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Issue 8 Spring 2013

Education Outside School Home Education In Action

Structure, Learning and Finding Your Own Learning Approach Feeling you have to choose between structured and autonomous?

How We Started

What made one family turn to home education

Living the Dream: Our Home Ed Family Road Trip Part II

The Life Cycle of a Frog

My Personal Journey to Home Education

Plus activities, reviews, Children’s Pages and more.....

A Patch of Puddles


Why EOS? As well as being the acronym of our title ‘Education Outside School’, Eos was also the name of the Greek goddess of the dawn. We think this is very apt, since often the discovery of home education feels like a new dawn for many families!

EDITORIAL POLICY Please supply articles as a Microsoft Word document and photos as jpegs with a minimum resolution of 300dpi. If the photos were not taken by you please ensure that you have permission to use them. If the photos feature people, especially children, please ensure that you have express permission for them to be used. The editors have the final say in deciding if contributions are printed and in which issue. There will sometimes be a need for editing contributions, for reasons of space, clarity, brevity, tone or otherwise. COPYRIGHT

Education Outside School Magazine EOS aims to provide an informative, sometimes controversial, but above all helpful and fun-to-read resource for current and potential HE families, in a positive, encouraging and upbeat fashion. Also to ‘normalise’ the whole concept of home education within mainstream society - to work, bit by bit, to demystify what home ed is about, how it works, and to have it accepted as the perfectly valid form of education that it is. As such, EOS is relevant to anyone with an interest in education. Whilst it may sometimes include articles that challenge preconceptions or systems, or encourage the reader to consider alternative points of view, the magazine does not seek to attack or criticise anyone for their choice of education for their child, whether they are in mainstream state education, the private sector, or home educating. EOS operates as a Social Enterprise. The social aims, as well as those above, are to provide a means of employment, freelance or otherwise, for home educating parents, in the form of writers, photographers, interviewers, journalists, salespeople; to provide a means for home educated young people to showcase their achievements and gain work experience by contributing to the magazine; to use any surplus profit for the benefit of the home educating community.

All attempts have been made to find copyright owners and are acknowledged if found; if you think yours has been breached please email us.



If you’d like to submit an article, please email:

Education Outside School is an independent publication, not allied with any home education group or organisation. Any opinions expressed in this magazine are those of the contributors and not necessarily those of the editors. All contributions (including advertisements) have been accepted in good faith and have not been in any way endorsed by EOS, which cannot be held responsible for the consequences of responding to any of them. As with anything, please make your own checks first.

Lorena Hodgson and Jane Levicki

If you’d like to advertise, please email:


To contact the Editors, please email:


A Note about Photos Internet Links in this Magazine Throughout the online version of this magazine all web addresses and email addresses should be hyperlinked - that is, if you hover the mouse over them the pointer will turn into a hand and you will be able to click to go straight through the the website. Similarly with books on the Reviews pages and in the References at the bottom of articles - you should be able to click them to be taken through to the appropriate page on Please remember that we cannot be responsible for the content on external sites. Any external sites linked to are for information or suggestion purposes only. If any of the links don’t work, please do let us know so we can put it right. Please consider purchasing from Amazon through one of the links here. This will mean that EOS will earn a small commission. This is just one of the ways that we can build up funds to take the magazine into print!

Pictures are important to us - we know you don’t want a magazine full of just text! We try to use as many genuine home ed photos in the magazine as we possibly can. By that we mean photos of home educated children (or adults!) engaging in activities alone or in groups - either groups that consist solely of home educators or that feature home educated children being part of other groups.

The Front Cover of Issue 1 showed co-editor Jane’s daughter Anya fascinated by a chick they hatched

Sometimes, though, we don’t have an appropriate home ed photo we can use in which case we’ll use a photo available on a Creative Commons licence which allows us free use and we’ll credit the photographer.

If you have any photos that you think we could use we’d be very grateful to receive them. They’ll need to be at least 300dpi and, of course, you’ll need to guarantee that anyone featured in the photo has given their permission (or their parent/guardian has). Contact us at We have specific criteria for front cover photos - they need to be portrait, very high resolution, and the composition needs to be such that we can overlay text without interfering with the picture. So far we are delighted that every front cover has been a genuine home ed photo! This month’s cover photo is thanks to one of our lovely writers Paula Cleary. You can catch her on her blog here


Meet the Editors Jane has four children currently aged 19, 17, 14 and 11. They have been home educating for eleven years. All four children are very different so Jane finds that she has to constantly adjust her approach to home education. She also finds that they have a habit of changing the goalposts without any notice! Outside of EOS you can find her on her blog at Lorena has been home educating for 4 years as her eldest is now 9, though her interest in HE has been for all of those 9 years. He is currently interested in building model aeroplanes, will be helping his Dad build a bed and reads constantly, interspersed with a little PS2 time. Lorena’s daughter is now 3, and she is a busy child, rarely stopping except to eat something, though that is also often done on the go! Lorena’s eldest is just starting Latin after a gift of money from a friend, please see the reviews page. Lorena can also be found at

Meet Our Writers The writers in this issue are:

Merry Raymond

Merry set up the very popular UK home ed website back in about 2001, which led to the equally popular EarlyYearsHE list on Yahoo. These days Merry is a highly regarded blogger at and she gives us a flavour of that here in EOS.

Jai Daniels-Freestone

Jai was home educated herself and now home educates her own children. She also runs the Facebook group The Freedom Journey, which is for “Home Educators, Parents, Teachers and Others who in general are interested in the Care and Freedom of children and alternative ways of Parenting and Educating.”

Paula Cleary

Paula lives in Cambridgeshire where she home educates her four sons. She happily admits she is making it up as she goes along, and is deeply committed to freedom in education. Paula has also written for Juno magazine and keeps her own blog at

Ross Mountney

Ross home educated her two daughters and is now a writer and blogger. You can find her on her very popular blog,

Emma McCowen

Emma lives in Norfolk with her family and is an active member of her local group organising fun and educational trips.

Taliah Drayak

Taliah lives on a croft in Orkney where she home educates her five children. She has written three books, which are available on Amazon, and keeps a blog at

We’d love to hear from you - experience not necessary! If there’s one thing a home educator likes to hear about it’s how everyone else does it. Whether you’re new to it or you’re an old hand, you can be sure that people are going to be interested in what you have to say! If you would like to write for us please get in touch! We are happy to receive articles and features on all topics related to home education and learning, including personal accounts. There’s no need to be excellent at grammar, punctuation and so on - editing and proofing is all part of the service! Go to our website, to see our Writer’s Guidelines, and have a look at previous copies of the magazine to get an idea of the kinds of things we publish. If you have any other queries do contact us at


WELCOME Welcome once again to a new issue of EOS! We are thoroughly enjoying putting this together each quarter - although this time around Jane has also moved house a couple of times after a fire in her kitchen! (All’s well now, although she found that she was even thinking of how educational it was while the fire brigade were on their way!!). This issue has developed a theme of “How do you do it?” What kind of home educator are you? It’s often said that there’s a style for each family, and both Ross and Merry explores this idea. All the contributors are fantastic to work with; they put in a great deal of work and support this venture to support all the home educators out there, we appreciate them very much. Do get in touch if you’d like to write for us too as we’re interested in hearing everyone’s thoughts and stories. At EOS we celebrate all approaches to home education so all are welcome. We’d particularly like to hear from you if you feel there’s something we’ve forgotten to talk about! No experience is required and you will be supported through the process. We are always hearing from new families, so hope that this issue and the articles in it work well for them, entering a, sometimes daunting, new world! Also that “old hands” find it of interest! Do get in touch and let us know how we’re doing! For now, please tell us you have the sunshine, we would like to know where it is, thankyou!


News 6 A Patch of Puddles 9 Merry Raymond talks about home ed life ...or is it just family life? My Personal Journey to Home Education, Part II by Jai Daniels-Freestone


Structure, Learning and Finding Your Own Learning Approach by Ross Mountney


Geodesic Domes 14 An Activity Idea from EOS

Issue 9 Summer 2013 Out in June! Deadline for contributions May 17th

Children’s Pages 17 Puzzles, activity ideas and recipes Living the Dream: Our Home Ed Family Road Trip Part II by Paula Cleary


The LiTTLe Conference A conference for Autonomous Home Educators and Unschoolers


Some of Life’s Best Lessons Are Free: The Life Cycle of a Frog



How We Started 30 by Emma McCowen One family’s tale of how they came to home education Reviews and Recommendations


The Legal Bits 34 Websites and Groups 35

EOS Magazine is pleased to feature commercial advertising. We are especially happy to support home educators who wish to advertise their businesses as well as companies who feel that their product or service may be of interest to home educators. We don’t wish to make judgements about what our readers may or may not be interested in, so we don’t vet our advertisers as such, although we do take the time to explain what home education is and the myriad forms it can take so that they can better understand who our readers are. The appearance of an advert, therefore, cannot be taken as an endorsement. Please make sure you use your own judgement, as in all things.


News Do you have any news to share? Whether it’s some new development in the home education world, or a big success by a home educated young person, we aim to share it with you. Contact us at

Llhanthony Priory ~ Black Mountains Wales ©

home e h t to since lated y e t i r n s u New omm c g n i t sue educa last is

Wales has dropped its plans to change home education law - for now In the last issue we reported that the Welsh Assembly Government had announced proposals for substantial changes to local authority procedures for dealing with home educated children, including a compulsory registration scheme and annual monitoring.

Following a public consultation which drew 550 responses the plans have been put on hold, with the Education Minister saying “Due to the large volume and detail of the responses this is going to take time and is not something I want rushed” You can read more here:

and from 16 to 18

Age in Engl Raising the Participation

were born on/ cation from 16 to 18, if you edu in ion pat tici par of oughout the raise the legal age uired to stay in learning thr req With the change in law to be l wil you 7 199 t 31s gust 31st 1998 6 and August September 1st 1997 and Au en between September 1st 199 we bet on/ n bor re we turn 17. If you academic year in which you hday. learning until your 18th birt in y sta to you will be required educated children? who are being How does this affect home ich stated “For young people wh ce dan gui new ed issu t education is at Education amount and content of tha In March 2013 the Dept for the : lies app ion cat edu of elves who states requirement l be the young person thems home educated, no hourly wil it s nce sta um circ st mo they may wish to educator. In some doubt in the matter the discretion of the home is re the es iev bel ity hor d. If the aut education is required.” that they are home-educate on-going monitoring of the no but n, rdia gua or ent m the par as seek confirmation of this fro age of 16 in the same way cation can continue after the edu e hom t tha ans me t So, in practical terms tha before. Yourself website h any changes, see the Ed wit up p kee to and , ails For more det cemarch2013 leavingage.php#newguidan es/ ticl /ar org elf. urs dyo w.e ww


Flexi-schooling in


d There has been a lot happening regarding flexi-schooling in En gland in the last fe Flexi-schooling is an w weeks! arrangement where a ch the remainder of th ild spends some of e time being home the school week ta educated. Up until king part in lessons the parent and the recently it has been at shool and head teacher. The an ind he ividual agreement be ad did not have to agre children who are cu tween e to a flexi-schooling rrently in all kinds of flexi-schooling arra request, but there are many ngements which ar In February the De e working well for partment for Educat them. ion published Advic agree to a flexi-scho e on Attendance wh oling arrangement ich sta where a child is pa ted that a school co rtly educated at scho uld not At the beginning of ol and partly educat March the Governm ed at home. ent published a new which stated that it verion of its Guidelin did not believe that es for Elective Hom the law provided fo mainstream school” e Education r a “hybrid arrangem and that where a ch ent between home ild is registered at attends regularly, th ed ucation and sc ho ol parents have a leg us appearing to mak al duty to ensure th e flexi-schooling su dd eir child enly illegal. Many in the home education commun ity were shocked at th considered the pligh is sudden change in t of those children law, which appeared currently being flexinot to have schooled, and scho Then, on March 22 ols were reportedly nd the Governmen confused. t published a statem ent which included “Where parents ha the following: ve entered in to fle xisc ho Pupils should be m oling arrangements, arked absent from schools may continu school during perio e to offer those arra ds when they are re ngements. The paragraph refe ceiving home educ rring to flexi-schooli ation.” ng in the Elective Ho me Education Guide So, for the momen lines has been rem t children currently oved. being flexi-schooled await further news ca n remain so. But is sti ....... ll seems a bit up in the air and we More details on the Ed Yourself website here: www.edyourse chooling.php 14-16 College Funding from September 2013 DOES include home educated children The Department for Education had been surprised to learn that colleges, local authorities and families all believed there was no funding for 14-16s unless the learner went on day release from a school, or the college formally joined the new Government initiative and became a fully-fledged 14-16s Centre. An All Party Group Home Education Meeting on 19th March discussed this and it was confirmed that where children aged 14-16 begin a college course in September 2013 (part-time or full-time, and whether the course was “continuing” or starting from scratch) the college will be able to claim the course fees directly from the Government, irrespective of whether the college signs up to the whole new 14-16s direct admission scheme this year or not. The DfE is now working on urgent clarification which is expected to be published soon on the DfE website. With such new guidance, and appreciating that colleges may have very few home educated children approaching them so may not be aware of the procedure, it may be the case that you will have to explain it to a prospective college and refer them to the guidance when it is published.


If you think this may apply to you, you can read more details on the Ed Yourself website here:


IGCSE English Courses for home-educators

by Catherine Mooney


Hi, I’m  Catherine  Mooney,  a  writer,  English  teacher,  examiner  and  home‐educator.  My  friendly,  colourful  and  approachable  IGCSE  English  Language  and  Literature  courses  have  helped  nearly  a  thousand  home‐educated  children  achieve excellent results, regardless  of their ability or starting point.              My  IGCSE  English  Language    course  is  guaranteed!  So  if  you  You  can  get  more  information  and  see  course  samples  at  don’t achieve at least a C grade,  or  you  can  call  me  on  01952  pass, I will help you until you do!  605865 or email at               

Word Weavers      

Beware! Words have  powers! Can you learn the  spells to master them?   

‘It’s really fun!’ Zac (aged 9)  ‘I’ve really enjoyed it! I can spot  a simile like a hawk!’ (Mitch,  aged 11)  ‘My daughter doesn’t want to  stop ‐ I have to ration her!’  (S.W.) 


You won’t  have  come  across  an  English  course  like  Word  Weavers  before.  It  comes  in  a  magic  box  (I  told  you  it  was  different!)  and  is  the  most  enjoyable  way  of  learning  English  that  has  ever  been invented. It’s written in the form of  an  exciting  interactive  story,  in  which  a  friendly  Wizard  shows  your  child  the  spells they need to control those impish  little  things  called  words.  It  is  colourful  and  engaging,  and  covers  everything  your  child  needs  to  know  about  English  from the age of 8 – 13. 

There’s more  information,  including  course  samples,  at  and  you  can  call  me  on  01952  605865 or email at

A Patch of Puddles

Our regular column from Merry Raymond, illustrating life in a home educating family. Merry owns the website, from which came the very popular Yahoo group EarlyYearsHE. She also blogs at and has been a finalist in the MAD Blog Awards ( On top of all this Merry runs her own business at and its sister site After all these years, I’m finally coming to the conclusion that I’m not really a home educator. I had a pretty clear idea of what a home educator was 10 years ago; some of them had long haired boys, wore floaty multi-coloured clothes and used cloth nappies, while saying the word autonomy a lot. Others had workbooks and time tables and engaged in heated debates about the relative merits of curricula. Still others were able to say, with perfectly illustrated confidence, that their children learned to read and write unaided, with a constant stream of complex, self directed projects. The odd thing is, while I met a few from every camp at places like HESFES, none of my real home educating friends seemed to quite fit any of these moulds. And I suspect that even the ones I did meet, who seemed to fit the bill to me, didn’t appear remotely stereotypical to their friends. Having defined myself as a home educator for so long and as my family as a home educating family, I find that nothing much has changed even now 50% of the girls are at school. We do still home educate but we don’t ‘school’ the schoolers; in fact, they rather ruefully complain they still get home educated on their days off. Poor Fran, getting a snow day a week ago, found herself making finger puppets in Chinese New Year style with her younger sisters and pulled a patient face when we told her maths teacher we were happy to give her extra maths at home to support exam practice. Poor girl :) From the outside, I probably look pretty crunchy and yoghurt eating; I’m still tootling about with a baby (cloth-nappied and breastfed at one) on my back in a sling, a large (mildly scruffy) collection of children at my heels. We co-sleep, talk to each other about anything, enjoy family time, take responsibility for issues that come up seriously and as a family, pass around a good book, cook meals from scratch and have a heap of minor ailments & allergies to be mindful of. And 50% of the family can crochet a granny square, which is always a telling sign.

I’ve always worried I’m not a proper home educator; it is so often conflated with parenting styles that I lost my way among the jargon. I try to ‘take children seriously’ but it’s difficult when they spend 50% of the time being nutters, I know autonomy is ‘best’ but it’s annoying it doesn’t seem to suit any of us. Over the years, veering between two outposts of ‘orgo-planning’ and ‘benign neglect’ (thanks Joyce for that perfect explanation of a style!) we’ve adapted a way that suits us, but doesn’t have a Yahoo group with a convenient, all encompassing name. At least, I could align myself to ‘A Little Bit of Structure’ - but I pretend I’m an all or nothing girl to myself - and admitting to ‘a little bit’ is frankly bothersome to my soul ;) It was only when the second daughter spread her wings and hopped effortlessly into school that it finally hit me. I’ve been thinking it all wrong. Home education does come with parenting style sometimes and sometimes home education does come from a belief in a certain way of educating. It wasn’t that way for us. For us it started with a need, pure and simple, for a child who was not going to start well at school. We were so ordinary; conventional, stereotyped typical parents; the odd smack, a need for our evenings for ourselves, and a child/adult divide in the house. And that decision to alter things for the good of a child altered us. It morphed into a parenting style that was influenced by parts of the community we drifted into. It was influenced mostly by watching our children and gradually seeing that you can’t, essentially, treat or educate the random bunch of personalities you get assigned in the same way. It turned into a way of being, an interest in the world and an interest in talking to these people we had created who we shared a home with. Somewhere along the line we turned into a community with some form of common ebb and flow. We chose to home educate but we didn’t really turn into home educators at all.... We turned into a family!

Merry 9


My Personal Journey to Home Education by Jai Daniels-Freestone Jai Daniels-Freestone was home educated herself and now home educates her own children. She also runs the Facebook group The Freedom Journey, which is for “Home Educators, Parents, Teachers and Others who in general are interested in the Care and Freedom of children and alternative ways of Parenting and Educating.”

So I remember the time given to me, the freedom to choose what I wanted to learn and the time to really invest in a subject, to really dive in and live it. I began to read Shakespeare at the age of 8 years old and I’m still passionate about the bard to this day. I remember my first trip to see a Shakespearean play at Stratfordupon-Avon when I was 9. We saw Hamlet, still my favourite play and Romeo and Juliet. It was magical and my love of all things theatrical was born.

Part 2 When asked about my memories of my childhood and being taught at home my abiding memory is time. I was always given the time to learn something that I was interested in, time to absorb the information, learn the skill without any limits or pressure to achieve. It is a rare gift in this day and age where everyone is so busy and the pace of life has increased. I remember watching my mother cook meals. I could always join her in the kitchen, talk to her about what she was doing and join in if I wished. I used to play with the peelings from the vegetables, making small messes of my own, or pretending that I had my own cookery programme. Later on, when I was around 10 years old, I remember asking my Mum if I could make the family’s meals for a week. I found the recipes, planned the meals, had a budget and bought the ingredients. I loved the experience and now, for my own family, these skills have lasted. I also remember asking my Mum to teach me to type. We went out and found a typewriter at a charity shop and for the next two weeks, I did nothing but type. Every day, with the help of a book bought along with the typewriter, I learned to touch type to a faster and more accurate level than my Mum who went to Secretarial College. That is also a skill that I still have and use every day. When it came to learning something new, all of these experiences gave me the confidence to feel that whatever I wanted to learn I could. When I wanted to make my Mum a really special birthday present, I went to a local interior design shop and asked the woman who ran it if she could spare the time to teach me how to make a cushion. She kindly agreed and for two weeks we created, designed and made a cushion. I’m fairly confident that if I tried to, I could still remember these skills.

When I look back now, going to College at 15 felt like a necessary hurdle. I don’t remember much of what I learned to gain my GCSE’s and A Level’s. Subjects felt hurried and taught for the passing of exams, something I had not experienced before and if truth be told, I’m not sure how much of my confidence and passion would have survived if I had been through the school system. In some ways life has thrown me a fair few difficulties and without my Home Education, I don’t know how much I would have survived. That feeling of support, choice and the time to indulge in my interests has been of so much use to me, throughout University self-directed learning was a gift that I sadly watched others struggle with and ever since those skills learned at home mean that I can now provide a cosy home and still learn new skills and take up new opportunities without fear. There is a saying …”Your children need your presence, not you presents”…. and this cannot, in my mind, be of more importance. Facilitating children’s need to immerse themselves within an interest and a passion will stay with them for life. It will carry them through any hurdles they may face because they will have the confidence to succeed and thrive. Child-led activities with no restrictions, giving them time, will bring the best rewards.

Jai (Part 1 of Jai’s story was published in Issue 7)


Structure, Learning and Finding Your Own Learning Approach By Ross Mountney Are you structured or autonomous? It’s a question often asked between home educators. But what’s the difference? Do you have to choose between one and the other? How do you know which approach to choose? Home educator and writer Ross Mountney discusses.........

There are lots of decisions you make when you home educate. And one of the decisions that bugs parents the most is ‘which approach’. Well I’d like to put your mind at rest straight away; ‘which approach’ is not a decision you actually have to make. And this article will hopefully explain why.

The ‘Structured’ or ‘Autonomous’ debate. This comes up time and time again between home educators, sometimes causing friction and division but what’s it all about? Some quick definitions; A ‘Structured’ approach to learning usually refers to an approach similar to that which is adopted in schools. Families create a formal setting for their children to learn in, often having a formal education room or space like a desk/table and learn in a controlled environment of quiet and limited distractions. They follow a prescribed curriculum, timetable their learning into subjects and periods and stick to a routine. This creates the familiar learning climate, which is led by an adult towards defined outcomes, we are mostly all familiar with through our own schooling. It’s often the only example of learning experience we all know and therefore many wrongly think it is the only effective one. An ‘Autonomous’ approach does not impose these kinds of external structures on a child’s learning but allows it instead to develop from the interests of the child. This can be quite hard to understand – scary almost - if you’ve only ever been familiar with a more formal school-style setting where a child’s learning is controlled by the adults around them. But children are interested in everything and learn from all the things they do in everyday life even incidental activities and the experiences they have. An autonomous approach allows children’s education to develop in this natural and organic way, from those experiences. The above definitions describe extremes. But it’s important to understand several things; 12

• that these are extremes and as such are not necessarily the most effective way to approach learning if they are adhered to rigidly, •

but both approaches work,

• the two approaches don’t have to be mutually exclusive, • you don’t have to necessarily choose between them - or even an approach at all. What you do have to do is think about the way your child learns best and find a way forward that satisfies your family’s needs – that’s both the children’s needs and the parents’ circumstances.

Developing an approach to learning. Each family is different. Each family has had different experiences and different circumstances. Each child is unique. Therefore no one way of approaching an education will work for everyone, just as no one way of parenting does. The only way of successfully finding your way forward is to be flexible in line with your child’s changing needs. And keep an open mind. Most parents home educate because, for one reason or another, they don’t feel school is right for their child. In other words, the child’s needs will not be adequately met. So that is a good place to start by asking; what are my child’s needs? How does my child learn best? And how can we facilitate that within our family circumstances? The brilliant thing about home education is the opportunity you have to suit your child’s education to their needs. Without flexibility this can’t happen. But a flexible approach can be scary. Most of us have been to school so most of us equate learning with the way it’s done in school. But that’s probably because we’ve not actually seen it happening in any other way. It can and does happen in other ways and an example that might explain it is to get you to think how you learnt to use your new mobile phone. Did you sit at a desk having someone deliver a lesson about how to use it, testing you along the way and proclaiming you’d ‘learnt’ it by the end? I very much doubt it. Instead, you will have practised using it, maybe looked up a few things in a manual or online (structured), tested them yourself and generally learnt through the experience of using it (autonomous). Your learning will be ongoing; you will update your skills as you gain experience.

This flexible approach can be used just as effectively to help your child learn pretty much anything, if you keep your mind open and use your imagination. You can use it with any structure you adopt. You can use this approach wholly and completely without any structure. You can use this approach for some subjects and not for others. You can remain flexible and use the bits of a structured approach, or an autonomous approach, which work for you and disregard the bits that don’t. The point is you never have to choose one approach. For example, it might work best in your household if you have a structured list of things you want to cover that day, but maybe not in any particular order. Or, another example, instead of using a reading scheme you might like to allow your child to enjoy books and stories with you in an informal way until they gradually begin to take over reading for themselves, yet for other subjects like maths perhaps, you might want to do structured exercises laid out in a book or online. Or maybe you’ve taken a completely autonomous approach and then your child decides later on that they want to do some GCSEs and you adopt a structured course to achieve certain goals. I’m not stating it’s best to do any of those things in any of those ways, just illustrating how using an approach that suits the child, their stage at the time and the learning content, and remaining open to flexibility, can work. Never worry that if you start out with an autonomous approach your child may not be able to apply the discipline they need for specific learning goals later on. They can because they are selfmotivated and as such self disciplined when the need arises – I’ve seen it happen. Or if you’ve started out in a structured way you cannot deviate from it as your confidence grows. Your confidence will grow the longer you home educate.

By researching other home educators’ experiences, by talking to other families, by being involved with the home educating community both locally and further afield online, you will begin to see how parents use approaches that work best for them and gradually develop your own ideas about your approach to your child’s learning. It’s not something you have to define early on. Or stick to. In fact, it might even always remain undefined, other than by saying you use an approach which remains adaptable to the needs of your child at the time. (A useful sentence if you need to explain your approach to the LA)! If you think about it, it couldn’t be any other way. Indeed it would be harmful to stick to one style all the way through your home educating years without ever changing for the simple reason that your child changes constantly as they develop and grow. Learning changes us. The new things you learn about your mobile phone change the way you use it. Children develop skills, knowledge and intelligence that change them therefore their needs change. Use all the approaches available to you in order to best meet those changing needs. Home education is a wonderful opportunity to keep your child excited, stimulated and engaged with learning. Nothing switches them off quicker than dull, repetitive approaches imposed by someone else. Home educating means you don’t have to do it that way – flexibility is the key! You can find more on the subject in my book ‘Learning Without School. Home Education’. Next issue I’ll talk a little about how children learn and the experiences you can give them to facilitate it.



Geodesic Domes

We need a shelter in the garden, and at a fundraiser event, we saw a really cool structure, and figured it would be great to have one in our garden! It was a geodesic dome and I remembered making one out of paper sticks at a Home Ed meet, so thought we’d give it a try.



First you have to create the newspaper sticks, so we got going with the local paper. Take about four sheets of paper together and, using a length of dowling, roll them along the diagonal. Keep the paper tight as possible, but not too tight as, once you’ve made your newspaper tube, you’ll need to secure it with tape and slip the dowling rod out. I used a piece of dowling approximately 1/2” in diameter, but you could just use a pencil.



You’ll need to make up to a hundred paper sticks, depending on the size of dome you want. It doesn’t take as long as you’d think, but it does if you have a three year old helping! May I suggest you let them roll some and you roll some and see who’s come out best!


We found this website: to help with the correct number of “sticks”.



Once you’ve made your sticks you’ll need to trim them to equal lengths.

Fix three sticks together to create a triangle. We used a stapler to put them together - you can squish the ends to staple firmly (just do two at a time, so you’ll end up with more than a couple of staples in each “corner”). Keep them inline and as straight as possible - like with many things, a small mistake now shows up as a bigger mistake later, with pieces pointing the wrong way and pulling it out of shape.


Make several triangles and staple them together at their bottom corners to make a row. This row will be the base of your dome so the more triangles you use the larger your dome will be. Add connecting logs across the top.

5 5


Make a second row of trangles to attach to the top of the first. It will help to have people holding the structure up as you do this! Finally, take five sticks and connect them in a star shape to make the top of the dome.

As you can see, an enthusiastic child can quite easily topple this demonstration version! But it’s a great exercise in maths, and is good fun too. We now use them as fire lighters while we save up for enough wood to make a full size one!

Need some further instructions? Try these sites:

Want to know about the Maths?

The Eden Project in Cornwall is a great example of geodesic domes in use

Hungry for more? Try the Wikipedia page for history, science and examples of domes around the world


John Betjeman Poetry Competition Isn’t it frustrating when you see something that you think your child would love to take part in, only to find it’s for schools only! We saw the John Betjeman Poetry Competition and at first through this might be just one of those times - the website certainly seems aimed at schools - the picture on the home page shows children in school uniform and the prize is described as ‘shared between the winning entrant and his or her school. So we emailed to ask and the organisers replied very quickly saying that they ‘very much welcome entries from home educated children.’ And home educated children have a bit of history in the competition - they told us that finalist from last year, Henry Coleman, was home educated as was Madeleine Southey, finalist from 2011. And the winner from 2006, Jamal Msebele, was home educated too! Established by the family of the former Poet Laureate, the John Betjeman Poetry Competition for Young People seeks to foster a love of poetry in young people.

This year the theme is ‘place’. Young poets can choose anywhere that is important to them – from their bedroom to somewhere they visited on holiday, from their favourite park to their favourite building. The subject of your poem could be a city or a garden or a beach or a street. Capture in a poem what that place means to you.

£1000 PRIZE


For further details, rules and how to enter visit

Competition Winners The winners from the compeititions in the last issue were Vicki from Caernarfon, who won “Will Blyton and the Stinking Shadow” by Michelle Barber and Emma from Exeter who won Ross Mountney’s “Learning Without School” The answers to the questions were:

William Shakespeare’s son was called Hamnet.

The inspirational writer Ross mentions in the ‘About Me’ section of her blog is John Holt.

Thanks to all who entered look out for more competitions and giveaways in the future!


EOS Bookstore Looking for some book ideas? We have started a bookstore on our website. We’ll be filling this with suggestions made by the members of EOS and by our writers and other contributors. The store is held on Amazon and for every purchase made through it EOS will recieve a very small commission (paid for by Amazon, not you!) This will be put towards EOS funds which are currently being built up to enable us to go into print. After all, on screen reading is all very well but, for the time being at least, we know many of you would prefer to switch off the PC, curl up on the sofa with a cup of tea and enjoy a good read! We know we would! So please do consider browsing through the store in case there’s anything that takes your fancy. And check back from time to time as we’ll keep adding to it. Go to our website at and click the tab ‘Bookstore’


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Rec i and pes, ac t out puzzle ivities s. P and kee rint p!

Or, Children’s Pages! We’ve kept the puzzle page black and white to save ink when you print it out.

A Spring-themed Word Search Time yourself and a friend and see who’s fastest!






























































SPRING FROGSPAWN BUD BLOSSOM EQUINOX DAFFODIL EGGS LAMBS BIRDSONG NEST The code at the top of the page is actually a font - a design used to create letters. I chose “WingDings” which is a great name for the crazy code! The actual title is written in Trebuchet MS, a favourite of mine (and I like trebuchets) and this one is written in Times New Roman, a very popular font.



A clever trick - if you can do it!

You will need: string or wool white glue a bowl a balloon sweeties a pin

The idea is to create a string egg, with sweets trapped cleverly inside, where you will have to make a hole or destroy your creation to get at them... This has since appeared on Facebook if you use that, you may have seen it, in which case you’ll know that the picture above is of a failed attempt! However, we still felt you would enjoy the instructions and having a go yourself - please feel free to send in photographs of your creations, whether they collapsed (too much glue we think) or if they turned out beautifully! It was great fun to do, and we’d recommend having a go!

Instructions: It’s messy, expect to get some glue on you and your table, so cover up if necessary. push some small sweets - we used mini chocolate eggs - into the balloon.


Blow up the balloon, not to full size, just about the size of a small hand. Put some glue in a bowl or margarine tub, adding in some water - we used about a 2:1 ratio, so that’s 2 lots of glue for every one lot of water, whether you use tablespoons, teaspoons or squirts. Mix it in carefully. Letting the string/wool go through the glue mixture first, wrap it round and round the balloon leaving ever smaller gaps.

Leave to dry overnight; it may, if you’ve put too much glue on, go all over the place and not work... However, draining off the glue does allow some areas to dry and it will half work. We suggest experimenting, as that’s often the best way to learn what works best and we love learning while getting messy and making stuff! Especially where chocolate is also involved... When it’s dry, use the pin to pop the balloon and then you can gently pull it out through one of the gaps, leaving the chocolate or sweet treat trapped inside, as if by magic! CHILDREN’S PAGES



Method: Soak the teabags in 300ml boiling water for 5 minutes. Remove the teabag, add the sugar and stir until it dissolves. Add the fruit and leave for 4 hours or overnight! (it’s worth it!) When soaked, put the fruit mixture in a big bowl and add the rest of the ingredients, and beat well. Bake for 1 hour at 180C, in a lined loaf tin, or until a skewer comes out clean. That’s it! A simple recipe, adapted from a Waitrose recipe card. While doing this, we tried blowing eggs - it’s really difficult! Take a big sharp needle and gently but firmly push into one end of an egg; if you don’t crack the egg, then do the other end - this time, wiggle the needle to make a bigger hole. Then blow through the small hole and the insides of the egg should come out the big hole! Wiggle the needle some more to break up the yolk inside. It’s yukky, but you can then wash out and keep the shell for painting! Use the eggs in the recipe above, or keep them for scrambling instead!



Living the Dream - Our Home Ed Family Road Trip (Part II) By Paula Cleary

In the first part of our road-trip story, I wrote about our family’s adventures living in our 30ft Winnebago in France and some of Spain. Where were we - up to Valencia, you say? OK! Well to pick up where we left off..... So there we were in Valencia. Covered in mozzy bites and actually starting to feel rather grim. The little critters were totally resistant to our futile attempts at organically discouraging them with different sprays and so on. And given that we had to live and breathe in this bus, we took to squishing them instead. Look at poor Indie in this picture - he looks like he has chicken pox! Did I tell you we counted over four hundred bites between us? Youch. We decided to leave the pretty looking mozzy hell after several twitchy sleepless nights awaking to that high pitched mzzzzzz that was starting to frankly become a bit of a torment, and a night in a hotel where we ironically had the worst night’s sleep on the whole trip!!! I awoke with a frozen shoulder after sleeping on


a pillow that probably was better suited for use in a doll’s pram than for a person, and the frozen shoulder lasted several days after. We were not the happiest bunnies when we moved on to La Manga, nor the next night at Cabo De Gato - a place generally believed to be one of the most beautiful and unspoilt spots in all of Spain. We were feeling too rotten to truly appreciate where we were, although an old dude called Pierre was pleasant company for the evening we were there. Even so, we stayed only one night and were keen to keep moving. I have since discovered that a friend of ours comes from round those parts so maybe we will go back one day and hang out for longer! The following day we drove inland a little to Tabernas - Europe’s only desert and site of Sergio Leone’s Spaghetti Westerns. What a fab place! This was a rather new kind of Spain that we hadn’t encountered yet - all twisting roads and cacti and dusty orangecoloured desert. The theme park at the heart of it all is called Mini-Hollywood or Oasys, and is a mock ‘wild west’ town which you explore on foot - when we heard

it had been used to film an episode of Doctor Who how could we not pay it a visit? (The episode is pretty dire by the way but hey). The boys thought it was great fun and spent the entire time running round with their pistols, hiding round corners, and jumping out shouting ‘pyang, pyang!’ And posing for mock ‘Wanted’ Posters - What’s not to love?

us to explore, where we ran around and whooped and skimmed stones and tried to light a fire. The wind blew, the sun shone, everyone felt truly alive and happy! As breath-taking as the Sierra Nevada had been, this felt so good. We felt like we had truly gotten the mozzy blues out of our hair and were enjoying ourselves again after a kind of weird week.

Off we drove again - through the breathtaking mountains of the Sierra Nevada. The scenery from our window as we drove along was a journey during which we all said the word ‘Wow!’ over and over again. Every bend revealed more wonders. After waking up in an orange desert we were now driving along through the scenery of misty, snow-topped mountains, lakes and greenery. The air grew cooler...then it got really cold....then drizzly....and then the heavens opened! Pulling up in Grenada in the late evening we arrived in full-blown rain, and the next morning as we woke up to find ourselves parked in not just a puddle but a lake - the thought of visiting the Alhambra, an open-air wonder, seemed logistically a bit hard work. The kids had a lot of bouncy energy they needed to burn off and somehow the thought of taking it in turns to go on the bus in the rain, walking around the Alhambra in the rain, managing a wet smelly dog in the rain and going to bed all feeling soggy made us decide to move on. The Alhambra will hopefully still be there another time - it’s been standing long enough!

We would have stayed there for longer but having no gas for cooking (Our LPG connector didn’t work anywhere in Spain - lesson learnt the hard way) and no electric hook-up we decided to carry on. We spent the day visiting some amazing pre-historic caves which housed the world’s largest stalagmite column. They were a real wonder to walk round - they actually have concerts down there - how cool? The children got a little claustrophobic after being down there for a while though - the air is pretty thin down there. Thankfully there were fab gardens to run around back up at ground level. I was rather pleased because ahem, they had lots of nudie male sculptures for me to admire... makes a pleasant’s usually naked ladies isn’t it? Hehe.

We knew we were now only an hour from the south coast, and it was calling us. We wanted to feel the sun on our skin and give the dog and the kids the runningaround-freedom that they seemed to be needing. And what a great decision it was to move on! That night we free-camped on a glorious cliff-top near Nerja looking out over the Mediterranean Sea with a private cove for

We carried on exploring the coastline wiggling and winding our way past the Costa Del Sol (not really our bag) on towards Tarifa, the windsurfing capital of Europe, and southernmost point in Spain. We had decided to rent a house for a week and got really lucky with a fabulous clifftop home with views across the Strait of Gibraltar over to Morocco. Wow. Wow. Wow. Unbelievable. A smiley fella called Manolo met us in Lidl car park on his moped and led us there. We drove five hair-raising miles up and down a pretty craggy sea-cliff gravel road - as our bus wobbled and scraped and jerked us around all the way there.


When we arrived we realised there would be no daytripping from this place - if we got back out without completely breaking the bus we’d be lucky!!! But we didn’t mind. We were on a hillside directly by the sea, with views to Morocco and a big wide open sky! Wow! We spent our days really chilling out, writing, playing, walking. We lived by a simple rhythm. We saw the sun and the moon rise and set on their journeys across the skies in front of our house completely uninterrupted. We watched the clouds. We watched the various boats go by along the Strait of Gibraltar. The kids played and ran around freely, and we wound our way down the craggy cliffs to commune with nature and the beautiful sea. We breathed fresh air, and enjoyed having a real cooker, and a choice of different rooms to be in! Some friends came by for the afternoon who live further round in Andalucia and we played and chatted and had fun together and enjoyed the familiarity of big squeezy hugs that we had been missing from home. The bus got a good airing and a thorough clean and we washed all our duvets and covers and hung them up on the roof-terrace making full use of the wind! When the week was up, we were ready and happy to get back into bus living again. The house had been fun but being back on the road felt great. We rolled on to the beach at Playa de Los Lances and stayed there for several blissful days - boogie-boarding and exploring Tarifa. The beaches along this stretch of Andalusia are wide and sandy with barely a stone or shell, so an absolute pleasure to be on, and although the wind can be very cold indeed, it is a truly stunning place to visit! Before we left that area we drove over to explore Claudia Baelo in nearby Bolonia - an old Roman town

which was a delightful ruin to walk around, with an ultra-modern museum attached. I had not expected to find something on such a scale in this part of Spain and it was quite stunning. There was a temple where they had worshipped the Goddess Juno - the Goddess of fertility, love and marriage, which I thought was rather lovely, especially as I sometimes write for Juno magazine too!

We could have stayed longer - but we knew that we would have to turn towards home and head north eventually. And so we moved on and reluctantly said goodbye to Tarifa. Our next destination was Ronda - ‘the place that launched a thousand postcards’ - a rather magical mediaeval town with a very famous bridge that stands between a large gash in the rocks, right at the heart of its town. Only a couple of hours from sunny Tarifa that we had just left behind, the cold was a shock. With no heating at all in our van we were now in a much colder climate with frosts in the morning, and very cold nights. We befriended a gorgeous lady called Carmen who just loved hearing about our adventures and our home-ed lifestyle and was really kind to us. She was such a lovely sunbeam, and adored the kids. We spent our days catching up on laundry, chatting with Carmen and visiting Ronda with the boys. The cold almost made us turn back to Tarifa - but instead, we sucked it up, and headed for Seville! We arrived in Seville in the evening and stayed at the only campsite still open - Dos Hermanas - a nice enough campsite but located in a grotty urban suburb. Still, I figured this is all part of the experience. The kids cannot go travelling without seeing the whole picture. We walked the dog through sad housing estates with fly-tipped piles of junk quietly ignored by the locals. We went into town and saw the Sevillanos dressed in their finery, strutting around in festival mode. We ate in fancy coffee-houses, we bought incense on the street as it perfumed the air around us. We took a horse and cart ride around a hundred acres of stunning moorish-designed botanical gardens of the MariaLuisa Park while our driver sang, very beautifully, in Spanish and we marvelled at the orange trees, the pretty fountains and the Plaza de Espana. We enjoyed nestling in amongst the townspeople to take a look at the hundreds of wooden nativity sets on display at the market stalls near the Alcazar and realised for the first time that it was starting to feel a bit Christmassy. We bought decorations and a tiny tree for our van, then said ‘adios!’ to Seville and ‘hello!’ to the snowy mountains of the north. Wow. I really cannot get over how many different climates and micro-climates we passed through on this journey. Now we really knew it was winter - no doubt about it. At night it was -2 in our bus, but we were a little more seasoned by now and it wasn’t so bad. The beautiful, beautiful scenery more than made up for that for us....and besides...we were heading home....back


to all our friends and family and home sweet home. Santillana del Mar up in the Cantabria region was something of a surprise for me - not at all what I had expected the north of Spain to be like at all! Staying in this pretty village felt more like a stay in the Swiss mountains. Here we were truly in Winter. We visited the town’s Zoo and were surprised by the variety of different animals there - from the outside it didn’t look like a big place at all, yet there were tigers and lions and bears and orangutans even! And we pretty much had the place to ourselves. The trees were bare and there were leaf-piles everywhere - it felt like November in England. In the evenings we had a swig or three of Captain Morgan’s to keep warm and opened an early Christmas present - a full poker set with chips, which the children mostly beat us at! And now we were going home. Home to our loved ones. Home to our friends. Home to our beds. Home across the seas. With all our memories swimming around so fresh. We carried the sea in our hearts, along with the people we had met along the way, and the sun and the wind and the rain. Our shoes had walked in so many places. We had seen so many sights, felt so many different feelings - joy and elation and also gloom and despair. What a journey - what an adventure! Now we’re home I miss our bus. The simple way in which we lived day-to-day. I’d even put up with the ants and the mosquitos and the nits and the 24 hour puke-athon on the sea voyage. I’d do it all again. In a heartbeat. And we’re already planning it - next stop Italy!

Paula We asked Paula what resources she took with her, if any, and she gave us a fantastic book list, which you’ll be able to find on our website. If you buy anything via this route we get a small percentage from Amazon, which of course goes towards our goal of getting into print.


The LiTTLe Conference A conference for Autonomous Home Educators and Unschoolers If you lived in the US and homeschooled your children you’d have lots and lots of opportunities to go to big conferences with different speakers and activities.....

13th & July 2 14th 013

It just seems to be the way they do it over there. But when we started to home educate our son in 2008 I couldn’t find anything like that over here. So instead I bought lots of books and I read lots of Yahoo lists and I found some amazing websites. And that was all fine. But I yearned for the chance to get together with other parents who were home educating and share ideas. I also wanted to hear (in person) some of the people whose words I had been reading online. One day in 2010 I was musing about the big US Conferences and thinking that we really couldn’t afford to go over there any time soon and I said to my husband ,”You know someone really should organise a conference over here and get some of these amazing people together”. He looked at me for a long time and he said “Yes Julie… someone should.” (Oh no! I think he means me!!)

So - to cut a long story short - in 2011 we organised a conference in London. I t wasn’t a big conference like the ones in the US, it was a little conference. So we called it the LiTTLe Conference. The LTTL stands for “Learning Trust, Trusting Learning” because I think that’s what we do. And then - because everyone enjoyed it and learned a lot we did it a second in 2012. And this year we’re planning a third! It will take place on July 13th and 14th in Ashford, Surrey. In case you haven’t been before… the conference is designed for parents who are following (or interested in exploring) an autonomous approach to educating their children - sometimes called unschooling, particularly in the US. This is an approach where there is no set curriculum, where children are helped and encouraged to explore their interests, and where learning is a natural result of living a rich and happy life. Some families extend these principles beyond the academic arena and allow their children more choice in all aspects of their life. The LiTTLe conference explores this whole life approach to autonomous learning / unschooling. My hope is that everyone who attends will come away with fresh insight, ideas, inspiration and understanding… and of course that everyone will have a happy, fun-filled, learning-filled experience. Sandra Dodd and Joyce Fetteroll will both be travelling from the US and we will have some fabulous speakers from the UK too, plus some workshop style sessions where everyone attending can join in the discussions (if they want to! Just listening is OK too.) Sandra has said that this may well be the last time she comes to talk in Europe so if you have read her writings and would like to hear her in person this could be your last chance.

Maybe the best way to understand what it’s all about is to read some of the comments from previous participants at the LTTLe Conference: “As fantastic and inspiring as I had hoped” “Inspirational and reassuring! It was so wonderful to have the opportunity to hear these people so close to home.” “The conference more than met my expectations. It inspired me, gave me confidence in what we are doing and opened my mind.” “You can’t imagine the positive impact on our family from the multitude of ideas to take home.” “Fantastic! Very exciting to be in such a buzzy atmosphere. A great opportunity to get inspired, validated and challenged.” “I expected and wanted our home-schooled life to be validated and to be in the company of like-minded people. My expectations were exceeded. I feel invigorated and immensely proud of my wife and son.” “A wonderful day full of interesting information and people. Very reassuring. I am so glad we made the decision to home educate.” “Inspiring, helpful, interesting. I feel more informed and less ”alone” in my unschooling journey.” “I liked the way each speaker covered different aspects of unschooling and there was a good balance between theory and experience.”

More details and booking via Julie Daniel, LiTTLe Conference 26

Where: Ashford, Surrey, TW15 - near J13 of the M25 When: 13th & 14th July 2013 Cost: £18.50 for one day or £32 for both days

Did you know that the National Trust offers Education Group Membership to home educating families?

It costs £37.50, which represents a considerable saving on even the cheapest family membership (they cost from £45.37 to £97.00, depending on your family set up and payment choices) Education Group Membership is valid for entry in normal school hours during school term time only NOT for visits made during Bank Holidays, weekends or school holidays. Some National Trust literature seems to suggest that you need to book in advance, but home educators have reported that’s not necessarily the case - they have just turned up and been admitted. Perhaps it depends on the property, how busy it is that day and how many you have in your party! For further details go to: Or you can email, call 0844 800 1895 or enquire at any National Trust property.


Some of Life’s Best Lessons are Free: The Life Cycle of a Frog Taliah Drayak Aside from the dreaded socialisation question, the next most frequently asked question I receive is about being able to afford to home educate. For our family, many of the best learning experiences we have had have come from simply going outside. Not too far from our home is a little woodland, and right in the middle is a large pond. These woods have played as much of a role in our children’s home education as any book or pencil. From finding caterpillars to bring home to watch cocoon, identifying the plants and trees, and building forts, the learning opportunities at our disposal have been gracefully abundant. One evening in late March, as we sat on a picnic blanket trying to spot an owl, we suspected was living in the trees around us, we spotted several large clusters of frog spawn. Upon returning home, we made a call to the local park authority. As it turns out, the common frog is becoming far less common. Destruction of its habitat, water pollution, and pesticide use has seen a steady decline in the number of breeding pairs in Britain. Many park authorities, including our own, view private groups raising frog spawn as an important step in preserving these delightful creatures. Accordingly, we were given permission to remove a small amount of frogspawn, so long as we agreed to release them back into the same pond from which they came. The next morning we went back to the pond armed with buckets, jugs, and a fish net. While the children managed to stay warm and dry, my experience was rather wetter and muddier. Nonetheless, the results of our efforts came home with us; fifteen beautiful round jelly eggs, with tiny black dots in the middle. For the first few days, we kept the frog spawn in a large plastic bowl. We were far too intimidated to move them a second time and risk damaging them. The bowl


was kept in the coolest room in our house and away from sunlight. Each day brought new changes as we watched the dots become dashes, and then turn into commas. Meanwhile, with the use of a magnifying glass, we watched them develop their eyes and pointed tails. On the tenth day, twelve of our fifteen eggs had hatched. Unfortunately, three of the eggs went white, so we removed those to prevent them decomposing and possibly making the healthy tadpoles ill. Once the tadpoles had hatched, we felt confident enough to move them into an old fish tank we had kept from goldfish long past. Tadpoles need their water changed every few days. We chose to only change half the water at a time in an effort to minimise any shock we might be causing them. Changing their water twice a week, provided us with the opportunity to head back to their pond and check in with their siblings, while we refilled our jugs for the fish tank. Ideally, you should only use pond water for their tank to keep their temporary environment as close to their natural one as possible. However, it is possible to use rain water if the pond is difficult to access regularly. On one visit, the children watched as the fish in the pond ate one tadpole after the next. We found it interesting to learn from our park ranger that only 1 in 500 of the frog spawn laid will reach maturity. Once the tadpoles hatched, we began to worry about feeding them. Initially, they have a yolk sac and will eat the jelly from the remaining eggs. After this, they are meant to start eating pond weed. If you can not find any pond weeds, or your tadpoles do not appear to eat the pond weed you have provided, you

can offer them boiled and cooled spinach. Our tadpoles ate spinach. The next few weeks were magical as the tadpoles slowly replaced their feathery gills with internal ones, and their heads began to take on a genuine frog like shape. In week three, we could identify tiny frog toes still fused together at the ends of their hind leg buds. By week six, all of our tadpoles were propelling themselves around with their strong hind legs. Once the tadpoles develop back legs they need to eat meat, and they enjoy practicing catching food from the surface of the water. While I have heard you can simply offer cat or dog food, we chose to go to our local pet store where we purchased food designed to suit both reptiles and certain species of fish. By eight weeks, the tadpoles had blossomed into fully formed little frogs. We placed rocks into their tank to allow them to come out of the water and breathe the air. As they hopped about their tank and tried to climb out, it was clear that they were ready to move out on their own. With a tearful goodbye, we released them back into their pond. The experience is one that we will always treasure. Education is about so much more than just memorising math drills. By sharing these adventures with our children, we are building relationships, and learning together.

Fun Frog Facts • Common frogs can breath through both their skin and their lungs. •

Frogs can live for up to 8 years.

• In the winter frogs hibernate in mud and under decaying leaves. • While there are over 4000 species of frog world wide, only 4 species live in the UK. • A frog’s eyes protrude which allows them to see almost 360 degrees. • year.

A female frog can lay up to 4000 eggs each

Taliah Drayak lives on a croft in Orkney where she home educates her five children. She has written three books, which are available on amazon, and keeps a blog at


How We Started By Emma McCowen I remember collecting Ashley at the end of Year 3’s summer term, 1996. All the children were pouring out of the classrooms laden with projects and pictures, all excited at the prospect of six weeks off school. Ashley, who was always the last one out, appeared with his P.E. kit and a couple of pieces of paper. “Better go back and help him carry his work,” I thought. His teacher, who was still clearing up, asked “Can I help?” “I’ve just come to help Ashley carry his work,” I said. “Ashley has all his work, he can’t concentrate in the classroom. I’ve started sitting him in the corridor so we get some work out of him,” was the reply. What was the point of sending him to school? He hated every minute of it. It seemed so much effort and time and there wasn’t much to show for it either. I decided I must do something, but what? We started Year 4. I decided to be more pro-active so started helping with reading at the school. Every time I went to listen to the readers I would find Ashley sitting alone in the corridor, still not concentrating. They had a new teacher, the newly qualified type, who was showing control of her class by shouting “Shut up!” There seemed no point in approaching this teacher, my mind was made up. The next morning I let Ashley sleep in. When he woke up with his usual dread of school I simply told him he could stay at home with me. He was so relieved! My sister-in-law gave me a piece of paper from a group called ‘Education Otherwise’. It told me what I needed to do to remove him from school. So, after chatting to Ashley’s Dad, and even though we felt inexperienced, even inadequate, we decided even we could produce more than a couple of sheets of paper in a year! We sent the letter to de-register him from school and heard nothing more from them. To begin with I felt completely out of my depth. Not only was I unsure of how and what to teach an 8 year old, I had no idea of where to source anything. We had no computer so of course no internet, all we did have was the library and WH Smiths and of course a large helping of imagination! Money was also a huge issue, so to begin with we bought one workbook a week and made regular use of the library. We learnt together, making it up as we went along. Ashley was happy and contented, which of course had a knock on effect on everyone. After a year the dreaded “school inspector” came. We were nervous, but so relieved to hear that he thought we were doing OK. * I look back now and remember that at 26 I felt daunted to take on Ashley’s education. Now, I think we are living proof that Home Education is a choice for everyone regardless of your age, and regardless 30

of your financial situation too. Anyone can do it and it’s great to see more and more families each year are choosing home education! Today, despite sitting no GCSEs, Ashley is studying Zoology at Hull University and is already planning his Masters. I am currently home educating my second and youngest child Joseph. It seems so much easier these days; we make good use of the internet and the contacts we have with our local group, we always seem busy and have loads of fun too!

Q.How did Emma feel about Ashley sitting in the corridor ? I have to admit I was shocked when his teacher told me that he had to sit in the corridor, but saying that I accepted his teacher’s decision, she was experienced and I wasn’t. I assumed it was only on the odd occassion that he found himself in the corridor and his own fault for not concentrating. It was when we started year 4 with the ‘newly quaified teacher’ that I began to question things a bit more. Ashley didn’t like her and I soon discovered neither did I. I carried on listening to the readers two or three times a week and it was clear the new teacher enjoyed shouting , ‘SHUT UP !’ it seemed to be a favourite. I was flabberghasted, how dare she shout at the children like that! I popped in to see the head teacher with my concerns and was told it was because she was a new teacher and just showing the children who was boss. Well, I thought, at least Ashley is in the corridor and doesn’t have to put up with it. At this point the penny dropped: the corridor was a place of work on a daily basis, and I was not a happy bunny. Ashley was unhappy and hated school , there seemed to be no good reason to send him there he may just as well be at home ! Too many pennies had dropped, I wasn’t going to put up with it any more and neither was my child.

Q. How did Ashley get into University? Ashley went straight into work at 16, he didn’t sit any GCSEs as we simply couldn’t afford for him to do so. He enjoyed having a wage but was not happy with his job. He was made redundant when he was 19. After that he did various employed work and even set up a small business painting miniatures and selling them online. He enrolled at the local college to do a 10 week free course called ‘Routes to Learning‘. The completed course then gives you the option to take up an access course which is eqivalent to A levels and will gain you entry to University. Ashley started the access course but unfortunatley caught swine flu followed by

glandular fever! He was left with post viral fatigue, slept a lot for about a year and a half and was unable to finish his Access Course. Last summer he enrolled again at the local college to re-do the course which he had started. Unfortunately they completely mucked up his application so Ashley decided to look on line at different Universities and their entry requirements to get into Zoology. Hull offered a Foundation Year leading onto a Zoology degree, offered to people at the University’s discretion. He phoned them, explained that he had been home educated and that he had done a 10 week ‘Routes to Learning’ course but that he had been unable to finish an Access Course because of ill health. One phone call, one application and he was in!

reptile’s lunch! What he really wanted from the age of 10 was a snake! I always said no. When he was 18 he told me he was interested in keeping a tarantula! I don’t do creatures with 8 legs! No way! Never! With the spider in mind I suggested maybe a snake would be a good hobby, after all he had always wanted one. Now we have two snakes which I’ve discovered are not so bad after all. Ash went to Florida last year to stay with family. If you ask him what he enjoyed most he will say Universal Studios was great but the Everglades were better! I wasn’t suprised when he chose Zoology as his degree, it seems perfect for him. He knows he wants to carry on learning and do his Masters but is not sure what to specialize in, perhaps Herpatology or Paleontology.


Q. Why zoology? Even as a toddler Ash had always been fascinated with wildlife, he just wasn’t interested in all the usual boys stuff. It’s a bit like the rhyme ‘What are little boys made of? Slugs and snails and puppydogs’ tails’. I used to find snails in his pockets, worms in buckets, spiders in jam jars.....Yuk! He loved dinosaurs too. He kept lots of pets over the years too, he’s had cats, a dog, rabbits, guinea pigs, land snails, stick insects, rats, gerbils and a hamster, he even liberated some locusts from the pet shop whose destiny would have been a

* Under current regulations in England, Local Authorities have no statutory duty to monitor parents’ home education provision. They may make informal enquiries of home educating parents to satisfy themselves that they are providing an education. However, you’re not obliged to have visits, inspections, fill out forms, or ‘register’ as a home educator. See any of the national home education websites listed on page 39 for further details.


Reviews and Recommendations Enjoyed Something Recently? Here at EOS we are always interested in hearing about your favourite books, websites, computer games, DVDs, TV programmes, places to visit, shops and online stores........anything that you think other readers might want to hear about! Please do send them to: Don’t forget to let us know if you have a website, blog etc that we can mention as a thank-you!

The Big Bang Fair 2013 The Big Bang Fair is a huge Science community that hosts a bunch of scientific events every year. It usually dots around from Birmingham to London but this year it was held in London. You can book loads of awesome events, for example my family and I booked Gastronauts, Brainiac and Guinness World Records. There are many others to book too. For me, personally, it was really fun, especially Brainiac as there were lots of explosions which were very attracting and exhilarating! You can book as many events as you like but I wouldn’t recommend more than two (from my experience) as it can get quite tiresome and on top of the main events there are also little activities that you don’t have to book. You can learn a lot about Engineering and other science- like stuff. But in conclusion, it was very fun, educational and we’re looking forward to next year’s. If you would like to find out more information, go to for more details. Anya (aged 11) Coursera is “a social entrepreneurship company that partners with the top universities in the world to offer courses online for anyone to take, for free.” It’s a fantastic resource, perhaps aimed mainly at adults, but 9 year old Xander is thoroughly enjoying, and receiving excellent scores, on “How Things Work”. The courses have a series of video demonstrations, or talks, and then perhaps some links to reading, then a couple of questions. You get more points for answering right first time, but get another opportunity. You do get a certificate at the end, and they are run by top universities, so a great opportunity to engage with a subject in an academic style. There are forums for discussion, and people from all over the world are there. Xander is not using these, he’s just watching the videos and reading a bit, then answering the questions. They are multiple choice, but are sneaky, too! I’m really impressed with the course he’s doing, but there are so many, and one in particular was a bit too “biased” for me, so I can’t say I recommend everything, but for ease of use and interest, I give it ten out of ten! LH


Minimus Another course, this time Latin. It’s long been an intention to do this course, and so to finally get the student’s book today was fantastic. I am however waiting for the “Teacher’s Resource” and the CD for pronunciation, so this review will be updated next issue! I wanted to put it in here now though to ask if anyone else has done it, and to ask if they’d like to review it? I’ve enjoyed the Minimus website and have had a few conversations with the writer and the illustrator as to its suitability for home educating families (very suitable). It’s expensive, so perhaps a group should get together to purchase it, but so far, I highly recommend it! The Student’s book hasn’t disappointed me and we’re raring to go! LH

The Teenage Liberation Handbook: How to Quit School and Get a Real Life and Education by Grace Llewellyn The book’s description on Amazon says “Written by a teacher, this handbook addresses the essentials of home schooling: the legal issues of leaving school, finding work opportunities and getting into college without going to school.” Published in 1997 in the USA, at first glance you might think this book has little relevance to today’s home educated teens in the UK. And indeed, some of it doesn’t really resonate. It is, of course, full of American education references. It also only barely mentions the internet, which was in its infancy at the time. It is also aimed primarily at teenagers who are in school and dissatisfied, with chapters covering why they would be better to leave school and direct their own education and how to convince their parents to allow it! BUT there is also much in here that will be of great interest to teens in the UK who are just beginning their home education journey, or even to those who have been home educated for some time but are feeling that they need a change of direction now that they are older. Parents of said teens will also find it useful! Don’t be put off by the fact that the author was a teacher. She was dissatisfied with the education system herself as a teen and in her career and this book is largely a result of that. The first part of the book tells why teens should consider leaving school. This could be the part that makes up your mind, or the part that remids you why it was a really good idea, perhaps in those first few wobbly weeks of ‘what have we done??!!’ The remainder of the book suggests ideas of how teens can construct their own learning experience, whatever their interests. It also looks at aspects like socialising and finding work. With a 17 year old who has decided to stay in home education but is feeling a little lacking in direction and doesn’t quite know how to go about it, I found this book very encouraging. It has given me many ideas of ways in which I can support her decision and now I’ve read it I shall be passing it onto her! Although new ones are very expensive (I assume it’s out of print) second hand ones are not difficult to find. JL


Education is Compulsory, Schooling is Not The specific legalities of home educating in the UK differ somewhat between England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland as much as they do in countries throughout the rest of the world. The national organisations listed to the right go into this in detail and are a good place to go if you are unsure or have specific queries. However, some things are clear: YOU DO NOT need to be a qualified teacher to educate your child at home YOU ARE NOT obliged to follow the National Curriculum or take national tests YOU DO NOT need to observe school hours, days or terms YOU DO NOT need to have a fixed timetable, nor give formal lessons THERE IS NO FUNDING directly available from central government for parents who decide to educate their children THERE IS NO WRONG WAY to home educate. There are many different approaches, from the autonomous or child-led to the highly structured, through a myriad of hybrids in between. In fact it has been said that there are as many different approaches to home education as there are families doing it. With thanks to THEN UK

In England, if you’re thinking of HE, and your children haven’t yet been to school, you don’t need to do anything different. You don’t need to seek permission or register as a home educator. You can just keep them home and carry on learning as you have been doing! If they are at school, you need to legally deregister them. You do this by writing to the head teacher. Have a look at the national websites listed opposite for sample letters. You don’t need permission and you don’t need to give any notice - you can either post or hand deliver the letter and begin home education on the same day. Nothing else is required of you in law. You are the parent, you are responsible for your child’s education, as you are responsible for other aspects of their life. The school is obliged to inform the Local Authority that you have taken your children out of school to educate them yourself. The LA will probably make contact. Different LAs approach home educating families in different ways, but the government has produced guidelines which detail how they should behave. It is probably a good idea to check out the national HE websites or Facebook groups, or make contact with local home educators, for advice on how to respond. Do some research, read books, websites and blogs. Make contact with other home educators. Find out the myriad ways that people educate their children and gradually you will find the way that suits your family best.

* The above represents a brief overview of the general situation but cannot be taken as a definitive statement of law. As with anything, always do your research. Look on the main national home ed websites on the right for specific legal information and take legal advice if you feel it is necessary.


Websites and Groups

There are many home education groups, national and local, all over the UK. Most websites and lists are full of very valuable free information provided by other home educators. A few charge a subscription. EOS Magazine is not affiliated to and does not recommend any particular group over another and they have been listed in no particular order - please use your own discretion and follow your own home ed path! Any omissions are purely due to our own human fallibility! The groups and websites listed below are nowhere near exhaustive - they are simply the ones we are aware of who have given us permission to publish their details.

Please let us know if your group’s details change or you would like it removed. If you run a group or website and would like us to feature it here please get in touch or

National Websites AHEd

Action for Home Education

Ed Yourself The home education consultancy.

Education Otherwise

Freedom In Education


Home Education in the UK - Special Educational Needs



The Home Education Network

Regional Websites and Groups North East North Yorkshire (Home Education Network North East Yorkshire). A monthly meeting in a local village hall and a monthly meeting out and about somewhere in the local area

West Yorkshire

East Midlands Leicestershire

Home Education UK


Home Education in Northern Ireland

Home Education Advisory Service




Home Education in the UK


Home Educated Youth Council

An independent voice for home educated young people


A site aimed particularly at the Under 10s.


For home education in Scotland



South West Bristol




Wales North West

West Midlands

Isle of Wight


South East

South East Home Educators (SEHE) Ayahoo group covering the South East, with regular meets in Tunbridge Wells and other events in Kent and Sussex. southeasthomeeducators/


Facebook Groups

The Freedom Journey

A closed group for Home Educators, Parents, Teachers and Others who in general are interested in the Care and Freedom of children and alternative ways of Parenting and Educating. Request to join groups/Freedomparents/

UK Home Education

A closed group for people home educating or considering home educating their children in the UK. For sharing stories and resources, asking for support, discussions on LA’s and EHE’s plus general home ed (sometimes not) related conversations. Request to join groups/UKHed/


Education Outside School Magazine Home Education in Action

© Karen Rodgers

© Viv Manning

EOS Mag Issue 8 Spring 2013  

Education Outside School Magazine, the UK magazine for home educators