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Education Parenthood

20 reasons to home educate your kids (and 5 reasons not to)

You’re probably asking yourself “Are there really 20 reasons to home educate?” and my answer to you is no, there are more! Home Education was on my radar since I was a teen, I was determined to home educate my future children.

Unfortunately, life didn’t turn out as I expected. Being a single parent I felt forced to put W into primary school which was a disaster. I pulled him out after one term to Home Educate. What followed was: two terms of home education; one academic year in a Moroccan Maternelle (nursery, for the French); one academic year of flexischooling (2 days at a co-op, 3 days at home). The plan is that in September they will start attending a French/Arabic bilingual school nearby. Home education is definitely on the cards for the future. I want to travel more, but Covid19 has highlighted the importance of putting down roots and having a family home. So I’m working on that first. That way if there’s another global pandemic we have a base to come to from our travels.

I wouldn’t claim to be a spokesperson for Home Education, there are more qualified/experienced people out there. But until our education system is given the shake up it sorely needs, I’m an advocate. So without further ado here are MY top 20 reasons to Home Educate (and 5 reasons not to).

20 Reasons to Home Educate

  1. Your child’s learning will be tailored to them.
  2. Flexible daily routine – no more early mornings & rushed breakfasts.
  3. Your child will make friends from different age groups.
  4. There are many ways to facilitate learning.
  5. Your child may be happier and more confident.
  6. If your child has any diagnoses, you can better cater to their needs.
  7. Your child can enjoy self-paced learning.
  8. Family time is a part of everyday life and no longer a luxury.
  9. You can take as may breaks as you need.
  10. Time to focus on any learning areas that require extra support.
  11. You may learn something yourself.
  12. Education isn’t limited, the world is your classroom.
  13. It doesn’t have to be expensive, there are lots of free resources.
  14. Some SEND children can be better supported to learn at home .
  15. Learning takes place in the ‘real-world’.
  16. Delve deeper into subjects with no bell telling you when to stop.
  17. Your child can follow their interests.
  18. Children can take charge of their own learning.
  19. Learning can take place whenever and wherever you want.
  20. You can take learning outdoors.

5 Reasons NOT to Home Educate

  1. If your child’s school tells you to. This is call off-rolling.
  2. You just want to have a child genius. Hot housing can be detrimental.
  3. If you just want to recreate school at home and think you know everything.
  4. Your children don’t want to be home educated, then don’t do it.
  5. If you don’t enjoy spending long periods of time with your child(ren).

If you’re a Home Educator, is there anything you would add or take away from my lists?

Disclaimer: Home education refers to the term used in the UK. Homeschooling is a term used worldwide. If you do not reside in England & Wales check local laws. Home Education is illegal in some countries. Always seek advice and information before taking any action.

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Activity Ideas

5 Summer Learning Activities for Children

I don’t know about you, but my brain has turned to mush over lockdown. With Covid19 not looking to go anywhere and any international travel plans having to be postponed, I’m looking at a staycation and simple activities to keep the children busy. These 5 summer learning activities do just that and as each focuses on a different area of learning, you don’t need to fill any mum guilt for neglecting to attend the last few weeks of Zoom school before the holidays!

1. Start a Nature Journal

A few years ago, I bought the Exploring Nature with Children Curriculum and I never used it! I figured we spent enough time out and about in nature throughout the year, that it was sufficient. However after 3 months of lockdown life – I’m ready to inject some semi-structured nature experiences into our lives with nature journals. If you’re not sure where or how to start, howwemontessori have some great tips!

Photo by Anastasia Shuraeva from Pexels

2. Summer Reading Challenge

If you’re in the UK, you can sign up to the Summer Reading Challenge. If not you’ll have to look locally to see what’s on, or make up your own! I try to pick one main book for the week that we focus on and build activities around it, that will address areas the boys need help with or they have shown an interest in.

For example, W is really starting to enjoy reading for pleasure and is reading a chapter of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe each night before bed. Activities I can do around that would be designing a new book cover, writing a book review, drawing a map of Narnia etc. what you do is completely up to you! If you want to use this opportunity to diversify your child’s bookshelf, you can check out my 10 book recommendations over at The Motherload.

3. Maths Scavenger Hunt

We use maths on a daily basis, from counting how many cups of coffee we need to wake up, to counting down the hours until bedtime. Enter your email below to receive a FREE everyday maths scavenger hunt printable!

4. Homemade Ice-Cream

This is a tasty treat for the whole family, and it involves some pretty cool scientific concepts! We try to do this every summer, you can add toppings or try to make other flavours if you want. You can find the recipe and the scientific concept behind it here.

Photo by Cleyder Duque from Pexels

5. Foreign Language Film Night

If you have Netflix, this one is easy. Pick a film that you’ve watched before, then switch the audio to any available foreign language. Stick English subtitles on and they’re reading! This is one of the ways my children keep up with their French and Arabic over the holidays.

Don’t forget to take photos of your child doing one or more of the 5 summer learning activities listed above. Share them with us on Instagram either by tagging @littlelondoners or using #littlelondonerscommunity.

You can also check out my Pinterest board for more ideas!

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Activity Ideas Education

Black History Month: Weeks 3 & 4 – Africa & PoADs

When somebody tells you they spent their holidays in Europe, you usually ask them which country. If somebody tells you they spent their holidays in Africa, it usually ends there. Our focus for Weeks 3 & 4 was on Africa, the continent as well as our family’s personal history as People of African Descent (PoADs).

Africa

Did you know that Africa is a continent made up of 54 countries? Of course you did, but not everybody realises that the countries in Africa have their own language, culture and history. A lot like Europe.

The focus for Week 3 was learning all about the continents of the world, focusing on various facts about Africa herself. As we are currently in a North African country at the moment, our environment lends itself as a handy resource on our doorstep. We have friends from other countries in Africa and while I have dreams of visiting Ethiopia one day, the children would like to visit Egypt and Ghana. Drawing on our existing knowledge, we are able to appreciate and understand that each country in Africa is unique. Coupled with online resources, we were able to touch on Black History within the continent before The Transatlantic Slave Trade.

Lesson Ideas

English: Read the poem Civil Lies by Benjamin Zephaniah. What is Mr. Africa trying to say?
Maths: Imagine you Mansa Musa I of Mali. What will you buy with your gold? What were the types of currency used during those times? Can you create your own currency?
Science: Pretend you’re an Ancient Egyptian embalmer, mummify some fruit.
Humanities/ICT: Learn how to use Google to answer questions about the history and geography of Africa. Pick one country to focus on – what is the capital city, what language(s) do the people speak, what does the flag look like etc.?

PoADs

During Black History Month we also take the opportunity to look at our own personal history as People of African Descent (PoADs). In particular the journey my grandmother (pictured below) took from Jamaica to England in the 1950s. We still have the suitcase that she used for her journey, and while she passed away many years ago. I try to share as many memories as I can of her and what she did to allow us all to be here today.

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Activity Ideas Education

Black History Month: Week 1 Activities

It’s October, which means it’s Black History Month in the UK. Because we are a multiracial family with Jamaican roots, located in North Africa, black history influences our daily lives and conversations. However, we also believe that Black History Month is a great opportunity to provide an education that stretches beyond the current narrative: black history began with The Slave Trade and ended with The Civil Rights Movement.

Our first week of Black History Month focuses on prominent figures and segregation. These people were prominent in Black History from both the UK and the US.

Mary Seacole: Homemade Playdough

Mary Seacole, born in Jamaica in 1805. She helped care for and comfort wounded soldiers in the Crimean War. But she wasn’t recognised for many years, until her statue was built in London in 2016.

Inspired by Mary Seacole’s use of natural remedies, you can make your own herbal playdough! Research the different remedies she used and how they were prepared, as well as what illnesses they were used to treat. We use this homemade playdough recipe for our natural herbal playdough sensory activity.

our lemon and mint homemade playdough: a sensory activity for all ages

John Edmonstone: Lego Taxidermy

John Edmonstone, a former slave born in Guyana, South America. After he was freed, he moved to Scotland. He worked for the National Museum and taught taxidermy to students at the University of Edinburgh, his most famous student being Charles Darwin. There is plaque dedicated to him in Lothian Street, but nobody knows when he was born, when he died or where he is buried. His existence is only known because Darwin wrote about him in his diaries.

invitation to play: Lego Taxidermy

Actual taxidermy is a bit too gruesome for my liking, so we opted for Lego Taxidermy. Choose an animal you love and try to recreate it using Lego. While this may not be an exact science, it does give you a newfound appreciation for taxidermists having to preserve a lifelike quality in their subjects.

Rosa Parks: Literacy Activities

Rosa Parks is famous for refusing to give her seat to a white passenger as per the segregation laws at the time. Her arrest prompted the Montegomry bus boycott and eventually lead to the desegregation of the bus system. She was nicknamed the First Lady of Civil Rights.

We read all about Rosa Parks’ life and then they both had a literacy exercise depending on their age/ability. I made my own resources, but you can find PDFs available for purchase on educational resource sites.
B (4): Story sequencing – B was given picture cards with an accompany sentence of Rosa Parks’ story. He was tasked to place each card in the correct order. This activity helps children realise there is a logical sequence of events in stories (and life). You can read more about it here.
W (6): Anchor chart – W tasked with placing statements and phrases cards about Rosa Parks under three headings (was, had, wanted). W also had blank cards to write his own ideas. I use this activity to encourage the development of comprehension skills. You can read more about it here.

Dr. Daniel Hale Williams: Heart Science

Dr. Daniel Hale Williams born in Pennsylvania, USA in 1856. He performed the first successful open heart surgery in 1893. He also opened the first medical facility to have an interracial staff, and a training school for black nurses.

We took this opportunity for some health heart science (and maths). We measured our pulse rate while at rest and after various exercises. The children decided to extend the activity because they wanted to find out what other activities could affect their heart rate. They made their own charts and W wrote a few observational sentences about the changes to their heart rates.

our anatomical model of the human heart

Film of the Week: Hairspray

Our film for this week is Hairspray. This film helps children visualise the concept of segregation. It allows for discussion, without being too serious or scary for young children. As always, I recommend watching for yourself and judging if it is suitable for your child(ren).

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Education

Red card, Green card

Now that I’m a new member of the school mum’s club, I am privy to various methods used to convince our children to behave. I’m sure that managing 30 4-5 year old is not an easy feat so I wasn’t entirely surprised when W (4) ran to me after his second morning of school shouting “We did rules today, Mummy!”.

It’s not so long ago that I don’t remember the various school rules and sanctions imposed for breaking them from secondary school, but I don’t really remember anything from primary school. I think at that age, the mere thought of being reprimanded for even the smallest toe out of line, was enough to keep me in check.

I suppose it’s a sign of the times that various incentives and behaviour systems are being applied in an effort to not only encourage good behaviour but also as a classroom management tool. W’s school is employing a red card, green card system. You start off with a green card and extremely good behaviour is rewarded a ‘superstar’ card. Anything that doesn’t meet expected behaviour standards receives a warning, after that it’s a red card and a phone call home. There was also something about marbles and when they manage to collect a certain number of marbles they can have movie and a popcorn as a class.

W has, as with everything, taken this all in his stride and is convinced that not only will he remain on a green card but also achieve a superstar card and the movie/popcorn reward seems well within his reach. However, I do wonder about the children who are a little more sensitive to the fact that their names are on display in the classroom for all to see where they sit on the behaviour chart. I know there have been various other mummy bloggers that have spoken out about traffic light systems for monitoring behaviour in the classroom, especially when during Reception years undiagnosed conditions can reveal themselves in the form of ‘bad behaviour’.

W thrives on rules and knowing how things work but B (2) this system would no doubt fill him with anxiety. I am very interested to see how W and his peers will fare under this behaviour management system and perhaps how it will change as he moves through the education system, if it is something that I can also apply at home or if it will conflict with practices I already have in place. Will it be a realistic preparation for life after school, working on the assumption that the red cards of today will dictate the path a child will take? I don’t know, while I understand the need for behaviour and classroom management, I wonder if there are more fluid approaches and methods available?

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Education Parenthood

Starting School: Schultüte 

A Schultüte is a wonderful German tradition for the first day of school. My grandmother is German and so it’s a tradition that we are passing down and I intend to keep within our family. I remember receiving mine when I first started, so of course I had to make one for W (4) on his first day!

For those of you that don’t know, a Schultüte is essentially a cone packed with goodies, to celebrate the year ahead. Some parents are more creative and able to make fantastic cones but I just stuck with card, wrapping paper, tissue paper and ribbons for W’s.


What’s inside?

You can put anything inside of these, I tried to think of things that I thought W would need as well as enjoy. I got him a couple of new books to read and Star Wars themed workbooks to support his learning (I can’t help but giggle over P is for Padme, or the saying on the back ‘Learn well. You will.’). The notebook, pencils and skipping rope are from Cath Kidston and I found a CD of alphabet songs to add to the boys collection.  W loves taking photos on my phone so I popped in a disposable camera for him to have a go at taking his own (the old fashioned way), also picked up a boys fragrance bottle from Next because he always wants to borrow my perfume! The Lego set and the Go Fish! game are just for fun and great activywe can do together. Not pictured are some triangular colouring pencils as they are easier for him to hold that I also picked up for him.

How to make it? 

I cut out a square of wrapping paper, stuck it onto some thing card, put glue along one side of the square and made a cone shape, sticking it down together. I glued tissue paper along the inside at the top, stuffed a ball of tissue into the base (a little like a cornetto) and then filled it up with presents, before tying the top with some ribbon.


He had already been given a new school bag and a Swatch watch at breakfast, so the look on his face to be surprised again when I picked him up was totally worth it! I couldn’t be more proud of him and so excited to see what the year ahead has in store.

 

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Parenthood

New Beginnings

When I left my ex and moved back to London, W was still an only child, we had a few more weeks left until B would join us. I took him to Greenwich Park, I wanted him to experience the park that had been a large part of my childhood. I took this photo of him as he embraced the view of London I had grown to love sprawled in front of him. I felt like it was a new beginning for the both of us and this photo represents exactly how W approaches any new situation or environment, with open arms.

Last week we had an information session at W’s new primary school that he will be starting at in September. We were introduced to the headteacher and class teachers, the children were invited to play in what will later be their classroom and he went. He ran off to play with his new friends, full of excitement, he didn’t look back once. Parents around me were emotional and tearful at the idea of their little ones off to school and while I could relate I wasn’t going to start crying about it. Others couldn’t wait to wave their children off, as the rejoiced at the idea of no longer being somebody’s snack b*tch 24/7, asking if there was a summer school program to sign them up to, and already organising the details for wraparound care (breakfast clubs and after-school activities).

I, however, felt a mixture of relief and disappointment. I was disappointed that it was a day I had to navigate alone as a single parent, without a partner to feel excited or upset with. Nor did I have my mother, who we had lived with until she lost her battle with cancer last summer, so she wouldn’t be home that evening to relish in our shared love of paperwork. Despite these negatives, I was relieved, the day signified a new beginning, it made everything a bit more permanent. I have uniform to buy, I had forms to fill in, he will be at this school for the next few years and B will join him there at a later stage, our lives and the dream of bringing my boys up in the London I grew up in and love has become a little more concrete.

I know that W will be fine, he will make new friends, he will charm his teachers, he will learn and grow, laugh and play. He will be fine and so will I. Though I may be saying something different come September, you may find me at the gates with the other parents holding back the tears. But for now I am celebrating with a glass of prosecco* and saying ‘cheers, to new beginnings!’.

*because that’s all I could find