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Our Home Ed Stories

Our Home Ed Stories Post New Entry

Please come and share your home education stories.  Your good days, your bad days.  Stories of everyday home eding to show how it works practically for your family.  

We'd also love to know how you started and why? So please don't think you must be an experienced home eder to share, even in the first days you have a tale to tell.

Please come back and update as you travel down the path.  We all know home ed is a journey, it is nice to follow the journey of others.

Hopefully also we can gather tales from those that are through the other side.  We all love home ed success stories. 

view:  full / summary

A Full Life

Posted by sarahl on September 17, 2013 at 7:40 PM Comments comments (2)

This showed up on my Facebook feed this morning, tbh I tend not to dismiss most of the things that come through like this but this one I like,  Whether it is true or not I have my doubts but that really isn't the point - the analogy still stands. 

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full.. The students responded with a unanimous ‘yes.’

The professor then produced two Beers from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar effectively filling the empty space between the sand.The students laughed..

‘Now,’ said the professor as the laughter subsided, ‘I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things—-your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favorite passions—-and if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house and your car.. The sand is everything else—-the small stuff.

‘If you put the sand into the jar first,’ he continued, ‘there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life.

If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff you will never have room for the things that are important to you.

Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness.

Spend time with your children. Spend time with your parents. Visit with grandparents. Take your spouse out to dinner. Play another 18. There will always be time to clean the house and mow the lawn.

Take care of the golf balls first—-the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the Beer represented. The professor smiled and said, ‘I’m glad you asked.’ The Beer just shows you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of Beers with a friend.

The Ups and Downs of School

Posted by sarahl on September 13, 2013 at 12:35 PM Comments comments (2)

Twice in two days - I am on a roll!

Having one in school when you are a home educator at heart is always going to be tricky - particularly when there are bumps in the road.  And today is one of those...

... So on the way home from school DS1 and his friends were set on by a group of yr 9 boys! DS1 got smacked in the head - with helmet on though so was only hurt because jolted his glasses into his nose. But one of them got knocked of his bike and has hurt his hand quite badly apparently.

Have to say really pleased with DS1 and his friends - they took injured boy home and explained to his parents what had happened and who it was (one of DS's friends recognised them) and his parents know their parents luckily (or perhaps not coincidentally) and then coming home telling me and telling me who he plans to tell at school on Monday. They couldn't have handled it better.

Quite pleased with myself too actually! I DIDN'T start ranting - came on here to do that - checked he was alright, told him I was really proud of them and they dealt with it brilliantly, and sent him to play on Kindle to unwind. I did NOT say anything negative about school which was very much my first thought!

Although I am calmer now and think I can't really call it a school issue. You will get bad and good in any group we have had 'incidents' at the local HE group over the years and of course by his age he is out and about without me a lot so encounters all sorts in the park as much as I want to I can not wrap them in cotton wool just arm him with the wit and intelligence to deal witjh issues that arise. And actually looking at his group of friends he has collected a really nice bunch of lads about him in a way he never managed when HEing.

Back to being cross though the really annoying thing is we passed them on the bus less than 5 mins before the incident happened, now if I had been able to get off the bus and catch them...



The hardest thing about home education...

Posted by sarahl on September 12, 2013 at 4:30 AM Comments comments (4)

(apologies - I am not as eloquent as Anne and this is actually a cut and paste job from my own blog but know it is something that seems to particularly face people here so would love to hear any 'solutions') knowing what to do with all the 'stuff'!


I have been to the houses of lots of home educators over the years and they cover a wide spectrum of tidiness and cleanliness (with a definite peak towards the messier end) but never have I encounted a home educator with minimalist decor.


It seems that no matter how diverse a group we are in terms of learning styles and approaches, philosophy and lifestyle we are bound together by our tendency to attract and accumulate 'stuff' and our on-going battle to contain and order it. You only have to see how many views a thread on storage boxes can get to realise what a serious matter it is.


What do I mean by 'stuff'?


Well of course there is the general detritus that comes from simply having children -the toys, the books, the craft stuff, the art work, the random collection of pebbles, twigs, acorns etc that find their way into your handbag whenever you leave the house. The difference between just having children and home eding is that your children are nearly always around - so those toys and craft stuff are out of their boxes more, books are open everywhere (a brief look around spots one on the table, 3 on the sofas and one on the floor, I can guarantee there will be at least one in each bathroom and several in the bedrooms), and even the simplest errand adds a bottle top or pebble or if we're really unlucky a charity shop bargain that was simply too good to pass up.


Then of course there are the globes, the lemon clocks, the set of geometric shapes, the weather station, the balance scales, the human anatomy model with the removable organs, the historical resource packs... the 'educational' equipment that you find in a classroom and that we could probably get by without (and chances are can't find when we actually do want having relegated them to the back of a cupboard) but at some point we all crack and buy or they get given as Christmas presents by well meaning relatives. Further consider that our 'classroom' covers all ages and all subjects and we are almost all guilty of the 'that will be useful one day' slip (free and cheap 'stuff' is so difficult to turn down!)


I haven't even mentioned the books... with no access to school libraries we build up our own -the majority cheap, second hand or borrowed, but they are there needing shelves. For many of the home educators I know book buying is a compulsion, the level of money we've earned through one year on the Amazon affiliate scheme is staggering!


And of course there is the 'work', not just the special pieces of art work or the glossy project sent home from school but the maths worksheets, the handwriting workbooks, the lapbooks on the workings on the eye. What do we do with them? It feels as if it would be wrong and disheartening to throw them immediately in the recycling bin so we file them away until such a time as the piles threaten to engulf us and we have no choice.


Even if you shun workbooks evidence of 'learning and work' is still there... the jar with something growing out of it but you can't remember exactly what, the model of the Trojan horse made from lolly sticks, the half finished Archimides Screw that they reassure you they WILL come back to and disposal of these 'treasures' can be even harder.


Yesterday was clear out day, piles of 'work' and crafts went in the bin (after photographing of course). Tomorrow I expect two deliveries from The Works and Amazon... A problem of my own making, well yes. We have reached the extreme level of having an extra room built on to the back of the house in which to put the 'stuff' but I know it will still be a battle to contain it.  

How do you cope with the 'stuff'?

Jennifer's report card

Posted by Anne B on September 4, 2013 at 4:20 PM Comments comments (5)

Jennifer mentioned on one of our threads doing a report card for her son's grandparents to reassure them. She's kindly shared it with us, so here it is.

If anyone else does anything similar, it'd be lovely to see them below, but always remember, our kids are not cookie cutter gingerbread men, and I'm sure Jennifer would be the first to admit that there are some things that her son finds every bit as hard as my academic pair do; but that your children quite probably take for granted.

Now handing over to Jennifer


Sometimes people like grandparents or neighbours and friends, who are not involved in the day to day lives of our children, question whether we are doing the right thing by home educating.  Sometimes we even question ourselves whether or not we are ruining our children's lives by not sending them to school.


I had this early on from my mother-in-law (MIL).  She was in her early 80s and grew up in a very different world to us, and felt we were making a mistake.  But rather than get defensive, I thought about it from her point of view.  She was in a care home with little to do all day but chat to the other residents.  I figured not only would she be guessing on what we did all day based on what she did when she was my age and her son was 7, but would also be listening to the other proud grandmothers talking about what their families were doing.  I imagined that come end of term they would be sharing the 'report card' stories of their children, boasting about how well they were doing.  And it hit me that she couldn't do that.  Not only was there no report card, she wouldn't even know what we were doing as home education was a complete mystery to someone whose only son went to a private school from the age of 11.


Not only that we were structured autonomous educators, that is we had a structure to the day, but my son had control over what we studied, so there was no curriculum as such to follow, we followed his interests, be they reading and studying nature through Enid Blyton's nature books, to doing science the Adam Hart-Davis Science Shack way.


So I decided to write a 'report card' for my son.  I thought about what mine looked like at that age, and it was a piece of card with the main subjects on it, a brief description of what we did in each, then a 'must try harder' type sentence at the bottom.  This is what I set out to do, but of course, it didn't work out the way I thought it would. It ended up being three pages long!


It worked a treat though as my MIL apparently got to the bit about tessellation and decided that as she didn't know what that was, she guess that I must be doing a good job, and she supported us from then on.


And it had an effect on me too.  Sometimes we can be too close to the wood to see the trees.  Being with my son all day every day, I didn't always see what it was that he was achieving. By not following a pre arranged curriculum there were no tests to judge him by. But by seeing  in black and white what he had achieved it gave me the confidence that I had indeed made the right decision to home educate and that my son was learning a lot more than I realised!


What follows is the 'report card' I handed over to my MIL, keeping a copy for the LA just in case they ever called.  


Report card for Peter Robinson October 5th, 2003 age 6 ¾.



    •    Reading Beano and Dandy.

    •    Reading up to two sentences from literature books but dyslexia and dyspraxic tendencies are very clear.

    •    Using flash cards

    •    Is able to read nonsense words of up to 3-4 letters

    •    Can do simple anagrams

    •    Can read Pokemon information off the internet

    •    Confidence in reading is behind the actual ability

Goal: To improve confidence in reading ability




    •    Reading M.E Atkinson, Malcolm Saville, Eleanor Graham, Arthur Ramsone, and other classic authors

    •    Reading poetry and making up nonsense rhymes.


Modern Literature

    •    Reading Caroline Lawrence- covering Roman History, Susan Gates – Schlok Horror, but has generally found that modern books are badly written and prefers older books.




    •    Constantly asking for exact definitions for words

    •    Learning alphabetical order

    •    Refer to correct grammar labels and can recognise bad grammar in modern books

    •    Knows nouns, verbs, adverbs and additives, and is aware of other parts of speech.




    •    Counting by 1,2,3s etc. up to 11s as a way of reinforcing multiplication tables

    •    Adding and subtracting in games as well as on paper. Can add up in columns.

    •    Understands the concept of probability and algebra.

    •    Knows most 2 and 3 dimensional figures, angles and properties of tessellation and circles.




    •    Mediaeval history – visited several castles and has reproduce them in the sand pit

    •    Has read about life in the middle ages.

    •    Has had discussions on the negative aspects of inventions which have positively changed the world

    •    Understands the lack of water, electricity and other amenities in this village 60 years ago.



    •    Discussions on why people make complaints about other people.

    •    Can identify four emotions in himself – happy, content, frustrated, and angry.

    •    Can now recognise that other people may have a different opinion to him, which is equally valid



    •    Understands the basics of how parliament works. Can discuss why politicians do what they do.

    •    Listened to speeches from the Labour and Conservative Party conferences. Doesn’t like Tony Blair!





    •    Studying pond life, birds, insects.

    •    Keeps stick insects

    •    Reading Enid Blyton’s Nature book twice monthly




    •    Using science to explain magic.

    •    Does weekly Kramph experiments.

    •    Has been watching Science Shack and doing their experiments




    •    Looking at class and understanding differences

    •    Understanding the power of advertising

    •    Rejected Ribina stickers on the basis that they shouldn’t be used to entice children into having something that is bad for them!




    •    Can swim the length of the pool unaided.

    •    Has excellent trampolining skills

    •    Is continuing to do exercises for SID as recommended by optometrist

    •    Is playing racket games and ball games

    •    Is not yet ready to play team sports




    •    Celebrates seasonal festivals




    •    Saw Mars through telescope on the night that it was closest to earth and understood that the last time this happened it was cave men looking at it!



Ancient History

    •    Romans- watching Time Commanders and learning about Roman fighting. Also learning about people from reading Caroline Lawrence books.

    •    Watching What The Romans Did For Us

    •    Watching and reading about ancient Greek myths




    •    Building with Lego.

    •    Building and destroying sand castles

    •    Helped build the tree house

    •    Built a jelly baby and spaghetti tower of over 1 m, capable of holding an egg.

    •    Watching Seven Wonders of the Industrial World




    •    Designed and coloured in a Halloween costume

    •    Doing large painting on lining paper

    •    Helping with weaving and basket projects

    •    Making seasonal decorations



    •    Continuing to investigate how the human body works including how it regulates itself and the importance of hunger and going to the toilet.

    •    Taking an interest in the health and wellbeing of insects and the dog.


Life Skills

    •    Learning to cook and clean

    •    Learned to light both an open fire and a woodburning stove

    •    Learning about making clothes and darning socks

    •    Learning about hygiene



    •    Doing weekly Kramph experiments

    •    Making soap

    •    Dyeing wool with natural dyes



    •    Reading maps in preparation for outings

    •    Monitoring temperature and rainfall

    •    Learning about different cloud formation





The problem with cleaning...

Posted by Anne B on August 22, 2013 at 10:00 AM Comments comments (0)

Well actually there are two problems. Firstly that it never stays clean and secondly that when you start cleaning and clearing you end up realising how grubby and cluttered things are and then you get all dispirited and despondent after you're shattered and you can still see loads to do.

No, come to think about it, there are three problems and the biggest one is ME. When I was a kid we lived in Army houses and moved every 18 months. The house could be inspected at all times and all damage had to be paid for and I was left with a deep-seated feeling that the best colour for all rooms was washable magnolia. There was a manic panic before we handed over a house and moved, followed by another frantic clean when we arrived somewhere that didn't meet my mum's standards and much shouting was done.

So I was determined that we would have a home where the odd forgotten coffee cup or stray sock wasn't the cause of domestic meltdown, and where lego could stay out, within reasonable bounds and trains sets could be spread out. Where there wasn't the all too regular pressure to cull your belongings or not have anything that couldn't be packed. And the net result of all that is clutter so I fight a war I'm doomed never to win.

And yet... and yet the children are clean, clothed, well fed. They don't get tummy bugs so the kitchen must be clean enough (either that or they've developed world beating immune system, which isn't a bad thing either.) Most of the time they're happy, and we are gradually moving on as they're ready to let things go, but THEY are my first priority.

If that makes me out of touch, then fine, I'll be a dinosaur. Because let's not forget that they ruled the world for 160 million years, so they must have had something going for them!

And now I'd better go back to tidying up, unless anyone can distract me. Come on now, it isn't hard...

Back to normal...

Posted by Anne B on July 29, 2013 at 1:15 PM Comments comments (2)

Or as close to normal as life in this house ever gets, which probably isn't very close, but it's always fun.

So what's happened? We had our first week long holiday to Wales where we stayed on a lovely farm close to Karen and her 2 gorgeous girls. I think we wore them out... but who knew that Wales was hot and dry? We had a swimming pool which was brilliant, and are already planning for next year, but I think Madam and Monster are in for a shock when they realise that that isn't quite the normal weather.

Our reconstructing summer is getting into full swing. Vikings at the weekend, Medieval Village for all the next month, Poole Town Show with falconry and Knights fighting (more or less fair) this weekend, Tournament of Foot at Old Sarum at the end of the month, then the English Civil War in September, with a Victorian Festival thrown in for luck.

And Monster, who I was really worried about taking away because he doesn't do out of routine well, has grown in confidence in front of my eyes, helped massively by realising that other people get nervous too. He's going to be 11 at the end of September. Doesn't seem possible, really...

What's more, he's finally drawing. Okay, it's in his exercise books when he's meant to be writing, but I'm just pleased he's doing it and enjoying it. What triggered it? Seeing Karen's daughter doing colouring and thinking that if she's doing it it might be worth a go. He's seen other kids drawing for years and years, but C is very special to him.

And the whole family is very special to us, and we wouldn't have met without this forum, so if there is anyone you think you might like to meet up with, I'd definitely advise you to do it.

A milestone for me this time

Posted by Anne B on June 22, 2013 at 10:15 AM Comments comments (1)

I am covered with dust, and not sure whether to be happy or sad. Monster, you see, finished KS3 for everything except history on Friday, so it is time to sort out books to pass on to new homes.

And there are so many memories as I look through them. Of books being flung through the air, or stamped on. Of times when I thought we'd never get anywhere, and moments of pure joy when he found something that was right for him and hoovered it up like a seagull finding a cone of chips.

Of projects done and trips taken and laughter as we tackled stuff together. Of a journey, icky as it sounds, that I have been incredibly priveleged to take alongside him. Cos, you see, I know what he's good at and what he's awful at. I know the areas where we still need more work, and the ones where he needs constant challenge. I know how tough he finds expressive language and handwriting and how hard he has worked to get as far as he has. I know how he's struggled sometimes because the combination of autism and epilepsy never made anything easy for him. The epilepsy meds affected his concentration and lowered his frustration threshold, to use the official jargon, which hides the fact that some days it's like juggling with fireworks. It's not when they're going to go off, it's where they are when they do and how much damage they'll do!

So, where do we go from here? Well, his English won't take him to IGCSE yet and he's only 10 so he's having at least one 'Gap Year' where he's going to explore science and maths without any constraint of what he 'ought' to be learning. We're doing Life of Fred Physics (we've already done Biology), we're doing maths with Linus Rollman's series, we're doing Economics and Joy Haakim's history of science and having a big binge on Engineering. He'll do some more programming, and lots of Logic and all this, I hope, will give him the boost to really go for that English so he can move to IGCSE with the skills he'll need not only mastered but so embedded that he won't need to think about them.

And all this ends with a moment of pure smug. I got my Annual Report of how I provide for their SEN through today and it is now official. I am providing a high quality home education programme and a rich, enjoyable and relevant education which takes account of their age, aptitude and special needs.

I've tried convincing them that that means English for Monster and Maths for Madam MUST be enjoyable because we wouldn't argue with our beloved LA, would we now? Maybe teaching them logic and rules of debate wasn't such a good idea after all, because they ripped that suggestion apart in a few seconds!

But actually, I'm not providing it. All of you are, because whenever I've needed to find a resource, or whenever you've come across something brilliant, you've posted it up. So thanks a million for being around on this stage of the journey. Please don't go anywhere on the next stage, will you? Cos I've tried it without you lot, and it was very lonely and nothing like as much fun.

Well, we've reached another milestone...

Posted by Anne B on May 21, 2013 at 4:25 PM Comments comments (4)

For the first time ever, DH has said 'Call that a skirt?' so it is pretty much official. Madam is now growing up.

The skirt in question is an inch above her knee, and I've been pointing out that compared to other dads of girls her age he's got it easy. No make up, no X Factor, no obsessive love of Justin Beiber, and the only male in her heart apart from him is a delinquent Eagle Owl called Sugar Puff.

Best of all, thanks to HE, there is no pressure on her to be 'into' whatever the latest trend is so she can grow into herself at her own speed. And here, in a moment of shameless maternal boasting, and shared with her permission, is her 300 word answer to the IGCSE question what I like about school, amended to take into account HE.

"Four years ago, I left school, because it wasn’t right for me. Why? Well, out of five

years, only one was fine for me. Year 2 was good because I was listened to even though I

have a blessing as well as a curse that made me different from the other children.


 The blessing and curse is autism. Autism is a difference in the way my brain is

wired. The blessing part is I find academic things easier, but the curse part is that social

things are harder for me.


 I have three reasons why I find that Home Education is better for an autistic child

like me.

1) There is a distinct shortage of jealous children who bully because they are afraid of

anyone who isn’t just like them. (I have my brother around all the time, but he isn’t

jealous of me and my curse and blessing because he has the same one.)

2)  If I have a social problem Mum helps me learn how to cope with it, just like with any

problem with my lessons and she never laughs at me and makes me feel small because I

don’t understand stuff.

3)  I am listened to, just like my brother is. I am learning to be a chameleon in the crowd

and fit in when I have to while still being me underneath. I know that me is a good

person to be which I didn’t when I was at school.

I prefer subjects I can argue in. My favourites include English, Biology and Politics +

Points Of View. (By the way, that is done by listening to the radio and learning the

difference between real arguments and ad hominem ones which are like bullying.) I don’t

like subjects with just one right answer as much. They include Maths and French.

I find Home Education is perfect for me, but that is because I am blessed and cursed."

And in the interest of fair play, Monster has done wonders building and programming his Raspberry Pi. If I wasn't so proud of him I'd be seriously annoyed that he 'gets' technology when I struggle. Next job is to work on his tact, so he explains it to me without the 'how can anyone be that stupid' face.

Long time, no post

Posted by Anne B on April 25, 2013 at 12:15 PM Comments comments (3)

Don't expect anyone missed me, but I've proved yet again that I don't want a 'proper' blog!

So what have we been doing? DH broke his toe, the hay fever season began and Monster had a bad attack of the grouches as the meds for hayfever clashed with the meds for epilepsy because they'd changed the formula, not helped when I was daft enough to let him off the Subject of Doom, also known as English, on one day because he was struggling. Surprise, surprise, we had a week of, shall we say, challenging, behaviour before he realised he couldn't get out of it forever. Madam had a birthday party which she loved, which was a big and wonderful first and Monster overdid it and had a little scare, but is fine now and I now have the reassurance of knowing that the emergency medication works well and fast, even if the side effects weren't fun.

And this week we celebrated the end of Madam's fourth full year of HE. Monster, for once in his life, is ahead, with 5 2/3 years, and is remarkably smug about this because he's always felt that he should have been the oldest, and there are days when he'd have liked to have been an only child.

Luckily, it coincided with the one beautiful day, so we celebrated with a picnic on the beach and the first swim of summer and ice-cream and I asked the ritual question 'Would you like to go back to school?" and got the ritual answer 'No way!'

And that HE birthday got me thinking about the one thing I'd have really liked when I started out, which was for someone to take my hand and say 'You're not as alone as you think. We've done it, and look, we're relatively sane and the children are fine and nothing matters as much as you think it does.' That's why I'm passionate about this forum, because it was the forum before the forum before this one where I found that and grabbed it as if it was a lifebelt.

The problem is that I'm not good at 'not mattering.' Actually, I'm a control freak and a born bossy boots. I don't do 'good enough.' I want the best, and I'm perfectly happy to work for it. I can also worry about things that most people haven't imagined existed, let alone need to be worried over.

But that's okay. There are plenty of more laid back types here who can give me a reality check whenever I need it, so I really am starting to know that I'm not alone, and that things are working out pretty well. Still room for improvement, of course... but that's part of the fun for a control freak!

No more little girl...

Posted by Anne B on April 6, 2013 at 2:05 PM Comments comments (4)

Tomorrow morning, I will have a teenager. Not a little girl, definitely not a child... except when she's acting like a toddler!

In the last 3 weeks she's grown up before my eyes. She's had her long hair cut to shoulder length, she's started taking an interest in clothes and, especially, shoes. She's started caring how she looks. Not in the makeup and heels way, but in the wanting to look nice with minimum fuss sort of way that I suspect most of us here go for.

She's moving from someone I look after to someone who helps and our relationship is just starting to change. Not to friends, because she's got those. I've never managed to be dictatorial so it's not a matter of slackening the reins. (It's very hard when they don't listen to you...) If anything, it's more of a mentor cum sounding board. Letting her talk through what consequences of things might be. Turning things back on her when she, as auties are prone to, finds the words coming out wrong.

And loving her. Always, always loving her. Sometimes she drives me nuts. I expect I do the same to her but as she ends her 12th year overwhelmingly I'm so proud it could easily get embarrassing.

7 years ago she was newly diagnosed with High Functioning Autism and had elective speech (as in couldn't talk if she didn't feel safe.) Now, it is  hard to tell unless she starts panicking. She's still slightly obsessive about everyone doing things right and especially her, so she's still got a way to go yet, and needs to learn to control the temper that goes with her gorgeous red hair, but she is on her way.

(And it is only fair to warn the rest of you that there is only another 5 years until she is 18. I used to worry about how she'd handle the world. Now I'm a little worried about the world!)