Saturday 28 June 2014

If you were me and lived in....

Last year, I reviewed four titles in the If you were me series by Carol Roman, published by Away We Go Media, and these have remained firm favourites as bedtime stories and at other times in between. As a result, I was delighted to be asked to review three new titles:

My younger two children, aged 5 and 7, were very excited to receive the books with some flags, pencils and keyrings. 

Each book is a picture book of 24 to 30 pages. Like the previous books, each of these new productions follows a set form. The books have a map of the country and also a picture to explain which part of the world is being described. There is a section about the capital, common first names and the words used for "Mummy" and "Daddy". A page deals with a typical item that one might buy and the currency used. Famous places, typical food, a special annual event and recreations are described. The book explains the word used for school. 

These three books have a little more description and writing than the earlier four books we read. This fitted well for us as the children are older and keen to know more.

One thing that delighted me when reviewing these books, was that my five year old announced that he wanted to write If you were me and lived in England so he dictated to me his book about living here and then illustrated it. This produced some interesting discussion about our national characteristics.

Probably, my only reservation about these books is that the Australia book has a sentence which doesn't fit with our young earth convictions. We used this as a talking point and it isn't something that would stop me using the books.

In my opinion, these are ideal books for children aged three to eight. We have read and reread these as well as using them when talking about particular countries. They are available from ( also available from as either paperbacks or ebooks. The paperbacks cost slightly different prices: 

  • If you were me and lived in Australia £6.05
  • If you were me and lived in Portugal £5.93
  • If you were me and lived in Russia £5.92
The ebooks all cost a very reasonable £0.77.

I recommend these books. Young children will enjoy hearing them read or for the slightly older crew, reading themselves. They make ideal books to have around and would make a great introduction to a country study.

Disclaimer: I received these books for the purposes of the review. I was not required to give a positive review and the opinions are those of myself and my children.

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Thursday 26 June 2014

Year One Curriculum

It is quite difficult to believe that my youngest is almost year one age. Anyway, come September, he would be in year one, if he were in school. This is similar to US Kindergarden.

As a home educator, I am fascinated by the curriculum choices of others so here are mine.

Several notes

  • Whilst these are our choices, I don't think there is anything special about them which means that everyone else should use the same. They might suit your child or they might not. Home education can be individualised.
  • The curriculum is my servant not the other way round. In some subjects, we follow the books closely and in other subjects less so. 
  • We aren't required to follow the National Curriculum. In some subjects, we keep a careful eye on what children of a similar age would do in school but in others, such as history and geography, we make no attempt to follow the National Curriculum.
  • My son is young so whilst he does work every day, he also plays and has hands on activities. Listing the curriculum we use might give a false impression that we work all waking hours: this isn't true!

I am currently reading Leading Little Ones to God with the children and hope to continue doing this. We work on learning a verse a week. My plan is to continue doing this from a psalm so we can learn larger portions. We have a hymn of the week using hymns that are often sung in church.

The plan is to use several components:
  • Reading: using Hooked on Phonics Year 1
  • Grammar: I hope to cover elementary parts of speech and basic punctuation.
  • Writing with Write Shop-review soon!
  • Spelling: I will probably use some words from the Hooked on Phonics word list and add in a couple of high frequency irregular words each week.
  • Poetry: we read aloud a fair amount of poetry but this year, have had a successful special poem per half term which I plan to continue. 
  • Read alouds: I plan to continue with this.The question is whether to have a pre-determined list or not.
We hope to continue using Mousematics. This is a programe that comes via Mother's Companion. We don't used Mousematics slavishly but do try to cover the same topics. For example, Mousematics suggested drawing containers which held specific volumes. We decided that it would be more useful to find appropriate sized empty containers, fill them with water and then measure the water. Maths games play a fairly big role, too.

The science plans are to work on hands on science using ideas from 101 Great Science Experiments and also to take part in some of the activities from the Apologia Elementary book, Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day along with Younger Daughter.

In the coming year, we hope to look at some of the events surrounding the First World War including what it was like to be a child at this time. We don't plan to use a formal curriculum but add resources from various places. There are family diaries from both sides of the family which I hope to add in. One of the children's Grandparents has stories from her parents about the First World War.

Over the years, I have failed to find a geography curriculum that I like that covers physical geography. I was very grateful when a friend suggested the Veritas book Legends and Leagues or, Mr Tardy goes from here to there. This is a picture book which presents basic concepts such as oceans, mountains, the compass, longitude, latitude and more. We have also bought the accompanying workbook. This first book is designed for First Grade or year two. I'm hope to use it for my year one and three children and think that it should work well for both. The workbook includes a song, cutting out, maps and making a compass. I'm looking forward to using these with the children.

We recently started using Artistic Pursuits: Early Elementary book One. This book is stocked by Conquest Books in the UK. Artistic Pursuits is a great book for a non-arty mother with a child who loves art. It has short lessons which introduce a concept e.g. artists see shapes; talk about a painting and then introduce a project related to the concept. The project in the chapter around shape is to make a paper cutout collage of an outdoor scene. Many of the projects involve going outside to look. I've been using this book with my five and seven year olds and highly recommend it.

Youngest Son will probably share Spanish lessons with his sister but this needs a little more work!

I hope to reuse our History of Classical Music CDs and work on a short list of classical music for familiarity as well as looking at the basics of a keyboard.

Physical activity
We plan to continue swimming lessons but need to add in more sport. There are some ideas but I need to work through these!

Do you have any curriculum that you especially like or books that I really ought to read to my five year old?

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Wednesday 25 June 2014

Hostage Lands

My younger two children find things Roman rather interesting ,probably, ever since they were taught to march, in Latin, at Fishbourne Roman Palace. We hope to study the Romans fairly soon so I was interested to read Hostage Lands by Douglas Bond. This is one of the recommended books that go with the Veritas Self Paced history course on the New Testament, Romans and Greeks (review coming soon).

Hostage Lands, by Douglas Bond, is set in the Hadrian's Wall area of England. The plot takes place both in modern times and in the third century AD. 

Neil, a modern boy who sits bored in his Latin lesson, in a school close to Hadrian's Wall, finds a spearhead and wooden Roman tablets. He translates these tablets and finds a story of Romans and Celts at a time of tension around the wall. The story takes in intrigue, politics and the news of a better and heavenly Kingdom before reaching a satisfactory conclusion.

What did I think?
  • a fast moving story which will appeal to children aged about 8+.
  • There is some killing and violence in the book but this is not graphically described.
  • I'm in no position to judge the plausibility of the Roman part of the story
  • Douglas Bond occasionally misreads modern English culture. I find it improbable that a 15 year old would be able to bring his quad bike to school.
  • The book is a helpful and interesting way of introducing children to the issues around the interaction between the Romans and Celts.
  • This book is simpler than Rosemary Sutcliffe's book Eagle of the Ninth. For older children, both books are ideal reading before a trip to the Wall.
  • I liked the way that the news of Christus was described as travelling round the Empire and the difference that this made to Calum.

Disclaimer: I bought this book for the use of my family. The opinions are my own.

Every bed of Roses
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Thursday 19 June 2014

Sea, stars and camping

We are just back from a day trip to the South Downs Planetarium, in Chichester.  Our home education group has been studying astronomy for the last year. It was a long drive from London but we had a fascinating night sky display with a quiz added in and a talk about meteorites plus the chance to handle a real meteorite.

Having driven such a long way, we decided not to miss the beach

 and have come back laden with shells, 

 and what my five year old hopes is a meteorite.

Paddling and throwing pebbles are part of the substance of childhood.

Perhaps near the beach would have been a better place for our Big Wild Sleepout. However, we weren't that brave and just used the garden. 
Yes, just in case anyone wonders, we are still working! Not quite the end of term yet! 

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Monday 16 June 2014

June Inspiration

So far, June in London has been mixed with some cold rainy days as well as beautiful warm weather. I don't mind too much as we have almost another month to go before we finish for the summer. State schools have another six weeks or so.

We have actually just started a new art programme, Artistic Pursuits. This has been a great success. I suspect a box of new art supplies helped too but we do like the book. We are using the K-3 book 1. The Schoolhouse Crew reviewed the books recently. I wasn't on this review but it did influence my decision! We bought our book from Conquest Books.

We have had a bit of an art fest here.

Sometimes, a post can energise me and provides ideas. This post from Raising Olives is full of ideas. In some ways a bit overwhelming but taken an idea at a time, helpful.

I have posted previously about teaching science in a home education group. We have finished the book that we were using so have taught a couple of one off sessions: the first on acids and alkalis and the latest on fluids and density. Lisa's post from an Ordinary Life fitted in well. We made a lava lamp in the session and there have been a few made at home as well. These are both quick and would make an ideal summer holiday activity.

Over the summer, I need to keep reading going for my younger children. This Reading Mama has a helpful post about helping readers grow.

Beth, at As He leads is joy, has written about being willing to waste time in education when teaching something that might not be useful in the future. She writes specifically about her daughter with special needs but there are lessons for us all. This is a thought provoking post.

We've been using a couple of exciting new pieces of curriculum which I plan to review in the near future. These are Veritas Self-Paced History and WriteShop Primary. I hope to put up posts soon about the resources that we plan to use next year.

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Saturday 14 June 2014

Basil of Caesarea: a review

Recently, I've been teaching a small group of children some church history: stories of people and with a bit of art and craft thrown in at the end. Polycarp was dramatic and certainly worthy of telling as a story. Constantine was graphic and led to art around Christian symbols. Athanasius was a bit more complicated and then next come the Cappadocian Fathers. Now part of the problem is my lack of knowledge. Yes, I have read about four different volumes on church history, some for children and some of adults along with a fair few more books about later times in church history but when it comes to talking about Basil of Caesarea who was one of the Cappadocian Father then I didn't even need postage stamp for my knowledge. So, I jumped at the chance to review Marvin Jones' new book, Basil of Caesarea.

This book is a part of a new series on the Church Fathers published by Christian Focus and edited by Michael Haykin.

The book has seven chapters:

  1. Basil's Life
  2. Conversion and theology
  3. Solace in the desert
  4. Development of the doctrine of the Holy Spirit
  5. Basil's contribution to the doctrine of the Holy Spirit
  6. Basil's Hexameron
  7. Basil speaks today
Basil lived in Caesarea, in what we would now call Turkey. He lived in late Roman times soon after Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire. The major doctrinal threat to the Church, in his day, was that of Arianism. The Arians didn't believe that Jesus is God. The Council of Nicea combated this teaching but the Arians didn't go away. What the book calls "second wave" Arianism also challenged the Godhead of the Holy Spirit. 
One of Basil's major contributions was to examine the texts about the Holy Spirit in the Bible and write about the Holy Spirit as part of the Godhead.

Basil had a major emphasis on holiness and working this out in a Scriptural way. This meant that he rejected the hermit life. He believed that Christians should be separate from worldliness and should live in community. Basil's interpretation of this was not that believers should live in families but instead, he founded several monasteries for which he wrote manuals. These manuals were based on Scripture. I found this part of Basil's life fascinating but would have liked more engagement and discussion around this subject.

In the Hexameron, a series of sermons on creation his stand for a literal interpretation of Genesis one sounds surprisingly modern. 

What did I think about the book?
  • I certainly now have more knowledge on the subject of Basil and his contribution to theology and church life. 
  • Sadly, the book is clearly mainly written for pastors and sometimes just addresses them. I can't see any reason why learning about Basil's life might not be beneficial for others.
  • There are a fair number of theological terms. These are often explained in a grey box on the page which I found helpful but a glossary would be really helpful as would an index, particularly, in view of the number of characters.
  • Each chapter is carefully referenced.
  • In terms of why I wanted to read the book it was a success. I know more about Basil and a little more about the other Cappadocian Fathers. The next challenge, for me, is to take this information and make it accessible to children.
Basil of Caesarea can be purchased from Christian Focus at £7.99. It is also available on Amazon both as a paperback and in Kindle format.

I received an e-book of Basil of Caesarea in exchange for my honest review. The opinions expressed are my own.

This is linked to Saturday Review of Books on Semicolon.
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Wednesday 11 June 2014

Reading Schemes for the Home Educator

Reading schemes are not a subject on which I am a specialist of any sort. However, I thought that a post about reading schemes from a home educating mother in the trenches might be useful for others.

This post isn't for you if your child learned to read aged three just from having books read to them. Yipee! You might not need a reading scheme but for the rest of us, a reading scheme is part of teaching a child to read. 

My older children were taught to read at school before the days of synthetic phonics, using schemes which used a mixture of techniques. I was taught to read, before I went to school, by my Mother using Peter and Jane, an old look and say scheme. There were some phonics taught in my reception class which I found rather boring as I could already read.

Fast forward, and I became a home educating mother. I thought that I ought to teach my children using synthetic phonics-it seemed the right thing to do. This post is the product of the last three years. I am using reading programmes with my younger two children.

Jolly Phonics
This was our first scheme and is used in some UK schools. We started off with the teacher's handbook and have gradually added more components. We currently use this plus the workbooks, readers, Finger Phonics books and large wall sized posters.
Many UK home educators use this scheme.
We found that this worked well for single letter phonemes but less well for digraphs and more complex vowel sounds. For my youngest, we have used Finger Phonics extensively for digraphs and this has been helpful. For the child who needs a fair amount of practice, there just wasn't enough. We have also needed to add additional readers as the packs of 18 per level have been insufficient.
I still use this scheme alongside others for my youngest.


  • Easy to obtain
  • Well known 
  • Many use this successfully
  • Multi-sensory
  • Not sufficient practice for the struggling child.
  • Jolly Grammar (the books which follow Jolly Phonics) have spelling lists which are particularly difficult for struggling readers as they have a mixture of words rather than practicing one rule.
  • Sometimes can be difficult to put together the components in a logical way.

Letters and Sounds
This is the name of the UK Government scheme, which like much other information has now disappeared from the Government website. I have a paper copy of this scheme which is quite regimented but has helpful ideas particularly for games. However, there is a helpful website, called Letters and Sounds which has free resources and games for use for each level of the scheme.  I use this scheme alongside Jolly Phonics for my youngest although I ignore the school, one-size fits all timetable.

  • Free
  • Many sheets of words to allow practice
  • Games
  • Prescriptive timetable although as a home educator I ignore this!
  • No readers

Hooked on Phonics
This is an American scheme but we have the UK version. I bought  years 1 and 2 second hand for a tiny price and this has been worth its weight in gold. Hooked on Phonics comes as a boxed set containing a CD, cards and keyrings, reading books, a few flash cards for common irregular words, an A4 sized book with lists of words, a progress poster and stickers. We didn't really use the CDs.

There is a Reception box but I haven't seen this.

The cards go over digraphs. Each card has the digraph at the top, a guide to how the sound is said and then an example word. The cards have different digraphs on each side but only one side is used at a time. We went over the cards daily, followed by the workbook and then reader or reading selection from the workbook. The word lists in the workbook demonstrate the digraphs learned on the cards. There is plenty of practice and no nonsense words. We saw encouraging results with this. Looking on the internet, we don't have the most up to date version.


  • works through digraphs
  • provides plenty of practice
  • sticker chart was tremendously popular
  • despite using the UK version, the content was rather US based with baseball being a popular subject for the readers.
  • Ideally would have another more advanced level.
  • no writing involved.
Phonological Awareness Training
This is a remedial programme and works on teaching the endings of words. One ending is taught per week and one reviewed. The idea is that children who struggle with endings particularly where there is a silent "magic" e learn endings such as -in and -ine completely separately. The child has a sheet with pictures and has to complete this. 

The next day, they carry out a similar exercise with the ending but no pictures. This stage can be repeated if necessary. On the next day, the child reads the words and on the last day writes a short phrase containing the word. 
We found this programme too slow which was, in many ways, an encouragement. This may possibly have been a placement issue.

  • Loads of repetition.
  • A different way round the magic "e" problem!
  • Placement isn't easy.
  • Very slow which probably can be a plus or a minus depending on your child.
Logic of English: Essentials
This is a very thorough programme that I reviewed recently. I was very impressed by Logic of English but it went too fast with several new phonograms per lesson. I suspect that it may be a great system to revisit when spelling is the focus rather than reading. Logic of English also produces a Foundations series which may have been a better fit for us.
Readers are being introduced.


  • Many games to play using the phonogram cards and suggestions for spelling games.
  • A most thorough programme which also includes grammar.
  • I learnt far more from Logic of English than most of the other courses we have used.
  • Expensive
  • US English although some of the differences are noted.
  • Best used for children who are at least eight and have some reading ability.
  • Requires up to 90 minutes adult time per day.
Rod and Staff Reading books and Reading and Phonics workbooks
This scheme is produced by the Mennonite publishers Rod and Staff.  The Readers have Bible stories and poems. Mennonite theology comes through very clearly. Both the Reading and Phonics workbooks have a double page spread for each lesson. This is the scheme that I am currently using with Younger Daughter. We found this a suitable place to start after the end of Hooked on Phonics as it carried on the phonic work plus lists of proper words which illustrate a rule. 


  • These books work slowly and steadily.
  • Sight words are included.
  • The font is large and clear.
  • The readers have a few illustrations but they don't give clues as to the text.
  • Relatively inexpensive and can be obtained in the UK.
  • Occasionally the instructions in the workbook can be unclear.
  • The illustrations show rather old fashioned looking children.

Reading Eggs
Reading Eggs is an on-line, fun reading programme which uses synthetic phonics. It is easy to use alongside other such schemes. We have used this for three years now alongside other programmes. The children haven't tired of this although I think we use it less now. The scheme includes lessons with interactive activities, spelling and later reading comprehension. I know that some people say this can be used alone. I'm not convinced but it is a great adjunct. 


  • Attractive presentation.
  • Loved by children.
  • Doesn't require much parent input. I have had to help "stuck" children and a younger child who struggled with the mouse initially.
  • 40% discount for home educators and sibling discounts.
  • Possible to re-do lessons as many times as needed.
  • It is possibly to get through levels of the reading lessons with seemingly poor ability to read at that level. 

Other home educators have recommended these schemes. 
I have looked at these but not used them. 
The Butterfly book by Irina Tyk, published by Civitas. This is a book written by a private school head teacher using the scheme she devised for her school. Reading and writing are closely linked and this appears straightforward to use.

The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading by Jessie Wise and Sara Buffington. This book, from the US, uses a phonic approach and has a reassuring title. A friend lent this to me to peruse. Whilst I liked the simplicity of this book, it is a book to use from the start. It would be difficult to jump in half way.

I can't leave out the way that my Mother taught me to read and which, whilst despised, has been used for many others. Like many others, I was taught with the Look and Say, Peter and Jane books. Sometimes, I wonder whether my journey through teaching reading would have been easier with these books!

What do you use to teach your children to read? Are you pleased with the scheme?

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Tuesday 10 June 2014

Roman home

I'm often rather surprised to realise how easily we can look at Roman remains. Having just acquired English Heritage membership, it seemed that the time was right to take Younger Daughter and one of her friends to Lullingstone Villa. 

Years ago, I took my older two to Lullingstone Villa. They were aged about four and six. It was a dreadful trip as I had failed to explain to them that we weren't going inside a Roman house but just looking at what is left of the floor and lower walls. Since that episode, I've been careful to explain just how much is left to see. 

Doubtless the Romans didn't choose the site for its beauty but the Villa is in the peaceful Darrent Valley in North Kent.

Younger Daughter saw eels in the river which runs close to the Villa.

The actual Villa remains are covered by a rather unexciting modern building.

I had promised the children an audio tour which turned out to be a figment of my imagination but there was a children's sheet which kept them occupied and Roman dressing up clothes which were a great success. I was persuaded to dress up too. Sadly, there was an absence of a belt which mean that my tunic could only be that of a lower class man. I was impressed by the warmth of the woolen tunic and cloak. You are spared the picture-I don't suppose Romans wore spectacles!

The ruins are fascinating. The pictures aren't great as I was struggling with the low lighting levels.

Part of the bath rooms.


Near the original entrance

Lullingstone is famous for its early Christian chapel built over an older pagan room. The chapel featured pictures of worshippers and the Chi-rho symbol.

In terms of taking children, English Heritage has made definite steps to welcome children. For sevens and over, it is fascinating particularly if they have a little background information about the Romans. From previous experience, this isn't the place to take very young children although there seemed to be several going round quite happily! Probably, a decision dependent on the parent and child! Overall, recommended.

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Thursday 5 June 2014

London's burning!

Today, we went with our home education group for an eagerly anticipated visit to the fire station. We arrived and had the start of the introduction, about how calls come in, when a real call arrived. There was an announcement, all the lights came on and two minutes later both fire engines were gone.

The empty station.

All was not lost, the children enjoyed an afternoon with their friends and Younger Daughter played rounders.

I was grateful that we had had a discussion on the way about the fact that this might happen so that the children took this in their stride. Hopefully, we might be able to look at the fire engines on another occasion.

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Wednesday 4 June 2014

A life in Balance: a Review

A life in balance is the biography of Frank Belgau written by his son, Eric Belgau.
Learning Breakthrough Program Review
Frank Belgau is the founder of the Learning Breakthrough Program which is a system of exercises designed to improve vestibular (balance) function in children with a variety of learning challenges including dyslexia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The program not only promises to improve vestibular function but to improve or even remove the symptoms of the dyslexia or ADHD.

Learning Breakthrough Program Review

Frank Belgau has had a fascinating life. This biography, written in the first person, starts with Frank as a child with reading difficulties in a high performing family. Over one summer, he spent hours on the beach exercising and then went back to the classroom as a competent reader.

Frank was influenced by some inspirational teachers particularly in science. On leaving school he joined the US airforce and determined to learn about the inner workings of planes. He had hoped that this would lead to becoming an airline pilot but he was turned down on sight grounds. After working on aeroplanes and teaching about their mechanics, Frank turned to school teaching. Almost by accident, he started teaching art to pupils with learning difficulties and was inspired by what he saw. What had started as a kind move to help a fellow teacher struggling with a class of children with learning challenges turning into a life's work. The attitude to teaching is described as

Problems are made to be solved; challenges are made to be overcome; if something doesn't work, throw it out and if something does work, explore it.

Several of the chapters are named after inspirational people. Perhaps the most moving it that of Edward, a boy with cerebral palsy, little sight and speech difficulties. Edward made a glass bowl in the art class and then dropped it. Of course, the bowl shattered but Edward determinedly used the fragments to make an award winning table. 

Mr Belgau developed on interest in teaching children with learning difficulties and went on to take a class of 14 "Minimally Brain Injured" children. These were children who could learn. They could think. They were just terrible readers. I guess what we would now term as dyslexic. His early work included finding age appropriate readers and turning this into a multi-sensory exercise by asking the children to follow, in carefully marked books, while he read aloud. Gradually, other methods were introduced. Some were discarded but following a targeted pendulum with the eyes seemed to show success. Reading was assessed before and after reading and in one child seemed to have improvement after 15 minutes of pendulum tracking. Gradually, more exercises were added and seemed to benefit more children. The exercises began to be taken outside the classroom and used with larger groups co-ordinated by parent groups for Minimally Brain-Injured Children. The exercises started to include bean-bag activities, the pendulum, rhythm activities and ultimately the Balance Board. Improvements were noted both by parents and therapists.

The plot then moved to the University of Houston. The system needed to be validated and properly researched. The College of Optometry within the University of Houston seemed to be the place. Sadly, conflict between the more conventional structural optometrists and those working in the Perceptual Motor and Visual Perception Lab became intense and ultimately, Frank Belgau had to leave. He was able to take his work to the Pacific States University where he entered a new doctoral programme. Sadly, this wasn't accredited and this left to Mr Belgau leaving academia and setting up a freelance programme: the Learning Breakthrough Progam.

Towards the end of the book is more detail about parts of the program such as the use of bean bags and the space walk as well as its postulated neurological basis. The chapter on the space walk gives details of assessing gait and how to perform the walking exercises.

The book is primarily written for adults. I wouldn't have a problem with older children reading this but think that this type of book is more likely to appeal to parents.

What did I think:
  • The book is a fascinating read detailing the exciting intellectual environment in Texas at the time of the space race.
  • The parts of the book about teaching children in schools with learning difficulties are fascinating. The story of Edward is inspirational.
  • I enjoyed reading about this approach to learning difficulties particularly dyslexia.
  • My main concern is the lack of evidence. Obviously, there were political problems at the University of Houston but I would have loved to see some link or report of the findings of the research. How much was each group helped and by how much? The Program is said to work for various difficulties including dyslexia and ADHD but less expectedly for older adults trying to keep mentally fit. Presumably, for children with reading difficulties, the programme needs to be supported by reading instruction. What reading instruction was used? Was there a control group with the same reading instruction, level of intelligence but who did not receive the Learning Breakthrough package?
A Life in Balance is available, as a 216 page paperback, via Learning Breakthrough Program. It costs $16.94 (about £10.12). It is also available from where it currently costs £13.49.

Further information about the Learning Breakthrough Program can be found via the company's social media sites.

Click to read Crew Reviews

Crew Disclaimer

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Monday 2 June 2014

The true cost of home education

For people thinking about home education, the expense can be a major factor. So how much does home education cost?

The cost of home education is like the cost of bringing up a child. Every time someone sees figures, they always claim that they don't spend that much.

Of course, I don't spend over £200 000 bringing up a child. 

I wouldn't spend £x on curriculum/exams/tutors.

What has struck me recently is that I do spend a large amount on home education. Part of this is on curriculum but a fair proportion is on other things.

  • books
  • educational games
  • extra curricular lessons: swimming and art
  • different foods to fit with country studies
  • art supplies
  • educational trips
In fact, it is quite difficult to know where home education spending begins and ends. Do extra books go in the home education category on the budget sheet? How about swimming lessons? We paid for these things when our children were in school so should this be part of home education or something else?

How about the extra wear and tear on the house or the higher heating bills? Or the loss of income? 

Of course, there are some expenses that are lower. Holidays can happen in term time and there isn't school uniform to buy.

There are savings to be made on home education resources. Trips can be local, cheap and are optional. I have written a series about reducing the cost of trips. Extra curricular lessons aren't essential or sometimes swaps can be arranged between home educating families with particular skills. Libraries are full of books and there are plenty of free books to download on the internet.

I imagine that the vast majority of home educators lose income. I know that some people are able to continue working but mainly, they can't work the same hours as before. When we started home education, I was working part time but found that I didn't have time to work, home educate and be a carer. 

So what is the cost of home education? It varies according to
  • the age of the child. Older children are more likely to take exams/need tutors and materials for working towards exams.
  • whether the plan is for the child to take exams from home or go to college for these
  • the number of children
  • family circumstances
  • which expenses the family decides to categorise as home education
  • whether a parent has to stop working
For us, the outlay is less than the cost of sending the children to private schools but more than state school would be. However, adding in loss of income does add to the bill! 

We don't home educate for financial reasons! The reasons are far removed from finance. The home educators that I know have many reasons for their decision but they don't include saving! 

I don't want to put anyone off home educating. It isn't necessary to be wealthy to home educate: most of us aren't, but it is important to be realistic when making the decision.

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