Get Rid of Hitler’s Law… NOW!

Posted in Uncategorized on March 23, 2010 by stokedkipper

To start with… Rowan Fortune-Wood’s video that first introduced me to the struggle of home educators in Germany…

Homeschooling is illegal in Germany as well as China, Greece, Hong Kong and Brazil and ‘generally’ illegal in Sweden, Spain, Japan and the Netherlands.

In Germany children cannot be exempted from formal school attendance on religious grounds. The requirement for children from an age of about 6 years through the age of 18 to attend school has been upheld, on challenge from parents, by the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany. Penalties against parents who force their children to break the mandatory attendance laws may include fines (around €5,000), actions to revoke the parents’ custody of their children, and jail time. In many of these court cases families are refused legal aid.

Families are facing fines, frozen bank accounts and court-ordered state custody of their children for resisting Germany’s mandatory public school requirements, because by government admission are assigned to counter “the rise of parallel societies that are based on religion or motivated by different world views.”

I’m sure most of us will have heard the Neubronner family’s story, it has been very well publicised and supported by home educators all over the world but it’s well worth retelling…

The Neubronner’s story begins with what may be familiar to many home educators. Their eldest son, Moritz, began school along with his peers. For two years his parents, Tilman and Dagmar, watched their son struggle mentally, emotionally, and physically with his new life style. His enthusiasm for life and learning drained away and his health began to suffer. Although they tried to find a solution for his unhappiness within the system, Tilman and Dagmar felt as defeated as Moritz clearly was. When their younger son, Thomas, began school, it looked as though he was to repeat his brother’s negative experiences. Within days he was telling his parents that he would prefer to stay at home, complaining that he had headaches and that school “smelled funny.”

At the end of 2005 the family decided that they could struggle on no longer. Moritz and Thomas could not be asked to continue enduring a life style so detrimental to their well being and their parents removed them from school. In giving up one battle, the Neubronners took on another. There can be few new comers to home education who do not feel some degree of trepidation, but in Germany an extra deep breath is needed. There, home education is a criminal activity which the authorities are determined to stamp out no matter what might be the cost of such zeal.

In the initial legal action taken against them the Neubronners argued that school was making their children ill. The court found that this was not a sufficient reason to keep them at home and when Thomas and Moritz subsequently failed to turn up at school a fine of 1,500 Euros was levied. This, the Neubronner’s refused to pay.

Their fines were then raised to 4,500 Euros and bailiffs have visited their home in a fruitless search to impound property that might realise this sum. The Neubronners have been determined not to pay (and in any case don’t have the money) and they were also determined not to follow the route of several other German home educators who, with their backs against the wall, decided to move to more liberal countries.

This is an extremely courageous family, willing to risk prison sentences to defend their right to home educate.

Compulsory school attendance is the law since Hitler made it so, and the grounds on which it is still so stringently upheld are statist and prejudicial. The authorities particularly fear religious extremism or the creation of “parallel” societies, and are unwilling to tolerate any deviation from state control. Arguments about the children’s educational progress can hold no sway; by the school’s own measures they are doing well (they have been regularly tested by teachers from the school). The bulldozer reactions of the authorities look much more like a crass show of strength – do it our way or else – than a considered approach to child welfare.

Threatened with losing parental control, the Neubronner’s have had to leave behind their home and are currently touring to decide where they will settle.

Another horrific story is that of Melissa Busekros who was institutionalised in a psychiatric ward before being placed with a foster family after being expelled from school for having an outside tutor to help her catch up on maths and Latin…

Wolfgang Drautz, consul general for the Federal Republic of Germany, has commented on the issue on a blog, noting the government “has a legitimate interest in countering the rise of parallel societies that are based on religion or motivated by different world views and in integrating minorities into the population as a whole.” Drautz said homeschool students’ test results may be as good as for those in school, but “school teaches not only knowledge but also social conduct, encourages dialogue among people of different beliefs and cultures, and helps students to become responsible citizens.”

The German government’s defense of its “social” teachings and mandatory public school attendance was clarified when a German family wrote to officials objecting to police officers picking their child up at home and delivering him to a public school. “The minister of education does not share your attitudes toward so-called homeschooling,” said a government letter in response. “… You complain about the forced school escort of primary school children by the responsible local police officers. … In order to avoid this in future, the education authority is in conversation with the affected family in order to look for possibilities to bring the religious convictions of the family into line with the unalterable school attendance requirement.”

There are so many other stories and letters from families in countries where home education is either illegal or frowned upon to such an extent that it is made impossible, I wish I had the space to put them all on here… I’ll add a few linkies later.

Please support our fellow home educators who are fighting for their parental rights and the rights of their children for freedom in education.

If you are on Facebook, join the cause “Stop persecution of Home Schoolers by German Government“. It can be found under causes for Education.


The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

Posted in Uncategorized on March 16, 2010 by stokedkipper

Inspirational stuff as ever from the wonderful Kelly Green…

So where exactly do we stand on this? Do we fight to the death or draw up a new battle plan?

Oh, I’ll fight to the death all right if this Bill continues to attempt to trample all over my life, but is the time coming when a compromise may be in our best interest?

I agree with what Kelly said, though don’t get me wrong, I would love to happily trundle along as we are without anyone interfering, but lets face reality here, that’s not going to happen. Even if the relevant stuff in the CSF Bill gets trashed this issue will come up again and again. So will we have to look at our options and look for a compromise?

First and foremost what needs doing is the authorities need to put their own house in order. What requires legislating is the LA’s not the families. They need national structure, they are the ones who should have the piece of paper that tells them exactly what their job is and shows them very clearly where the line, accompanied by a great big sign saying Do Not Cross, is.

At this point in time I also believe that some sort of notification scheme would be a good thing (and I’m using the word good for want of a better word at 7:13am!). How many of us, after all this, fears that ‘knock on the door’? Because that has been happening. I’m not entirely sure why LA officials have been turning up on doorsteps, are they trying to catch people out? *Nervously looks over shoulder*   Regardless, it is rude in my opinion, if they know where you live why not send a letter first? Common courtesy and all that. And when they do write to you or ring you they insist on making arrangements for a visit when they have no legal right to do so. Eh? There’s something very wrong in the world when I know more about the law than the people who are there to make sure we’re obeying it!

And some of the stories I’ve heard, am hearing! Jeeeez! Some LA’s have for years been telling parents wishing to remove their children from school that home education is illegal. Some LA’s bandy about their individual guidelines as law, non compliance in accordance with the law = terrifying parents with threats of being taken to court. There is a mountain of evidence of coercion, bullying tactics and discrimination against families, lifestyles and educational styles… and they expect families to cooperate? Why would anyone cooperate when there’s a chance that something as insignificant as burning incense makes its way into a report about educational provision?

Anyhoo, I waffle a tad off course… Notification. Would this make us sleep easier in our beds? I’m pretty sure it would me. Options. We either have the reams of paperwork, silly demands for attainment schedules, advance notification of what the next year will bring for our children, the overhanging threat of the big REGISTRATION REFUSED rubber stamp should something not be quite right. Or we can constantly look over our shoulders in fear, after all if nothing at all is done to regulate us we’ll be going through the ‘hidden children’ argument over and over again, the finger of suspicion will never go away. Devil and the deep blue sea.

And then there’s notification. A quick, simple and painless process of saying this is who we are, where we are, we’re home educating, thank you very much! No scope at all for them to turn round and say no.

Ah but then the downside. I’ve listened to the debates. Educational provision will then have to be checked. It’s all very well knowing who and where we are but are we doing what’s best for our children? (Pompous arrogant dipsticks!)

A sticky one! Personally, if it came to the crunch, I’d have no problem with the odd light touch visit, cup of tea, blah, blah, blah, toodles. But if current LA practices are anything to go by, unless they pull their socks up and are well trained in home education (not just education!) then they can go whistle! I’m not tarring all LA’s with the same brush here, there are some out there that are shining beacons in the yucky slightly green tinged smog of EHE guidelines and practice.

And, oh, I’m back onto the issue of LA training a whole other topic all on its own! Something that bothers me because this training (what form it will take has never been mentioned) has to be organised, rolled out and implemented by April next year and all the while the government is still fannying around trying to understand what home education is let alone teach people to monitor it!

Put your own damn house in order before you start in on mine, learn from the best, something that should have been done ages ago instead of spending all this time and money on reviews and arguments filled with lies! Target those council employees who aren’t doing their jobs properly instead of the parents who are! Pull your heads out of your backsides for long enough to realise that most of you could do much much better!

So where should the battle lines be drawn? We’ve done nothing but bang our heads against a brick wall for the last year, is it time for a tactical retreat? A compromise and a little bit of cooperation in order to educate Local Authorities and government? Gosh, that sticks in my throat! But could it be mutually beneficial? Would it give us peace of mind finding that middle ground? Answers on a postcard please… LOL

But then again even if we do take that route how on earth do we get them to listen? They haven’t listened thus far!

A Suitable Education

Posted in Uncategorized on March 9, 2010 by stokedkipper

This got me thinking…

just what is deemed a suitable education? There’s plenty of other issues in there, not least the blind misuse of figures, but the suitable education thing has always been a huge concern of mine since all of this started. And the LA training, something I’ve often waffled about before, so I don’t want to get bogged down in that again… so, a suitable education.

Home education isn’t understood, we already know this, in fact how many of us home educators fully understand how our children’s brains take in so much information just by experiences and letting them be? I mean, we know it works, but how? Educational psychologists have tried looking into it for years and they come to the same conclusions. Its so very successful but we may never fully understand the reasons why.

The government knows this and they don’t like it. After all people will always fear what they don’t understand. So how are they going to define what a suitable education is when the LA comes marching into our homes?

Will they have a check list? Will they require evidence of written work? Evidence that it occurs every day? Are we to be timetabled? Will we have to sit and ‘work’ for so many hours a week? Will our children be tested? Well, they can try that last one but since I find the idea of testing children, particularly young children, abhorrent they’ll have to fight their way through me first! And I’m a big lass so I’d like to see them try!

And who will put this criteria together? How are they going to put it all together? If, as is the case for many many families, the education relies on the self motivation, imagination, exciting investigation, engaged discussion of each individual child (and that’s a heck of a lot of HE children!) how on earth are they going to know where to start, let alone pop it all on some kind of sliding scale?

So, focusing on the learning being child led… the government is using all this nicey nicey talk about soft touch and ‘nothings going to change’, we’ll still have the freedom to educate our children how we like, it just needs checking. But the two simply don’t mix. How stupid are they to think that they can come up with a way of finding out how unschooled, child led, autonomous, call it what you will, learning can be monitored effectively without it having an impact on the very successful way these children learn?

If us parents have to worry, no, fear that we have to present substantial evidence or else our children will be removed from the HE register and forced into school then this will begin to chip away what makes a child led education beautiful and such a joy to be involved in and facilitate.

For example, we’re a bunch of poorly little sausages at the moment… but yesterday we learned and talked about Hawaii courtesy of Lilo and Stitch oh, and the concept of alien lifeforms. A spin off Little Mermaid film, grief over the death of a loved one, music, the original Little Mermaid story and what are fairy tales and the cultural importance of folk stories. Nothing was written down, what shall I do? Get the LA officer to sit down and watch Disney Cinemagic? Mind you if I had their job and someone got me to do that I’d be quite chuffed at how the day was turning out! But then I’m mad as a badger and I doubt they’d let me near a position of that kind!

We almost finished our rag dolly and now Niamh wants to make one all on her own without my help and she also knitted her first 3 stitches. Considering the amount of ‘academic’ (for want of a better word) learning and ‘life skills’ the children got through yesterday when they we’re sick I’m pretty impressed! But would this be considered a suitable education? It is by me, but then my opinion doesn’t count, does it?!!! (remember, mad as a button!)

And as soon as we’re better there’s so much to organise! Spring is coming, so the nature walks will double in length and frequency, we have friends to see and new families to meet, outings and activities to plan, spontaneous trips to museums, jaunts on the train to think about and save up our pennies for! Should I keep all of my receipts? Not join in with my children, just stand on the periphery of their learning and take pictures? Should I get signed statements from my friends to verify where we’ve been and what we’ve done? That may seem extreme and more than a tad paranoid, but what? How are we meant to comply with the state? They’ve never made it clear what they think a suitable home education is, because they don’t know! *rolls eyes*

I think this point doesn’t sit well with me because I’m not too good with not knowing something, I want to know what they want from me!!!! Not so that I can comply, I just don’t get it, I don’t understand, I just want to know what I should be fearing, what I’ll need to be fighting against to preserve the way my children learn… after all, we always fear what we don’t understand.

Unschooling: Embarking on an Adventure!

Posted in Uncategorized on March 5, 2010 by stokedkipper

I’m a planner, a serious planner. The kind of person who has lists for everything and gets excited about stationary! I like research and notes and neatness and am only comfortable when everything is written down…

So why we’ve decided to unschool I haven’t got a clue! The kids are fine with it, over the last few months we’ve become increasingly relaxed and they’re thriving. Steve’s incredibly relaxed about it all, its me thats the problem.

I mean, at the moment they’re playing outside (in shorts and vests, absolutely mad!) using a huge cushion and a very large stuffed duck as boats with golf clubs as oars and screaming and laughing at the top of their lungs. They’re having a whale of a time. They’re off sailing the seven seas, visiting fabulous countries that exist only in their own imagination.

So why does it keep popping into my head “they’ve not done any reading today” and “when was the last time we sat at the table and did some maths?” and since the children have become more relaxed its got worse not better! I’m a worrier by nature, and its making me more worried that I’m worrying about the children learning more and more independently.

I don’t know what it is… maybe its because we followed a curriculum, no matter how loosely we did it, perhaps that’s a difficult thing to break away from? I’m struggling to let go. I realise that I’ve got bogged down with the Charlotte Mason ‘curriculum’ patched together from different ideas but mainly Ambleside. I want to get back to her principles, I’d started to ignore them. Whatever happened to ‘Education is a Life’ and when did I forget what it really meant?

Her wonderful principles can be applied to any style of education, in my opinion… who needs the curriculum? Who needs the mountains of organisation, reams of paper or the stress? Especially when the kids are so happy doing their own thing.

Maybe I don’t feel needed, they’re working things out for themselves, with the absolute minimum amount of input from me. This is great! Very CM. After all “the brain is not an empty bucket to be filled but a living organ that, like the stomach, needs a good and varied diet in order to function properly”.

I have always seen myself as facilitator rather than teacher, don’t get me wrong. I’ve never stood in front of a blackboard, I’ve never lectured (well, not THAT much, LOL), I’ve never offered information that wasn’t asked for. But until recently they’ve always asked me, always. So I think I’m feeling a little left out. As an example, Niamh has developed this habit of just going off on her own, fiddling with something, drawing or playing, not a peep from her, this can go on for hours, a couple of days. She’s mulling something over, this is just her way, then quite out of the blue she’ll start discussing something that she’s seen or learned, something I’ll have completely forgot! She’s spent that ‘down time’ making her own connections with very little if any input from me.

Paddy I’ve noticed, only wants to learn through play at the moment. He’s using his imagination, we even had a fab ‘incident’ this morning about imaginative play. Niamh has a tendancy to be a tad bossy and she was telling him that he shouldn’t be doing voices for his cars “cos that’s stupid, cars don’t talk!” After our very breif conversation (I simply told her that imaginative play is fun and good for you, something I kick myself for, I’ll explain in a mo) she’s gone off, mulled it over and joined in using her cars to chat with his. When I asked her if she was having fun she said she was helping Paddy because imaginative play is good for his development, could I leave them to it please? LOL

She’d come up with this quite independently. This is where I kicked myself. “Never bring education down to the child’s level”. Always aim higher, stimulate and inspire them to go forward rather than keep them at a certain level until you deem them ready to move on, never presume that a child won’t understand what you’re talking about if you use big words. She obviously knows and understands these big words simply by picking up on conversations. And if they don’t know, they will ask, they have the confidence in me and Steve not to make them feel inadequate about what they don’t know.

That’s a great thing, of course it is. Something to be very proud of. So why am I still a worry wart? I actually stood in the kitchen an hour or so ago wringing my hands I felt so nervous!

This shouldn’t be coming as such a shock to the system! In a way, when I think back, we’ve always unschooled to a certain extent. The months where we spend time out on trips, walks and visits, just talking and letting the kids be, but then these were followed by the panic stricken weeks where “we have got to catch up! We’ve got to do this, this and this. Oh and that and that, can’t forget about that!!!!!”

Maybe its because we’ve now put a name to ‘it’. But I’m really really struggling to let go. I don’t know if a period of de-schooling (mainly for me!) would be in order before we ‘started’ un-schooling? I’m sure the two would pretty much flow into the other.

Or maybe this is a feeling of inadequacy? Have I been doing things the wrong way for my children? Does that make me a bad mum? I know it doesn’t, not really, we’ve all got to muddle along the best we can. But I like to be organised, I can’t stand change, I like being sure. What if this is the wrong thing? I see how happy the kids are, it can’t possibly be the wrong thing. Shut up nagging voice!

On the plus side however, I’ve noticed a change this morning. This morning I cleared out and recycled a heck of a lot of plans, notes and worksheets. We won’t be needing them. It was actually a bit like therapy! And then I sat and watched the kids, I sat and listened more intently than usual to Paddy telling me something. I listened to him telling me all the names of his cars and about their character traits, and for the first time I didn’t think that I should be encouraging him to sit with me and read a book. I actually paid more attention to what he was telling me and encouraged what he was doing. Not that I didn’t do this anyway, but today I actually sat back and took great pleasure in it rather than paying attention to that voice in the back of my mind whittling away at me. And, I think this is very very important, I’ve left Niamh completely alone, I haven’t nagged her once, though I do nag in an encouraging way, I realise now that I always went OUT OF MY WAY to inspire her. Wrong, wrong, wrong! She doesn’t need any external stimulation, she’s got more than enough inspiration of her own!

I think this is going to be a long journey for me, I’m having to re-evaluate the way I say and do things.

That Beautiful Baby Boy…

Posted in Uncategorized on March 1, 2010 by stokedkipper

Apologies in advance, this will be emotional, I’m on the verge of tears as I begin to write, but since the weekend I think its time I spoke about this. I haven’t spoken to anyone, fully opened up, even to Steve, only the odd mention here and there, nothing really about how I’m feeling. Well, I don’t really need to with Steve, he already sees it in my eyes and knows that as a mother this will be something that will break my heart every time I think about it for the rest of my life.

Khyra Ishaq. Over the weekend this tragic case has made me constantly think of something that I try and push to the back of my mind every single day. That is my constant disgust with my local social workers and my heart ache over one beautiful baby boy. It also explains the one thing that confuses me, because of this experience, about Khyra Ishaq.

I don’t want to have a dig at social workers as a whole. My auntie’s a social worker, she works hard and she’s damn good at her job. I’m sure there’s plenty like her, I’m pretty convinced that for the most part the problem lies in a lack of communication between departments and being swamped by administration, though unfortuately I know of social workers, yes my local ones, who are rubbish, I have been appalled at their lack of communication with the parties involved, idiotic and might I say lazy behaviour, and their treatment of the father in this case who has done no wrong at all! Anyway, thats not what I want to get off my chest…

It tears me up to hear about the neighbours in the Ishaq case. Those who turned a blind eye. Because that was me.

I am so ashamed of this and crushed by guilt. For months I said nothing, I put it down to my friend adjusting, getting used to having a baby again as her daughters lived with their father across the other side of the country. I ignored the alcohol consumption, I thought just because I don’t drink doesn’t mean other people can’t enjoy a little drinky of an evening. I ignored the stories of violent outbursts against her partner. I ignored the lies, ignored how dirty and underdeveloped her son sometimes was. We all did. Not on purpose, please believe that, we just didn’t want to see it, didn’t want to believe what was happening.

Why didn’t the word neglect ever enter my head? Struggling, yes. Neglect, never. Why? Its so obvious now, and that stupidity (stupid, stupid, stupid) on my part haunts me, and probably always will.

It did, however, get to the point where I thought she needed help, and I thought I, as her friend, could help her. She even appeared to welcome the help, more lies. Sadly, you can’t help those who won’t help themselves.

Not to go into the ins and outs of a relationship that has nothing to do with me, I’ll stick to my side of the story. In a nutshell we ended up saying that for a few nights both her and the baby could stay with us while we helped her find somewhere else to live. On condition that she behaved herself and there was to be no drinking, not a drop.

Only now when I look back do I realise that I knew things weren’t right, he was always in his car seat, mostly ignored, he even slept every night in his car seat! As a mother of 2 children why didn’t it slam straight into my head that this was why he couldn’t sit up on his own, why his head was floppy? I had to support him while we played. 

Even on that first night I realise now how much I took over. It was as though I suddenly had 3 children not 2. I fed him and changed him, played with him (he has the most beautiful smile when you play with him!) and got him ready for bed. I even washed his vest as he’d got his dinner all down it. He slept upstairs with me that night so she could have a break, I did night feeds and changes, that was a bit of a shock, I hadn’t done those things for four years! LOL

I spent the next morning with her going to the council and pleading with them that they had to help her as they had nowhere else to go, they were homeless. I went to estate agents picking up their brochures for lettings… anyhoo, she said she’d pop to her mums. Fine, I thought, you can’t stop her taking the little ‘un round to see his nanna. I told her to be back for dinner at 6pm. She left me at lunch time, she had 2 bottles of baby milk with her and a packet of Mini Cheddars, inadequate for a child of 7 months. I presumed he’d be properly fed at her mums. He was also wearing a pair of Paddy’s trousers, size 3 years, she hadn’t brought him a change of clothes with her.

It got to 6pm, no sign of them. We rang her, she lied to us, said she was on her way back, sorry she was running late, but the little ‘un had had a little bit of cottage pie at her mums, so not to worry, she’d be about 5 minutes. We could tell she’d had a drink or three. We waited. 7, 7:30, 8, 8:30. It was getting dark, the baby only had a thin jacket on and by this time of the year the evenings were getting colder.

I rang my mum, as we do, no matter how old I get I’m sure my first instinct will always be to ring my mum. I told her about the cold and the thin jacket, the lack of food and milk, I was in tears, I was worried sick. That little boy, had they ever got round to getting him christened would have been my godson, I love him as much as I love my own children. The only other times I’ve been gripped by that kind of fear has been when the kids have hurt themselves or that awful time Niamh decided to wander off in town.

My ever sensible mother told us to ring social services. Great idea, problem. They only work 9 while 5.

The clock agonisingly slowly ticked round to 9pm, my friend hadn’t answered her phone for 2 hours, we knew she had been drinking and we found out she was with her sister. I’m sure you might notice from me saying that that being with her sister was not the best of situations!

We were in bits, the father, a close friend, was in bits. Enough was enough, at around 10:30 we decided to call the police.

This is where confusion kicks in with the Khyra Ishaq case. The school were suspicious, they passed on those concerns to the relevent authroities. There were times they couldn’t get access to the home and they couldn’t access the children. What did they do? Shrug their damn shoulders, turn and walk away, post a note through the letter box. My God! If you are concerned about any child’s welfare, no matter how small those concerns, call the police! Social services already knew about my friend. They knew what had happened with her daughters, we didn’t, she’d lied about that too! When it came down to it though that didn’t matter. They said past history couldn’t be taken into consideration. I’ve since found out that past history WHEN HISTORY APPEARS TO BE REPEATING ITSELF, has to be taken into consideration. It was not.

Please, if you ever find yourself, and I pray you don’t, in that kind of situation… sod social services, sod everyone! Call the police.

The police were brilliant, the moment we told them what was happening and that a child was involved they took a description and put the shout out for them. Two officers came to the house to get more details, double check the description, and they calmed me down.

And then over the radio, oh my goodness the relief, I felt weak with it, I shook with it. They’d found them in the city centre on CCTV. She was three sheets to the wind, could barely stand up or talk straight. She had been sat in a dingy pub with that baby all evening. She had no money, you don’t want to know (we later found out) what kind of behaviour she exhibited in order to get people to buy her drinks.

Within 2 hours of us calling them the police had found that baby and had him safe.

All I can think of with Khyra is that if someone had called the police instead of fannying about going through the ‘proper channels’ that girl, that has the most beautiful smile in pictures that I’ve seen, may well be alive right now.

The police deemed, quite rightly, that she was in no fit state to care for a baby. They took him off her and brought him to us. He was fast asleep when he arrived, I pray he was asleep most of the evening. But the state of him!

In the end I had to wake him up. I had to change him. He was so wet the car seat was soaked, I had to peel the trousers and nappy off him, his bottom was red raw, sticky and stank. She hadn’t changed the poor boy all day.

I had to get him out of that car seat, I couldn’t bear for him to sit in it for one more second (Its one of those ones that attatches to a buggy). I took off his top off… Oh my God! He must have been strapped down all day, he’d been in the buggy all morning while we were in town (obviously). He had bright red marks where the harness had been, it had rubbed, terrible.

As I’d woke him up he started yelling his head off. Time for a feed. I’d prepared some bottles earlier for when my friend got back. He drank 12 ounces before he calmed down. Absolutely gulped them down. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so angry, appalled, distraught and helpless all at the same time.

I spent the rest of the night awake, lying on the sofa with that baby asleep on my chest, I didn’t want to take my eyes off him. He woke up 5 hours later screaming for another 8oz feed.

He’s in care now. And that breaks my heart. My auntie says she sees kids every day who’ve been seriously f*****d up by the care system. I don’t see him either, not a relative you see. He’s a year old now, I haven’t seen him for 6 months.

Social services did contact us later and asked us if we could take him. I was out at the time but as soon as I got home I said yes. But we couldn’t, I know that logically. Three children in a tiny 2 bedroom house, we’d only just moved in after a terrible few months of temporary accommodation and we couldn’t risk getting kicked out. It was so so hard, but I had to think of my own children. Logical, yes. But the guilt eats away at me. If they rang me tomorrow and asked again the mother in me would scream YES! But thats never going to happen.

What pains me also is the treatment of the father by social services. They take messages but they don’t return his calls. They only let him see his son at a supervised visit once a week. He’s done nothing wrong and yet he is being punished.

And my friend? She doesn’t care, she’s upped and hopped it, quite out of the blue with another bloke. She did the same with her daughters, neglect, lost custody, buggered off. In fact, scrap that! I’ve been refering to her as my friend, she is not. Her behaviour is disgusting. As a Christian I preach forgiveness. As a mother, well, some things are unforgivable. What kind of life is that boy going to have? My only hope is that no matter how long it takes the father will eventually be allowed to take him home. Where he belongs.

Fabulous Friends and Beautiful Children

Posted in Uncategorized on February 28, 2010 by stokedkipper

I know, I know, I’m a blog slacker! The thing is Intrepid Readers is that I haven’t had the heart to sit down and put my recent thoughts into writing. I don’t want to fill my blog every other day about politics, media, what is being said about home educators, what is being done to hurt so many good families, I’m sure even I would get sick of my own voice if I started on any of that. And it would depress me, and I don’t like that feeling! I’m a happy, skipping through meadows kind of person. Lets go hug a tree, etc, etc.

A few days ago a new surge in the persecution of home educators reared it ugly head in the media, but instead of raising my blood pressure I realised something that made me smile.

Crazy lady! I can almost see you looking at me like I’ve grown a spare head! Let me explain…

I am truly blessed. I have made so many wonderful friends over the last few months, people I have never met in person, people I probably will never get the opportunity to meet. In the face of everything we’re going through we make each other laugh and smile, we send each other hugs and support whenever it’s needed, and boy is it needed more than ever right now! We chat about our children, their work, share pictures of those beautiful home ed moments.

It is a wonderful thing that although we’ve been brought together by something so threatening as the CSF Bill together we are fighting to protect our children’s rights and even when this is over I know that these lovely people shall remain my friends for many years to come.

To my friends, old and new, thank you from the bottom of my heart! You have made this whole situation more than bearable!

And my fabulous family. The thing that I’m fighting for. It hits me like a ton of bricks every single time I stop and take stock of what I am so lucky to have. There is so much that I could take for granted, I’m learning not to!

Since we began out HE journey, seems a life time ago now, the way we did things was just how life was. It all seemed normal to us, completely natural, until Ed Balls came crashing into our lives and made me feel like a freak for wanting to spend time with my own children. (I shall not start ranting! Paper bag, breath…) So only recently have I begun to fully appreciate what I have and the time and opportunities that I have to live and learn along side my children.

For those of you who have nosed at my website or visited my old blog you’ll already know what a massive fan I am of Charlotte Mason and her educational philosophies. One of which we live our whole lives by… Education is a life.

My beautiful children and their lust for learning makes me come alive. I wake up in the morning wondering what they will want to know today, I share their excitement, in fact I probably get more excited than they do! I share their joy when they discover something for the first time. I so strongly believe that we have never truly seen the world in all its glory until we have allowed ourselves to view it through the eyes of a child. That feeling, I can’t describe it, when my children share with me something they’ve seen or done for the first time, it’s as though I see it for the first time too.

These days I don’t get worried anymore when someone says in the street “No school today?” my heart swells with pride when Niamh confidently stands there and informs them that she and her brother are home educated and that she thinks its great, thank you very much. Thats when I know we’re doing the right thing for our family, something that suits us and the kids down to the ground. We love it, they love it, it’s just… right.

See why I can smile even through bad times and horrible media coverage? It has made me grateful, its made me thankful for my supportive husband, wonderful children and fabulous friends. They can throw what they like at me and mine, I am so proud to call myself a home educating mamma, so proud to say my children are home educated, so proud to be a member of such a great community. They can try to impose all the legislation they like on us, but they’ll never take any of these things from me.

What we’ve been up to #3

Posted in Uncategorized on February 2, 2010 by stokedkipper

and again!

Week beginning Monday 25th January



Continued with maths games from last week. One worksheet each half completed, both showed little interest. Will continue with games and attempt one worksheet session per week.


Letter Practice and Copywork

Incorporated into weeks other work. See folder.



Reading levels progressing. Following books from the library: Leapfrog Rhyme Time – Big Bad Bart, Cinderella, In the Deep Dark Forest.. Orchard Books – Pirate Patch and the Treasure Map. Usborne First Reading – The Reluctant Dragon



Continuing with BBC Schools online songs and games. A colouring and cut out puppet activity for use with basic vocab.


Unit Study

Ancient Egypt, began using Usborne Puzzle Adventures – The Pyramid Plot. A & C Black – Adventures in Ancient Egypt.

Unit Studies replaced by Notable Days Mini Units – Burn’s Night and Australia Day.


Poetry Study

Kingfisher, Meish Goldish. Observed and discussed pictures of kingfishers. Read the poem together, participated well. Drew several pictures of kingfishers, made into a book.


Art Appreciation

Audubon, Red Headed Duck. Moved to next week to coincide with RSPB Bird Count.



Completed volcano and thoroughly enjoyed carbon dioxide experiment. Have asked to repeat it at some stage.


Book of Centuries

Joan of Arc. Moved to next week due to trip.

Will pop some pics on here as soon as I get round to taking them!!!