We've done it , we are now celebrating a full year, in fact , a whole 15 months, a staggering 66 weeks of home education and wow what a journey we have had so beware if the post seems a little long this time .
We've shared lows and highs but mostly some big and wonderful adventures and I have to say it would not of been possible without help form family , friends , my husband and children but more importantly those resources that have helped us make the journey a lot easier than I ever imagined possible .
Over the past 15 months we have endured so Much and it would be hard to choose our favourite or most loved bits but overall the changes in our children we see daily are most definitely the most rewarding.
At the beginning of our journey we never really took into concideration the extent of hard work and complications that may occur but it did not take Us long before routines were put into place and understanding of their needs were more visible .
We started by preparing our needs and initially I had no idea where I was going to start but with some help and guidance from extensive online researching of home education, I soon found that everything I needed was in fact very little .
You see there’s actually no rules to home education , no curriculum to follow , no times or days you need to work by , no tests or exams have to be take, no need to Even be marking or recording what you are doing , in fact some people choose not to use
Schooling as a method of learning at all and some use every day life skills to teach and educate their children .
There’s no rules or regulations other than children must be appropriately learning suitable To their own ability and as we all know , each child is different, they all have different levels and needs and wants as they grow and in my Opinion we have been able to find each of ours in many different ways .
At first , I sat down and looked into online subscriptions for multiple education sites , I thought about buying multiple learning tools such as books , printers and other learning resources when in fact all we needed was ourselves and the world around us .
I had no need to go and buy anything , no books, no desks or uniforms , no white boards or stationery that would have cost a ridiculous amount if I was left to think I actually needed those things.
You see , although schools are funded and a certain amount of money is given for each child to attend and be educated , home education is not and so we have to ensure our budget fits our lifestyle .
Luckily , I work from home and my husband works a full time job so I was able to stay at home and home educate my children just as I felt I wanted to teach them.
I have many reasons for home education , I could go into them all but I feel it would just be conflict of interest and this is not what my journey is all about . I actually really enjoy teaching my children and seeing the rewards as they learn and grow , I am lucky to be able to do that , I know that .
My biggest reason for home educating my own children is that they are my children and I feel it is my responsibility to teach them everything they need to know , I prefer to have my children with me , learning and enjoying things as a family .
We decided the best and first thing to do was to visit our local library and sign us all Up .
It’s free and it’s readily available and not only Could we go anytime and borrow books but we later found out that there was in fact an application we could all put into our iPad's ,phones or computers that allowed us to order , borrow , read and return books at our finger tips making it even more accessible for us conveniently .
Now if the children want to learn about something they can hire a book freely from their online library anytime they wish without feeling that they’re tied to just books they have when for example taking one from the library itself .
My children had the best start they could at their fingertips , whatever they wanted to learn about they could , whenever and where ever , all I had to do now was to ensure they wanted to learn and get them Into a routine where their minds felt continuously stimulated and eager to learn .
This was the hard bit .
As you can imagine , In the beginning , telling a child that they no longer needed to do extensive school work and could learn at their own pace and interests makes way for them starting out with changes such as being more laid back and doing the things they enjoy Doing more freely such as watching tv , playing computer games and playing to their own leisure, even having lie ins and staying up late .
I wanted to ensure this was not going to happen , I have heard of the term unschooling among the home educating chatter but allowing my child to do as they wanted without reaching for a book or some sort of learning resource or subject was not something I felt was the best for my children , in fact I thought it would cause chaos and being a large family , bigger than most to start with would have inflicted more harm than good without routine and stability so I made rules from the start and from day one I stated to them that although they could learn at their own speed and interest, I still wanted to see them putting pen or pencil to paper and working on something .
To be honest , I really had no idea where to start , especially seen as though there were 7 children and all at different levels of ability, some needed special educational needs, some were more introvert and some were basically able but uncaring for the lessons schools were forcing upon them so we sat down and asked the children what they wanted from us with reasoning that we had to be fare and the whole idea was they needed to learn but more freely and definitely in a more comfortable environment.
I had no idea where I got the idea from but I went with it and It seems to have stuck , doing us well for the past year with more reward than I thought .
With weekly visits to the library on a weekend , we came across the idea that if we chose one subject of interest , we would use that as our structural base and introduce subjects such as math, science and English into it .
I struggled trying to find the same work for all the children at different levels and at first we found the older children were left stranded as all my attention was taken with the younger ones or the other way round and so we needed to find a different path . I suppose having 7 children played against me at first .
This is when Twinkl came along .
I came across it on a home education Facebook page where advice was being handed out regarding free or low cost subscriptions to help find worksheets or make subject based work easier and so I revised my options and every time I was directed to another site , I always ended up back at Twinkl so took the decision to join them and I am so glad I did as I really feel if it was not for them I would have struggled and not have been able to do what we have achieved in this past year .
We literally use Twinkl for everything from Early years to key stage 4 / GCSE and even Sensory, emotional and neurological difficulties and we always make a weekly display wall now that we have all the resources there ready for us as the children really look forward to showing of their work and seeing their finished projects .
Twinkl makes our learning more fun , they save me time and help me whenever I need something from a subject that may not always necessarily be there already, the're willing to find or add something if they are able to and are available 24/7 , they really do care.
There's so many ideas and initiatives and inspirations for home educators and teachers or even just parents who want to help give extra work or fun learning activities to their children .
Twinkl even have a book club where you can be sent Books each half term which really comes to life if used with their special augmented Twinkl app. Twinkl have plenty of resources available to match each of their books so you can make a lesson or two and enjoy the books to their maximum potential , we even made a pie to add to our theme of the Ronald the Rhino week .
We have done so much , we've learned about special events such as St Brigid's day , British Science week, Charles Dickins birthday and many more as well as the many other subjects such as the historic timeline we are currently still working on which includes interests such as Anglo Saxons, Vikings, Normans and the Mesozoic era to pick just a few .
We've worked on Space and the environment , joined in on events such as First Aid course and Epilepsy week and visited so many interesting places over the past year including York , Durham Cathedral and numerous museums and parks, We've taken interesting visits to places like South Lakes Safari and Madame Tussaud, Sealife center and even attended a religious education and cookery course at our local church.
I never actually thought I would be here still today saying I wish to carry on , I really thought I would have given up and sent the children back to school due to the fact it has been stressful and I have been judged on my choice of home educating but if anything (bar the odd self indulged , lack of educated know it all ) we have had immense support from 99% of people who we have came across during our journey .
The children are so much happier now , I can see their confidence is extended and their abilities are increased in areas they had difficulties in before.
We recognize their areas they need improvement are are seeing the benefits and improvements every single week we work with them .
We have had a fantastic first year and look very much forward to the next , but first, we are enjoying the sun while it lasts .
Happy Home Educating