On leaving the Jehovah’s witnesses and where this leaves me with regards to home schooling

It has been an eventful few weeks. Two weeks ago I disassociated myself from the Jehovah’s Witnesses. This for a variety of reasons, which I will not go into in detail but to say that they became quite cultish in their behaviour.
As a result I have lost my entire support network for home schooling because once you disassociate yourself from the organisation you are then deemed an Apostate and as a result are shunned by all current members. This would include my group of home education friends who were also JWs.

I am thankful that I am awake (as us apostates put it!) and also happy that my mam knew a woman at her church who home schools so she is going to take me under her wing and help me get to know the home Ed community outside the watchtower organisation. A massive shout out to Mandy for this.
St Chads church does a fun at 4 children and families service once a month and I took Jake for the first time. He loved it! They did crafts based around Moses and the 10 commandments. Then they had a story. Jake felt included in everything and both vicars who do it are fab! I am definitely planning on taking him back there 🙂

Both kids have been poorly too so we have done a lot of watching videos as learning. Our guard cat Tilly was playing nurse as usual.

However when he felt a bit better we ventured into Newcastle to see the Soldier statue outside the Theatre Royal for remembrance day. I thought it was important to know how horrific war was without traumatising him too much. Also we found watching the animation Poppies by Cbeebies was amazing.

We took a very cold trip to Saltwell park and decided to feed the birds while we were there. It was slightly traumatising for us both because we didn’t expect the sheer amount of birds to appear then actually follow us around the park when we had ran out!! – note to self, do NOT do that again! I have seen Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘the birds’ too many times not to be freaked out haha.

Since we haven’t been able to do any sit down and study lessons we have been practicing on doing craft activities until I can re do a schedule that will be good and reflect our change in circumstances. We made felt faces using craft kits from Wilkos. We also have Christmas ones to do. I also started trying to make Anglican prayer beads and ropes for my own spiritual journey, which Jake helped with.

Since I am now celebrating Christmas this year we have been doing LOADS of preparation for it. We have been making angels, Christmas trees, elves, door hooks, decorations for the tree, home made Christmas cards and tags, Christmas pictures and lots and lots of paper chains. It has been good to see Jake exploring the different textures in a controlled environment. I also got the kids a Christmas eve box each (and a spare one for us parents too!) so I painted them red and green with gold writing on them. We are not allowed to put the Christmas tree up till 1st December (Daddy has spoken 😦 ) but we are making sure Jake understands the true meaning of Christmas as well as the fact that not all people get the same as us. To support this we are going to be doing a cleanout of his room and donating to the local food bank.

To top it off this is the first year Jake has been able to write a letter to Santa and we actually got to meet him at the Metrocentre. Jake was petrified but he eventually spoke to him.

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We have made a start on making a sensory room for Jake along a tipi and somewhere where he can chill if he needs to. I have got both kids a sensory basket each and they love it! Carol Lloyd from sensory treasure on Facebook does them and she is amazing! It helps calm Jake down and helps with his motor skills.

And finally as usual we had our little learners class. We are so fortunate that Emma is an amazing teacher and Jake was even helping her show the younger kids how to do each of the marks.

I am hoping that once things settle down (Jake is confused about our change of circumstances regarding the JWs) we will be able to do a proper home education schedule and help him.

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An update!

WOW! I hadn’t realised it was 25 days since I last posted! I have a lot to catch up on. It has been an interesting few weeks… we have made forts, went to the moon in a cardboard box, painted, been to little learners, visited the centre for life, a trip to Hexham, cooking, and got to try out a Samsung tablet.

We did a lot of work based on the Jill Murphy book Whatever next. We read the book then went in search of a spaceship so we could have a picnic on the moon with Jake’s teddy bears.

He loved it! We even found fetching space helmets!

Jake helped me to make rock buns and we made it into a maths game with the recipe and measuring. He was so chuffed that he got to help mammy bake. His granddad is planning on doing more home baking with him once a week.

Both kids enjoyed a few field trips over the last few weeks. We went to the centre for life where Jake thought it was funny to drink out of a toilet shaped water fountain and we saw a lovely film in the planetarium called “baby bear goes north”. He has also enjoyed time out to Whitley bay for his hair cut at fidgets and to Hexham.

We had an unfortunate incident happen a few weeks ago that resulted in Jake being pretty upset so we made a den where he could hide.

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His reading is coming along well. We have nearly finished the purple set of books from read write inc and he is on the final level of Teach your monster to read 🙂 Yesterday he managed to read one of his own books to me! I was so proud! We are getting him to read wherever he is and I also printed off a chart with the ‘Trickies’ or ‘red words’ on them (words that don’t follow the usual pattern of phonics like the) so we can practice them. He has also been enjoying playing with a number line game on the tablet.

We have been drawing cards for people we care about and also exploring sounds with bubble wrap (he loved popping the bubbles) as a sensory activity. We have also been doing more work in his work books. I base the days activities on how he is feeling and if he will have the attention span for set lessons or if it is just going to be free flow play (based on the schedule I made).

We find that tv shows once again help him learn especially cbeebies and cbbc. We have been learning history from horrible histories (Mammy’s favourite!).

On Saturdays as usual we have been going to Little learners and Jake has been having an amazing time exploring different textures and he also took a liking to these plastic cards that have holes in that you can sew show laces into, in order to help with motor skills. We ended up buying some for him to play with at home. He also started writing in the paint.

When we took a trip to Newcastle we found a stall showing Samsung products and we had a try on the tablet they had along with a pen. It seems like such a good idea for home schooling! If I had the money I would buy one because they are so easy to use and even the drawing tool is amazing, just like writing on paper. It makes me think of how much money I would save on paper and ink.

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Recently I have noticed that Jake has been getting bored with his maths. We have since found that he is more advanced than reception level. I have subscribed to Mike’s maths and we get a maths lesson once a week over skpye by Mike covering KS1. He does up to GCSE maths. Jake couldn’t cope with a live lesson so we get sent a link to the recorded lesson along with some homework. He explains things really well and often sends resources to us that can help us to explain the concepts to our children. The good things about the recorded lessons is that Jake has a very short attention span so we can do a 15 minute lesson, pause the video and then go back later in the week to do the rest, because they last for an hour. It is £35 per half term for the lessons and they are well worth it.

I hope next time I don’t leave it so long between posts but I think I’ve covered everything.

I hope everyone is having a nice autumn.

My home ed schedule

This is my weekly schedule for Jake’s home ed. I use my bullet journal to plan what exactly I will cover but it can be flexible. If Jake is having a bad day I can shift things around.
First I filled in our spiritual routine because that is very important to me as one of Jehovah’s witnesses.  

I scheduled time in for preparation for our meetings, time for our ministry, the midweek and the weekend meeting and then family worship and bible study.

Then I thought about what I saw as more important for Jake to knos, so for instance learning to read, maths, personal social and emotional development and getting outdoors.

I wanted Jake to still get exercise and go out to socialise so I found activities that I think Jake would enjoy without it being too stressful for him. That is why I picked swimming. After looking at the timetable for the pool I found the quietest time for us. I am also planning on taking him on a day out once a week. 

I added my own plans on there too so I can be more organised. I am currently doing a distance learning course through dlu at grimsby, level 2 in understanding autism so I do that when the kids are in bed. Also I have added our weekly date night which usually involves a film and a takeaway. 

I included a weekly trip to the library because I believe that all children should be shown how enjoyable reading is. Gateshead central library is like my second home. I love reading and have read to both children since they were born. The staff all know us and are amazing with Jake. It has been a treasure trove of hidden gems which we would have passed over in other circumstances. They also run quite a few good events so I keep an eye out on their Facebook page for them.

Our schedule is not set in stone but I try to broadly follow it because Jake likes to know what is happening. It is why I have drawn symbols and pictures on it for Jake to understand it.

I hope this helps people who might be stuck with how to do a home ed schedule.

A busy week and an operation on a dinosaur

Well we have had quite a few busy weeks! First bit of good news is that Jake can now read!! 🙂 We started on the read write inc books and he wasn’t really getting it so I let him watch the alphablocks on cbeebies… It took 10 minutes to explain something I had been trying for a fortnight to explain!
We got the box set on dvd from Amazon and it has been a game changer. By the end of the dvds he had the basics of sound blending. They also did a series of books which help to explain how sound blending works.

Along with the game ‘Teach your monster to read’ which I first set of book mentioned in an earlier post, he has now got the hang of reading 🙂 We still had the read write inc books so after he was comfortable with phonics we went through the green set (set 1) without a problem. He is now finished the first set and we are about to go on to the second set.

We also continued with a book theme and did a few worksheets based on the very hungry caterpillar. I got them from twinkl. It is a good website if you have the money but if I’m honest I won’t be renewing my subscription when it runs out. We did maths and pencil control worksheets and found pictures to colour in after we read the story.

Other worksheets we got from twinkl were to do with Autumn and we found maths, nature walk things and colouring page all to do with the changing seasons. I made a worksheet for us for when we went to Saltwell park so Jake could find things. He really enjoyed it and I am thinking of making a few more for when we go different places.

Jake has been enjoying working from the gold star booklets recently because once you have completed a page you get a gold star sticker. Each book also has a poster with it so we are planning on putting them on Jake’s wall. I am so chuffed with them because they are quite cheap in wilkos and they also follow the national curriculum. Now, I know that as a home educator I do not have to legally follow the national curriculum but since I am new to this I have used it as a guideline until I get myself into a routine. I am using things that I know Jake is interested in to keep his interest and concentration while teaching what he would be learning in reception. To help me do this I bought a copy of the national curriculum online and a book on how to teach a child with autism. You can get a copy of the curriculum online.
We also tried a few of the nelson books but Jake prefers the gold star ones.

I found a number line game on the gooogle play store for free and Jake is also enjoying playing with it. I am glad because I never used number lines at school and this gives good explanations of them.

We have been doing a lot of drawing and I even made my own hand drawn worksheet for telling the time. We also rubbed pencil over money as a form of art and also so Jake can get to grips with money.

Since Jake has no danger awareness I printed out some handouts and pictures to colour in. Also I’ve been in touch with the tyne and wear fire service and we have been invited for a tour of our local fire station so we are looking forward to that.

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The numberblocks have been helping us this week with maths too because special cbeebies mag came out recently which had the blocks in to play with. It explained doubling and halfing things and adding and subtracting.

I was so excited to find suessville (the website for all things dr suess) have free resources to download about his books. Jake’s favourite is the lorax so we will be doing some activities based on that.

It hasn’t all been work work work, we have been learning through play too. We played with dominoes, made things with his mega blocks, and even made vegan rock buns and shortbread 🙂

 We made a fort using his chairs and duvet and also made a pull along toy using a kit from wilkos.
Bob, Jake’s dinosaur and best friend had a hole in his mouth so mammy performed emergency surgery on him. I used it as an excuse to teach Jake about what happens when you go to hospital. I’m happy to report that Bob has now made a full recovery and Jake did a wonderful job nursing Bob back to
 health.

Since I am one of Jehovah’s witnesses, I have found jw.org to be vital in finding educational things for Jake about morals and bible study. The videos and resources available free of charge cover things like why we should tell the truth, why we need to keep our room clean, why we need to listen to our parents, etc. There is also a series of comics of illustrated bible stories and they are great for younger readers.

It has been a very busy week and I am so glad we have managed to make a schedule to follow. I will be putting another post up soon about our schedule and why we do what we do.

A dirty child is a happy child

I thought I would do a post about Jake and his experience of Little Learners mark making classes because it has to be the best thing we have ever done to help him.
We started going to little learners about 18 months ago and to say it has brought Jake on leaps and bounds is an understatement.

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What is Little learners?

This is the mission statement from their website:

“Our mission is simple: encourage every child to make their mark!

We provide exciting preschool classes where your child learns how to mark make through play. If it’s fun and it’s messy – it can’t be learning…can it?? Wrong! Babies and young children learn best through play.

Mark making is the first step towards writing!

Mark making is a huge part of your child’s learning journey and one of the outcomes of a prime area of learning – Physical Development – in Early Years Foundation Stage Guidance (birth to 60 months).

When your child starts to make scribbles, patterns and shapes, this is ‘mark making’. It is the first step towards writing. Your child explores, experiments and expresses themselves through the marks they make. They begin to assign meaning to their marks, which leads to creativity and exploration.

Exploring different textures, materials and grabbing various apparatus will help your child get ready for writing. Encouraging your child to use their hands, fingers, feet and toes to make marks will strengthen their core muscles and develop their gross and fine motor skills. These skills are vital for holding and controlling a pencil and letter and number formation.

Children can mark make in many different ways: pen and paper, painting, ‘messy play’ or even drawing in the sand on the beach. All of these provide opportunities to explore a wide range of tools too such as paintbrushes, chalks, pencils and their bodies. The benefits of mark making are clear. Your child’s fine motor skills will develop and strengthen in preparation for writing.”

mission from little learners website: www.littlelearnersuk.com

Every week they cover a different ‘mark’ and these marks will be what a child uses to write letters and numbers. There are 4 different marks each with their own character to make them memorable:

soldier mark- represented by lionel
These are all of the straight lines up and down and back and forth
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rainbow mark- represented by archie
These are all of the arches and humps
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magic mark- represented by swirlo
These are all of the swirls
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monster mark- represented by ziggy
zig zags that look like monster teeth
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the mark makers

We have been using the Little learners mark making programme as part of our home education schedule because he is developing his writing skills, his social skills with the singing and group time and has even made friends there. He has always had sensory issues but because of Little learners he has been encouraged to try and feel different textures and now he is more comfortable with feeling strange things.

They have a shop where you can purchase little learners merchandise and also a mark making programme for the little ones to practice at home. Jake really enjoys doing these:

Emma Maddison runs our local little learners franchise and has been a massive support to us from the minute Jake started. She makes special amendments so he doesn’t feel left out and even though technically it is suitable from 5 months to 5 years old Emma has said Jake can continue to go because he is enjoying it so much. It is the first time he has felt comfortable somewhere and it has helped him a lot with his pencil control.

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Emma Maddison Says:

Jake has been coming along to Little Learners for about 18 months now and has blossomed in many ways. I think the routine of class has helped him as he is fully aware what will happen when. This seems to keep Jake calm and relaxed during each session. Adjustments are always made when needed, this can be anything from turning the music down or providing a certain task to preoccupy him further. He has really taken to his mark making and has developed great knowledge of each of our marks and is able to show them all along with many letters, shapes and numbers! He’s also shows great example to the younger ones in class. Well done Jake!!!

He really enjoys the special events they run too 🙂
This is a video shot during the little learners in the park event at Saltwell park in Gateshead. Jake is standing right next to Emma during group time because he has a strong bond with “His friend Emma”.
https://youtu.be/FmK6IW0gHvM

Jake has also made a few friends at Little Learners, in particular his friend Autumn. Since we love it so much our youngest child is now part of the little learners team.

Here is a video explaining what little learners is all about:
https://youtu.be/G9gcTgxiKgE

I can’t thank the entire little learners team enough for helping our family and for helping us in our home school journey.

If you would like to book a little learners class see what classes are near you.

https://littlelearnersuk.com/book-a-class/

Home Schooling doesn’t have to cost a fortune…

I think that people see home schooling as the more expensive option and for most things they would be right. An example would be if you wanted to purchase a fixed curriculum or join an online school. However, home education can be whatever you make of it 🙂 Here are some tips on being cost effective:

1. Make use of what you already have in the house
We recycle a lot of our old toilet roll holders and things you could use to make models and use them to make all sorts of cool things!20604537_638050086584390_319801573692249527_n

We also scoured the house for any stationary we already had in the house before going out and buying any more. It was ridiculous the amount of pens, pencils and even pencil cases we found! It saved us an awful lot of money in the long run.

2. Look online for free resources
Pinterest has been amazing for us because there are so many ideas and free resources. I have made a page where I will be putting a list of resources I will put next to them whether they are free etc.
Jake’s favourite thing at the minute is www.teachyourmonstertoread.com
It is £4.99 for the App but you can play it online on a computer for free. It teaches your child to read through games so they don’t even realise they are learning!

3. Never underestimate the power of TV and the internet
Today you can find a tutorial online for just about anything! Sites like Youtube allow people to record videos of anything so any subject you want can be searched for. For your pre-school kids, the TV channel cbeebies on freeview is good as it shows loads of educational programmes:
Alphablocks (phonics)
Numberblocks (maths)
Go Jetters (geography)
Mr blooms nursery (understanding the world)
Bing (Personal, social, and emotional development)
The lingo show (foreign languages)
Something special (makaton and understanding the world)
Get scribbling (Writing)
Twirly woos (concepts like over, under etc)
I can cook (cookery)
Melody (Music)
Magic Hands (BSL and poetry)
Let’s celebrate (different religions and cultures)
Andy’s prehistoric adventures and Andy’s wild adventures (dinosaurs and animals)
Do you know? (How everyday things work)
Down on the farm (seasons and farm life)
Footy pups (PE and sports)
Furchester hotel (Problem solving)
Get well soon (doctors and hospitals explained in a child friendly way)
Hey duggee (does activities to earn badges)
Let’s go club (sing, dance and make things)
minibeast adventure with jess (exploring the world around us)
Mister maker (art)
My first (experiences children may go through)
My pet and me (looking at how to look after a pet)
Nelly and Nora(weather)
nina and the neurons (science)
octonauts (marine life)
show me show me (everyday life)
stargazing (astronomy)
Topsy and Tim (everyday situations a child will come across)
Tree fu tom (Exercise)
what’s the big idea? (answers questions)
where in the world (geography)
zingzillas (music)

The good things about cbeebies is that their website is full of free games, printouts and information for parents to support the tv shows. They sometimes do specials on the website for seasonal things, like winter, worldly celebrations, and special events (like the Olympics etc).

4. Join Local Groups
This is a great way to meet other home ed parents and to possibly share resources. Seasoned home ed parents can be a fountain of information with resources, places to go, where to get discounts as well as having the best comebacks to people who are not too happy about you home educating your children. Meet-ups are a great way to let your children get to know each other and for you to get adult interaction.

5. Find local free places
Find local free places to visit for field trips or just to have fun. In Tyne and Wear most nexus shops have a metro guide in the information section about what attractions are on the metro line and easy to get to. Google is good for finding out what is near you. If you are on Facebook it is useful to keep an eye out on the local events page for free events held near you. The library, museums, art galleries, charities, community centres and local parks.
Get in touch with local attractions that may have discounted entry for home educators. For example the intofilm festival gives free tickets to children and their teachers for a few showings of several films a year.

6. Make every experience a learning experience
Children are like sponges, they soak everything up so it is a good idea to make sure that you potentially teach them every opportunity you have.

example: Bath time
You could use bath crayons to draw, write and scribble so let them go wild!
Use the water to play a game of “will it sink or float?”
Name body parts
play with things like bubbles
Colours, shapes, numbers

I hope these tips have helped any future home ed family who wanted to teach their children but couldn’t afford it, by showing them that while, yes some of the fixed curriculums are more expensive, it doesn’t need to be.
If you have any other tips please put them in the comments ❤

the beginning of an epic journey into home education

Well today it is official 🙂 while everyone else is ironing uniforms for their kids starting school, I deregistered my son Jake.  He was diagnosed with autism  (ASD) in June 2017 and at first we thought he would be able to cope in mainstream education until we saw him on holiday… 

and when we had eventually persuaded him to go to the kids club they had, I had a glimpse of what school life would be like for him… while all the other kids were sitting down having fun, Jake was by himself in the corner in his own little world, having shut everybody out. When he had tried to make friends the children had no understanding of him and stayed away from him because he was ‘naughty’. he couldn’t understand the games they played, he said it was all too loud, he wasn’t into anything the other kids were in to, and apart from the fact he has double incontinence he also had operations on both of his feet so he is still quite wobbly at times.

The image that sticks in my mind the most is when the rep managed to get him to go to the mini disco that night. I got up to dance with him and Jake started to really enjoy himself so I let him dance on his own … until a group of boys started copying his way of dancing and mocking him. I was so angry because it had taken us ALL week to get him there for him to be bullied. fair enough their parents put a stop to it but by then the damage had been done 😦

It was then I realised that it would be like this at school. The school I was going to put him in was lovely but they wouldn’t have been able to provide the one on one care he needs so I decided to home educate. 

I am planning on loosely sticking to the national curriculum but in a play based way that is centred around Jake’s interests. 

I have found an amazing support network online and even had the opportunity to meet other local home ed parents so Jake won’t be isolated.

I will keep you posted about our progress.

our ‘not’ back to school photo 2017. we have noticed that tv shows like the alphablocks have helped him because they are short and to the point


when we were on holiday we knew Jake needed more help

puppets made for little red riding hood

puppets we made to tell the story of little red riding hood

tired Jake after our day out

Jake has always been obsessed with buses so this was a dream come true for him

we met lots of other home ed mams and their kids at Beamish museum… Jake had a fab day!

worksheet for saltwell park. we had to find all the things on the list

our first day of homeschool… in my favourite cafe the grumpy panda