Sunday, 13 March 2016

The Best Job in the World

Back, back, w-a-y back in about 2001, I was researching the idea of home-educating my daughter who was then only a year old. I was a teacher, and she was going to a child-minder three days a week. Out of the blue one day, it dawned on me: why was I leaving my own child with somebody, while I went out to teach other people's children?!!

Teaching your own has intrinsic rewards.

Sometimes, we parents get into home-education because we fundamentally disagree with the education system; or because we are torn to pieces about what a certain school or even a certain collection of children are doing to our own precious one; or because we don't find traditional schooling a good fit. All of these are perfectly good reasons, but they're kind of negative ones -- we reject the norm to embrace the unusual.

But what if the unusual were the RIGHT way, and that we embrace it because it's been the best way all along?

Learning in the "field" with the whole body

This became clear to me one summer’s day, right after I’d left that paying job. It was such a luxury to just sit on a bench and observe my toddler. She was pottering around in the grass, shaking my soda bottle and watching the bubbles, and I was amazed how I wasn't feeling the usual urge to put her on the swing for five minutes, then help her down the slide for five minutes more, wobble the wiggly bridge for five, then take her back home for a nap so I could get back to my "real" job.

The very moment it dawned on me

Instead, I could just sit there. I could just be. And let my daughter just be. 

Just let her stand in the field
and ponder the world ... that's fine.
This was when my perspective completely changed. My job now was to watch her. What made her tick? What excited her? What was difficult for her, what was easy?

The moral of this tale is this: home-education is often seen as a "running away from" or "opting out" of traditional schooling, but I want to encourage everyone who's involved in it to see it with new eyes. Not running away, but leaping into, soaring through, bounding ... or, if you're a quiet and methodical sort ... ambling/walking/tip-toeing along the path that you were made to follow. 

Clearly, we don't all learn the same way!

It's a path that you travel WITH your children, not a direction you point them in!

Life and learning are journeys ... together!

And that's why, of all the jobs I've had, homeschooling my kids is the best job in the world!

(This article first appeared in the Home Ed Gazette, an email newsletter available by contacting the editor at homeedgazettegmailcom)

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Schedules, Schedules, Schedules

It’s that time of year. Facebook and blogs and Yahoo groups and forums are full of people’s schedules. I used to write mine up in great detail on Excel — talk about Throwback Thursday (even though it’s Saturday!)

Here two of my schedules from the past:

Best laid plans of yesteryear

And what about now? How do I home-educate four children between the ages of 8 and 15? Well, now my schedule looks like this:

My plan for this year

How have I gone from ticky-boxy to book-stacky? Basically, three things have changed in the past two years:

  • I have fully embraced the idea that homeschooling is as much as about a relationship among the family as it is about a relationship with our studies, and therefore, I’m committed to teaching the kids together as much as possible.

Homeschooling is so much more than just studies

  • I have fully embraced the idea that recording what we’ve done is as successful an approach as planning what we will do: more so, in fact, because the stresses of “falling behind” are gone entirely, and the joys of “capturing the moment” are here to stay.

Recording what you've done is less
stressful than planning what you might do

  • I have fully embraced the stage of the children’s lives that they can both work together, and work independently; this means that we study together in the morning, and the afternoons are free for play/handicrafts/Spanish/music lessons/hobbies, or further studies for the older two.

Afternoons are free for hobbies

Sometimes, my friends accuse me of being very off-hand with my approach, as though it’s as easy as falling off a log. I think I give this impression because I’ve been homeschooling for twelve years now. With time (and children’s maturity), one tends to grow into their individual rhythm.

However, if you want to embrace an all-together policy of home-education as I have, then it's possible for you to start now. Here are some suggestions.

First, following a flexible educational philosophy like the Charlotte Mason method. Sometimes, her method is made to seem overly complicated if you look at various websites. The hoops to jump through are made to seem overwhelming, as though each child has to have his or her own complete curriculum, and therefore, you have to spend your entire day in leaping from one child to another to support their studies.

To me, that’s the way to madness.

This is what madness looks like

Look — what they tell you is that their way is a CM curriculum, and I say to you that my way is a CM curriculum.  In fact, both ways — all ways of homeschooling — are curricula, because the definition of curricula is those subjects which you study. If you happen to study the lyrics of Janis Joplin songs 24/7, then that’s your curriculum. It doesn't have to be someone else's pre-set way of educating your children.

It’s a bit like saying you’re on a diet. Everyone is on a diet. Diet is what you eat. Some people are on a low-fat diet, or a low-protein diet, or a low-Starbucks’-vanilla-latte diet, but a diet is just describing that which you eat. Period.

That's the English Cream Tea diet

So my curriculum is the collection of subjects that we’ve chosen to study, and we do so by using the Charlotte Mason method.

Charlotte Mason, by the way, was a Victorian teacher whose forward-thinking ideas about education continue to be ground-breaking when it comes to churning out thinkers instead of hoop-jumpers. (She would have abhorred today’s focus on teaching to an exam rather than igniting interest in a subject)

In short, the CM method is characterised by:

  • short lessons
  • use of living books as opposed to dry textbooks
  • employing narration, dictation, and copywork for Language Arts skills
  • nature study
  • art- and music-appreciation
  • free afternoons to work on handicrafts, outdoor pursuits, or other personal interests

Our CM-inspired timetable consists of reading really good books for about 20 minutes each, sometimes getting to six or seven of them in a morning. We rotate through about twenty books at a time, and generally they have a similar theme. 

This autumn, we’re focusing on North America at the time of the early explorers, including the indigenous peoples who already lived there. Our science is botany with a focus on trees. We use Life of Fred for secondary school, and a mixture of Singapore and Shillermath for primary. We’ll also dabble in artist study, composer study, quantum theory, Shakespeare, US politics and economics, character study, and of course, biblical history and Christian faith.

We’ll work our way through this whole stack of books in the year, supplementing with great documentaries like Crash Course, local workshops, trips to museums, concerts, plays, and even creating a lapbook or two.

Most of these supplemental activities are reserved for Fridays, because we only “school” four days a week (see my blog post about the importance of Free-Day Fridays for us).

Free-day Fridays are just plain fun!

I realise this has been a really long blog post — probably the longest I have ever written — but I wanted you to know that it’s possible to combine your kids for a great learning experience. If you have babies or toddlers, you will be a few years away from this luxury (I used to employ a lot of Montessori-type activities to keep the toddlers busy: Tot Trays is a great website for ideas), but start getting everyone into a routine of learning together in the mornings, and it won’t be long before your youngsters are right in the thick of it, discussing which Canterbury Tales is their favorite, or arguing whether light is a particle or a wave, or saying they're sad because we'll only be in the penumbra and not the umbra of the solar eclipse. 

Honestly, with a diet of great books and great thoughts, stuff like this really happens!

Monday, 17 August 2015

Drawing Contest for new Chaucer Book

If you've ever tried to introduce your children to Chaucer, you may discover that you can find either story-book versions or modern translations. The former is rather dumbed-down, and the latter is ... well, if you know anything about Chaucer, Too Much Information!!!

To my mind, there is only one book that gives an adequate flavour of The Canterbury Tales without all the rude, farty bits, and that's a very old book called A Taste of Chaucer by Anne Malcolmson.

Now a rare book!

Up until about three years ago, A Taste of Chaucer was available in paperback from Sonlight, but after the death of the author, it disappeared from the catalogue, and pretty much all affordable options dried up.

However, good news! The book is due to make another appearance, this time in ebook format, thanks to the generosity of Malcolmson's family.

Knights dance at the news!

The publication date is set for 10th of October, 2015. Sign up to the website for updates, and "like" the Facebook page.

In the meantime, the publishers are looking for homeschoolers to draw some pictures as illustrations of the new ebook. Details are here:

All styles, stages, ages and abilities are encouraged to enter -- the wider variety, the better. The only real limitation is that the pictures must be original and drawn in black and white.

Enter now -- all winners get free copy of the book!

Friday, 24 July 2015

Summer Giveaway!!! Three Copies of Cindy West's new Charlotte Mason workbook!

If you have ever wondered what the Charlotte Mason method is about, or if you are implementing it in the best way or not, then look no further than Cindy West's new ebook called "Charlotte Mason Homeschooling in 18 Easy Step-by-Step Lessons."

New Workbook from Shining Dawn Books

I first encountered this book about a month ago when someone mentioned it on Facebook. I bought a copy because I wanted to see if there were an easy introduction to CM that didn't overwhelm a newbie with information.

The answer was -- YES -- this is an easy introduction to CM that doesn't overwhelm.

More than that, it's a great reminder and tool for veterans like myself to remember the important hallmarks of the CM method, and even gentle helps for re-introducing the bits that often fall by the wayside, like music appreciation or art.

It further inspired me in the planning of the online courses I run under the name of Dreaming Spires Home Learning -- to choose living books, to encourage a relationship with the subject matter, to inspire a desire to go beyond the ordinary.

As per my usual MO, I immediately wrote Cindy herself to tell her how much I enjoyed her book, and offered to buy a copy for giving away. She said, "Take three, and I'll just donate them!"

Wow! What a gal!!!

So, here's your chance -- enter the Rafflecopter giveaway starting the 25th of July for your chance to win a copy of Cindy's new CM workbook. Offer ends 1st of August!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, 5 June 2015

My Purple Space, or How I Find Quiet Time When Homeschooling

It's one of the frequently asked question by newbie homeschoolers, or people thinking about taking on the responsibility/fun/adventure of doing so: How do you find time for yourself if the kids are around all day?

Here's my thoughts about finding time/space for just such moments: I call it my "purple space".

The colour for the stage of my life right now is characterised by the color purple.  Not like "Color Purple" of Alice Walker's novel of that name, though by the end of this post, you may think there are analogies between the two concepts.

My purple is literally the color. I color-code my belongings. My iPhone case, my Bible, Kindle cover, MP3 player and its case, the shell on my laptop, my water bottles, and even my eyeglasses, are all purple.*

These are a few of my favorite (purple) things

I am purple in our household because it's noticeable at the bottom of my bottomless handbag, but it's not flashy. I'm purple because it's sometimes the cheapest option. I'm purple because it suggests authority and royalty while also being a cool, calming color, and even feminine in an "I'm-not-pink" kind of way.

I am purple because I'm a mother of four homeschooled children who know few boundaries -- life is an adventure, to be explored, used, often discarded. The home is their classroom, laboratory, refuge, and headquarters. My purple things are marked out as though my signature were on them -- "These are NOT part of the curriculum!"

I have never seen the children borrow, use, or sneak the purple things -- the purple code is inviolate without my having to ever spell it out for them.

I think there's a life lesson in this; to ponder over. Carving out the purple spaces in my life are just as important as buying my pens in purple ink, so I know they will be found in the pen pot on my desk when I need to write something down.

For me, that's 9:30-10 am every morning most mornings. I have completed my shower, dressing, teeth brushing; put on a load of laundry; fed the dog; poured my coffee and made my two peanut-butter-cracker sandwiches. I close the door as the children go through their long-established morning routines, and take my time out of the day.

The Celtic Daily Prayer book I use reminds me of whom I am -- loved and gifted for some spiritually greater service, but dependent on God for that identity, that mission. I'm reminded to praise Him, thank Him, honor Him. I'm reminded to be "lowly and meek, yet all powerful" (from the Celtic benediction) -- thus, to use my words for giving life and encouragement, and to view all people as God's creations, whether or not they acknowledge it themselves.

Centered, refreshed, still: for just a few moments, I am in my purple bubble.

Then at 10 am, I set aside my purple pen, close my purple Bible, and take my purple peace with me into the technicolor world.

*My husband said that I should clarify that purple is NOT simply my favorite color -- that award goes to very bright, spring green.

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Nature Study in Spring

Here in the UK, we haven’t sprung our clocks forward yet, but the signs of spring are definitely upon us.

As the followers of the Charlotte Mason method, nature study is supposed to be a big part of our homeschool curriculum. We’re not always very good at it, but this time of year, it seems that we can’t help but notice the changes all around us.

This week, we’ve been particularly revelling in the annual sightings of frogs in our pond, a frenzy of their little slimy bodies in piles, usually sitting atop a grapefruit-sized lump of spotted clear jelly.

It’s during this mating period that I am strict with what my kids can do with the garden pond, ie, absolutely nothing! Don’t touch! Don’t poke! Don’t ferry buckets of its water to your paddling pool!

Frogs have always been a fascination of mine, ever since I was 4 years old. One of my earliest memories is the day I kissed over thirty toads.

The endangered Houston toad - just look at those kissable lips!!

I lived in Houston, Texas, at the time. Whenever we got one of our summer gully-washers, the toads would come floating out of our downspout drains. This particular time, I collected them all in the paddling pool in the garage. I must have spent half-an-hour in just running around the pool, popping their little bumpy bodies back into their confinement. Each one I picked up, each time I picked it up, I kissed it.

Sadly, none of them became a prince (at least, not to my knowledge), and even worse, this species of amphibian (Bufo houstonensis) is now endangered, limited to only 9 counties in that vast state, and not seen in the Houston area since my childhood era of the 60s. The finger is pointed at habitat alteration, because this species is a burrowing animal and safe burrowing sites in that huge metropolis are rare these days.

My love for frogs and toads persists to this day, many years from those childhood escapades, and many (many, many!) miles from them as well. To me, frogs and toads of any description are still my dearest wild animals to observe, to cultivate, and to protect, and so I can be a little hitler when it comes to who can do what with my pond in early March.

Of course, the return of the frogs in England is only one sign of spring. Others I've noticed are the little nodding heads of pure snowdrops, the bright and upright purple crocuses under the walnut trees, and on one recent walk in Oxford’s University Parks, the starry yellow faces of the dainty little winter aconite. (Not yet time for the daffodils, but their spears are making their way up through the grass)

Winter aconites add floral sunshine to shady spots.

Then there are the birds. Oh, the birds!!! As England’s long winter nights give way to the piercingly early summer days, the birds are starting their dawn chorus at about 5 am right now (later, in June, it will reach its earliest of about 3:30 am). So far, I have seen only our winter dwellers: robins, dunnocks, a variety of tits, blackbirds, and my nemesis, the wood pigeon. It won’t be long, though, when I will hear the tell-tale calls of the chiff-chaff and the cuckoo, both of which make the same sound as their names.

Chiff-Chaff: I'm kind of boring to look at.

Some of the early signs that are still wanting include the buds of hawthorn bushes. These pale, yellowy-green leaves will soon give way to a darker, fan-shaped leaf which hides the nasty little thorns, but every year I see them, I’m reminded of Robert Frost’s beautiful poem about spring: Nothing Gold can Stay.

Nature's first green is gold, 
Her hardest hue to hold. 
Her early leafs a flower; 
But only so an hour. 
Then leaf subsides to leaf. 
So Eden sank to grief, 
So dawn goes down to day. 
Nothing gold can stay.

As with so many of Frost’s poems, this one is as much about life in general as it is about a season, but the hints of spring are so numerous right now that the cold and dark days of England’s winters will soon, happily, be a distant memory.

To capitalise on the current seasonal changes, there’s an initiative at the UK charity, Woodland Trust, to record eight “firsts” for this season: flowering, mating, bud burst, leaf, feeding the young, first cutting of the lawn for the season, and first live individual animal (which I think means those waking from hibernation or returning from winter grounds, like the brimstone butterfly I saw two days ago, and not the fact that, day in and day out, I've seen those darn wood pigeons flapping about in the birch tree).

The Trust provides many resources online such as some nice pdf charts; a set of 6 information packs about ladybirds, frogs, two kinds of butterflies, and two kinds of plants; and updates to remind you what to look out for: today, that’s the song of the song thrush.

The link for getting involved is here: The Woodland Trust.

Saturday, 14 February 2015

From Caterpillar to Moth

Back in December, Rocky discovered a bright green caterpillar on the floor of our kitchen. We scoured the internet and our butterfly identification books, but couldn't pinpoint the species of caterpillar we had suddenly decided to adopt.

 It was an important detail to pin down: different species require different plants for food. At first, wee hedged our bets with some bramble, grass, and nettles, but fortunately, we soon found out what it was through a very helpful website run by Steve Ogden, called Wildlife Insight.

Angle Shades Moth Caterpillar

So apparently, we were on the right track with our brambles and nettles, and before long, we had a cocoon!

According to Steve's site, it would be about 20 days until we got a moth. The jar sat on a shelf in my kitchen, in front of my cookbooks. I looked in on the cocoon every day, in between our full-on attention with our new puppy.

This is a bit more exciting than a cocoon!

But lo and behold, on the 18th of January, the one-inch long brown capsule had turned into a fully fledged, speckly angle moth!

Behold: the cycle of nature!

So thanks to Steve's great website, Rocky's keen eyes for spotting the creature on the floor, and our patience to see the project through.


Saturday, 8 November 2014

When You Meet Your Heroes ...

Today, I met one of my homeschooling heroes: Sally Clarkson

Sally is the author of numerous books, some about homeschooling and some about mothering and child-rearing with spiritual vision.

My favourite of all was Educating the Wholehearted Child, which she co-authored with her husband, Clay, but that's a really hard decision to make because I also love Seasons of a Mother's Heart, Mission of Motherhood, and their devotional guide called Our 24 Family Ways.

Sally's Homeschooling Books, through the Years

She has a new book coming out in January called Own Your Own Way, and I can't wait to get my hands on it.

So, what does one do when one meets a hero? First, you meet them at the train station and make them walk a mile up a steep hill. It's in the bright sunshine on a crisp and glorious autumn day, so that's all right!

Then, you place in her hands a steaming mug of Yorkshire Gold tea, served in a Blenheim Palace mug. Next, you chat about her children's endeavors and admire how far they've come in nine years since you first met her at a conference, and you giggle as your children keep popping into the room with little gifts for her, mostly pieces of paper with hearts drawn in different sizes.

The big moment comes when we give her a present we found at a National Trust property two weeks ago: a CD of Tea-time songs (Sally writes a lot about having a quiet cuppa when things get a bit too much, or when she needs to re-connect with God).

Another family arrives and we have a slap-up meal, courtesy of Ocado's delivery service earlier in the day. Various savoury pies, cheese, crackers, olives, and my homemade hedgerow jam, homemade raspberry preserves, and homemade bread and butter pickles. (Since everything else is pre-prepared, I want to show that I can put SOME effort in the culinary arts).

The teenage girls then take their turns at telling funny stories, sharing their reading experiences, describing trips to places like Exmoor and Stratford, and then Sally inspires us all with stories of her own children's successes via the narrow way, and encourages us to keep growing in God, keeping our eyes on his vision for us, and making sure that academics are of high quality without being of too high a priority.

After all, my 14-year-old has already read the entire book of Paradise Lost, published 9 books on Kindle, and run successful micro-businesses. Soon, it will be time to cut her loose of the drudgery of high school style studies and let her spread her wings in the real world. When I say soon, I don't mean at 18 or 22, but, according to Sally, at 16, when it's time to take on projects that matter, meet people who are experts in their fields, and grasp her own destiny with both hands while her father and I provide the safe foundation from which to jump.

This is what Sally has done, and now sees her children studying at Oxford, breaking into the Hollywood film industry, and composing musical scores to be performed in the Vatican.

And do you know what she puts it all down to? Keeping a tight hold on God's vision for each child, and inspiring them in conversation over the dinner table.

All the more reason to turn off the tv at night, eh?

So, I look forward to reading Sally's latest book in the new year, but more than that, I can't wait to pull up to the "school table" in the morning and inspire, empower, and enkindle my children to become their very best.

Me, with the person I want to be when I grow up!

Saturday, 11 October 2014

The Interview -- Who I am , Why I home-ed, How I home-ed, etc.

I was recently interviewed on FB for a home-edder's blog about homeschooling, especially to encourage newbies. I thought it might be worth reproducing here.

Who am I? I was born in Texas, but now live near Oxfordshire. I have a PhD in literature, a PGCE in secondary education (English), and formerly taught in private girls' schools in Oxford. Now, I homeschool my four kids who range from 7 to 14, examine for Cambridge International at iGCSE and A-level, and run my own online tutorial business for homeschooled students throughout the world (called Dreaming Spires Home Learning: links below).

Blown away in the Orkneys

Why did I start homeschooling?
My interest in homeschooling started when my eldest was about 3 1/2 -- she was a late-summer baby, and Oxfordshire changed its entry policy to start children in the YEAR they turned 5 instead of the TERM they turned 5, so she was due to start when she had just turned 4. Being American, where children start in the September AFTER they turn 6, I found this unacceptable. I was even more spurred on by three things: the book called Better Late than Early by Raymond S Moore which argues that children aren't ready for school in a variety of aspects from eyesight to emotional maturity; the fact that our local school was being very anti-Christian at the time, and I have a strong desire to promote a trust and respect for God in our day-to-day lives, plus my daughter was a very intense child and often bullied even at the sweet Montessori nursery where she went -- my belief was this personality was given to her by God, and I didn't want an institution to bully her out of her natural personality; and finally, from the practical viewpoint, I didn't see the point of my being paid to teach other people's children, and paying for my own to be taught by someone else -- I could just cut out the middleman!

What top tip would I give newbies? 

  • If your children are under 6, take a leaf out of Life Child in the Woods or other natural childhood books -- they really, really, really need to have a lot of physical activity to develop their inner ear, and if this doesn't get developed when a child is young, it will never fully develop. Same with things like literacy and numeracy and spatial skills -- there is a time in the brain when these will develop, and it's rarely before 6. Eyesight, too, isn't developed enough for reading a lot till after 8. Three of my kids now wear glasses, and I wish I'd not rushed things when they were younger. 
  • If your children are between 6 and 12, I'd say that taking things slowly at first, establishing a nice routine for living and learning in the mornings (a la Charlotte Mason, which is the method I like), and make sure, above all, that you finish "table work" academics by lunchtime, freeing a child to explore the parts of life and hobbies that inspire them. They need to be left alone to be bored; otherwise, they will never learn to motivate themselves. They also need to be left alone to learn that things don't work in life like a microwave does -- planting a garden or building a tree house or whatever, these things take time, and include a lot of trial and error. 
  • Finally, if your children are older than 12 and you're in the UK particularly, please don't rush into taking exams. The British exam system is so limiting and narrow, and the point of education is to be inspired, broad, and connected, not to mention, children need to know how to learn for themselves.

Is there such thing as a typical day? Our routine is to do chores in the morning before 10, then sit in our school room until about 1 pm. This happens three days a week, as one day, my youngest has private swimming lessons so my older ones work on their homework for the online literature and/or art appreciation courses they do, and another day, we meet with a family for watching videos about the Bible or biblical issues, and we're studying art this year together. On our other three days, we start with Bible, then read a selection of books about chemistry, biography, history, natural history, geography, and literature. While I read, they usually paint or draw or play Lego, then they narrate back to me what was read so they can solidify the story and what they learned from it. 

My school room

My students
Once the reading is done, the children separate to work on their maths and copywork. If I can snatch some time in the afternoon, I might sit down with someone and read a book to them that only they want to hear. My 9-year-old, for example, really enjoys the book about the Titanic called A Night to Remember. My 7-year-old likes A Pocketful of Goobers, about George Washington Carver and the invention of peanut butter. My 14-year-old enjoys all things Brother Andrew who founded Open Doors, and my 11-year-old follows me around the house to read his weekly assignments from the online literature class: it's tough reading, like Spenser's Faerie Queene, so I totally understand, and really admire this year that he's decided he wants to get an A in the course, even though it's a course designed more for 14-year-olds.

What's the best and worst thing about HE? There are so many positive things about HE, but the best to me is relationships -- we really get to know each other, we have to learn to get along, we have to realise that our actions have a knock-on effect on the family (whether it's something like breaking a dish or failing to do one's chores), we can't just swap our siblings and parents but have to sort out difficulties, we have to take turns and share and work out what's the difference between equal and identical. This doesn’t mean my kids have no friends: far from it. We could have an outing every day or visits morning and afternoon if we wanted to, but my kids are competitive swimmers and mostly out every evening, so we try to stay home for those three days of study, and preferably, without distractions. Other positive things are taking holidays when prices are lower, traveling to see family in America for a month or more at a time, leaving the books behind if the weather is particularly gorgeous, taking the time to eat healthy, un-rushed lunches.

To sum up -- TIME!

Texas Baseball in June - holiday freedom

 The worst thing? Honestly, I can't find a down-side. Sure, there are issues one must face like a messy house or higher food/electricity bills or setting aside time for appointments like hair cuts or even just prayer time, but it's only a season of life, and these things can be worked around, planned for, accepted. I remember when my eldest turned 9 and I realised I'd had her for half the time that she would probably be living at home -- I had seen her every day of those 9 years, and I still thought: "Oh, my gosh! We're halfway through already!!!" (BTW, my daughter said, "Oh, no!!!! I have to live my life all over again before I can drive!!" It's all about perspective, isn't it!!!!) So for all the annoying little bits here and there, I will know that I gave it my all, and spent as much time with my precious kids as I could while I still had them at home.  It goes sooooo fast in the grand scheme of things.

Something to link to, or promote?

Boyschooling is my personal blog about my family's homeschooling journey, and especially about homeschooling boys. I also have a blog for the online tutorials I run for homeschooling teens: or the US-based version at My online classes are designed for homeschooled students from age 12 and up, and whether US, UK, NZ, or wherever, I try to make them relevant to your aims like exams or college entrance, but more than that, I aim to teach the kids how to have a relationship with books that will last a lifetime. 

I also offer Easter “crammer courses” for the UK national exams:  iGCSE English Language (CIE board) at