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  • Mrs Chakotay 2:38 pm on January 11, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , , , , languages, , , , , , religious education, resources, , Special Needs, ,   

    Ohana Home Education Yahoo Group 

    When I started home educating, the internet was fairly new, and so at the time (1999) the main source of networking between home educators was ‘e-groups’ which eventually got taken over by Yahoo groups.

    I know that almost everybody now has migrated over to Facebook, but although I am obviously there (and Ohana Home Education has a presence there), I’m not a big fan and don’t particularly like entrusting photos or files to them, and so while lots of yahoo groups now stand empty or quiet, I have decided to revive one of my groups as a handy place to store files and links that may be of use to home educators.

    ohana

    The group is, surprisingly enough, is called Ohana Home Education and you can find it here: https://uk.groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/OhanaHE/info

    There are already lots of files and links there. Mainly they are related to lapbooking, unit studies, home economics and some religious topics (mainly relating to Messianic Judaism, celebrating the festivals, cooking etc.), but I hope in future to add resources and worksheets on all other topics, and anybody is free to contribute.

    It is not particularly meant to be a discussion/ support group, although if it does get used that way it would also be OK. But there are of course lots of other places online (especially, inevitably, on Facebook) for that sort of thing. One of these days I will get round to making a list of the most helpful groups.

    So please do go on over and take a look, and if you would like to join to contribute/ make use of what is there, please do make sure to confirm when you apply that you are a home educator. Feel free to suggest as well the topics that you would like to see there.

    I know that, when I was first home educating, I very much appreciated the resources that other home educators had made available for free, so it is all good to make sure that there are free resources still available for a new generation of home educators.

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  • Mrs Chakotay 8:06 am on June 20, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: American history, Apologia, , , Box Day, British history, , , , , , , , , , , Special Needs,   

    Plans for September 

    After going to and fro in my mind over what to do – follow the national curriculum more closely with a view to doing GCSEs? Concede defeat over the severe dyslexia and put them all in school (it was a serious consideration, but none of us want to go that route), or go back to our Sonlight-style, literature-based lifestyle.

    I wondered seriously about starting GCSEs at home, but again, nobody really wants that. We have found two possible options for maths and English post-16, both of which are free, so I think there’s no rush for that. Heck, I’m doing GCSE maths myself next year, and I’m 44! 🙂

    I decided to go back to the literature-based lifestyle. I call it a lifestyle, because when we were doing Sonlight, we weren’t cooped up at home or in the classroom the way we have been recently, trying to squeeze ourselves into the National Curriculum boxes (although now I look back, I wonder why?! It has been miserable for all of us, and really, worse than unproductive, it turned them off learning).

    On the contrary, the books we found were always portable, it meant that we could be out and about everyday – at the woods, at the beach, visiting with other home educators, whatever really, and we could still get the ‘work’ done, and it didn’t really feel like work (except on my throat which was known to need a constant supply of hot tea!)

    Despite eldest’s difficulties with the system (possible Asperger’s without a firm diagnosis or Statement), his knowledge base was much larger than my own when I left school, so I’m confident that Sonlight gave him a good all-round education. The skills will come, but they have come frustratingly slowly.

    My kids are just bright, late starters 🙂

    The next question was, do we go on with Sonlight itself or another literature-based curriculum I have used in between, Heart of Dakota.

    I actually decided to do both: I will be doing two levels anyway – we’re going to finally go back and finish the Sonlight read-alouds from core C over the summer, and then go on to start core D. We never did cores D and E first time round because they’re based on American history, but we always felt we had missed out on all those fantastic books!

    coreD

    So, as always, we will do a hotch potch – we’ll intersperse the American history with some British history and geography. But we’ll be moving away from the textbooks and back to the literature. They recall it so much more fully that way.

    heart-of-dakota-world-geography

    For my daughter, I decided to do Heart of Dakota’s World Geography year. The titles look really interesting, and I’ve been wanting to do it for a while.

    I rather enjoyed HoD’s early grades, which I used (mainly for language arts) for my two youngest alongside Sonlight’s early grades, although we didn’t do all the books (HoD are much more Amero-centric than Sonlight, and more religious! But I like it because it has a much more Charlotte Mason style) but I skipped the first three higher levels in the ‘Hearts for Him Through High School’ series (although I have the guides if I want to go back to them).

    300

    And, because I am a book addict, I also ordered Sonlight’s core 300 (20th Century World History for high school) instructor’s guide, but not the books. I thought I would get the books gradually as we need them. And I’ll read these myself even if my daughter’s not interested. (I had been toying with doing their Church History core for myself but we hadn’t done the 20th Century in any great depth so I thought we should do this first) I rather think she will be interested anyway, and I know my eldest will love them.

    So there will be a whole lot of reading going on in this house, and out of this house next year, all being well!

    But as ever, the strict following of guides and manuals, ticking off every box, and doing every assignment, probably won’t happen.

    We’ve tried that, and it sucks the joy out of it all, and it kind of defeats the whole purpose of home educating in the first place, which is freedom to enjoy learning.

    For science, we’ll carry on with Apologia but I think we may set aside some more time for hands-on experiments. That’s one think I may go back to the National Curriculum for, but as I said many years ago, I will use it (as I’ll use the HoD manuals and the Sonlight instructor’s guides) more as a curriculum bank of ideas, a tool rather than a master. We won’t allow ourselves to be straight-jacketed by curriculum.

    When things start to arrive, I’ll post again with details about the individual books and resources.

    So I’m excited right now! We haven’t had a ‘Box Day’ for a few years now! How about you? What are you planning? What resources will you be using? What would you like to learn this year?

     
    • The Garners 3:08 am on June 21, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      We loved Core D/E – lots of great classic books!

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      • lillbjorne 12:26 am on August 10, 2015 Permalink | Reply

        I’m really looking forward to it! I feel really privileged to have this opportunity to learn about American history – something that no schools in the UK would cover!

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  • Mrs Chakotay 4:22 pm on January 28, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Aspie, , , , , , , SEN, Special Needs   

    Parenting Choices 

    Over Christmas, I had what almost amounted to an argument with a very old friend, on facebook (of course). I could rant and rave how facebook is the spawn of the devil and brings out the worst in everybody – which it does, but that isn’t the point I’m wanting to make this time.

    Our almost argument was essentially over parenting styles.

    Another, even older friend had re-posted a photo of a monkey with words along the lines of “I can’t wait until the monkeys go back to school (and I pity their teachers)”. Personally, I found the whole sentiment sad (what an indictment on society that mothers can’t spend two weeks’ holiday with their children without wishing them away) and bordering on offensive. (Perhaps I’m easily offended – maybe that’s the topic for another post…)

    I re-posted it with words to the effect that “I find this really quite sad and offensive, and if you feel like this, I feel sorry for you.”

    I had several mothers chime in with comments agreeing with me, and a couple from abroad who mentioned that the UK seems to be a very anti-child culture and the openness with which mothers speak so negatively about their children, even in front of their children, is really quite shocking.

    My friend, however, posted a snarky comment to say that she did feel that way, and that it was quite normal for ‘normal’ parents to feel that way, and if I thought she was a bad parent, it was my problem.

    Hmm.

    I had never to my knowledge suggested that she was a bad parent or had made bad choices, so I suspect that there is a little bit of a conscience-prick (or cognitive dissonance?) happening to make her feel defensive, but here is the thing. We made very different and opposite choices.

    We both have children with special needs. We both have a child with ADHD and very difficult behaviour. My friend sent her child to school and encountered enormous difficulties including suspensions and permanent exclusions, psychiatrists, CAMHS and medications, and getting the help she needed involved an enormous amount of fighting against the system to force the system to address the problem so that he could cope with the system. Actually I admire her tenacity and determination. It is not so much my friend’s parenting or parenting choices that I dislike so much as the system itself.

    The choices I made involved avoiding the system altogether.

    Special needs were not the initial reason that made us choose to home educate (my eldest son’s special needs were of a quite different nature) but by the time our third child came to ‘school age’ it was obvious that there was no way he could be squeezed into the box that the system required.

    When his behaviour started to become difficult to manage, we did try to deal with GPs and CAMHS, but without success. But since he was home educated, I concluded, as I had done with my eldest (who has suspected Asperger’s but for whom we also failed to obtain a diagnosis or a Statement), that we would just continue to find solutions at home. For the most part, I believe that was the right decision for the children and learning at home has been a much calmer and better choice.

    There is a ‘but’ though.

    For me though, for my health and sanity, home education has possibly not been the best choice. It certainly hasn’t been the easiest choice. I have no doubt whatsoever that the stress level has contributed to my overall ill health and in as far as adrenal exhaustion may play a part in ME, I think that stress has broken me. Really. I am certainly not the person I was  – either physically or mentally / emotionally – as I was when I started out on this journey just over 15 years ago.

    So my choice has come at a rather high price.

    I have wondered seriously whether I am well enough to go forward with our plan to adopt. Right now, I do not feel that I am, and that feeling of failure just adds to my overall state of mind. My Plan A, to have more children, failed spectacularly, but now I wonder if my Plan B will fail. I don’t have a Plan C. Just be sad indefinitely?

    However, would I do it again, even knowing what I know about how hard it is? Yes, I would. For my children’s sake, I would. I am glad I did. Would I home educate an adopted child? I have to say, despite everything that I know now, that I absolutely would.

    From my observation, school for the most well-adjusted children is tough and often comes at the price of impacting the child’s personality and character negatively. For adopted children, who have already been through trauma, loss and worse, it has the potential to be downright abusive and even in the best cases seems to add another layer of trauma which inevitably adds to their overall difficulties.

    Please don’t get me wrong. This is not intended to be a judgement on parents – especially adoptive parents – who choose school. I’m only looking from the outside, and I know that I don’t fully understand the special stresses that come with adopting a traumatised child. Home education is not the norm, and for most people, it can seem like an extreme solution. It involves one partner giving up their job, or a very difficult financial struggle. There is no ‘respite’ from home education, and I wouldn’t even suggest anybody try it unless they have a very supportive husband or extended support network. You will need a break, you will need support, and you will need a very strong sense of humour to be able to laugh when life and the state of the house is just so awful it’s ridiculous.

    But for me, from a list of imperfect possible choices, home education seems to be the least bad, least damaging option, especially for children with special needs.

     
    • TheDerpGuru 4:53 pm on January 28, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      My kids certainly noticed the difference in attitude to children when we first moved the UK, in the first week someone told my crying toddler to shut the *f* up as he walked by. In the first 6 month someone shouted over 2 aisles at TESCO the same thing. It certainly made my empathy for parents with children with special needs heighten, neither of those men had any clue what was wrong with my child, but felt it appropriate to swear in response.

      I made a big effort as a parent to not take my children shopping when they were tired and grumpy but sometimes needs must and sometimes toddlers just cry.

      We couldn’t believe it.

      Anyway. I guess I am one of the lucky ones, as when my children have gone to college or school they have had for the most part positive experiences. And we certainly never found the home ed community to be free of bullying.

      So I come at things eyes wide open about both communities.

      I have thought through the same issues in re; to adoption and fostering, wondering if school is a great place for children who need more nurture than average. I was always under the assumption that it was compulsory to send adoptive and fostered children to school.

      Anyway, I hope you find some peace as you reflect on it all, and you find a way forward that is best for you.

      Like

    • lillbjorne 7:20 pm on January 29, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Thank-you. I have come into contact with several adoptive parents who also home educate in the UK so it is definitely an option, although I can imagine you might have to fight to convince social workers, as they wouldn’t automatically see what a boon it can be for attachment and positive family relationships.

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  • Mrs Chakotay 9:47 am on June 21, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Boys Brigade, camping, everyday sexism, Girls Brigade, , , , , RNLI, Special Needs   

    Brigade 

    We started Brigade about six weeks ago, and now we’re in the summer term, we’ve had a few weeks of great outdoor fun.

    Brigade is a Christian-based, uniformed youth organisation, and it’s usually separated into Boys Brigade and Girls Brigade, but this particular unit is mixed, which is nice.

    I thought it would be a nice thing that all my children could do together, since all their other activities separate them up according to age.

    It seems religious in a gentle way – it begins with a prayer and ends with the Grace, and I think they do a scripture exam once a year.

    Indoors, they’ve had great fun learning to march(!) and they did a pretty impressive display of synchronised marching for their annual display evening, where they all peeled off in different directions and then met up again.

    Outdoors though, we’ve had a treasure hunt on the beach (although we spotted cub scouts there and they looked like they were having more fun!), last week was camp practice, and I’m shocked to have to say that the boys and girls were split up for this activity, with the boys putting up tents, and the girls cooking! I don’t know whether that’s to do with Brigade as an organisation or a bias of the local leadership, but I found that a little bit off to be honest.

    Although they loved it to begin with, they are beginning to hate the restrictive uniform, and now it is also becoming clear that one of the leaders has a big issue with home education (constant snide comments and subtle digs that are really beginning to get me down). So we’ll have to see if they continue past the summer.

    Yesterday we had a great outing to the local RNLI station – fair play to the volunteers there, not only do they do an amazing and dangerous job, they were able to entertain a group of 4-18 year olds for an hour and a half without complaint or incident! The outing culminated in one of the older members donning a lifesaving ‘drysuit’ and testing out whether it would actually keep her dry!

    I hope we can manage to get over our issues, as overall it seems great fun, but I am concerned that one of the leaders may make it impossible. She doesn’t seem to appreciate special needs (and ‘blames’ them on home education!) and if she won’t respect our choices and lifestyle, it’s not going to work. We’ll see.

     
  • Mrs Chakotay 6:06 pm on March 28, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Special Needs   

    Uphill Battles 

    I haven’t posted lately, as we haven’t really done anything noteworthy. Mostly we just potter around, doing individual projects that don’t amount to much.

    This week though has seen more than the usual number of meltdowns, inappropriate behaviours and things broken. I’m not sure why. I do try to limit e-numbers and artificial additives. I try to react sympathetically and define boundaries appropriately. But I’m exhausted.

    I feel, all in all, as though I am fighting and uphill battle with an opponent who doesn’t want to learn or do anything within the spectrum of ‘normal’. I hate this feeling of being on opposing sides to my children. We are meant to be a team, helping each other.

    But this seems to be the reality of dealing with special needs.

    Not for the first time, I have wondered whether school might be a better option. But my eldest, who loves 6th form, assures me it wouldn’t be any good at all for M. I know it wouldn’t too. He wouldn’t be able to conform or be quiet or sit still, and I could imagine him being expelled before too long.

    CAMHS turned us away twice and we failed to get any kind of diagnosis or statement, so I have no doubt whatsoever that he wouldn’t get the help he needs, unless we were prepared for a long hard fight, in which case, we might as well just carry on the long hard fight at home.

    But sometimes, just sometimes, I just wish there was some kind of scheme of respite care for home educators.

     
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