Just how does one home educate?

Many times I’ve been how I home educate. Do I need a teaching qualification? Do I have to follow the national curriculum? Do I stick to school hours? Are there a minimum number of hours I need to reach for? The answer to all these questions is no.
No, I don’t need to be a teacher to teach my child. From the moment they are born they learn. They learn to smile, talk, walk, and use a spoon. We spend time with our children and play and colour and read. That whole time they learn; so why when they turn 4 or 5 should I be “unqualified” to teach them? I’ve spent the last few years watching how they learn best, each of them different, who knows best how to teach them? Of course there are those that are qualified teachers that choose to home educate their children, but it’s not a requirement.
No, we don’t have to follow the national curriculum or any other curriculum. Some choose to follow a curriculum while others don’t. We can educate in a way that best suits the needs of our children and lifestyle. For us, at the moment, we are very child led. Just how we were before they were of school age. They learn at their own pace and in a way they feel comfortable. We also don’t have to do GCSE’s, but we can if we want to, or NVQ’s or apprenticeships or any other qualification. For us that is probably still a long way off, but should one of my children want to they can do their qualifications whenever they choose, should that be at 12, 16 or 18. The joy of home educating is that we are free to choose.

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No, we don’t stick to school hours. Learning doesn’t stop at 3pm, learning is all day long. You will often find us doing maths or reading at 7am, or history at 8pm. R is more of a night owl and often asks those all important questions just as she is getting into bed. Leading to conversations about Tudor Times or reading a book about the human body. S likes to get out of her bed, grab the iPad, hop into my bed for a cuddle and to do reading eggs or maths games at an unusually early hour.
No, there is no minimum number of hours we have to learn for. Or maximum for that matter. As I’ve already mentioned learning is all day long. We don’t plan to learn, we continue to learn. Some days we have a planned activity or trip, other days we learn through day to day activities.
We are also, contrary to what many believe, very social. For a start I have 4 children, they’re social from the moment they get out of bed. We also meet up with other home educating families regularly. There the children get to socialise not only with children of there own ages but children of all ages. The age range of just one of the groups we go to is 0-14. We also socialise with members of our extended family, grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles. We socialise when we go to the shops and talk to the little old lady that stops to say hello and we socialise when we go the park.
Home education is adaptable to suit the needs of our family, our children and our circumstances. I’m sure that how we educate will change as the children get older and their needs and abilities change. Home education may not be right for everyone but it is certainly right for us.

Plants, sleepovers and chickens

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We have had a really busy few days. R spent a couple of nights at Nannys getting lots of attention, shopping, baking, and being truly spoilt.

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We’ve made a crystal tree, we’ve coloured, we’ve cuddled and snuggled up with a film. We’ve talked about where electricity comes from after passing a power station. We saw freshly sheared sheep which lead to conversations about wool and what it’s used for. That lead to what else is used to make clothes and how we dye clothes using fruits and vegetables. We discussed where people used to get water from before they had taps and fresh water in their houses.

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We went to a garden centre and had a little horticulture lesson, learning which plants are in the same family, what type of soil they like and where best to plant them. Each of the children was able to choose a plant for the garden and then plant it when they got home. We then went to the little animal area at the back of the garden centre and saw pigs, goats, guinea pigs, ducks and chickens. The Chickens were a favourite of little S, she charged over shouting “chickens” a word she has never uttered before. She thought they were amazing and couldn’t stop laughing at them. The children got to play on the climbing frame and slides and we had a little picnic.

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Today we headed to Shaftesbury to forage the hedgerow for plants with medicinal value. We met with other home educated families and a herbalist and talked about what common plants can be used, how and for what. Then we had lunch together and tried herbal tea, goose grass steeped water and played with homemade played infused with essential oils. In the afternoon we made bathbombs and in the case of little S, ate bathbombs! Her face was quite the picture when it fizzled in her mouth!

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We also had a look around Gold Hill Museum saw an almost 300year old fire engine (the oldest in Dorset), saw a very old camera, old fashioned school desk. We were amazed by the old computer a.k.a. typerwriter! Saw an old and very ornate shops till, looked at clothes that people used to wear. It’s only a little museum but for small children with a small attention span it is perfect. They all enjoyed looking round and didn’t have time to get restless. We learned so much and have lots of new things we can try and topics we can expand on. And in the process I think we’ve manage to educate and exhaust Granma too! We’re looking forward to a quiet weekend before another busy week.

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A rainy week

It’s been a bit soggy here this week but we have managed to get out between rain showers. We went to home ed club on Tuesday where the children did stone painting, Hama beads, made fairy bread and played with their friends. Then we all headed out to the park (about 30 children plus mums) and had a water balloon fight, ran around and laughed a lot. It’s great that the children get to really mix with children of all ages.

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Tuesday also saw us purchasing Minecraft. R is already a whizz on it and loves designing and building houses with swimming pools, farm land, balconies and rollercoasters! Tuesday is also swimming lessons day. S is doing really well and starting to use her arms as well as her legs. R, as always, loves swimming and managed a whole width underwater without coming up for air. They are also learning how to dive in.
Thursday we had a friend round for the day and headed to soft play for the afternoon as the rain was torrential. Unfortunately we had to leave early as E got toothache which turned out to be a tooth abscess. He has now been referred for an urgent tooth extraction under sedation and is on antibiotics. Poor little man has been in so much pain all weekend with it and we’re now all a little sleep deprived. He did have a little surprise this week though, last weekend I got him a new cabin bed (with hidey hole) but this meant that there wasn’t space for his train table so I sold that and replaced it with a big castle for his warhammer figures. He loves it.

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Friday little S turned 2 so Nanny and Granddad popped round for a cuppa. Then Saturday we all headed over there for a BBQ and to play with cousins. S and I spent time in the garden Sunday and made a bug house.

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S seems to be enjoying maths at the moment, she likes watching Monster Math and playing maths games especially subtraction ones. E decided to do some writing of his own accord, unfortunately this was on his bedroom door so we did discuss the best places to do writing. Little S is enjoying her spelling game and knows a-f well, so I may be buying the next few letters for her soon. R is trying to work out words for herself which is lovely to see.

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We’ve got lots to look forward to over the next few weeks

Having fun

We’ve been so busy having fun I’ve forgotten to blog! We’ve done lots of baking and gardening, R made salt dough, moulded it, baked it and painted it. It was, of course, a Minecraft Creeper. We have become Minecraft crazy in this house, especially R and E. We also spent a lot of time playing with Hama Beads which is great for improving fine motor skills. It kept the children busy for about 2 hours one afternoon.

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We’ve learned about Troy and the story of the Trojan horse. We’ve learned about magnetism, what magnets stick to and what they don’t stick to. (This led to Nanny finding magnets everywhere from the side of the toaster to the garden.) We’ve read lots of books and enjoyed playing with numbers. We went to home ed club last week and learned to spin yarn and got to play with a spinning wheel. The girls had their swimming lessons, we’ve ridden bikes, been to soft play and played in parks. We’ve had friends round to play and enjoyed lunch together.

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Daddy and I had our 9th wedding anniversary and enjoyed a meal out and a walk around the city, while Granma and Granpa babysat. S turned 4 today and had an early morning visit from Nanny and Granddad. She got a new bike, colouring books, a necklace, a water gun and a few pennies of her own to spend. E got a new cabin bed where he can store all his toys, write and paint at his desk and enjoy hiding underneath too.