Netflix – Abstract, Art of Design [Review]

It is only recently that I’ve branched out from only watching films and T.V series to the vast and varied catalogue of Netflix documentaries. If you haven’t had a look yet please do. Sometimes we need more brain food than the latest blockbuster can provide; especially if like me you use T.V as a teaching tool (think the rainy day, moody teen “sit and watch this”) for your home educated teenager. We worked our way through the great BBC science and nature programmes. Then discovered the other subjects covered include up to date art and design, history and music.

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Teen Education. Think Outside of the Box (2 Min Read)

Routes to take for teenage education.

  • School, yes school! If you find the right school for your child then they can do very well taking the traditional route of GCSEs. Look for independent academies that don’t have catchment areas to have more choice.
  • Distance Learning, recommend Oxfordhomeschooling
  • Treehouse, this site is the most amazing online up to date resource to study Web Design, Coding and App Development. For a small fee or a free trial, your child can start to build skills and network links that will see them into a career. Not just aimed at kids, I’m studying with Treehouse myself, so it’s something that I strongly recommend.
  • Flexi Schooling, This is becoming more and more popular, find a Head that agrees to it and you can arrange for your child to attend school or college part time sitting a few subjects rather than the usual 11 or 12 GCSEs.
  • Local College from 14. Contact your local LEA and college for details, funding is available for 14-year-olds to study core subjects. It does depend on your location, though.

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Raising Teen Boys. (2 Min Read)

Why the title? Why not just “Raising Teens”? Well mostly because I only have boys and also because men and women are different. Teenage boys have to deal with a rush of testosterone which causes anger, aggressive behaviour and a need to try and be alpha. As well as the rapid growth and deep voices our boys are struggling with all kinds of emotions they didn’t have before. They don’t know what to do with these raging hormones and are often overwhelmed, understandable really.

As a woman, I have a lot of ideas about raising girls too but that’s another article altogether!

Thank God I’ve survived raising three boys into men or rather I’ve supported three men to adulthood. Through the stubbornness, anger and moods and happy times, it’s not all doom and gloom. Now with the internet and social media is very important to monitor their activity, I don’t like to do this in a big brother kind of way but we do have monitoring software on the computer, porn blocks on the home wifi and we regularly ask our teens to talk about what they are doing online.

Here are my top tips.

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My Secret to Time Management

Every day is busy, even weekends are a whirlwind of swimming, family events, shopping and household chores.

I’m naturally an early bird, though I’m up with the sun I’m flagging at 9 pm.
So I nap, I have a scheduled, completely adult nap most afternoons. Not just for toddlers or your grandma.
Napping is underrated in the west. You can double your productivity by simply scheduling a sleep in your day.

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How Not To Freelance…

We have all been there, we try our best at making life better for ourselves and our families but it’s only later down the line with great hindsight that we can truly appreciate our almighty mistakes and erratic decisions.

  • Quit your day job, bonus points if your wife does so as well, special badge if you’re also expecting a baby.
  • Level up if you’ve also pulled your children out of school to home educate them, you can work at the kitchen table with constant interruptions. Wouldn’t want to waste money on office space.
  • Register as a business with the Tax Office even though you’ve not yet secured any clients, this helps with the next point.

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How We Balance, Home Educating With Sucessfully Freelancing.

How to step outside the rat race and live a life less ordinary in just a few steps.

Just over a decade ago myself and my husband made some big changes in our lives, we left safe, comfortable jobs, he was in sales, I worked in retail, running a deli. We retrained in completely different areas and began new careers at the same time as beginning home education.

Life beforehand had been a mad rush every weekday to get out the door on time, Sul rushed to be able to drop our eldest off at school each day before his long commute across London to work, not returning until well after our children, then aged 7 and 2 had fallen asleep. Family life was strained and we struggled to make ends meet, we hadn’t had a holiday together for years.

The change came shortly after September 2001. We made some major life differences in our lives after the tragic events of 9/11. Like a lot of people, we began to value our loved ones, time together and to reassess.

It ended up with us changing our lives for the better. Sul used his illustration and art background to begin building websites, doing graphic design, print layouts and video introductions. Every evening after work he’d work into the night to get good enough to secure a paying client big enough to quit the day job.

I trained as a professional Birth Partner/Doula and became an apprentice, I worked with numerous families across London and was privileged to help many mothers birth their babies, an absolutely amazing job. Constantly learning and training, every year I added new skills to my repertoire. Exhausting and ridiculous hours took their toll, though. I missed anniversaries, Birthdays and celebrations to attend mothers. I finally hung up my Doula bag for good in January 2014.

Our children are now nearly all grown up, they’ve each gone into an industry they enjoy. Home education and the freedom of working freelance has given us time to nurture their individual talents and for their confidence to grow.

Together we’ve enjoyed a holiday almost every year, sometimes more, trips up and down the country to museums and historical places of interest. Summer holidays that go on over 3 months and long winter evenings together.

It’s been wonderful and I’d like to share with you all how we’ve managed it, answering common questions along the way and letting you into our secrets, tips and tricks from:

  • Mistakes we made in business and how to avoid them
  • How to successfully time manage to ensure you make the most of every day.
  • How to de-register your child from UK school and where to begin with Home Education.

All this and more will be answered in detail in the following posts throughout January 2017.

Change is good 🙂

Why and How we Home Educate.

Hiya all, If I had a pound for every time someone asked me for our schedule, home education resource list or How we home educate, I’d probably have about a tenner !
So why home educate instead of sending our sons to school?

Well mostly because our lifestyle and work methods mean we’ve been fortunate enough to have the freedom to spend time educating them. We value freedom, of expression, artistic flexibility and life.
We’ve home educated for many years and had many term time UK holiday! In fact, I think almost every holiday for the past five years has been in September, the weather is still warm and the lower prices make it very affordable.
Our children have developed their own talents, talents they didn’t know they had until we took them out of school, simply because school is quite rigid and can’t spend a great length of time on any one subject.
We currently have a budding computer coder who designs online, a skateboarder who is a talented urban artist and a budding engineer/inventor who can spend hours building and modifying toys, lego, electronic equipment.

We don’t have a set curriculum through we closely follow the UK National Curriculum for Maths and English, just because of convenience. We do intend our children to rejoin the U.K education system, our older son is at college so we need to cover essential subjects in our curriculum. We use a lot of online resources.
We are currently educating our two sons aged 13 and 8 years.
8-year-old uses
time4learning.com
for maths, science and English language.
An American site the only one he got on with, very well priced with great discounts for additional siblings and the added benefit of the stronger British pound over dollar, they also have curriculum for all ages up to 18 years. Fun and colourful with great lesson planning, clearly explains new ideas, he’s learnt a lot, has gained a surprising knowledge of American culture. Even on our most unproductive days if he does an hour on time4learning I know he’s had some brain food.

Fun and colourful with great lesson planning, clearly explains new ideas, he’s learnt a lot, has gained a surprising knowledge of American culture. Even on our most unproductive days if he does an hour on time4learning I know he’s had some brain food.
Some days are dedicated to whatever project they are working on, whether they’re perfecting a biscuit recipe or getting that kick flip on film, sometimes we just relax and go with it.
We use Letts workbooks for reinforcing lessons and practise, they have a wide range of books covering English, Math and Science for all ages from 3 years all the way up to A level.
We do a lot of science together, we buy kits from Maplin, over the past year we’ve built an engine, made our own crystals, amongst other projects.

Older son uses https://www.khanacademy.org/
for a lot of subjects, very accurate and covers subjects from medieval history to grammar and punctuation.
He often dives in and will follow a whole subject through to the end.
https://teamtreehouse.com/
is the resource we use to learn coding and design, the team tree house format is a series of interactive videos, you actually follow the video and build your code along with the tutor, you gain badges and build a portfolio that has value with potential employers. The lessons start at beginner level and are basic enough for a confident teenager to begin.
All ideas are explained and each step, so before you know it your teenager can be building a basic website themselves, I’m not promising the colour scheme will be great, though, teens seems to go for the brightest ad boldest looks, not easy on the eyes!
https://www.duolingo.com/
This site and app are how our children learn modern languages, it’s a nice resource that also has an app and teaches in small bite size pieces so they can do 15 mins a day and build confidence, the app means they can fit it in where ever and whatever we are doing. It has handy reminders and they can build a monthly streak, another great point is that it’s free and also that they can cover more than one language at a time.

So this is a basic run down of what we use on a day to day basis, obviously, I’ve not covered all aspects of our schedule, but in case you were worried about P.E, we go swimming regularly, play football, skateboard everywhere and climb a LOT!
Art is encouraged and usually something they do for fun as is cooking and gardening, building and decorating.

I sincerely hope this helps anyone thinking of home education but unsure about resources. We are not anti-school we are pro-freedom in education and everything else !

Mother on Mother Hate

She’s Mary a working single Mum, gets up at 6 am to shower, eat, wash and dress her kids and drop them at the child minders before heading into the city to work, calls during her lunch break to say Hi and then rushes back to pick them up in the evenings.Mary feels perpetually guilty, she follows Mums on Instagram and sees all the wonderful home cooked dishes she should be preparing lovingly instead of the frozen pizza she planned to shove in the oven. She works 20 hours a week finishing at 2pm so that she can pick up her children from school. Some of her colleagues think she doesn’t put in the effort they do and should take the job more seriously, they talk about this after she’s rushed out of the office.
Her neighbour Karen thinks its awful that she worked through the week that her son had Chicken Pox, she often mentions to friends at the school gates how terrible this is and likes to repeat the phrase “I’d never leave my baby with anyone, especially when he’s not well”
Mary is barely making ends meet, she’s studying for an Open university Degree in the evenings and at weekends which costs her time and money.
Her neighbour Karen has a husband who has a successful business and her Mum lives round the corner, she likes to drop her kids off with her mum some weekends so that she can go to the gym.
Mary’s Mum doesn’t live close and wouldn’t have patience with her children. Mary often feels like she’s letting everyone down, if she works more hours to please her boss and colleagues she’ll miss the school play or not have time to read a bedtime story. If she doesn’t take the over time offered she wont be able to buy presents for birthdays or take her children on the camping trip she’s promised.
If she quits work and claims benefits she’ll be intentionally unemployed and could potentially lose her home and custody of her children.

Ask yourself, are you a Mary or a Karen? Do you know a Mary that could use a hand?

Ramadan Month of Fasting.


O you who believe! Observing As-Saum (the fasting) is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become Al-Muttaqoon (the pious – see V.2:2).*

Ramadan is just a few short weeks away, for those who don’t know, Ramadan is the 9th Islamic month which Muslims spend fasting from dawn – dusk each day, its a time to cleanse ourselves physically, mentally and spiritually.  Learn more about Ramadan here. We spend the days fasting and the nights in prayer with extra prayers being held every night at the mosques. We look forward to Ramadan in the same way Christians count down to Christmas, and we morn the end of it. Obviously there are practical difficulties to fasting for long hours everyday, the main one is difficulty concentrating, hunger is easy to ignore however thirst is a constant nag. So successful planning is vital.

As the parent of teens who will be fasting the whole month and a pre teen who will be doing every other day or every third day inshaallah, I am very concerned about making sure they get the most out of the month while eating nutritious foods and getting enough water. This year well be fasting from 3 am – after 9pm thats an 18 hour fast here in London.

Heres my list of top tips.

  • In the weeks before Ramadan fast every Monday and Thursday( these are the sunnah days to fast, sunnah means the Prophet saws did this and we try as much as possible to follow his example).
  • Detox your life, cut out coffee and chocolate and other addictions as much as possible in the fortnight before to minimise withdrawal, the first few days of the fast we sometimes suffer headaches even migraines as our bodies adjust to life without the morning coffee !
  • Don’t eat empty calories, the traditional Ramadan food is greasy and stodgy with little nutritional content and puts a strain on your digestive system so eat cleanly with a few treats, frozen yoghurt, frozen water melon, stuffed dates make good substitute for the usual baklava and parathas and dare i say, avoid white rice and samosas, they lead to hunger and constipation.

  • *Plan, Plan plan, make a weekly or even monthly plan of tasks to be completed everyday, its very easy to fall into a doze waiting for the end of the day which is not what Ramadan is about. I write out the plan on a white board in the kitchen, everyone spends some time reading Quran and doing chores.
  • Get up early, we begin the fast at 3 am which means we have the most energy in the hours afterwards, so sleeping until midday or 1pm isn’t a very good idea, instead have a short nap between sunrise and 8 am and then nap again after midday. For children fasting, be reasonable and don’t expect them to keep up with the adults.
  • Cook early in the day or stick food in the slow cooker, theres nothing worse than being stuck in a hot kitchen for the last hour of the fast.
  • DONT go shopping in the hours before the end of the fast (Iftar) we made this mistake a few years ago and spent £70 on various delicious juices and smoothies which didn’t last more than a few days !!!!
  • Give food as gifts to neighbours, friends and family, this year the fast ends so late that we wont be planning many iftar gatherings, as we want to get the mosque for night prayers as often as possible.
  • Get outside in the fresh air, we go for moonlit walks and star gaze a lot during Ramadan, its a great adventure for the kids.

  • Up your game, whatever you did last Ramadan, up it, so last year you read Quran everyday, this year read it and teach it, learn a new surah or hadith every week, set realistic targets.

Toddlers

keeping the little ones busy, one of the hardest jobs in Ramadan is looking after young children who will not understand that mummy and daddy haven’t had coffee today, are sleep deprived and don’t want to chase you round the park in the hot sun all morning ! Help each other out, give your sister a break for a few hours and babysit , maybe she’ll return the favour.

Prepare lots of ramadan themed crafts and games, stock up on islamic cartoons and arrange lots of play dates, invest in a paddling pool and sunscreen, they ‘ll keep each other busy while you can cool off in the shade.

Pre teens

These children understand Ramadan though they don’t have to fast yet they often want to so let them fast a few days, but keep an eye of them, fasting is taxing to a growing body be sure to give them plenty of fruit and vegetables also a good multi vitamin to keep their strength up. Distract them during the day with games and water games, a few cheap new toys are always a good idea. A few hours of TV or Xbox can help them get through the day.

Teenagers

When it becomes fard for a child to fast i.e: when they hit puberty, they MUST fast everyday, so be sure that they get a nap in after school, feed them well at suhur (morning meal) and make sure they drink enough water, my teenagers will often not feel hungry at 3am, so I prepare fruit smoothies and keep them in the fridge (no one wants to hear you using the blender at 2.30 am!) add protein powders like Maca and Spirulina to boost the nutritional content. This year Ramadan is mostly during school holiday, we home educate so its not an issue though some children will have to sit exams next year while fasting.

 

 

 

Home Education. How We Do Science

We home educate, we’ve done it on and off for all our children for years, currently we are educating a 6 year old Mr I, 10 year old Mr A and a nearly 14 year old Mr K. One of the questions I get asked regularly is “How do you do science?” Even a few fellow home edders have a little shudder at how they will “do” science or how they should be “doing” it now. I love science, I mean really LOVE science, because science is everywhere. We all teach our kids science from an early age without even realising it, so I’m going to label it, bear with me and you’ll get my drift…

You’re singing “old Macdonald had a farm ” to your baby, the mooing and baba’ing is all biology!

You bake muffins with your 3 year old, the mixing and rising of the mixture, chemistry.

You look at stars with your 6 year old, physics.

Your 10 year old is planting a herb garden, biology.

Then puberty hits, ahem….whole lot of biology going on there! Lots to discuss, and isn’t it great that home educated children hear it all from us rather than playground banter.

You are making bath bombs using bicarbonate of soda, lavender oil and food colouring, chemistry.

Your child has pet, biology.

Get my drift, when you look at it like this you realise science is kinda hard to avoid! Children absorb scientific knowledge simply by living, if you want to ignite that spark then I strongly suggest buying a good magnifying glass, microscope, crystal making kit and planting a garden. Work books can be great to drive home the knowledge and open their minds to new ideas they might not have considered.

A great science day is a trip to the beach or the museum, I grew up wandering the halls of the Natural History Museum London, its worth a visit just to examine the amazing architecture never mind the dinosaurs!

The Science Museum London has a wonderful hands on approach, bringing science to life for kids of all ages. Launch Pad holds fond memories for me.

Another great place to visit to get your children into science is the Royal Institute they along with the museums all do wonderful tutorial days and events which are mostly free/low cost.

Science experiments can often be done easily and cheaply at home, fun with a torch and a cheap plastic prism is an easy way to demonstrate that white light is made up of the full spectrum, looking at onion skin through the microscope is a good example of plant cells, checking out snowflakes with a magnifying glass. I could go on and on and I’ll probably add to this list in time.