Tag Archives: homeschool

Archimedes lessons

P1000147Having done some of the basic experiments as part of the lesson pack following Archimedes and the door of science (book here) the children have also made the water clock, which is pretty simple to do. You need to make sure the pin holes in the paper cups are big enough for the water to drip though or time will stand still!

From there they have been learning about Archimedes experiments with number patterns. So we have been making triangle and square numbers and then cube and pyramid numbers. It was a good excuse to get out the bead material and the thousand cube box. P1000165

It’s a lovely way to see and present some mathematical concepts.

The children seem to get more out of the lessons when they can stop writing for a bit and make something.

Heleyna tends to join in with those bits as well, so she’s getting a bit of an introduction via the work her older siblings are doing.

Much fun was had.


Home education; is there another method that genuinely works?

I know this isn’t true across the board in home ed circles. I am quite sure there are the cliques of home ed parents competing over Primula’s grade or some such thing. Thankfully, I haven’t been at the receiving end of that.

When I have a worry about how one of my children is learning or even a new discovery that works well, I can ask and share it with other mums who home educate and we’ll throw out ideas or straight forward reassurance.

So home ed mums are saints then? Sadly not, we’re all just human like everyone else. What I think helps us as a group is our education system is so different from the school system, and that’s because, as a group, we don’t have a system. There is no box we have to fit into or fail. There are no tests, no competitions or standards written and ticked. We have our children and they are all so very different, learn differently, have different needs and skills, that there isn’t a box to push them into.

There’s also a very high proportion of children with  “special needs” ranging from simply developing a little slower than average through dyslexia to autism and physical illnesses of various types. And there’s also the gifted children who usually have an area of learning where they outstrip others, but might be less gifted in other areas.

The nature of home education tends to mean that a lot of parents (not all) have an inherent respect for children, where they don’t need reminding of Charlotte Mason’s maxim that children are persons. We spend a lot of time together as families and we learn to adapt around babies, tantrums, learning approaches and mums needing a cuppa and a chat.

We work as a community with all it’s diversity and colour. Some of us have been doing it for years and others are just starting out.

I haven’t been told how brave I am for quite a while but new families often face this sort of back handed compliment. But I don’t think those of us who home educate are brave. I do see parents taking the first steps with trepidation and some fear, and I suppose it does take some courage, but when I see schooled children I think it’s their parents who are brave.

Since “official” kinds of education were invented by the ancient Greeks, Spartans and Rome children didn’t go to school until they were at least 7 to 8 years old and often went even later. It was understood that the foundational part of a child’s education was in a rounded upbringing with social skills and practical skills before the academic side was handled.

Within family and community children learned and grew before attending a more institutionalised system.

This was the system from ancient times until the end of the nineteenth century and it worked well.  Figures show that literacy levels in both Britain and America were as high as 95% before the Education Acts brought about mass schooling. Now they are nearer 60%.

I was told recently by someone who knows that many parents who find their 4 or 5 year old can’t get a school placement refuse to do any work with their own child because they have decided it’s the job of the state! That’s a shocking sign of how upturned our culture’s thinking is!

I think we actually need more families to avoid schools. The standards of education are having serious knock on effects among adults and our culture as a whole as we see not only the rise in illiteracy, ignorance and lack of ethical thought, but the sinking of science and medicine. There are studies and even pieces of research that are being published in what once were respected journals that surely would never have seen the light of day 100 years ago, simply because they are so badly designed and written.

Ken Robinson, John Holt, John Taylor Gatto and others including Dr Temple Grandin had spoken over and over about the state of education and they are being ignored. It’s up to us, as parents, to listen and be willing to bypass the shoddy standards and search for the best education we can offer our children. The more I look, the more I am convinced that home education is becoming the only answer, or one answer among very few others indeed.

While the mainstream media like ITV are asking whether home education can make the grade – surely they should be asking why school education is failing so very many children.

Reasons to home educate

P1010037A friend posted a link to THIS ARTICLE which notes the massive rise in homeschooling families across the states of America. The article suggest the 75% rise is due, largely, to dissatisfaction with the school system there.

I don’t know what the figures are like this side of the pond (I think we learned in the Badman Balls days that statistics were completely arbitrary and meaningless, because they weren’t accurate) but I do remember that reports went out a few months after the election when Badman and Balls were no longer able to come after us, saying, registered home ed families in Oxford and someplace else had risen by 50%. It was almost as if the negative publicity the media had tried to give us had backfired and simply made more people aware that home education was a good choice for their children. The 50% had to be children taken from school and therefore registered with the LA and didn’t include those families who had never sent their children to school.

If you want to home educate in England and Wales you do not need to be registered with the Local Authority. However, if you have removed your child from school you will need to write to the head and s/he will pass this information onto the LA who will automatically register your child. So, as we pulled two children from school we are registered, whereas many of our friends are not. On an even weirder note, in some families one child could be registered and LA loose the paperwork so that other children aren’t. It happens.

A family can choose to register with the LA if they want to, but as there is little to no support from the LA there doesn’t seem much point, and therefore very few families bother.  Nevertheless, despite all the information and legal niceties, far too many HE families report threatening behaviour from the LA person- usually a welfare officer. We have been very lucky in that the LA people with whom I have dealt have been respectful and made the effort to get to understand what HE is. For friends who come under a different authority that has not been the case. There’s been some rumblings that the Local Authority people want to “build bridges” with home educators and in some areas those bridges could be built. Sadly, when yet another family is door-stepped by a Welfare Officer and where “safeguarding” gets bandied about for no reason, those bridges soon tumble. (Part of this, it seems to me, is rooted in the ignorance of the EWOs involved who must think the propaganda about “isolation” is true and come a cropper when some new and apparently green home educator gets help because she knows other more experienced families).

One of the major reasons home educators get cross with poor behaviour from the LA is because so many of us saw our children failed miserably in school – which is under the remit of the LA.

I know many home educators who have chosen this route for very positive reasons. They love the way they can tailor the work to the child and the choices of method, philosophy and resources that are available to home edders that aren’t available in schools. We see our children grow and explore and have time to just be. We see them learn to be with their siblings, setting up close relationships for life. We see their enthusiasm for learning and we can prioritise things properly, adjusting them as necessary.

We are also home educating at a time where resources are abundantly available online or via the post and many of those resources are free. I think many of us who have been doing this for some time have made free resources available and have benefited from other families’ freebies.

Unfortunately there are many negative reasons for home education. Children who are bullied, ignored, too sick, and/or where the school won’t or can’t handle basic medication, or with shamefully unmet learning needs, are removed by parents and successfully home educated. The question that some of us are asked “Do you think you can do it better than school?” has to be answered with a resounding “Yes!” In my case it was more “I couldn’t make it worse…” but now I just know I am offering the children something positive that isn’t available in school. When you look around nearly all of us have at least one child with a “special educational need” (SEN) and yet studies show that home educated children generally out perform schooled children in educational and social testing.

I do love seeing my children enjoy learning and not being ashamed of wanting to learn. I also love that they can have difficulties in certain areas and not have to be ashamed about that either. I love the different things we can go off and study as we aren’t tied into a curriculum. If they struggle with something we have the time and the genuine love to work with it until they are over the obstacles.  

I can tell when one of them is too tired or has simply lost that concentration and can send them to do something else, take a break or just make a cuppa while they recharge and then they can come back to it fresh. Sometimes we decide today isn’t going to work so we can put the lesson off until another time.

I love the way the children at Home Ed Group work together. Ages and special needs of all kinds are unimportant – everyone chips in. If problems occur the mums can deal with it straight away, nipping things in the bud and helping the children remember how to behave properly. We aren’t saints, and neither are our children – all the more reason to be there to deal with bad behaviour straight away.

One of the other major advantages in home education – at least for us – has been helping the children to learn independently.  It’s something I remember someone from the Open University saying about home educated youngsters who took on OU causes under the age of 18. They could already work independently and so could get on with things without the tutor having to say when to open the book and how many pages to read.

Home Education isn’t for everyone. It’s not a panacea against all educational and family problems; but the fact is, it is good for many families and I suspect would be better for a lot of children who are currently being failed in school.

Studies that have been done make interesting reading in that they show children from poorer backgrounds who are home educated do as well as children from so-called “middle class” families.  Schools can’t make this claim sadly.

Home educating is hard work, and there are times when I wish I wasn’t doing it; but overall I think it’s working well for us and most importantly, it’s working very well for the children.

Further reading

The Pagans Are Happy to Socialize Your Children

home education; quick phases of the moon lesson with oreos and other buscuits.

As a bit of a treat from having just completed some Greek grammar we decided to make


the phases of the moon with Oreos.

The earth was made from an upturned gluten free jammy wheel on which Ronan drew the continents and coloured in the sea. We have some great food colouring felt pens for just such an occasion.

The sun was made from a gluten free custard cream. Then the Oreos were taken apart and the cream cut to size and the phases marked and laid down in the right place in relation to the earth and sun.

Avila got to eat the world and the sun but I didn’t let Ronan and Heleyna eat 2/3rds of a packet of Oreos. I’m not that bad a mother…yet.

Next plan to make DNA sequence out of mini marshmallows and red liquorice straws.

P1020557Meanwhile I discovered that the water I was cooking purple sprouting broccoli in for dinner that night, went purple. So I saved some in test tubes to see if it makes good universal indicator.

Yes, I know, that’s so horribly home ed of me.

There’s some free science lessons here. I haven’t had a chance to look them over properly yet so can’t vouch for them but you could see what you think.

I do want to have a go at THIS LESSON where the children can build DNA with liquorice straws and marshmallows.

You might also like the free Kaplan Anatomy Colouring Book.

Lapbook of Clouds

From ETC MONTESSORI I downloaded the  clouds nomenclature cards. A search around the net (google images) produced some extra pics about where the clouds are in the sky. Heleyna is using Behold and See Book 1 for science and as we have hit the chapter on weather, a Cloud lapbook seems like a good accompaniment to the chapter.

The free Montessori printables are just right for this sort of thing.

You need a folder


to start with

Open it out like this.


After that, how you stick things in and where you put them is pretty much up to you and the children making them.

We are adding some extra’s to the lapbook about the seasons and weather in the northern and southern hemisphere’s. She will look at the weather here for a week and make a weather calender from her science book.


easy origami basket and dying eggs.

We had a lovely time yesterday at the Home Ed group get together. The children played some games Roni organised – his ideas coming from Cubs. Then they made really simply baskets and went on an easter egg hunt. Finally they dyed some hard boiled eggs in very strong solution of Kool Aid.

So here’s the way to do it. For the basket you will need a piece of construction or sugar paer. Star by folding i


n one corner to make a triangle with a straight line on the top edge.

You will have a piece left over at the side. Fold this against the edge of the triangle and either carefully tear or cut it off. Keep it for the handle.

Take one corner and fold it across so the point touches the opposite edge in the middle.

















Then fold the opposite corner across. You will have a triangle at the top of your basket now.



Turn the basket over and fold down the first triangle.


Turn the basket over and open the slot at the front. Fold the triangle down and


tuck it into that slot.








Open the basket and push up it’s bottom which will keep the basket open.





Fold the spare strip in three to make a handle and then staple or stick it to the sides of the basket.





Your basket is ready for decoration and to be stuffed with tissue and eggs or other little gifts.




Now to dye your eggs. You will need eggs. You can either hard boil them or blow them. To blow an egg you must take a needle and pierce a hole in the top and a slightly larger hole in the bottom of your egg. A good free range egg is best. Those poor battery farmed hens lay fragile eggs that can break rather than let you put a good hole in them. So use eggs where the poor hens have been treated with the respect due to God’s creation.


Rinse the eggs through thoroughly.

To decorate your eggs, you can first draw a pattern on it using a wax crayon.

If you are using Kool Aid mix the powders in small bowls with a small amount of water. Place the eggs in the mixture and let them soak for a while.


I am sure that food colouring would work too.






Home Education; making them learn?

A few things have come up recently that leave me wondering about the narrow road we have to walk as home educators when it comes to the discipline in our home and the learning that goes on.

Both Charlotte Mason and Dr. Montessori had a gentle, but firm and consistent approach to discipline, that respected the child but recognised that human nature is fallen.  If education is going to lead a child out – it must offer  system for them to be able to “be out” and among other people. Respecting a child does not mean expecting them to have the same emotional and social maturity of an adult (of a properly formed adult). Part of the process of growing up and being educated is learning the virtues. Then in adulthood the skills in self discipline and self motivation should have been learned so that it won’t take someone else to push them all the time.

But there are fall off cliffs on either side of parenting. On the one side discipline can become bullying and aggressive and on the other side loving the child can become permissiveness and allowing them to do what they like and have what they want, which of course isn’t love.

I’ve spoken with more than one parent who believes that making a child do anything is bad for them. They should decide what they learn and when they learn it, they insist.

I just don’t see how that would work. It certainly wouldn’t work here. As things are now the children each have a learning box with most of their work books and stuff in there. Each learning day I set out the work first thing in the morning. Then the children come to do their work. They can do it in any order they like and take the time they need, but it must be all done. There is plenty of free time in and around the work, but no “privileges” until the day’s work is complete.

There are a number of aspects of the children’s learning that I am “in charge” of. Although we decide together, the children and I, what kind of learning we need to use, I choose and buy the stuff.

The children are part of a family. They can’t just do what they want when they want or have what they want when they want. Life isn’t like that. So, they learn to work and live within the confines of life. That’s not a bad thing really. Sometimes they have to do work they are not that interested in. Sometimes they find the work a bit of a struggle. But they do the work; they learn to ask for help when they need it and to be willing to stretch themselves a little to get to grips with something. (And stretch me a great deal at times!)

We learn together and there are times when they are well ahead of me in some areas.

I’ve decided, in light of how things are, and could be, that I need to plan ahead a bit with their work. This means I set out a minimum requirement for each learning day and try to plan it ahead. This should cover all, or most, eventualities. It does need to be flexible to cover stuff I haven’t thought of. But it also needs to be clear so that they can get on with whatever they need to do, regardless of what’s happening with me.

The knock-on effect is less spontaneity. But I think there’s still some space for that.  It’s a case of making things work for the children, no matter what life throws at us.