MS 2012 – SB

This is the next mission statement for SB, to last sept 2012 to 2013 somewhat late i know, and only 1 year rather than the normal 2, but as this is her first ‘secondary ed’ year, it feels a bit more erm ‘big’!

But an initial immediate disclaimer!


[though having said that, it isn't quite entirely the whole picture/truth, as I do value progression in maths and literacy skills as essential building tools for everything else. also if someone form the local authority nicely asked us one day for an optional non-mandatory educational philosophy, this may well form the structure of it]

we have, I think, delivered more or less on our basic mission statement for SB. She has, i believe, gained a basic warp and weft tapestry of knowledge that now we should start to embroider with extension of the things that she loves. Not that we have tested her knowledge in anyway, and it is possible that she retains no knowledge of anything. She reads fluently, enjoys and progresses with maths, has a wide enjoyment of learning, including history, science and biographies. We have started out the path to music, with some hitches along the way, and SB is developing a clear idea of music styles she enjoys, including jazz. We have also started out with languages. We have had a lot of fun, done a lot of playing, visiting, messing about and forming bonds with other home educators who have become her friends and peers.

This is going to be a continuation of the change in pace for our mission statement. We are continuing the move out of our first period of home ed, and into the second, consolidating and expanding phase. This is where we hopefully make sure she has a solid ground start, and then gradually work on accelerating the learning/doing pace vs the fiddle faddle space. We absolutely reserve the right though to change this mission statement dependent on SB’s preferences, but are hoping to use this year to springboard where to go next.

The future is not clear, if we do IGCSE, they all need doing by 2016 as after that the new exams come in, and who knows how easy they will be to access as home educators.[edited to add - apparently igcse should still be available as not a state school exam] however, these aren’t our only options, there are ou courses, other equivalents for some subjects [arts award, associated board music exams] and the international baccalaureate. In my day to day job, I see people who have come into my profession the ‘direct’ route – gcse, a-level, degree, and those that have come round to it later, not necessarily with gcse, a levels that you would expect, but obv still the degree – often a previous one, some job for a while and then the change. it reminds me that education and life are flexible. that the direct route may have some surface appeal for the obviousness and straightness of the path, but that there is always a choice to change your path, acquire previously ignored skills/exams/ knowledge if you want to later. I hope to educate SB to have choices, but also to know that if at some crossroads she isn’t where she wanted to be, she can go back and take a different route, even if the journey is longer.

there are many educational philosophy strands mooted about, structured, child led, autonomous. I no longer really know where to put us. We are educating how it seems to suit us and SB as a unit, not in relation to how anyone else choses to home educate. Much of the education is done not by the books that follow, but by choosing good literature that cover historical periods, well written and interesting or good biographies with explanations on scientists, explorers, and well written ‘fact books’ that i strew in the home ed room, and on a shelf in the loo [which are always read]. It is also done by visiting museums, re-enactments, science faires, or watching fact DVD’s and general discussion. Some weeks/ months we may do far less ‘bookwork’ as the education we are providing at that point may be more outward, with visits and groups, or or inward, with fact books, good literature, DVD and conversation. The ‘curriculum books’ are just one of the strands, but perhaps the most easily demonstratable strand of the education we seek to provide.

of these more workbook resources, I see it continuing that there are activities we try and accomplish on a regular basis, be this daily, weekly, fortnightly or what seems reasonable . some activities and learning will now be more ‘timetabled’, but much of it will be child interest led – and even the timetabled such as maths and english are things we agree on, and science is for her a joy to do, so both timetabled and child interest led. Although I have rough idea of what we may get through it isn’t ‘must do or else’, and often I will still skip bits : more a guide to where i see us being. SB still has a wide ranging thirst in learning, and I want to keep and promote that so it seems unreasonable to fix her attention on something she truly deems boring when there are many other things to catch her spark. but i think we will continue to encourage structure – for her to find her own best patterns within it hopefully rather than parent led, that she develops a balance that suits between pure play, enjoyed, enriching learning and the odd bits of targeted ‘hard slog’ learning where necessary to get to the next bit.

We need to encourage her to see the need to strengthen the areas of weakness, so that learning is not prone to unravel unexpectedly in the future. Since this is is something she doesn’t enjoy so much, we need to find and agree levels that will incrementally lead to improvement, but don’t make it an unbearable chore, scaffolding and encouraging. this wass most noticeable in the area of english language, grammar and spelling, but in the last 2 years she has moved on with this, and enjoys writing both stories and is gaining a love of writing poetry also. spelling is somewhat arbitrary, but we are moving on with this too. Areas to concentrate on are languages, which we don’t currently do quite the right thing to keep the momentum going, and also learning now how to answer the question – this is most noticeably a struggle to her in the history book. I believe this is something that is a real life skill, not just an examination one – how extract relevant information and then to impart the knowledge in the format that the receiver expects to hear it.

In progressing forward, we hope that SB will more and more choose what to concentrate on, and what are the resources she likes to use and how. Certainly quite a number of the books we use now are by her choice, and she has determined to continue with some and we have changed others. We hope that she will now begin to actively organise her home education – a big ask really yet i think, so obviously nudging and joint ‘goal setting’ [terrible phrase] so that she can see why we are suggesting some things and some ways, and that we can see why she is suggesting some things and some ways. This is a period of emotional growth and change as well, and our home ed will aim to support personal development too.

One of the problems of home educating and blogging is seeing the best of other peoples home ed, and contrasting it with your areas of weakness or vacillation. we have more structured friends, whose children appear to be romping ahead in all areas very happily, we have more autonomous friends whose children appear to be having more fun, creating a very individual identity, we have friends who extrovertly educate, going to lots of workshops, events and just knocking my socks off with the wow factor, and those that lapbook and project and those whose children are driven by special interests… We can’t be all these different people, but will try and use their expertise and influence to perhaps balance our home ed, being a check to whether we can do anything better than we are.

The other, bigger now, problem of home educating a secondary age child is that so many of my peers in this have sent their children to school. It is a valid choice, and I’m not knocking it! However, it does make the path less trodden, slightly lonelier, and with less previously promoted options to explore. I have loved using resources others have tried and tested, and this does seem a bit of a stride into the unknown. Just like we were supported by the early years home ed ring, i would much appreciate a secondary ed home ed blog ring. However, blogging is falling out of fashion – even i do it less – due to the pernicious fb and microblogging sites – bah!

I think the other key issue, which runs as a theme throughout, is that as parents we need to be tidier, keeping resources tidy and accessible – we can be helped and enabled by SB.

As before, i will do a nitty gritty consideration of curriculum , and am putting in links to some of the resources. Again, i reiterate that this is a rough draft planning of possible goals, but i do not tie myself or SB down to achieving them, and we may change our minds completely over course. it is a rough working for us to see what might be. It is just one strand of our home ed provision.

the Nitty Gritty

english literacy and english language:

She loves to read a wide a varied amount of literature, and we are encouraging her to try new genres and authors, and to stretch her imagination. we still read aloud to her a variety of stories, again across different genres and writing styles.

we are discussing the mechanics of style and writing in the books, stories, poetry etc we come across. This is done both by informal discussion of things she has read, in our WedEd group where Merry is working with them in poetry, possibly an online bookgroup with friends.

Resources: SB is regularly using galore park english, being on book 2 of so you really want to learn english having completed the junior english books and syrwtl book 1 . She has found she has enjoyed this, and has grasped what they are asking quite well. Currently she does sometimes ‘go off at a tangent’ in her answers. Particularly in the story or longer writing work. However, as our aim currently is to just develop her skills and she is enjoying this, the odd suggestion of how things could be done differently and occassionally mind mapping answers together rather than writing out should get us to the expected answer style hopefully without squashing her enjoyment or individuality. We have some additional ‘quick’ resources to supplement grammar and spelling that she can do in about 10 mins bitesize portions – which makes them quite popular :)

I am just so pleased and proud of her with how much work she has done and how much she has come on since the 2010 mission statement. [i class this as a success!]


SB has continued with her desire to write more legibly, and is gradually working through getty and dubay books. There has been a noticeable improvement. Nether of her parents have neat hadnwriting, possibly because we are not firmly ‘handed’. She has written some holiday journals – most lengthy being the holiday to canada, and has a book she writes stories in, and may be a diary [i am not allowed to look!] Also with some her of her groups currently, writing is quite an element afterwards – for example the tree group. This is a smaller ‘issue’ for her now, and is really a moving on stage rather than one of those gritting teeth to get better. We are considering the junior ‘NaNoWriMo’ this year.


we don’t do any drama at the moment, which i think is a bit of a shame. However SB is thinking of auditioning for a local junior stage group. I would also like to start visiting the theatre more again, now BB is older. SB has enjoyed reading plays, and watching cartoon versions of shakespear, and I think would be keen to broaden her experience.


singapore maths we are halfway through 5b of the my pals are here series at the moment, and hoping to move through a year of singapore with each calendar year, so perhaps starting 6b. we were slightly behind where I had hoped we might be, but I think this is in part due to her really getting going with the English it just depends really! SB loves this series, has no interest, she says, in trying anything else as her main book. In the last 2 years she has taken part in the primary maths challenge, and got a bronze medal the first year and a silver medal the second and she is quite happy with that. She did mathletics for a while, and then lost interest. Currently she thinks she might like to restart that.


we haven’t completed the second story of the world as a reader, although we had planned too. We are still enjoying it, however, but are going directly onto the third. We are doing more of the activities as well – a bit of parental pre-planning and the still ongoing historyetc! group. This has worked very well for 2 years, and we went through book 1 really well, and are flagging about in book 2, due to changing needs of children etc. I am hoping that we can reinvigorate things a bit this year.
alongside this we have lots of great usborne books, other good factual books and good piccies in DK eyewitness She has enjoyed our island story on cd as an english overview.

As a more focussed history, she is also more slowly working through the galore park history books. she completed the 3 junior history books in 1 1/2 years, particularly as they appeared to fix well with book 1 of story of the world sol mostly ran parallel. The so you really want to learn history is a step more, and we are taking this more slowly, as although she loved the junior books, she finds this harder going, so we are doing it in more bite size pieces. this means our books are not at all in synch any more! it is a shame as the junior series really worked well as a more indepth look alongside story of the world. However, the syrwtl series is completely anglocentric, so the schemes are diverging. There is a lot more thought and writing to it, so going slow is fine.

I would like us to consider pulling out a few things to do larger topic work on, as we did the vikings, mixing crafts, history, visiting, dvd’s etc. SB enjoyed and completed all the DK project books, and I would recommend them.

Also readers set in different time periods, and myths and legends seem to go down well. we can use this to spark interest and discuss as and when she fancies. She has really enjoyed the my story and other diary series, like many children she has read every horrible history she can get her hands on as well!

Historical re-enactments and visits have added some external WOW to learning, and we will try and make the most of opportunities. We have visited west stowe for a number of anglo saxon recreations, ‘the battle of hastings’ and also re-enacted ourselves at Kentwell Hall in their great tudor reenactment. SB loved this, so we will do this again

critical thinking:

We are working our way through the bond verbal and non verbal reasoning books, which SB enjoys – particularly the non verbal, where she is working on the 11 book, as opposed to the 9-10 for verbal. the problems with spelling and grammar have hindered the verbal reasoning but she is catching up. ALthough this may sound dull and dry, she really enjoys them, like her mum there! She also enjoys sudoko, and is just starting hanji

We play lots of board games as well.


this is a multipronged pronged event. We have read in the last 2 years a fair number of easy access science books – such as those by jacqui bailey and meredith hooper. the magic school bus chapter books and programmes are a hit, and contain solid wodges of info in easily accessible formats. i think as she loves them, this is definitely something to encourage. Science is a no brainer subject for us, she loves it, we love it and great enjoyment had fiddling and learning! she still enjoys these, and we are encouraging her to read them aloud to BB

SB is also doing the galore park science book regularly, completing syrwtl book 1 at the moment, which she is finding rather easy, so we are racing through the end.she has also completed all the schofield and simms science workbooks for key stage 2 and the letts for key stage 3 after picking one up casually, as these are easy to take about. We have covered the real science for kids physics level one and chemistry level 1 courses and are contemplating the biology and or astronomy alongside as part of our WedEd group activity. These work really well with a multi ability group, as the bookwork is done at home to their level [there is a pre-k level also] and then group experiments and discussion. I have sometimes changed or developed the experiments to make more fun, but there are some brilliant ideas in there, and a significant amount of detail. SB also writes hers up well in the lab book.

We are aiming to continue to do regular experiments at home, and have a number of kits and resources.

We did try to go to a number of RI events in the year, as well as the local science festival to add some external WOW to this area, and should see what catches our interest this year. We have also been to the big bang show in the last 2 years, which both girls loved.

We have joined the astronomy group, but need to go more regularly. BB got a telescope for christmas, and we should get that out more as well. It is possible that we will consider doing the biology igcse early to make sure that we are ok with home ed in secondary age, and more specifically to reassure my family, who are dubious at best. Not that she would get perhaps her best mark then, so something to think about next year.

We have also learned about the history of science, through reading anout scientists, naxos cd’s and interesting dvd’s


has been predominantly history and holiday based, but geocaching has taken SB’s interest . Our journey last year through the rockies in Canada called for lots of map reading and a fair bit of geology. I don’t think SB thought of this as geography though :) We did try galore park geography, and she wasn’t ery keen on it about 2 years ago, however, she has recently said she would like to try it again. She has also been using the book le ciel rouge use, which is easier to grab hold of and use, and is half way through. Geography doesn’t really appeal hugely to her though [which is a shae, i quite like it]. Currently we are thinking it might be a ‘sacrificial igcse that we do sumer 2014 just to see if we can do this whole home ed secondary thing – subject is straightforward with no huge writing component, nor mature discussion required, in which case we ay well do the cie igcse as there is somewhere local to sit it

I have also bought some geology resources.


we have good resources for french, and have had good and bad times in utilising this. i think this is an area we should consider a tutor in before going forward with an igcse. Currently, I a encouraging SB to read some of the stories, either with friends also learning french, or to BB. also she is slowly going through galore park french – which she makes a bit heavy weather of – and also doing skoldo french. we have some french cd’s also. we hope to go to france next year for a holiday, which should add some ooph to learning the language again :)

SB has expressed an interest in learning italian too. this does worry me a bit as i think we are not making huge headway in french. However, just in case it is the one for her, we have some cd’s and also some written resouces. I speak no italian at all, so feel v disadvantaged! however, maybe we will do some learning together!

We perhaps need to work a bit more regularly at latin. for a while we did this fortnightly, and learnt minimus 1 and started on 2. If we decide to carry on, i would be keen to do the cambridge latin course with dear caecilius :) [but cannot relive childhood thro kids!]

religious studies

this is a bit of a new one for us, but having always discussed various world religions through their stories and festivals, and culture of some countries where it is interrelated, as well as through conflicts in history, it seemed the time was right to actually make it something for itself. SB is keen to read the bible and look at the subject, I think Kentwell and making rosaries and learning the paternoster etc inspired her abit. Keeping it simple for now with. I chose a revision guide for now, hoping that it will be a bit more of a bite sized key points – we haven’t started yet as need to get a king james bible.

music :-

piano is probably SB’s favourite, and we will encourage regular practice, she is currently moving from grade 2-3 upgrade music to start on the grade 3 pieces, having passed grade 2 last spring. I have bought a jazz piano abrsm book, but am not quite sure i know what to do myself currently! gina says there is a course i can go on, so might do that!i have some first duet books to add a bit of a difference with our playing, and we have really enjoyed them. hoping to take grade 3 next year – perhaps!

clarinet is a close second, and sometimes joint equal. SHe passed her grade 3 this summer and did very well in her pieces. We are currently ‘in between’ teachers as DH sorts the nitty gritty, so she has the grade 4 pieces and some fun music to play to keep up the nice tone that she is developing.

recorder is also practiced, and recently she has enjoyed duetting with E in ours weds group, and is planning to learn some of the kentwell recorder music , and also the grade 4 recorder pieces so she and e can play them together. she needs to do some scales practice! hoping perhaps to take grade 4 next year if fits in.

viola is a fun add on, with no exams planned, but trying to move forward on infrequent practice, mostly because she likes doing both an orchestra and a wind band at holiday orchestra. I am hoping to encourage enough praactice so she is grade 2-3 equivalent standard by next summer as i think soon she will be too old to do both the wind and beginners string! However, this is her 4th intrument, and a heavy year potentially in other music exams, so practice ay be sporadic .ideally, if she continues to wish to continue, i might suggest one exam if we get to a grade 5 standard in the future.

music theory is something SB enjoys, and is taking grade 4 this ter – fingers crossed! I like doing the exams, as they are no onward stress exams, gets her used to ‘exam conditions’ and ‘doing your best’ etc

we will also do lots of singing, and listen to a wide range of music – i don’t think we have enough background music on in the house, and since we have so much… Oh, and did i say she wants to learn the viol and the rauchspfiefe for Kentwell?

At some point, we may possibly add a bit of composer study, should SB show inclination or interest.

for the out and about, SB has really enjoyed holiday orchestra, and is v keen to do again. there are a number of events nearly locally that she can participate in. we also want us to start going out to more concerts, and SB has been looking at ones locally for us to go together – I a looking forward to that.


is covered well at the moment, and we will continue to encourage a core sports practice and trying out all sorts of new ideas.

current activities are: ballet – she passed her grade 4 royal ballet, gymnastics [level 1 working for bronze], swimming and judo [orange/black] on a weekly basis

She also goes to a HE group sports on a monthly basis and recently achieved her level 2 RYA sailing qualification.

she would still like to at least try horse riding, and see if she enjoys it, and since visiting canada last year, ice skating – tho that is some way away. we need to reorganise golf lessons, as she was very uch enjoying those.

more ad hoc are yoga and dance videos [which i should do too!!], and various exercise programmes on the wii. we try and go cycling and walking [including geocaching]


surprisingly, this is an area which we are not using much at the moment. SB prefers reading and playing to IT.Having an online place where she can chat to friends tho seems to be popular. We need to look at perhaps some programming [suggestions?] and she has also enjoyed animation – having had a year of different modalities with Em at WedEd.

Arts and crafts:

we do a fair amount of art and crafting, using fimo and hama beads, kits and a variety of paints in a freestyle way. SB goes to an arts award group, and is currently working towards her bronze arts award which we hope will be written up by december. Also at WedEd we often start with an art or craft – painting, sketching, sewing using artists or techniques as the springboard.We have had a look more formally at different artists and styles, and ‘had a go’ now SB is getting more confident in painting, using many different media.

I would like to add in some art appreciation and visiting art galleries.

Domestic Science!!:

slight rofl at title, but a fair bit of baking and cooking . She came top of all classes at the village show one year in the baking section, and has just continued from there and is quite a reliably good baker. We are suggesting this year she cook one meal a week [with help as required] and she is quite excited by this. She has a good grasp of the basics of nutrition and making sure meals are well balanced.

SHe is also interested in sewing and hopes for a sewing machine, so it is just about making sure the basics are available and accessible for her to do when the mood strikes, or re-introducing if there has been a gap. It is possible that at WedEd some costuming may be a welcome option

She has her own veg patch, which this year wasn’t quite so succesful, but hopefully will be productive next year

personal development

This is about supporting her through the hormones and body changes occurring. SHe has read many good books, and hopefully building on the groundwork of loving family and good friends to give her confidence in who she is and confidence to talk to us about any issues.
It is also about behaviour, role modelling, peer support and managing friendships and younger siblings


regular attendance at not quite local groups, local clubs [ie guides, ballet, judo], national camps and making sure we have a steady stream of houseguests. currently monthly groups are the trees group and a pottery group through the HE list, fortnightly arts award, forest school and multisports through the local list, WedEd fortnightly [friends group] and historyetc monthly [friends group] such that she meets long term local friends with in the home ed community sometimes 2-3 times weekly.

family is also very important, and maintaining close family ties and bonds. Since the last reprt, very sadly my nan and my sister have both died, which has had a profound impact. Both with the awareness that parents are mortal, but also in an increased contact with my nephew and niece who stay more regularly in school holidays. others have had serious health scares. We have met up with distant relatives and plan to maximise family groupings and events, to reassure SB that she is part of a much wider and loving family network.

trips and outings:

we are being a bit more proactive now BB more amenable to going out and about to places for experiential learning opportunities. mostly when both parents available, but this year I think she has managed so well visits more recently to the olympics that single parent trips are probably likely to increase.


we have lots of resources and opportunities, i think in the next year we parents have to hone our presentation skills, storage solutions etc, so that they are all readily accessible for SB to find .

we need to formally review her work more often so as to hone the question answering skills and make sure that she has ‘got’ the idea/subject.

we need to review with her more option what she is enjoying, what she is regularly doing, and what she might be struggling with.

A tick sheet with the subjects and resources does help us see some of that, but isn’t a substitute for sitting with her, encouraging her, scaffolding her learning and helping her see beyond the horizon.

This subject list isn’t exhaustive! we have woodworking, k’nex, lego, meccano all available if she wishes [she tends not to] and all sorts of one off books to perhaps start an interest.

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