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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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 🙂

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.

The Kids are Alright.



Hello there people, I’ve read over the years scores of “signs of autisim/adhd/aspergers” lists and afterwards I’ve spent hours/days/weeks watching my kids and then deciding they have a problem, shock panic sleepless nights and worry.

I’m not alone in this, most mothers I know would agree that at least one of their children has an “issue”.

The simple fact is that your kids and mine are fine. Yes, FINE.

My eldest was referred to a speech therapist by the school nurse when he was 4 because he lisped, I didn’t take him, he out grew it within a year, he s an incredibly articulate young man and has won awards for his speaking abilities.

My second child had serious speech issues and years of speech therapy to over come them, he went to a primary school which had an attached speech and language unit so it was all done with little disruption to him, I can spot a real problem and deal with it! Its all the phantom ones I’m wary of.

I was told once that my son Mr A was deaf by his teacher, I laughed because I knew my son could hear me open a packet of crisps from another floor of the house, or hear the xbox be switched on from a mile away!

The truth is her lessons were boring and she shouted all the time, he hates shouting and was literally tuning her out as a way to cope with the day.

My youngest was a reluctant speaker and at the age of 3 would still only speak to us, his family. His nursery teacher told me “hes a selective mute” sorry but wtf?? Its not ok that she said that, its terrible that she took it upon herself to diagnose my child with a serious mental health issue, shes a nursery teacher not a phycologist.

Hes now 6 and speaks just fine except for a slight lisp due to recently losing his two front teeth. We home educate for many reasons but one of them is that we don’t want our talented, happy children to be labelled with a syndrome, they all have autistic traits, lining up toys, slow to speak, trouble concentrating.

Teachers and support staff are trained to “spot” the trouble children, and “help” them by referring to social workers, eek thats a nightmare isnt it, a noisy child or one who cant sit still and thats it your child has a label and you have contact with social workers.

In my experience social workers are often completely out of touch with the needs of their clients and their good intentions have harmed many people and allowed many children to grow up in desperate situations of abuse and neglect. I don’t have much time for the profession, though I am sure many are lovely. I’ve not met any.

My beautiful talented niece is autistic and has been pretty much since birth, her parents have had to fight tooth and nail to get her the support and help she needs, why should they have to fight for it? They pay their taxes, well I assume they do 😛 Shes gone from having a lot of probles at the age of 4 to over coming most of them and though shes had help and one to one teaching at school most of the work was done by her mum and dad who are easily the most positive parents I know. She is 16 and currently writing a book as well as studying for GCSE’s.

But my point is that if 1000 kids are labelled with syndromes they don’t actually have and treated for them then what about those who do really truly need help? The truth is they often don’t get anywhere near the amount of support they need, their parents become experts and its through their support and hard work that the children get on.

I’m sure we all have a family member with “funny ways”. If these things are not affecting them negatively then just ignore them, so the hat itches, the socks have to match, the forks have to be rounded not flat handled. So what? Everyone has unique ways about them, I drive my husband nuts by losing things all the time, he has a set place for everything. Which of us has the syndrome? Who cares !!

Some of the most creative, intelligent, inventive people to ever live would have been diagnosed with some kind of syndrome had they lived in the west today, dosed up with toxic prescription drugs or given counselling.

Sometimes having to have everything “just so” is fine, perfectionism isn’t a bad thing , its vital in many professions. We don’t all learn and develop at the same pace, we don’t all enjoy the same things, we are different and so are our kids, and thats OK.

I honestly believe we are all on the autistic spectrum at some point in our lives. The professionals are quick to label kids and this means the ones who really do need help get lost in the crowd of scores of kids who really are just fine and would be able to sit and listen for half an hour if they’d been given the chance to run to school and had a nutritious breakfast and not  sugar filled pop tarts or coco pops. I don’t hate schools, honestly, I just disagree with everyone being forced into the same shape whole.

So please ignore the lists going round online on how to spot the early signs of ADHD or whatever and trust your instincts as a parent, of course if you are worried see your GP but don’t worry needlessly. Your child’s childhood is sadly @ 9 short years from age 2-11, before 2 they’ll not remember much and after 11 they really are teenagers and will talk about “when I was little” as though they are adults ! Squeeze as much positivity into those years as you can.



Rant over.

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.

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.