Friday 13 May 2011

Home education and professional development

This is my second attempt. Version #1 was posted yesterday just before Blogger went down and now appears completely lost.

In my job, professional development was mandatory and took a fair amount of time. Not that I resented this as keeping up to date and improving practice are obviously important. There were plenty of conferences, in-house meetings, journals and on-line training as well as centres of excellence to visit.

Now, I am still a professional-wife, mother, home maker and educator and I still need professional development. My newest role is that of educator and so there is a fair amount of research and reading to do.
It isn't easy.

Here in the UK, there are few home  education conferences. There are plenty of blogs both from the UK and overseas which can be helpful. .

I would love to visit centres of excellence-home educators with an established record to sit like a fly on the wall gaining ideas about managing different ages, how to teach English as a non-specialist and prehaps most of all, how not to loose sight of the important aims in the plethora of detail. Any offers?

Books are great. I have recently finished "Elephant in the classroom" by Jo Boaler which looks at successful and less successful methods of teaching maths. This book has modified the way that I think about and teach maths although change has been easier with the little ones and it has been easier to find interesting books about maths for pre-schoolers-"Nigel's numberless world" by Lucy Coats has been a recent success.

From a Christian point of view, RC Sproul Jr's book "When you rise up" has been a challenge to our thinking.

There are so many questions though. Previously, I was taught that professionals generate questions but finding answers as a lay person in a specialist world can be interesting. Don't get me wrong-I do think that parents can teach their children and I do know that a profession's thinking can shift in an unhelpful or even amoral direction. It is easy though to lack confidence-to look at the waves rather than at the Lord.

My current questions are around literacy, IT teaching, exercise and how to provide it and, more for the future, whether at some point we should teach Koine Greek.

Literacy is a good example.

Miss Belle is desperate to read; not just anything but "The Secret Garden" She recognises letter sounds, the first sound in words and sometimes can manage to sound out three letter words-not enough for "The Secret Garden" not by a long, long chalk. Miss Belle is well aware of this. Now, we are plodding slowly on trying not to talk about "The Secret Garden" other than in its electronic form.
 I'm wondering
Have I gone wrong? I am well aware of other four year olds who do read.
Should I jump to look and say? After all, adults don't tackle new words by phonics but by syllables.
Should we just give up for a while? Her older siblings who were in school at this stage, didn't really "get" reading until they were five.

Instinctively, plodding seems right but some research would be good.

Does anyone have resources to recommend-not just around literacy? If you are a home educator, how do you go about answering this type of question? If you are/have been a teacher what are your favourite resources and are they accessible to a lay person?
Thank you.


  1. I think you raise some good questions! Have you thought about starting a facebook page for Delivering Grace? Not so much for reaching an audience (although it does help) but because as a page you can follow other pages and there is a fantastic sense of community among common interest sites. I follow quite a few that are about education and/or homeschooling and they are often posting interesting discussions and links between them that cold be a great help. Perhaps a 21st century online professional development?!

  2. Anna-I hadn't thought about that aspect of a facebook page-thank you.

  3. I don't think four or five year olds need be pushed to read. Our youngest (now grown) son was very depressed about not being able to read as well as other first graders. However, by third grade, he was reading 7 & 8th grade books and his IQ tested though the roof high later on. We finally home-schooled him from 6th to 12th grade. I think that's one of the beautiful benefits of homeschooling, to be able to move at your child's own pace. Blessings!

  4. I've started teaching all mine to read when they started to show interest! After they knew their letter sounds and were willing to sit still for a little bit.... we go super slow when they were little and then start being very consistent with reading lessons when they get to be 5-ish.

    I know "sight words" get a bad rap. But when they are little, I have found teaching sight words is easy for them since it's mainly recognition and memory. And they LOVE finding the words they know (and, it, the...) in books that they look through OR we read together.

    As far as the Secret Garden. I guess it's a good goal for her to one day be able to read by herself. There are other options too... have an older one read it to her or read it together as a family. When mine we're too small to read we read through many children's classics... for some reason we've gotten out of the habit, but they really listening to us read to them. ANd it was a nice quiet family activity before bed;)

    I love that there is always room to grow as a homeschooling parent.... we plenty of opportunities to learn,too!! And it;s a great example for our kiddos to see us reading and excited about learning new things, too!