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WELCOME TO MY NOTEBOOK - it’s nice that you came!

DSC_0622 The notes in it are mostly about mumhood, parenting, home education, children’s learning in general, best of all family. And for light relief it’s seasoned with the odd wander outdoors!

Please do flick through the pages and hopefully you’ll find something to inspire.

Here’s what you’ll find:

BLOG – this is my BLOG; ideas for PARENTING, MUMS, HOME EDUCATION, FAMILY LIFE and general all round inspiration. Read it for regular support, laughs, lifts and rambles away from it all.

WHO AM I? - a little bit about me and contact details.

My books: MUMHOOD how to handle it why it matters - ideas, guidance and support especially for mums. A FUNNY KIND OF EDUCATION - the story of our home educating life. LEARNING WITHOUT SCHOOL - a guide for parents wanting to home educate.

A LETTER JUST FOR MUMS – just some words of respect and support!

THE MOST VALUABLE THING YOU WILL EVER DO - read it and see what it is!

A LETTER TO PARENTS ABOUT EDUCATION - here I have posted a letter to parents everywhere.

AN EDUCATIONAL PHILOSOPHY – ideas to help you develop your own.

ABOUT HOME EDUCATION - a page of information about home education.

CUTTINGS - on this page you’ll find links to some of my writing in other places and coverage in newspapers etc.

HOME EDUCATION BLOGS AND INTERESTING WEBSITES - some other websites that might inspire you.

STORIES FROM A HOMESCHOOL LIFE - stories from our home educating days with ideas, tips and support.

Enjoy, and please – if you find something you like, let me know. I love to hear.

Thanks for coming!

61 Comments

61 thoughts on “HOME

  1. Hello! I’ve just watched your video on you tube promoting your book ‘A funny kind of education’, I followed the link that was on your daughters video. I’ve just ordered your book, I so wish you did an audio book though! I thoroughly enjoyed listening to you read – such a wonderful reading voice you have!
    Really looking forward to working my way through both your book and this website. Many thanks x

    • Thank you so much Jo for your lovely comment! It was quite uplifting to read especially as I was just toying with the idea of redoing the reading because it seemed so static and dull…although we can never see ourselves objectively can we. So you’ve reassured me! Thank you!

      • Goodness gracious its neither static or dull! It’s what made me buy the book! It arrived yesterday and I am thoroughly enjoying reading it……. Not sure whether ill be encouraging the kids to dissect and investigate an owl pellet but you never know I may just brave it one day :-)

      • Haha! Thank you Jo – so lovely you took the time to tell me. And you should definitely go for the owl pellet if you find one (they are not poo you realise!) We had another session this last week end when she was home from Uni – their fascination with learning never ends! We found an amazing array of tiny bones! That’s what’s she’s doing in the picture on the post of 24/3 :) I couldn’t help interfering!

  2. Dear Ross, I have just found your lovely blog. There isn’t anything written much on the net about families who’ve suffered so much through prolonged fighting with school and the LEA that the children seem put off learning when they are (for us the second time) home educating. My older son (17) is struggling now with college because he still has serious sleeping problems and believes what he was told at school to frighten him into conforming – that having failed to sit or pass the 12 GCSEs he was entered for but was too anxious to cope with he will never be a success in life. My younger son is very autonomous and very anti school subjects. Both of them are very bright and work hard administering websites relating to their hobbies, older one does a lot of sci fi creative writing. Both may have aspergers, younger has a diagnosis, and are very literal and stubborn hence any pressure brought to bear to study or do homework has been counter productive which caused much of the problems at school and at home. They are both prone to be angry with me still because I tried so hard to get the support they needed including at a state funded home ed group with top up lessons for GCSE s which we just couldn’t make work for us and the leaders were furious with us adding to the bad feelings we already coping with having pulled our son out of upper school when we did. (This group is the default for home educators in the town where we live). I am still finding it difficult to cope with the guilt and worry about my boys though they are much happier now being self directed than they were especially the younger one. I know our story is more about older teens as my younger son is 15 but wondered if anyone else was experiencing what seems to be a very slow and sometimes painful recovery and can give us hope that eventually we will be able to put some really terrible memories behind us. Thank you.

    • Hi Stella, thanks for leaving your story. I’m so sorry to hear of your hardships – I think your story illustrates just how damaging school can be when not working! I have heard of people being able to turn it round, and I’m sure your youngsters will recover. I think it’s shocking that the young people are told this about exams – totally untrue! I’m sure your son will find his own way forward and a good life is not dependent on GCSEs, but on finding the right path for you! I think allowing them to be self directed and giving them the time they may need to find it will help. All the best.

  3. Hi Ross,
    I found your blog after talking to a gentleman at AQA. So nice to read this. We are a german scottish family living in southern Ireland and our kids are 11, 13,15 and 17. The two older ones are preparing for their AS for next year. I am really overwelmed about all the different testing options. At the moment we re over cambridge with Wolsey Hall but the subjects will be History, classical civilasationa and german for AS. Do you have any advise you could give me reagrding how to proceed? I am not sure but some people say 2 A-levels are enough others say 8 and then others say, no problem to get into uni over an interview. It s kind of a hard thing when you send for advice out there…….As you have went through it, I thought I would ask you.
    Thanks for your time
    Nicola Smyth
    parentingwithfun.com

    • Hi Nicola, thanks so much for dropping by and leaving your comment! the advice out there is certainly confusing. I can only answer for the UK but it might be a help to start with looking at a prospective Uni course that your young people might want to do and see what the requirements are. For most courses there is a points system, points being built up with various qualifications ranging from A Levels to BTECs and others. It isn’t always the case that the more A Levels you have the more likely you are to gain Uni places, Tutors like to see a rounded character who has done other things too! There are also Access courses offered by some FE colleges which help towards Uni entrance. If your youngsters are passionate about Uni, then they’ll no doubt have a course in mind, but Uni isn’t necessarily the only way forward and with the enormous fees many are deciding on other routes like apprenticeships or jobs and on-line study. This also doesn’t necessarily have to be achieved by a certain age – there are many maturer students who have spent time doing other things first who being maturer get more out of the course too. It really does depend on which subjects they are passionate about pursuing and what your personal circumstances are. Hope this helps!

  4. Hello Ross, I was wondering if you could give some advice please? My daughter has just started Year 2 and it’s not going too well (tears from her and anxiety at drop off time, plus I don’t have great confidence in the teacher and how her day goes while she’s there). We’ve thought about home educating her as she’s had wobbles in the past plus we think it makes a lot of sense (we’ve got both of your books), but my husband (a primary school teacher) says we should make a definite decision to ‘stick it out’ at school e.g. at least until Christmas or deregister her, otherwise we’ll be messing the school about and could be seen as indecisive or ‘fussing’. My instinct is to not make her go to school if she’s not happy, but I realise that she can change her mind quite quickly and in a week or two she might want to go back to school! Should I be upfront with the school and say we’re trying home education to see how it goes or just keep trying to get her to school, at least for this term? I guess flexi schooling might be an option but maybe we should commit to one thing or the other. At the moment she’s having the odd day off when she doesn’t feel well (I understand this could be anxiety symptoms – she does seem to get better quickly when we don’t go to school!).
    Sorry this is so long winded, I would appreciate any thoughts you have on this,
    Many thanks, Sian

    • Hello Sian,
      I read your message to Ross and completely understand where you are coming from, so I thought I would put my penny’s worth of thought in for you. I had the same instinctive feeling for my daughter and have only just started to HE her after her year 7 this year. For what is it worth my only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner. My daughter is much happier, as am I and she is doing much better in every manner (personal development and academically, I chose to approach HE in a semi structured semi autonomous fashion). I found plenty of support from fellow HE groups. My husband and other immediate family members were sceptical, but after two months my husband and parents are behind me….I am not personally affected by anyone else as the people who matter have seen the difference and have been converted! :-)

      I wish you all the very best.
      :-D xxx

    • Hi Sian, I would only think about what’s right for your daughter and not what’s right for the school! After all, education is supposed to be for the good of your child not the good of the institution! We removed ours half way through this half term after trying to ‘stick it out’ – very unhappy children was the result. We felt the school and staff were failing our children and we didn’t actually owe them anything in terms of respect because of that! I do appreciate it’s tough for teachers – but it’s the child that matters. We thought we’d try it and see if it made our kids happier – it did – and healthier. We never looked back – but then you’ll know the story by now! Thanks for buying my books. Best wishes x

      • Many thanks Ross and AK for your replies – we’re going to go for it (learning at home) as from today (early Monday morning)! Feeling very nervous but fingers crossed and we’ll see how it goes…Sian x

      • Congratulations on making the huge leap! I’m sure you’re doing the right thing for your child. Don’t worry – the beauty of home schooling is that whatever doesn’t work you can change – which can’t happen in school! I singled out a couple of posts which might help:
        http://rossmountney.wordpress.com/2012/09/24/are-you-just-starting-out-home-educating/
        http://rossmountney.wordpress.com/diary-of-a-home-educating-nobody/ scroll down to the story – Helping to Alleviate Worries!
        Go gently with yourselves and enjoy your child and education – it’ll be all the more effective for it!

      • Please let us know how you get on Sian ( especially regards any request from your daughter to go back to school, as its one of the fears that I have; that after taking my YrR son out, he may want to return after a few weeks ), as its so sad when our children show anxiety and tears around the subject of school. I went in to my son’s school to observe the class / other adjoining classrooms last Friday ( after several un-granted requests, viewed with suspicion ), so that I could see first hand what his environment was like, not just an empty classroom after 6 months of the school start, and link home with his school context. Even so, I was only able to do so after waiting to place my youngest into daycare to free up my time to facilitate this. Again, why don’t schools allow small children in every once and a while? Don’t they understand that mothers have other commitments to siblings, and don’t all enter into paid employment? Its such a shame that schools don’t offer flexi schooling in the main, as per my initial request, because this way, children and families could get the best of both worlds, or at least a chance to iron out and re-balance the child in combination with school. I find that the sheer volume of children and their energy levels bouncing around the room and off one another, creates a feeling of sensory-overload in my child. Its very easy for teachers to think that children are managing well at school, but at home, I suppose its where it all gets let out and expressed, good and bad. Good luck!! I think Ross is right that you shouldn’t consider what the school think of you! Good he’s come round! XX

      • Hi Lisa, it may be that Sian misses your reply as it’s a while since being here! But you’re right – you’d think the schools would be more sharing! It’s suspect that they aren’t, but then, they have a difficult agenda to fulfil which wouldn’t happen with parents’ ‘interference’!!

    • :-) Good luck, though I don’t think you will need it. I was nervous at the thought of it, but very soon my mind was buzzing with ideas and things to do. Every time my daughter asked a question about something that became our project of investigation and a topic for her to write about , draw pictures, make leaflets, or even do some numerical work! once you look into HE groups around your area, you will find there are plenty of activities to join too. If anything you will find that you have too much to choose from and curbing yourself will be the challenge more than anything else. I feel free and relaxed now. You will too. :-)
      :-) enjoy!

  5. Having home educated my oldest two up to year 5 successfully, both are at Uni now, I am considering taking my 12 year old out of school after year 8, on the advice of my oldest two and the fact that I intend to move overseas. My only concern is regarding GCSE’s and A levels which he may or may not wish to take but I wouldnt like to hold him back should a future profession require these qualifications. Can he study via the internet? I believe GCSE’s are now based on course work would he be able to submit his work somewhere in order to achieve these? My oldest two have both admitted that by attending school after year 8 their confidence was blown, they have both fought to regain their home ed routes and are both happily settled. The thought of this happening to my happy go lucky and energetic 12 year old is encouraging this decision to home educate again. Thanks paetra

    • Hi Paetra, nice to hear from you! Those families doing exams with their kids at home tend to do IGCSEs because there’s less course work involved. They usually sign up with an exam body and use the related materials or online courses. There’s more information around this site; http://edyourself.org/articles/exams.php so I should have a search and see what route suits. All the very best.

  6. Hi Ross, I’d like to contact you if I may about home schooling. I’ve been considering it for a long time, and now after my daughter has finished the first year of her secondary school, year 7. I’ve had enough with the education system.

      • Thank you for your speedy response Ross. I don’t have a FB account anymore. :-) I simply feel it would be a better option for me to home school my daughter. I have fears though that have prevented me from doing so before now. Fears that are the common fears regarding doing something that is against the ‘norm’.

        The fears are the facing the huge change without the support of close family, my husband doesnt believe that it is the right decision and that we should change to another school. His argument is ‘what if it fails!’ thereby making us stalemate as I feel what if changing schools again fails! I need more information to convince my husband to bring harmony back to the household. My silent fears are : without having the emotional support and faith from close family can I really get through the transition, can i afford to home school, can i deliver what my daughter needs….afterall its her life I am going to affect. As much as there are things in the way the world , or this country, is heading that i dont like or approve of , it is the world my daughter will have to live in! I cant let this decision fail! at the same time I have to show my conviction and confidence at least to my daughter that its the right thing to do. I merely feel that the alternatives are not right, so short of having a crystal ball, I feel its the only option but dont know if it will be right. Following the ‘norm’ keeping her in the school system, even if its the wrong decision, strangely enough i know I have the support. I think my husband feels that at least we would have something else to blame rather than ourselves if the thrid school failed us, whereas if we took things in our own hands we have only ourselves to blame!

        I work from home for my husbands business. He is not happy with his struggling business. Finances are tight. At the end of each day after school I feel that my daughter has spent all day at school and has learnt nothing. From being well above average in ‘targets’ from primary school, in this last year; first year at secondary school…an academy school…who deliver lipservice with very little else. The relationship between my daughter and us, her parents, is being damaged, strained.

        I want to do something to change the way things are heading, I dont like that direction. If anything I want to give my daughter the self esteem, self believe, respect and confidence and morals that she once had, with a future that will reward her for hard work and effort she puts in whilst doing things that she enjoys.

        I’m sorry i’m waffling. In short I feel I’m at a crossroads. I know which road I want to take but I’m being told if I do I take it alone…and its that that I fear, as I’m not quite sure what to expect down that road!

        Help! :-)

      • I’ve sent you a longer reply by email but I just thought I’d say here for the benefit of others too that everyone who HEs their children reports better family relationships, happier kids, higher achievements, and that it doesn’t fail because whatever isn’t working you can change – can’t do that in school! ;)

      • hi Ross, your personal touch has been so appreciated. I’m going to go for it. I have read a few of the articles on this website, and it’s as if you are in my head! ;-) I just need to find others as a support, while time goes by to prove myself right to those who are not so convinced…thereby made me stop taking up a way of life that I feel is so right for us, or more importantly for my daughter. I’ll be in touch to keep you posted. and for any others who need to know how things are going! Home schooling here we come! :-)

        Thanks Ross
        xx

  7. This is a wonderful post. I’m a new blogger and, when playing with my children, I often feel distracted and itching to pop back to my blog to see what’s going on. I keep telling myself to stop, but the added incentive of this post will help. In 20 years’ time, my blog will be dust, but my children will still be there….plus, hopefully, a lot of beautiful memories.

  8. Fabulous Ross! It’s been wonderful having your friendship all these years and seeing what an amazing inspiration you are to so many people. Without you I couldn’t have home educated Luke and Rebecca for the year they wanted to come out of school.

  9. Hi Ross,

    Thank you for visiting my humble blog and for your kind comments about my daughter’s painting in the “House of Light” post. She was grinning happily when she read your words of praise.

    I have been enjoying your blog as well. Having experienced the pleasure of learning at home throughout my own childhood and now facilitating my children’s home education I cannot imagine any other way being quite as enjoyable. We love it! Thanks for sharing your encouraging words with the rest of us.

    Una-Melina

  10. Hi, have just discovered your page and it makes wonderful reading. Have just started on the HE path having taken my 11yr old son out of school in January. Its so nice to read things from you and others that makes you feel like ‘you are not the only one with these dilemmas’. Would love to talk to people local to me HP14. Again many thanks for your blog and I will keep following. Ami x

    • Thanks for leaving such a lovely comment Ami. Very best wishes on your home school journey. You might find it easier to link up with your local HEors through Facebook and Twitter. Or through the organisation Education Otherwise. I’m sure you’ll soon discover a whole community of others home educating. Enjoy. x

  11. I dont know if you heard on the radio this morning but, on twitter, they’re requesting questions to ask Mr. Gove. The closing time is 11am and the hashtag is #askgove Just thought it might have been of interest!

  12. I am so glad I have found your blog. I live in Scotland and just sent my oldest daughter off to her second year at school and my middle child off to her last year at nursery before she goes to school next August. I have just had 8 weeks of having them in the house, we continued to do the odd bit of school work during this time. I spent the last few days in tears knowing they were going back to school where someone else gets that time with them. To a school that isnot pushing my oldest enough and not giving the learning support my middle daughter needs. I myself want to be a teacher (this is my long term plan) and spent some time volunteering in a school. it was heartbreaking seeing some of the teaching methods used. My husband will not even discuss the idea of home educating and told me to “get a grip”. It has been great to read through your blogs (I will work my way through them all) and no that my view on parenting and education is shared by others. Right now i feel very alone as I know without the support of my husband this will never happen.

    I am hoping just reading through your blogs gives me strenght. Many thanks, Sarah.

    • HI Sarah, Thanks so much for the compliments! And I wanted to tell you that I too felt like it was only me having these radical views about what goes on in school until I found the home educating community and there were all these others who thought the same. Actually, many parents with kids in school feel the same too, it’s often that they’re just too scared to challenge such a big institutional machine or consider another approach. Many, many children are not having their needs met by schools which is why home schooling is growing daily. Far from needing to ‘get a grip’ you are absolutely right to stick up for your daughter’s unmet needs. She deserves it! Very best of luck. And if you do get to the point where home schooling is a real option you may find my book helpful – but actually, people tell me that it’s also helpful even if you have kids in school! But they might just be trying to be nice! Thanks for posting.

  13. Hi Ross, I’m so pleased to read your regular blog about home education. It is now our sixth year of home education and I can never forget that it was through reading your “diary of a home educating nobody” which gave me the courage to home educate. As if that is not enough, you then published ‘Learning Without School”, which is respected by anyone who is interested in education. Keep inspiring us please.

    • Thanks so much, Michelle, for taking the time to comment. It’s so nice to know that people get something from my writing. That’s what inspires me in return! Thank you!

  14. Hi Ross

    Can’t believe its taken me this long to realise that you have a blog! I’ve been an avid follower of your ‘Diary of a Home Educating Nobody’ in EO magazine ever since we started our home-ed adventure almost 6 years ago. Our boys (now 14 & 12) did start in the school system but when we withdrew them, family thought we were ‘mad’ & were convinced we’d ruined their lives. I can honestly say your Diary was the one thing that consistently helped me whenever I had doubts or low moments.

    THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!
    Joy x

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