Parenting Teens and Young Adults

A friend shared this post on facebook, and I like it – it is inspiring me to start blogging here again after a long hiatus.

https://todaysmama.com/parenting/dear-lonely-mom-of-older-kids

One thing that disturbs me about this post though is the idea of only starting to recognise that your kids are humans, becoming people, when they’re middle schoolers who have opinions and let you know about them!

No. Your kids were already people when they were babies. I purposely did not share photos of my kids online, for various reasons including the fact that they could not consent, and the fact that there are horrible people online who target vulnerable youngsters, and download perfectly innocent family photos. Annoyingly, friends of ours posted pictures of our kids without our permission, something I would neverv do. The risks are far greater and graver than most people seem to realise.

Leaving that to one side though, I agree with this author’s point that, as kids get older, parenting gets lonelier. We lost our irl community by moving away, but my online community seems to have disappeared.

My kids, now all young adults at 23, 18, 17 and 15, have all now moved on from home education – to school, college and the world. So I stopped blogging here, because I felt at the time, when my youngest went to school, that i no longer had anything much of value to say.

(I do have other blogs on other topics though: Unimatrix Nexus – my busy brain won’t allow me to be still.)

I still tweet about home education at @Ohana_HE and parenting at @lillbjorne

And I post on Facebook pages of the same name here and here. So I havent been silent, but I am perhaps less visible.

It has been on my mind to do that, as a new years resolution for 2019, but I hadn’t really thought before now to include this area of my life.

But I am still a mother, I still ‘do’ mothering. I still teach them, though now in a much more limited and informal capacity. It is still valid, and necessary, and important.

Who do you find inspiring for parenting older children – whether pre-teens, teens or young adults?

What is missing that you’d like to see more of?

What are your questions, worries, concerns?

What are your joys and sorrows in this season?

I would love to hear from you!

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Change of Seasons

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After muddling through for just over a year with most of our books still in storage and without any significant social contact, Motor-biker decided at the beginning of April to try school.

It took a while for the bureaucratic wheels to turn, but once the ball was rolling everything seemed to happen very fast.

We had a tour of the school on the Thursday and then filled in the forms to officially apply for a place. On the Monday we were informed by the County Council that the place was ours and so he started on Wednesday morning.

We agreed that, given that the transition from home to secondary school is such a massive one, it could be overwhelming to jump in at the deep end and so he would start gradually. One lesson the first day, two on the second and so on.

Tomorrow is due to be his first full day.

So far it has been a mixture of enjoyment, overwhelmed exhaustion and frustration. (I will elaborate on the reasons for his frustrations later.)

For those of us left at home, there is also a mixture of feelings of joy and sadness – joy because I am happy for him to do what he wants to do (and he is such a sociable character, I think he will be in his element), sadness because my home education journey is coming to an end before I expected it to and with that I am experiencing feelings of disappointment and a niggling sense of failure.

It is nonsense of course – motherhood inevitably includes a sense of guilt but I know that actually I have done my best and we have had an incredibly difficult set of circumstances that have been and continue to be outside of my control.

Baba Zonee has decided to stay at home. He is a different character from his brother and doesn’t feel ready for school.

Pony-rider has turned 16 and is still at home mainly because she can’t decide what she wants, and Dragon-tamer is still at home struggling with mental and physical ill health after his breakdown which school caused.

I’m not worried that Motor-biker will have the same experience at school that Dragon-tamer did – again, they are very different characters.

Whereas Dragon-tamer found the education useful and the social contact difficult and frustrating, Motor-biker is likely to have the opposite experience, and I am prepared (and fully expecting judging from his reactions to the lessons so far) to need to supplement the education at home.

So perhaps not much will change in a way except for the timetable, and Baba Zonee will benefit I’m sure from having one-to-one attention for a change (not to mention a bit of peace and quiet! Motor-biker’s other nickname is Tigger due to his irrepressibly boisterous and bouncy nature!)

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I couldn’t help noticing that this massive change of season for us occurred on the occasion of the Full Moon at Passover and Orthodox Easter (also counted as Beltane for those who celebrate on the full moon rather than on May 1st according to the calendar). That confluence of Christian, Jewish and Pagan dates felt auspicious to me in a way. Perhaps it’s just me being fanciful, but perhaps that’s just me! 🙂

I feel a little as though I, like Dorothy, have been caught up in a whirling, mad tornado (again) and deposited in a new land – charmed and bewitched, and I’m a little bit lost and unsure. Unfamiliar territory with unfamiliar landmarks. I will triumph eventually, but we may have a strange journey ahead.

I am thinking happy thoughts and taking deep breaths, and trying to adjust to the idea without going crazy.

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2015 in review

Thank-you to all my readers and followers for staying with us in 2015. I know I haven’t been terribly consistent, and it probably doesn’t look very professional because I rarely manage to include photos, but in my defence, we have had a very disrupted year and, really, this blog has never been some kind of business project – there are no affiliate links or whatever (although we do have an Amazon A-Store, which I will try and update with useful books and resources).

What this blog is about really is just a bit of fun to keep a record of what we do for our own enjoyment, and hopefully to help other home educators find their own paths along the way.

Depending on how this year goes for us, I have lots of plans and ideas to include here – more book reviews, more field trip/ outing reports, and lots more. (If there’s anything you would particularly like to see here, just sing out!)

So I wish you all a happy, healthy and productive new year 2016 and look forward to reading your blogs and interacting with the home education community both the UK and further afield.

WordPress prepared a report, which I thought I would share, as it is pretty!

Click here to see the complete report.

Have a great year!

How Did We Get Here?

I don’t know what happened to November! The last few months seem to have been a blur – less of frenetic activity, and more of illness and confusion. As often happens in a big family, we all take it in turns to get sick, so we can have back-to-back colds and bugs for weeks on end.

Dragon-tamer and Pony-rider dropped out of their course, as it didn’t seem to be leading anywhere and it was eating up their whole week with no obvious benefit. That seemed to be the right decision, but neither of them have any ideas or plans about what to do next.

Meanwhile, Motor-biker and Baba-zonee have started joining in with our local home ed sports group, and may join in with more if they carry on home educating, but we have been talking and wondering about the possibility – in view of their severe dyslexia – of either going in to school, or flexi-schooling. I feel as though I am out of my depth and can’t help them much further.

We haven’t been on many outings otherwise because I haven’t been well enough to drive, but we do seem to have been out to endless hospital appointments (with Daddy driving), doing a tour of hospitals around Barnstaple, Holsworthy, Exeter and Truro lately! Not really my idea of fun, and not really terribly educational!

Although we have been plodding along in our various curriculum books, we don’t seem to have made much progress, or felt like we have learned much. The most educational thing we have enjoyed during the Autumn term is Stephen Fry’s documentary series Planet Word on language.

We have three weeks left now before Christmas, and I think we will just gently plod on, but then we’ll take a break to think about what we want to do next year.

We have inherited a couple of old black and white border collie sheepdogs from my mother-in-law, so our next adventure is to get used to having dogs again. Hopefully we will be able to take them onto the beaches and out in the countryside which will be educational in itself.

Do You Need a ‘Grace’ Year?

I had to laugh about the get some help comment in the article below! I’m not quite drinking wine in the afternoons, but Star Trek and cartoons have been known to feature!

But seriously, we have just experienced our 6th, yes SIXTH house move in four years (which is not even to mention the stress of Type1 Diabetes, ME and dyslexia), and I probably really need to give myself a break.

I have been kicking myself emotionally about not being able to get into a routine yet, but honestly, I think we just need a bit of recovery time.

Probably not a whole year, but I think that in all likelihood, we will have a rather reduced academic programme for the rest of this school year.

http://www.freehomeschooldeals.com/does-your-homeschool-need-a-grace-year/

Seven Odd Things I’ve Come to Appreciate About Homeschooling

I hadn’t seen this blog before, but it was shared on facebook and I thought it was a great post so I’m sharing it again here 🙂
http://www.catholicallyear.com/2015/01/seven-odd-things-ive-come-to-appreciate.html?m=1

Educating Through a Crisis

We have had our fair share of crises in the 16+ years we have been home educating, and the last few years seem to have been just one crisis after another.

In mid-February we received notice of eviction because our landlord had decided to sell the house we were renting. This is perfectly legal in the UK for tenants who have done nothing wrong, providing a minimum of two months’ notice is given, leaving tenants at the mercy of their landlords’ whims.

It is actually our 6th house move in 4 years, including one previous eviction because the landlord wanted to move in to the house himself, and another time being flooded out and temporarily re-housed. Hopefully this time we will be settled for a nice long time.

These last 4 difficult years also followed hard on the heels of a run of miscarriages and three family deaths including my Dad’s, so we have had a lot of experience in all sorts of crisis!

For most people, this kind of extreme and repetitive season of crisis is not likely, but all of us will face some kind of crisis at some point.

How do you ensure that the children don’t miss out on education during a crisis, and in the case of moving house, when your primary educational setting is in chaos?

I remember attending a seminar at The Home Service (now Christian Home Education Support Service) Conference at Cefn Lea in Wales one year, so I’ll list what I can remember from that as well as to add some of my own ideas.

1) As a home educator, you’re not tied to a class room, or living room – the world is your classroom, so if your house is upside-down, get out and learn elsewhere – outside, at the museum, at the park, at the beach, with friends, even at the market – be inventive with simple educational field trips and remember that they are learning all the time!

2) Prioritise – work out what is most important: perhaps you can’t cover all the subjects you would want to, so what can you lay down for a time, and what do you absolutely want to keep doing? (We pretty much laid everything down this time except literature, and took advantage of audio-books when our books got packed away.)

3) Know that the way we cope with a crisis is educational in itself – some of us are naturally better than others in a crisis situation, but I think I can fairly say I have become an expert! ;P Patience, calm and serenity, I have learnt, are like muscles – the more you exercise them, the more you find the ability is there, and the lessons of coping, improvising, making do and mending are all good for children to learn.

4) Know that this is just a season, and this too will pass. Even in extended periods of uncertainty, there will come a day when normality returns, and when it does, the long dark tunnel won’t have been a waste of time (see above), and you will appreciate normality when it returns. It may even be a while before it begins to feel like mundane drudgery again! (I have learned to take care about inviting too much adventure in to my life now!)

5) Find your Rock: It has been said that parenting is character-building, and home education even more so, and of course it goes without saying that working through hard times is part and parcel of that character formation. But for me, it has forced me to dig deep down into my faith foundation. At the seminar, prayer and reliance on God was the number one recommendation. Some of us though have to learn the hard way, and this has tended to be my last resort rather than my first thought.

I hope that’s helpful and not overly obvious. If you have gone through or are currently going through difficult times and home educating through them, I would love to hear from you.

Dealing with Negativity

I’ve been home educating since 1999, so I ought to be used to this, but we are in a new area, meeting new people, and somehow it feels like starting over from scratch.

It always seems odd to me that all the opposition I’ve had about home education has always come from within the church. I get a lot of support and encouragement from everybody else – old, young, teachers, parents etc.

But somehow, even tho I don’t preach it or try to force my views on anybody, some people in the church – despite all the evidence that home educated children are polite and well behaved – can’t seem to stop criticising at every chance they can get, and to be honest, it is getting me down.

Fortunately it’s not at my own church, it’s a leader at a youth group, but it’s kind of relentless. My children enjoy the group so I don’t want to stop going.

Any advice?

New Term #homeed #dyslexia

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I’m spending today planning, thinking, wondering how to proceed when we start back with homeschooling tomorrow. I’m glad of an extra day, as I have been putting off thinking about it, and the weekend has been busy with visitors. But my eldest is still home as it’s a teacher’s ‘inset’ day, so I decided I could do with an ‘inset’ day myself.

The weather is very grey and depressing after the lovely sunny weather and I am really hoping it will start cheering up again as I am feeling that I need to get out more and get away from things this term.

I am wondering again how to deal with the severe dyslexia problem. I am out of my depth, and I just don’t know how to connect with any resources or helps that might be available. I have suggested calling it a day and trying school, but that’s not an option Motor-biker will consider so I need to do what I can here.

Starting back after a break is always hard – trying to get into a stable routine, getting up early and getting stuck in is a challenge after holidays. But I’m just wondering if I need to re-think our whole way of doing things (again).

When Dragon-tamer was at home, he pretty much taught himself because he was a book lover and found reading easy and fun. Pony-rider is the same, and she is happy to explore her own topics and she’s not one to get bored because she can’t think of anything to do.

The two youngest though, Motor-biker and Baba Zonee, are both struggling readers, get bored very easily and aren’t really interested in anything and certainly wouldn’t pursue their own interests unless they include watching TV or playing computer games. It’s a whole new paradigm for me.

So for the last 2-3 years we have done much more formal lessons than I ever did with the older two, and I thought I was doing the right thing, and that I needed to do it, but I have the overwhelming feeling that none of it is going in at all. They’re still not interested in anything, still not willing to study topics on their own, and they still can’t read.

So I’m still not sure how I will approach tomorrow. I am wondering about abandoning the formal lessons and going back to Sonlight (for anybody not familiar with it, it’s an American, literature-based curriculum which we loved and which I used for years with my older two).

I never needed to do much in the way of formal work with the older two – they just picked it up along the way, and because they were such wide readers, they had no problem with spelling or grammar or writing – it all just came naturally.

Was I wrong to assume that the younger two were different? Should I have given it more time? Would they eventually pick up what they need just by listening to me read to them? I know it’s possible because it happened with my two oldest, but they were readers. Can reading itself be transferred by osmosis? I’m just not sure anymore.

By the way, I’ve added hashtags to the title of this blog post as an experiment, in the hope that they’ll appear when the post automatically feeds through to twitter.

 

 

Uphill Battles

I haven’t posted lately, as we haven’t really done anything noteworthy. Mostly we just potter around, doing individual projects that don’t amount to much.

This week though has seen more than the usual number of meltdowns, inappropriate behaviours and things broken. I’m not sure why. I do try to limit e-numbers and artificial additives. I try to react sympathetically and define boundaries appropriately. But I’m exhausted.

I feel, all in all, as though I am fighting and uphill battle with an opponent who doesn’t want to learn or do anything within the spectrum of ‘normal’. I hate this feeling of being on opposing sides to my children. We are meant to be a team, helping each other.

But this seems to be the reality of dealing with special needs.

Not for the first time, I have wondered whether school might be a better option. But my eldest, who loves 6th form, assures me it wouldn’t be any good at all for M. I know it wouldn’t too. He wouldn’t be able to conform or be quiet or sit still, and I could imagine him being expelled before too long.

CAMHS turned us away twice and we failed to get any kind of diagnosis or statement, so I have no doubt whatsoever that he wouldn’t get the help he needs, unless we were prepared for a long hard fight, in which case, we might as well just carry on the long hard fight at home.

But sometimes, just sometimes, I just wish there was some kind of scheme of respite care for home educators.