Collective Snails - a home educating family!
All of our 4 children are home educated.
In 2012 our eldest daughter was struggling with depression due to being bullied at school. At 8yrs old.
The school couldn't deal with it properly so we decided to keep her at home.
It was a spur of the moment decision made at 3am whilst our daughter was in tears about going back the following day.
Within the year we pulled our then 7yr old son out of school because he was so tired, angry & frustrated every day
after school, due to finding reading & writing almost impossible to do.
The last straw was being told that he would have to sit a SATS test
even though the school knew he wouldn't be able to read the questions.
I tried to get them to let me or a member of staff read the questions to him as I knew he would work it out in his head
quite quickly, it was the actual reading that he found difficult, but they wouldn't do that.
- they were setting him up to fail and I wasn't going to sit back & let them do that to him.
After only a few months we realised that our two eldest children were back to being relaxed, happy & confident again,
eating properly & enjoying outdoor life just like a child should be able to do.
It was then that we made the decision to keep our youngest two at home as well.
That made things so much easier for home ed meet ups & days out as we didn't have to do it between school runs!
It took a while to get used to a new routine and find out what works for us & what dosen't, and to be honest,
we are still learning even now.
Home Educating means that we don't have to follow a set curriculum or stick to set days, times & holidays or even weekends
- Our youngest daughter has always been an early riser so she is quite often doing her maths at 6.30 in the morning.
We take each day as it comes & if one of them is having a 'bad day' that is fine,
we all have those now & again and we all know that there is no point trying to focus on something when your brain won't work
so we'll just go to the woods or the beach instead (we like to be outside as much as possible all year round)
We turn internet off in the afternoons & do not use any technology until 4pm.
We only have the T.V on after 3pm and on Mondays it is only for 'documentary day' as requested by our youngest son.
Left to their own imagination for a while, it is amazing the things they will learn!
We also have a fruit & veg plot & a wildlife area in the garden & a greenhouse to keep them all busy growing stuff
including Wild Horseradish, which is part of our snails main diet.
At the end of October 2018 we also took on a local allotment plot to give us a bit more growing space.
An average week for us in winter & any days with cold, wet weather is as shown below
but when the weather is good we try to put the writing & computer work on hold in favour of outdoor learning.
By 9.30 am we usually go out for a walk to the woods, on the beach, visit a nature reserve or just have a local wander
then back home for a little wi-fi time until dinner.
After dinner we usually have lessons as shown below - unless we decide to do something else instead!
(Remember, being spontaneous & impulsive is sometimes good too!)
Monday - word searches, crosswords or board games.
Tuesday - history or geography then art & creativity.
Wednesday - random weekly project & maths.
Thursday - astronomy, spellings & maths.
Friday - Science first, then art & creativity or reading.
Saturday - maths with Daddy while I clean the animals out in peace!
* Art & creativity means that they paint, draw or make something while I get on with some jobs!
The rest of the time the kids are free to learn about whatever interests them - they suggest a topic & we do it...
Most of our subjects are at their own request, so an average year for us usually includes things like:
Bushcraft / survival skills - foraging, campfire cooking, den building, firelighting, knife skills / whittling, first aid & herbal medicine.
Native plants, flowers, bugs & wildlife, cave men, myths & legends, paleontology, flower arranging, horticulture,
basic car mechanics, various science experiments, anatomy & internal organs (humans & animals), archery & shooting.
Woodwork - from home-made bows & arrows and birdboxes to trellis & fencing.
Brickwork, mixing cement & patio slab laying.
Farming - soil types, crop rotation, poultry, game & large animals.
They also help with all the painting & decorating, cooking, cleaning, food shopping
& lots of other things that they will need to do as they get older.
From Monday - Friday, lunchtimes are classed as ‘make it yourself days’ so all of the kids have now learnt to do salads, toast, tins and soup cooked on the hob, fish fingers, chicken dippers etc in the oven and eggs cooked in all the ways possible.
Our eldest two have also got the hang of using the slow cooker and can do a pretty good casserole!
Doing this has given them all a lot of confidence in their abilities and a strong sense of independence, even the two youngest ones have improved their teamwork skills by working together & taking turns in who cooks the meatballs and who does the toast.
We try to stick to short but fun lessons where they are learning short simple facts rather than loads & loads of writing
as we found that when they are writing for too long they just tune out what they are writing about and forget all about by
the following week, which makes it a pointless waste of time.
Within a few months of the pressures of 'keeping up at school' taken away, our eldest son suddenly found that reading & writing wasn't as hard as it seemed... he even started to enjoy it.
When teaching a child to read it isn't what they read that is so important, it's how much they enjoy it that counts.
Funny enough we also discovered that his love of cooking helped a lot with maths & measuring
I consider myself extremely lucky to spend all this time with my kids and watch them learn & grow, and yes,
we do get on each others nerves at times but most families do anyway!
At least I am no longer losing sleep worrying about them being at school, struggling & being unhappy.
Being happy, healthy and self confident is so much more important to a child than how much writing they can do in an hour.
They are not children for very long and no child should be depressed, stressed or worried about either keeping up or fitting in.
They need the chance to explore who they are & have the confidence to be individuals, and not have to follow the pack just to be included.
NOT ONCE, in all the years we have been home educating, have our children been made to feel left out
when on a home ed meet up or day out - all the kids seem to look out for each other, just how it should be!
Here in Norfolk, UK there are approx 1100 home educating families
so we get to meet up regularly with other home-ed families for days out, educational activity days, play dates & zoo trips etc.
This is why I only answer messages once a day!
I have been asked by quite a few people about which websites we use for learning, especially with the children all varying in age, ability & interests
so I have made a list of all the ones we have been using in the last couple of years.
- Most of them are free but we have found that a few of them are worth paying for as they record the work done for each child.
uk.ixl.com ~ maths for all ages.
spellingcity.com ~ spellings for all ages.
world-geography-games.com ~ free games
ducksters.com/science ~ free online quizzes.
bbc.co.uk/history/forkids ~ free games & quizzes.
abcya.com ~ online games for lots of fun learning.
spaceplace.nasa.gov ~ astronomy games & quizzes.
khanacademy.org ~ online courses mostly free, short & fun.
http://www.sciencekids.co.nz/gamesactivities.html ~ free games.
greatlittleminds.com ~ free printable activities for younger children.
teachyourmonstertoread.com ~ early years phonics, letter sounds & reading.
URBrainy.com ~ maths & english for all ages, online games & printable worksheets.
teacherspayteachers.com ~ printouts, lesson plans & worksheets for all subjects & ages, lots are free but not all of them.
This is a quick look at some of the artwork done by our eldest daughter when she was 13
Our youngest son raises moths as a hobby - if you are interested take a look at our moth photos...
Just for fun.....