Some myths about home education

As the name of our blog suggests our children don’t go to school – this is our fourth year of choosing home education and we are all thoroughly enjoying ourselves. Obviously this doesn’t make us experts on the matter but we’ve certainly learnt a lot about how home education can and does work, both for our own family and lots of other lovely people we’ve met along the way. I thought it would be interesting to consider some common (and maybe some not so common) myths surrounding home education (in England at least). These are all things that people have told us they believed to be true.

Please remember that this is just my personal understanding of the current situation. If you are searching for the most up to date legal information about home education then check out this page – I shall be posting details of some websites we have found useful on there.

You have to follow the National Curriculum. This is not true and not only for home educators – for instance private schools are not required to follow it either. The law states that all children must receive an ‘efficient full-time education’ that takes account of their ‘age, ability and aptitude’, and to any special educational needs they may have. This can be ‘either by regular attendance at school or otherwise’ (Section 7 Education Act 1996). It is education that is compulsory, not school, and it is parents who are responsible for their child’s education whether or not they attend school.

You have to do testsDefinitely not. Individuals may wish to test their own knowledge and skills in a variety of different ways, this is entirely their choice. There are a number of reasons why testing is used in schools, the ‘setting’ or ‘streaming’ of pupils and the compilation of school league tables immediately come to mind – these have no relevance in education at home. In our experience it has become increasingly easy to identify evidence of learning without any need to use formal testing. Is testing an effective measure of real learning anyway? Cramming our short term memory full of facts to regurgitate for an exam and then forgetting it all a few days later familiar to anyone? And speaking of exams…well, being home-educated does not prevent children from taking them and many choose to do so often achieving excellent results!

You have to be a teacher to take your children out of school.  As a parent, and so responsible for their education, you do not have to send your child to school at all. As for the suggestion that you have to be a teacher for anyone to learn from you, well that’s an interesting notion! Clearly our children start learning from us the moment they are born and maybe even before. The amazing skills of walking and talking are great examples of learning without any teaching involved. Of course that doesn’t mean that as parents we don’t play an important role in helping our children to learn to walk and talk. Along with modelling these skills and offering other opportunities to see them in action, there is a lot of support and encouragement given. We stand right there alongside them to help deal with any stress and to manage any risks they face along the way. We supply useful resources and make sure that the environment is organised to maximise opportunities for them to learn these highly complex skills – sounds like a good starting point for the provision of an ‘efficient education’ right from those early days!

You have to be inspected by Ofsted. No inspection required! If you have a child in school and then decide to de-register them and home educate, you just have to let the school know, in writing preferably, and away you go. You do not have to tell the local authority although the school should inform them. There is no duty on the local authority to monitor the education you provide but they do have a role in investigating where there are concerns that no education is being offered. What this means in practice is that you may be invited to meet with someone or asked to give written evidence of what you are up to – best to consult those links again for detailed information on this if it concerns you.

You have to wear a uniform. Maybe not many people would think this, but at least one person did so it gets a mention…

You have to do school-work in school hours and follow school terms. Home education offers flexibility for children to learn in all manner of different ways whenever and wherever – some of what they do may look like the work that is commonly undertaken at school and some of it may bear no resemblance whatsoever. Families have the freedom to organise their life however best suits them.    

You won’t be as clever.  The skills and knowledge that are seen as valuable will vary between individuals and cultures, and across space and time, so it is hard to pin down what clever actually means. However any online search will reveal many examples of people who were home educated and have done amazing things with their lives, all clever in someone’s eyes!

Home education may not suit everyone but neither does school…

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Holiday Quiz

Hey! About three weeks ago I did a post on the Fashion Quiz I made (to view it you can either click the quiz tag at the bottom of this post and it will be below this post, click the category: artybaker’s posts and scroll down until you reach it or scroll down on this page until you reach it) and I mentioned that I was going to do one on where would be the perfect holiday destination for you, so here it is! I was hoping to get this quiz done before the Fashion Quiz post disappeared from the list of recent posts at the top of the home page but too late! I think I prefer this one to the fashion one but mumlovesearlgrey did point out that the fashion quiz had a comedy aspect and this one doesn’t and I agree with that. Here’s a photo…

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I got mostly a)s but I would choose c) – Canada as my ideal holiday, although I definitely don’t want to try skiing!

Thanks for reading!

Stepping out into the blogosphere

Hey there lovely blogosphere. I’m quite nervous as I write this as this is my first post. My lovely daughters, Sophofbread and Artybaker have been doing a wonderful job of building up this blog and they have both been requesting my presence here for some time. For so long I have had the best of intentions to spend some time really writing (you know, more than the shopping list) on a regular basis and have been meaning to write that first post here for ages – I have so many ideas and have even started some drafts but actually taking that step to complete a post and hit that publish button has so far alluded me…until now. The scrumbly little Plumblepie is currently sleeping and my lovely boy Pteroturtle and I have had a little bit of time ‘mining’ and ‘crafting’ so now this has to be the time that I actually step out into the blogosphere.

I am taking inspiration from the Flylady and letting go of my perfectionism – if there are mistakes in this post then I apologise as I am trying hard not to get hung up on the tiny details and see the big picture – I have procrastinated long enough and now is the time to join this party. In future posts I would love to reflect on how Flylady has had a positive impact on our lives (just as a little aside if you have not yet been introduced to the wisdom of FLYing you might want to visit her and her crew at Flylady.net – it is so much more than a home organisation tool but more of that later!). In draft at the moment and soon to be published depending on how much time I can muster up are some posts on the myths around home education we have encountered and a summary of my personal home ed ‘toolkit’.

I am looking forward to building up my writing habit and pondering on all things ‘home-ed’ – as my personal Zen master Sophofbread will no doubt point out to me if I don’t mention it myself…this could have no bounds! And for now I am out of time, Plumblepie is back with us wide awake and ready to play so I shall leave it here. Have a wonderful rest of today and enjoy wherever you are…

Blueberry Muffin……………………….Disaster!

Hello readers! So today I, artybaker, am going to do another post about baking! Yay! Definitely my favourite topic to blog about. Yeah, so I have this book which I call my question book in which I write down all of the questions I ask myself, look up the answers on the internet and write them down (inspired by Do Igloos Have Loos? by Mitchell Symons). Just less than a week ago I was asking myself What’s the difference between a cake and a muffin? So naturally I wrote it down in my question book and went looking for the answer. This was my conclusion:

Cakes and muffins are baked foods and texture and tastes are often quite similar, but what is the real difference between them?

The answer is that muffins are a form of bread, and cakes started out as such but are now so much more altered that they can no longer be counted as one. Cakes are more sweet and unhealthy and are normally eaten as desert whereas muffins are traditionally eaten for breakfast. Cakes are also coated in icing sometimes but muffins are not.

Ok, so anyway the point of me telling you all that was that doing that gave me a craving for muffins and I never make them. I find them pretty tricky and our oven doesn’t cook them very well. But as I say, I got a craving so we bought some blueberries and I found a recipe in one of my books that I hadn’t tried before. I think it’s safe to say that it went very wrong. But hey, I think it’s important that I don’t just write about bakes that went 100% perfectly all the way through – come to think of it that is extremely rare for me; I always seem to have to make some kind of compromise! So this the story:

First off, sophofbread ate a few of the blueberries before hand without knowing I needed them so I only had about 130g instead of the 225g the recipe said I should have. But that was OK because I always think that recipe books put too many blueberries in anyway. So then I started to make the mixture. It was different to any muffin mix I’ve ever made – first you melt the butter and combine in with the rest of the wet ingredients; egg, vanilla extract and milk. Then you combine the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder and sugar) and make a well in the centre of them. This is where I slipped up. Uh Oh. I forgot the sugar… After I had added the wet mix to the dry I tasted it. Eww. I was like “Hmm, tastes a little different to the muffins I’ve made before. But I guess it will be alright once it’s cooked.” Then I tried it again and thought that there must have been something missing so I looked at the ingredients list and I realised just in time what was wrong. I decided just to fold in the sugar and hope for the best. I was a little worried that the muffins would be tough because the recipe said they would if over mixed. But no! They tasted really nice! I think they could have done with a few more blueberries but apart from that it was brilliant! Well, the taste was…… As for the look, well….

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They sort of rose out of the cases and developed little heads! I don’t know why they did this. I guess they had too much raising agent in them?

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Above: The best ones.

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Above: One of the worst ones.

Ok, so looking back maybe the word disaster is a bit of an overstatement; I’ve definitely done much worse bakes. I’m not going to give you the recipe for these muffins because it doesn’t belong to me and I think it might need some improvement!

Thanks for reading!

How I organize my home-education (ie. life)…

I would be the first to admit that I’m not the most organized person! I live life as it comes and my bedside table is a massive pile of rubbish. Recently I have realised that my lack of organisation is leading to me forgetting about certain projects and not working on them for weeks (and sometime months) at a time. So here are a few methods for organizing my stuff; some I have used since we started home-educating and some I have only recently started. See we’re always learning.

First I will tell you about the sort of resources I use:

  • Textbooks – I don’t use many textbooks and I am very flexible (pick and mix the best of different one) but I do have a few  such as:  An old maths book published in 1984!  This one is a challenge and often me and mum come away from working on this one with only one puzzle done and a headache. The harder the better 😉 and an I.C.T GSCE revision book.
  • Lapbooks – If you have read my about page then you will know I love lapbooks. They are an excellent way to display information and they are really fun to make.
  • The Internet – Perhaps the best resource of all. Although you can’t beat a good book!
  • Books – I’ve already mentioned textbooks but books can cover all sorts of things from non-fiction books about the tiniest portion of an atom to picture books about penguins.
  • People – Although I don’t really need to organize them!

I will leave it there although I could go into more detail. So, how do I organize all these things?

First up, my green box. A 35cm(length) x 24cm(width)x 17cm(depth) plastic box in which I keep my pencil case, some project folders, the lapbooks I’m in the middle of and most projects or loose bits of paper.

Secondly, we recently set up some trays for projects we’re currently working on (although I just keep my maths folder in it because it’s too thick to fit in my box.)

Thirdly, we tried joy lists to write down our hobbies/projects but I found that a physical, colorful approach was much more useful to me so I have done two things. 1. I wrote all my projects/hobbies down in a VERY colourful spider graph; this was good at showing my projects in a vague fashion but it needed more detail so; 2. I took an A5 display book and put a different project on each page. I’m still working on this but it’s coming together nicely.

Again, I could go on but this post has been long enough. Hopefully I’ve not left anything to important off!

Owl at Night Painting

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Hey, artybaker here. Above is a picture of a painting I finished yesterday (just in time for me to keep up my new resolution of doing at least one post a week – the last post being last Tuesday). I got inspiration for this ages ago when I went into the garden in my pyjamas at I think around 9pm-ish to put our rabbit Biscuits back in his house after a long day in the Run. I looked up at the sky and saw a beautiful starry stretch of navy-blue-ness. Then I randomly decided to lie down on the ground and do some stargazing. The more I looked the more I could see. I’m pretty sure I saw the Plough (otherwise known as The Big Dipper or the Saptarishi) constellation. But anyway, after about 20 minutes of looking at the stars I went back inside and decided that I wanted to do a painting (one of my hobbies) of a starry sky. The image in my head was of an owl in a tree in front of a starry sky with a cosy little house in the background and I think it turned out pretty much the way I wanted it…

I did this painting on a 30 x 30cm (12 x 12in) canvas with my acrylic paints, although the stars were done with an oil pastel. It took me three separate sessions to do it, probably about 3 and a half hours in total. I tried to add texture to the sky and tree especially but I think it probably could have done with a bit more. After the paint on the tree had dried I scratched it  vertically with my fingernails – which I though was a pretty cool idea. I think that I probably should have done darker colours on the house – maybe I should have even made it a silhouette – and the owl is bit more pink than I was planning it to be. I did draw the Plough in stars early on in the process of adding stars but it has now been lost (maybe I slightly overdid it with the amount of stars!), even I cant see where it was!

Thanks for reading 🙂

 

Plumble Pie’s Birthday Cake

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Hey there, artybaker here. Yay! Plumble Pie – the youngest of the Home-ed Heads family, turned one year old a week (and a bit) ago! This is a post on how I made her birthday cake. I usually make all of the birthday cakes in this house (sometimes with the help of sophofbread) – except my own; when it was being made I was sat on the stairs listening to mumlovesearlgrey, pteroturtle and sophofbread puzzling over a recipe without being able to help – torture!

Plumble’s cake was a basic plain sponge cake in the shape of a 1 and coated in white chocolate ganache (a mixture of chocolate and cream). I wanted to make a white chocolate flavoured cake – but with the lack of white-chocolate-cocoa-powder in existence, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to master one! If you do know a recipe – using actual white chocolate – please could you comment below, thanks. So here’s how it went…

First, line a 18 x 27cm (7 x 11in) tin with greaseproof paper or baking parchment, making sure that at each end the paper rises above the sides of the tin; this will make it easier to take the cake out later. Preheat the oven to 180 Degrees Celsius, 160 for a fan oven, 350 Degrees Fahrenheit or Gas 4.

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Beat the margarine and caster sugar in an electric mixer, or with a wooden spoon until light and creamy.

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Next, break the eggs into a measuring jug or glass bowl and whisk with a fork. Add to the sugar and margarine a bit at a time, don’t worry if it separates slightly.

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Sift the flour into the mixture.

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Fold in until smooth.

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Now, pour the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth down as much as possible, making sure that it goes right into the corners. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until a knife inserted into the centre comes out clean.

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The cake should now be golden brown in colour and shrinking away from the sides of the tin slightly. Those little holes are where I tested to see if the cake was done!

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Lift the cake out of the tin by the paper sticking up at the sides and place up-side down on a chopping board. Peel the paper off the base of the cake and place on a wire rack to cool (the right way up) in the fridge or at room temperature (or in the freezer if you’re in a hurry!).

Now it’s time to make the ganache! Put 200ml of double cream in a saucepan and warm up on a medium heat, when it starts to bubble and/or froth take of the heat immediately.

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Break some white chocolate into pieces and stir with a wooden spoon until the chocolate melts.

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Place the pan in the fridge for 10+ minutes for the ganache to set. Stir occasionally. If, when cool, it has not thickened, mix with an electric whisk to achieve a more spreadable icing.

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Now that the cake is cool make a stencil out of paper and place it on top of the cake. Cut around the outline of the stencil. You can do this before the cake is cool if you want. You can eat the scraps!

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Place the 1-shaped cake on a serving plate or whatever you are serving it on!

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Then, spread the ganache all over the top and sides of the cake and add your chosen decoration, I used edible glitter. Yum.

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This is my recipe for Letter or Number cake with White Chocolate Icing….

Ingredients: For the cake: 175g (6oz) margarine (I like the brand stork, made especially for cake-making), 175g (6oz) caster sugar, 3 medium free range eggs, 175g (6oz) self-raising flour. For the ganache icing: 250ml double cream, 250g (7oz) white chocolate.

Method: For the cake: 1 – Grease an 18 x 27cm (7 x 11in) cake tin with butter then line with some greaseproof paper or baking parchment, making sure that the paper rises above the sides of the tin; this will make it easier to take the cake out of the tin later. Preheat the oven to 180 Degrees Celsius, 160 for a fan oven, 350 Degrees Fahrenheit or Gas 4.  2 – Cream the margarine and sugar together with a wooden spoon or electric mixer. 3 – Break the eggs into a measuring jug or glass bowl and whisk with a fork. Add to the sugar and margarine. Don’t worry if it separates a little. 4 – Sift the flour into the mixture and fold in until smooth. 5 – Pour the mixture into the prepared tin a smooth down as much as possible, make sure that the mix goes right into the corners. 6 – Bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until a knife inserted into the centre comes out clean. The cake should be a light golden brown colour. 7 – Place the cake up-side down on a chopping board and peel off the paper on the base. 8 – Make a stencil out of paper in the shape of the letter or number you want your cake to be. Place this on top of the cake and cut around the edges. Set aside the scraps; you won’t need them. 9 – Cool on a wire rack in a fridge or at room temperature (or in the freezer if you’re in a hurry).

For the ganache icing: 1 – Put the cream in a pan and warm up over a medium heat, as soon as it starts to bubble and/or froth, take off the heat immediately. 2 – Break the chocolate into pieces and add it to the cream. Stir until the chocolate has melted. 3 – Put the pan in the fridge for the ganache to set. Stir occasionally. If, when it has cooled, the ganache has not thickened, mix with an electric whisk to achieve a more spreadable icing.

Assembly: 1 – Place the cake on a serving plate and spread the ganache all over the top and side of the cake with a palette knife. 2 – Add your chosen decoration.

You could make any letter or number with this recipe, and you could use dark or milk chocolate to replace the white chocolate.

I hope you enjoyed reading this post, I am hoping to do more on baking in the future. Bye for now!