Friday, 30 September 2016

What do you need to Home Educate?

What do you need to Home Educate?

There are many things that would be amazing, that I would love to have. A large house, access to nature, a pool, unlimited craft and art supplies... but in truth you only need a few things to home educate your kids.

Passion, curiosity, engagement and being able to let go of what you think things  "should" look like and embrace how things are. It is grand to have some stillness, some gratitude and a sense of humor too.
If you want your kids to care about the world, and education is usually story-telling (all teachers are story-tellers reciting the same stories in different ways) then the passion you have drives that engine. Home education has a more raw and visceral nature because often it in nature. It is not restricted to stories of living but in living it's self.

"If Jane has three pounds and want to pay for four apples, how many oranges can she also buy?"

Well with money in hand the context seems to have a point. It also allow far more variables and allows a hundred more interesting questions at the same time.

"If Jane has three pounds and wants to pay for four apples, how many oranges can she buy, and what does Fairtrade mean? What does organic mean? What does profit margin mean?"

The narrative of the education story, the depth and breath that is possible with almost nothing but curiosity is Home Educations biggest joy.

While having internet help (from Google to Khan Academy) public libraries and thrift store books are  treasure troves. Parks, gardens, wild green space are a boon too. So are warm coats and walking boots or wellies. Yet it is being able to be flexible, and curious and passionate that allows you to see the benefit and opportunities all around you. It takes a special kind of courage to walk away from something society says you "should" be. It takes something stronger and more fierce to refuse to allow the system to hurt your child, love.

The fear and guilt and shame poured on us from a great height to "make your child conform" to standardised shapes and ways of being make you question your bravery, sanity and self.
Yet if you were to drag your child, crying, screaming to a community of strangers; where you left them knowing that violence, verbal abuse, sexual assault were common place (if not a expected and a "normal" part of life) and you left them there, day after day, week after week, year after year and it wasn't called "school" would you be being a "good" parent? A place where what you wear is more important that what you think? A place where you can't pee when you need to? Drink when you need to? Eat when you need to?

School seems so strange to me now, from the other side. It was guilt in the end that won over shame (you must be a difficult parent, maybe she is bullied because you are weird). In truth maybe I am still de-schooling. Still healing.

To home educate you don't need to be rich, or have a teaching degree, or a degree at all. You need to have a sense of wonder, curiosity and fun. You have to give yourself permission to step away from shame and blame and move towards connection with your child and to the world.

Home education is a process that can teach you amazing things. It can shape and re-shape how you see the world, one experience at a time. One book. It can be profound and uplifting, messy and unexpected. It allows from stillness and play. It embraces courage and excellence, failure and mistakes into a learning process that transforms and grows more quickly than almost anything else. It's pretty good for the kids too!

Home education is far too important to take seriously!

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Research, Resources and Links

In our home education journey the adult should be learning as much as the kids!
I like to study, read and play. In no particular order here are somethings you might find interesting.

Back in the day I didn't even know facebook home education groups existed. Instead I joined a sort of home education "union". Education Otherwise was my first introduction to the HE community and while they didn't have much round this way the legal side of stuff was super useful. We are not members any more (it seemed like money I could spend on books) but as a newbie I really did appreciate it.

Dr Stuart Brown:

Stuart Brown's research shows play is not just joyful and energizing — it's deeply involved with human development and intelligence.
I will get round to reading his books at some point but if nothing else if you needed permission to play and have fun with your kids, here it is.
We are social animals and all social animals learn through play. So imaginary play, dress up, play music and board games.

If all that silliness sounds a bit too vulnerable for you

Brene Brown: 
Yes more TED but well worth the watch in my opinion. If you get embarrassed, or anxious a lot, maybe you are too "busy" to play? Too worried what the neighbours might think, you might have a vulnerability issue.

T.A or Transitional Analysis

While not strictly about home education if you are looking to change the dynamic or improve your relationships. I learned about T.A. from my mother when she went back to college while I was in my late teens. It was about that age (16) I started reading psychology/counselling books. From my basic understanding it has a lot to do with our own internal authority (you know that moment when suddenly you hear your mother's voice come right out of your mouth?) that we collect wholesale as a child. This become Parent. Our feelings (good bad and indifferent) become Child. Our thought, inner voice is Adult. It also is about power and control in any conversation. It is perfectly normal for a parent to Parent their child, or for a child to Child at their parent. Sometimes these two aspects become a power struggle leading to conflict.

"Do as I say because I say so"
"I feel too emotional/desire it too strongly to comply."

This struggle stops the adults and children working together. It breaks down communication and it becomes a battle of wills. (We haven't even touched on parent who Child to get their own way...)

Nation Geographic have some great shorts (like TED) too.

Home Education Methods

 I briefly wrote about some (and there are a great many more than I wrote about) home education methods. Doing your research on new (or new to you) home education methods helps you hon in what you do and don't want, allows you to add new ideas and "play" with education.


I wrote the piece in the link after I did a stint of researching motivation. My hubby is on the spectrum (Aspie) and motivation to do is something he struggles with. I want new way to motivate and help and I discovered I need to look at my own first!

Khan Academy

Khan Academy  changed our lives forever!

Hear me out!
In terms of craft stuff, art, ideas and randomly strewing (spewing is placing possible inspiration in your child's way and seeing what they pick up) for yourself I find it really great. From clay sculptures, to dog training or decoupaging her room (yes we did that) Pintest is a great parental motivational tool!
Inspire yourself, and it will be infectious!

I have read more books than I can remember and some of it sticks. The first book about children I read was called Wonder child.
It is quite hippy-dippy (but that's me) and it is also gloriously beautiful.
Speaking of is a wonder for book nerds like me (and children/teens who are also bookish). It has loads of reviews book clubs, forums and the like. You can easily fall down the bookish black-hole of interesting debates and ridiculous arguments (of course Elizabeth loved Darcy that was the whole point of the book!) find, re-discover and connect with folks that love reading.

Local libraries and book sales are great places to research and of course read. I tend to be wary because if I see the words "book sale" (our library was selling off books for 10p once) I know I am going to buy books and look at my groaning bookshelves when I get home. (I don't have too many books I don't have enough bookshelves, it's a thing).

Publisher's outlets

There are two that I know of but always explore! From new books, crafting supplies, and generally interesting weird stuff I'd rather be shopping here than almost anywhere...except...

Charity shops Thrift store.

 From old books, fabric, crafting stuff (you can buy bags of broken jewellery round our way) and the random factor you can find real treasure in these places (even bookshelves sometimes!)

Okay my brain has run out of tea. Hope some of this helps!

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Home Education Methods

There are as many methods of Home Education as there are Home Educated children!

School at Home

You might set up a class room. Follow the curriculum from your area or even buy one and follow it on line. You have work books and text book. The kids sit and read and write. You may even have a "school" room in the house.

This was what I did when I first started Home Educating, it isn't however what we do now!

The Trivium

Sometimes called Classical it starts with The Grammar Stage (6-10 years) where they learn the rules of language, memorise things, spelling, grammar, history, maths.
Then comes Dialectic (9-12 years) with discussion, debate and algebra, determining the why behind things.
The Rhetoric Stage (13-18) does "the systematic rigorous studies" and focusing on persuasive rhetorical arguments and ideas. 


Un-schooling has it's own levels and depths but it is child-led. It is most often not sat at a table and un-schooled children tend to find education outside. They can do project based work, or no written work at all. The children set the pace and depth of the learning so it may be much deeper and at a higher (or lower) "grade". From physics to history and different cultures in an afternoon. This doesn't mean a parent won't organise a trip to a historic place or museum, or come up with ideas, it's that some the child will take what they find interesting and follow that. It can be truly terrifying to give that level of trust to a child but it works well for some people.

 The Charlotte Mason Method

This British educator from the 1800-1900's method is about inspiring with great art and books. It has it's own curriculum but isn't forced on the child as it is presented as a buffet. It involves a lot of nature study, art and classical music.

Project based or Unit Studies

You take an idea (like Vikings) and everything is loosely based around that. There might be tablet weaving, or looking at why Viking boats were so good (by looking at the physics); the history, songs, foods (you can even eat those). You might write a poem like that of a Saga. You might look at their politics and the context of what was happening around the world at the time.

In some ways I do (and have done) all of these at different levels. When we first started I did school at home. Sat at a table and everything. We drifted more into units and projects which became more and more child-led. We would read very advanced (for her age) books and then discuss them and I took her to see art all over the country. We went on lots of nature walks and she studied the names (including the Latin) of the plants around us. We would watch documentaries and fall down interesting Youtube holes. We paint together. Make music together and the strangest thing can spark an interest.
We started learning an easy guitar song we randomly picked from Chordie. My daughter want to know more about the meaning of the song (The Cranberries Zombie) and she did a short burst of learning about the 1916 Irish Rising in Dublin.The whole thing lasted about 3 days but she learned to play the song well and has some context. She might dip back into it at some point, she might be done. We debate and question things we see together and have deep conversations about all kinds of things.
Sometimes I wobble and "make her do maths" because I suck at it and I worry about her not being able to do it. She is doing this well above my level (thank you Khan Academy). She has learned to "give it a go" and has tried all kinds of things from oysters to tae-kwan-do, to bush-craft, to cooking, to dog training, to painting, to Japanese, and blacksmithing, We have even looked at getting her an apprenticeship in blacksmithing.
When asked what she wants to be when she "grows up" she simply says "happy" which for some odd reason really confuses grown-ups!
She often spell checks and helps edit my work and writing, and has a manuscript or two of her own. I have no idea what she will do with her life, but I know she will an interesting and pleasant person to be around!

Home education is too important to be taken seriously.