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

beatrix-potters-quotes-2

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

‘But when will they socialise?!’ 

When sharing the fact that we are home educating with other people I find that one of the main questions asked is ‘how will they socialise?’ I don’t know what people assume but I don’t lock my children up in the house and hide them from the world! I promise you they actually have more socialising opportunities now that we home educate. 

As parents we obviously want our little ones to be confident and build friendship groups so the social aspect of our HE journey is very important. 

Keira attends drama class which she loves and will be starting Rainbows once she turns 5, which is something I am sure she will enjoy. She has also expressed an interest in gymnastics & horse riding (my girl has expensive taste) and these are all things we will explore. Scarlett Rose doesn’t attend any classes yet but we regularly attend play gyms and toddler groups which she really enjoys. 

As I work as a childminder throughout the week, the girls are constantly around other children of various ages who they have formed some lovely bonds with. The ages vary from 6 months up to age 3. As I am required to adhere to the EYFS, when I set tasks for the younger ones I try and implement some similar activities at ks1 level for Keira. It enables her to feel included but also challenges her a little. Even though she is still 4 and a half, it amazes me how well she completes ks1 work so it’ll be interesting to watch her develop new skills and knowledge over the next few months.

We’ve recently started to attend HE meet ups and the girls and myself have met some lovely friends. It’s so nice meeting people who seem so similar to yourself and have similar opinions too. I do hope to go on more meet ups soon.

It also helps that we have a big family who we spend a lot of time with. 

So that’s it for this evening. My children spend a lot of time with people. They are chatty and confident and I have absolutely no worries about the social side of HE 😊 

If you are considering HE, please don’t worry about the social side. Having the freedom to do what you want to do and go wherever you want to go is one of the perks of HE.

Jenna x