Friday, 24 December 2010

Decorating A Gingerbread House

Numerical Sequencing Problems

When Anya left school at 7 she was barely able to count or write to 20.  I understand children all learn at different stages but what concerned me was that I had been battling at home to assist Anya to count but the school seemed unaware that she had problem with Maths at all!  Owen leant to count fairly ‘naturally’ and naturally understood decimal schema which allowed him to count in units, tens, hundreds and then thousands.  As with most children, he didn’t need any special reinforcement to facilitate counting. 

I have been working with Anya and another home educated girl who also has difficulties with counting.  They are not able to ‘organically’ learn to count like most children.  They need imagination and hand on exercises to remember. Both girls are good with money and seem to demonstrate a clear understanding of the value of each number but cannot remember sequencing and confuse the names or certain numbers.

Anya is a kinaesthetic learner so needs to 'do' in order to learn.  We have been labelling the stairs with numbers.  The stairs are a really good resource as they go up along with the numbers and so reflect an increase in value.  After mastering the sequence of steps from 1 - 11 us started labelling the stairs from 4 to 15 etc.  I tend not to stop at obvious points such as 10 as it is these point that present most difficult to Anya, perhaps because these were break points at school. After about a month, Anya became confident with numbers up to 20 (although she does still confuse 12 and 20).


Monday, 29 November 2010

Taekwon- Do - Yellow Tag



Owen and Anya have been attending Virtue Taekwon-Do since September. Anya has really picked up the moves. Owen initially found the classes too noisy but each week he has been able to stay in the class for longer and longer. The teacher and assistant coaches have been very flexible with Owen which has meant he has maintained an interest. I was worried that they would insist on him remaining in the class for the full duration which would inevitably result in him it quiting.

Over the past few weeks that have been learning the 10th Kup which are the moves and theory for their Yellow Tag. Last week they were both assessed and both passed!

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Home School Resources

A fabulous list of resources that have been put together by the South London Home Educators.

Free Home Education Links

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Brain Pop Jnr - Educational Videos



Brain Pop Jnr was recommended to me by another home educator. It is my favourite educational site. Owen and Anya love the site and spend hours watching the videos. There are free videos but it is worth paying $85 for a years membership.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Blackboard Handwriting Excercises

Finding Something to Inspire Reading

My kids hate reading.  They have never liked looking at books even before they were subjected to the torture of the schools reading books.  They enjoy being read to at bedtime and love books that are quirky and alternative.  But. they rarely want to look in a book on their own.  They will occasionally flick through the pages of a super hero comic or natural world book with striking illustrations but that's about it.

One of my friends (also a home educator) who has a mildly autistic child suggested that I just try and read the words that surround us in everyday life eg road signs, packaging, adverts etc.  I am sure that generally this is a good idea and would be an organic and natural part of a child reading development.  However, my kids simply refuse to read anything.  No matter how clever I try to be to 'trick' them to read something they always see through it!  However, they do take an interest of anything or of place or different to the norm so I took them to the South Bank to see if there were any words they could read in the graffiti.  They took great pleasure from reading the inappropriate words!  It’s a start...

Monday, 8 November 2010

Salt Battery

How To Make a Salt Battery



1Clean each coin with a solution of water with a drop or two of dishwashing detergent. The coins don't have to be shiny and new looking, just make sure to remove any debris and dirt from the coins and dry them with a towel.

2Cut the paper towels into small squares, small enough to fit under the smallest coin.

3Create a solution of saltwater by mixing about t2 tablespoons of salt into a glass or bowl of water. Use a spoon to thoroughly mix in the salt and continue to stir when the salt begins to settle to the bottom of the glass.

4Place the paper towel pieces in the saltwater solution, allowing them to soak fully.

5Layer the coins and squares of paper towels. Start with a 1p, then place a piece of paper towel on top of it, followed foil, then another square of paper towel. Repeat the pattern until you use all coins, foil and paper towels. Make sure the top coin is a penny and the bottom coin is a nickel.

6Touch the exposed wire ends of either a voltmeter or a LED light, which is similar to the indicator light in many electrical items showing that the item is on and receiving power. The coin battery should get a reading of at least 1 volt on the voltmeter or make the LED light turn on to show that the coin battery is generating power.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Agression, Swearing & Self Esteem

During Owen's school years our biggest concerns relating to his emotional welfare were:

  1. Low Self Esteem

  2. Aggression

  3. Swearing
The school said he did not demonstrate ANY of these symptoms at school. It was very frustrating as I felt they were implying, that as this behaviour was not at school, it must be associated with his home life. I have always felt confident that his emotional difficulties were a mix of his autism and the way the school was educating him. And NOT as a result of my parenting. Somehow, he managed to control his aggression at school. I think this was mainly because he was so petrified of the head teacher. However, when we picked him up from school he was often aggressive or he resorted to excessive swearing. Have we seen any improvements since he left school? YES! His self esteem has dramatically improved. His swearing has subsided specially in public situations. However, he is often aggressive. His aggression to wards other kids is at its worst during chaotic groups.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Pumkin Calving

Halloween


Halloween has roots in the Celtic festival of Samhain. Christian's tried to claim the holiday as All Saints' Day but with little success as today it is largely a secular celebration. Our children's previous school was a Church of England school were Halloween was completely banned dening our children their historical and culture education.


Friday, 22 October 2010

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Social Interaction


It is a misconception that home schooled children do not get adequate social interaction with other children. My kids have had more interaction with other kids since they left school. We meet up with other home educated children almost every day. During this time they learn and play together within a group of respectful children that do not have the competitiveness that I have witnessed so often in school. I have rarely witnesses any bullying type behavior and language which was a daily experience for my children in school.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Willow & Anya Skating




Anya is wearing a girls dress from Stardust

Ice Skating



Every Friday, Owen and Anya kids join a large group of South London home educated kids for ice skating lessons at Streatham Ice Rink.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Tescon



We attended a demonstration this evening against Tesco's plan to demolish Streatham Ice Rink which has served the local community for nearly 100 years. Tesco's plan to build a new Tesco in place of our beloved ice rink. As a condition of their planning consent they are required to build a new ice rink in the place of the old ice rink. However, Tesco's are trying to break this promise and have come up with a new plan which involves demolishing part of Brixton market to house the new rink which is not a good solution for the Brixton community.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Felt Toy Animals



We made felt animal toys today. Both Owen and Anya were captivated by this activity. They cut out their own shapes and sewed the pieces together on their own. I purchased a few toy animal eyes from Ebay a few weeks ago which really brought the toys alive but buttons would also work well.

Monday, 11 October 2010

How To Hold a Pencil


My son has motor skill difficulties which contribute to his difficulty with handwriting. He was at school for 4 years but it was not until we paid for him to see a private Occupational Therapist that it was identified he was not holding the pencil correctly. Although children hold pencils in many different ways there is actually only one way that will ensure comfort and control in handwriting. This is called the Tripod Grip. Amazingly schools do not teach or correct children in correct way to hold a pencil.

Owen wraps this thumb over his other fingers which put a strain down the side of his thumb and hand. We use a Crossover Grip to prevent his thumb wrpping over his other fingers.




There are many kinds of pencil grips that can be purchased to help correct how the pencil is being held.



Draw Your World provide many grips and exercises to improve pencil control and posture.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Matching Interest Levels With Reading Levels.

Owen and Anya were severely struggling with reading at school.  Whilst, they were at school we struggled to help them progress with their reading but made very slow progress.  In hindsight, they probably were not ready to learn to read but the books provided by the school were so painfully boring that they only added to a general lack of interest in both reading and books.  The school did not understand the concept of books with appropriate interest levels combines with a child reading age.  For example Owen was 8 years old with a reading age of 6.  This meant he was subjected to reading 6 year old books about teddies and puppies. 

I have discovered a range of books called Boffin Boy which address this problem with matching different interest levels and reading levels.

Boffin Boy


Listed in The Times Top 160 Books for Boys | Nominated for the Kate Greenaway Medal

Interest Age 8 - 14 years | Reading Age 6 - 7 years

A popular manga comic style series designed specifically for reluctant and struggling readers.

The superb manga style illustrations, imaginative plots and wacky characters will appeal to children aged 8-14, yet the books are carefully written for a reading age of 6-7 years and feature simple speech bubble text with controlled vocabulary and low word counts.


Monday, 27 September 2010

Sunday, 26 September 2010

How To Make a Dalek

video

Home School Calling's First Harvest



Pumpkins, Courgettes and Tomatoes were a success. Carrots and spring onions were okay and beetroots, cauliflower were a disaster!

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Ferrets, Autism & Home School

Our lovely pet ferret Red died in June. Red's death was tough for both kids as they had a special relationship with him. We explained what death meant in different cultures but Owen is a non-theist so found it hard to deal with the literal end of Red's life. However, we have two young crazy, bitey ferrets called Foxy and Freddie. The kids are building new bonds with them but have to be extra careful of their fingers!


video

Electronic Wizard


Owen expressed an interest in the Electronic Wizard course at HESFES. The first kit is due to arrive at the end of September.

It is a Postal Course providing an adventure into the magical world of electronics, starting with the basics, and rapidly building to more advanced practice. It gives kids an insight into the workings behind technology & helping you understand some of the ‘Magic’ that holds our modern world together.

Magic Glue

video

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Protest The Pope


We are trying to raise our children to be free thinking and to have a healthy cynism to what they are told. We feel this is hard after the four years they have spent at a Church school were we feel their young minds were subject to indoctrination. We are keen to redress this balance and open their minds to other view points.


Therefore, we joined a demonstration of over 12,000 people yesterday to protest against the Pope's visit to London. We marched with a diversity of people including Christians, gays and women all united against the Popes and the Catholic churches values. At the end we listened to Richard Dawkins talk about his cynical view on the Popes visit to the UK.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

EGYPTIANS AT THE HORNIMAN



History starts with the Ancient Egyptians. Our first lesson includes a trip to the Horiman Museum with other Home Educated children. We were allowed to handles real object from Ancient Egypt which were 2000 - 5000 years old. The objects included a piece of a sarcophagus (tomb), mummified bird, mummy's mask, hieroglyphics written in papurus paper. The handling of these object was a really good methods of engaging my kinesthetic learners. The question and answer session proved to much for Owen who has almost no ability to learn though purely auditory methods.


Wednesday, 15 September 2010

YouTube - Lego Police

YouTube - Lego Police

Owen loves making Stop Motions Films. This kind of hand on learning is great for his kinesthetic learning needs.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Coke Expolosion

Method: Put one packet of mint Mentos (must be Menthos) into a large bottle of Cola. Stand back and watch the explosion. The mints make the carbon dioxide suddenly escape from the cola. We also compared the same reaction with diet cola, lemonade and sparkling water.
video

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Home Made Slime


Homemade Slime Recipe

Borax
White Glue
Water
Food Coloring (optional)
Ziploc bag

1. Borax is available in the laundry section of your local grocery shop. Take a cup of water and add to it 1 Tbs. of borax (approx 4% solution). Stir until completely dissolved.
2. Make a 50% water 50% white glue solution (eg PVA but not washable kind). Take 1/4 cup of each and mix thoroughly.
3. In a ziploc bag, add equal parts of the borax solution to equal parts of the glue solution. 1/2 cup of each will make a cup of slime.
4. Add a couple drops of food coloring.
5. Seal bag and knead the mixture.
6. Dig in and have fun. Remember to wash your hands after playing.
7. Keep your slime in the sealed bag in the refrigerator when not playing with it to keep it longer. Unfortunately it may eventually dry out or grow mold. Just throw it out and start again!

Explanation:
The borax is acting as the crosslinking agent or "connector" for the glue (polyvinyl acetate) molecules. Once the glue molecules join together to form even larger molecules called polymers, you get a thickened gel very similar to slime. If you've tried this recipe (formula) before using blue starch (instead of the borax) with mixed results, you won't be disappointed with this one. Works everytime! If you have access to a chemical supply house, try a 4% solution of polyvinyl alcohol instead of the glue for a less rubbery polymer and one that is transparent showing off the color better.

Friday, 27 August 2010

Tree Climbing in Brockwell Park



What better way to get in touch with nature than to climb trees!


Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Swimming Lessons at Brockwell Lido

Owen, Anya, Nancy and Amber are all homeschooled kids. This is their first lesson at Brockwell Lido.





video

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Work with Wiggle - Kinesthetic Learning


Kinesthetic learners learn best by moving and touching. They are 'hands-on' learners need to experience what they are learning - not just read or hear a lecture about it. Sitting still is a huge hindrance to their learning. Kinesthetic children possess a "hands-on intelligence" that makes our world a better place to live.

Characteristics of Kinesthetic Learners
Here are a few clues that you may have a Kinesthetic child:
•Learns through first-hand experience
•Taps or doodles while listening
•Explores through touch and movement
•Is naturally skilled in physical activities such as sports or riding a bicycle
•Enjoys putting things together and taking them apart
•Uses fingers to figure out math problems
•Tracks with finger while reading
•Sits still for 5.2 seconds at a time!

Ideas I'm Testing Out

Trying resources that can be read aloud, uses manipulatives, or is experimental in nature.

Focusing on activities that include projects, simulations, and real-life applications.

Allowing Owen and Anya to sit on an exercise ball whilst listening or doing an activity.

When reading aloud I allowing my kids to move around the room, doodle, builds with clay or Lego.

Include dramatization, recipes, simulations, creating period art, or building models and games.

Using manipulatives and games for writing, spelling and grammar and maths.

Cook while learning fractions.

Use manipulatives and whole body movements to learn letter sounds.

Science is a great subject for hands-on learners. I will focus on resources that offer plenty of hands-on experiments (not just cut-and-paste activities).

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Toilet Roll Snake

I'm using this toilet roll snake to complement my Animal Classification Project. This kind of project helps maintain my kids interest from a kinesthetic learning angle.

Saturday, 31 July 2010

Is There a Link Between ADD and Kinesthetic Learners?


I am convinced my daughter has ADD. However, ADD is very poorly understood in the UK. I was referred to the Adolescent Mental Health Unit when I mentioned ADD to my doctor. The psychiatrist discounted ADD because she didn't demonstrate an attention difficulty at school despite learning very little. Anyone with a good understanding of ADD knows that it is not about attention but more about being Distractable, Impulsive and Sensation Seeking. She was given a provisional diagnosis of ASD (Autistic Spectrum Disorder).

Anya has a very unsual learning style which I have finally identified as being Kinesthetic. Kinesthetic learners:
- like to be active whilst learning.
- Like to move and fidget
- Do not enjoy watching presentations
- Do not enjoy listening to presentations
- Touch manipulate and try things
- Use gestures when speaking
- Enjoy moving to music

I don't think this learning style is accommodated at all in school and may be the link between Anya's difficulty learning at school. Only 5% of the population are Kinesthetic Learners and their style of learning would be very disruptive in class.

I have been reading an article by Association for Comprehensive NeuroTherapy about a possible link between ADD and Kinesthetic Learning. The article discussed how children may have been misdiagnosed with ADD and ADHD and simply be Kinesthetic Learners. I also wonder if all people diagnosed with ADD and ADHD are Kinesthetic Learners?

Find out your child's learning style with the Learning Style Survey

Friday, 30 July 2010

Mouthing / Pica in Autism



During school Owen developed the habit of chewing his clothes. Every day he cames home with a soaking wet shirt collar. The chewing gradually extended into his home life and has become something he does most of the time. This kind of chewing is common in autism and is called Mouthing or Pica. It can be extremely severe in autism were children chew or eat dangerous or dirty objects such as dirt. There are many possible causes such as stress, nutritional deficiencies of over/under sensitivities in the mouth.


Owen's chewing has resulted in the damage and loss of two milk molar teeth. I can't see how the adult teeth will be able to grow through with this continuous chewing. The dentist doesn't seem to be able to look at the problem outside the physical tooth problem. Owen did see an occupational therapist for while. She provided him with Thera Band Tubing which is a kind of stretchy rubber tube. It is effective to some extent but requires us to constantly remind him to use it. We must remember to take it with us everywhere he goes. He says he prefers chewing his clothes! However, it has provided us with a partial solution so is worth persisting with the tubing.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

OPAL project: an opportuntity to take part in a free educational survey of hedges this autumn


We will be taking part in the Open Air Laboratories (OPAL) project , an educational project being run by Natural History Museum, Imperial College London and thirteen universities and educational organisations across England. This survey will focus on the local biodiversity value of hedges. It will involve 30-45 minutes of fieldwork which can be carried out in gardens or local area. Participants complete activities that assess the hedge’s structure and management, food supply, invertebrate diversity and importance as a wildlife corridor. The survey is structured so that each of the separate components tell a story about the hedge’s importance for wildlife.

For the Biodiversity Survey, a great deal of survey work has been done in the past on hedges in farmland, but no-one knows much about the current national picture of the condition of hedges in urban areas (especially in gardens), so this survey really will add to our scientific knowledge.

Taking part in the OPAL Biodiversity Survey is easy. All you need is safe access to at least one side of a hedge (hedge needs to be minimum 3m in length). This doesn’t need to be a classic farmland hedge of hawthorn – garden hedges (e.g. privet and laurel), a patch of ornamental shrubs at the edge of a car park (if safe to access) or a line of trees with leaves close to the ground will be equally as valid.

OPAL has funding to supply individual survey packs (one per child) to home educators throughout England. If you are interested in receiving survey packs, or if you would like to discuss the OPAL project in more detail, please email opal@field-studies-council.org.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Home Education, Culture & Buddhism



Anya is a predominantly a Kinesthetic Learner so hands on experience is a really good way of her learning. Trips and making things and moving whilst learning are a good way of accommodating her Kinesthetic learning needs.


Anya and I visited the Buddhist Centre in Kennington. A Buddhist Nun called Barbara showed us around. The centre was also an old court house so a visit serve well for historical learning. It was interesting to watch Anya as she didn't seem interested at all in anything Barbabra was saying but she did seem to be touching things in a gentle and thoughtful way. To an extent Anya set the pace which was good as although I had loads of questions I didn't want her interests to be reverse by endless adult conversation. Her first questions was "do you believe in God?". She also asked "why are there seven bowls of water in front of the Buddha statue?" Barbara gave Anya some peace flags which have been hung in our garden 'temple'. Anya has also told Owen the water symbolises water for drinking, water for bathing, flowers, incense, light, perfume and food although she didn't actually remember of of them!).


The Buddist Centre is happy to offer family and home school visits.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Resolving Rudeness with Books



My son can often be 'rude'. It is usually when he is feeling excited or impatient but can be when he is stressed or anxious. Reading stories about 'rude' characters that show how a situation may be resolved might help. However, Owen's rudeness is often directed towards adults that have been 'rude' to him or unfair to him. I also am aware that rudeness is cultural and often moralistic and I am becoming increasingly aware that moralistic parenting does not encourages insincerity.

The Elephant and the Baby Baby by Elfrida Vipont

The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig by Eugenios Trivizas and Helen Oxenbury

Princess, Princess by Penny Dale

Second hand books can be purchased from Abe Books

Monday, 19 July 2010

The Link Between Behaviour & Emotions




A good friend of mine who regularly comments on this blog suggested that I investigate a more creative approach to "managing behaviour". She doesn't feel the term behaviour management is appropriate because the word behaviour is mainly attached to "good" and "bad" and management implies "supervision". The articles I have read demonstrate a strong link between behaviour and emotions. This is backed up by the results of my behavioral diary which showed undesired behaviour being triggered by anger, stress, worry, disappointment and jealously. Therefore, it would make sense that behavior (both desired and undesired) is an outlet for emotions.

I regard myself as "autistic-ish" which has gifted me with many abilities neurotypical people do not have. But I think it has left me less able to understand my own emotions. This presents me with a complex problem if I am to emotionally educate my own children. Emotions are divided into four main categories: Glad, Sad, Mad and Scared. Whilst I support my children's Glad emotions I think I am guilty of trying to "fix" my children's Sad, Mad or Scared emotions through discipline or distraction. Owen and Anya should understand that emotions are not bad. I plan to support my kids in identifying their emotions and help them to understand and respond to their feelings in an "acceptable" way. I am going to try the following strategies to help them identify, explore and understand their emotions.

Working with Images (Help The Aged, Salvation Army, RSPCA, NSPCC)
Feelings Meters/Barometers
Books for Exploring Emotions

Autistic Business Card

My child has a neurological disorder called Autism. He is not being naughty and we are not being bad parents for not reprimanding him. Children with Autism can often behave in an unpredictable manner because they find it hard to cope with many everyday situations. He is quite simply doing his best. Please be patient.For more information about Autism please visit: www.autism-society.org

Friday, 2 July 2010

Auditory Processing - Barnabys Burrow


Owen and Anya have auditory processing problems. Instructions get mixed up in their brain so they often forget part of the instructions or the order of the instructions. I have found this wonderful game for developing their listening skills and developing their ability to listen to questions or more complex instructions. We love playing the game too!

Barnaby’s Burrow has been created by a company called LinguiSystems. It provides practice for the auditory skills of memory, discrimination, closure, and synthesis. The auditory processing tasks and content within each deck of game cards are arranged at increasing levels of difficulty. The 310 game cards are organized into four decks. Within each deck, the items are numbered and arranged from easiest to most difficult:

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Talking Circles, Talking Sticks, Autism & ADD



My son has some conversational difficulties and gets very frustrated and impatient when he is trying to explain something. This frustration usually results in someone being hit or sweared at. My daughter can engage in long monologues and doesn't have much regard for her listeners and doesn't really allow other people to speak. I think part of their difficulties come from their autism but I think some of it is due to my husband and my competitive style of talking. We both try to dominate conversation and are not good listeners. I don't think this is helpful and doesn't create a good communicating model for our children.

I have decided to try an introduce a Native American Talking Circle to resolve problems and discuss family matters. The idea is we sit in a circle listening to the person who holds a talking stick. The person that hold the stick is allowed to speak for as long as they wish without being interrupted. (In native American culture is is rare that people talk for too long but due to my kids tendency to indulge in long monologues I am going to restrict there talking using an egg timer.) Once they are finished talking the stick will be passed to the next person. Hopefully, this will make the kids feel more secure that they will be listened to without someone butting in.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

A Tribute To Red The Ferret



Owen and Anya's beloved pet ferret Red died this month. We found him three years ago in my new warehouse in Brixton. Mark (my husband) didn't want to keep him as he was frightened of ferrets. Red turned out to be incredibly gentle and great fun.
Owen used to communicate his thoughts and feelings to Red. Both the kids are very upset but Owen is particularly sad. The kids have learned a great deal from Red including the importance of nourishment, care, cleaning, vaccinations, play and finally death. This concept is tough for Owen as he is a non-theist and so can't be fobbed of with stories of pet heaven.



Owen's Experience of Inclusion in State Education

 
Both our kids have moderate special needs as determined by the State Education system (Action and Action Plus). On Owen’s first day I was told in front of my son and within hearing distance of other parents that my son "had been quite naughty". I started to have concerns that the more traditionally academic children were being given more opportunities than my son when almost every class assembly was led by the same children. My son was NOT included. On one occasion the teacher told me Owen had 'begged' to write a thank you letter to the farmer regarding a school visit. I was told that because he was so keen he had been given the opportunity to write a thank you letter with a handpicked group of more literate children. I felt concerned that he had to 'beg' for this opportunity. I asked his teacher if he was getting extra help and was told he got 'more than his fair share'. I was not introduced to the SENCO until the end of Reception. We were not involved in setting targets for IEPs. Simply given a copy of IEPs to sign. We did not know the school should be involving us. Owen was assessed by an education psychologist who wrote a brilliant report detailing many useful strategies to support Owen. We did not get any evidence of ANY strategies being implemented. Year 1 I started to feel concerned about where Owen was sitting as he seemed to be sitting with the same kids all of the time. He started referring to himself s stupid. Assemblies continued to be NON inclusive with the same children picked to lead and speak in assemblies. We applied for a statutory assessment for a Statement of Special Education Needs. Incredibly the school wrote a report which depicted that Owen as a 'normal' and able child. This contradicted the IEPs from the previous year which indicated clear difficulties. The school requested parents to complete a questionnaire prior to an Ofsted inspection. We filled it in anonymously and raised concerns about inclusion. We were then called into a meeting and told by the acting Head " I am going to explain why your answers are incorrect". In the same meeting, we discuss ability tables and our concerns that the school did not have a PTA. We were told "if you are not happy go elsewhere". Year 2 (this section refers to meetings with the head - There was only one meeting this year) IEPs were identical terms after term. Poor strategies were presented and Owen reported that he was not getting any help. In fact in one IEP Owen wrote “ i wont sun onw nex to me to help” Owen reported he is regularly excluded from the classroom. In a meeting with the head this is denied. However, Owen and a number of his friends all reported he was excluded from the class on a regular basis. Owen's self esteem reached critically low levels. He referred to himself "stupid" and a "dum dum". In meeting with the Head the school denies they have seen any evidence of Owen being unhappy. When we raised concerns that Owen may be experiencing bullying we were told that "you have already said Owen has communication difficulties". We had very limited access to the SENCO. During the same meeting with the Head we were given the impression it is our responsibility to communicate with the SENCO. In the same meeting the head expressed concerns "about the limited progress of below average and average non SEN pupils as a result of the over emphasis on the allocation of resources to SEN pupils in the class". Owen complained almost constantly that he is on the bottom table and sits in the same place ALL day. The school denied this and said he was only ability grouped for English and Maths. We arrange for a psychologist to assess Owen's cognitive ability to see if he was achieving his potential. There was a big difference between his cognitive ability and knowledge indicating he is not engaging in learning. During this year are daughters work was torn up in front of the class because she didn't follow the teacher's instructions. We wrote to the Head 4 times regarding this matter and NEVER received a reply. We requested a copy of the Statement of Principles, SEN policy and Behavioural & Discipline policy. The Statement of Principle was "unavailable", the SEN policy was at least 4 years old and still in draft and the Behavioural Policy was dated 1997! Year 3 The teacher confirmed that the school has a policy of ability grouping home tables. These are the tables the children sit at during non academic and social periods. This policy was also confirmed in a letter from the schools chair of governors. One IEP detailed Owen would see a literacy consultant. He did not see the consultant. On one occasion Owen was accused of throwing a stone. When asked if he threw the stone he answered possibly. He is autistic and very logical. What he meant by this was because he was digging in the sand and in theory a stone could have flicked up. He was told by one teacher "she would find out who did it in her dreams who threw the stone" and by another teacher " that because he was crying he must be guilty. Two weeks later he was MADE to write an apology letter even though he said he did not throw the stone. After hearing this we requested a meeting with his teacher. The teacher was thoughtful and agreed with Owen that the letter would be torn up.  During Owen’s 4 years at school, none of the teachers or SEN coordinator was able to offer Owen an education that suited him, facilitated his learning or provided him with a basis to grow his self esteem.  Owen left the school with very poor self esteem and a view that he was stupid.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Social Stories for Autism & ADD


Social stories are a really good method of helping children with autism and ADD to understand more complex situations. I have found a really good social story resource at Kidsanddream

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Visual Resources for ADD & Autism


I have just found a really good website which provides visual resources for teachers and home educators. The sites is called http://www.twinkl.co.uk/ and offers many downloadable visual resources including resources for time tables, behaviour, literacy and maths. I plan to use the resources from this site to create a visual timetable for Owen and Anya.

Monday, 7 June 2010

Deregistration

In England when you want to remove a child from the school roll in order to home educate you need to go through the deregistration process. This involves writing to the headteacher or proprietor of the school. The relevant regulations are The Pupil Registration Regulations (England) 2006.

We have now written to the school requesting them to remove our children from the register. Our letter was based on the following which is provided from Education Otherwise website:


Your address
The Date
Head teacher's Name

Dear Head Teacher's Name

Re: Your Child's Name (date of birth)

After careful consideration I/we have decided to withdraw my/our daughter from school in order to take personal responsibility for her education. Please delete her name from the register in accordance with Education (Pupil Registration) Regulation 8(1)(d) 2006, as she is now receiving education otherwise than at school.

Please will you confirm receipt of this letter and inform us of the date that our daughter’s name was removed from the register.

Yours sincerely etc.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Planting The Vegetable Garden


We have spent the weekend putting together our vegetable boxes and planting out the vegetables. http//www.youtube.com/watch?v=4aVkf3pvEgM

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Say No to SATs



Until we begin our home education in September, the kids are still subjected to the ridiculous SATs. Anya was crying in bed last night because she doesn't understand what she is supposed to be doing during the test. She is 6 years old and is subjected to complex assessment at such a young age. The child next to her has special needs which are more severe than Anya's. Anya said during the test that her friend didn't now what to do and Anya wasn't allowed to help her. Is this really the right way to educate our children? Anya has ASD (Autistic Spectrum Disorder) and early signs of Dyslexia. She needs some help with her spellings, reading and some social language support. She does not need these tests.

Monday, 5 April 2010

Word Shark



Wordshark is a computer program which combines the fun and excitement of games with the serious task of learning to read and spell. The program allows children to begin with a very simply group of words. The exercises for each word group include spelling and reading tasks which are exciting and engaging. I decided to invest in Wordshark as both my kids have real problems with reading and spelling. The software cost £67.50 but the software arrived today and both Owen and Anya were keen to try it out. The concept seems very good and the exercises and games are very engaging.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Our Decision to Home School

Like most parent we simply want our children to receive an education that allows them to reach their potential and develop with a positive image of themselves. After much deliberation, careful thought my husband (Mark) and I have decided to remove our children (Owen and Anya) from main stream education and educate them at home. We have struggled with the local school to provide them with adequate and positive education but after four year we do not feel they (not any other main stream school) has the ability or capacity to allow our children to reach their full potential.