Monday, 10 July 2017

Writing practice!

I have been looking for some new creative ways to encourage the twins to write.

They are very good with their reading skills and have picked up a lot of the basics of recognising punctuation from the more advanced books they read.
We talk a lot about the structure of books and have learnt about the components of what makes up a book, from the front and back cover formats to the  introduction page and indexes etc and we do a lot of dictionary work to correct spelling or find alternative words and meanings.

Their knowledge is growing but their writing skills I feel are lacking as they are very reluctant to write at the moment, I am sure this is just down to a lack of confidence as the knowledge is there, so I have been looking for some creative ways to encourage them to put pen to paper more often.

I purchased the Diary of a Wimpy Kid book for them to have a look at the format of a journal which I am hoping will encourage them to start to write their own daily journal.

I also came across a website that enables the user to send postcards across the world called postcrossing which entails sending and receiving postcards.

We have also talked about writing to their favourite person and sending them a letter, Olivia picked the Queen and Oliver picked Dr Who.

I also found some writing prompts websites that are very useful when they decide they do not know what to write and have writers block, these are great to also give me ideas on what themes we can use whilst thinking of some creative writing ideas.

We have also played the game where one person says a word and writes it down and then the next person carries on and says a word to follow and then writes it next to the original word and so on and so forth taking turns creating a funny story.

I purchased a great board activity called Sentifix Sam at the Seaside to create sentences, the game helps the child by providing words on Multilinks and there are some great teaching ideas included.

I am looking for more great ideas that will allow the twins to write in an non-pressured way.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Book Of The Week The Magic Faraway Tree

The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton

We decided to read this book after a recommendation by Brian Cox that I found whilst looking for some good reading inspiration.

Joe, Beth and Frannie as they move to a new home next to an Enchanted Wood, follow Moonface, Saucepan Man and Silky the fairy as they discover which new land is at the top of the Faraway Tree each day.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Book Of The Week The Chocolate Dog

This is a lovely little book and not one I would normally have picked, but Olivia insisted so we went with it and it was a nice little read.

It would be a great story to read to someone who was expecting a new brother or sister, this was a nice book with a few adventures.

Lots of navigating feelings around having a new sibling arriving from frustration at having to share a room to feeling left out and abandoned at having a birthday party disrupted, but it also investigates the support and understanding that is given to the little girl from family and friends by the parents giving the girls a last minute holiday before baby arrives and the family friend who arranges the birthday party as mum is hospitalised to give birth to the baby.

This story investigates the confused feelings surrounding becoming the middle child and no longer the youngest or the baby in the family along with growing up and becoming more independent by going away on camp without the family.

This is a nice book that does bring to the fore confusion about where a growing child in a family belongs and that sad feeling of not being wanted and the family efforts to ensure those feelings pass swiftly on.

Book Of The Week Wolven

Wolven by Di Toft

What can I say about this book apart from amazing.

We loved this book and although it has taken a little longer than a week to read we are also reading book 2 and 3 in the series.

With all the hoooowwwwlingly exciting adventures of Nat Carver and Woody in their quest to find out the truth and secrets of the Proteus project while evading shape shifters.

This had the kids gripped and their imaginations running wild. The language used in this book really challenged he kids and we stopped quite a lot to discuss what we had just read and what certain words mean, a great book to grip the kids attention with.

It contains plenty of silly humour and amusing verbal football, this was a fabulous read and one that had the kids getting their pyjamas on quick sharp and settling down asking for more.

Friday, 10 March 2017

Virtual Strangers, Family and adoption

I wasn't even going to publish this post, I was just going to do my usual and write it as my therapy. I usually put down on paper how I feel about something in a bare honest way, it helps me rationalise things, and gives me space to think and change my views on something. 

After all none of our ideas and opinions are fixed, they can change from one day to the next day, talking about things usually puts things in perspective, writing my thoughts and feelings down as if speaking to myself helps me to see what it is I am actually seeing and feeling and thinking. 

I don't usually post those writings but this one I felt was worth posting.

Someone made a comment on my post about using my experiences in life to help others in similar situations, I hadn't quite picked up which part of my past experiences she meant, I automatically thought about the abuse side of the story but it got me to think about the adoption side of the story and one that is very seldom heard.

Children who are removed from their family or common ancestral roots, for whatever reason, to be adopted into another family, to become a part of a common group of people, who are a unit of people, who all have that common ancestry, apart from the adopted child, is a complex issue and the effects of that on the adopted child when they become adults are very seldom recognised or understood.

Identity to anyone is an integral part of each and every one of our lives, who we are makes us, family is an essential ingredient to any identity.

Family as defined means all descendants of a common ancestor meaning the birth family and a second definition is parents and children living as one unit or a group, there are a few definitions of what is family, all this dictates how people learn important life skills and beliefs

The concept of family is often debated and you will often hear people voice the opinion that their friends serve as a better family than anyone who they are related to by blood.

Sociological imagination, defined as the ability to see the societal patterns that influence both the individual and groups of individuals. He believed that in order to understand the experience of a given person or group of people, it was necessary also to consider and understand the social and historical context in which they lived (Mills 1959). 

 A good book to read is  Sociology of Families by David M. Newman this book begins at the level of the individual by examining familiar contemporary issues ¾ topics students are likely to feel strongly about. David Newman and Liz Grauerholz next show students the deeper and more detailed sociological underpinnings of the issues at hand, using the theories and data of social sciences to understand the meaning and broader relevance of these controversies and experiences.

Back to my own experiences, adoption is something that has shaped me and my relationship to others, throughout my life, I have two birth sisters, both older, one I will call 'M', who I get on very well with or as well as can be expected for adopted sisters as far as I am concerned, she may have a different opinion and hate my guts, but as far as I know, we have a good relationship and I love her to bits, but in contrast the other which I will call 'I'...not so much.
The outcome from a strange random abusive posts attack on my facebook page by 'I', exclaiming that the name in use was not my name but her name and why was I using it, I obviously replied ' because it is on my birth certificate so I assume that makes it my name, this resulted in me blocking her from my facebook and in reality ultimately from my life.

Our common bond growing up was broken at a few months old when I was taken for adoption and moved many miles away to live life in another city, I never even knew she existed until I was in my late 20's, I never grew up longing for a sister I never knew because I had no idea she even existed and quite often I wish it could go back to that blissful ignorant state, as it is far less complicated emotionally than knowing you have a sister that you cannot bond with.

Some would think this was a sad situation for two sisters to fight like this and this being the result, but sadly we are only sisters in the definition of descendants of the common ancestor, everything else that makes us family has never existed and never will, that was removed when those adoption papers were signed.

She is a virtual stranger to me and I have only probably met her a handful of times in my entire life, there are no significant life events that have been shared between us, we have never spent a Christmas together, or birthdays, or holidays, or weddings, or births. 

The only event we shared was our mothers death and even then my sister had issues brewing all throughout the event, until we finally got to a point where we got back to getting on with our lives after the funeral, despite not agreeing on mum being on the the Liverpool care pathway (see here what it is apart from being horrific) that my sister put my mum on, I spoke to a nurse about getting her off it, but I was ignored as the sister had legal rights and say.

I handled all that by sitting back and letting the sister deal with it the way she wanted as none of that was of much importance to me, after the fact that my mum had just had her time on this earth shortened by a few people who didn't think her life was worth anything and therefore decided to starve her to death for two weeks. 

It would have been kinder if they treated her like a dog and gave her a lethal injection, moaning over small details of the funeral seemed a pointless exercise at this point, even down to the cremation which the sister insisted on, despite mum wanting a burial with her late husband, I just let it be and let the sister deal with it all, mum was gone, I was just there to say my goodbye's, I just made sure her ashes were scattered on her late husband's grave later on. 

So the only event I have ever shared with her, wasn't exactly  a good one.

I don't even know who her partner or husband is or even if she is married or if she is single.

I know she has two boys, but I know nothing about them, apart from one who I see on facebook, other than their facebook posts I know nothing about them or her, I have no idea if she works or does not, I have no idea who her best friend is or even where she lives other than a general area.

I don't even know her birthday other than she is ten years older than me, she holds no great significance or importance in my life in any way shape or form.

She has never been there in times of sorrow or times of joy, she is just there on the other end of my facebook, perched on the end of my facebook friends list and that is about as much as we have got.

If I email her to make a connection, the email usually goes ignored, resulting in me rarely wasting too much time even bothering writing a quick 'Hi how ya doing to her facebook.

It has become clear over the years that she has some kind of issue with me just by me walking on this Earth, just by breathing, I offend her for some reason. Sadly as she has never bothered to communicate those issues to me, other than chatting bubbles to other people behind my back, rather than to my face, she has just slowly become a person that I have very little in common with, other than the same birth mother, and from what I have experienced of her so far, she is not even someone I would choose to be friends with.

knowing she is my sister, doesn't add any advantage to my life, she is not a person I would call on for any advice or assistance in times of need, she is just there through fate of birth, an estranged sister, a casualty of the adoption concept. I lost all hope and knew long ago that our relationship would never be anything other than estranged sisters, I have come to terms with that and am happy to move forwards feeling happier I will have no more of these strange outburst on my facebook wall from this virtual stranger.

What the abuse and the adoption taught me about life is, that if someone wants to abuse you in any way, then there is nothing to stop you from walking away and cutting that person off, no matter who they are. 

Life is too short to get bogged down in other people's issues, especially issues that they alone can deal with, as most often that issue they are dealing with is about them and not about you.

You can only be responsible for yourself and your own life, making yourself miserable because someone else is, is not a great way to live.

Below are some links for support services for adults of adoption:-

After Adoption
Adoption Services for Adults

For further reading:-

Adoption books for adults


Thursday, 9 March 2017

Diversity in Childrens Books

One thing I hear a lot about is the lack of diverse books for children, I have written previously on the subject of diversity and my previous posts include Honest Books about slavery for children and Racism In Childrens Books.

The issue with diverse books for children is one that has been noticed and there are a few organisations trying to change that. A recent article by Huff Post entitled 'Tackling diversity in children's books 'highlights the National Deaf Children’s Society who work tirelessly to change the situation and the Guardians recent post regarding the All-white Carnegie medal longlist provokes anger from children's authors where some writers have called for a boycott of the awards.

There is a snowballing collection of voices gathering pace out there about the lack of diversity in children's literature, and initiatives are growing in the UK as it is in the USA, were there are grants available by organisation such as We Need Diverse Books who are offering $2500 Internship Grants, awarded to each of eleven diverse publishing and agency interns, this is now running into it's third successful year.

Initiatives in the UK such as the Megaphone based in Birmingham, is a new writer development scheme for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic writers who want to write their first novel for children, there are a number of positive initiatives on the boil, along with the voices that have already spoken we are seeing movement in the right direction, publishers and a number of various organisations are taking calls to action, what we need are those talented writers of diverse literature to step forwards and start applying for some of the grants available such as those on the Whitefox website that provides an index of grants available to writers in UK and Ireland.

In the mean time while we wait for the plethora of talented writers to arrive here is a short list of places that offer a diverse range of children's books.

Letterbox Library - Letterbox Library is committed to celebrating equality and diversity in the very best children's books

Sweet Apple Books - Aims to publish high quality books that reflect the world we live in.

Fire Tree Books - Produce a range of books that feature children who are under-represented in books

Mirrors Windows Doors - Mirrors Windows Doors (MWD) is an online magazine whose aim is to draw attention to the riches of children’s and YA books from across the world that highlight cultural and multi-cultural diversity.

I hope this article has been helpful and you are either inspired to write a diverse child's book and apply for some of those grants available or it has helped you to open up your access to some of those diverse children's books, all be it not enough diversity as of yet, but watch this space, diversity in children's books is on the rise.

Religious Education

For our religious education we have started to visit different places of worship.

We recently visited a Mosque and a Sikh Temple and in the next few weeks we have visits planned to a Buddhist Temple, Synagogue and an Orthodox Church.

The work we will be doing is on a compare and contrast method, we will be looking at the start dates of the religions, the differences in what they believe, customs and traditions etc etc etc.

It is a nice introduction to world religions.

Saturday, 4 March 2017

How I manage work as a home educator.

The things that go in my favour to allow me to work from home is that I am a single parent so I have no partner to worry about and that I need very little sleep, also home educating makes life even easier in terms of time.

My working day can consist of many working hours combined with family living, some of our sourcing days come when we are out grocery shopping, we will nip into the local charity shops and kill two birds with one stone by searching for educational supplies and things for the kids as well as eBay stock.

We recently had a wonderful experience with one of the clients who had a 101 year old neighbour, whilst we were collecting the clients items to list on eBay on consignment, we had the great fortune to do a project with the neighbour and interview him about his life.

Most of my work  is done in an evening, I will list from around 7pm when the kids are starting to get ready for bed, they are at the age where they like to bath alone and sort their own pyjamas out so I get some free time to start my photography, once they are in bed at about 8:30 either reading or sleeping I have free reign until about 11pm to list what I have photographed. Once 11pm hits I can then start on the picking for dispatch. I usually end the day with some general tidying up and rearranging the stock in the stock room at around 1.30-2am so I know what I have to list the next day.

The morning will generally start around 7.30 or sometimes earlier if I have one of those usual insomnia nights and end up getting up around 5-6.30, where I check if there are any messages that need answering and start making sure things are ready for dispatch and printing labels.

The kids usually get up around 9:30 and we have breakfast together and clean up the kitchen for the day. We then make sure the postage is ready and head off to drop off the post, once back from post dropping they start on some Maths or English or whatever it is they have planned academically for the day, we all sit together and whilst I am doing some listing they work on their education for a couple of hours, usually I do very little listing and the kids get my full attention whilst helping them with their academics.

This is a typical day, but we have days where they have clubs to attend twice a week so whilst my planned day is a 14 hour working day 7 days a week with ebay this works well, as some days I do less hours due to other commitments but I never have to feel guilty for loosing a few hours of the 14 hour working day as some days I take a few hours off if they have a home education event to go to or we are meeting with friends, the way I work is very flexible. 

When we go to clients or sourcing it feels more of a social event than work and some days when I am sourcing online I manage to get other household things done or things done with the kids listening to the online auctions and paying attention when the item I want comes up, baking cake with the kids and listening to auctions is an interesting task.

My most intense time during the month is when I do the accounts for the clients at the end of the month, for three days I spend working on my Maine Bookkeeping clients accounts doing payroll and book keeping and then work on the Maine Trading Consignment accounts where I have to split the invoice and work out commissions and charges, these are time sensitive and require concentration and accuracy. Nothing can get in the way of those days, day trips and friend visits are avoided. Those are the only days that cannot be interrupted by outside events.

eBay has become more of a part of life, constantly sourcing and learning about business.

It works great for me because for both the book keeping clients and the eBay clients pick ups the kids come with me and working from home allows me to fit what I do during the day and night around the kids needs all whilst avoiding huge childcare bills.

Doing eBay is very social, you are not stuck behind a computer screen all day, the collections of stock from suppliers or customers or charity shops means a lot of time is spent socialising with people, there is always new people to meet and stories to hear and people to learn from, so it may seem to some as a very isolated kind of business to run but in fact is the very opposite.

Ideally I could do with a second pair of hands to do more listing as listing is the most essential part, without listing nothing gets sold and no money is made.

That should be one of my priorities this year, to get a second pair of hands to do some listing for a couple of hours each week.

I have started an ebay blog all about my ebay escapades so why not pop along there and see if you can get some handy tips on ebaying, ask questions and find out how you could fit an eBay business into your life to raise some extra cash.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Olympian Nicola White and Hockey .

Olivia was very excited to meet Nicloa White at her hockey practice.

Olivia has always been a fan of hockey and started to play with our local team last year.

This week the team had a visit from Nicola White the Olympian Hockey player.

Olivia managed to get her picture in the paper and they managed to get a fantastic shot of Olivia standing nearby Nicola White as she watched on giving the girls some Hockey advice.

The team had a fantastic write up in the local paper too which you can find by clicking on the picture below.

Monday, 13 February 2017

History meets Recycling

I am loving our new focus on history. The kids love history and it is constantly on our agenda, I have started to get them to look at history in a different way or more how it is connected to how we live today and how people will live in the future.

We had a great discussion whilst in the bath, about how we know about history and how many things we have looked at are the same in history but have changed, for example our theme for the past few years has been focusing on how people live, so we looked at how fashions have changed, ho toys have changed and how people's houses have changed and in addition what, in those houses have changed like lighting for instance from candles to bulbs.

We went back to some of the things we have seen and learnt about such as the nomads caves we went to look at and the Castles we have been too along with the museums we have attended. 

We talked about the theme of things changing and  I asked what was the common theme throughout the changes, and asked them to think about why those changes occurred.

We came up with the answer that things changed so that people's lives were made better, better housing, better ways to cook and our favourite example was how shampoo is bottled, instead of people walking from the shops with shampoo dripping through their fingers someone came up with a way to bottle shampoo to carry it away easily making it easy to transport shampoo.

We then discussed how these good changes can cause problems or discourse, for example although people have come up with ways to package things and make it easy for us with canned and packaged foods instead of having to go to a field for our food to harvest it ourselves, this in itself causes issues such as disposal of all that packaging.

I got them to think about it by using the example of the shampoo bottle and telling them that there are 45 million people in our country so imagine 45 million people each having one shampoo bottle, were does that go?. how big that mound of empty shampoo bottles would be, so people have had to come up with ways to recycle things. Then I asked them to think about each person in the world having one shampoo bottle each and how big that mound of shampoo bottles would be.

We looked at the bottom of the shampoo bottle and talked about the recycling sign on the bottom of the bottle.

We talked about mummies business and how it is based on recycling, by mummy selling items that people no longer need, they avoid going to landfill and lengthening their life by selling them to people that wanted to use them therefore helping to keep the environment slightly better off.

So we now have two trips planned from this conversation, one to a recycling centre, although they are aware of recycling centres anyway as we go to the local tip, a visit to a working demonstrable recycling centre will be excellent and  I do know of a couple of places that do educational visits which centre on non-recyclable waste that I can arrange a visit for.

When we were talking about fashion changing we realised that we have never attended a fashion museum, showing changes in fashion throughout the centuries, so that will be our second visit to plan, a fashion museum.

I set them a project to do in their own time over the coming months, I challenged them to come up with something made entirely out of recycled materials, this can be anything that is usable or decorative.

But the rules are they have to plan it first with diagrams and lists of materials needed. Using their own imagination or searching You Tube for websites for ideas.

Sunday, 5 February 2017

What does a 'full time' education actually mean?

The words 'must receive a full time education' is often banded about so easily with no thought into what it actually means.

The common meaning of a full time education in UK means 190 days in a state school institute commonly referred to as 12 hours per week per school term time. (much less for independent schools)

That equates to 5 days a week approximately 6 hours a day (9-3) spread over 190 prescribed days broken down into 6 week chunks.

How much education takes place in this time is debatable and has been at the core of many a discussion over the web with people pointing out that in those 6 hours, it is not actually all spent learning which the guidance of 12 hours per week term time takes into account.

There are movements between classrooms, registers, assemblies, class meetings, settling down classes before work begins, lunch and break times and of course teacher training days, strikes and days out.

So adjusting fairly and not debating the 12 hours a week term time 'full time' education guidance, which equates to 38 weeks and 456 hours per year, learning.

This works out for a home educator being on par with schools, at 1 hour per day, learning over 365 days of the year.

Upping the hours using the debate by removing 1 hour for lunch, and half hour for breaks and half hour for other eventualities mentioned above and reducing learning time to 4 hours per school day, broken down over a full school year of 190 days, this works out at approximately 760 hours of learning per year.

For a home educator being on par with schools using the debate, this would work out at approximately 2 hours per day of learning spread over a full year.

For many home educators this of course is absurd and many home educators spend an awful lot more time, each and every day, educating their kids. Some utilise this advantage and follow the curriculum for specific subjects and the rest of the time the kids learn what they want to learn in their own way and on their own terms, for some home educators, life 'is' learning and they learn all the time.

Realistically most of what the kids in the school system learn is learnt 'outside' the school walls (or security gates in most instances). For some within those school walls this 12 hours never transpires due to class disruption by not so engaged students.

For a more detailed breakdown and far more realistic than I have been, check out this 'time is precious' blog post, you will be even more enlightened...

Self Employment and the Home Educator

One question that comes up time and time again is how do home educators afford to home educate, in fact, many who do wish to become home educators, end up giving up the dream to home educate and end up leaving their very unhappy child in the mainstream system full of guilt and anger at the system damaging their child, all due to not being able to find a way to mix work and home educating.

In this time of tight control by the Government of trying to make sure people are lifted out of poverty with sanctions thrown out left, right and centre, with no thought for the family unit mental health or individual situation prescribed by their one size fits all approach.
If you are not working then you will be stung with their arbitrary regime of punishing you if you are not looking for, or in any work, the single parent is no exception to the rule and are subject to sanctions pushing you further into poverty if you do not comply.

Forget the worry of childcare and inadequate schooling and being forced to leave your child with a stranger in a world full of abusers and other daily struggles of doing a two person's job by yourself as a single parent, none of that matters, what does matter is that you are earning money for the economy to put into someone else's pocket with forced spending in the way of childcare, petrol or travel money and work uniforms, so that you end up skint anyway, but the Government can at least make sure your inadequate parenting skills are away from your child and the child is with a more competent government surrogate parent, aka school, that is until it all goes wrong and you get the blame anyway, particularly when the child fails their SATS and the child is stressed and depressed due to the amount of useless work the surrogate parent, has put on the child, to prove the surrogate is spending the money they are given by government wisely.....but that is a different story for another time.

Many home educating parents live in a two parent household, they juggle life between them, working to maintain the lifestyle and caring for the kids and overseeing the child's education, this is often together or on shifts, some are lucky to have helpful families and friends who support and facilitate in the children's education, some are doing the job alone.

I am one of those doing the job alone, and many home educating parents employment comes in the form of self employment.

There are lots of enterprising people out there who manage to get by using their imagination and a lot of hard work, mostly unsupported by this government.. There are a lot of people who survive on the little they earn through self employment, all be it supported by working Tax Credits, but no support to help them maintain and grow their small business, this is mainly due to the fact they are classed as lifestyle business and not a start-up or growth business, they are not taken seriously and do not garner the same support.

Which I find ironic and if you talk to many of those lifestyle business they will tell you their ambitions of growing their business and many actually do, and in adition they are learning, they do their accounts, advertising, sales, product research and development and they are paying the bills they need to pay to maintain their preferred lifestyle, they are building on their expertise to become rounded business people and more employable in the future, they are doing something for their hard earned working tax credits and small earning.

They lead simple life's, spending on necessities and keeping their meagre business afloat to enable them to keep home educating. so why then do the Government punish these people by removing their working tax credits or more increasingly denying universal credits due to them not earning enough. 

Home educating single parents are certainly working hard enough, so why force them to go onto Jobseekers to sit for 40 hours a week and look for a job they have no interest in and probably something that is brain dead work that will sap the life out of them.

Self-employment for a home educator is not an easy feat but is kept up with gusto to do what is right for their child and families to give them all a better future.

Sure there are easy ways, shove the kid in school and only have a limited input into their child's education and welfare, but some of us think that the yearly foreign holiday and posh car is not worth the sacrifice, so a simple financial life and lots of juggling financial choices is an alternative viable choice to make for many of us.

One thing this Government and a lot of people in the public sphere do is underestimate the dynamic spirit of the single parent.

Single parents have had a bad wrap for a long time, instead of being lauded for getting through a difficult time juggling childcare, family and everyday life, alone, they are subject to harsh criticism which has in the past attracted comments like lazy, bad for kids, irresponsible, not fit for the job, a scourge on society, that again is subject to another story, but these inspirational single parents work hard, they work very hard, far from being lazy and a scourge, they are educating the next generation encouraging a life long learner and in comparison to schools are doing a very good job.

The number of kids suffering depression and stress caused by the school system is increasing in rapid numbers, more test pressures put on teachers, and more and more of the human element seems to be missing from the educational institution, causing a generation of kids to be lost, more pressure but still more failure is screaming into your face that something is not working. But no, they continue on their course to pile on the pressure and even worse results.

Our local school demonstrated their failure by a whole year failing to gain even a grade c read (here), Oldham itself has been nominated the acclaimed title of being the third worst place in the country for failing schools (read here).

For those taking a stand and want better and different for their kids, these people should be supported and encouraged instead of demonised and punished.

Self employed home educators are dynamic and they are doing something about the dire education situation and taking matters into their own hands, because this Government is clearly incapable of sorting out the dire educational situation, other than further monetising it to earn as much profit out of it as possible, while ignoring the collateral damage being done to the children they are supposed to be educating.

The law states 'children must be educated in school or otherwise' and as long as parents are prepared to take the education into their own hands, this should be supported, and those self employed people working hard to ensure their kids get the education they deserve, should not be punished and penalised for picking up the slack on a failing education system.

The irony is that each school place costs the government on average for all authorities across England is £4,550.54 per-pupil, so those that are self employed and home educating are already saving the government this amount of money, in my case x2 as home educating is not funded by the government in any way, educational supplies and exams are funded solely by the home educating family.

Looking at a way to re-distribute that money that is saved by Governments though parents home educating rather than punishing self employed home educators,  may be a better way to go than punishments of sanctions and forced brain dead employment..

Saturday, 4 February 2017

Centre for Personalised Education - Alternative Educational Futures LEX Conference
Centre for Personalised Education are holding an - Alternative Educational Futures LEX Conference in March.

There are some great speakers booked and although I do not usually attend events like this, I may actually go to this one.

I love home education, I love the workings of home education, so it is always good to learn more about alternative education.

I  have often found it hard to understand why home education gets attacked so negatively,  so often, other than the fact that people do not like individualism in this country. Everything has to be controlled, anything that is not understood is dismissed as being odd or weird or not right and has to be guided by a higher power, those are the usual judgements of the ignorant who actually have no clue what it is all about but just like to judge anyway.

Personalised education does not make mass education look any worse than it is, personalised education is not an attack on main stream education, it is just a different alternative way of doing it.

I often laugh when I see negative comments coming from the masses regarding the inferiority of home education with socialisation and the quality of education being the most talked about subject when it come to home education, rarely is it the content of the education being discussed.

Most of these people who are negatively commenting on something they know nothing about have terrible writing skills (worse than mine) that  they learnt in school, the majority of them have jobs that they need no exams to be able to carry out, if in work at all, after all it is not the home educating community that are having campaigns to befriend people due to loneliness, they already befriend people throughout their varied interesting daily lives whilst home educating, instead of being confined to four walls being forced to mix with the segregated same age and ability groups, day in and day out, all whilst juggling innovative business ideas to keep them employed.

I often wonder why conferences like these are not more packed out by these outspoken vocal opponents of alternative education to find out more about it.

'The Centre for Personalised Education – Personalised Education Now seeks to promote educational ‘alternatives for everybody, all of the time’ through a diverse, funded Personalised Educational Landscape'.

This I am surprised is not already taken up more by our Government instead of them attacking it, being in a progressive society includes moving education forwards to a new level and coming up with great new ways to educate the masses. The level of unemployment and lack of a innovative workforce which industry leaders are screaming out about, with more and more people turning away from mass education in this country, should be a good indicator that the current 'mass eduction for all' is failing, it is failing to inspire and excite a huge group of the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs.

Even Mark Zuckerberg is a great advocate of personalised learning and Sal Khan the creator of Khan Academy is a great advocates and both have demonstrated perfectly what the power of personalised learning can do.

Personalised learning to me, is something to be excited about, and I am all for those trying to get personalised learning initiatives funded by our Government and Industry, and let it be seen for what it is, not something to fear and regulate the death out of, but something to support and help innovate and become more accessible for our future generations..

To find out more about this years Centre for personalised education Conference and to book a place click on the eventbrite link below.

Friday, 3 February 2017

Home Education In The news again..

Home education is in the news again and yet again more negativity...

This time the negativity is directed at the poor woman who dared to speak about how she chooses to educate her own children... Take note that I said 'chooses' to educate her own children...

It highlights everything I hate about this growing home education scene, 'the school gates syndrome' is arriving in force at the gates of home education.

This poor woman attacked by the vast majority of home educators who are more concerned about how 'she makes them look bad' because the media inaccurately portrayed how she 'chooses to do it  a different way than they do', than the fact that they are missing the point of the fundamental right of home education, it is her 'personal choice' in how she chooses to home educate, and as long as she is educating them, what is their problem, this is under attack and therefore their own choice is also under attack, as the collective fundamental freedom of choice to home educators is to educate in a way they see fit. Leading theses vocal home educators to fall right into the very trap they are being led into of more regulation, using 'divide and conquer'.

Unfortunately what seems to have occurred is some in the community have strangely interpreted the interview she gave, as if she was talking about everyone, like how she educates is how everyone else home educates, I find that quite disturbing and it feels like some kind of  gas lighting has gripped the home ed community and started to spread, it's strange, very strange.I am really not sure how the interview can be interpreted into 'this is how everyone home educates', I have never found the part where she said she is talking for everyone, I only find the parts where she is talking about herself and her own family.

What should be under attack is the disgusting way the media portrayed the family and more than likely misled the family on what the topic was and how it was going to be used. The family also have a maintained blog that indicates that the portrayed story of 'a terrible mother leaving her kids in front of a computer all day' by using the title of 'Mum educates the kids by allowing them to play video games 7 hours a day'... is clearly exaggerated and twisted by the media to fit their narrative, and whatever goal they are trying to achieve in shaping government policy.

The home ed community as a whole for the majority of time can be a great support in times of need of information and advice and support of one form or another, home education has been turned around from being a lonely and isolated experience to one of a massive community of like minded individuals up and down the country, so it is very sad to see a whole community turning on one person for her choices for her family, including going to the media.

The reason why I home educate is because I can do it  in a way that suits 'my children' and tailor it to suit us as a family unit, with no one prescribing to me how I home educate, that includes other home educators and the LEA, home educating is or once was a personal choice and a decision not taken lightly and not just a fashion statement and a way to avoid following school rules.

We choose and prescribe our days and timetables and social events tailored to our preference, nothing forced and nothing elaborate unless that is what we want.  Increasingly I have watched paranoid home educators trying to emulate school, cramming in as many school like home education events as possible to avoid the critical glare of anyone insinuating their children do not 'socialise' and the education they are receiving is inferior to 'school'. That is their choice and no-one has a right to criticise them for it, just do what you feel is right for you and your family.

Of course home ed events are far from few and far between these days in parts of the country, the socialisation question falls flat on it's face before it even begins, so numerous are social events for home educators in fact that a lot of home education families never spend any time at home, they have events to attend every day of the week and that includes choosing between the many options of which event they attend that day, with rushed and stressed schedules they must maintain to keep up appearances and reams and reams of photo evidence that they are doing something, therefore proving everyone wrong.

Some criticise the fact that she should have known that media would twist it and lie, 'so what' I say, the way the home ed community have turned on her and more disturbingly her children, is a disgrace and is more of an embarrassment to home educators as a collective than the interview and ensuing negativity the family have received.

I have kept at arms length from the home education community as I have seen how 'nasty' it can become and I have been a victim myself, I learnt very early on, to stay away and concentrate on what I am here to do, which is home educate my children without the gaze and opinionated views on what we should and should not be doing at any one prescribed time. Our education is a very private choice, some of which we share and some we keep to ourselves, we do it our way, in our time, and on our own terms.

Socialisation is a massive part of home education whether you are 'in' with a home ed community or not, my twins go to organised regular groups outside of home education and they have home educated friends we keep in touch with and have meet ups with. Their online life is yet to arrive, but it will, in time, when they get old enough for an online life, I believe an online life is as important as an offline one and much can be gained.

We do not feel compelled to be 'in' with other home educators, we are just living life and whatever comes around, comes around, being home educated does not define us or mean we can only attend home ed events, I have work and my clients have kids that the twins socialise with, we have family with kids of different ages, we have friends with kids of different ages, we have regular day to day things where they meet other kids. We go to home ed events if it is suitable for us in what we are learning at the time or it is affordable or there are people we would like to see or it does not conflict with other things we are doing.

My heart goes out to this woman and I am ashamed how the home ed community has turned so harshly on her, if there is any demonstration of public bullying, this is one of those demonstrations. One of the very things I turned my back on school for, although this demonstration also debunks the theory that kids that do not go to school, will not learn to deal with bullying, as in this case you can clearly see despite avoiding school, vile harsh bullying can still occur.

Appeasing Grammar Police....

Writing anything down has always been something that gives me great chills.

I am very aware of my very poor grammar skills in my written work, this has affected me in different ways, recently I have failed to carry through with a Police complaint due to not being able to put down on paper what I needed to say, I did shout for help with the letter but none was forthcoming, so it resulted in  such an important thing for me being forgotten and left in the doldrums.

This made me realise how poor grammar can affect life in ways unexpected, grammar is important.

The twins do grammar work and have done so from an early age, this is important for them to get to grips with. This is a good example of how I can learn alongside the kids while home educating and brush up on my own skills and fix some of the poor education I received through a school.

My writing never improves, bad habits die hard, despite trying to do a lot of work on my grammar skills, it seems to go in one ear and out of the other, when I look back on posts on this blog I generally always think 'what on earth did I write there'. I recently read a post about bad grammar on Blog Clarity, this is a great article and highlights the importance of proof reading blog posts.

Sentence planning is something I seem to struggle with, I noticed this whilst doing my degree, in fact that was one very big reason I never completed my degree, the contents were easy to understand, writing it down on paper, in my own words was another matter.

I had a facebook friend who used to help me with my Uni work, (thanks DH), she would go through my work and be critical, her English Lit and Language skills are excellent, she knows how to use her words, she has studied and has qualifications in the art of English and has exemplary skills in the art of English. I envy her... She would make a great writer.

It is so frustrating but the block is there and all I can do is keep plodding on and hope the twins are much better at it than I ever will be, and not give up writing for fear of others critical and often unkind rather than helpful remarks.

There are a few weblinks that I often turn to for a refresher and some tips, and to help the twins, I just have the job of getting the info to sink in, here are some of those weblinks:-

I have been advised in the past to do a technical writing course, which should help, some of the courses I have found are here, not all are free.

There are literally hundreds of English Grammar sites, some free to use, all I have to do is learn it and get it to sink in... that is the hard part!...

Shameless Plug For Maplin

I have to give this plug for Maplins, what a fab company to deal with.

I have had my eye on one of their Metal Detectors for a while since we decided to take up metal detecting whilst we were staying by the beach, the particular detector I had my eye on was the standard metal detector with analogue display, this has great reviews I found on the web and looks like a great starter metal detector for the twins and I to get to grips with, easy to use, lightweight and has a good depth search coil.

I have done a lot of research on metal detectors and they come in at crazy prices mostly at the £100+ mark, so I thought this looked good for the price as a starter model, the price I have seen on this model was £49.99 in the Maplin Sale or £69.99 at the usual price.

To my dismay when I went to buy it after I managed to scrape the cash together, the sale had ended, and I had missed out on the sale price, feeling a bit upset as I knew that we would now have to wait even longer for a metal detector until I scraped some more money together, sad when we had our hearts set on getting started and I was banking on this to be a distraction to the horrors we are going through right now.

I was more annoyed as their sale end date that I saw was 14/02/2017 or so I thought, I may have seen it wrong but that is what was advertised on the facebook page, but the end date was actually the 31st January 2017.

Not being one to normally complain, unusually I did complain, this was mainly due to a bad week and hearing some quite bad news on an ongoing situation in our lives. I felt pretty upset and in a weak moment thought to myself, I didn't need the disappointment and feeling like I had promised the twins something that I could now not deliver on, after we had been looking forwards to a bit of simple fun all week.

I wrote them a short message on their facebook page and pointed out that I wished they had made it more clear when their sale ended as we had missed out on the metal detector.

To my surprise they quickly wrote back asking which item number it was and then proceeded to offer it at the sale price, I was so happy. Maplins were quick to phone me and sort out collecting the detector.

None of which I expected, I just wanted to moan and share my disappointment at me missing the sale.

I have to say they had first class customer service and they really do not know how much that gesture meant to us. The smile it put on my face and the kids was priceless, after the terrible time we have been having that small thing made a massive difference in our lives and will now go a long way to making the next few weeks bearable and put a few adventures and smiles on our faces.

Thank you Maplin