Learning, not teaching.

We have no pupils here.  Just three lovely young people and one particularly little person (who, of course, is also lovely).

But I just adore this quote and feel it sums up our approach to home education nicely.

Often when out and about during school hours a friendly stranger will ask, ‘No school today?’. When we explain that we home educate, sometimes they will ask the children if I teach them. This used to prompt a quizzical look from one or other of them but now they are used to it. Their response to the question varies.

Often it’s framed as more of a rhetorical question anyway, ‘Oh so your mum teaches you’, in which case they may just smile and nod or shrug their shoulders with a ‘Sort of’ type reply. Some days with some people they might be happy to enter in to a longer conversation explaining that we learn together in many different ways.

Some people may have a vision of me, standing up at the chalkboard we have in our dining-room, each morning starting class and offering long explanations of complicated maths concepts. In fact that does happen – the use of the chalkboard for explaining maths, that is, not the starting class bit! But only if someone requests it, and even then it’s actually more likely to be sophofbread that will take that role, she loves to cement her own learning by explaining it to the rest of us and there is usually someone willing to listen.

The truth is that home education, for us, is much more about facilitating learning than about teaching. We all learn so much from each other in so many ways, each and every day.

We love working on projects together, reading together, playing together and regaling each other with all the latest information about whatever is our current passion (apologies to our dear ArtyB, we know our enthusiasm for ‘Po Go’ can be a little wearing at times -SOB and MLEG x).  

My role is, not to teach, but to support my children with learning.

As Einstein so beautifully put it, providing the conditions in which they can learn.

Ensuring that their physical needs are met, they feel safe and secure in their home and have the resources and opportunities to explore the world in many different ways.

Offering them support and guidance to explore existing passions and strewing their paths with possibilities, options and chances for new and interesting directions of learning to open up.

Of course, I do love to share the benefit of my own experience and knowledge when it seems relevant (don’t we all?) but never with the assumption that it has more significance than that of their own.

The learning journey is a personal one for all of us and we can never really be sure of what someone else has learnt. Home education offers a wonderful opportunity to enjoy that journey together.

 

 

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Taking exams as a private candidate? Last date to enter for summer exams fast approaching.

Please note that the following information relates specifically to the UK.

Private candidates wishing to take GCSE, iGCSE or A’Level exams this summer need to get their exam entries in quick. The date set by the exam boards for entries, without incurring ‘late fees’, is the 21st February 2017. Exam centres need to get paperwork and payments to the exam boards on or before this date. This means that centres will require entry forms and payment from candidates even earlier.

Individual exam centres set their own dates by which they need to receive entries – these will vary but are likely to be two or three weeks earlier than the date set by the exam boards (i.e. very soon).

So if you want to take any exams this summer and haven’t got around to entering yet then make sure you get in touch with your chosen exam centre. Check when they need payment and get that paperwork filled out fast. Late entries will incur additional charges, or ‘late fees’. As we get closer to exam time there will be a further increase in the cost of entries. ‘Very late fees’ come into force on the 17th April for CiE and the 21st April for other boards.

It may still be possible to enter for the summer exams as late as a week before the timetable begins. But be warned not all exam boards accept very late entries and the cost of ‘extremely late fees’ can be as much as three times the standard fee.

Are you taking exams this year? Do you have any questions about exams and home education?

Leave a comment below, we would love to hear from you.

 

Home-made thank you cards

Home-made cards are so lovely. They offer an opportunity to express our creativity and personalise the cards we send out to family and friends. We had a great time making our Christmas cards in 2016 but unfortunately I didn’t manage to get a post out in time to share them with you all. My plan is to be much better organised this year and start making our next lot much earlier on, I will keep you updated on the success of that plan later in the year!

So with all the Christmas celebrations well and truly over, the tree taken down (we like to do that early on around here!) and the boxes back up in the loft, our thoughts turn to sending out thank you cards. The possibilities are endless, from simple drawing or painting, potato-printing or collages right through to elaborate 3-D creations, a touch of applique (so keen to try this one out!) or maybe some calligraphy or quilling.

Pteroturtle got a head-start this season and designed his while the rest of us were still making Christmas cards. Last year’s Christmas card from Pteroturtle consisted of a very cute snowman designed in Paint on the computer. This year, for his thank you cards, he has gone a similar route and chosen to design a Christmas tree in Minecraft, complete with sparkly lights – very festive.

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Moving away from Christmas themes, Plumblepie and I have been making some sweet little Hama Bead creations to adorn her thank you cards. Such a lovely way to spend some quality time together, keeping our hands busy but our thoughts and conversations free to wander far and wide.

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Just got to get them all written and sent now!

Over the last few years we have all been stretching our crafty muscles and I look forward to sharing more glimpses of what we have been creating over the year ahead.

Wishing you all a wonderful 2017, enjoy x

 

Volcanic Biscuits (from CBBC’s Junior Bake Off)

Hello everyone, sophofbread here. I’ve been really enjoying watching Junior Bake Off on BBC iPlayer recently. It’s the children’s version of The Great British Bake Off and I enjoy it more than the original! The recipes they choose look much tastier (and more fun to bake!) than the ones they make in GBBO that often take 6 hours and include ingredients you’ve never heard of. Sam and Mark are great presenters, Nadiya and Allegra are fantastic judges and the contestants are talented, calm and funny.

After watching one of the Junior Bake Off episodes I was feeling very hungry and dying to make something yummy. I decided on these Volcanic Biscuits. I love ginger beer and chocolate and these biscuits didn’t look too hard. I’m very happy with the result, they look and taste amazing and they were very fun to make. I do admire the people on Bake Off that do it with a time limit and get them all looking identical, mine were various sizes.

If I made these again (which I’m sure I will) I would cook them for slightly shorter because mine were a little overdone, I’d also weigh out all the ingredients before starting because I ended up rushing parts of the bake. The chocolate, texture of the biscuits and the chewy bits of crystallised ginger went so well together. Washed down with home-made Ginger Beer these are quite the treat. Find the recipe here… http://www.bbc.co.uk/cbbc/thingstodo/jbo-volcanic-biscuits

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Organising and presenting projects..

Sometimes we can all use a little inspiration, here are a few ideas on organising and presenting projects –

  • A-Zs – create an alphabetic reference diving deep into any particular topic. Or use individual letters to focus the mind and broaden the horizons. Plumblepie loves learning about letters at the moment and this provides a great focus for strewing. See some examples of what we got up to when we spent some time learning about the letter P.
  • Timelines – find out about the history of the universe, focus in on specific historical periods, the history of inventions or famous explorers, follow one individual’s timeline and find out what else was happening in the world at the same time.
  • 6 Questions – focus your research and discover what, where, when, who, why and how, have a look at an example here.
  • 5 senses – explore through the five senses, what could you look at, touch, listen to, smell and eat that would give you a real flavour of your topic!
  • Create a quiz – devise an interesting quiz for someone else and learn loads in the process.
  • Write a poem, or a book, or a blog-post – pick a medium to share the information you have discovered and whichever form you choose can lead your research in many different ways.
  • Use first person narratives – put yourself in the shoes of those you are researching and gain new insights as you tell the story from their perspective.
  • Produce a video, or a podcast – make these just for fun or share your creations with the world.
  • Design a poster or a leaflet – informative, entertaining, beautiful, to share or not to share, so many possibilities.
  • Create a mind map, or a flowchart, or some infographics – from the planning to the presentation stage there are so many design options to choose from.
  • Try lapbooks, scrapbooks and notebooking – so many ways to present information in visually appealing ways, lots of cutting and sticking and folding, what’s not to love?
  • Create a photographic display – choose a topic to investigate or design a random challenge to encourage exploration through the medium of photography.
  • Collages – could be a one page version of a scrapbook or lapbook, or an artistic way to display those photographs, or perhaps you fancy creating a vision or dream board.
  • Checklists – there are so many ’50 fun things..’ lists out there for inspiration, create your own ‘to-do’ lists with 10, 20, 50 or 100 cool things to try, collate 10 (or 100) facts about a subject you love, or have a look at these checklists for some more inspiration.

We use the word project very loosely, whatever we love can be a project and we love pursuing our passions. Any of these ideas could be used in a more structured or relaxed context. We would love to hear how you have used any of the items in this list, or hear more of your ideas on how to organise and present projects.

Wishing you a wonderful week ahead.

 

 

Slumps are healthy.

Slumps are healthy. Not the posture kind. If you’re anything like me you’ll have many interests and hobbies. A slump is when you don’t do that thing for a period of time, for example a reading slump would be when you haven’t finished or picked up a book in longer than you usually would. You can’t do everything all the time, there are only so many hours in the day.

I drummed for at least ten minutes (some days for hours) everyday 163 days in a row last year and that certainly made me a better drummer. But while I was doing that other interests I have had to take a back seat.

When I get really into a certain video game I might not read for ages but that doesn’t mean I’ll never read again! When I’m reading a lot I’m probably not writing a lot. All these things go in waves, sometimes I’ll be doing lots of things all at once and other times I’ll be doing one thing all the time.

I haven’t drummed in a while and I feel sad and slightly guilty about that but I shouldn’t and I remind myself not to. I haven’t had the time and when I have sat down to drum I’ve been thinking about other things I could be doing and haven’t been involved. Soon I’m sure I will drum a lot more and will most likely be happier and more enthusiastic for the break I’ve had. In the meantime I’m doing a lot of exercise, playing a lot of Pokémon Go, writing and reading more, sorting out plans for the future, studying, watching a lot of brilliant TV shows and hanging out with friends and family. The drums won’t go anyway and neither will the other interests that have taken a back seat while my love for Pokémon Go flourishes.

If you haven’t done something in a while and are feeling down about it think about all the things you’ve been doing in place of that. Slumps are healthy and you’ll most likely get out of it soon.

P is for Plumblepie and for pasta and pink and Picasso and park… (you get the idea!)

That lovely Plumblepie is now four years old and she loves learning about letters. Her love for the letter P is infectious so together we have been exploring all things P..

  • We have played lots.. (I should point out right here and now that we do believe this learning lark should all be fun and play and everything that follows is playing really!)
  • Plumblepie has been practising writing her own name (it’s not actually Plumblepie but does begin with P).
  • We have drawn the letter P many times and decorated it with foil and tissue paper and coloured paper and stickers and so many other things…
  • We made pink Ps and purple Ps.
  • We painted lots of pictures.
  • We photocopied many things.
  • We ate pasta and pineapple and pizza and plums.
  • We sorted pasta into shapes.
  • We made patterns with Lego and duplo and stickers and numicons and building blocks and pegs and so many other things..
  • We had a picnic in the park and played on the playground (there have been many parks, many playgrounds and many picnics!)
  • We have read many books (some featuring poetry and bears called Pooh and Paddington, a park keeper called Percy and a postman called Pat)
  • We played with lots of jigsaw puzzles (some featuring a pig called Peppa and that postman again)
  • We watched tv programmes with pigs and postmen and park keepers in!
  • We walked to the post office and posted some letters.
  • We made potions in the bath.
  • We played with play-dough.
  • We planted in the garden (well, sophofbread and artybaker did with Plumblepie’s help).
  • We made peg puppets and paper plate pigs.
  • We made a Peppa card for a cousin’s birthday.
  • We watched the CBeebies Prom.
  • We saw how pasta is made in ‘Do you know?’, (a fab new show on CBeebies)
  • We watched Stampy’s Wonder Quest series and found out lots about planets.
  • We listened to Tchaikovsky’s ‘Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy’ (slightly stretching it here I know but this is all about having fun and widening our horizons, and Plum is one of our favourite things!)
  • We looked at pictures by Picasso.

Of course, we did lots of other things both starting with P and with all the other letters in the alphabet too. But I am really enjoying spending some special time on individual letters of the alphabet, it offers some boundaries to what could be endless internet searching for new fun activities and focuses the mind on what would be cool to strew next.