Tag Archive | home schooling

Treat a bad day like passing wind!

Waiting for the climate to change!

Being the best parent you can be (see last post) is exhausting. You’re bound to get a bad day. A day when you probably wish you weren’t a parent at all and had another job!

We all get them whatever job we’re doing. Whether it’s parenting, home educating, employment out the home, self employment, what ever path you’re forging you’re bound to get a day that’s totally crap. It’s a life thing – not a job thing.

It’s odd though; when you’re an employee you tend to blame the job. When you’re a parent, particularly a home schooling parent, you tend to blame yourself. And that makes a crap day a whole lot crappier!

So this is a post just to say: DON’T BLAME YOURSELF.

We all love our kids to bits and love being with them – of course we do. (I’m assuming you wouldn’t be the kind of person bothering to read this if you didn’t) But that’s not going to mean that we won’t get down about life occasionally. It’s just what happens, whatever we do, and is as natural a part of the human condition as passing wind! And – yes – everyone passes wind even those who pretend otherwise. Equally, everyone will suffer a bad day even if they pretend they’re perfect.

But that doesn’t make us bad parents or bad home educators. It’s just the way it is sometimes. So don’t beat yourself up over it. The best way to help yourselves is to ACCEPT it. It’s just life. And nurture yourself through this bit just as you would nurture a friend.

If you viewed your parenting, or home educating role, like you’d view employment, you’d accept there’s bound to be bad days when you’re giving less than you’d like. If you were employed you might even throw a sickie!

Can’t do that as a parent – but you can go easy on yourself for a day till it passes. Also remember there are teachers, nursery workers, assistants, helpers, who will be working through a bad day without giving their best either. It’s just normal having a bad day from time to time. Doesn’t make you a bad person, just because you can’t give your best today.

Make a cuppa. Sit it out. Accept it gracefully. Wait for the climate of your day to change. You’re just human. Deal with it with the compassion and gentleness that makes you humane.

This will show your children the skills to deal with bad days whenever they get them too, and help them understand bad days are part of life and not to worry – the climate always changes – bad wind always passes! So even on a bad day you’ll be teaching them something through your parenting! Take comfort from that. And if you’re suffering one right now, may your climate soon change!

Sibling conflict and The Wrong Adventure

 

Have you come across Harry? He’s the star of the story ‘Who’s Not In School?’ and he gets up to all sorts of adventures in a typical family week with kids at home.

In book two; ‘The Wrong Adventure’, he decides to tunnel out. Why? Because he wants to get away from his older brother and sister as everything he does seems to annoy them. He’s not doing what he does specifically to annoy, as all older siblings seem to feel, but because he’s curious. and it gets the better of him. He ends up exploring things he shouldn’t!

It’s typical in most households and was loosely based on what happened in this one, when the youngest was constantly fascinated with the activities of the eldest and wanted part of it, or hands on it, or to do the activities for herself however inappropriate. And however much I tried to involve both in activities at their own level there were times it seemed impossible, times when the eldest just wanted to absorb herself in what she was doing without having to guard against little fingers grabbing stuff all the time.

You have to be careful how you react to this scenario, I discovered. You can find yourself involved in a sibling competition to get you onside.

You have to be canny. You have to try and resolve it without that happening. Better still, you have to lead them to resolving it themselves to the satisfaction of both – but this can only happen with a certain maturity and there are times when they’re just no old enough.

I tried talking, explaining, compromise and keeping respectful and if all that fails distraction and diversion. And have to admit sibling rivalry could become quite wearing. But all would be resolved in the end, togetherness restored, even though I got it disastrously wrong at times as all parents do, so don’t worry, it’s not just you! And they’ve forgiven me!

And the only fights they ever get into now is united, side by side, in fierce loyalty against any challenges to it – together! It’s been lovely to see and not something I could ever have imagined when crayons were flying across the room!

So, why is Harry on the wrong adventure? Well, if you haven’t guessed by this post, I’ll leave you to find out for yourself when you read it. Read it together with your little ones and it might give you an opportunity to talk about how siblings treat each other and how it could be improved in your household when everyone is at loggerheads. For what’s required is to see each other’s point of view and hopefully this story will help that.

 

‘The Wrong Adventure’ is published by Bird’s Nest Books and is also available on Amazon.

Room to learn?

When school term starts again there’s always a flurry of new interest in home education. As well as the usual questions about exams or socialisation (read this) there’s another one that always gets asked:

“But where are the kids going to learn?”

The thought of learning without a classroom seems to make people anxious, as if without this ‘school’ room the children wouldn’t be able to learn at all.

It’s based, of course, on the familiar view we have of learning only ever taking place in a classroom in a school. But just because that’s the way it’s done in the system, it doesn’t mean to say that it is necessary, or the only place a child can learn, or that learning can’t happen effectively without it.

Like any studying we’ve ever done at home, any space can be adapted to fit a purpose, we just have to get creative with it. We can use whatever is available from the kitchen table, bed, living room floor, sofa.

Most home educating families live in a family house and use general family spaces for learning activities. Some start out with a routine that involves grouping round the kitchen table for example, but soon find that in reality, learning can take place anywhere.

For children learn best when they are stimulated, interested and comfortable. That could just as easily be on the floor or in the garden, as in a more formal setting with table/desk and chairs involved. Reading together on the sofa is as effective as upright at the table – probably more so because the child associates it with a pleasurable experience and pleasurable experiences are usually ones that they remember and want to repeat. E.g. maths is just as effective whether it’s on the sofa, on the floor, or chanting or doing quizzes in the back of a car.

In some ways, different settings and experiences can aid learning, stimulating memory. A more formal setting that’s repeated day after day can become boring and easily forgotten.

Many home educating families who have seen their children learning in a variety of settings would go so far as to say that the world is their classroom, finding that they learn as much when they’re out, wherever it is, as they do at home. Valuable learning can happen incidentally from an everyday outing, field trip or visit, stimulating conversation, inquiry and investigation. Even a trip to the park can provoke that. Travel or new stimulating experiences are more examples and offer subjects to research further.

But it’s also the case that formal learning can be conducted outside or in different settings as much as incidental learning can. Just because it’s more formal learning doesn’t mean it needs a more formal space. You can take study anywhere you’re prepared to do it – a library for example, or cafe. One of the essays with the highest marks I ever attained was put together sitting in a field where I was undisturbed and enjoying the quiet surroundings.

Dedicated learning spaces are not a guarantee that effective learning will result. So don’t always stick with formal learning spaces and routines. Get creative – the more stimulating they are the better. It is often the most unlikely situations that stimulate the most lasting results.

And do let me know if you’ve had some unusual and crazy ones – I’d love to know!

Blues and spirals

The only snag with going away and having a fab time is the blues that hit you afterwards. After a super time with my daughter last week the isolation of a writer’s life seems suddenly unappealing!

I was having an utterly downward spiraling day yesterday. Writing can get you like that sometimes.

Then I read the reviews of my latest book on Amazon.

I rarely look at them. Mostly I don’t feel strong enough. There are things said on occasion that you have to brace yourself for as a writer. And even though you don’t expect everyone to like your work or agree with what you’re saying, it does take some weathering when you’re attacked. Home education is a contentious subject anyway and we’ve all been gored by remarks from those who are less than kind.

But WOW! Those reviews of ‘A Home Education Notebook to Encourage and Inspiremade me spiral in a different direction. Upwards!

THANK YOU!

If you’re the author of one of those reviews thank you SO much. I am deeply grateful for you taking the time to leave such inspiring messages. You are succour to the writer’s soul and the inspiration needed to keep going.

However, apart from making me feel better – for which I’m truly grateful – you are also helping so many others. Did you know that?

Many people don’t realise this but reviews have an impact on a book’s reach. Obviously, if it’s a good review, it’s going to encourage others to read it. But much more valuable than that is the fact that the more reviews there are the more the book gets noticed. And the more that happens the more likely it is that the people who need it find it.

We become so immersed in our home educating world we forget sometimes that others don’t even know it’s an option, let alone a workable one. And I think about those parents who are struggling with an unhappy child in school, wishing they could do something different, suddenly finding a book which suggests they can! Your reviews help that to happen. That’s what you do by taking the time to post on Amazon, Goodreads, wherever.

So if you’ve read any of my books – remembering there’s one just for mums too – please click the review button on the Amazon page and post a review, doesn’t matter how short, and you may help others trapped in an unhappy cycle of school, or lack of support, or just looking for a bit of help.

And once again, a heartfelt thank you to all those who already have.

What big deal was that?

 Occasionally I ask the girls, now in their mid twenties, if home education ever comes into the conversation or the equation of their life these days. It seemed such a big deal at the time and I often wonder if it still has any significance beyond their childhoods. Although it was no big deal to them; just the way it was.

Charley has been applying for different jobs recently having moved to a new location and a new life with her partner. So it was an opportunity for it to come up as she went to interviews.

“If people ask”, she told me, “it’s usually with genuine interest. I’ve never had any negatives”.

And as for Chelsea she says it all seems so far away now so it only ever comes up socially like the other day in the pub. A newly qualified young teacher was talking to her about her new job with disillusionment about all she was expected to do to kids which to her didn’t seem ethical in some respects, let alone valuable. Chelsea directed her to me!

Sometimes, she says, with her reaching the age of contemporaries having families and wondering about home education, it comes up and Chelsea is cited as as an example of the way a home educated youngster turns out – as in being not weird, or unable to mix, hiding under mother’s skirts, or unable to speak to people. Having friends. As this is what people seem to fear the most when it is new and raw and they’re doubting dreadfully, worrying whether they’ll still have any kind of relationships after home educating.

Quit worrying! They do! We do!

I’m going for a holiday with her next week – we love to be together – she has friends and a life and is very busy with it. But she’s got a little space between performances and their next Fringe production. I’m going to fill it, and we’re taking a little break together.

But I wanted you to know that their home educating past has paled into insignificance compared to the adult lives and relationships that they – and more importantly we – have now of deepest love, trust and respect.

And that big deal – that massive all-consuming deal you’re living right now with your kids – will probably mature into the same! And you’ll all be saying; ‘What big deal was that’?

 

Home Education inspiration and support on Kindle

 I’m excited to tell you that my newest book ‘A Home Education Notebook to Encourage and Inspire’ is now available in Kindle. I know some of you have been waiting rather than buying the hard copy. If you still wanted the hard copy it’s available from Bird’s Nest Books at a really good discount.

I’ve had some lovely messages about this book, especially what a comfort it’s been to parents on the long, sometimes challenging, road of home education. I’m delighted to hear that, as it’s just why I wanted to write it. I know how you sometimes long for a hand to hold on that journey and this was intended to be just that.

Home education works, there’s plenty of evidence now, but since it is usually so invisible it can be hard to trust in ones convictions. This book is full of reminders to help maintain that trust. Keep it beside you for wobbly times.

If you pop over to the publisher’s website you’ll also find a couple of my children’s books written especially so the little ones have someone to identify with instead of only reading about school kids! The character ‘Harry’ is a mischievous, inquisitive soul; his behaviour will give you much to talk about with your children! It also illustrates the day to day lives of home educating families.

And thanks for all the personal supportive messages about this work. Writer’s, like home educators, are often invisible too, so it’s nice to know the work’s appreciated.

Enjoy your home educating journey and may you be blessed with the joy we experienced.

Find the Kindle version on Amazon.

Wish we could get the heart back into learning

I miss having children around. I miss being able to show them things and take them places and those quiet little cuddles at any time.

The former village school – now a nursery

It was wonderful watching their amazement as they learn and enjoy the world and grow. In fact, I’ve even missed them so much I’ve thought of returning to teaching.

Then I come to my senses when I remember.

I remember all the reasons why I left. Like my unhappiness at having to force kids to do stuff that didn’t seem appropriate or relevant or worth anything. Like having to drive and pressurise and push until they got the required points. Like having to teach stuff in certain ways when I could clearly see it wasn’t what the child needed. Having to implement stupid policies devised by  some idiot who knew little about the needs of kids. And worst of all, watching their keen little faces glaze over with apathy as another boring objective is confronted; practices that just made kids feel bad and switch off. And worse still, giving them the blame for their failure instead of acknowledging that the fault lay with the approach not the kids.

And that was years ago – it’s ten times worse than that now.

I used to think I was just a cynic. But current remarks from parents and colleagues and recently one new young teacher who was so unhappy because what she felt she was required to do to kids wasn’t really ethical, let alone valuable, make me think I have a cause to be so. And some of the articles on the Secret Teacher site support that cynicism. They make for grim reading.

I used to teach in a small village school, where we all knew all the kids, where everyone functioned for the good of everyone else, where the climate in a school was one of care and nurture directed at the children And their happiness and enjoyment was important.

I don’t sense that about schools any more. I only have to walk in one and something in me shrivels. But thankfully I feel it among the home educating community.

The home educating community seem to base their educational provision on something that all educational provision should be based on: a love of learning. They at least are putting the heart back into learning.

Kids come into the world already programmed to learn – it’s as natural as survival and part of it. But schools change learning into something else – into point scoring, usually for the good of the school.

Keep a child’s love of learning intact and education follows naturally. It’s so sad that the educational system has completely lost sight of the pleasure of learning as they turn it into big political business.

So I’m sure glad to know so many wonderful parents who are brave enough to follow their hearts to learning, rather than the politics!