- 1 Introduction
- 2 My bliki
I'm a home-educator to 4 children ranging in ages 5-12.
We use an 'ecclectic' mixture of literature-based curriculum (Sonlight http://www.sonlight.com, and others), Charlotte Mason/ Classical Education, sometimes using Lapbooking. In practice, what we do looks a lot like unschooling / chaos! :-)
I'm a little bit freaked out by how many people are here... also finding myself a little bit technologically challenged!
I've been having an interesting conversation online with a real-life friend of mine who is a 'learning technologist'. She believes - with a passion - that today's schools prepare children perfectly for life - in the 1890s! She also believes that what is needed is technology, and lots of it! To be specific, social media - Web 2.0 collaborative learning & networking technologies, and among the best of these she suggests the following:
Of course, homeschoolers in the US and home educators in the UK are already well connected through things like yahoo groups, curriculum forums, and the newer Ning communities such as the Homeschool Lounge, the Home Ed UK Network and so on.
I'd also like to add a couple of resources to the list of learning technologies which look interesting or useful:
- Mindmeister & similar
- Diigo (Delicious, Digg etc.)
- Cover It Live
I've also heard good things about
- Moodle and
- OpenLearn (http://openlearn.open.ac.uk) - which is free for anyone to use - is an implementation of Moodle. If you register you can go to the section of it called Labspace where you can find all sorts of useful tools which include things like Compendium (a concept mapping tool), Flashmeeting (free video conferencing tool), and I believe Elluminate is due to be added if it is not already there. OpenLearn also includes lots of extracts from OU course materials which are free to use - and more interestingly, you can download them and re-edit them and then upload the altered versions (or you can create your own resources/courses from scratch and upload them). PeterT 05:24, 25 April 2009 (UTC)
but I'm not sure how appropriate these would be for children who are learning at home autonomously (as most UK home educators do), I would need to investigate further how these can be used.
Take a look at the following video, and consider these questions: are the issues being raised in the video relevant to home education or not (and if not, why not), if they are relevant, how do we address them? If our children are learning autonomously, how does that figure in - how and where do we draw the boundaries, keep them safe, ensure that if they choose to game, facebook, blog, twitter or whatever (and apologies to prescriptive grammatists there for my verbal use of the words 'game' and 'facebook' !), that they are getting something educational out of it or should we be encouraging a balance between all this and learning in more traditional ways?
Something I've been working on lately has been to try and encourage the home educated children themselves to get involved with collaborative projects such as wikis (I particularly like wetpaint) but the response has been surprisingly slow and half-hearted.
I'm interested to know other people's views on technology, and what might constitute an education that would prepare children who are studying now and in the 2010s for life in the 2020s, 2030s and beyond.
And which technologies do you consider to be crucial, interesting or useful?
Or, conversely, should we be looking the other way - going back to basics completely, making sure our children get a good grounding in classical or traditional education?
Is there a balance to be found?
- Excellent questions - might be easier to discuss them in the forum - I would suggest you post a topic with these question in the Schome discussions board (and perhaps a link back to this entry on your bliki) and see if we can stimulate some debate ... PeterT 05:28, 25 April 2009 (UTC)
Networking, blogging & E-mail Lists
I'm very aware that I've neglected this bliki blog for a long time, but I thought I might just up-date you with some information about some new initiatives I have set up to enable more effective networking in the UK and beyond for home educating parents.
Most of my communication with other home educators to being with was via Yahoo groups and forums. (Please don't flame me on my bad grammar... if you know the correct plural form of 'forum', feel free to change it!!
A new form of networking forum has arisen though, major examples being Facebook, Bebo, Multiply and so on. So, using the Ning network creator (which is dead easy, even possible for techno-dummies like myself!) I have created a new network for home educators in the UK:
and another international network for Charlotte Mason educators:
The challenge now is to get the word out to those who would be interested in making use of these resources. So now it's back to the Yahoo groups to 'advertise'.
Nature-Study for Couch Potatoes 31/01/08
I thought I would share something of what we've learnt this morning.
We were reading about the 'firecrest', which is apparently one of the UK's smallest (if not *the* smallest) bird, though I had never heard of it before now.
I checked it out on the RSPB's website, and was pleased to find that they have a sample of its song together with lots of information:
We're just on the edge of being in the right area to find the firecrest, so I will have to make a note to look for it when we go out towards the south-east. (Yes, we do also go out, when not glued to the sofa :-))
The book we were reading, by the way (if any of you are interested) is '366 and more Nature Stories', published by Brown Watson. The author is Anne-Marie Dalmais with illustrations by Annie Bonhomme. It seems to have been written originally in Europe (printed in Milan) and is translated into English and edited by Colin Clark. It is a great book for nature study, with short and sweet little stories every day of the year.
There's some great pictures of the book  and it is available through used booksellers.
Extra-curricular Activites, or Over-compensating 19/01/08
Our calendar has filled up really quickly with after-school and day-time activities, to the extent that I'm beginning to wonder whether I'm over-doing it.
12:30 Homeschool Group social (All) Bi-weekly
4:30 Swimming (E, M, D)
6:15 Boys' Brigade (T, M)
4:30 Ballet (E)
5:30 Gymnastics (E, M)
6:00 Irish Dancing (T, E)
1:30 Nature-walk, or 1:30 Ice-skating (All) Alternate weeks 6:30 Flute Lesson (T)
9:30 Church Playgroup (All) 1:30 German (All) 6:00 Swimming (T) 6:15 Girls' Brigade (E) 8:00 Trampolining (T)
6:30 Explorers Church club (E, M) 7:45 Youth Club (T)
6:30 Fellowship (All) Bi-weekly
3:30 Bible Class (T) Bi-weekly
Apart from costing me 'an arm and a leg', I can't work out whether this is a well-rounded, balanced programme which caters for everyone (as you can see by the initials, the children are not spread evenly throughout the week - some days the younger ones have nothing going on, while the older two are super-hyper-busy) or whether it's completely nuts to be so busy. I'm a bit worried I'm setting myself up for Burnout... Time will tell!
We haven't done any for a while, but one of my favourite ways of working (and getting the children to actually produce something!) is lapbooking.
In case you haven't come across lapbooking before, this is a description, which I wrote for a Lapbooking Workshop I ran for our local homeschool group:
"So, what is a lap-book?
A lap-book (also know variously as flap-books, shutter-books, project books, and mini-offices.) can be these things:
- A Hands-On Mum-Produced Teaching Tool that you can use for presenting new information to your children, or to create a visual to consolidate what you’ve already covered (like a lift-the-flap book, so most suitable for certain subjects or for very young children) These tend to be called “mini-offices”. Take a look at 
- A way of presenting an older child’s project-work in a fun way, in place of boring and monotonous worksheets (although these can be included!) If you have a child who lacks motivation, lap-booking could be your answer!
- A combination of these two: a joint-effort production where parent and child work together to produce a topic book, teaching and learning along the way! (This works well for young children as well as mid-age children to begin with: once they get going they will want to take over!)
A lap book can be used with any subject matter that you are studying (Maths? Science? The only limit is your imagination!). You do not have to use the “unit study”/ theme/ project method of home-schooling to make use of them. They can be used from preschool through to college!
How are lap-books made?
Traditionally, lap-books are made from manila file folders which you refold to open in the centre, and to which further flaps can be added, but the best type of folder I have found is the “Avery Eurofold” which already has additional flaps and fastening bands, but they are limited in that they are pre-folded. Feel free to use your imagination with thick paper, cardboard, even plastic folders etc... What supplies are needed?
File folders, paper in a variety of colours/ patterns and types (ex: patterned wrapping paper, wallpaper, colourful construction paper, cardboard), crayons, pencils, coloured pencils, glue, glue sticks, scissors, sellotape.
When you have your folder ready, you will either want to insert project-work – writing, pictures and any other relevant items, or make “mini-books” (minature books made from paper folded in different ways) of all types, sizes, shapes and variations on which to do project-work, to glue inside your lapbook. You can make mini-books in advance for the children to work on (and older children can make their own, of course) or, if you are using them as a teaching tool for younger children, you can write, draw, or glue on pictures and items addressing the key points of the subjects you are studying. Even the youngest child will enjoy sticking things in and so, over time, your lap-books will gradually become more and more the child’s work.
One note about assembling your lap-books: don’t glue the mini-books in until they have the completed work already on them, since if something goes wrong you will be in a fix if it’s already glued in!
The main resources for learning about how to make all the different types of mini books, as well as great project ideas, are: “The Ultimate Guide to Lapbooking” by Tammy Duby and Cyndy Regeling, of Tobin’s Lab: www.tobinslab.com and available from Sandra at Ichthus Resources, “All you need to know about Flapbooking” by Jennifer Steward, available from Steward ship www.flapbooks.com and “The Big Book of Books” and “The Big Book of Projects and Activities”, both by Dinah Zike. Ichthus Resources stock some Dinah Zike books and Rainbow books RainbowBooks@Onetel.com carries some of Dinah’s other books (Great Science Adventures). For more information, see "
Loose Schedule 04/09/07
This is nothing like a timetable, because it just doesn't work that way, but I'm aiming for Breakfast at 8:00 am, then:
Circle-time (start with a candle, prayer and nursery-rhyme time) Hebrew Maths
Latin History & Geography (mostly Sonlight stuff) Spanish
English / Language Arts (includes: phonics (learning to read), handwriting, spelling, creative writing etc. always a struggle to fit everything in)
then the afternoon is free for whatever - outings, visits, exercise etc.
We really only made it as far as play-time today (although we did do handwriting as well, and I may read them some Sonlight books at bedtime). I will obviously have to think of some way of actually keeping everyone in the same room, not just getting them in!!
Our Spanish stuff hasn't arrived yet, so I do have that excuse.
Oh, and Wednesdays are different because, instead of History and Geography, we'll be doing Science including a nature-walk and nature-study, and hopefully lots of fun experiments!
First Day of Homeschool 03/09/07
I can't believe it's September already! I was supposed to have sorted my life out by this stage! lol! We had a trial run last week and it went ok-ish...
I really need to get my act together... but I am drowning in clutter and more clutter.
I am planning to work 3 weeks on and 1 week off this term, but it's going to be a real challenge to get back into a routine at all. I hadn't meant to take such a complete break, but things sort of happened that way.
We'll be officially starting Sonlight 1 and 6 today. We had a trial run last week, and I think doing 2 cores is going to be a challenge.
A friend of mine who is using Oak Meadow curriculum suggested starting the day with a candle to focus. We've tried it and it works!
But the hardest thing is to get everyone together in one room at the same time!
It's all gone quiet, so I need to go and round everybody up!