Happy New Year! 2017!

Hello friends & fellow bloggers,

It’s been a while since I’ve posted.. I know! I’m sorry for neglecting my blog however we’ve had so much going on over the last few months that I just simply haven’t found the time to post anything.

So an update on our journey:

1. We have a new addition to our family in the form of Charlie, the most beautiful Cavachon puppy! It’s absolutely amazing how much he fits in & has completed our family. He brings so much joy to us and the girls are really enjoying walking him, bathing him and giving him far too many treats! Charlie doesn’t mind of course!

2. We’ve entered 2017 & we are still home educating & still loving it! It’s honestly the best decision we have ever made. Spending quality time with my children every day is honestly priceless. Keira can now do her 2, 3, 5, 10 and 11 times tables, all through her own choice and determination. We have continued to read stories to each other every day and she’s now reached level 4 of the biff, chip and kipper books. I’ve noticed now that wherever we go she’s constantly trying to read words & sentences whether on leaflets, advertisements and food packaging and it’s wonderful to see just how willing she is to develop her own skills.

3. The littlest member of our family, Scarlett is starting pre-school this month & she’s very excited and totally ready. As a HE mummy making the decision to send S to pre-school knowing she won’t be going to school was a big decision & an emotional one at that as she has been under my care for most of the time since she was born. She’s just going for one day per week but I think it will help her grow and develop as an individual and make new little friends too. It will also give me and Keira time to focus on some HE things that Scarlett wouldn’t really enjoy as much.

4. We have no TV.. Downstairs anyway! We made the decision a few months ago that it wasn’t having a positive impact on our family. Unfortunately children today are brought up around technology that it is the norm and some are even glued to it.  I believe technology has its advantages and benefits so I don’t dispute that at all but I think it’s very important to limit the time the children spend on it so they do not become dependent. We still have a TV upstairs however it only connects to YouTube and Netflix so we use it for educational videos and occasionally the cosy movie nights that we enjoy as a family. Our quality time as a family has improved and we spend much more time communicating as a family, role playing and playing family board games is a huge hit at our house. 

Anyway will leave it short & sweet as its our adventure day today and the girls are ready and raring to go! 

Have a wonderful day.

Love & Light xJx

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The School Run Subscription.

So this morning my littlest girl decided 6am was a good time to wake up Mummy! We are currently snuggled in blankets watching good old Peppa Pig and I thought it would be a great opportunity to do another blog post.

One thing that has really helped us through the Home Education journey are the HE groups that are available on Facebook. These enable you to hear about, connect with & communicate with other home educating families. For anyone who visits my blog who is interested in or considering Home Education I really recommend taking a look at these groups too. I am sure you will learn so many useful things & if you ever have a question, feel free to ask it. The groups I visit the most are Home Education/Schooling Worldwide & Home Education West Yorkshire. Just do a simple Facebook search and you should find them.

I am always looking for new ways to teach and support my daughter in her education so I regularly head to the HE Facebook groups to search for useful websites that other HE families use. It was actually a fellow HE mum that recommended TheSchoolRun and once I had taken a look at the site myself, I was really grateful that she had. It works really well for my eldest daughter (currently age 5 & working at KS1 level) and I can see it being a useful resource whether you Home Educate or have children in school.

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TheSchoolRun Review                           (www.theschoolrun.com)

TheSchoolRun is a website that offers information, activities and advice on what children are being taught in schools between the ages of 4 and 11 years of age. This enables parents to support & understand their child’s learning. I understand that some HE choose not to follow the curriculum however I still feel TheSchoolRun could still work for you. There are so many resources available covering Maths, English, Science and other subjects so if your child is showing a particular interest in a certain topic I am sure you will find something that is useful.

Their are over 500 downloadable worksheets from reception through to Year 6 which are free to download. You do just need to register first. If you choose to subscribe you will be able to download over 5000 worksheets, learning packs and learning journeys too. For any Home Educators that are interested in a subscription send them an email at  enquiries@theschoolrun.com and advise them you HE and a discount is available. It definitely is worth it. img_5141

There are many different ways that you can use TheSchoolRun resources. If you choose to subscribe many of the Maths & English worksheets are interactive so they can be filled in online if this is how your child prefers to work. As my daughter is very hands on and creative, we print off the worksheets, cut them out & stick them into the specific exercise books. We currently have exercise books for English, Maths & Science. I find this helps to keep her attention for longer periods of time and because she enjoys doing the worksheets, she takes in the information much more efficiently.

I have looked at many educational websites to support us during our Home Educating journey and this has to be one of my favorites. It is easy to navigate, the resources are fantastic quality & most importantly I have found a learning method that works really well for my daughter. I have also discovered that they are working on creating a tailored pack specifically for Home Educators so I am really excited to see what that is all about.

I highly recommend all parents (whether your children are home educated or in school) to give this website a go. You can take out a 14 day trial subscription for £1.97 which will enable you to download over 40 learning packs covering core National Curriculum topics including times tables, grammar, spelling, SATs, phonics and more. You can then decide if it works for you, if not you can cancel this subscription at any time within the 14 day period.

Visit http://www.theschoolrun.com for more information!

I hope you’ve found this review useful. We have a day out planned at the National Railway Museum today so I better go & get the girls ready.

Happy Sunday!

x J x

 

Beaumont Park – Huddersfield.

I must start by apologizing for not posting in such a long while. I have had so much to do recently that I honestly don’t feel like I have stopped. Anyway i’l try do a few posts over the next few days, just to give some feedback  on the adventures we have had recently and how much fun (and the learning experiences) that we have all had.

fullsizerender-1We are fortunate to live in a lovely place with some amazing parks. Beaumont Park has to be one of our favourites for many reasons. There is so much space for the children to run around, open fields to run & play ball games in, two fantastic play areas, a band stand which the little ones love dancing in & if you are brave enough, some woods which are fantastic for exploring nature.

We visited on Friday and the weather seemed temperamental so I made sure the little ones were wrapped up warm. The thing I love about children is how the weather really doesn’t bother them. Come rain or shine, I guarantee if the option to go to the park was there they would go. We were joined by little A (2) today and she loved the park so much that she cried when it was time to leave.

I parked the car at the end closest to the visitor centre as i’d been told by a fellow HE mum that you could pick up a ‘Monty’s Tree Trail’ booklet  and I thought that would be something that would be interesting for my Keira. It included a really handy map which Keira found fascinating – we both couldn’t believe how big the park actually was.

We then started walking & running along the paths, looking for the Monty Snail markings hiding amongst the trees. Scarlett (2) has recently become really sociable so we had to stop & talk to everyone. We stroked every dog, spoke to the gardener who was so lovely and gave all 3 girls a small bouquet of flowers each. Unfortunately they didn’t last very long and by the end of the visit most bouquets were now headless.

The girls then discovered lots of squirrel nuts and proceeded to fill their pockets with as many as possible. A (2) enjoyed it the most and her pockets were heaving with nuts. We were also privileged to see a squirrel jump from tree to tree and then jump to the floor in front of us, collect some nuts and run away again. The girls loved it.

We then reached the pond – unfortunately we never ever see any signs of life when we visit. Maybe we are just too noisy? However I have been told by a friend that they have seen frogs & tadpoles before.

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After this we proceeded to the play areas. You are fortunate to have the choice of two – One larger one and one smaller. I prefer the smaller one as I feel the children have more opportunities to use their imaginations and I absolutely love just sitting and watching them role play. There are little trees that they can hide amongst, a really cool tunnel, a climbing frame and a tyre swing which can comfortably sit 4 children on. Because of all the nuts also in this play area, we spent a lot of time in there. Little A is like a magpie and spent at least 20 minutes collecting nuts and making little piles.

During this visit we didn’t actually go in other play area but this has a slide, swings, a climbing frame, rocking animals, wooden stepping stones and another wooden climbing structure just outside it. Lots to do for little explorers.

Because of the size of the park, the possibilities really are endless when it comes to spending time here. Bringing a scooter or bike is a great idea and if you have a dog its a wonderful park for dog walking too 🙂

Hope you have enjoyed this review.

J x

We are still alive.. I promise!

So ive come to the realisation that I havent posted for a while. Infact I haven’t done a post for the entire summer holidays which is terrible of me!

Its fair to say that we have had a busy few weeks. I used the summer holidays as our break – my break from planning around the curriculum and Keira’s break from structured education. I believe children learn so much through play and I am sure that Keira has learned lots of new things over these past few weeks.

We’ve enjoyed trips to many parks, visited the National Media Museum, met some adorable baby animals at Cannon Hall Farm and even managed to have a few days in Blackpool. Keira said Blackpool was the best holiday ever! Ha.

So this week everyone has been posting there little one’s first day at school pictures and I can’t believe this time last year, that was us! I never imagined in my wildest dreams that I would be a home educating mummy but I am so so glad we took the plunge and made that decision. I adore every moment I spend with my beautiful girls and I look forward to many more to come.

Over the next few days il be posting about our plans over the next year. Il be following the curriculum at KS1 and will be reviewing many websites and organisations that I feel can benefit not just home educating families but also children in school too so stay tuned.

Jenna x

HE Trip to Skipton Fire Station.

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One of the first things I did when I started Home Educating was look at as many articles, resources,websites & groups as possible – mainly to convince me that I wasn’t completely insane! Haha. It gave me the reassurance that if Home Educating could work for other people then we had every chance that it could work for us too.

One of the Facebook Groups that I joined is the Home Educating West Yorkshire Group. With just under 1000 members I feel fortunate to have got to know some amazing people already and it’s a great place to hear about different events that are taking place in your local area.

One of the lovely HE mums (Thanks Lacey!) recently arranged a few HE trips to Skipton Fire Station and we visited today. As Monday is a working day for me I had my own girls Keira & Scarlett and we were joined today by L (3) andA (2).

We arrived a little late so we’re pointed straight to the fire engines where the children could sit in the fire engines and even a little boat too. We then went outside where we watched the fireman drive the fire engine around the back of the station and fill up the hose using a fire hydrant. All the children then
got a go wearing the fireman helmet and using the hose. Keira really enjoyed this bit!

The fireman that did the talk (I feel awful as I forgot his nIMG_4180ame) was absolutely fantastic. He had a great sense of humor and his interaction with the childr
en was amazing. The children I brought with me absolutely loved it and my Keira still wants to be a ‘fire girl’
when she is older!

He understood that whilst demonstrations and talks are regularly available for schools, not much is set up for Home Educators like ourselves and it is something he is going to look into for us too which is great.

We thoroughly enjoyed our day & look forward to similar adventures in future.

Jenna x

We LOVE home education! 

For anyone who’s thought about home education or made the decision to HE you will feel a variety of different emotions when making your decision. 

I think most people beginning the HE journey, no matter how much research you have done will have moments where they think ‘am I making the right choice?’. I always try and take a positive from a negative and I believe that having these thoughts makes you better at home educating. In the beginning I had these thoughts almost every other day but as I knew it was very early days for us, we were still getting in a good HE routine.

This week we have had a fun-filled, hands-on week full of laughter, fun and experiences. I haven’t focused on ‘education’ as such but my girls have most definitely learnt lots of things along the way.

We have learnt about opposites, drawn self portraits, had a pretend cafe in the garden where the children measured out pasta and water, been for nature walks, paddled in a stream, ran around parks, collected snails and made lots of new friends at HE meets! 

This week has truly been fantastic. I’m really starting to love home education and the quality time I get to spend EVERY day with my children and watch them develop and grow.

Keira even said to me this week ‘I just love our adventures Mummy and I love being with you and Scarlett’ and it really made me happy! 

Here’s some pictures from our very busy week! 

Jenna x

Visit from LA & Elective HE Network Meeting.

I promised that I would do a post on the Elective HE Network Meeting that we attended on Tuesday afternoon and I thought I would tie it in with the visit we had on Tuesday morning from the Attendance & Pupil Support officer from my local authority.

‘Allowing the LA to get involved with your HE decision is your choice!’

For anyone considering home education or a newbie like myself, allowing the LA to get involved with your HE decision is completely your choice. From what I understand if your child has a SEN then in occasional cases permission or further discussions with the LA maybe needed but in most cases it should be your choice.

‘The LA Radar’

In our case, we are already under the ‘LA radar’ as Keira was registered within the school system. Because of this, her de-registration details were forwarded to the LA who contacted me to request a home visit. I accepted on the basis that I was intrigued to hear what they had to say and also because I wanted them to understand that no one wants to best for Keira than what we do as her family. I haven’t gone into the world of Home Education without doing thorough research and  I am confident that this is the right decision for Keira and I really wanted them to hear that from me. I was also intrigued to hear what support or advice they had to offer.

‘The Visit from the LA’ 

The Attendance & Pupil Support Officer that visited us seemed genuinely lovely. She seemed supportive of our decision and asked questions that I expected such as ‘how do I plan to HE Keira around my job’ but understood that because of my job socially Keira would have many opportunities to make friends and socialise with other age groups. Socialization seems to be many people’s main concern when I mention HE but both Keira & my youngest daughter Scarlett seem to have a better social life than I do. I had already prepared a folder for Keira which includes the National Curriculum for KS1, some of Keira’s work that she has already done and her school report that was sent from school a couple of weeks ago. She had a look through that but said she was impressed with the research that I had done and that she had no concerns in regards to Keira’s HE. She ended with the request to visit again in 12 months time which I gladly accepted 🙂

I understand why some HE families choose not to get involved with the LA. My only advice is that if you are faced with this choice, have confidence in your own decisions. I realized a long time ago that no matter what school I send my children to, they cannot possibly want the best for them in the same way that we do as their parents.

‘The Elective Home Educators Network Meeting’ 

I promised myself when I started this blog that I was going to be completely honest. I think sometimes I can be too kind for my own good. If i’m not happy with something I just won’t leave a review at all and i’l keep quiet. However I understand a lot of people who read my blog are researching and intrigued to hear about certain experiences that we face during our HE journey so this is something I must share.

The meeting was held at Cliffe House which is a lovely venue that I have visited before for various courses and even remember going many years ago for a school trip. I had to book a place on the course and when I called they told me various activities would be set up for the children which I thought would be great. Keira’s almost 5 and much better at entertaining herself now however Scarlett is only 2 and you are lucky if she sits still for 2 minutes! When we got there I was pleasantly surprised to see some other HE families. Some had been home educating for many years and some were just at the start of the journey just like us.

Colouring was provided for the little ones but that was it in regards to activities so I was a little dissapointed and it made it difficult to listen to what was been said as Scarlett decided 10 minutes in that she had better places to be.

The best part of the meeting was finding out that as Home Educators we can take advantage of BooksPlus which means we can borrow 2 boxes of resources per term to help us with the girls studies. We we’re given a list of boxes and you simply email them to request the boxes of choice. This has to be the best part of the whole meeting.

As Scarlett was by this point trying to make her way out of the fire escape it was really difficult to socialise with any other professionals or HE families. I also felt awkward because one lady who I think was from the council spent the whole time we were there watching me. I don’t know if it was because I am a ‘younger parent’, new to HE and shes observing how I deal with the children  or something else but I felt really uncomfortable and for that reason & the fact their was nothing set up for the children we won’t be attending again.

So that’s my blog for today. A little long but I hope it gives you an insight into the home visit from the LA & the E
HE meeting too.

Jenna x

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So this week I have set myself the challenge to spend as little money as possible.

We have been home educating for over 5 weeks now and initially I planned so many activities/days out to ensure the girls days were as ‘fulfilling’ as possible but I spent an absolute fortune.

More experienced Home Educators have said to me that HE can be as cheap or expensive as you want it to be and they are completely right.

Today was a working day for me and we were joined by L (3) and A (2). I absolutely love Monday’s as both little ones are fantastic and get on so well with Keira & Scarlett too.

We starteIMG_3742d the morning making fruit salad which the little ones really enjoyed. Through my job as a childminder I follow the EYFS and the topic we are looking at this week is ‘healthy eating’ so getting them to learn about and try new fruit seemed appropriate. They did some drawings and coloring of fruit which we then stuck on the wall.
All the little ones then helped me get the picnic ready, ready for our day at the park.

We are fortunate that where we live there are plenty of lovely parks and outdoor areas. Today I decided to take the journey to Manor Heath Park in Halifax which all the children love. We were joined by a fellow HE mummy and her two children, J (4) & I (2) and it was lovely to see the relationships continue to build between all the children.

We spent time in the butterfly garden & they loved watching the fish and the terrapins. We then ran around the walled garden (queue me panicking that i’d lost Keira who thought hiding would be a good idea!) They played in the water area and spent a lot of time in the outdoor playground. All the children had waterproofs & wellies on so even when it rained it wasn’t too bad. Did find though that for the little ones in the puddlesuits slides are lethal! Ha. We even managed to eat our picnic sitting outside once the rain had taken a break. Scarlett just decorated the floor with our lovingly prepared fruit salad!

It was honestly a brilliant day and I spent … (drumroll please!) just £1.00!!

It cost me £1.00 for me & 4 little ones to enter the Butterfly Garden! A good result if you ask me. If you are looking for a nice day out I highly recommend this park. There is also a cafe onsite, public toilets (though you pay 20p for the privilege) and an outdoor gym area so plenty to do for all ages.

Tomorrow is my day off work and I have the dreaded meeting with the council lady about my HE journey! I will most definitely do a post on this at some point during the week and let you all know how it went. The lady I spoke to seemed pretty nice on the phone though so I have my fingers crossed.

Oh & just had to share this adorable picture of Keira & Scarlett cuddling up before bed tonight. Scarlett loves having her hair brushed & Keira is more than happy to play the role of hairdresser.

x Jenna x

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Educational Websites & Resources.

One of the things I have been focusing on this week is putting a good plan together to ensure that we are providing enough opportunities to enable Keira to reach her full potential.

As Keira is still 4 years old (4 and a half to be precise!) her year group would have been following the Early Years Foundation Stage. Through my job as a childminder I implement this into every working day anyway so the EYFS is second nature to me and its safe to say we’ve covered all aspects with Keira. From September Keira would have been starting year 1 which would have seen her beginning the journey into Key Stage 1. I have already started implementing this into our daily routine to give her a head start.

We’ve bought a few workbooks – I absolutely love the shop ‘the works’ as can always seem to pick up something good for a decent price and we’ve also got some exercise books for each subject so we can keep a record of things we’ve learnt and look back on them as Keira gets older. I am also not ashamed to admit that we also use a few websites to download resources and also play online games or challenges which Keira really loves.

I thought it would be useful for me to share some of our favorite websites with you. Whether you home educate or not, I think anyone with children should take a look at these sites as I think there is something to learn from each of them.

The first one I have to mention is Twinkl. I actually have a Platinum Plus account as I originally started using it to download resources for my mindees. There are many different memberships available and some resources are also free to use. I personally cannot recommTwinklend this site enough. You can download so many different resources covering so many different topics. They cover the EYFS right through to KS4 and even have resources for people with Special Educational Needs which I think is fantastic. There is a section specifically for Home Educators which I find really useful as well as a secti
on for Parents, Childminders and even Adult Education. Many of the resources can be edited to suit you and you can even personalize some of them too. You can also request specific resources which I think is amazing. I haven’t had to use them yet but from what I have heard the support team is also fantastic so a good company to support. To find out more visit www.twinkl.co.uk 

When it comes to online gaming I am quite selective over what Keira plays. She really likes the BBC Bitesize Games which I completely approve of as the activities are based on KS1 Literacy, Mathematics and Science. Her current favourite has to be the Khan Academy. I have to be honest I think this site is fantastic and I am completely amazed that its also free. I have learnt so much from it myself and I really love sitting with Keira and being able to explore it with her. She has her own profile (which is very safe and secure) and can choose from a variety of subjects. We have focused on the early maths section at present as Keira’s really enjoying it so seems silly to move onto something else yet. I love how she Khan-Academy-logois given questions but if she doesn’t yet understand it she can select ‘I haven’t learnt this yet’ and it remembers that. It seems to then gradually reintroduce the missed question but at an easier level so she can slowly get her head around it. She can also watch tutorial videos which are available alongside every question asked which give a quick explanation on how to work out the question which is great. The bit that Keira loves is that for every question she gets right she wins points. The points add up and she has a little avatar that changes as she develops. As she earns more points she can then personalize the character. She absolutely loves it and it really does motivate her to work harder. I highly recommend you take a look. To find out more visit www.khanacademy.org 

Other websites we enjoy are however I haven’t used these enough to review them yet:

http://interactivesites.weebly.com/ 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/ks1/

http://www.what2learn.com/

https://allinonehomeschool.com/

https://uk.ixl.com/

Jenna x

 

Confirmation of de-registration! Eek.

After a super busy week I have finally had the chance to sit down and publish another post.

I feel that we have really embraced home education this week. Every day has been packed full of learnFullSizeRender (1).jpging, experiences and most importantly fun and it’s safe to say that I am so ready for the weekend! Mr. B will be home from work and we can all relax a little.

I had a call from our local council this week confirming that they had received Keira’s de-registration letter. We’ve been home educating for 5 weeks now but just receiving that call made it feel so real. I am so proud of me and my other half for working together to make the best decision for our children and I am sure when they a
re older they will appreciate that too! I hope they do anyway! Ha.

The attendance and pupil support team also requested a home visit which I accepted so they will be visiting us next week. I understand that this isn’t compulsory and I appreciate that some HE families don’t want any sort of interference from the council which is completely understandable too. I made the decision to accept the initial visit simply because I am confident that what we are doing for our children is right. I want to hear what the council have to offer in regards to additional support for home educating families but I do not want a lesson in ‘how we should be teaching her’ and that is something I will politely make clear to them. One of the main reasons I have taken Keira out of school is because both me and her dad believe we can offer her more 1 to 1 support and a better learning environment than what any school can. I believe that every child has the potential to be fantastic but I believe that different teaching methods need to be used and the school system seems to promote a ‘one size fits all’ method which I completely disagree with. Keira and her sister will have the freedom to explore and follow their own interests and as their parents we wholeheartedly support that.

We are also attending an Elective Home Educators Network Meeting next week which will be interesting to say the least. I am intrigued to learn more about different practices used by HE families and to explore the support available to us as home educators.  I will do a separate post on this next week and share with you how it went.

Jenna x