this late in the process the LibDems remain undecided as a party on where to vote. Should they side with the rights of families or with those trying to destroy them? Apparently it’s a difficult decision!

Politicians have this idea that when they repeat the same daft idea over and over and no one gets it that they simply need to keep repeating it but in different ways. Maybe we home educating families need a similar approach when it comes to common sense and decency. If we keep repeating it over and over, one day some politicians might just get it.

Meanwhile we will live it and see if that sends a message too.

Children Schools and Family Attack Bill second reading 11th Jan.

The second reading of the Children Schools and Family Bill is due on 11th Jan. There I was hoping nothing much would come of this after all. Ha! This Government is remarkably determined to undermine families. If only they could put this much effort into doing something good.

The All Party Parliamentary Group meeting notes are up h/t Carlotta. I note that Diana Johnson wants to move away from the view of LA officials as bullies because she is “aiming for well trained officials.” I note the future tense of that quote. Does that mean she knows full well we don’t have anything of the sort as yet? To be honest I wasn’t at all impressed with anything Ms Johnson said. I wondered reading the notes whether she actually understood what was happening. Perhaps she was just having a bad day.

Meanwhile there is a letter going out to the Guardian and Times for publication on 11th Jan hopefully. PLEASE GO HERE AND SIGN if you support the rights of families. You have until 3pm tomorrow (8th Jan) so get signing.

There’s a lot else to discuss but I haven’t time so I’ll post this with the letter link because it’s important.

Snowy times- White Christmastide. Love it. (sorry I just do)

Some of you may have noticed, it has snowed.

As we are not Canadians or Austrians who only a get a few feet of snow compared to our deadly couple of inches-half the country has ground to a halt. Unfortunately the half that is still working includes my husband and son. But hey.

Last night Josh and three mates went to the local football field and built themselves an igloo which they then sat in and using my pretty pink camera took photos of themselves.

It seems you are never too old to build snowmen and igloos-which is good to know. They trudged home well after midnight.

Josh had made a snowman in the garden before he went out for the night of igloo building. This morning I felt it looked a little sad and faceless so I added features; complete with beard, of course.

We did a little learning time too today. Some reading and geography. Another home ed family came over and the children learned a bit about snowflakes and then we went back to their curriculum on mountains and volcanoes. They learned about how the Himalayas are being formed and made some of their own plate tectonics out of biscuits and ice cream. Once the experiment was over there was nothing else for it-they just had to eat it!

More snowman building had to take place of course.


Matthew doesn’t actually mention the number of wise men who went to visit the King of the Jews, but we like the story of three in the West.

Personally I believe Matthew knew what he was talking about. All this stuff about how he is the only one to mention it so it can’t be true is a bit silly to me. Just because one person mentions something doesn’t mean they lied; it strikes me as a bit odd to think that way.

Plus the idea that Mark wrote first and so he would have mentioned it is on thinner ice when Matthew fragments have been dates to between 30-50 AD; kind of makes Matthew look like he was first-you know-just like the people who first put the Gospels in order thought; having known about it closer to the time. I wonder what Occam would say.

Meanwhile we have had a brilliant snowy day and the girls should be over tonight for their pressies.

Happy Twelfth Day to you all.

Starting the New Year and getting it a bit wrong. Ahem.

The holidays were, well, they were holidays; and therein was my mistake.

This morning, instead of a gentle lead in to term as I’d thought – I found myself with so much cleaning up, sorting out and putting away today that we didn’t even get around to family prayer. Arrgh! One of the mysteries of life is -does Lego actually breed?

It was a bit stressful. Nevertheless we did it all -mostly-and so there wont be so much to do tomorrow. Now all we have to do is keep on top of  it and hopefully term work will go fine.

THESE GOALS from the Overflowing Cup are really just right for us too. I have admit I like THESE RESOLUTIONS from her blog too. I am one of those more unusual home educators in that most of our home ed does actually take place here at home. Partly this is because everyone comes to us-our house is the Hub; but partly it is because going anywhere takes so much planning. If it’s local that isn’t so bad, especially now I have batteries for ye olde crip scooter and so it works. But fancier trips cost money so they have to be saved for (yep there is a jar). On top of that it means I have to be well enough to drive, will need someone to shove me and heft the wheelchair and someone to shove Heleyna in the buggy. It takes some organisation to make sure enough big people are around for the crip and the little ones. So, the end result is we tend to stay local more often than not. I still think we probably get out and about more often than the average school kid, but it does seem less than the average home ed kid.

Wishing you all a good 2010 and hoping you all were better organised in starting the year than yours truly here!

Sweet 16 yesterday

Iona has reached the grand old age of 16 yesterday. Feels like a bit of a milestone in life. We gave her a 100 Year Diary. I have been saying to her for ages she should write an autobiography and call it “Oh My Life!” because I am sure things happen to her that don’t tend to happen to the average teen girl, not just because she is home educated and has small siblings-although those two things are unusual for a 15/16 yr old around these parts-but just some of the daft things that happen to her.

This 100 year diary is a chance to keep a bit of a record of it all.

Alistair had the day off especially for her birthday and returned to work today. Alex arrived home today with his beloved and her dad and sister,  so with Josh finally putting in appearance with his beloved we had everyone here for the take away Iona had requested.

It was a nice family evening.