Monthly Archives: June 2011

New Draft Guidelines for Home Education and it’s monitoring.

I haven’t had chance to read these properly yet, but the DRAFT GUIDELINES (H/T Danae  3dgs freedom)

are out ahead of the Green Paper which we are expecting on SEN provision and HE. What I have read so far actually looks remarkably pro-family, which was not what I expected. I assume Graham Stuart MP (Cons) has had some input here as there is real evidence that some one somewhere has listened and understood.

I am expected the man from the LA next week and I have a lot of questions for him. We’ll see how they are answered.


Ending term for Summer.

We’re winding down the formal lessons over the next  two weeks for the Summer. We’ve all worked very hard and amazingly as I make the next plans we are not behind on anything at the moment!

We’ve done a few experiments with milk and cream making cheese and butter, both of which turned out really well. Iona nicked all the butter to make flapjacks. I have to say that making butter is not a “frugal” thing to do as you need double cream, but it was well worth it for the children’s learning. We plan to make more and flavour them. And more cheese.

I’m winding down this week and then next week will be more informal lessons and book time. I have plans to spend August sorting out Ronan’s lessons to be more independent (the freebies HERE ARE USEFUL).

After the astonishing moment last week when Heleyna, using the wooden movable letters suddenly wrote her full name out without guide lines, I am thinking she might learn better with a more Montessori approach. With careful shopping and perhaps some compromising on materials (using plastic instread of wood or glass and laminated sheets instead of the fancy wooden gramma kits) I think I can give her a good start.

Iona has just has her results from the Open Uni and has passed her module on Forensic Science with some high grades in there. So we will sign her up for the next module for the new term. I think she wants to do the one on cancer and then she will turn 18 and be able to do bigger courses. She is also hoping to get a job – although around here at the moment that is like panning for gold.

If she was going to school Heleyna would be starting in September even though she is only 4. Thankfully she isn’t and can develop properly as her age and tendancies allow.

I am still a bit surprised at how differently all four of the “school age” children learn. Iona has worked hard to overcome her dyslexia and is now working at degree level and doing well. She ditched the special needs approach that school had used and simply went with reading and reading and making sure what she was reading would stretch her memory and comprehension. Gradually – and it was gradual – she overcame a lot of problems about how she saw words and how she wrote them. She expanded her vocabularly and has handled the OU well as a result.

I think the major advantage of home education is that the children have time and space to READ. They read books from beginning to end. We don’t need any of the appalling school system wherein children read a small snippet from a book and then make up the rest from Cliff Notes or some other shortened Exam-hopp-system set up. Iona’s friends actually envy her that she can read books- whole books.

Lots of living books to get through over the Summer and I’ll let y;all know what I have on my Kindle as well.

Corpus Christie – John 6 and St. John Southworth

It’s been a busy feast day time recently. Yesterday I was well enough to get to Mass which celebrated Corpus Christie (moved from Thursday) and today we are chock full of saints; St. Cyril of Alexandre, St. John Southworth and Our Lady of Perpetual Succour – the icon of which is thought to have first been painted by St. Luke. Quite a bit there to think about.

The martyrdom of the English priest John Southworth in 1654 may seem a little late for the dates of the English Martyrs. But we need to remember that the persecution of Catholics did not end with the death of Elizabeth I. While James Stuart became king with Catholic support because he had promised freedom of conscience as soon as his bottom was comfortable upon the throne he renaged. The gunpowder plot was a result and even then some innocents were executed.

The Stuart king Charles I had been less vigorous in persecuting the Catholics, even though fines and the “Catholic tax” was still extorted from Catholic families.

When Cromwell took over after the execution of the King, he renewed the persecution and was responsible for a bloodbath of the Irish.

Southworth was arrested when his cover was blown as he visited the plague victims. Apparently many facing death reverted or converted back to the Old Faith and this infuriated Cromwell who couldn’t even let people die of plague in peace.

After various trials and arrests St. John Southworth was executed at Tyburn and died a martyr of the faith.

Yesterday’s Mass reading was the discourse in John 6 where Jesus announces that we must eat His Body and drink His Blood and as a result of His repeated insistence on this point a whole lot of those who had followed Him, now left.

In preaching on this yesterday Father said he perfectly understood why people were shocked by Jesus’ words. His words are shocking. In fact they are more shocking in both Greek and Aramaic where the word “eat” is more literally translated and gnaw and chomp down on.

We are expected to accept the daily miracle on the altars of Catholic and Orthodox churches around the world, that He who Named Himself the Bread of Life is made present in bread and wine in His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.

The crowd around Jesus that day however, had one advantage over the rest of us -well two advantages; first, they had been following Jesus and seen His works and heard His words straight from His mouth and second the day before this discourse He had multiplied the loaves and fishes. He was surely making clear that just as His Father had fed Israel in the desert with quails and manna so He could feed all people with His flesh and blood.

St Paul warns us very clearly that if we receive Holy Communion – the Body of Christ while not in a state of grace, that we are (to use his words) “guilty of the blood.” That was a term meaning murder. We must be careful about this. Really careful.

The Church Fathers all understood that Christ made Himself truly present in the Eucharistic breaking of bread, but it took a while for the theology to be fully formed. Not until the Reformation was the Presence really challenged, although we read stories of individuals not quite getting it.  The miracle of Lanciano has to be the most famous answer God gave to a doubting priest. The Host is still kept in a Monstrance to this day and scientists have determined that the “flesh” that is so much part of the bread is cardiac tissue and the blood is male (AB but apparently all old blood reverts to AB). The priest was convinced.

John 6 is the most important passage of Scripture for me as it held me firm while I was all over the place faith wise.  Christ’s amazing generosity in this self giving act is, astonishing.  It is this gift that meant so many Catholics in England went to their death over including Father Southworth.

The Twelve Steps for moving past addiction.

I wanted to write something deep and meaningful about the twelve steps, but I’m too tired. What I will say is that they are very difficult steps to climb and I think they would prove pretty difficult even for those of us who are not addicted to alcohol or other stuff.

Confabulation and denial are major traits for people with addictions. Their self centredness and learned helplessness can be horribly prinful for those who have to deal with it, and that can be painful in the extreme for the addict to face, write down, confess and try to make amends for.

The NHS is pretty terrible at helping alcoholics and their families. In fact the support is practically non-existant these days, but it seems that this addiction has a much more spiritual and emotional element to it, so perhaps the Church is the place to find that support after all.

Families and friends need to remember something; a dry alcoholic is not cured, is not even sober. A sober person has learned to think clearly, act well towards others and accept reality (no more confabulation). That can take years and years.

The Twelve steps:

1) We admit that we were powerless over alcohol and that our lives have been unmanagable.

2) We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

3)We made a decision to turn our lives and will over to God as we understand Him.

4) We make a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.

5)Admitted to ourselves, to God and to another person the exact nature of our wrongs.

6) We are entirely ready to allow God to remove all defects of character.

7) We humbly ask Him to remove our shortcomings.

8)Make a list of all persons we have harmed and be ready and willing to make amends to them.

9) Make direct amends whenever possible unless it would injure or harm others.

10) Continue to keep a personal invetory and to admit wrongs promptly.

11) Through prayer and meditation we bring ourselves cloer to God, increasing our understanding of Him, praying for the knowldge of His will and the grace to carry it out.

12) Having reached a spiritual awakening from working through the steps, we are prepared to carry the message to other alcoholics and to use the steps in our everyday affairs.

Home education; teaching about alcohol

Two days ago it was the feast day for the Ven. Matt Talbot, who along with St Monica is the patron of those who have problems with alcohol and alcoholism. He was himself a serious alcoholic who found redemption in his Faith and through that grace of God stopped drinking.

Back in my college teaching days I was booked to teach a whole lot to youngsters about sex and drugs but I never got asked to teach about drinking. This is odd really, when I look around and see that I have hardly met anyone whose life is destroyed by drugs, even in my nursing days (although there were a few certainly) but I have seen sex destroy people and so so many get destroyed by drink.

I still miss a friend who died at the age of 39 and can’t help but remember him telling me twelve years earlier that he didn’t expect to make it to see 4o.

The misuse of alcohol is so pandemic I wonder if any of us have families where no one has a drink problem. When I think about my family and friends I know so many who either are working their way up AA twelve steps or have been doing so.

It’s a disease (and I think I can use that word) that the NHS just doesn’t want to deal with. While huge amounts of money has been pumped into “stop smoking” campaigns complete with glossy pamphlets and expensive therapies, alcoholics can’t even get help with the DTs these days.

Meanwhile even the media has noticed that children are becoming alcoholic at horribly young ages, aided by marketing of kiddy vodka bottles.

The problem we parents have when teaching our children about drinking and how and when and how much, is that although it can destroy lives when misused, it can be fine and even healthy when drunk properly. It’s not like crack or porn where it should be avoided all together.

It’s something that comes up with us home ed mums when we are sitting together with a cuppa. We all know or are related to someone who hasn’t been able to drink properly. For some the problem isn’t just “they drink too much really,” it’s life destroying alcoholism and we are grateful for AA.

We tend to conclude that overall sensible drinking is caught rather than taught and certainly stats would suggest that those who end up drinking to self-abuse levels have lived with people who have done the same. But many of us know or are related to alcoholics who began drinking for other reasons in families where alcohol abuse wasn’t an issue until they did it. So, we conclude, just drinking sensibly ourselves isn’t the answer. For those who have a parent with a drink problem, just drinking sensibly is not an option as alcohol can’t be in the house.

What then are we, as parents, to do, to teach our children?

I’ll come back to this….

Maria Montessori’s Decologue

Maria Montessori and Charlotte Mason are like twin beacons of educational light shining into the darkness of the encroaching ‘Prussian’ approach which would see to the mass institutionalisation and depersonification of children.

Montessori wrote a set of rules to underpin the way staff were to behave and think of children in their care.

1. Never touch a child, unless invited to.  This is not some pc rule about fear of being sued. It is rooted in a recognition that the child is a person with personal space. Montessori didn’t like seeing children manhandled, rather than treated respectfully.

2. Never speak ill of a child whether in his presence or his absence. If only this rule existed in all schools. We’d have less of THIS. Again this doesn’t mean that difficulties cannot be discussed properly, but the horrible habit among some teachers of talking about children in a way that is down right nasty was not to happen.

3. Concentrate on strengthening and assisting the development of what is good in a child to leave less time and space for what is evil. Sadly this view of children is a bit un-pc these days, so children are not helped to understand the difference between right and wrong. The results are not pretty.

4. Be active in preparing the environment. Take meticulous and constant care of it. Help a child establish constructive relations with it.Show the proper place where the means of development are kept and demonstrate their proper use. This is one of those things that I hear more from autonomous home educators than anyone else. They work much harder, I think, than most of us in ensuring their children have an environment that is designed for them to learn in.

5. Be ready to answer the call of a child in need of you, and respond to a child who appeals to you. This rule is diametrically opposed to the spoon feeding approach demanded by the National Curriculum. Like Charlotte Mason, Maria Montessori wanted the learning and discovery abilities of children respected. We are to be there when needed. (Strangely for me and I believe other home ed mothers have this weird problem too – the children do not need you until you go to the toilet and then you hear “Muuuuuum!” It’s one of life’s little mysteries).

6.Respect the child who makes a mistake and can then or later correct himself, but stop firmly and immediately any misuse of the environment, and any action which endangers the child, his development, and others.

7. Respect the child who takes rest or watches others working, or ponders over what he himself has done or will do.Neither call him, nor force him to other activity. This is so important, especially for the child who needs to process quietly what he has learned. A child who is thinking of wondering is not lazy or unproductive. Space to have quiet time is very important, and I have never seen it or heard of it in schools.

8. Help those who are in search of activity and cannot find it.

9. Be untiring in repeating presentations to the child who refused them earlier; in helping the child acquire what is not yet his own,and overcome imperfections. Do this by animating the environment with care, with restraint and silence; with mild words and loving presence. Make your ready presence felt to the child who searches and hide from the child who has found. This rule must surely be based on the assumption of small class sizes. Silence and restraint are barely possible in a loud classroom of 30 children with tables and chairs scraping and screaming on the floors – with the rising noise of children trying to make themselves heard over the impossible noise around them and then of the teacher who must shout above it all to make herself heard. Some researchers discovered that the noise levels in infant classrooms could top 90 decibels.

10. Always treat the child with the best of good manners, and offer him the best you have in yourself and at your disposal. I am sure that those who treat children and adults they are assisting respectfully will receive the same in return.

Remeber Gilbert Keith Chesterton who died 14th June 1936

You may have noticed, if you read this blog quite often, that I have a a great love for G.K.Chesterton and an even greater love for his wife Frances. I have heard there is a what-do-you-call-it for them both to be canonised, and I look forward to the day when we can attend Mass at the church of SS Gilbert and Frances 🙂

There was something endearingly quirky about G.K.Chesterton, that probably required some considerable patience from Frances. His absent mindedness meant that he would often set off to go somewhere and forget where he was going and need some direction from his good wife. She was also in the habit od receiving phone calls from bookshop owners telling her that Mr. Chesterton had wandered off with a book. She would see to it that it was paid for.

G.K.C was famously late for his wedding having stopped off along the way to by a gun in order that he might be armed for the protection of his wife. He never used the weapon but he wanted his wife to know he was there for her, should she need him. Perhaps in reading his non-fiction books we can miss the lovely romantic nature he had, but I do think his Father Brown stories allow it more expression.

You can read this biography from Maisie Ward (ebook) the wife of another great writer Frank Sheed.

Chesterton’s life is a fascinating roller coaster of intellectual experience. He is famous for saying “The devil made me Catholic,” His most famous book Orthodoxy tells of his journey from nihilistic atheism to ‘orthodox belief’. He says he had tried to invent some sort of belief system that was more rational and reasonable than the hole he was in – and discovered that in seeking truth, it was already there. Apparently he wrote orthodoxy before he was received into the Catholic Church, but no one reading it could doubt for a moment that he would end up swimming the Tiber.

Pack your Kindle or MP3 player with Dale Ahlquist’s brilliant series’ The Apostle of Common Sense.

Then grab that kindle or whatever and go on a download spree at Gutenberg – and then try and find time to read all that. If that’s a challenge there are these audio versions, which are well read. Eugenics and other Evils is a book that has a lot to say to us. Sad really when you think how long ago it was written.

I think Chesterton was one of those rare people, a true innocent. He may have had his head in the clouds sometimes but Frances in her gentle patient way kept him grounded. It was a deep pain to them that they were never blessed with children, and perhaps this pain sharpened his understanding of the true value of children, so that he did not understand why the culture treated children so shoddily and wanted rid of them. While the eugenists Marie Stopes and across the pond Margaret Sanger were busy putting an end to babies, the Chestertons looked on the treasury of children and supported the work of Charlotte Mason instead.

Having lived through the absolute horror of the First World War, God was merciful to His loving son and took him Home on the eve of the next war.

Gilbert and Frances ora pro nobis.


Charlotte Mason, “Children are born persons.”

Although I base my philosophy of education on Charlotte Mason’s “Education is an atmosphere” and I am keen to ensure my children have plenty of “living books” and are not subjected to “twaddle” – that is not the root of my philosophy. The root is my agreement with Miss Mason that children are persons. I can’t remember in which book she wrote this, but I guess it was one of her earlier books. Her writing is more or less contemporary with Charles Dickens, and of course she met Gilbert and Frances Chesterton. Dickens used his stories to challenge the prevailing view that children were commodities of labour. Chesterton wrote a great deal on the inherent dignity of the person,and had a deep and rather touching understanding of the real value of children, so Mason is part of that voice of the people that tried to remind the powers-that-be that children cannot be used as cheap labour, cheap consumers or worse still, cheap objects for the wants of adults.

Sadly it is not a lesson we have learned. In fact it would seem that we have forgotten the whole notion of personhood altogether, let alone the truth that children are persons.

So what is a person? If you want to know the answer in it’s finest form then you can start HERE with Dear ol’Tam. His understanding is second to none. The notion of personhood of course pre-dates St. Thomas Aquinas and is found in it’s earliest forms of understannding in some of the early Church Councils, most notably Niocea where the persons of the Holy Trinity and the natures of Christ were defined.

A person is an individual with a nature that can be rational. I remember school day debates where we thrashed out the possibility of persons with natures that could be fully rational but not human (aliens) and whether they would be fallen and in need of redemption. We never got very far because we never really got to grips with the business of natures and persons and what all that meant. (Ah the ’70s and ’80’s – educationally challenged times).

Children are persons, as Miss Mason attests, because they have a human nature and a human nature has the potential for rational thought. I also remember being told self-awareness was part of this.

There is also an incommunicable part of our nature-of being who we are and not being someone else.

Our culture does not seem to recognise or accept the personhood of the individual because of their human nature. It certainly does not see the need to treat with respect and ackowledge the inherent dignity of the person, if that person is too young, too old, too sick or whatever other reason for denying them personhood and humanity the strong-men come up with.

Part of the reason we have “experts” telling us that children can be bullied at school and that’s ok is because children are not seen as persons. Part of the reason children are not seen as persons is because we have ditched anything with remotely Christian roots to it so that we can do what ever we like and at the expense of anyone weaker than us.

The fact is, personhood is an embarrassment to “experts” who do not want to have to acknowledge that children are, from the very moment of conception, fully human persons made in the image of God and therefore possessing an inherent dignity with all the inherent rights that go with that. The right to life, the right to be treated well – not bullied or exploited or have every ounce of innocence ripped from them.

I have been increasingly fed up, and a little alarmed at the lack of respect for children showed by people like Ed Balls, Graham Badman, Lord Soley, Barroness Deech and the mirriad of “experts” the BBC wheels out for occasions in which parents who are treating their children like persons gets shocked news coverage.

Now, go and get the tissues and then read what Sarah Palin wrote about her son Trig when they found out he had Downs. (apparently these emails were dug up to embaress her,- well this one does her proud).

Frugal Friday Freebies: Colour book. The Ten Commandments; the month of the Sacred Heart: Science and a story about milk.

One of the HE mums I know posted a link to THIS COLOURING BOOK to help children deal with some difficult situations.

As she mentions herself the illustrations are a bit rough but there may be useful stuff there.

It’s June so if you are studying the Sacred Heart – there are some freebies on offer over at Kalie’s Resource Site – notebooking and a little lesson from me.

If you remember that I did a post on how to remember the Ten Commandments. There’s a quick sheet HERE to help understand how the Our Father, Decalogue and Beatitudes all work together. I need to write some follow up on this – but I will wait until I am actually awake to do so.

Final freebie for today is this bloomin’ marvellous site The Catholic Laboratory. The podcasts are excellent. I have them on my Kindle and am listening to them all. (It could take a while). I have a long standing interest in Catholic scientists, especially as so many moon craters are named after Jesuits- so this is quite a find.

With all those frugal freebies for your use, I have a story of milk to tell you.

Unlike the Promised Land, Britain is not flowing with milk and honey. It’s more like bills and debt. Ordinary good hard working people are finding life very tough at the moment.

We have our milk delivered in the traditional way – by the milk man. If we run out (as does happen) we do the cheapo thing and buy some from Tescos. However, Tescos is a massive and badly behaved corporation that we are not that fond of. It is very important to keep local people employed and this means keeping the local businesses supported. However it is more expensive to have milk from the milk man than the supermarket and we’re trying to be frugal here aren’t we?

Well, it seems to me that being frugal should come with a caveat – that is, not at someone else’s expense. So. When the man who helps run the local dairy farm came to our door and said his brother’s farm is at risk because Kraft, who now own Cadbury’s have cancelled the massive milk order, I was willing for him to be our new milk man. His milk is just a little cheaper as well so that’s great. I also wondered if we could arrange a Home Ed trip to the farm to see the very cows whose milk we are drinking now. All seems great doesn’t it?

So I paid the other milk man and explained I was going with the local farm milk. It turns out that he is self-employed in a franchise rather than employed as I assumed. Ouch! He is past retirement age but has to work as he is still supporting his family.

The outcome is I now have two milkmen. It does mean that our milk bill will be a bit more – but not so much it will add to the debt so hey. It is vitally important to keep our communities alive and help people keep above water.  Anyway, I am a distributist and what kind of distributist wants cheap milk anyway? So, be frugal where you can, but get your milk from a milkman.

Are Home Educating parents selfish? Phil Gayle from the BBC wonders!

It has been noted that in Oxfordshire and a couple of other places around England that the numbers of home educated children has risen by over 50%. This rise has caught the attention of the local BBC in Oxford who put out this video in which they briefly look at one family and talk to one “expert”. The mother of seven is home educating her oldest son after his move into secondary school proved pretty awful. She intends to HE her other children through secondary ed but is happy with their primary school.  She calls home education “the poor man’s private education,” – which is an interesting view. It is more and more recognised that  private schools offer a far superior education to state run schools, strangled by the National Curriculum.  I came across a few nurses over the years working double shifts and other jobs to pay for a child to go to private school. I think home ed is easier than doing that.

The “expert” is a professor at the University of Buckinghamshire. He was introduced with the words that “experts” believed that the rise in numbers may be due more to improved paper work than more children being removed from school. It’s funny how whenever anything rises- such as autism rates, Ritalin prescriptions or depression in children, someone always suggests it’s about the paperwork – and no one ever produces the evidence for the theory. Whatever the reason, the numbers have increased significantly and it leaves me wondering how many more non-registered families are out there. Most of the HE families we go around with are not registered at all.

So what did the “expert” have to say?

Educating children at home is a very important
freedom, but it is something that really needs to be embarked upon with great
care. It is a tremendous commitment. It may well be that your son or daughter
are not lost in a big impersonal school system, but there are great advantages
to going to school. One of them is that you can see what other children are
capable of. It’s also true that you miss out a lot on the social interaction.
So you may have been protected from bullying but you may not have learned how
to handle it.

I note the “with great care” bit. Does anyone ever tell parents that sending their children to school is an important freedom but should be embarked upon with great care?  After all, schools can leave your children depressed, self harming, alcoholic, illiterate and incapable of holding down a job or making decisions.

He admits that a child can be lost in the “big impersonal system” which surely is a very bad thing indeed, but insists that schools offer great advantages. And these advantages (over home education) are?  Er..that bit was vague and weird.

You can see what other children are capable of in school, he says. Home educated children can see this too, any time they like and they can see it in children of different ages and with different problems to overcome. You see, unlike school children, home educated children get to mix with all sorts of people, because they are not segregated from children on age and ability. Because of this they not only learn what others are capable of academically, but more importantly, in life skills and virtue.

His assertion that home educated children miss out on a lot of social interaction is simply untrue. They certainly have less negative social interaction than school children, but that is a good thing.

The final sentence is yet more evidence that those in positions of power and the “experts” of this country have no respect for children as persons. No one I have ever met who was bullied in school has learned how to deal with it better in adult life. Just the opposite in fact. But then if this “expert” was pushed around, hit, kicked, spat at, half strangled, threatened, mugged, urinated on and robbed he would call the police and demand the perpetrators were arrested. But when it happens to a child in school, either nothing is done or the victim is the one punished. I really do want to know how being systematically abused at school prepares anyone for a healthy adult life. There is no evidence to say it does and plenty of evidence to say it does nothing of the sort.

There was also a radio programme covering the same piece of news but interviewing a different parent. The radio host asked on more than one occasion whether homeschooling wasn’t a selfish thing for parents to do.

There was a call from a home educated student in which she eloquently explained why HE is so good.

Despite both the mother and student talking about the exams they or their children have/can sit and of course doing Open University courses, the question over how home educated children can gain qualifications was asked again. And despite the clear message about how children learn together the work “isolation” was still used to describe HE.

Before I answer question about how selfish we are, I want to look at what the other host on the radio show came up with. She said that taking children out of school undermined the school system. She said of the school system “What’s the point of it, if people aren’t using it?” (Oh what a lovely question.) She went on “Its something we pay our taxes for. It’s something I’m immensely proud of.”  But she doesn’t say why she’s so proud of it – what does it genuinely offer as a system? What about all those children the system is failing? What about the shocking drop in literacy levels and the complaints from employers about the uselessness of GCSEs? What about the fact that Universities have had to put compulsory essay writing modules into their first year courses because even students with straight As at A’level can’t write an essay? I could list more, but get my drift.

Then Phil Gayle the host went on to repeat the “is it selfish?” question and also wondered how wealthy we all must be. You would have to be wealthy he thought.

The woman thought we got help. She doesn’t know a thing about HE obviously.

So to answer Gayle and others, no, those of us who spend our time and adjust our tight budgets to home educate our children are not selfish. We want our children to grow up whole, happy and well educated. We want them to be able to live independent lives able to make good decisions and think for themselves. We want them to have the freedom to make those choices, rather than find themselves shoved into a rut created by someone else. And we are obviously massivley counter-culteral because we believe that our children are persons and have an inherant dignity to be treated respectfully.

Our children get a wider, deeper and stronger education than schools can offer. While home education may not be the best answer for all children or all families it certainly is the best answer for very many. And while some children do well in school very many indeed do very badly indeed and an even bigger number of children get a mediocre education from a one-size-fits-all system.

As for the finances we save up, we do without so that the children can have what they need. We share resources, food, curriculum, time and talents. How often do we have to repeat all this before some journalist somewhere gets it? *sigh*

Reasons to home educate no: infinity: self harm, suicide and violent crime linked to school culture

It was pure coincidence that while my dh was on call for the self harm rota this weekend that I happened to listen to Dr. Ray Guarendi’s talk (May 31) on research coming out of America (is there any even happening over here?) about the prevalence of teen suicide, self harm and violent crime.

For children aged between 14 -18 suicide is now the third biggest killer. Self harm is so prevalent that I am wondering if there is any family in this countr, or America, who doesn’t know someone who has done this even to the point of attempted suicide?

The research recognises that family breakdown and chaos are strong factors influencing these behaviours, but they also noted something else. Suicide and self harm rates decrease significantly over the summer months and increase again as term starts. This is in contrast to the suicide and self harm rates of those aged 19 -25 whose rates are fairly stable throughout the year.

Violent crime in children rises by 30% in term time!

Researches are beginning to see that there is something in the culture of schools that is enabling and even encouraging self-destructive (and other destructive) behaviour. One of the aspects of school noted, is that peers are left without adult supervision or role modelling for vast amounts of time – and that essentially unsocialised and deeply troubled kids are all hanging around together and dragging each other down.

There is a belief in the UK that if children are forced into school that crime rates will go down, and to be fair the petty crime rate does apparently, go down when kids are shoved into school; but the research shows violent crime rises badly. Now, baring in mind that it is very rare indeed for a bully to be prosecuted it makes these figures even more alarming.

Part of the reason bullies get away with it is the schools refuse to deal with it. But the other problem is much higher up. Remember Lord Soley? The Labour Lord who thought that those of us who removed our children from school afer serious assaults were ‘over protective’? You see Soley and others of that ilk do not believe that children genuinely have rights. They are property of the state and as such are not persons in their own right.

Home Education (Summer week 1) Book basket with kindle

Heleyna (age 4) is reading The Pancake and Floppy Floppy from Stage 1 ORT. She is also reading Peppa Pig Stars (we have the copy without the CD).And The Big Alfie Out of Doors Story Book

Avila (age 6, K, yr 1) is reading Born to Dance ORT 11 and other stuff.

Ronan (age 8 g2 yr 3) is still reading Detectives in Togas and Treasure Island off my Kindle.

Read alouds this week are The Spartan Twins, Heroes of Israel poetry from Ambleside and Fairyland of Science (also available at Baldwin Books).

Other books this week: Exploring Creation with Botany and Science 2

Songschool Latin and Greek which the children reall enjoy and has boosted our classical language lessons out of the rut we were grinding through.

Our Catholic Legacy Vol 1 and Story of the World 2 (which I don’t recommend although Vol 1 is ok)

Religion 2 for YC which I am using for both Ronan and Avila. In Sept he will move onto R 3 and she’ll be on R 1 and I’ll run them alongside the Faith and Life books.

My personal reading Necromancers by Robert Hugh Benson

Iona had just started Plugged by Eoin Colfer. It gets some pretty mixed reviews on Amazon. I’ll let you know what she thinks of it later.

Free Resources for June the month of the Sacred Heart can be found at That Reasource Site and my Little History of the Priesthood

I am sure we’ll be looking at more books as the week goes on. I’ll try and update.

This will be a five week term and I really must plan the Autumn term from Sept to Christmas.

State monitoring of home education; how do you do yours?

The battle home educating families fought for over a year to retain their basic God given rights to education and bring up our children without state interference was hard won. It was won basically because the jack booted control freaks of the Labour Government simply ran out of time and lost the election.

While the local authority really do not have any moral or legal rights over parents, they do have both over the way the schools under their authority are run and how the children in them are taught, treated and protected.

It is strange then that while boys can be bullied to the point of blindness and if you read the comment thread there are other horrific stories to see; and while teachers happily write this stuff about their pupils (H/T Carlotta) that it is home educating families who need to feel the weight of political nastiness on our shoulders.

After everything we went through fighting the Badman and Balls agenda with their lies and fake stats, it is, to be honest. just a bit irritating to read this from and American homeschooler who has a little laugh over the fact she feels the need to hand over far more information to the ‘official’ than is warranted.

Why would anyone want to hand over rights to the officials, especially those of the ‘Pelosi’ flavoured? I assume the author of the article above picked that name because it is so heavily linked with anti-family anti-child rhetoric.. All the more reason imho to avoid handing over information.

A Catholic Mother’s Kindle: Where are all those books coming from?

What a girl needs now and then, is a quiet five minutes to sit down with a good book and a cup of tea.

Having said that, a certain daughter of mine has declared that there is nothing quite so sad a a cup of tea without a buscuit to dunk in it. Perhaps this is so, but it is not something I find all that tragic (most of the time).

So then, where do I get books for my kindle?

There are plenty of places for free books: Internet Archive has loads of them. Some are better formatted for Kindle than others. I have had problems reading some books that have footnotes, but not so badly that I’ve needed to give up. (I can be quite determined when I put my mind to it).

Project Gutenberg is a gold mine and so far the books I’ve downlaoded from there are fairly well formatted, so I tend to check them out there first and then got to IA if they don’t have them.

There is also the Australian Gutenberg and Gutenberg Canada. So far as I can see these sites don’t offer Kindle ready books, but they are easy enough to convert with the info I gave in a previous post on how to make books Kindle readable.

If you are up to a few convertions there are some great Don Camillo books. If you have never read Don Camillo you have missed a classic. Grab your chance now.

Many Books is another place to find all sorts of wonderful books Including the first two Lord Peter Wimsey tales by the great Dorothy L Saysers.

Then there’s Free Kindle Books which I haven’t really had a chance to look at properly yet.

Got a bit of money? Ignatius Press have many books for your delectation. Sophia Press have a list too, which tends to be linked to but some of the books are carried on Amazon UK.

Also Heritage History have made most of their books Kindle ready for only a couple of dollars each and St Joan of Arc for free.

One of the books I’ve read recently from Project Gutenbery is about the Starvation Diet for Diabetes. Second Edition 1916. This was before insulin was avialable, and going by the case studies in the book it was before there was an understanding of the differences between type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

In fact the differnce between types 1 and 2 were not recorded until 1935. Insulin had been given as injection since 1922/23.

The starvation diet was harsh at first but more food was added over time.

The first three days of starvation the patient was to receive only black coffee with a little whiskey in it. The same system was used with children. I noticed that the young patients either adults under 25 or children did not fare so well on this diet and in the case of children were more likely to die.

Although the medic who has written the book is cheerfully optimistic that this diet works well, it plainly did not save many lives of juvinile diabetics. Truly we can see in this little book – that insulin was needed.

Insulin has come on a long way. Josh is pretty stable on his two types of insulin in a way that I remember patients I nursed, had no hope of.

It’s a short book, quick read but fascinating.

I wonder what the Civil Service make of me.

I’ve been given a heads up that my blog has been noticed and possibly read by members of the Civil Service who have been compiling information about home educators and what we think.

I wonder what they have made of my blog. perhaps they are just a little ashamed that they are so worried about a mere mother (statusless) who has, without a PGCE to her name managed to see her children learn to read and write and do science and get socialised, etc. etc…

They ought to be solidly ashamed of the fact I had to reteach my (then) 14-year-old son to read, after his treatment in one of their schools.

There was a big meeting at my LA recently. People with little children couldn’t attend of course because no provision was avialable. So, although this was supposedly a meeting wherein the LA staff could begin to build bridges with a (pretty angry) home educating community, they made it impossible for most of us to attend. Thanks. Then they sent out the most ignorant questionnaire in which documents already placed on their website were mentioned. It never occurred to these people who if they treated us with even a modicum of respect they might get some back. No. They write their silly documents, put them online and only then ask us what we think.

The meeting has come and gone. Have I received information from the LA about what was discussed or decided? No, of course not.

It seems that having quite deliberately knocked down any bridge between is, they, far from trying to rebuild, are simply throwing stones.

The Benedictines of Colwich Abbey

Friends of mine have had wonderful retreats at Colwich Abbey in Staffordshire. The sisters don’t offer organised retreats, but you are welcome to book time for your own spiritual recharge.

If you are discerning a vocation and feel the call of St. Benedict and Sr. Scholastica then check out this abbey.

It’s one of those areas of Church life that is sprouting new shoots of the spring time.

I have it on good authority that Sr. Davina is a wonderful woman.

They also have a blog that you should check out.