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EOS

Issue 2 September 2010

Education Outside School

The Futility of School Is school bad for the brain?

Thinking About Testing? What relevance has it to learning?

NaNoWriMo

Not Back To School Picnics 2010

Write a novel in a month!

Plus Activities, Reviews and more!

Education Choices Perhaps your local school is not your only option


CONTENTS

Contact Details: Education Outside School Magazine Unit K Enterprise Way Peterborough PE3 8YQ If you’d like to submit an article, please email: articles@eduationoutsideschool.co.uk If you’d like to advertise, please email: advertising@educationoutsideschool.co.uk To contact the Editors, please email: editor@educationoutsideschool.co.uk

Welcome

3

Letters

4

The BIG Question

5

The Futility of School by Imran Shah

6

Autumn Ideas - a Big Project

8

Thinking About Testing by Ross Mountney

10

Not Back To School Picnics

12

Children’s Pages

15 - 18

Real Life Education

19

Education Choices by Katherine Norman

20

Reviews

22

The Studio with Karen Harvey

26

NaNoWriMo - Write a Novel in a Month

28

Home Education Guidance

30

Groups

31

EDITORIAL POLICY 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 or otherwise.

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

DISCLAIMER 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.

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Welcome to Education Outside School Magazine!

Meet the Editors Jane has four children aged from nine to 17 and has been home educating for nine years. She will happily talk about home education to anyone who’ll listen! She swings from an autonomous approach to structure, depending on the child, the subject and how everyone is feeling!

Welcome Well, we're onto our second issue! This was as daunting to put together as the first issue. Producing this means so much to us as we believe passionately in Home Education, but also in parents helping their children learn outside school. It's good for families to learn together, and having a purpose to an outing makes it all the more fun. We hope you all enjoyed the few summer weeks, but you've still got plenty of time to be out and about in the sunshine! (Positive thinking, everyone...) Autumn, once it arrives, is a good time to be in the woods to enjoy the changes in the trees, so we have plenty of ideas to help you enjoy the next couple of months, see especially page 9 for a link to what to do with blackberries - assuming they get home and you don't eat them all while you're out! Fungi too are found in woods, and are interesting to photograph and identify, but please don't touch them or pick them and especially not eat them unless you are an expert, or someone with you is! We have a couple of young people already who are planning to write something for us, is anyone else interested? It would be great to hear from the home educated young people themselves! Let us know what you're interested in seeing, but also if you'd like to contribute in any way. This goes for the adults too of course.

Lorena has a son aged almost seven and a daughter aged almost one. She decided to home educate from the start, and so has spent a few years researching different methods - she is currently thinking about unschooling. Her son is currently thinking about lizards.

You can contact us via the email addresses on page 2!!

The next issue will be in the run up to Christmas, and other midwinter festivals, so we'd like to hear especially about what you celebrate, if anything, and if you'd like us to feature anything in particular about that time of the year. We'll certainly look at the two solstices, having looked at the equinoxes this time, do you celebrate these days? Have a look for us on Facebook if you haven't already found us (EducationOutside SchoolMagazine), and keep an eye on the website for more links and information as we build it up to support the magazine. Oh, and don’t forget you can download the two page flyer from our website www.educationoutsideschool.co.uk/handout.pdf - ideal for leaving in libraries, children’s centres and anywhere you would like to promote home education! Thanks for all the lovely messages of support, we were touched by your enthusiasm and so happy that we are seen as a supportive resource for all HE families, those who are doing it in reality and in spirit.

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Letters

Dear EOS...

Just thought I would let you know how great it was to find a magazine purely for HE. As yet, we are still not fully decided on whether we will take the HE route. My husband is quite prepared to home educate but wanted literature, guidance etc. as to how to go about it - your magazine has been a tremendous help. Lisa

We have a lot of new families coming in to the group for lots of reasons but of course the Socialisation question is the biggest. Last week I met a lady who had struggled with no car and three children all the way because her mother in law had told her that her children were in danger of not being socialized. Closely followed by the “Yay, I've done it, I've de registered!” comes the “Oh no what have I done, now what do I do, what on earth was I thinking!” Both of these and many other issues are covered so brilliantly in your magazine that I thought it would be excellent for those new educating outside school people. It's beautifully laid out and easy to read with pictures and everything!! Not a scary big book or complicated curriculum tome. I would just like to tell you that myself and my daughter read the June issue from cover to cover and absolutely loved it. My daughter is 10 years and has been home educated for the past year and a half which was initially due to ill health but now is just because we love it. I find it so rewarding and my daughter is certainly far from a 'social reject' ( a label I was kindly advised she would become if i continued to home educate). In fact she is a beautiful, outgoing, confident individual. I will eagerly await your next issue. Janette

I love the article on letting children read when they are ready. So much emphasis is put on whether a child can read and their ability is judged on that. My son could tool a lathe and use a jig saw by the time he was 7. He is learning loads from experience. I love the magazine and I would like people to know about it and read the articles and I thought it would be a great thing for new people to open it up when they sit with a cup of coffee and breathe out and enjoy their children and tell their mother in law where to put her socialization issues because here it is in black and white!!! Elizabeth

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THE BIG QUESTION...

Q

uestions. They just come with the territory when you home educate! We’ve all been there, from the family gatherings when you’ve been gearing yourself up to tell everyone that you’re taking your children out of school, or that you won’t be sending them in the first place, through to those ‘at-the-supermarket-checkout’ moments when you find yourself so interrogated you’re looking around for the Mastermind black chair!

These questions are sometimes born of disbelief and horror that you could even consider such a strange idea, occasionally they are honestly curious and interested, but almost always demonstrate that the questioner has pretty much no comprehension of what home education is, is entrenched in a system and believes that this system must be ‘the right way’. We’re featuring those common questions to find out how you answer them! What do you say? Does it depend on the questioner, or their attitude? Does it depend on why you chose to home educate in the first place? Does it depend on how long you’ve been home educating? Have you answered these questions so many times that you have a quick one-liner all prepared! In the last issue we asked:

And here are some replies! I often reply, ‘Yes, socialisation at school must be a real worry for you!’

I can rarely come up with a quick answer, other than ‘We’ve not found it a problem.’ If I have the time, though, I’ll point out all the socialisation they do get – with each other (we’re a large family), at home ed groups, activities like football, Scouts and drama, schooled friends that they see in the afternoons and at weekends. People usually get it!

We are often questioned - usually it's "and what are you doing off school today?"; my son says "I'm home educated!" and it is often left at that. If it does go further, the socialisation question does come up, or I tackle it first! It's usually in the form of "but does he meet other children?" I usually answer with "we meet up with other families regularly - there's lots in the area you know"! (like we're a secret they really should have known about!), and I may go on to say about school being a bit of an odd place as they tend to only meet those of the same age unlike in real life; and that teachers have been known to say "you're not here to socialise!" These have all been brought up on various blogs and lists so I guess I've done enough reading to know what to say, now. Hopefully though, in a play area for example, the socialisation question doesn't come up - as he is obviously doing pretty well chatting to their children!

It annoys me that people seem to think that every child wants and needs to spend several hours a day with 30 others just his age. Adults socialise in different ways, some wanting lots of company and a huge amount of friends, others preferring more time alone and just a couple of friends. Why on earth should children be any different?

I just say ‘Oh, we know loads of other home educating families. We all get together very often’.

Sometimes I throw the question back at them and ask ‘Why would you think that would be a problem?’ I usually find they haven’t really thought about it and don’t know, or that they have assumed we’ll be spending every day isolated at home, and I can then put them right.

Our next question is going to be:

But how will they do their GCSEs? What do you have to say about this? Please email editor@educationoutsideschool.co.uk by October 15th

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The Function of Stress

The Futility of School By Imran Shah

“It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education” Albert Einstein

Sending children to school is a futile process. I was reminded of school's futility a couple of months ago when I had the opportunity to visit one of the largest schools in Europe. With 2,500 students and approximately 250 staff, it cost over 54 million pounds to build. The large and spacious atrium would not have looked out of place in a corporate office in the City of London. The roof of the school slides open to let sunlight in on warm summer days. Many of the classrooms have glass walls – to facilitate inspections and observations, I was told. Three high schools were merged to form this super academy. In the process three playgrounds disappeared to be replaced by none. In the new super-school, children's natural desire for play can find no legitimate sanctioned expression. Whatever time there is in the school day is to be spent studying, learning, preparing and revising for the tests that punctuate the school calendar. This would not be so bad, if schooling actually delivered on its promise. Schooling does not work. By its own measures, school fails. In the early 90's Senator Ted Kennedy conducted a study that concluded that since the advent of compulsory schooling in the US, literacy had declined from 98% to 91%.[1] US Defence Department inductee results show a similar decline. Between the Second World War and the Vietnam War, tens of millions of inductees were tested. Over that period, illiteracy increased from 2% in the mid-1930's to 27% by the end of 1973.[2] The situation is not much different in the UK where a recent study found that one million adults cannot read. [3] The failure of mass forced schooling can be explained in part by the wholesale adoption of practices and processes that are not only inconsistent to how we learn, but are harmful for the brain. School is bad for the brain because it provokes prolonged stress response. This leads to elevated cortisol levels that are bad for all brains, but especially so for young developing brains.

Imagine a time, 50,000 years ago. There you are, on the grasslands, walking in the midday heat. You see something move behind a bush nearby. Is it food, or are you its food? You freeze. You look. A lion strolls out from behind the bush. You have a second to respond. Instantly your muscles are primed. Your heart starts racing. Your blood pressure rises. Your senses become heightened. Adrenalin and cortisol flood into your blood stream. You run like the wind. This time you got away. You relax, and your body slowly returns to its previous state of equilibrium. This is the stress response in action. It is designed to help us deal with immediate, life threatening situations requiring reaction times no longer than a minute. That's how long it would have taken to become lion food had you stood and waited for the lion to make the first move. Our bodies are not designed to deal with chronic stress, of the type that is endemic to schooling (and modern life). When cortisol and other glucocorticoids hang around too long, they do damage. Stress hormones disrupt neural networks, and interfere with the production of new neurons. They destroy brain cells, especially those in the hippocampus, which plays a critical role in declarative memory. This is the memory needed for remembering facts. Stress hormones impede, impair and ultimately immobilise the effectiveness of BDNF – Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor. This is a protein that acts as a brain fertiliser encouraging neural growth. Sufficiently high levels of stress hormones cannot only impede BDNF, they can switch off the gene responsible for BDNF production in the hippocampus. Some children are less stressed than others, some children are more resilient than others, but all children are affected since it does not take a lot of stress to diminish brain function, and all children have the same basic stress response system. Even a tiny upset can increase stress and thus impair cognitive function since cognition must play second fiddle to survival. The organism has got to stay alive first, before it can think about planning, creating and learning new skills. Staying alive through the next danger filled minute is of greater importance than any higher grade intellectual thought. Electrical activity in the neocortex lowers, at the same time as it increases in the limbic brain. Stressed children (and adults) can’t think straight. Stress leads to a loss of creativity. This is the kind of thought that gives rise to meaningful, selfexpressed autonomous action. At the neural level, creativity looks like neural divergence, where each

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neuron can connect with 10,000 others, and they As time goes on, and the infant remains unfound each in turn with 10,000 others. This set up by his mother, he moves into the next state: enables a neural impulse to travel in an infinite detachment. He has to get on and feed himself. variety of directions, shaping and reshaping, and The link between mother and infant has been forming and reforming and thus giving rise to new weakened. The infant will have to bring himself and creative thought. This is known as divergent up. Although, his outward state may suggest thinking and is something that can be tested for maturity and precociousness, internally, and more and tracked, which is what George Land and Beth importantly cerebrally, he will remain immature. Jarman did for their book “Breakpoint & Beyond�. The work of the attachment phase, which is critical They found a slow and steady decline in divergent for brain growth, has been interrupted. This results thinking as children matured. While 98% of in a loss of emotional resilience, and a greater toddlers displayed divergent thinking this had susceptibility to stress that will plague him all his declined to 32% in 10 year olds, and 10% in 15 adult life. year olds. Of the 200,000 25 year olds Land and The states that I described of protest, despair and Jarman tested only 2% displayed divergent detachment are recognised, discrete physiological thinking.[4] This is consistent with the intent of the states common to all mammalian infants who are policy makers and industrialists who lobbied for separated from their parents during the mass compulsory schooling. Creative people come attachment phase. Because of the many ways that up with their own solutions. Non-creative people attachment fosters brain growth, and because we become dependent on the commands of authority. have the largest brains of all School was created as the mammals as a proportion of arena for training future our body weight, we also have factory workers in obedience the longest attachment phase: School stresses children in three who would do as their factory approximately seven years. masters and rulers bid.[5] particular ways: Most countries around the stress of separation, School stresses children in world legislate for compulsory stress of the social, three particular ways: stress of school at age 6 or 7. Not so the and stress of systems. separation, stress of the social, UK, or its former colonies and stress of systems. where 1870 Elementary Education Act set the starting Stress of Separation age at 5.[6] First comes the stress of separation. By this I mean the forced separation of an attachment phase infant from its carer (usually the mother). This separation is stressful for all mammals: from a baby mouse to a baby elephant, and of course to a human child. When first removed from its mother, the infant is terrified. All the indicators of being highly stressed will be present: elevated cortisol levels, increased heart rate, high blood pressure. This is the state of protest. The infant will look for her mother, whimpering and wailing as he does so, so that his mother can hear him and come to his rescue. Unable to fend for himself, his survival depends on being reunited with his mother. If reunion does not happen, the infant enters the next state: despair. Now the mammalian infant must hide. Keep quiet. Stay low. Be small, else other predators will find him. His blood pressure drops, as does his body temperature. The heart beats slower. Whereas during protest, physiological activity was above normal, it is now below normal. The infant is listless and paralysed with fear.

That is the first stress of school: the forcible separation of dependant infants from their mothers, fathers and families. This forced detachment gives rise to the stress of the social. Stress of Social The brain is a social organ. Our primary need is social since it is only through others that we have our needs met. Our brains are as complex as they are to help us mediate social discourse. The detached child has to connect in order to access resources that will ensure his survival. But first he needs to overcome the fear of others that is humanity's default setting. We are hard wired to be afraid of strangers unless of course they are infants or attractive members of the opposite sex. The latter appeal to our desire to procreate and pass on our genes, while infants are designed to compel us to care for them.

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Autumn Ideas - A Big Project Idea from EOS Leaf Spotting Go out for a walk and collect as many different types of leaves as you can find. Either try to identify them while you are out (with the advantage of having the tree to look at aswell!) or look at them over a hot drink when you get home. There are many books you can find for this, such as the Collins Complete Guide to British Trees for example. Or use a website. As you can imagine there are loads. At EOS we found the following, but do search for others too. Woodlands.co.uk has a nice guide to tree identification, including some information on the structure of a leaf and pages on some common British trees - www.woodlands.co.uk/owning-a-wood/tree-identification Nature Detectives has a downloadable identification sheet for common trees and shrubs which is very useful for the younger enthusiast - www.naturedetectives.org.uk/download/id_leaves The Forestry Commission has an interactive Tree Name Trail; answer questions about your leaf to find out what tree it came from - www.forestry.gov.uk/forestry/INFD-5G2KV3 For older children, you could use this as an opportunity to introduce them to Dichotomous Keys. For a general introduction to these look at www.enchantedlearning.com/subjects/plants/activity/key.shtml or http://scied.unl.edu/pages/preser/sec/skills/dkeys.html. They work very much like the Tree Name Trail above - can you create your own using the leaves you have collected?

Leaf Art Children of all ages can get creative with leaves. Ÿ Make a collage. Younger children may just enjoy sticking the leaves randomly on the page, older children may like to create a picture - an autumn scene or a tree, or something completely different!

Fold-Out Charts Some great foldout charts for all kinds of identification from the Field Studies Council www.field-studies-council.org/publications/foldout.aspx

Ÿ Arrange the leaves on black paper, perhaps using a small amount of blue tak to secure them. Using gold or silver spray paint, spray swiftly over the leaves. Don’t linger too long in one area. Leave to dry then remove the leaves to reveal your artwork Ÿ If you have a laminator, laminate some leaves, cut them out and use them to create a mobile. For best effect use a wide variety of shapes, sizes and colours.

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Blackberries Bursting with flavour from bramble bushes all over the country, easy to spot, but what can you do with them? The Nature Detectives website has a great resource known as the Blackberry Pack, which includes information on spotting and picking and a bunch of tasty recipes. Also some resources for younger children; colouring sheets, mazes and the like. www.naturedetectives.org.uk/download/blackberry_pack.htm

Fungi Autumn is the time of year when you can see many mushrooms and toadstools.. Go on a walk in a wood or park to see if you can find some. Remember, some species are poisonous so do some homework beforehand to make sure you know which ones to steer clear of. This is a good place to start www.nifg.org.uk/edible_fungi.htm A good introduction to fungi can be found here: www.naturegrid.org.uk/biodiversity/crypfungi.html We stumbled across www.fungi4schools.org, a website of the British Mycological Society, which has an enormous amount of information, ideas and activities which could keep you busy all autumn! Resources for Key Stage 2 and up, downloads, charts, courses on drawing and photographing fungi and an awful lot more!

Equinoxes and Astronomy The Autumnal Equinox is on 23rd September. Help your children investigate what this means! On two days of the year, one in Spring and one in Autumn, day and night are of equal length. The name "equinox" is derived from the Latin aequus (equal) and nox (night). Relate this to investigating how the Earth experiences seasons - be more or less detailed depending on the age of your children. You could use websites such as: www.enchantedlearning.com/subjects/astronomy/planets/earth/Seasons.shtml A brief explanation of seasons with activities for younger children www.neok12.com/Seasons.htm A couple of interesting videos and some quizzes http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O9hawBb3wbk&feature=related A short video explaining seasons and putting the autumnal equinox in context Or get hold of a globe (or just a ball would do) to be the Earth, a bright lamp to be the sun and act out the videos from a dark room and investigate how the seasons work together! If you’re not sure how to do this, take a look at this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pleipisn3q0 It’s quite detailed and may be a little long-winded for you, but will give you the idea! www.educationoutsideschool.co.uk 9


Thinking About Testing.... By Ross Mountney

W

e are so used to testing and examining being part of the educational process when children are in school we probably don’t ever question the value of it. But with home educating we have the opportunity to question just about everything and make decisions as to whether we want particular processes like testing to be part of the education we provide for our children. What tests do children do in schools? The tests that are most familiar to those of us who’ve been through the school system are school tests like spellings or maths or subject content. A quick test of specific things learnt especially for the test. It was a familiar part of getting us to remember things although I suspect they were soon forgotten. There are also impromptu tests often linked to specific lessons, and preparation tests, for SATs for example SATS are tests that children sit at various key stages through their school life to supposedly show what stage they have reached. They were originally intended to be incorporated so easily within the normal school day that there was little disruption to the child’s learning. Anyone who’s ever been involved in them will know that they have become far more disruptive than that and are not always used in the way they were intended. Then there are school exams, often at year ends, and exams for qualifications such as GCSEs. These are often preceded by mock GCSEs; a kind of practice exam. Sometimes schools set children mini exams and tests throughout course work to measure what has been learned in the process of teaching for GCSE attainment. What and Who Are We Testing For? We tend to think that testing is necessary for the learner to learn. But most of the tests done in the teachers to schools are set by the teachers determine what stage a child has reached. This is supposed to help the teachers plan their lessons, and judge the level of the learners. But sometimes the results are also used to measure the school’s overall achievement and to promote the school’s success and for competitive purposes between learners and schools.

Tests are usually set to make sure children memorise a set of facts, supposedly to enable them to retain information. But it is also the case that scores are used to show whether the teacher has taught it or not. So we may want to ask; of what use this is to the learner? We also need to look closely at how tests are set, what skills are involved in doing them and do they in fact test what we think they test, i.e. knowledge? For many factors influence a test result.

Testing is often not for the benefit of the learner but for the purpose of proving something to someone else. Schools have to justify themselves constantly to parents, governors, OFSTED inspectors. Home educators don’t. Do They Achieve What They Set Out To Achieve? Most of us have probably accepted testing as part of our children’s educational process and that it aids learning. But of what real benefit is it? Firstly, does success in the test tell us that a child has acquired certain knowledge? Does it tell us that he will retain that knowledge? Does it tell us that he understands and can apply that knowledge, therefore making it of use to him for something than test passing, like employment for example? What does a high score on day tell us overall about the learner? Secondly, does failure tell us that the leaner does not know certain facts and therefore needs more lessons? Or did he fail because he knew the facts but couldn’t read the question, or interpret what was required, or express his answer in print?

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Many school style tests are based on the printed word. So even if they are multiple choice questions where all that is required is to tick the right answer, the learner still has to read all of it and understand all of it which can be equally difficult for some intelligent children who are dyslexic for example. Another consideration is that of well-being on the day. To perform well we need to be comfortable, alert, confident. Some days we are like that one hundred percent, others not at all. So, is the result day going to be true for days? on You need a multitude of skills to pass a test, as well as knowledge of the subject. Which of those skills are being tested; a particular body of knowledge, or the skill to pass a test? Reading skills? Understanding? Writing an answer? Concentration? Coping with an exam environment? What are test results really telling us? You can see what I’m getting at. It all boils down to asking; what value are they really to the individual? Because the fact is that children can testing being involved become educated if the family so chooses, perhaps using them when the learner himself decides that they are relevant, like a mock test for an exam for example. But test judgement of a results are learner’s capabilities and intelligence. Are They Of Value To Home Education? Many parents worry that their children may be missing a valuable part of their education if they are not undertaking the same tests that school children do. But testing rarely teaches the children things – it really only measures what learned, and fairly inaccurately at that. So is it worthwhile doing them?

Tests do not have to be part of an education and are not essential to it. They are not a necessary part of learning. They are just another tool to use or discard as you wish.

sometimes very useful. It gives a feel of what it’s like and what to expect. Sometimes children like to set themselves tests as an exercise, and some families use tests occasionally as part of their learning process. Sometimes just for fun. But others don’t use them Tests do not to be part of an education to it. They are not a and are not necessary part of learning. They are just another tool to use or discard as you wish. Some children move onto further and higher education without doing many, if any, tests at all. There is an enormous amount of time, energy and worry spent on testing. In nearly all cases it would have been of far more value for the children to have been doing something else; learning something new, gaining new experiences, involved in new activities. This will extend their education and intelligence far more than any tests can do. John Holt, the famous educationalist perhaps should have the last word. He is reputed to have said ‘no one ever grew any taller for being measured’. Something well worth thinking about! n

You might also like to ask; why do we need to measure anyway, when we already have a fairly good idea of our children’s competencies as we work with them all day every day? Testing is often not for the benefit of the learner but for the purpose of proving something to someone else. Schools have to justify themselves constantly to parents, governors, OFSTED inspectors. Home educators don’t. We obviously have to demonstrate to the LA authority that our children are learning but there are lot of ways to do that other than test results. At some point in their education children are usually going to sit exams, so practising a test paper under mock exam conditions at home is

Author of ‘ published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers. By the book via the link on www.educationoutsideschool.co.uk Read more from Ross on her websiite at http://rossmountney.wordpress.com

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Not Back to School Picnics Pencil cases, new trousers, a bright shiny lunch box, favourite sandwhiches and ... 6 bottles of bubbles....but no school ties. All items that might figure on the shopping list this summer for many families planning on celebrating spending time together at this September's national Not Back to School Picnic events. Not Back To School Picnics began just last year in the wake of the Graham Badman Review into Home Education. To coincide with International Freedom in Education Day on September 15th, home educating families around the country are meeting up on various dates in parks and town centres to play, share sandwiches and cakes and favourite recipes, to chat and blow bubbles and also along the way to raise awareness of home education and to positively promote it as a real option for families of all shapes and sizes. One home edder describes how their first picnic went last year and what is happening this year.

I had bought an enormous box of bubbles and we all had great fun blowing the bubbles after a very noisy countdown in the park. We even let the kids have a turn! We had a banner that read NOT BACK TO SCHOOL PICNIC and 150 leaflets advertising home education locally, which were distributed to unsuspecting members of the public with children who were in the park or passing through. Nine months later I had a phone call from a mum who had kept the information “just in case” and is now evaluating her options – so you never know how successful you can be.

And so to 2010.... Armed with our new found enthusiasm for all things that advertise Home Education and filled with the zeal that a successful year brings, we decided to hold two picnics.

Itchen Valley Country Park, 1st September Our first picnic is to be held at Itchen Valley Country Park on 1st September. We have arranged to have a Flying Falcons demonstration at the same time, either as symbolic of the freeness with which we approach our children's education or as a good day out, depending on your take on the day and your personal philosophy. It has the all important toilets and cafe for those of us who forget the sandwiches on the day in the enthusiasm to get to the venue. Plus a playpark which is securely fenced for those of us with under 5's budding Houdini's. We have at least 22 children booked to fly the falcons, plus another dozen or so are coming to the picnic which follows immediately afterwards.

A Picnic in Winchester, 2009 By Jaki

After much deliberation and discussions with local officials the venue was chosen as the public park right in the centre of Winchester, adjacent to the toilets – an essential part of any picnic if you drink as much tea as I do! It is also the main stopping off point for the numerous tourist coaches and therefore has lots of passing traffic and has a fenced off area with a big sandpit in the play park. The day was fine, warmish, the best that could be expected for September. We had more turn up than expected – which is always nice. It was just a blanket invitation to come along if you could so it was nice to see some new faces from people just starting out on their Home Ed journey and those that we had not seen for some time as their children were growing up and moving on.

The roll of wallpaper is being re-vamped and we also have a set of large display boards which we will put up advertising Home Education as it is a very busy park and the date was chosen specifically as the children have not yet gone back to school. The children have been asked to wear appropriate T shirts advertising Home Education which always brings out the artist in some and a stencil kit in others. I belong to the latter but can now write in capital letters – CHILDREN SHOULD BE SEEN AND NOT HERDED in primary colours – slogan lifted shamelessly off the Not Back to School Picnic site. We are really into picnics now and are ready to have one at the drop of a hat!

Elizabeth Hall, Hook, September 17th Our new venture! It is quite exciting – we have booked a nice hall [definitely cleaner and warmer than the last hall!] for a whole term! The first week we are running a History Group and following this we will have our Not Back to School

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Picnic immediately afterwards. It has a lovely kitchen so we anticipate some warm food to share – finer details just being worked out. It is in a central location in the town centre and close to the train station so making access to those on public transport easier. Plus it already has a Nursery attached to the hall so expect to catch some mums outside there too! We have plans for an under 5's ish Home ed group every week. Plus a 5 – 9's ish sciencey type event running concurrently. Stop for lunch then activities for the 10's and over. All our age groups are 'ish. We will print more FAQ on Home Education which has proved so popular in the past and leaflet the town plus train station immediately after lunch. Bubble blowing will take place outside at this time. We have been shy of involving the media – well some of us are – it has worked better for us if we write our own copy, then sending off the photos then you only need include the children who are happy to participate and you can be use of accurate information being printed. Our relationship with the press has been a little patchy. On the whole we have a good relationship with the LA and have worked hard to foster that. We have a moveable display that we shift from Library to Library which has been successful – plus we are now printing a collage of photographs from various events during the past few months and these also get posted on Information Notice Boards, local LA offices, local magazines and anywhere else we can get them put up.

Here are some of the other Not Back To School Picnics taking place this year - check your local Home Ed groups for any not mentioned!

Bridgend Home Ed Group will be picnicking at Margam Park, just outside Port Talbot on Tuesday 7th September from 1pm onwards. We will be quite low key but hope to play some games and hang out in a friendly manner. Please join us!!

A BBQ picnic at Beddington Park, with music and lots of fun. Bring food to be cooked by the two qualified chefs who’ll be there, or BBQ your own on the built in BBQs, or bring cold picnic foods - rugs or tables and benches available. Please also bring a poster or banner to celebrate Home Ed. 10th September 2010 at 11am Church Road entrance off Croydon Road; follow the road past Carew Manor all the way to the end to the Car Park, where the toilets and cafe can be found. The BBQ area is on the other side of playground. There is also a skate park, should any families like to bring skateboards, in-lines etc. Look forward to seeing you there.

Our picnic will certainly be promoted by the judicious use of photographs and copy, as we want everyone to know that Home Education is a legal option that is open to all. n

Assembling from 10.30. Invitations to press and MPs for 11.00. Bring a towel and/ or change of clothes if your children would like to play in the fountain. Pack a picnic (and an umbrella?). Great chance to meet up again after the summer. Hope to see you there!

Darley Park, near the play area beneath the cafe. 11.30am. Bring just yourselves and your picnic!

More Picnics over the page.......

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Elizabeth Hall, Hook, 12.00pm. New venture to celebrate our new hall We are having our Not Back to School Picnic inside in the nice and warm. Sharing hot food with good company before going outside to blow bubbles.

Meet up at Willen Lake Park, near the cafe by the lake. Plenty of room inside if it rains. Please bring food and drink, picnic blanket, and games (bats, balls etc.) if you'd like to!

Here in Cambridge we are looking forward to our picnic at Christ's Pieces from 12 til 2pm on Tuesday 14th September.. So come along and join in the fun!

12.45pm onwards at Southampton Common. Bring picnics, rugs and any games to share. Contact Sally 07763 468014 if you can't see us!

Gheluvelt Park, Worcester. Meet at the Pumphouse, Waterworks Road, Barbourne, Worcester,WR1 3EZ at 12.00. Bring anything you think would be fun to play with. There are free tennis courts (bring your own racquets), a children's playground and the splash pad just might be open so maybe bring towels, etc. Don't forget your bubbles! www.dwt.org.uk/contactus/how-to-find-us

Meeting at the playpark at Whitecliff (near to Baiter) at 11.00am for picnic and fun. All welcome.

Coram’s Fields, Guildford Street WC1, 12 noon - 5.00pm. Games/sports activities, face painting and a variety of craft activities on offer.

No Picnics in Your Area? Perhaps you’d like to organise one, either very quickly for this year or at a more leisurely place for 2011! There is a Yahoo group especially for those organising Not Back To School Picnics across the UK. You can find it at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/notbacktoschoolpicnic www.educationoutsideschool.co.uk 14


Children’s Pages AUTUMN WORD SEARCHES Easier Puzzle

Word List: ACORN APPLE BONFIRE HARVEST LEAF MIST PUMPKIN RAKE Words can go across, down and diagonally, but not backwards or upwards

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Word List: ACORN APPLES BONFIRE BROWN EQUINOX HALLOWEEN HARVEST LEAVES MIGRATION ORANGE POTATOES PUMPKIN RAKE RIPE SCARECROW Words can go in all directions, including backwards


How to Play Cowboys and Indians (if you have some)

Line them up some behind the others and some facing each other. Then go out for a nice day to the beach and get some rocks. Bring them home, only after having an ice cream and a play. Then put some of them in front and some behind the rocks. Then you make them shoot at each other and they miss and they fall over in a heap of giggles!!! (child falls over in a heap of giggles to demonstrate...)

Roman Numerals My nearly 7 year old has often asked about Roman numerals, as he sees them in his books. He asks me to "translate" them (both ways - he tests me, i think!) A couple of months ago we made some out of beads, and then put them together to make as many numbers as we could. He's since asked again and asked why they are that way, and how they add up together. I thought I knew, but figured I should do a little research to be sure! It seems I was partly right - I thought that the simple marks represent fingers/hands; but this came later. The best explanation is the one about tallying animals. The marks are simple enough to make, and using a different mark at regular intervals allows for faster adding up when they're all safely in the field. I guess it means you're less likely to lose count as you go if you only count up to five each time! There's more interesting information on the Wikipedia page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_numerals 'I' descends not from the letter 'I' but from a notch scored across the stick. Every fifth notch was double cut (i.e. Λ, V, ), and every tenth was cross cut (X), λ, λ , IIIIΛIIIIXIIIIΛIIIIXII...,  much  like  European  tally  marks today. This produced a positional system: on a counting stick was eight tallies, IIIIΛIII, or the eighth of a longer series of tallies; either way, it could be abbreviated ΛIII (or VIII), as  the  existence  of  a  Λ  implies  four  prior  notches.  By extension, was the eighth tally after the first ten, which could be abbreviated X, and so was XΛIII. Likewise, number on the stick was the I-notch that could be felt just  before  the  cut  of  the  Λ  (V),  so  it  could  be  written  as either IIII or IΛ (IV). Thus the system was neither additive nor subtractive in its conception, but . When the tallies were transferred to writing, the marks were easily identified with the existing Roman letters I, V, X.

June’s Competition Result The question we asked in the June issue was ‘How do you make your own baking powder’ And the answer was “Mix together 1 teaspoon of baking soda, and 2 teaspoons of cream of tartar. This gives 1 tablespoon of baking powder. Use immediately.”

Congratulations to Sam, Rebekah, Jeremy, George & Daniel who were the family first out of the hat and win the ornate measuring cup!

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Fruity Oat Cake

Egg, Buttermilk Brown Sugar Flour, Oats........ Ingredients 1 egg 1 cup of buttermilk (or you could use plain milk or yoghurt) ½ a cup of brown sugar 1 cup plain flour with 1 tsp baking powder 1 cup oats

Mix thoroughly......

Method Beat 1 egg with 1 cup of buttermilk Mix in 1/2 a cup of brown sugar Add 1 cup plain flour with 1 tsp baking powder Add 1 cup oats Mix thoroughly Add one cup dried fruit pieces - this time I used raisins and chopped apricots Add 3 tablespoons of melted butter (which isn't much, so don't put loads on to melt!)

Dried fruit,

Melted butter ......

Mix well and pour into a loaf tin (with or without lining) Cook for a while until it's done....

Mix well.....

OK, maybe it's about 180 degrees C and for about 40 minutes, but you'll have to work out your own oven! Pour into loaf tin and bake..........

Please send in your puzzles, games, recipes or anything else you would like to share! editor@educationoutsideschool.co.uk

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Astronomy Crossword Autumn is a great time of year to be thinking about some astronomy - nights are getting longer so there’s more time to be star gazing! Get yourself warmed up with this crossword puzzle. If you don’t know all the answers straight away you’ll be able to find them out!

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One of the planets in our Solar System When our view of one object is blocked by another object, or by the Earth’s shadow 7 The spiral galaxy that contains our Solar System 8 The distance that light travels in one year is known as a ....... 10 The _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Belt lies between Mars and Jupiter 12 Another name for the constellation often known as The Big Dipper DOWN 1

Name of the second man to step on the moon 2 A shooting star 5 A small, icy celestial body orbiting the sun 6 Number of men who have ever stepped on the moon 9 The name of the space flight that landed the first men on the moon 11 Olympus Mons is the largest volcano on which planet?

Did You Know? Saturn is the only planet in our Solar System that is less dense than water. Saturn would float if there were a body of water large enough!

Venus rotates VERY slowly. Each day on Venus takes 243 Earth days. But it only takes 224.7 Earth days for Venus to orbit the sun once. So Venus’ day is longer than its year!

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Real Life Education 21st October 2010 Those magical moments when education just ‘happens’. You didn’t plan them, they just crop up in normal everyday life, but can be some of the most memorable learning experiences and can really affirm what this whole Home Ed thing is all about!

The Great Hall,

The Discovery Museum, Newcastle-upon-Tyne

With Paula Rothermel and Alan Thomas, and

representatives from other groups including the While my son was putting his ‘How to play with Cowboys and Indians’ piece together for the Children’s Pages, we talked about guns briefly, and also about the cowboys and "indians". It's a little early for him to do the whole history lesson, but it shows how often we end up having an unplanned "educational" discussion while playing. We didn't set out to buy these, either, they were at a service station and he really wanted to buy the "little people". We could also have discussed the ethics of buying "made in China" toys; the environmental impact of buying plastic toys; all sorts of discussions can lead from this point, and probably will, repeatedly, for some years if he plays it every now and then. He is currently playing with pirates in their dolls' house - they're on holiday from their ship. We may or may not find something educational to discuss, but for now it's just a holiday.

museum hosting the event.

See www.livelearnandgrow.org.uk for more details

Home Educating Family Businesses Please mention EOS magazine when contacting these advertisers

~~~~~~~~~~ Why do I waffle when telling people recipes? Because he asks me questions. I just do so many things without thinking; because I've always done them that way, I guess. I must have been told why at some point, or read it somewhere. The thing about wiggling the skewer is just what I do, but I didn't know why until my 6 year old asked me about it! I have an old oven that doesn't really "do" temperatures or time, so I have learned to put something in until it's cooked. I put it on a higher or lower shelf to change the temperature, and put something over the top to stop it cooking too quickly on top. So I've sort of forgotten about temperatures and timing, which I like, but I have to answer the question "when will the cake be ready?" so often, and if my answer is "I don't know" I have to explain why! We have gone on to talk about different ovens, different temperature scales, why they changed etc etc. It was a mini history, maths and cooking lesson all in one! Real life learning again. You can't beat it.

BEN JACOBSON Freelance Video Producer - Corporate, Broadcast, Commercials, Documentaries - always sensitive to the needs of both the client and their audience. Models Wanted All ages, everyday people wanted! Please visit my website, www.benjacobson.co.uk

If you are a home educator with a business, or you run a business and would like to attract more home educating customers, or you can recommend one of the above, please get in touch! advertising@educationoutsideschool.co.uk

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Education Choices Katherine Norman

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here and how to educate our children is one of the biggest decisions we make for them.

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland the law states that ‘The parent of every child of compulsory school age shall cause him to receive efficient full-time education suitable to: His age, ability and aptitude, and any special educational needs he may have, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise.’

What are your family values and parenting style? Any adult that spends a significant amount of time with your child is going to have a major impact on your child. It may be important to you to choose an education that supports your family values. This may mean a faith school, an academically selective school, or one with a strong environmental, spiritual or creative focus. Or do you prefer the personalized, learning through life experiences opportunities afforded by home education? There are many different approaches to education. Which education options are available in your local state school? Do you need to consider independent schools or home education to meet your requirements? When to start

Education, like every other aspect of our children’s lives, is our responsibility as parents. But it is an area where our options are often hidden and it is easy to make choices without fully exploring the possibilities. The three basic options are state school, independent school and home education.

By law, every parent in England has to provide an education from the start of the term following their child's fifth birthday.

What suits one child or family won’t necessarily suit another. Some people use a mix of educational settings depending on what works for each of their children at any particular time. And don’t forget it needs to work for your family as a whole too. And of course your choices are not set in stone, you can always change your mind and use another option later. What would suit your child? Think about your child’s personality, abilities, needs and interests. Are they academically inclined, or would a setting with greater emphasis on sports or music be a better choice? Is your child very active or sensitive and better suited to an informal education or a later start to formal education? What environment would suit your child? Think about the number of children and age range in a class or group. Should activities be child-led or directed by an adult? What would suit you and your family circumstances? Do you want to be actively involved in your child’s education? Can you provide or arrange full time care for home education? If you would prefer an independent school do you have the ability to pay? Is a local state school a better option because of travel arrangements?

In many other countries formal education does not start until age seven, as it does in independent Steiner Waldorf schools. And within home education it is common for informal methods to be used for the majority of a child's education. If you prefer to start school later, you can delay your child’s school start as long as they like by home educating, then apply to schools when your child is ready. With pre-school aged children you may choose to do things full-time as a family, or supplement with play-based settings such as nurseries, playgroups. State schools Every child aged between five and 16 is entitled to a place at a state school if parents wish. These are funded by the Local Authority, so are free to attend. State school are bound to follow the National Curriculum.

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Children normally start in the Reception year in the September after the child turns four, but you may choose full time or part time until age five. You can now defer entry until later in the year up until your child reaches five, and the place must be held for you until the term after the child’s fifth birthday, but not beyond the end of the academic year. If you want you can choose to use a state funded nursery or other setting place instead, until the term after you child turns five.

play and conversation but may also include structured worksheets and courses. The individualised nature of home education means that parents can tailor every child's education by picking the approach that works for them at that time. Home educated children can take formal qualifications, such as IGCSEs, GCSEs and A-Levels either through correspondence courses, as external candidates or at further education college.

Independent Schools Independent Schools are privately owned and run. Since they are not state funded they are primarily funded by fees paid by parents. The independent sector covers a range of different approaches, including many not available within the state sector. Each school will have different priorities, different values and use different methods. Although more commonly found as nurseries for the under 5s, the Montessori approach is also used in schools for older children with multi-age groups, where children select their own activities. Steiner Waldorf schools focus on play-based Kindergarten until formal, theme-based education starts at 7, with a focus on practical, artistic and intellectual skills, and continuity of care with class teacher for eight years Home Education A growing number of parents choose to educate their children themselves, outside school. For some it is a response to school not working for that child, sometimes due to bullying, special needs or educational issues needs. For others it is their first choice, because they want to take responsibility for the education themselves and allow their child to learn in a flexible, individualized way within a family setting. Home educators are a diverse group with a range of reasons for choosing home education, and different backgrounds. You do not need to be a teacher to home educate.

Home education covers the widest range of approaches, from formal work, as used in schools, to informal learning. Some families use a structured adult-led curriculum and there are many different ones available, as well as lots of resources for the National Curriculum. Others are autonomous, with the child leading the education. Often this emphasises informal learning through

If your child is not at school yet, you do not have to inform anyone that you are home educating since education is a parental responsibility. If you want to remove your child from school then you need to inform the school in writing, and they will inform your Local Authority. The Local Authority has a duty to act if it thinks that a suitable education isn't taking place, and you should respond to any enquires. Local authorities often prefer visits, but you may instead provide written information to satisfy their enquiries. Many home educators start by joining one of the national organisations and using its local contact lists to meet other home educators. There are local support networks (try searching Yahoo and Google Groups for one in your area) through which home educators pool resources and take part in a wide range of group activities and social events. Talking to home educators is a great way to find out if home education is for your family and how others go about it.

Many parents will use a different option at different times, or for different children, depending on their individual needs. Another option is flexi-schooling, where a child is registered at school, but attends part-time at the discretion of the head teacher and is home educated offsite the rest of the time. n Finding out more There are a number of national organisations that support home educators. See page 31 for a list of some. For state schools contact your Local Authority. For Independent Schools try the Independent Schools Council at www.isc.co.uk Also www.steinerwaldorf.org.uk and www.montessori.org.uk

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Reviews

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Create a profile of your garden.

Books

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Run by Natural England, as a way to get more wildlife areas created across the country, you tick boxes for all the "wildlife wonders" you have, and gain certificates to print out. You can add friends by using a map (add "EOS" in your title so we can all find each other!); use a diary to keep your friends updated on your garden and there are activities and tips to help you make your garden a haven for wildlife! The garden could be a community one, of course, so it could be a good idea for a group to get together and learn about improving the environment.

¯ Music &

www.bwg.naturalengland.org.uk

Anything by John Holt!

If anyone asks me how my child can learn without school, I point them to the library and say get out anything by John Holt. If anyone new to the idea asks me anything about Home Ed, I pretty much say go read John Holt! There are plenty of other books I'd recommend too; depending on a number of things, but John Holt is easy to read, and makes so much sense.

It's got a good layout, easy to use; I think it will be great for families and friends to share and is simple enough for younger ones to use, too. There's places for photos and writing about your garden, so it could be a big project for the family, or just a place to make notes on how you've improved your outside space for your local flora and fauna.

For those with a school background (ie most people) he's an ex-teacher, so can't be dismissed through not knowing the school system. He says the simplest things and makes one realise that children learn all the time. OK, I may have stolen that from one of his books, but it's true. We at EOS are building an Amazon store online, which means that if you buy through there, we get a small commission on what you buy. They all come highly recommended by us, or our readers. Please continue to send in recommendations as it will build to a lovely reference library to print out and get from the real library, or indeed buy!

Plots: Shakespeare's Stories of the Middle Ages & Plantagenet A Retelling by K L Green ISBN 978-098664414-6 An accessible and well written book to assist the older child in understanding four plays - Richard II, Henry IV parts one and two, and Henry V. Without knowing the plays, I still found it interesting to read just as stories. They're fast paced and certainly make me want to see the plays performed. I would think that if one were studying Shakespeare, this book would be extremely useful as it is in an easier to read style, though with plenty of Shakespeare's voice still in there. The introduction and other pages of extra information are useful and interesting for anyone interested in history as well as Shakespeare. Here is a professional's opinion on the book: “Comprehensive and thoroughly accessible, Plantagenet Plots thoughtfully illuminates the history behind these stories while remaining faithful to the thrilling theatricality of Shakespeare's plays. A fantastic read!” -- John Emmet Tracy, actor www.educationoutsideschool.co.uk 22


&

Home Educating Our Autistic Spectrum Children: Paths Are Made By Walking Edited by Terry Dowty and Kitt Cowlishaw. Published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2002. ISBN 1843100371

When our little boy Tom was diagnosed as autistic we were determined that we would still home-educate him as we had planned to. His consultant told us that Tom would need to be taught in a specialist unit, and that she would not advise home-education for him. We were certain that home-education was the right choice for him, indeed, even more so due to the added help he would require because of his autism. We began searching for information, anything that would give us the hope that we needed that it was possible to teach Tom at home. This book was recommended to me by a friend although I was already familiar with one of the editors, Terri Dowty, whose book ‘Free Range Education’, I found very useful. The bulk of this work is accounts by eleven home-educators of their experiences home-educating children on the autistic spectrum along with how and why they came to choose to home-educate. Terri Dowty writes in her introduction that these families are not providing models for homeeducators, but rather examples of how life can be when you home-educate an autistic child. There was a good mixture of ages amongst the children discussed, and these stories were exactly the sort of thing that we needed. They each had the individual tone of their author as there had been minimal editing and they gave a very insightful glimpse into the authors’ lives. It was fascinating to see the different methods that the families used and how their children had responded to them. The book also contains a chapter on how to get started with home education as well as information on the law in England and Wales regarding home education (provided by Ian Dowty, Terri Dowty’s husband,). There are also discussions on why school often doesn’t suit autistic kids as well as a recommended reading list and a list of places to look to for support and information. This book really helped to allay some of our worries and gave us some idea of some of the obstacles, as well as the joys, which we are set to face in the future. It’s a fantastic resource and is one of the very few books available on the subject of home-educating autistic spectrum children. Laura Williams

HOME EDUCATION IS ON THE RISE! WONDERING WHAT IT’S ALL ABOUT? …Come to THE HOME EDUCATION FAIR! Saturday 18 September 2010 1-5pm Westbourne Grove Church, Westbourne Grove, London W11 2RW Entrance: Free The Home Education Fair is a terrific opportunity to find out all about home education: how it works, meet other home educating parents and children, find out what researchers say about it and meet young people who were home educated. All for free! There will be talks by practitioners in the field of home education, workshops on various areas of home education such as how to begin, making the most of home education and a panel of young adults who were home educated will talk about their experience. Plus there will stalls from national groups such as Education Otherwise, Choice in Education, and Home Education Advisory Service offering information, books and leaflets - including details of the many home education groups across London and the South East. Children can enjoy craft activities in the play area while home educated young people will keep everyone supplied with tea and home-made cakes. You can also chat informally with long-term home educators and home educated young people – who better to give you an understanding of what life outside the school system is like?

HOME EDUCATION Broadening Horizons!

Whether you are thinking about home education for your own family, or just want to know why more and more families are choosing it, you’ll find it all at the Home Education Fair. Saturday, 18 September 2010, 1-5pm; Westbourne Grove Church, Westbourne Grove, Notting Hill, London W11 2RW (corner of Ledbury Road and Westbourne Grove) 5-10 minutes walk from Notting Hill (Central, Circle) Contact : Leslie Barson, Tel: 020 8969 0893, homeeducationfair@hotmail.com

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The first day at school or nursery is invariably stressful for children. Mummy and daddy aren't around; they are surrounded by strangers, who are also similarly stressed having been separated from their parents too. As each child moves through the stages of protest and despair to detachment, they begin to form alliances and bonds that are borne out of necessity and are a reaction to the separation from their parents. In this atmosphere, surrounded by strange children, in a strange unfamiliar setting, with new routines, everyone is afraid. Fear gives rise to stress. Cortisol levels increase.

us to wince when we see someone else’s injury or suffering. The observer knows then that there is a possible threat, and he can ready himself for fighting or fleeing. Stress hormones flood the brain in anticipation of action. This effect takes place when the threat is apparent, present and real, but also when the threat is perceived, imagined or imminent. As our prehistoric ancestors turned the corner, they had to be ever vigilant and prepared for the tiger that might be waiting to pounce. 50,000 years on, as a child turns the corner of the school corridor he has to be ever vigilant for the gang of bullies that may be waiting to attack. Without recourse to the safety and sanctity of their parental embrace, school children attach to each other and form skewed, immature associations. Is it just coincidence that the rise of gang culture in the UK has followed the increase in nursery and preschool provision as children seek to bond with other children to compensate for bonds broken with their parents?

Fearful children must attach. It is only in relationship with others that the pain of separation can be reduced. Status is everything in a social setting. The higher the status, the greater access to resources. This is the dynamic that gives rise to bullying. Forced to be together, without the solace of their parents, and without the emotional maturity that adulthood brings, children struggle Stress of Systems to attain status. It is the design of being human To the stress of separation, and the stress of the and explains why we dislike being embarrassed, social, add the stress of the school systems. There or are concerned with our appearance. We want is the loss of autonomy. The child at home can others to think well of us, to approve and admire. pretty much play all day, every Detached, immature human day, and engage in whatever there beings, surrounded by strangers, is that thrills her so. The child at afraid and apart from their There is the loss of autonomy........ school has no such freedom. She families, will do what they can Drilled in this fashion, for 13 years, must sit when told to sit, stand to elevate their status, to look children either learn to respond, and when told to stand. All her freedom good, to impress, to be known become compliant and obedient, or to act, to do, to participate is and to rise to the top of the pile. are punished for attempts at curtailed. There is no heeding her One way they do this is by autonomy and self-control. internal calling. There is no bullying those who are younger, listening to the inner voice. There or weaker or different in some is no singing her own song. She way. It is in the separate social must do as the teacher bids, when [7] society of school that the bully is born. the teacher bids, as the teacher bids. Drilled in this fashion, for 13 years, children either learn to Bullying hurts all. The bully is stressed. He is ready respond, and become compliant and obedient, or to fight. The bullied is stressed too. Her flight are punished for attempts at autonomy and response is fully activated – primed to defend self-control. The former group of children populate herself, in some way or other by hiding, or making so-called "good" schools, the ones with the high herself small. She is either being bullied or terrified Ofsted ratings, the schools that parents move that soon she will be. Either way her body and home for. Good as measured by the standard of brain are experiencing chronic stress. This is the the school project is only another way of saying kind of stress that results in lower immune compliant and trained. The processes that diminish response, which suppresses growth, cognitive the brain in ways that are internal and unseen, function, leads to depression and ultimately results remain the same in so called good schools, and so in 16 children every year in the UK taking their own called bad schools. lives. The observer is stressed. Witnessing one child hit another triggers sympathetic neurological responses. The same pain receptors in the observer get activated as in the victim. He feels her pain. This is the same mechanism that causes

Loss of autonomy is stressful. Unable to act as their will demands, mammals become stressed. They panic. Stress hormones flood the brain. When autonomy is not regained, cortisol levels remain high. The mammal gives up. Becomes despondent.

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Listless. It stops struggling for autonomy. It learns to be helpless. This is what school teaches as it robs children of time, space, opportunity to pursue innate passions. Give up, shut up, put up. Do as you are told. Boredom is stressful. Being forced to do something that is tedious, that holds no interest is mindnumbingly boring. Boredom gives rise to alienation. There is a loss of engagement, meaning and most significantly a loss of control. By forcing children to engage in activities that hold no joy, helplessness is further instilled. Government addiction to testing does incalculable damage to young minds, even though there is no correlation between test results and later success in life. Albert Einstein, Charles Dickens, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Edison, the Wright Brothers, and many more, all had very little, if any, formal schooling. None were successful at school. Dickens dropped out of elementary school; Einstein did not learn to read till he was 9. While there is no correlation between testing and intellect, intelligence or creativity, there is a direct correlation between testing and stress. The sort of testing that is endemic to UK state schools has given rise to a whole generation who are stressed and made anxious by the process. Test results are important for the schools and the teachers since they are used as a yardstick by which the quality of the education is assessed. The emotional cost is paid for by children who have difficulty sleeping, who have less time to play as homework brings school into home, and who suffer from anxiety and increased stress levels. Thus an environment is created where stressed teachers, stress their students. Cortisol levels are high in all, silently doing their damage. The stress of school is compounded by the original separation. Not only does school deprive children of the safety and security of the mother’s embrace and the magical powers that she has to comfort and sooth and hug away pain, it reduces their opportunities to learn how to manage and maintain emotional equilibrium. Children learn emotional regulation from life lived inside the loving embrace of their parents. Teachers don’t cuddle children. That is not their role. Even when they do cuddle children, their job is not to comfort and sooth, but to manage, control and direct. There isn’t the bond between teacher and child as there is between mother and child. The cuddles do not have the same emotional potency and power. Children are always emotionally alone at school.

them in a crowd of other frightened children, who like them are ordered about and controlled by adult strangers. Bullied, bored, tested and helpless to resist, school children are chronically stressed. This is the insidious and wearying effect on a child of 13 years of schooling - 15,000 hours of loss of autonomy, of lost play, of diminished movement, and reduced contact with family. School is bad for your brain. n The author is a social worker, writer and home educating father of two. 1.

An extract from “Separating School & State: How To Liberate American Families” by Sheldon Richman http://www.sntp.net/education/school_state_3.htm]

2.

“Weapons of Mass Instruction – John Taylor Gatto.

3.

"Why Can't They Read" by Miriam Gross. Centre for Policy Studies www.cps.org.uk/cps_catalog/why%20can't%20they%20read.pdf

4.

"Robotic Children – Why schools must encourage creativity" by Nick Kettles. The Ecologist Magazine, September 2008. www.steinerwaldorf.org.uk/downloads/pressarea/ecologist_rob oticchildren_sept2008.pdf

5.

“An Underground History of an American Education” John Taylor Gatto.

6.

A headteacher told me recently that this was to ensure that the children of the working classes would have had five years of schooling before they were eligible to go down the mines when they were 10. I now understand why children in Pakistan start school at 5, while in the Philippines, which was a Spanish colony they start at 7.

7.

Psychologist Peter Grey suggests that bullying is rare or absent in democratic schools where there is no age segregation, and children of all ages are able to mix freely. In such a school, status is structured in by age. The eldest do not need to struggle for status. They are afforded it by their age, and act as mature role models that younger children emulate and aspire to be like. For the majority of Britain’s 11 million children, age segregation is the norm, and bullying is a fact of everyday life. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/freedomlearn/201005/school-bullying-tragic-cost-forced-schooling-andautocratic-school-governance

References and Further Reading "A General Theory of Love" Thomas Lewis, Fari Amini, and Richard Lannon. "Underground History of An American Education" John Taylor Gatto "Brain Rules" by John J Medina "The Brain at Work" by David Rock “The Boy Who Was Raised As a Dog” by Bruce Perry and Maia Szalavitz

School is bad for the brain since it separates children from their parents and families, immerses www.educationoutsideschool.co.uk 25


East telier A f o rvey k en Ha -east.co.u r a K h r t i e i l w .ate Art www

Yet again we have had one of those funny Summers- you know, the ones where you have to dig out your winter woolies and wrap up every other day. That hasn't stopped me from getting out and about and enjoying the 'Great Outdoors' and hopefully it won't have stopped you either! At any time of year there is something amazing to find outside and learn from, and here are just a few ideas to get you started. I hope that you will enjoy them, and I would love to hear from you and see photos if you try any of these activities out with your own children! Whether you want to do this in your own garden or venture further afield is totally up to you, all you need is a little bit of imagination and a few other small things (by small things I mean crayons etc, not children, although you may need these as well!). Of course you can adapt these activities to suit your children whatever age they are, we have done them with 4 year olds and 15 year olds (and many in between).

Poet Tree

A fun and thoughtful project that you can start in the woods and finish at home. After taking a lovely explorative walk through the woods (and doing some of the other activities suggested!) have a good think about words that you can use to describe the place around you, think of as many words as you can, write them onto pieces of leaf-shaped paper and then tie them in a tree. This is your Poet Tree (Poet tree, poetry... get it?!) and once you have made it look totally wonderful, and appreciated it fully, you can carefully remove your paper leaves and take them home, or if it’s warm outside you can sit down with a picnic. Randomly pick out a leaf as the first word of your poem, and then pick out another, and another. At first you can make a poem from random selection, this may produce some fun results and be quite inspiring, and then you can work together to rearrange the letters into different poems that have more structure and coherence. Here is a poem we made fairly randomly from words put together at a workshop we ran this summer. Yes, someone did write biscuit!

trees green tall tracks sticky wonky proud enthusiastic natural habitat spiky sticks growing prickly bumpy brown bark crunchy wood biscuit strong inspiring wisdom shade dappled sunlight big bushy mossy colourful green www.educationoutsideschool.co.uk 26


Woodland Sculpture This is a simple but fun activity to do, it works especially well with larger groups of children (and adults!) but can be scaled down for smaller groups and would be great as a more permanent piece in a back garden where it could be added to regularly. You just need some closely planted trees and a ball of string. Wrap the string round the trees to create a kind-of 'cats cradle' effect, or as some little boys called it when we made one- 'a trap with lasers... run for you lives!' Then you just need to go around and look for the things that stand out to you as interesting- berries, twigs, feathers, leaves and more. All of these can be hooked and tied onto your string sculpture to make an interesting structural display. Its a great opportunity to talk about shapes and sizes, textures and more. You can work together to identify the items and talk about what they could be used for- a twig could become part of a birds nest, a berry could be a meal for a mouse etc. This can be a factual discussion but it can also become something far fetched and imaginative- a feather could be part of a head dress from the carnival costume of a mouse (think of the great stories that you could come up with!) Once you have finished with your sculpture please do take it down, unless its in your garden.. then feel free to keep it up! You can use the string again and keep found objects for another activity!

Exploring Objects

What better way to learn about things than to handle them? Making rubbings of found objects can be great fun and produce some really interesting results. Try and come up with uses for all of your found objects, you can collect these in a paper bag if you want to, and then decorate it with your finds. Twigs and grass make great paint brushes, mud and water makes great paint! Berries are great for squashing and making patterns with, just the same as you might splodge paint on a page and then squish it together- but some berries are tough and you might have to stand on the paper to squash them- great fun! When you squash the berries you can see all of the seeds inside and if you want to you can talk about how birds eat them and then spread the seeds by, well, by doing a poo really! (Some children love this and find it funny and interesting, some just get distracted by the comedy of 'poo' and so you might want to avoid that one!). For older children this can form a strong basis for an arts project and research, try looking at artists like Andy Goldsworthy for inspiration. This really is all about exploring, about having fun and not minding if you get mud on your hands or squashed berries on your shoes! There is so much to be found outside and learning is so much easier when you are having fun. Don't forget to always tidy up after yourselves and leave everything as you found it. Here are a couple of websites that might give you a bit of inspiration or further information: For identifying birds - www.rspb.org.uk/wildlife/birdguide/ Get a Wildlife Action Award - www.rspb.org.uk/youth/learn/waa/home.asp For seasonal information - www.naturescalendar.org.uk/ To find a good Wood and much more - www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/ www.educationoutsideschool.co.uk 27


NaNoWriMo Write a Novel in a Month!

E

very year in November, thousands of adults and children sit down to write a novel. Churning out hundreds of words a day, each one hopes to reach their target of 50,000 words by the end of the month. And the inspiration for this is the National Novel Writing Month, known as NaNoWriMo. NaNoWriMo is, according to its creators, ‘a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing’. The goal is to start writing on November 1st and write a novel of 50,000 words or more by midnight on November 30th (writers under 18 get to set lower word count targets to suit themselves). Quality is

The ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output….. The kamikaze approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly. not important, they say. What began in 1999 with a small group of 21 aspiring novelists has grown in a little over a decade into an international event that attracted 167,000 adults and 35,000 young writers in 2009. Although under 18's had been taking part since the early days, often as part of classroom projects or home schooling groups, NaNoWriMo’s special Young Writers Program was created in 2004. It has a separate website providing a safe and kid-oriented place to encourage young writers to free their creativity, unburdened by the worry of spelling or grammar, and to experience the joy of becoming a novelist!

Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month

So, does it work? We discovered NaNoWriMo last year and gave it a go. Three of my children (aged 8, 10 and 13 at the time) signed up and so did I, deciding that leading by example was the order of the day. And because I also harbour that secret desire to write a best seller! After looking at the suggested word counts for their respective ages they set their own. A lower one for the 10 year old who doesn’t like to write, a higher one for the 8 year old who is rarely seen without pen and paper, and that’s only if she can’t get to her dad’s laptop first. And it was the 8 year old who took to it most enthusiastically. Writing every day, she passed her word count after about a week and carried on going. She was still going strong when the laptop suddenly broke down in the third week of November. No matter what we tried there was no recovering her manuscript before the end of the month, so our efforts were halted by the demons of technology. Still, it didn’t matter too much. She had turned from being a serial story starter (so many Chapter Ones that never seem to find a Chapter Two!) to someone who could now develop her ideas further. Although the older two didn’t send their novels in either (the whole laptop-breaking -down fiasco took the wind out of their sails too), both also achieved their word count goals and enjoyed the freedom to write without the pressure of coming up with ‘something good’, both discovering creativity they didn’t know they had. And we all enjoyed working through the Young Novelist’s Workbooks which taught us much about character, story, plot and other such matters that we still talk about now.

www.educationoutsideschool.co.uk 28


So, this year we’re going for it again. This year we’re going to sign up early and spend October planning our novels. This year they’re going to set higher word counts. And this year we’re going to make use of memory sticks so that novels aren’t lost, locked away in computers that seem to know exactly the moment to break down which will cause the greatest effect. Oh, and if you’re wondering about my efforts, well I’m afraid I let the side down and gave up on about Day 10. I’ll be aiming to better that this year aswell! n How To Take Part Sign up for the event. Go to www.ywp.nanowrimo.org, click the sign up link and register as a "Young Writer." 2) Read the detailed instructions on the website, go through the resources, maybe even sign up for the forums. 3) Starting October 1, you can set your wordcount goal! 4) Set your time zone. The NaNoWriMo programme is run from th USA and you need to know what time in Britain is the deadline for completing your novel. 5) On November 1, begin writing your novel on your computer or with a pen and paper. Your goal is to write a novel by midnight on November 30. 6) Write like crazy for thirty days. If you reach your word-count goal by November 30, you will be added to NaNoWriMo’s Winner's Page, and receive a winner's certificate and web icon. 7) Win or lose, each and every National Novel Writing Month Young Writers Program participant gets a certificate from NaNoWriMo headquarters just for writing with them.

Young Novelist Workbooks We found these to be some of the most useful resources on the Young Writers Program website. They are, according to NaNoWriMo, “100% awesome” and “non-lame”! There are three versions, aimed at different age groups, and they include chapters on planning your novel (plot, story, characters etc), how to get through a month of novel writing, tips on keeping your motivation going and more! We really enjoyed going through the chapters concerned with story planning. We loved using the exercises to learn how to create characters, and the children even now refer to the ‘rising action, climax and resolution’ of a story, whether it is a book they’ve read or a film we’ve seen. Be warned if you want to print them out - they are HUGE, averaging at 100 pages each! We had an old workhorse of a laser printer at the time so we printed them out at home, but if you only have a standard home printer (as we do now), it would probably be cheaper to download them and take them to a local printer for printing in black and white (colour adds quite a bit to the cost at a commercial printers). Or you could skim through them on screen and print out only the pages you need.

A Bit of Translation! NaNoWriMo is an American project, so they use the American education system when talking about age groups. This can be quite confusing, so here is EOS’s guide to USA School Grades and how they compare to those in the UK!

USA

Age

UK

Elementary School Grades K - 5

5 - 11

Primary School Key Stages 1 & 2 Years 1 - 6

Middle School Grades 6 - 8

11 - 14

Key Stage 3 Years 7 - 9

High School Grades 9 - 12

14 - 18

Key Stages 4 & 5 Years 10 - 13

Source: www.wikipedia.com

www.educationoutsideschool.co.uk 29


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.

You may have seen in the media various references to a report and subsequent proposed changes to the law. These were lost in the “washup” - the bargaining between political parties as to what bills will pass/fail in the days after the election was announced. Many Home Educators breathed a sigh of relief when they heard that the HE part of the CSF Bill had been cut. The hard work of many parents to inform and educate MPs and others enabled those in power to see that the proposed changes would not help those they wanted to help, and would in fact alienate many families.

The above is a swift ‘FAQ’ style list; basically, if you’re thinking of HE, and your children aren’t registered at a school, just keep them home. Talk to them. Research what they could do, and discuss with them how they’d like to learn. Then just do it. Go out, enjoy. (Museums, playgrounds, everywhere, are much quieter in school time!)

If they are at school, send a letter to the head teacher, use recorded delivery; say you will be home educating, and that’s it. Nothing else is required of you. You are the parent, you are responsibile for your child’s education, as you are responsible for other aspects of their life.

If you do your research, you will find yourself impressed and maybe amazed at what children can do outside of school. They really can learn very successfully! Don’t Panic. Research, and enjoy.

Local Authority information and actions differ wildly, but the facts remain as above. If they wish to speak with you, check out the websites of HE organisations for suggestions on how to do this first. LAs are interested in making sure your children are receiving a good enough education, they are allowed to check if it seems they’re not.

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Home Education 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! If you run a website or a group that you would like to see featured here, or if you know of one that you feel should be here, please contact us and tell us. National

Regional

AHEd Action for Home Education www.ahed.org.uk PO Box 7324, Derby, DE1 0GT

North East North Yorkshire www.nyhe.co.uk http://groups.yahoo.com/group/henney/ (Home Education Network North East Yorkshire). A monthly meeting in a local village hall and a montly meeting out and about somewhere in the local area

Education Otherwise www.education-otherwise.org PO Box 325, Kings Lynn, PE34 3XW Freedom In Education www.freedom-in-education.co.uk

West Yorkshire wyheal.wordpress.com

HE-Special Home Education in the UK - Special Educational Needs www.he-special.org.uk

East Midlands Leicestershire www.he-al.org.uk

HE-UK Home Education UK www.home-education.org.uk

Northamptonshire www.iflow.org.uk www.northantshe.org.uk

HEdNI Home Education in Northern Ireland www.hedni.org Home Education Advisory Service www.heas.org.uk Home Education in the UK www.home-ed.info Home Educated Youth Council An independent voice for home educated young people heyc.org.uk MuddlePuddle A site aimed particularly at the 0-8 age range. www.muddlepuddle.co.uk Schoolhouse For home education in Scotland www.schoolhouse.org.uk PO Box 18044, Glenrothes, Fife KY7 9AD Tel: 01307 463120 THEN UK The Home Education Network www.thenuk.com PO Box 388, St Helens, WA10 9BS admin@thenuk.com

West Midlands Worcestershire www.worcestershire-homeeducators.co.uk East Cambridgeshire www.cambridgehomeeducators.org.uk South East Berkshire www.heroesberkshire.co.uk Isle of Wight www.iwlearningzone.co.uk Kent www.flags-education.org.uk www.ukhome-educators.co.uk Surrey www.pact-he.org.uk www.swsurrey-home-ed.co.uk South West Bristol www.bristolhomeeducation.org.uk Dorset www.he-ed.org.uk Somerset www.homeeducationcentre.org.uk Wiltshire www.nwilts-he.org.uk Wales North West www.creativelearningandsupport.co.uk

www.educationoutsideschool.co.uk 31

Home Ed Gymnastics Group Mansfield, Nottinghamshire The group is open to all home educated children aged between 4-16 years old, subject to the availability of places. We meet on Friday afternoons during term time and half term holidays (but not during Easter, summer and Christmas holidays) from 3pm-4pm. For further details, contact Alexandra or Martin at martin.gray6@ntlworld.com or on 01623 477922 or 07923 496701.


www.education-otherwise.org

www.hedni.org

www.schoolhouse.org.uk

www.educationeverywhere.co.uk

www.muddlepuddle.co.uk

www.heas.org.uk www.ahed.org.uk

www.thenuk.com

EOS Mag Issue 2 - Sept 2010  

Education Outside School Magazine Issue 2 - September 2010

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