Tag Archive | homeed

Home Ed & Fibro

I imagined when we started the new year that I would somehow manage to find the time to post regular weekly updates. Of course that hasn’t happened. I would like to be able to say that it’s due to being far too busy to blog! But in fact it has been more to do with ill health.

I wonder how common it is for families with both parents and children with chronic diseases to home educate.

It has been on my mind to organise some pages with links, books and resources for both parents and children with chronic illness. I will get round to it. But right now I am struggling due to my ME and Fibro pain – struggling with the most basic activities such as housework and cooking, staying awake for any length of time after showering, driving, walking. I’m not quite bedbound but I have been very much more limited than usual.

We have been managing short spurts of homeschooling. Of course, it isn’t necessary to do anything formal at all – we have tried to cultivate a way of life that incorporates constant learning. But we have become more formal recently and I like to feel that we have achieved something quantifiable every day.

We have reached a little bit of an impasse with regards dyslexia, and we have abandoned the attempt to learn joined up writing – I had read that it is recommended by some experts as something that helps the brain make connections, but I think that when the dyslexia is severe, it only serves to confuse further. I’m looking now into software to help them work on the computer instead. When I have something in place I will let you know.

We did manage a couple of field trips and activities in September: a medieval castle ruin in Launceston, the first meeting of the new Home Ed Teens group and surprisingly regular trips to the library, but there were lots of things I had to say no to.

The two eldest have started their courses with the local adult education centre. It’s a bit of a hodge-podge but they offer some quite nice opportunities for free. At the moment they’re doing some photography which they’re enjoying.

The two youngest are part of a drama group and we organised a new sports group (or rather, I should say, I got the ball rolling and somebody else has kindly taken over the organising as it is not my fortΓ©!) which starts in October.

I’m having to re-learn to pace myself after a long spell of not needing to worry too much, but I hope to be able to manage my energy well enough to get some more fun things done in October. And I’ll try and post more often.

Planning Time Again (Yay!)


Now is the season when homeschool / home education planning starts in earnest!

Planning is one of my favourite things, as you may know! I have probably tried all the planners there are!

I seem somehow to have managed to acquire 4, yes four, teacher planners for the 2015/2016 year, so I may do a giveaway at one point – watch this space πŸ™‚

Although we don’t do it every year, we are planning to carry on through the summer this year as we have had so much disruption again this term with moving house. Our books are mostly still in storage, so I will share in another post what we’re using.

What I would like to do is shift to earlier bedtimes and earlier rising so we can start lessons early and finish early with a view to free afternoons outdoors while the weather is good. All of my children except the youngest now are teenagers, so that may take some convincing, but I’m going to try πŸ™‚

Sorry I can’t post photos, as we still have no phone or internet so I am limited to what my mobile can cope with!

* Please note these links will take you away from me, so please bookmark this blog first! *

The four I have this year are:

β€’ an Erin Condren Teacher Planner which is personalised, so I won’t be giving that one away I’m afraid, sorry! (When it arrives, I’ll post a pic though) πŸ˜€ This really is the Rolls Royce of teacher planners! Expensive (although they’ve reduced shipping costs) but worth it because they are so sturdy and lovely to look at all year.


β€’ The second is another American planner called the Teacher Anchor, which I forgot I ordered:


This is a nice, sturdy planner, but not colourful like the EC. Really more suitable for school teachers than homeschool, with a bunch of Common Core info at the end, but certainly re-purposable (but they are all sold out this year),

β€’ a British teacher planner from the Teacher Planner Company:


(I ordered this before the EC but it hasn’t arrived yet, so I’m not sure what I’ll do with this one but it does have a very nice ruler) and finally,

β€’ The ‘Holy Simplicity’ Catholic Homeschool Planner from:


This was a downloadable file, which we printed and bound ourselves. This one is really beautiful, but I have to say I prefer the Well Planned Day planner ( http://hedua.com/cart/index.php/wpd.html ) which is also beautiful and has Bible verses whereas the Holy Simplicity planner has Catholic quotes. It’s a little bit wasted on me to be honest!

I might use it as a Prayer / Bible and Homemaking planner, as it has a nice monthly ‘Mary and Martha’ notes section for precisely those two things. I have had the WPD planner a couple of times, but it is an expensive option, and the shipping costs make it prohibitively expensive.

The other problem with American academic planners is that they don’t cover the same period as British planners – our ‘school year’ runs from September to July, whereas most American planners run from July or August to June, often even missing out July altogether, which is not much use if you do school all year round.

How is your homeschool planning going? Are you excited about the next year? What are you using? Are you a planner addict like me?

Starting the Summer Term

A little update on the beginning of our ‘summer term’ – things haven’t quite gone according to plan yet, and we haven’t quite managed to get back into a good routine that everybody’s happy with again yet.

That’s normal, it takes a while.

One of the things we’ve been struggling to get our heads around is the different layout of our new house.

In the old house, we had a separate dining room which we used for a schoolroom for a long time, but then decided to move the table into the living room, so we could move seemlessly from table work to the more relaxed reading time for literature and so on. That wasn’t ideal either because it meant bringing dinner into the living room through the dining room!

Our new house has a kitchen-diner instead, so all our meals are there, but the living room is upstairs! (It’s a ‘town house’ over three floors) we have tried doing everything upstairs in the living room, but it just doesn’t work, we need table and upright chairs for work that requires writing or drawing.

Next week we’re going to move our ‘table-work’ back down to the kitchen table, and then we’ll retire upstairs when the table work is done.

I also need to revise our timetable, as my daughter is doing a sports coaching course now which takes up two whole days a week, a situation that I’m not entirely overjoyed about, but it seems to be something that she is enjoying and it will give her another ‘string’ to her potential career ‘bow’ for later on.

She is of an age now where we need to be thinking seriously about which subjects to continue and which to drop.

When I was at school, in addition to Maths and English, we were required to choose 5 options, 1 of which to be a science, 1 a humanity, and we were encouraged to choose a language as well but the rest were free choices.

So far these are daughter’s choices:

– Biology
– History
– Geography
– Art

And as for language, she is very keen to start learning Japanese seriously, so that is something I will need to investigate. (At the same age, eldest son chose to try Icelandic, as he loved the sound of it, but he dropped it quite quickly when he discovered how like Latin the grammar is!)

So I will need to think about how to re-arrange our days to fit everything in.

I’ll let you know when I’ve sussed it! πŸ™‚

Rural Social Life Fail


Winter term 2014

October through December was all bleugh, ugh and meh. (whatever that last one means, I’m not quite sure – just a bare-faced attempt to get down with the kids’ new slang) πŸ™‚ We went on a couple of local field trips to museums and suchlike, but all our enthusiasm seemed to have been sucked out of us. I’m not sure why – perhaps it was the change in the weather as the days started getting shorter and the evenings started drawing in?

But mainly, I think, it had to do with the fact that our social life has dwindled to a trickle. Cornwall, or at least our experience of it so far, is not like other places. Here, we have a group get-together in a hall once a fortnight, and absolutely nothing in between. If people are meeting up individually, they’re not telling us.

I’m not sure I would have home educated at all if we’d been here from the start.

We were used to a home ed culture in the city where there was something going on every single day if we wanted to join in. We are still in culture-shock, after four years.

Despite there being plenty of other children of comparable age to mine, none of them have hit it off with anybody.

Then to top it all, the winter storms tore the roof off our meeting place, meaning that the end of year Christmas party was cancelled, and finally our 2nd car is out of action, meaning I rarely have transport.

Altogether, quite, quite depressing.

Spring Term 2015

We’ve only had one meet-up this year so far. While our former venue is still being repaired, it’s a challenge to find suitable locations, and mostly it just hasn’t happened. Apparently our old haunt won’t be available again until at least March.

The mobile library has also stopped coming this year – cuts to rural services that we could really do without. We’re also still without a car, so our ‘World’ as our oyster has shrunken to nothing. With absolutely nothing in our village – no shop, no pub, no community centre other than the church, the place is an absolute ghost-town.

I wish I knew how to address this. Socialisation was the one thing that I never had to worry about with home education. But we haven’t seen anybody during the day now for almost a month. The only thing that’s stopping us going stir-crazy is drama group on Thursdays and Sundays. Living in a rural location without a car in what is – it has to be said – a slightly ‘foreign’ country (where I, frankly, don’t understand the culture) is testing us to the limits.

Unless things change, I can only see two options – move house into a town, or stop home educating.

New Page and an Update

Firstly, I’d like to rather belatedly wish all my readers a Happy New Year! I hope you had a good holiday over the Christmas period.

Secondly, I must apologise for neglecting this blog. I keep promising to try harder, but I think what I need to do is to get myself into a routine. (I’ll try harder) πŸ™‚

I am planning at some point to do a quick round-up of the end of last year and let you know what we’re doing this term.

I thought I would let you know, though, that we have changed our name, from ‘Little Bears Family Homeschool’ to ‘Ohana Home Education’. For information on why we’ve changed and what it all means, please take a look at our page ‘Ohana‘.


I know, I know, nothing for months and then three posts in one day! I apologise, and do plan to get organised and blog regularly from now on…. maybe.

September has been nice and short for us as we went away in the second week, so our ‘Week 1’ starts in the middle of the month.

Week 1: 15th-19th September

We had a fairly good start the first few days, with some ‘Morning Time’ and ‘Table Lessons’ but mostly either one of the children or I was too tired to do much of what I had planned for the afternoons so we have mostly watched documentaries for our Middle Ages project.

The main challenge has been getting up earlier after such a long holiday.

We did have a couple of outings though – once to an informal home ed group meet-up (at the park), and once to Launceston Castle.


Launceston Castle is a great ‘English Heritage’* site to start off our Middle Ages project. It is a classic example of a Norman motte and bailey castle, which would originally have been made from wood and was later rebuilt in stone around the 1200s.

English Heritage were very friendly and accommodating – as long as it is in term time and you book at least 7 days in advance, home educators go free.

Week 2: 22nd-26th September

This week has seemed a lot less productive, and the problems with getting up early (and not wanting to go to bed earlier to make getting up earlier easier) haven’t improved so far.

One outing this week, a music session with our local home ed group. My children didn’t join in (their friends weren’t there for one thing). But the music man was excellent and he’ll be coming back so hopefully they’ll enjoy it more next time.

Having the freedom to opt out if they want is one of the advantages of home education. (I remember no end of compulsory activities at school, which achieved little but to make me inappropriately compliant, so it is something I resolved never to do to my own children. It seems something very important in this day and age that children should not feel afraid to say no if they feel uncomfortable.)

There are two more days of September but I’ll count next week with October.

*All of the ‘English Heritage’ sites I have visited in Cornwall have had the word ‘English’ scratched out. Whilst I don’t approve of vandalism, I can completely understand it. Cornwall, whether recognised or not, is a Nation. It is not England, and it is inappropriate and offensive to Cornish people to call sites in Cornwall ‘English’. I happened to notice that there is a group called ‘Cornish Heritage’ which has only a few sites. If the government has any sense, they might consider approaching Cornish Heritage to see if they can work together so than English Heritage sites in Cornwall can rather be known as ‘Cornish Heritage’ sites. #justsaying

Resources This Year


I thought I would share an overview of the main books and resources we’re using this year. I haven’t included languages, as I still haven’t decided which ones we’ll tackle this year. We have previously dipped into several different ones, and I now have requests for more, so that will need to be a separate post.

We are working through “Singapore Math” workbooks. All of the children have struggled with maths, and so the levels they are currently working on are very behind where they ‘should’ be. I try not to worry too much, we just plod on and try to do a few pages every day. But I did notice that last year we didn’t even finish one workbook, so I’m trying to encourage one complete exercise every day.

English: spelling, copywork and dictation
We are using a mixture of “Sonlight” language arts and Jolly Grammar books 1 and 2 (for spelling and dictation rather than grammar). We also occasionally do copywork and spelling from a series called “Heart of Dakota”. HoD is an American curriculum that we tried, so I’ll get round to a review at some point.

English: grammar & comprehension
Our main resource for English grammar and comprehension is “Galore Park”. GP is widely used by independent schools, and it is very good. Each book covers one year’s worth of lessons.

English: literature
We are planning to make use of Kathryn Faulkner’s excellent Sonlight-style plan for British history, starting at the middle ages. That is, we are starting at the middle ages. The plan starts with the Celts/ pre-history.

We are starting with the picture story book “A Medieval Feast” by Aliki, and G.A. Henty’s Wulf the Saxon.
For more details, the plan is available at both the Sonlight UK yahoo group and the Sonlight UK facebook group.

Shakespeare: I decided I need to make a concerted effort this year to introduce my younger children to Shakespeare. I had tried “Lamb’s Tales from Shakespeare” a year or two ago, and it wasn’t well received, so this time I am trying Usborne’s “Illustrated Stories from Shakespeare” and we’re starting with “The Tempest”.

We like to read a poem every day, usually in the morning.
We are starting this year with a collection by Rudyard Kipling. *I can’t find it right now, so I don’t have the title, but I’ll add it to my goodreads account at some point.

During our Morning Time meetings, we are using excerpts from “Daily Prayer: Common Worship” (the Church of England’s modern book of common prayer) and “Celtic Daily Prayer” from the Northumbria community.
We’re reading Bible stories from the “Lion Children’s Bible in 365 Stories”, as well as a daily prayer and proverbs from “The Devotional Daily Bible”. We may add Sonlight 2’s Bible reading schedule in later, together with their memory verse selection.
In addition, I’m planning to learn a bit of catechism (The Westminster Shorter Catechism) using the “Book of Family Worship”. I also have a devotional with commentary on the catechism, “Training Hearts, Teaching Minds”, but I think my children are too old to need it.
I would also like to start a bit of church history, so we’ll read short biographies from the book “Trial and Triumph”, maybe one per week, and I will try to make it fit with the period of history we’re studying.

We’re using Curriculum Bank teacher’s books for Biology, Chemistry and Physics. These are great because, although they’re old and possibly a bit out of date now, they have photocopiable worksheets for every unit. But they are KS2 and we really want to be moving on to KS3 so we probably won’t do every experiment now (unless they want to – if they’re fun, that’s always a good thing). Sadly out-of-print but sometimes available used.

Science read-alouds:
We read a section (a few pages) from a chapter of one of the junior Apologia science books in the afternoon. We are currently reading “Exploring Creation with Zoology 2: Swimming Creatures”.
Obviously from the title, these are written from a religious perspective. However, the religious content is easy to skip over (we mostly skip it) and the content otherwise is excellent, and the creationist perspective does not in any way impact negatively on the content. As I may have mentioned before, although I am religious, husband isn’t so I have to be even-handed about creation and history & science as far as I am able to be.

Science: nature study:
There isn’t one specific book for nature study, but the plan is to include nature study at least once a week. That has always been the plan and mostly it doesn’t happen so I think I am going to have to schedule in some specific times for nature walks etc.

History: I have a big pile of great resources for history, but the main textbook we’re using is: “The Kingfisher Children’s Encyclopedia of British History.”
I will add the big pile to the list of resources for History.

History read-alouds:
An old favourite which is great for learning a chronological sweep of British history (but no dates) is “Our Island Story”. It also begins with myth and is told in a rather romantic, Victorian style. But it’s still a favourite πŸ™‚
In addition, we’re reading the Greenleaf Press version of “Famous Men of the Middle Ages”

We started “A Child’s Geography” volume 2 “Explore the Holy Land” before we moved house, and the children really enjoyed looking at Turkey and learnt a lot from it and so I thought that, since we will be looking at the Crusades, it would be a good idea to carry on with looking at countries in the middle east.

Geography read-aloud:
We like to read one page everyday from “You Can Change the World” which gives an outline of a country and its prayer needs. We usually start with this for our ‘Afternoon Meeting’ after lunch.

I did wonder about creating Amazon affiliate links for all these books but I don’t have the energy sadly. But when I can, I will try and add them to my Amazon shop. The aim of having the shop is obviously to earn some extra income, which hasn’t so far amounted to anything at all, so please shop generously! πŸ˜€

One last point; this list is subject to change – inevitably as we try some things, not all of them suit as well as I expect, or sometimes we find something better. So I’ll let you know if we have any major course corrections or find any great new resources.

#HomeEd 2.0

I discovered my old website this week on the wonderful WayBack Machine, and so I have started to transfer and update some of its pages over here.

I also found a collection of blog posts from around 2009 when I was experimenting with using my old website for blogging, and I thought I might reproduce some of them here. This post was originally called ‘Technoschoolers’ and was posted in various places including my old Multiply site, which I have also partially recovered. So I may re-post some ‘classic’ posts now from time to time.

So without further ado…

Home Ed 2.0

I’ve been having an interesting conversation online with a real-life friend of mine who is a ‘learning technologist’. She believes – with a passion – that today’s schools prepare children perfectly for life – in the 1890s!

She also believes that what is needed is technology, and lots of it! To be specific, social media – Web 2.0 collaborative learning & networking technologies, and among the best of these she suggests the following:

– Blogs
– wikis

Of course, homeschoolers in the US and home educators in the UK are already well connected through things like yahoo groups, curriculum forums, and the newer Ning communities such as the Homeschool Lounge and so on.

I’d also like to add a couple of resources to the list of learning technologies which look interesting or useful:

– Picnik (update: Picnik was a photo editor which is no more)
Mindmeister & similar
Diigo (Delicious, Digg etc.)
Cover It Live

I’ve also heard good things about

Moodle and

but I’m not sure how appropriate these would be for children who are learning at home autonomously (as most UK home educators do), I would need to investigate further how these can be used.

Take a look at the following video, and consider these questions: are the issues being raised in the video relevant to home education or not (and if not, why not), if they are relevant, how do we address them?

(I have to say, watching this again in 2014, I am struck by how thoroughly miserable these children look!)

If our children are learning autonomously, how does that figure in – how and where do we draw the boundaries, keep them safe, ensure that if they choose to game, facebook, blog, twitter or whatever (and apologies to prescriptive grammatists there for my verbal use of the words ‘game’ and ‘facebook’ !), that they are getting something educational out of it or should we be encouraging a balance between all this and learning in more traditional ways?


New Term #homeed #dyslexia


I’m spending today planning, thinking, wondering how to proceed when we start back with homeschooling tomorrow. I’m glad of an extra day, as I have been putting off thinking about it, and the weekend has been busy with visitors. But my eldest is still home as it’s a teacher’s ‘inset’ day, so I decided I could do with an ‘inset’ day myself.

The weather is very grey and depressing after the lovely sunny weather and I am really hoping it will start cheering up again as I am feeling that I need to get out more and get away from things this term.

I am wondering again how to deal with the severe dyslexia problem. I am out of my depth, and I just don’t know how to connect with any resources or helps that might be available. I have suggested calling it a day and trying school, but that’s not an option Motor-biker will consider so I need to do what I can here.

Starting back after a break is always hard – trying to get into a stable routine, getting up early and getting stuck in is a challenge after holidays. But I’m just wondering if I need to re-think our whole way of doing things (again).

When Dragon-tamer was at home, he pretty much taught himself because he was a book lover and found reading easy and fun. Pony-rider is the same, and she is happy to explore her own topics and she’s not one to get bored because she can’t think of anything to do.

The two youngest though, Motor-biker and Baba Zonee, are both struggling readers, get bored very easily and aren’t really interested in anything and certainly wouldn’t pursue their own interests unless they include watching TV or playing computer games. It’s a whole new paradigm for me.

So for the last 2-3 years we have done much more formal lessons than I ever did with the older two, and I thought I was doing the right thing, and that I needed to do it, but I have the overwhelming feeling that none of it is going in at all. They’re still not interested in anything, still not willing to study topics on their own, and they still can’t read.

So I’m still not sure how I will approach tomorrow. I am wondering about abandoning the formal lessons and going back to Sonlight (for anybody not familiar with it, it’s an American, literature-based curriculum which we loved and which I used for years with my older two).

I never needed to do much in the way of formal work with the older two – they just picked it up along the way, and because they were such wide readers, they had no problem with spelling or grammar or writing – it all just came naturally.

Was I wrong to assume that the younger two were different? Should I have given it more time? Would they eventually pick up what they need just by listening to me read to them? I know it’s possible because it happened with my two oldest, but they were readers. Can reading itself be transferred by osmosis? I’m just not sure anymore.

By the way, I’ve added hashtags to the title of this blog post as an experiment, in the hope that they’ll appear when the post automatically feeds through to twitter.



Half Term

I hardly feel I deserve it, we’ve accomplished so little in terms of verifiable, quantifiable pieces of work this term. We never used to follow the schools term timetable. But somehow, now, I feel I need a break more than ever.

This week and next, Dragon-tamer is home from sixth form college, so it’s nice to have him back again for a little while and I wouldn’t like to waste this special time, since it’s so rare now, in trying to get everybody else to ‘work’.

But I still feel guilty. It seems to me that there’s an enormous amount of guilt attached to motherhood anyway, and doubly so with home education. I can never do quite enough, work quite hard enough, achieve quite the results that will show that homeschooling was the best choice for our family.

But actually when I look at Dragon-tamer, although he’s not as academically advanced as I expected or hoped him to be, I am so pleased and proud of him in other ways: I’m constantly told how polite he is, so well-spoken, so considerate, thoughtful, clever, funny, talented. And I know that academics, or worldly achievements can come later.

When I first started home educating, my priorities were exactly those things. If I had ever had to articulate an ‘ed phil’ document, it would have included things like happiness, and a solid emotional and social foundation above academic achievement and prizes. I have to remind myself these things from time to time.