I finally took the plunge, after months of consideration, and have deregistered my youngest two children from school. In fact it was a scarily easy process that I literally copied and pasted some words into a letter and handed into the Head teacher. This is what our first week looked like.
Monday Home Education Day 1
The boys keen to learn did some stuff first thing. To be honest a week has flown by and I couldn’t tell you what it was. I have tried to take photos to remember, and have piles of work everywhere but if I am honest we tend to remember the fun bits (and well that may seem like no learning has taken place!). PLUS I am aware that I don’t have to “teach” my children a set curriculum and that a period of “unschooling” may need to take place. I bought them both writing books so that they could practice their writing. In these they can write about whatever they like, using whichever materials to write with they look (but we already know that sharpies go right through!). We had recently had a “Yes Day” so they wrote about that. Then we did the school run one last time (arriving before even the gates opened!). This was so the boys could tell their friends and hand in the letter.When we came back home they did some work on the computers. The youngest logged into his Explore Learning account and did some time work and the older of the two tried Planet BOFA out to see if it was worth purchasing. Next, as it was nice weather, we tidied up the garden a bit and the boys tried to work our hose! Before snuggling down to read Harry Potter. Monday afternoons some local Home Educators meet at an indoor play area so we decided to join them. As they meet at lunchtime we decided to have a cheeky McDonalds first – where again the boys used the iPads. It then turned out that the indoor play area had been double booked so we had to wait a few hours. This wasn’t a problem though as another lady and her son had also turned up early and so we all went to the park first. When we got back the boys played a bit of Fortnite, which is not normally allowed on a Monday. The youngest went to swimming, there was dinner etc in there somewhere and they had a bath before once again snuggling down and us reading together.
After just this first day I was even more convinced that it was the right for the children, especially my youngest. I wrote about how I felt Home Education met his Sensory Needs and actually as we went through the week I noticed more and more about how much pressure has been put on him. Of course I have also been working on getting them to drink more water!
Tuesday Home Education Day 2
This was the day I really put pressure on myself that they must be “learning” more. I started with a game from Green Board Games (The BrainBox Science Pack Years 3 to 6) which has support for the whole science curriculum up to age 11. This was great fun as the boys selected a card and had 30 seconds to memorise the information before being asked a question. Not all of the answers were obvious so we had to Google but there was definitely lots of learning.
Then they need to get that excess energy burnt so they went on the trampoline and we all rode our bikes to see their Great Nan. At her house they enjoyed some puzzle books and this all before lunch! We talked about a lot of things – including diets but I didn’t feel I had slotted in any Maths and English (but DO remember that they don’t HAVE to AND that my children go to Maths and English Tuition at Explore Learning). I admit this was my oh my goodness what have I done AND it’s only day two! I was SO exhausted with it all! So when after lunch they asked if they could chill out and watch a film (as bad as it made me feel because I felt I should be “educating” them) I said Yes! Note that I have spoken to a few children this week in my youngest’s year and they’ve told me that they watched How to Train your Dragon this week!
We had to pick up the teen from school to get him to the Orthodontist, as it is a 16 mile drive to the school we left early and the boys played in the park. I love how in the waiting room the youngest picked up a book and started reading – he’s not really wanted to whilst at school but they HAVE to read at least four times a week (which also meant the older one JUST read four times a week). Again dinner was somehow fitted into our busy day as there was swimming lessons and I gently returned to running club. I was in bed shortly after they were (at around 8:30pm) but they were still up at the crack of dawn!
Wednesday Home Education Day 3
Every day the youngest has a set of spellings to learn and practice writing and the older one has a word of the day (he has to find the meaning, write a sentence and find synonyms and antonyms for it). I can’t really remember what else they did this AM but they were up early and eager to learn! Again, as with their writing books, there are plenty of things around the house to enable their learning so they can independently get on with things, and come to me for help when required. By 9 am we had taken my car to the Body Shop to be repaired and we walked to the local library (just over 2 miles away). On the way we identified flowers and had an in-depth talk about ladybirds or ladybugs (depending on which child you talk to. Google said either is right!).
The session at the library was really good and someone else was taking over their learning. The topic was Japan and they had to guess this from the clues before getting on with Japanese crafts such as Origami and how to do Manga drawing. The library were fantastic – not only helpful but very patient. It is during this session that I noticed how much the children all talked to each other (although there was some boyish silliness). I asked my son how much he got to talk to others when at school and he said not a lot. During class time they had to quietly get on with it, and break times they just played tag really. I have asked him several times if he is happy over the course of the week because of course the social side is really important. Despite the fact that generally he has been mixing with younger children this week (apart from one or two children his age) it really hasn’t mattered.
Whilst in town we got some Maths and English books – so I can at least see what they are meant to know and are able to help them with what they can’t. I got them both for the year group above, as thought it pointless getting this year’s with only a term to go. The older one just got on with working through his but the younger one was all burnt out for one day. I find him some relaxing colour by numbers in German (as we are planning a trip there next month) before we went to collect a courtesy car and then went to their Explore Learning sessions.
Thursday Home Education Day 4
By this point we realise that it is sunny and that the boys just don’t have the clothes for it – so off to the shops we went to buy clothes. I had also started to get a handle on the whole letting go of 9-3 of education thing – mainly because my boys are keen to learn before 9. They were working on things before their dad left for work and he was surprised. But honestly by 9 they are ready to switch off. Before they would have just watched television at that time, or sometimes we went to the park before school. Then we meet up at the park with another home educator who has boys their age (and around their ages). We also took “work” with us and when the others had gone they just did independent learning in the sun (again with me on hand if they were stuck). The younger one did the “Starter tests” in his book which covers everything in Maths and English he should have learnt so far. He was finding a lot of it too hard and I told him just to do the bits he could, so that I could identify where I needed to help him. The older one really got into the swing of home education and kicked off his shoes and read his book on the skate park. We even had a brief visit to see their Nan. Then it was another Explore Learning session.
Friday Day 5 of Home Education
The boys woke up stupidly early as usual and so I got them working on Maths and English, before they moved on to Origami. We had taken out a book from the library on Wednesday but they ended up watching RedTedArt on YouTube.
They then watched ChloeMeJustMe because they may meet her (and then because they thought she was funny – plus I think it helped that she had similar things to them). Then we went to another home education meet but I ended up going to the wrong play area, paying for 14 hours of parking so walking to find the actual place (orienteering skills!). The boys then spent the day playing with other children. They did role play stories and it was a lovely place, but I do think the children were a bit too young for mine and there is so much to do on a Friday. I did decide to let them not do athletics again because I think exercise is something they are definitely getting enough of! On the walk back to the car there was so much to read around and so many questions (like what is mooring). You know some things they asked I had to Google and we learnt together – so I don’t think anyone need worry that they aren’t clever enough to home educate.
The Home Education Weekend
I am not sure whether the weekend counts as home education days but it was the youngest’s birthday and super busy with all you can eat breakfast, bowling and friends around to play computer games. Sunday saw the older one taking a mock 11+ exam which I hoped would show up areas I need to help him; but I won’t know until I get the results as he says it was all easy. I have bought a Planet BOFA subscription so he has something else to work on. He then went to a friend’s party and I took the youngest to my friends’ birthday party. When they had gone to bed I looked at what work they have done so far and was surprised at how much the youngest did not know in the starter tests. Particularly in Maths where I have been told he is doing well and caught up with his peers. I have a parents evening with Explore Learning in a few weeks so think I will wait until then before buying him any more materials.
I am not sure which days it happened on but we got a letter from the school acknowledging our letter and wishing them the best, and then we got one from the LEA stating the legal position (correctly) on Education Otherwise and that someone would call me to see if I wanted a visit. I have joined LOTS of Facebook groups and there’s one with discounted subscriptions so that will be good. In the meantime I am printing things from TES where I can see holes in his knowledge. This has certainly seen me needing to order more paper and there’s a great offer at Office Stationery (linked). I have also ordered some flash cards – as I think they are great for bite-sized bits of information when out and about (okay this idea I got from another home educator!).
And so week 2 begins. Typically I have been more prepared with work when they ask for it but they seem to have settled into it much better. Both have been reading all morning and are now watching a film. This afternoon we are of course meeting with the other home educators and there’s a swimming lesson. I am worried I am not educating them enough but I am also seeing that I think they would learn more with less pressure. I would love to know your thoughts please.
You can also follow our journey on Instagram #PinkoddysHomeEdJourney
Home educators do not receive any funding to help their children therefore you will note that this is a commissioned piece.