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.

Continue reading “Teen Education. Think Outside of the Box (2 Min Read)”

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.

Continue reading “Raising Teen Boys. (2 Min Read)”

Selfish Mothers.

So the new trend at the moment is mothers loudly declaring that –

“I Love my daughter, I wish I’d never had her”

Guardian Weekend Magazine 11/02/17

Yesterday I didn’t get a chance to read the entire article,  Today I’ve read it, researched the whole movement and yes it’s a thing, bloggers, writers, Instagrammers everywhere online there are a few of these regretful parents.

I feel deep sadness reading these quotes, real anger and a need to go and hug one of my children.

Continue reading “Selfish Mothers.”

Sick Days

Today is a sick day, not as in “this day is super cool” more, everyone has the lurgy, myself included. Today is a day to rest and heal, drink tea and write, read and catch up on my work, in between bathroom trips and sipping lemsip, this bug is really getting me down.

I’ve managed to get dressed finally and feed a young man, I’d administered physio, he thought his legs were broken this morning, he had a cramp. Some tough love from me, “stretch it out, yes I know it hurts, now walk on it, no, walk properly”

Had left him distraught until he realised he could run, he ran laps around the house to celebrate!

My third son is still in bed, I really must go up and check on him, 1pm is late even for him. My lot have a great knack of really milking a cold for all its worth, I suppose because its only of the times I’ll fuss over them. I’m not usually a fussy mother, not my style. I’m raising men. Men who can do their own laundry, wash up and even my youngest can cook a meal. But when they are ill they don’t have to lift a finger, I’ll sit by their beds while they fight a fever, rubVickss into their (sometimes hairy) chests and make soup, endless honey and lemon and run hot baths with olbas oil in, filling the house with nose clearing vapours, buy their favorite ice cream and watch endless TV to keep them company.

It is nice to feel needed, time flies and my boys are nearly all grown. Sad to think that in ten years or so they’ll have their own lives and wives to share them with. I hope they remember fondly feeling safe and loved.

Whats sick day traditions do you have? Please share in the comments.

 

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 !

Giving Kids Choices in Education and Life

One of the wonderful things about home education is the flexibility and freedom but how much freedom do you allow your children?
I’m not talking about the totally autonomous v the home school debate I mean day to day things.

My children are mostly what I think of as “free range ” it they run about wildly and occationally sit and get some written work done. This post is inspired by an event this morning, my youngest son was due to go to a Beavers meeting where they are going to learn and Islamic song (nasheed) to sing to the public next weekend. He hates performing in public unless its something physical like skateboarding or climbing. He was very upset at the thought of singing in front of anyone and no amount of reassurance was going to persuade him otherwise. I even found the song on youtube to show him but he sobbed with big tears. My heart broke and I relented, hes now painting a canvas in the shed as its raining and is happy again.
It did make me think that many years ago I might have forced one of my children to do something they told me they hated with the idea that “facing your fears” or”live outside your comfort zone” would somehow build character.

I then began to reflect on my own childhood and how many times I was pressured into something I hated, I hated gym and dance class, I was and still am chubby and uncoordinated. Thank God I found types of exercise I enjoy and am good at. I wish I could go back and save my younger self the humiliation of gym class.

So how far do we take it as parents? My second son has a fear of heights (something he may get from me too ) so when we go on holiday and the others are all climbing like monkeys up the climbing wall/cliff/actual wall. He sits it out with me and nope its not a big deal. He is cautious and thats fine, he tries new activities all the time so I’m not worried that he wont ever learn new skills and I’m happy that its not a big deal.

Time tables are another thing we like, my husband swears by having some structure for the boys, they do thrive on having a list of tasks to do before they can do what they want to.
I know of a wonderful home educated boy who at the age of 11 when presented with the entire year 7 curriculum and told “when you get this done you can pursue your own interests this year” he began waking up at 6 am everyday and working solidly through until after two weeks he’d covered 9 months of work and he spent the rest of the year painting and drawing which was what he loved. I don’t think anyone can argue with that logic !

I am of the opinion that never being forced miserably into an activity by a well meaning adult will make my children more confident and happier people.

A Few Big Changes.

 

 

Since my last post over a month has past, so much has changed in that month, the biggest change is that we’ve moved to a new home in a new town.

This has meant lots of adjustments and some really very challenging situations to deal with.

We are generally very positive people, we always try and see the good in every situation and be thankful and we are incredibly blessed, thank God.

Our strength is being tested, our children have enjoyed making friends here but at the same time have found some of the locals are not as welcoming, being the newbies has its draw backs, one of which is that they are easy targets for bullies, our son was recently attacked in the street and punched in the head, this needed stitches. He was caught completely by surprise and is struggling to get his head around what happened, re living it over and over imagining how he could have handled the situation differently. Its a terrible thing for a fourteen year old to experience. It hasn’t made him fearful as I was worried it might, instead he seems quietly to be preparing himself to meet his attacker again and settle the score. Not in an aggressive way more in a “you’re not so cocky when you are on your own” way.

Both myself and his father tend to handle tense situations verbally, with wit and humour rather than violence and we are glad to see the boys have inherited this trait, nothing worse than trying to bully someone and they make a smart remark that has your mates laughing at you.

We’ve of course reported this to the police, they will be round to take a statement, lets hope he still remembers what happened by the time they arrive.

The good that has come out of this is that he knows we are always on his side. We are clearer about our goals and aims (to move out of this town for starters) We know our children are not trouble makers at all and because of this we’ve never really taught them to defend themselves physically, only to walk away. They are not angels, but they are not bullies either.We now plan to remedy this with self defence lessons, something the boys have been requesting for months.

When we moved out of London we let our guard down and allowed the boys a lot more freedom than they’d had before, this event was a good wake up call to us, its not a good idea to get complacent with the safety of your children ever. Thank God it didn’t happen in London as the chances are it would have ended with a stabbing rather than a lucky right hook. Now our second son has a rather manly scar and a little more street smarts, rather than a punctured lung or worse.

The other great change is to my career path, I’ve been a working Professional Birth Partner/Doula for over ten years and I adore my work, I get the privilege of being present at births, bond deeply with women who often become like sisters to me. However its a very hard job, the hours are killer and being on call is easily the worst part, not being able to travel without my on call bag, never sleeping because I keep waking to check my phone, darting off  in a cab in the  middle of the night to a strange hospital to spend hours working with no breaks, no team to support me. So yes changes had to happen. I am now training in a completely new field, watch this space for news 🙂

Getting By


The recession has hit our family hard, very hard. We ve been struggling to make ends meet since Mr was made redundant 3 years ago. Even while he was in an office full time we were still on a tight budget, living costs in London are huge, travel, rent and utilities left little for fun, holidays or a car.

We are both self employed and over the past 12 months have earned almost nothing, this makes for depressing reading for me, we both work hard at what we do, I’m a birth worker and he’s in web and user experience design.

This post is about how we’ve managed to get by and make changes so that our children are almost unaware of how tight things have got.

I’m planning further posts about each item on this list but heres a few of the things I’d like to talk about.

  • Be Grateful.
  • Value yourself and your skills, don’t work for peanuts just because you are skint, you ll end up out of pocket in the end !
  • Do make time for yourself, have a day off, go on holiday.
  • How to take a family of 6 on holiday for under £500 !
  • Budget, meal plans and lists.
  • Where to food shop for a better quality of life.
  • Home education on a shoe string.

We do all of these things and make the most of each day, I must confess to going through a period of my life when I thought, “things will be better when xyz happens or I’ll be happy when I have xyz” Stopping this circle of wishful thinking, the “when I win the lottery” mentality, its a con, a whole life time can pass by and we’ve forgotten to live whilst we are planing for the utopia that will never happen.