Ohana Home Education Yahoo Group

When I started home educating, the internet was fairly new, and so at the time (1999) the main source of networking between home educators was ‘e-groups’ which eventually got taken over by Yahoo groups.

I know that almost everybody now has migrated over to Facebook, but although I am obviously there (and Ohana Home Education has a presence there), I’m not a big fan and don’t particularly like entrusting photos or files to them, and so while lots of yahoo groups now stand empty or quiet, I have decided to revive one of my groups as a handy place to store files and links that may be of use to home educators.

ohana

The group is, surprisingly enough, is called Ohana Home Education and you can find it here: https://uk.groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/OhanaHE/info

There are already lots of files and links there. Mainly they are related to lapbooking, unit studies, home economics and some religious topics (mainly relating to Messianic Judaism, celebrating the festivals, cooking etc.), but I hope in future to add resources and worksheets on all other topics, and anybody is free to contribute.

It is not particularly meant to be a discussion/ support group, although if it does get used that way it would also be OK. But there are of course lots of other places online (especially, inevitably, on Facebook) for that sort of thing. One of these days I will get round to making a list of the most helpful groups.

So please do go on over and take a look, and if you would like to join to contribute/ make use of what is there, please do make sure to confirm when you apply that you are a home educator. Feel free to suggest as well the topics that you would like to see there.

I know that, when I was first home educating, I very much appreciated the resources that other home educators had made available for free, so it is all good to make sure that there are free resources still available for a new generation of home educators.

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Plans for September

After going to and fro in my mind over what to do – follow the national curriculum more closely with a view to doing GCSEs? Concede defeat over the severe dyslexia and put them all in school (it was a serious consideration, but none of us want to go that route), or go back to our Sonlight-style, literature-based lifestyle.

I wondered seriously about starting GCSEs at home, but again, nobody really wants that. We have found two possible options for maths and English post-16, both of which are free, so I think there’s no rush for that. Heck, I’m doing GCSE maths myself next year, and I’m 44! 🙂

I decided to go back to the literature-based lifestyle. I call it a lifestyle, because when we were doing Sonlight, we weren’t cooped up at home or in the classroom the way we have been recently, trying to squeeze ourselves into the National Curriculum boxes (although now I look back, I wonder why?! It has been miserable for all of us, and really, worse than unproductive, it turned them off learning).

On the contrary, the books we found were always portable, it meant that we could be out and about everyday – at the woods, at the beach, visiting with other home educators, whatever really, and we could still get the ‘work’ done, and it didn’t really feel like work (except on my throat which was known to need a constant supply of hot tea!)

Despite eldest’s difficulties with the system (possible Asperger’s without a firm diagnosis or Statement), his knowledge base was much larger than my own when I left school, so I’m confident that Sonlight gave him a good all-round education. The skills will come, but they have come frustratingly slowly.

My kids are just bright, late starters 🙂

The next question was, do we go on with Sonlight itself or another literature-based curriculum I have used in between, Heart of Dakota.

I actually decided to do both: I will be doing two levels anyway – we’re going to finally go back and finish the Sonlight read-alouds from core C over the summer, and then go on to start core D. We never did cores D and E first time round because they’re based on American history, but we always felt we had missed out on all those fantastic books!

coreD

So, as always, we will do a hotch potch – we’ll intersperse the American history with some British history and geography. But we’ll be moving away from the textbooks and back to the literature. They recall it so much more fully that way.

heart-of-dakota-world-geography

For my daughter, I decided to do Heart of Dakota’s World Geography year. The titles look really interesting, and I’ve been wanting to do it for a while.

I rather enjoyed HoD’s early grades, which I used (mainly for language arts) for my two youngest alongside Sonlight’s early grades, although we didn’t do all the books (HoD are much more Amero-centric than Sonlight, and more religious! But I like it because it has a much more Charlotte Mason style) but I skipped the first three higher levels in the ‘Hearts for Him Through High School’ series (although I have the guides if I want to go back to them).

300

And, because I am a book addict, I also ordered Sonlight’s core 300 (20th Century World History for high school) instructor’s guide, but not the books. I thought I would get the books gradually as we need them. And I’ll read these myself even if my daughter’s not interested. (I had been toying with doing their Church History core for myself but we hadn’t done the 20th Century in any great depth so I thought we should do this first) I rather think she will be interested anyway, and I know my eldest will love them.

So there will be a whole lot of reading going on in this house, and out of this house next year, all being well!

But as ever, the strict following of guides and manuals, ticking off every box, and doing every assignment, probably won’t happen.

We’ve tried that, and it sucks the joy out of it all, and it kind of defeats the whole purpose of home educating in the first place, which is freedom to enjoy learning.

For science, we’ll carry on with Apologia but I think we may set aside some more time for hands-on experiments. That’s one think I may go back to the National Curriculum for, but as I said many years ago, I will use it (as I’ll use the HoD manuals and the Sonlight instructor’s guides) more as a curriculum bank of ideas, a tool rather than a master. We won’t allow ourselves to be straight-jacketed by curriculum.

When things start to arrive, I’ll post again with details about the individual books and resources.

So I’m excited right now! We haven’t had a ‘Box Day’ for a few years now! How about you? What are you planning? What resources will you be using? What would you like to learn this year?

Brigade

We started Brigade about six weeks ago, and now we’re in the summer term, we’ve had a few weeks of great outdoor fun.

Brigade is a Christian-based, uniformed youth organisation, and it’s usually separated into Boys Brigade and Girls Brigade, but this particular unit is mixed, which is nice.

I thought it would be a nice thing that all my children could do together, since all their other activities separate them up according to age.

It seems religious in a gentle way – it begins with a prayer and ends with the Grace, and I think they do a scripture exam once a year.

Indoors, they’ve had great fun learning to march(!) and they did a pretty impressive display of synchronised marching for their annual display evening, where they all peeled off in different directions and then met up again.

Outdoors though, we’ve had a treasure hunt on the beach (although we spotted cub scouts there and they looked like they were having more fun!), last week was camp practice, and I’m shocked to have to say that the boys and girls were split up for this activity, with the boys putting up tents, and the girls cooking! I don’t know whether that’s to do with Brigade as an organisation or a bias of the local leadership, but I found that a little bit off to be honest.

Although they loved it to begin with, they are beginning to hate the restrictive uniform, and now it is also becoming clear that one of the leaders has a big issue with home education (constant snide comments and subtle digs that are really beginning to get me down). So we’ll have to see if they continue past the summer.

Yesterday we had a great outing to the local RNLI station – fair play to the volunteers there, not only do they do an amazing and dangerous job, they were able to entertain a group of 4-18 year olds for an hour and a half without complaint or incident! The outing culminated in one of the older members donning a lifesaving ‘drysuit’ and testing out whether it would actually keep her dry!

I hope we can manage to get over our issues, as overall it seems great fun, but I am concerned that one of the leaders may make it impossible. She doesn’t seem to appreciate special needs (and ‘blames’ them on home education!) and if she won’t respect our choices and lifestyle, it’s not going to work. We’ll see.

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.