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First Published Tuesday, 18th March, 2008.


The following are  a variety of news items, articles and interviews covering the current state of education here in the UK and abroad.  Notably, there is quite a bit of information on Home Education, ranging from interviews, news items, books, blogs and highly recommended Home Ed websites, hopefully leaving no question on Home Ed unanswered.


 

“Square Peg, Round Hole”


In May of this year in the UK, the NAS launched their “Make School Make Sense” campaign in Westminster. It was launched in Wales in August and will be launched in Scotland on 31 October and in Northern Ireland on 28 November. No outrageous demands are being made, merely a request for recognition that our children can learn, achieve and make a positive contribution – but this requires local access to a range of mainstream and specialist schools, which are autism-friendly and where the teachers have received specialist training. This is nothing more than our children’s right.

News just in today…


“Schooling for autistics condemned”:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/5350506.stm


Josh Muggleton, a 16-year-old student with Asperger syndrome – and proud of it – tells us what it was like for him in a mainstream school.


“Square Peg, round hole”

(courtesy of NAS Communication Autumn 2006)


 

“Inclusive education promotes the idea of all children being educated together in mainstream schools. But what happens to people like me who discover it doesn’t always work?

I wasn’t a troublesome student. I never got a single detention. My behaviour was exemplary. I was keen to learn, always did my homework and was never late for school. It is not as if I went to bad schools. Both my primary and secondary schools have good records for academic achievement and excellent Ofsted reports.

 


So what went wrong?

 


First of all, soon after I started school I realized that I was a bit different from other children. I was repeatedly bullied, teased and soon discovered I was a misfit. Apparently, not many kids walk around the lines on the playground in the middle of summer with a thick coat zipped up to the hood. Being diagnosed with dyslexia also didn’t help.

 


Somehow I survived primary school. I treated my depression and low self-esteem with my own ‘chocolate therapy’. I hoped that secondary school would be different. Before I started, my parents wanted to meet with the school to discuss the additional support I would need. They refused. It seemed that they first wanted to see how far I would sink. Unfortunately, I sank too far and never recovered.

 


True inclusion only works when schools can give enough support.

 


At secondary school, I was bullied more than ever. The school did nothing. I became more depressed. After making serious threats to commit suicide, I received help from the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service(CAMHS).

 


After four years of secondary school hell, I had a complete breakdown. My psychiatrist decided that I could not cope any more and signed me off on medical grounds.

 


So what was it that caused the breakdown?

 


It wasn’t just the bullying, it was the lack of understanding of the staff at the school. Nobody seemed to listen to what I was saying. I needed a place of sanctuary when things got too much for me. I needed encouragement from the teachers, not threats. If the teachers had been properly trained in ASDs, they might have been able to help me cope.

 


I’m now studying for A levels, using a home-based study programme. I would like to go to sixth form college, but is there anywhere that can give me the support I need?

 


Recently, I have been giving talks to groups about my experiences, the way my mind works and what people can do to help me. It started by accident, when my dad was asked if he knew of anyone who could speak to a small group of teachers about Asperger syndrome. I volunteered. People said my talk was insightful and I got more and more bookings. It’s one of the few positive experiences I have had.

 


Inclusion didn’t work for me. I tried my best to adapt, but true inclusion only works when schools can give enough support. If they can’t do that, then inclusion becomes very damaging. I’m only just beginning to rebuild my shattered confidence and self-esteem.”

 


I hope that wherever you may be, your children are receiving the education they deserve. – Julie


http://www.amazon.co.uk/Homeschooling-Child-Asperger-Syndrome-Anywhere/dp/1843107619/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1350835563&sr=1-1

Helpful book: Homeschooling the Child With Asperger Syndrome: Real Help for Parents Anywhere and on Any Budget by Lise Pyles.


The following are responses to Home Ed questions from times past, which may be helpful to others, especially in regard the ‘socialization’ issue. It also contains numerous links that come highly recommended by many.


Re Home Ed… It’s a lot of work, and not a decision anyone takes lightly, but as you’ll hear time and again from others and from books on Autism/Asperger’s and homeschooling, it can be extremely worthwhile. Laws differ from place to place, and families often still need to file forms, have their child evaluated from time to time, abide by particular rules, but by and large the home-ed program is parent-designed, led and delivered. A great many families really enjoy this option, and find their child blossoms in the nurturing environment of ‘home’.


It does take a lot of parental involvement, a certain amount of money to buy materials(though not as much as you might think), and it takes time.


You asked “How do you keep homeschooled children from being isolated socially? Are afterschool activities/sports enough to keep them socially interacting with their peers?


The following article answers this question very well(credit to Lise Pyles) …


Socialization and children with Asperger Syndrome


Anybody who has been homeschooling more than 20 minutes knows that the most popular probing question from the masses is: ‘And what about socialization?’ This is an especially bothersome question for families of Aspies who want to homeschool. Since lack of social skills is one of the hallmarks of the child with AS, people naturally assume that keeping a child home instead of exposing him to the social climate of school will just worsen the situation. The reverse is true, in my opinion, for the following reasons:


1. School has people, but that doesn’t make it social. In fact, it is usually fairly anti-social since kids can be very cruel and bullies seem to be an ever-present part of the school experience. What is social about exposing our children to daily torment? Nothing. AS children are natural targets for bullies and the situation frequently results in a tantrum, depression or violence, all of which could have been avoided by avoiding this ‘social’ atmosphere.


2. Homeschooling does not mean denying social experiences. To the uninitiated, homeschooling conjures a picture of cloistering your child at home all the time. For most homeschoolers, nothing could be further from the truth. There are trips to the library and the park, gatherings with other homeschoolers, and lessons and clubs that tie in with the child’s interests. And we still live in neighbourhoods, still have extended family and friends, church, etc. Homeschooling does not mean restricted movement but rather greater flexibility.


3. Social experiences tend to be more positive when done through home education. As homeschooling parents, we can monitor social gatherings to keep them positive. That is, we can pick and choose the activities, watch for bullies and intervene, head off other kinds of trouble, and teach our children with spontaneous social lessons ‘in the moment’, (or make a note to discuss things later). In short, we are on deck. Finally and perhaps most importantly, we can steer our children gently homeward before sensory overload undermines the whole event. In school, our kids do not get the luxury of this kind of protection or customized teaching. It’s usually a case of ‘sink or swim.’ Our kids tend to do more sinking than swimming.


4. Homeschoolers may get more social opportunities out of their day. When we homeschooled, my son was in the comfort zone of his home surroundings for mornings of academic work, and that still left him with some energy in the afternoons and evenings to try other things. Parks department classes, bowling league, swimming lessons, and Boy Scouts were just some of the things he tried. When we stopped homeschooling and put him into a regular school, however, these fell away. He was too burned out from the school day to do anything else, and quit all outside activities. Although he’d wanted to try public school and did fine academically, the trade-off was that he gained some very negative social experiences and lost some very positive ones.


5. The idea that our kids need the classroom experience of having positive role models around them every day is suspect. It’s true that positive role models are better than negative ones, but just placing our kids alongside peer-age, so-called normal kids does not mean that they will intuitively pick up on proper behaviour. In fact, more often than not, they will not pick things up intuitively. Things like social graces, body language and speech pragmatics must be consciously and deliberately and specifically taught, bit by bit. Unless the child has a one-to-one aide to provide full-time tutelage in these things and allow ample rehearsal time, not many skills will be picked up. Contrast that with the home environment, where the parent does have the time and patience to teach these things and can provide a safe place for rehearsing them.


6. Finally, we need to measure by a different yardstick. Our AS kids do not typically need or want the same level of social interaction than their neurologically typical peers do. Not everyone wants to be surrounded by others all day long, have large parties, or a dozen friends. Many of us(self included) cherish solitude, are happiest in our own company and function better with fewer social interactions. This is not abnormal, only different, and it should be honoured. It is far better to have a little interaction and look forward to more another day, than to have too much interaction and suffer devastating consequences.


For further information on the ‘socialization’ issue:
http://www.nhen.org/newhser/default.asp?id=227#soc


You asked “How do you know when or if the time is right for such an important decision?”


Some parents home educate from the beginning as they ‘couldn’t even find a school that would suit their child’, in our case, I was exhausting myself staying up late, typing away in the home/school communication book into the early hours in order to provide suggestions and assist the school toward better understanding and provision to no real avail despite a “Statement of Special Educational Needs” being in place. My son continued having panic attacks, night terrors, bowel issues(which have since completely disappeared since home-ed was introduced). He is now free to learn and is thriving in every sense of the word. We tried both private and public schools. The current NAS “Make School Make Sense” Campaign says it all. I spent many months researching ‘Home Education’, went onto the Autism UK list for feedback, and gathered quite a hefty folder of valuable information. When the time came, I knew instinctively that the time was right and have never had a day’s regret.


The following sites are recommended and cover everything you could wish to know about Home Ed:


http://www.education-otherwise.org/Legal/sinc.htm

http://www.he-special.org.uk/

http://www.heas.org.uk/

http://www.muddlepuddle.co.uk/

http://www.home-education.org.uk/

http://www.home-education-centre.co.uk/

http://www.home.earthlink.net/~tammyglaser798/authome.html


Statistics on Home Ed in Australia:
http://www.hea.asn.au/hea/news_viewarticle.asp?id=46

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Home-Educating-Autistic-Spectrum-Children/dp/1843100371

For further reading “Home Educating Our Autistic Spectrum Children”:
Alan Philips and his wife Helen have two children, Lee and Greg, now aged 21 and 19. They have home educated for 13 years and continue to run a programme to support Greg.
Alan and Helen have set up a consultancy service to give direct support to other parents in the practicalities of home teaching and helping their children, especially those at the severe end of the spectrum. They have experience in helping families to prepare cases for SEN tribunals and also in helping them to obtain funding from education authorities for home-based education programmes.
http://www.cary.demon.co.uk/paths/


You asked “Can you give me some idea of how your day is structured and how it works for all involved?”


There are a number of different styles and approaches. “ Many of our kids are very bright and without modifying the teaching style, one would never tap into their abilities.”(Inga Smith Sawyer) In our particular case, I put together a timetable(including English, Maths, Music, Art, R.E., Phys. Ed., Science, Geography, History, French, Home Ec/Life Skills) and this begins at 9am and finishes at 3 pm. I cover the curriculum and more. A firm, though flexible routine is in place from morning to night. M enjoys weekly trips to places like Bockett’s Farm(for trampolining, physical exercise on indoor soft mats, tunnels, slides etc), Spectrum Leisure Centre(swimming), regular library trips, visits to the Science Museum, Aquariums, Zoos, theatre(plays), cinema, local community trips, ice-skating, bowling, mini-golf, the list is endless, as well as trips abroad. Technology is incorporated into all subjects except Home Ec, Phys Ed & R. E for the moment. I plan termly in advance, with a separate daily/weekly organizer plan to ensure we’re on track. M thrives on the routine within the current timetable and we enjoy having others visit to share in particular subjects.


There seems to be better sleep all round too! We have scheduled breaks throughout the day and 45 mins of exercise/sport each day. It’s very rewarding and I find that there’s ample time for myself at the end of the day(some breaks within the day included). We have family ‘movie nights’ and do a lot of fun things as a family and together, just as a couple. Life is far more relaxed and happy nowadays. R and G enjoy cooking so they have their particular cooking nights which gives me a nice break. There are quite an array of on-line courses, dozens of colleges and universities offer either a wide selection of courses or sometimes an entire degree program on-line…the choice these days is enormous. Colleges are interested in capable, motivated learners and responsible people. They find both in autistic home-schooled students.


Lastly, you asked “Do you get tired of not having that time for yourself(that you would have if M were at school)?


To this question, a definite “No” as M is a lot healthier and happier and I now look forward to each day without apprehension. So many things have fallen into place. I genuinely enjoy it. The whole family has benefited. It’s alot of fun planning each subject, and providing all these science experiments, art/craft experiences, watching the enjoyment M gets out of Music and Movement etc, seeing how much he enjoys learning now. It’s nice watching the progress and knowing that this is how learning should be – it should offer a challenge, but also be enjoyable.

The following was my response to Autism Today(phone interview).


Dear Karen,


Hope you’re well. In response to your email re “Home-Schooling”, I would be delighted to share my experiences and thoughts on this topic.


1. How do you feel about your results from home-schooling?


The results to date have been outstanding. M(our 7.5year old son) is so much happier and healthier, as am I, both physically and emotionally, not to mention feeling safer in the structure of home-schooling and genuinely enjoying the vast array of learning experiences presented to him. Had I known sooner just how beneficial this particular ‘lifestyle of learning’ would be for all of us, I would have placed it far higher on my possibility list from the outset.


2. What is the effect of home-schooling in relation to other obligations, family etc?


The effects of home-schooling in relation to every aspect of family life has been positive. Life is far happier and relaxed. We have a 21 year old Aspie son who has not long completed his Honours Degree in Music and is now working full-time, who wishes he had been home-educated since he was horrendously bullied during his school years. We also have a 19 year old Aspie daughter who acknowledges how improved life is for us all without the enormous stress of having to deal with the previous school situation. Our daughter provides art experiences for special needs children and is currently studying toward the goal of becoming a clinical psychologist. She also provides respite for families on demand. We work together as a very supportive family unit and continue to share quality family time all round just as we’ve always done, through mutual interests, movie nights, travel etc.


It does take a lot of parental involvement, but it’s well worth it. Our home-schooling day begins at 9am and finishes at 3pm generally, though I provide a multitude of extra activities to maintain a balance of work/play outside of those core hours. During independent activity, I am able to easily manage the daily chores(in some instances with M’s assistance as he enjoys helping and has his own chores that he takes pride in). The effects of home-schooling all round, have been positive.


3. If you’ve tried both regular and home-school schooling what is your opinion of the comparison?


Regular schooling here in the UK leaves a lot to be desired. As a parent and a member of the National Autistic Society, I fully support the current “Make School Make Sense” campaign which highlights the fact that “Local provision for children with autism is often limited, teachers’ training in autism is inadequate and children and their families struggle to access the entitlements that are their right.” This has certainly been our experience, as we have placed all of our children in both private and mainstream settings in the quest to ensure they receive the education they deserve. As parents, we need to ask ourselves – Is the school program supporting our child well? Another important factor naturally, is the quality of staff and their acceptance of difference. It’s terribly important that expectations are not lowered when it comes to children with ‘differences’, but that standards and expectations remain high. There are quite a few schools that actually handicap children in this respect.


In comparison to regular school, home-education ensures our son’s needs are met, that he receives a high quality education that includes both inside and outside of home experiences/lessons and that standards/expectations are consistently high. In fact, M has been exposed to a far greater variety of experiences while being home taught compared to those experienced in the regular school environment. Having experience with special needs/autistic children myself for many years, I feel very confident in guiding and teaching our son, though no parent needs to have had prior experience to make a good ‘teacher’. There is a multitude of support and information available for those who require it both online and offline nowadays.


4. What type of opportunity to develop social and relationship skills does your child have while being home-schooled?


The one thing that really stands out since we began home-schooling is the improved quality of social interaction. M enjoys weekly visits to a particular farm where he enjoys various activities(eg. trampolining, plenty of physical exercise on indoor soft mats, tunnels, slides etc) as well as scheduled visits to a Leisure Centre for swimming and exercise. He also visits the local library regularly and enjoys trips into the local community which is enhancing his social skills further. We enjoy visits to the London Science Museum, Aquariums, Zoos, Theatre, Cinema, Bowling, Mini-Golf, the list is endless, as well as trips abroad. It’s also great to be able to share lessons with others in our home.


M has one particular friend that he met in regular school who we regularly bring to our home in order that they might both enjoy excursions and activities both in and outside of the home(ie sporting, leisure, art, music experiences). This particular child’s mother requires respite so this works well for both our families. Particularly wonderful for M since all of his cousins, extended family live in Australia.


5. What level of education does your child get while being home-schooled?


I cover the curriculum(grade level) and more. I put together a timetable(including English, Maths, Music, Art, R.E., Phys. Ed., Science, Geography, History, French, Home Ec/Life Skills, Technology). I’d expect M to reach his full potential at his current developmental level in all areas of the curriculum, using texts, cd roms and many and varied resources that support the national curriculum. Planning-wise, I have drawn up weekly plans in every subject and am currently pre-planning the curriculum on a termly basis.

 

6. If you home-school your child with autism do you also home-school your other children? Please elaborate.


Our other children are now adults but I would certainly have home educated our eldest son had I known then what I know now.


7. Do you think that home-schooling your child is more effective than public or private school? Please explain.


All three of our children experienced both public and private school settings and from my experience of home schooling so far, I would have to say that home-schooling is far more effective. Far more work is being completed and of a much higher standard. There has been notable increased energy levels, possibly due to no longer having to expend great amounts at school maintaining control in unfavourable conditions(ie. Sensory violations,inadequate staff training, lack of consistent approach, bullying etc etc) In the calm, nurturing environment of home, our son is now free to learn and is rising to the challenge beautifully thus far.


8. Do you feel like you have to home-school due to the lack of support for your children in the regular school setting? We want your true feelings.


Absolutely! I fought through two attempts to have our youngest son ‘statemented’ here
in the UK in order to ensure that he would receive the education he deserves, that his requirements would be met, but very quickly discovered that what you find on paper, is very different to the reality. Despite many meetings and a genuine desire to work together as a team(ie school/parent) the LEA fully supported our decision to home school, acknowledging the very sorry state of education not just here in the UK but in the vast majority of countries world-wide, for autistic children. There are currently 500 children being home-schooled in our borough alone. We simply don’t have precious time to waste when it comes to educating our children.


Home-schooling can most certainly be considered a favourable first option as I’ve now come to realize. If met with the very deep commitment it deserves, home-schooling has been shown to produce very capable, motivated and responsible adults with a great deal to contribute to society.

Update time:): Hi everyone ~ hope you’re all doing well. Whether you’re home educating or otherwise, hope it’s all going well. Please feel free to share any stories, resources, etc you may have.


On a personal note, this week has been an extremely happy one as we have celebrated our daughter’s success gaining entry into the university of her choice to continue her studies in psychology. We’re a very closeknit family and it’s going to take some adjusting not having our sweet girl around on a daily basis. We have grandparents arriving from Australia shortly for a visit, along with other family and friends. An exciting time all round.


On the home education front, things are going wonderfully. Our youngest is so much more confident and happier these days and remains a pleasure to teach. We’ve managed to take in a couple of great plays locally lately. One entitled, “Johnny Spacehopper and his Vital Statistics”, tied in beautifully with the national curriculum and had a Star Wars theme so went down very well. The other was very British(The Chuckle Brothers), with a hint of olde world charm. I did feel sorry for those members of the audience who wound up with cream pies in their faces though ~ very pantomimish:).


Enough of my ramblings… On with the latest news on the home ed front.


For those who aren’t aware, the UK home education community is entering an unsettling period. We are currently on the eve of consultations which may lead to new legislation affecting English home educators and which may, for the first time in English history, restrict how parents can teach their own children; prescribe what the government wants young people to learn; enforce what we teach or have the threats of our children forcibly returned to school or face fines or imprisonment.


By May 2007, the consultations will be over and we may know what the government wants to impose upon us. Many are making their voices heard in regard this. Whatever the outcome, it will change forever the way home education is practiced in England.


There is good news for home educators in Europe. Romania is soon likely to bring forward legislation legalising home education. French home educators have successfully fought off an attempt by one of their parliamentary commissions to bring forward amendments to legislation which would have effectively made home education in France illegal for most parents.


We’ve also seen the birth of a new Home Education support and campaign group ~ AHEd. This is the first national group in the UK since Schoolhouse was formed 10 years ago and HEAS was formed in 1995.


“Journal of Home Education”
Published 4 times a year by Cinnamon Press. 64 large format pages (246mm by 189mm crown format) perfect bound with a full colour cover (bound and finished as laminate paperback book). We intend the journal to become the highest quality source of news and information available on the subject. A publication that can be kept and referred back to for years to come.
http://www.home-education.org.uk/journal.htm


News Item
“In Pictures: Class of one, school run”:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/spl/hi/picture_gallery/07/in_pictures_class_of_one/html/1.stm


“Virtual school beats real thing”:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/5382994.stm


Websites


“Syntheticphonics”
Here you will find miscellaneous reading and writing resources which are free to download. Ideal for home and school. Use them flexibly and imaginatively. Some are ready for use, some you can use to make your own teaching aids, some you can adapt for different ability groups by using them in different ways.
http://www.syntheticphonics.com/resources.htm


“Askability”
The children’s society have developed what they call ‘the world’s first website for disabled children and young people.’ It uses pictures to communicate news and information.
http://www.askability.org.uk/


“Resisting the Herd”
Jan Fortune-Wood


One of my favourite books is “Possessing the secret of Joy” by Alice Walker. It’s the third in a trilogy that begins with the more famous book “The Color Purple”. It’s not a story for the faint-hearted, taking up, as it does, the story of Tashi and the consequences in her life of the practice of female genital mutilation. It has one of the greatest endings of any book; the penultimate line being “resistance is the secret of joy.”


A few years ago a friend who works largely in alternative and small schools education commented that doing anything with a group of home educators is like trying to herd cats. He didn’t mean it as a compliment, but it is, in fact, a huge strength, and one that we need more than ever if the freedoms we enjoy as home educators are to survive for future generations.


Home educators are indeed known as an independent minded lot. Sometimes this makes the things we do together a bit trickier, but for all that I still wish that long may it continue. Cats, after all, are not setting out to be deliberately awkward; they are simply following their nature: being autonomous and independent.


However, in the face of mainstream educational establishment that sees education as a product to be consumed and families and children as units to be controlled, then we can all too easily be conceived as defiant and to be distrusted.


Despite talk about diversity, society and governments seem intent on deciding what is the “norm”. A recent anti-home education ruling in Europe made it explicit that minorities in particular are to be targeted for integration and the recent DfES suggestion that they should be able to monitor home educators to see that we teach citizenship similarly demonstrates and urge towards conformity not only in education, but in identity. There is a distrust of anything that is ‘other’.


The pressure to conform comes in a variety of packages, but most home educators feel it at some point. We’ve personally experienced it from good friends who feel that our decision not to use schools reflects badly on their continued use of school provision. They are particularly uneasy when they know that their own children are unhappy or deemed to be failing at school and our home educating lifestyle seems to be a threat – often leading them to believe that attack is the best form of defence. In the past, we also experienced it from my former employees who felt that home education was an over-protective indulgence and that we should be taking a lead in making our children ‘join in’ with the local culture even if it meant they were unhappy, frightened and not thriving in education or life. Our children have experienced the pressure to conform for themselves, often from school going friends who wanted to prove that they were getting something worthwhile by being forced into school. Other families are put under pressure by their extended family or neighbours, often in the name of the children’s ‘best interests’ although words like ‘conformity’ and ‘fitting in’ are never far from the surface.

 

The European Convention on Human Rights enshrined on the 2000 Human Rights Act says that children have a right to an education in line with their parents’ philosophy. When the DfES begins to talk about setting criteria against which they will judge our education they have forgotten this. The criteria are not theirs to set, they are ours and any criteria that we set for ourselves are not likely to be homogenous; there is no monolithic voice of home education. Philosophies vary. Home educating beliefs and lifestyles cover a vast range. One of the things I most value about gatherings like HES FES in the summer is the opportunity to see this vast range of family shapes, beliefs, educational styles, political opinion etc thrown alongside one another and all equally laying claims to ‘normality’.


Home educators are a wonderful illustration of the fluidity and dynamic nature of culture and identity. We educate not according to any standardized curriculum, but according to a cornucopia of philosophies, some of them based on minority cultures, some fantastically idiosyncratic and yet all of which have a matrix of links to the cultures and places in which we exist. All of us are anchored within cultural contexts, but the difference for home educators is that whilst we participate, we do not do so unquestioningly or uncritically.


What home educators miss out by not taking part in schools is not some deeply valuable cultural experience, but simply homogeneity. What we lack, or rather eschew, is the common belief that children can be fitted into neat little boxes and that their minds are no more than empty buckets waiting to be filled with the prescribed list of so called ‘essentials’ that so often turn out to be little more than a veneer for cultural control and dumbing down. That is no loss at all, but is rather another sign of our independent minds and autonomy and a gift to the communities in which we live.


As home educators we network, we support one another, we share skills or resources, we share ideas and we participate in common activities where they nurture and coincide with children’s intrinsic learning motivation. What we don’t do is surrender that basic learning autonomy which makes home education such an exciting, unpredictable, but still eminently ‘normal’ human adventure. As home educators we live within given cultures in which there are huge reservoirs of accumulated knowledge; we don’t throw it all out, but we do ask questions, we do criticize, we do offer new insights to society at large and to one another.


Trying to make home educators conform might very well be likened to trying to herd cats, but that is no bad thing. There is a wonderful poem by A.S.J. Tessimond that begins,


“Cats, no less liquid than their shadows,
Offer no angles to the wind.”


And goes on to describe a creature that slips through loopholes, will not be pinned to rules or routes for journeys, will not learn to answer to names and is seldom truly owned (unless shot or skinned!) For those of us seeking to respect and nurture our children’s autonomy; for those of us who believe that each person’s intrinsic motivation is the core of life learning, that’s not such a bad analogy. We may want to gather together to reassure and support one another, to share our resources and test our ideas, but we should be proud to remain difficult to herd, at least as difficult as cats. Cats and home educators can agree with Alice Walker that RESISTANCE IS THE SECRET OF JOY.

“Notes from a Homeschooling Dad”
Jeff Kelety

Quirks of Fate:
A Homeschooling Look at Being Different


It came on with all the subtly of a sledgehammer.


“I like Mom more than you,” Myles announced one evening in a rather matter-of-fact tone.


“Oh? Why is that?” I inquired, feeling a little injured but trying not to let it show.


“Well, you’re too stern.”


“I see.”


Now where was I supposed to go with this one? What subject do I look under in the family literature? Popular parenting, dare to discipline? It might have been humorous in the old Calvin and Hobbs comic strip when Calvin offered up unsolicited parent opinion polls, but in real life it was a little hard to swallow.


It wasn’t the fact that Myles holds a special affection for Deborah that caught me so off guard. She is, unquestionably, a very compassionate and empathetic spirit. But let’s face it, Deb’s no pushover. In fact, on the “stern-o-meter” I’d say we’re about evenly matched, both of us pretty easy going, but straight up with the kids when something’s off the mark. So why was I the one getting the two thumbs down? The scales of parental justice were definitely not tilting in my favor.


For a little while I managed to let it go. I tried to convince myself that Myles’ proclamation was just a normal kid thing, a phase that would soon pass. After all, who could really find fault with such a self-effacing, boating, biking, wrestling, reading, model plane building, all-around homeschooling dad like me? Every kid should be so lucky – so I thought. But something was definitely amiss. It wasn’t just the occasional blunt criticism. Lately there were fewer hugs with Myles, fewer wrestling matches and fewer laughs together. He had even begun to stiffen ever so slightly when I would lean over for a goodnight kiss.


How could this be happening? Wasn’t it supposed to be me and the kids forever – one for all, all for one, four peas in a pod, the captain and his crew? But try as I might to simply will the thing away, a sort of gray cloud had settled between Myles and I.


About the time that I was becoming aware of the growing distance between us, I was also becoming conscious of what I deemed to be increasingly quirky eight-year-old behavior. For instance, Myles hopped. He always had. It was easy to dismiss when he was young, but now as a strapping almost nine-year-old, it gave me pause. Similarly, from time to time, Myles would vigorously wave or flap his hands. And it seemed he was having some difficulty relating to his peers. Other kids his age had buddies, but Myles more often than not would be off on his own. Not discontent, just off on his own. And while his peers were branching into music, sports and other interests, Myles remained focused almost exclusively on the pursuit of history.


Now don’t get me wrong here. Myles is a terrific kid – bright, inquisitive, a voracious reader and sweet as can be. He just had these, well, quirks. I reasoned, therefore, that it was my fatherly duty to de-quirk my son. So I began to gently ask Myles to refrain from hopping or to keep his hands at his side. To this, I added periodic lectures about annoying mannerisms. Despite these concerted efforts, however, nothing seemed to work for very long; my de-quirking campaign was clearly ineffective.


Naturally, rather than seek insight, I merely redoubled my efforts. The admonitions and lectures became more frequent. And I suppose you could characterize my temperament as having shifted from gentle to, dare I say it, stern.


The thoughtful reader will have begun, of course, to put two and two together by now. In view of the onslaught of my constant nagging, who could blame Myles for keeping his emotional distance from me? But hindsight is always 20-20 and this sort of self-defeating pattern might have gone on for some time were it not for the perceptiveness of a close friend.


It turns out that our friend, a nurse-practitioner and a keen observer of children, was acquainted with a boy Myles’ age who shared many of the same distinct behaviors. She recounted to us that this boy had been diagnosed with a neurological disorder called Asperger’s Syndrome. A neurological disorder? Finally it had been said. At last something that had been dangling obliquely in the back of our minds had been brought to the clarity of day. Could it be that Myles’ “quirks” were not random at all, but really belonged to a larger class of behavior?


Deb immediately began an intensive review of the literature. Gratefully there was a good deal of information readily available on the web and in print. Asperger’s Syndrome (AS) is a neurological disorder that impairs a child’s ability to read and internalize normal social cues, the sort of thing that most of us learn unconsciously. They may, for instance, blurt out perfectly accurate but entirely inappropriate remarks such “You are very fat.” They may also approach acquaintances and begin a topic in mid-stream, leaving the listener somewhat bewildered. As a result, AS kids often have difficulty sustaining friendships. In addition to the social component, AS kids frequently exhibit repetitive motor behaviors such as hopping or hand waving and have generally poor coordination. They may also develop a singular focus of interest – in Myles’ case, history – and have a tremendous capacity for retaining information. AS kids are predominantly boys of above average intelligence. Often their ability to focus on a single interest can translate into high levels of professional achievement. Many have hypothesized, for instance, that Albert Einstein was affected by AS.


Together, Deb and I reviewed the characteristics of AS and to our astonishment, it was as if we were reading a story written expressly about Myles. Relief and sadness welled over us all at the same time – relief to know there was an identifiable antecedent to Myles’ unique behavior and some sadness to realize that we faced a potentially life-long challenge.


Nevertheless, an immediate and significant change in my approach toward Myles accompanied the recognition that his quirks were, in fact, quirks of a genetic nature. My program of incessant nagging came to an abrupt halt. I realized that my son’s distinct behavior is part and parcel of who he is, no more separable from the person of Myles than the color of his eyes, the shape of his chin or the depth of his curiosity. My program of nagging was replaced by something far more effective – simple, unconditional acceptance. Some people cough, some people twitch, some people jog and some people hop – we are all the same, we are all different.


For the last eight years in my role as a homeschooling father I thought I knew the meaning of acceptance, thought I knew how to revere the essence of an individual. But it wasn’t until recently, when measured against the crucible of “different,” that I began to fathom what it means to fully honor and accept the individual.


Hopping is no longer discouraged in our household. In fact, with the Christmas acquisition of a trampoline, hopping and bouncing are celebrated by the whole family. Tigger is our inspiration. And gratefully, hugs and laughter and kissing have returned. The cloud that threatened to engulf my relationship with Myles has lifted, not because he changed, but because I changed. Quirks of fate grew into quirks of love.


Further Thoughts


Asperger’s Syndrome is not a cognitive impairment in the traditional sense. Asperger kids are typically above average learners who often have a tremendous facility with selected subjects. What causes these kids the greatest difficulty is their impaired ability to process and integrate social information. This makes AS kids different and being different in our culture is not easy, particularly in school. Being different in a school setting usually spells disaster for special needs children in the form of teasing, taunting and ostracism. It is for this reason that Tony Attwood, a prominent researcher in the field of Asperger’s Syndrome, refers to school as a “social minefield”1 for AS kids.


Homeschooling offers an important alternative to institutional instruction and has two potent benefits for the special needs child. First, and foremost, it provides an environment of acceptance in which a child is free to be his or her self without fear of ostracism. A child needs to feel safe, accepted and rooted in order to expand intellectually and emotionally. This is, of course, true of all children, but it is particularly important for an AS child who will often battle as much with the despair of not readily making friends as they do with the AS characteristics themselves. Family and close community support offers a safe training ground for acquiring those social skills that come naturally to most children.


Second, homeschoolers have the flexibility to concentrate on the acquisition of “friendship skills” as they have been referred to by Attwood and Gray 2. The typical response in a school setting to inappropriate social interaction is public criticism. The underlying assumption is that the interaction was entirely of the child’s own volition. In a homeschool setting, on the other hand, ineffectual social behavior can be viewed as opportunities for replaying and correcting the interaction in a completely non-judgmental and didactic way. Reading material that illustrates friendship behaviors can be stressed, journals of successful social activities can be kept and specific, mutually supportive playmates can be encouraged.


We take the acquisition of social and friendship skills largely for granted, but for AS kids, and kids with related Autistic Spectrum Disorders, these skills do not come naturally. Gratefully homeschooling offers a wonderful environment for nurturing these critical life skills.


For more information on Asperger’s Syndrome and related Autistic Spectrum Disorders, refer to the resource list below.

AUSTRALIA – “Home Schooling Aspergers”
“A journey into the trials and tribulations of home educating our child with Aspergers. A place for learning, sharing, crying, celebrating and self eduction of the less-focused parent.”
http://homeschoolingaspergers.blogspot.com/

Important news for those home educating in the UK:


“Confirmation from DfES that they have no intention of changing the existing legal framework, nor to make registration compulsory, is very good news indeed.”

Going to school ‘not compulsory’
Home education frees children from the national curriculum and tests
Councils in England are being reminded that parents have the right to educate their children at home if they wish.

Proposed Department for Education and Skills guidelines on “elective home education” stress that education is compulsory but schooling is not.

Councils should offer support to home educators, and parents must see that their children are suitably educated.

But the authorities have no right to enter people’s homes or make routine checks on children’s progress.

The department has been discussing the issue with several groups representing home educators and with local authorities.

It is the legal right of parents to educate their children at home if they so wish and the Department for Education and Skills supports the right of parents to make this choice for their children

DfES
Introduction to consultation
It has decided not to propose any changes to current monitoring arrangements or legislation.

It has dropped plans for compulsory registration of home-educated children.

Instead it is proposing to issue guidelines for the first time, which point out that it is fundamental to the English system that the responsibility for educating children rests on the parents.

That same principle also applies in the devolved education systems in the rest of the UK.

What parents must provide is “efficient full-time education” suitable to their children’s age, ability and aptitude and any special educational needs.

SOME REASONS PEOPLE CHOOSE HOME EDUCATION
Distance or access to school
Religious, cultural or philosophical beliefs
Dissatisfaction with the system
Bullying
Short-term particular reason
Child’s unwillingness or inability to go to school
Special educational needs
Parents’ desire for closer relationship with children

Most do this by sending their children to school, but some prefer home education.

Nobody knows how many. Research commissioned by the education department said it might range between 7,400 and 34,400, while the guidance notes say it might be 40,000 and councils are working with half that number.

The proposed guidance says local authorities now have a duty to try to identify children in danger of missing education.

But it says they have “no statutory duties in relation to monitoring the quality of home education on a routine basis”.

It really is so heart-warming to families to have their choices recognised in this way
Ann Newstead
Education Otherwise

They could intervene only if they have “good reason” – it stresses – to believe parents were not providing a suitable education.

They could ask parents to provide information. Parents “are under no duty to comply” though it would be “sensible” to do so.

Serving a school attendance order should be “a last resort”.

Allegations

The aim should be to build a trusting relationship between families and local officials.

This is something that can be lacking at present.

Some parents claim local authorities have told people to educate their children themselves, to evade their responsibilities to provide for those with special needs.

And some local authority officials have said parents sometimes claim to be home educating to hide abuse.

The guidelines accept that local authorities get no money for helping home educators, but say they should at least provide written information and website links.

They say there will be diversity in people’s approaches to education.

“Children learn in different ways and at different times and speeds.”

‘Very good news’

Consultation on the proposed guidelines runs until the end of July. They have been welcomed by one of the main home educators’ groups, Education Otherwise.

“Confirmation from DfES that they have no intention of changing the existing legal framework, nor to make registration compulsory, is very good news indeed.”

Spokesperson Ann Newstead said they appeared to be “a welcome change to the kind of documents that home educators have seen used in the past by local authorities”.

Details needed to be checked. One of the accompanying documents said registering children educated at home would be made compulsory, but the department had assured her this was an earlier draft, published in error.

“These are the most positive statements that have been coming out from the DfES,” she said.

“It really is so heart-warming to families to have their choices recognised in this way.”

Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/6636569.stm

Hope you’re all doing well Smile . Time to catch up on the latest…


Though we now have guidance on home education from the DCSF, discussion and debate continues here in the UK. It is unlikely that LAs seeking tighter controls on home education and increased monitoring, will be satisfied. Further discussions with civil servants are expected, and continued debate may possibly lead to calls for further rewriting of current guidance. While containing some problems, overall the guidance is seen as reasonable by most of the home education community.

There is both good news and bad from Europe. Home Educators in Estonia have gained rights, while in Germany the authorities are increasing their oppression of home educating families, many of whom see their only future as exiles from their homeland.

There are two ways of seeing this: either it signals the increasing confidence of an authoritarian regime or it is the last desperate effort to crush a growing movement. Whatever the aim, with many families prepared to leave everything behind, the German authorities are clearly failing to prevent dissent.

New Phone Help Line – Education Everywhere


There is a new venture which was set up in December 2007 so that people wanting to know more about home education would be able to speak to a real human being. There are some excellent websites available which give all kinds of information to anyone who needs it. Nevertheless, people usually want to actually speak to someone on the phone before they look for such information and may want to be able to ring as often as they like to ask any questions or to seek the reassurance they so often need.

Not everyone has access to the internet and having a phone number can be a lifeline for so many people. Those of us involved with Education Everywhere have considerable experience, knowledge, information, ideas and endless patience.

We are not a business, not even strictly speaking a charity since we are not registered as such and have no money except from our own resources or from contributions from well wishers.

We ask for nothing except to be able to help.

The website is www.educationeverywhere.co.uk

or ring: 01942 897779 anytime.


SEN & Bullying


There have been two reports in the press by England’s Children’s Commissioner recently. The first, a disturbing report into the bullying of disabled and special needs children. It contains the frightful example of Peter, now 17, who told researchers that when he was in school he was badly bullied. “They would call me names, spit on me and throw stones and bottles.” When he reported it to teachers he was heartlessly told: “that I had special needs so I should get used to it as I would be bullied all of my entire life.”

Another child was attacked because of her disability saying she was ugly. She was forced up against a wall and required 18 stitches to her head.

In what can only be thought of as barbaric behaviour, it was also reported that a child with Down’s syndrome had returned from a park with injuries and torn clothing having been attacked for entertainment.

A study of 500 children with learning difficulties aged 8-19, revealed a staggering 80% suffered persistent bullying at school, and 60% had been physically attacked.

Research indicates that in 2003-4 upwards of 45% of home educated children who left school did so because of bullying. It seems from this report that nothing much is improving.

Apparently the DCSF are working on yet another round of guidance to “stamp out bullying”.

Complaints Procedures


In another report by England’s Commissioner for Children, the way in which schools deal with complaints about bullying is also criticised. He says that parents report that the formal complaints procedures of many schools lack transparency, accountability and ultimately effective redress. In other words, parents don’t know who is doing what or even if anything is done at all and ultimately nothing changes.

The commissioner is calling for:

*Families to have a right to a hearing before a governors’ committee and the opportunity to be supported by an independent presenting officer

*Universal access to independent mediation services to settle disputes between parents, children and schools

*An independent complaints panel in each local authority area to act as the final appeal body from the governors sites

*An extension of the Local Government Ombudsman’s role in order to consider issues relating to internal discipline in schools.

These measures do seem to address many of the problems of schools that fail to manage the issue. Recalcitrant head teachers not wishing to address the problem need to be made to justify their school’s policy.

Link:http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/7098105.stm

“England’s pupils feel less safe”


In a large scale international study of 45 countries, England came 37th out of 45 in a league table of feelings of security at school.

Apparently children in Iran, Morocco, Romania and the United States came higher up the scale than England. Those children who felt most safe were Norway and Sweden while those who felt least safe were South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago. There was also a high expectation that they would be injured by a classmate.

Link:http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/7121824.stm

“Desperate Mother Home Educates”


The mother of an autistic child in Devon told how the move to a secondary special school led to “one of the most horrendous experiences her family has ever had” leading her daughter to change from being a good natured funny child to an isolated and angry child lacking in confidence.


Despite staff doing the best they could, there were so many children with so many different problems that it was impossible for the staff to have sufficient knowledge of each specialist need. She said “the lack of understanding of her condition was staggering. What is a parent to do? Stand by and watch as ignorance and a lack of training systematically destroy your child?”


The experience of a large noisy school was too much for her autistic daughter who, in common with other autistic children, finds noise, disruption and change unbearable. She said her daughter eventually became “a ranting monster” because her needs were not being met.


Being a writer she put together some guidance on how she worked with her daughter at home, but despite the staff willingly taking this on board, it was too little too late.


She finally took the decision to home educate her child at half term and though she no longer has time for herself she describes it as a pleasure.


Referring to the ex-secretary of state who placed her dyslexic child into a £15 000 a year private specialist school she added “there are many, many families struggling with children with special needs and very few of them have the benefits of financial security and political sway enjoyed by the likes of Ms Kelly. She has made a choice for her son -but it is also a choice for herself. People like me haven’t got a choice. I am trying hard not to be angry. But I am.”


The DfES have previously stated that state schools are suitable for all children.


Link:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/main.jhtml;jsessionid=IRT3JKYFQRCGFQFIQMFCFFOAVCBQYIV0?xml=/education/2007/01/10/eglue10.xml

“Widening Home Education Opportunities at the Open University”


The OU region of London, which in the past refused to accept under 16 year olds, has accepted a home educated child after it was pointed out to them that it was contrary to the new Age Discrimination Act not to do so. This could mean an end to the postcode lottery faced by home educated young people wanting to enrol in OU courses.

Meanwhile, the Wales region of the Open University receives a thumbs up. It has led the way in taking a flexible and supportive approach to the inclusion of home educated young people under sixteen over at least the last four years and without any pressure from legislation.

“Facebook profiles used by admissions tutors”


The Guardian is running a story that the admissions tutor of Emanuel College, Cambridge University has stated that he checks up on prospective candidates facebook profiles. Cambridge University are playing down the admission as a throwaway remark in the college magazine, but that’s of little consequence – if true. In writing the article he clearly had no appreciation of the implications of his actions.

The reason why this is important is that young people’s FB profiles often include information of a deeply personal nature that, if known by admissions tutors, would breach university equal opportunities policies. They could, for example, give away people’s racial origins in photographs, political affiliations, sexual preferences and information about extended families etc.

If this ploy has occurred to a Cambridge university admissions tutor, it will have certainly occurred to many employers.

It is advisable that all young people making applications for work or study, or indeed any other activity, consider very carefully what they allow the public to see and read on any on line profile, particularly those on the newly developing social network sites. It should be borne in mind that once out there, information about yourself cannot be easily recalled. What someone says when they are 16 can effect them for life. Take for example Gordon Brown’s musings about school.

Link:http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2008/jan/11/accesstouniversity.highereducation

“Lower School Leaving Age Proposed”


The head of Birmingham City Council, the UK’s largest education authority, has said that some children should be able to leave school at 14 to pursue a trade as they would clearly be better off doing so as they were sometimes better suited to apprenticeship learning.

This is the diametric opposite of the policy recently announced by the DCSF which will raise the compulsory education age to the last day of June in the year during which they attain 17 by 2013 and their 18th birthday by 2015.



Children are Unbeatable! Alliance


It is legal for parents and some other adults to hit or hurt their children to punish them.

The Children are Unbeatable! Alliance think this is wrong. We want to change the law so that nobody will be allowed to hurt children and we want young people to work with us!

We are starting a new young people’s campaign and are looking for young people to get involved. This is a great opportunity to work with other young people to change the law and make a difference. We think the law should change because…

*Hitting children to punish them can be painful and embarrassing.
*It’s against the law to hit adults. We think children should be equally protected.
*The United Nations and the Council of Europe say that it should be illegal to hit children.
*Children have human rights, including the right not to be hit.
*Lots of other countries have already made it illegal to hit children.

We want young people to be involved because:

*The law is about young people.
*We think that people in power should listen to what young people think.
*We believe that young people can make a difference.

You could get involved by joining our campaign group:

If you live in or near London, and want to work with a group of other young people to change the law, we are looking for you!

Some things the campaign group might do are: meeting people in the government, thinking of ways to publicise the campaign, writing to newspapers to explain about why they think the law should change.

If you become a representative you will work to tell other young people about us, for instance by putting up posters, giving out leaflets and asking people to join the alliance.

Joining the Alliance:

If you join, we will let you know what we are doing and how you can help.

We treat all young people with respect and listen to what you say. We will pay for travel expenses and we organise training if you need it.

To find out more, see our website:

www.childrenareunbeatable.org.uk/children

Children’s Campaign Co-ordinator,
Elinor: phone/text: 07504 738 741

elinor@childrenareunbeatable.org.uk

GERMANY


“The Neubronner Story”


The Neubronner’s case was first mentioned in the previous issue of HEJ and generated more than a little interest. A fuller background to the problems have been obtained and are included as follows. The Neubronners run a a small press family publishing business in Germany and are currently translating The Teenage Liberation Handbook into German for the first time.


The Neubronner’s story begins in a way that is personally familiar to many home educators. Their elder son, Moritz, began school along with his age mates. For two years his parents, Tilman and Dagmar, watched their son struggle mentally, emotionally, and physically with his new lifestyle. His enthusiasm for life and learning drained gradually away and finally his health began to suffer. Try as they might 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 frighteningly as if he were about to repeat his brother’s negative experiences. Within days, he was telling his parents that he would prefer to stay at home, complaining 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 newcomers to home educators who do not feel some degree of trepidation at the task before them, but in Germany, where the Neubronners come from, an extra deep breath is required. There of course, home education is a criminal activity which the authorities are determined to rout out no matter what might be the cost to 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 1500 Euros was levied. This, the Neubronners declined to pay. Whilst the legal machine ground into action, Moritz and Thomas were savouring life at home. About once a month two teachers from the school at which they were still registered, came to their house to monitor their progress. The boys undertook written tests and received encouraging reports but their parents noticed their learning growing much more significantly than this. Dagmar likens the whole process of natural learning to that of a growing plant; an organic process in which her sons’ minds do not simply develop but in which they thrive and flourish. The Neubronners’ enthusiasm for and joy in home education is palpable.


Their fines have been raised within the last few weeks to 4500 Euros and baliffs have visited their home in a fruitless search to impound property that might release the sum. The Neubronners are determined not to pay, they are also determined not to follow the route of several other German home educators who, with their backs against the wall, have decided to move to more liberal countries. It will take a good deal of courage to stick to this line if prison sentences and child protection orders ensue, as they have in other cases.


Whilst the Neubronners motivation may not be hard for fellow home educators to fathom, the thought processes behind the German authorities’ actions is a tougher call.


Yes, compulsory school attendance is the law since Hitler made it so, but on what grounds is it so stringently upheld? The arguments against fostering religious extremism or the creation of the bogey man “parallel” societies clearly do not apply to the middle class, mainstream Neubronners. Nor can arguments about the children’s educational progress hold any sway; by the school’s own measures they are doing well.


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. The Neubronners are doing well at generating interest and publicity around their cause with newspaper reports and TV appearances. Disseminating news about their case both at home and abroad will help turn the spotlight onto the authority’s next move. Let us all hope that it is to recognise that in the Neubronners they have finally met their match so that, at long last, a sensible and public debate about educational alternatives can take place on German soil.


Write to the Education Secretary for Bremen at the following address: Senatorin fuer Bildung and Wissenschaft, Rembertiring 8-12,D-28195 Bremen, Germany.


There is a protest letter written in German that could be sent to Angela Merkel. The letter can be downloaded at: http://www.diefreilerner.eu/ and send to: Bundeskanzleramt, Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel, Willy-Brandt-Strase 1, 10557 Berlin



“He who joyfully marches in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would suffice.”

Albert Einstein(Largely home educated)


Health and Safety Warning – Plaster of Paris


Many home educators use plaster of Paris, possibly unaware of the dangers involved.

As plaster of Paris sets, the chemical process generates heat. If there is a large body of plaster, the temperature can rise in the centre of the body to over 150 degrees centigrade. Earlier last year, a young girl in a school lost three fingers to severe burns while making a cast of her hand. Extreme care should be exercised when using the plaster and body parts should never be immersed in a body of plaster.

Boys Only

Boys Only – France 1870s

“Single Sex Classes”


It is often said that putting children into single sex classes will improve performance by removing the distraction of children of the opposite sex. This was attempted by a Pembrokeshire head teacher as part of a well designed controlled study.

The outcome was that it made no difference in measurable performance at all, though the girls classes were deemed to be more compliant and well behaved while the boys classes were “nightmarish” to teach until the teaching material was adapted to them. Ultimately the girls still outperformed the boys and in much the same proportions for the school as before the experiment.

It seems likely that single sex classes are not the issue needed to address the gender gap in achievement, but rather it is something about the curriculum boys are expected to follow and the lack of personalised education.

Link:http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/south_west/4081197.stm



“Computer Games”


Many parents consider computer games to be a waste of time and may severely limit their children’s access and time spent playing them. However, there have been several interesting articles recently about computer games. One was about Shaun Clark, from the UK(AKA online as ‘Apolloo’) who took the gold medal and nearly £6000 in prize money for winning the Command & Conquer 3 tournament at the week-long festival of video gaming held in Seattle. In total, nearly half a million dollars were handed out in prize money for a series of tournaments held during the festival.

Another was that MI5 were targeting online game players for a career in the security services, offering ‘good all round employment packages’ and interesting foreign business trips.

Perhaps more persuasive was an article in The Times Educational Supplement which reported a small scale experiment where children played a computer game at the beginning of each day. The result of which was better social interaction and dramatic improvements in maths skills.

The game in question was “More Brain Training from Dr Kawashima”.

Most intriguingly the improvement was more marked for children who had previously been ‘behind’ prior to the experiment. Moreover the effects seemed to last. The class which took part have now been using consoles for some time and have since moved up a grade, remaining more cohesive as a group, working together better than teachers hitherto experienced.

The use of consuls appears to have improved socialisation and ability beyond anyone’s expectations and further, more comprehensive experiments are planned.



BLOGS with content relevant to home educators:


aspiehomeducation.blogspot.com
wheretruthgrows.blogspot.com
daretoknowblog.blogspot.com
hsblog.org
henireland.org/blog
gfoh.blogspot.com
sometimesitspeaceful.blogspot.com
anunschoolinglife.blogspot.com
cypruslife.blogspot.com
byothermeans.co.uk
eclecticlearnings.blogspot.com/
tworedboots.co.uk/blog/
ellesfuntimes.blogspot.com
Learning Unlimited
A support network for continental Europe
www.learning-inlimited.org

Free Range Education
www.free-range-education.co.uk

Choice In Education
Alternative Education newletter
www.choiceineducation.org.uk
PO Box 20284, London, NW1 3AA
0208 969 8935
info@choiceineducation.org.uk

Personalised Education Now
Promotes learner-managed learning
c.person.ed.gn.apc.org
113 Arundel Drive, Bramcote,
Nottingham, NG9 3FQ
Tel/Fax: 0115 925 7261


Further Education/Home Ed Updates & Relevant Articles:

7th June, 2008 Edition

http://www.aspie-editorial.com/2010/12/18/educationhome-ed-articles-update/


2nd November, 2008 Edition

http://www.aspie-editorial.com/2011/01/07/educationhome-ed-update/


4th April 2009 Edition

http://www.aspie-editorial.com/2011/01/19/educationhome-ed-articles-update-2/


“Education:  The Needs of Autistic/AS Students(Exam Preparation, Stress/Free Guide to Remaining Calm)”
http://www.aspie-editorial.com/2011/01/10/education-the-needs-of-autisticas-studentsexam-preparation-stressfree-guide-to-remaining-calm/


“Pets Can Help College Students Cope With Stress & Loneliness”:

http://www.aspie-editorial.com/2011/01/11/pets-can-help-college-students-cope-with-stress-loneliness/


Guardian Article on New Report:  “Why Don’t You Understand?: The Difficulties of Teaching Autistic Children”:

http://www.aspie-editorial.com/2011/01/07/guardian-article-on-new-report-why-dont-you-understand-the-difficulties-of-teaching-autistic-children/


“Study: 6 Out Of Every 10 University Students Present “Mathematical Anxiety” Or Fear Of This Subject”:

http://www.aspie-editorial.com/2011/01/19/study-6-out-of-every-10-university-students-present-mathematical-anxiety-or-fear-of-this-subject/

 

Jenn Ashworth “Why I Refused to go to School”:

http://www.aspie-editorial.com/2012/01/30/why-i-refused-to-go-to-school/

 

“Mother of Autistic Boy Levels Charges of Bullying at Malverne School”:

http://www.aspie-editorial.com/2012/01/20/mother-of-autistic-boy-levels-charges-of-bullying-at-malverne-school/

 

“Film Tackles SEN Bullying”:

http://www.aspie-editorial.com/2011/01/22/film-tackles-sen-bullying/

 

“Autistic Student Shines Thanks to Radio Broadcasts”:

http://www.aspie-editorial.com/2011/11/11/autistic-student-shines-thanks-to-radio-broadcasts/

 

“Manilla: Worried for Daughter with PDD-NOS In A Regular School”:

http://www.aspie-editorial.com/2011/10/28/manila-worried-for-daughter-with-pdd-nos-in-a-regular-school/

 

“ASAN Presents … The Navigating College Handbook”:

http://www.aspie-editorial.com/2011/10/25/asan-presents-the-navigating-college-handbook/

 

“Twice Exceptional Children”:

http://www.aspie-editorial.com/2011/09/29/twice-exceptional-children/

 

“Education: Structured Homeschooling Gets an A+, Simple Teaching Tools Boosts Reading Performance & More”:

http://www.aspie-editorial.com/2011/09/16/education-structured-homeschooling-gets-an-a-simple-teaching-tool-boosts-reading-performance-more/

 

“Autistic Children Unleash Their Inner Spielbergs”:

http://www.aspie-editorial.com/2011/09/15/autistic-children-unleash-their-inner-spielbergs/

 

“Education: Tasering: The new Terror in our Schools/Cases of Taser Use Relevant to the Autism Community”:

http://www.aspie-editorial.com/2011/08/18/education-tasering-the-new-terror-in-our-schoolscases-of-taser-use-relevant-to-the-autism-community-2/

 

“Using Touch Screens and Apps”:

http://www.aspie-editorial.com/2011/07/22/using-touch-screens-and-apps/

 

“Conference Focuses on Key Issue of Challenging Behaviour”:

http://www.aspie-editorial.com/2011/07/15/conference-focuses-on-key-issue-of-challenging-behaviour/

 

“UK Education: Special Education Students and Teachers are Victims of ‘Muddled’ Approach to Schooling”:

http://www.aspie-editorial.com/2011/07/07/uk-education-special-needs-students-and-teachers-are-victims-of-muddled-approach-to-schooling/

 

“Special Education Resources in Ottawa and Other Areas”:

http://www.aspie-editorial.com/2011/07/07/special-education-resources-in-ottawa-other-areas/

 

“Autistic Children Wait Too Long for Educational Support”:

http://www.aspie-editorial.com/2011/06/30/autistic-children-wait-too-long-for-educational-support/

 

“Separation Anxiety: Parents Voice Fears Over Special Education”:

http://www.aspie-editorial.com/2011/07/07/separation-anxiety-parents-voice-fears-over-special-education/

 

“Human Rights Bureau Rules in Great Falls Student Abuse Case Involving Autistic Boy”:

http://www.aspie-editorial.com/2011/06/02/human-rights-bureau-rules-in-great-falls-student-abuse-case-involving-autistic-boy/

 

“Validating Preschool Programs for Autistic Children”:

http://www.aspie-editorial.com/2011/05/20/validating-preschool-programs-for-autistic-children/

 

“3 Ideas to Prevent Schools from Killing Creativity, Curiosity and Critical Thinking”:

http://www.aspie-editorial.com/2011/05/13/3-ideas-to-prevent-schools-from-killing-creativity-curiosity-and-critical-thinking/

 

“Ari Ne’eman Lecture, London: The Education & Miseducation of Autistic Students”:

http://www.aspie-editorial.com/2011/05/11/ari-neeman-lecture-london-the-education-miseducation-of-autistic-students/

 

“6 Tips for Living with an Autism Spectrum Disorder in College”:

http://www.aspie-editorial.com/?p=3375

 

“Parents of Staten Island Youngsters with Asperger’s Syndrome Fight for Smooth Transition for Graduates”:

http://www.aspie-editorial.com/2011/03/22/parents-of-staten-island-youngsters-with-aspergers-syndrome-fight-for-smooth-transition-for-graduates/

 

“NAS: MPs Highlight Impact of Education Bill on Autistic Children”:

http://www.aspie-editorial.com/2011/02/16/nas-mps-highlight-impact-of-education-bill-on-autistic-children/

 

“President of ASAN, Ari Ne’eman, on the Benefits of Inclusion: “Don’t Isolate Autistic Students”:

http://www.aspie-editorial.com/2011/02/08/president-of-asan-ari-neeman-on-the-benefits-of-inclusion-dont-isolate-autistic-students/

 

“Education – NYTimes: More Autism Schools Proposed for New Jersey/ UK: Tough Teacher Powers Under School Reforms & More”:

http://www.aspie-editorial.com/2011/02/02/education-nytimes-more-autism-schools-proposed-for-new-jerseyuk-tough-teacher-powers-under-school-reforms-more/

 

“Fwd: Families Against Restraint & Seclusion”:

http://www.aspie-editorial.com/2011/01/26/fwd-families-against-restraint-and-seclusion/

 

“Disabled Students Restrained, Injured in Public Schools”:

http://www.aspie-editorial.com/2011/01/22/disabled-students-restrained-injured-in-public-schools/

 

“Teen Mental Health Linked to Educational Success/ Focused Education for Autism, ADHD”:

http://www.aspie-editorial.com/2011/01/22/teen-mental-health-linked-to-educational-successfocused-education-for-autism-

 

“Teacher Tenure Under Attack from Mother of Autistic Child Voted Out of Class Survivor Style”:

http://www.aspie-editorial.com/2011/01/22/teacher-tenure-under-attack-from-mother-of-autistic-child-voted-out-of-class-survivor-style/

 

“Alex Barton Case: Big Payday for Kid Voted out of Kindergarten Class”:

http://www.aspie-editorial.com/2011/01/22/alex-barton-case-big-payday-for-kid-voted-out-of-kindergarten-class/

 

“Speech Therapist Innovates Speech Therapy Using the iPhone and iPad, Improving the Communication Skills of Children with Speech Delays”:

http://www.aspie-editorial.com/2011/01/22/speech-pathologist-innovates-speech-therapy-using-the-iphone-and-ipad-and-improving-the-communication-skills-of-children-with-speech-delays/

 

Sesame Street Program Improves Development for Children in Indonesia”:

http://www.aspie-editorial.com/2011/01/22/sesame-street-program-improves-development-for-children-in-indonesia/

 

Sandra Beale-Ellis “Pioneer of Martial Arts Autistic Learning Makes Surprise Discovery”:

http://www.aspie-editorial.com/2011/01/22/pioneer-of-martial-arts-autistic-learning-makes-surprise-discovery/

 

“Self Esteem – Why it Matters”:

http://www.aspie-editorial.com/2011/01/22/self-esteem-why-it-matters/

 

“State Report Cites Deficiency in Autism Training”:

http://www.aspie-editorial.com/2011/01/22/state-report-cites-deficiency-in-autism-training/

 

“Education: Paying for Superman: A South Pasadena Mom Explains Why She Moved Her Kids to Private School”:

http://www.aspie-editorial.com/2011/01/22/education-paying-for-superman-a-south-pasadena-mom-explains-why-she-moved-her-kids-to-private-school/

 

“Boy with Genetic Disorder ‘In Limbo’ and Out of School”:

http://www.aspie-editorial.com/2011/01/22/boy-with-genetic-disorder-in-limbo-and-out-of-school/

 

“Specialist New Elizabethan School Saved from Closure Requests “Free” Status”:

http://www.aspie-editorial.com/2011/01/22/specialist-new-elizabethan-school-saved-from-closure-requests-free-status/

 

“Global Award for Grace App That Aids Communication in Autistic Children”:

http://www.aspie-editorial.com/2011/01/22/global-award-for-grace-app-that-aids-communication-in-autistic-children/

 

“IQ Scores Fail to Predict Academic Performance in Autistic Children”:

http://www.aspie-editorial.com/2011/01/22/iq-scores-fail-to-predict-academic-performance-in-autistic-children/

“Eagle Scout Earns Honor”:

http://www.aspie-editorial.com/2011/01/22/eagle-scout-earns-honor/

 

“Communication: Fast ForWord For Reading Disabilities & Language Delays: Does it Work?, Language Intervention for Pre-School Children, The Bilingual Advantage Etc”:

http://www.aspie-editorial.com/2011/01/22/communication-fast-forword-for-reading-disabilities-language-delays-does-it-work-language-intervention-for-pre-school-children-the-bilingual-advantage-etc/

 

“Education: Adolescents in Private School Cope Better, Parent’s Efforts Key to Children’s Performance & More”:

http://www.aspie-editorial.com/2011/01/22/education-adolescents-in-private-school-cope-better-parents-efforts-key-to-childrens-performance-more/

 

“Bullying: Half of American HS Children Bullied During Last 12 Months, Safe Schools Policy For LGBTQ Students, Teens’ Take on Bullying, What if Your Child’s The Bully?”:

http://www.aspie-editorial.com/2011/01/22/bullying-half-of-american-hs-children-bullied-during-last-12-months-safe-schools-policy-teens-take-on-bullying-more/

 

“Disability Advocates Split on Restraint, Seclusion Reform”:

http://www.aspie-editorial.com/2011/01/22/disability-advocates-split-on-restraint-seclusion-reform/

 

“Preschool Promises: Starting Early on a New Educational Agenda for the United States”:

http://www.aspie-editorial.com/2011/01/22/preschool-promises-starting-early-on-a-new-educational-agenda-for-the-united-states/

 

“Parents of Autistic Boy File Suit Against Gateway”:

http://www.aspie-editorial.com/2011/01/22/parents-of-autistic-boy-file-suit-against-gateway/

 

“Tony Lanza: Teaching and Learning”:

http://www.aspie-editorial.com/2011/01/22/tony-danza-teaching-and-learning/

 

“Females are Equal to Males in Maths Skills, Large Study Shows”:

http://www.aspie-editorial.com/2011/01/22/females-are-equal-to-males-in-math-skills-large-study-shows/

 

“Education: Autistic Boy Discriminated Against By School, Says Mum/ Incident at Petersburg School Has Autistic Boy’s Mother Worried”:

http://www.aspie-editorial.com/2011/01/22/education-autistic-boy-discriminated-against-by-school-says-mumincident-at-petersburg-school-has-autistic-boys-mother-worried/

 

“NY Gifted Education: First 2E School Opened Its Doors In NYC This Past Monday”:

http://www.aspie-editorial.com/2011/01/22/ny-gifted-education-first-2e-school-opened-its-doors-in-nyc-this-past-monday/

 

“Autistic Society School in Devon May Lose 30 Staff”:

http://www.aspie-editorial.com/2011/01/22/autistic-society-school-in-devon-may-lose-30-staff/

 

“Model Preschool Program Emphasizes Inclusion for Children with Disabilities”:

http://www.aspie-editorial.com/2011/01/22/model-preschool-program-emphasizes-inclusion-for-children-with-disabilities/

 

“NAS Media Response: Ofsted’s Review of SEN and Disability”:

http://www.aspie-editorial.com/2011/01/22/nas-media-response-ofsteds-review-of-sen-and-disability/

 

“NAS: Government Asks for Views on Education for Children with Special Educational Needs”:

http://www.aspie-editorial.com/2011/01/22/nas-government-asks-for-views-on-education-for-children-with-special-educational-needs/

 

“When are Autistic Teens Ready to Drive?”:

http://www.aspie-editorial.com/2012/01/18/when-are-autistic-teens-ready-to-drive/

 

Speech & Language “Palin hopes ‘The King’s Speech’ Will Help Stammer Sufferers …”:

http://www.aspie-editorial.com/2011/01/22/palin-hopes-the-kings-speech-will-help-stammer-suffererskings-speech-reigns-at-british-independent-film-awards/

 

“Autism and Airline Travel: A New Book For Autistic Children “What Can You Expect When You Fly?”:

http://www.aspie-editorial.com/2011/01/22/autism-and-airline-travel-a-new-book-for-autistic-children-what-can-you-expect-when-you-fly/

 

“Certified Teachers in Autism Lacking”:

http://www.aspie-editorial.com/2011/01/22/certified-teachers-in-autism-lacking/

 

“Royal Visit for New School”:

http://www.aspie-editorial.com/2011/01/22/royal-visit-for-new-school/

 

“Milford Boy a Whiz With a Map”:

http://www.aspie-editorial.com/2011/01/22/milford-boy-a-whiz-with-a-map/

 

“Special Education”:

http://www.aspie-editorial.com/2011/01/22/special-education/

 

“Hawaii: Settle DOE Autism Case Now”:

http://www.aspie-editorial.com/2011/01/22/hawaii-settle-doe-autism-case-now/

 

“Kaspar the Friendly Robot”:

http://www.aspie-editorial.com/2011/01/22/kaspar-the-friendly-robot/

“Why Workboxes Can Work For Your Autistic Homeschooler”:

http://www.aspie-editorial.com/2011/01/22/why-workboxes-can-work-for-your-autistic-homeschooler/

 

“Education of Jayden: Strong Support System a Blessing for Mother of Autistic Child Starting School”:

http://www.aspie-editorial.com/2011/01/22/education-of-jayden-strong-support-system-a-blessing-for-mother-of-autistic-child-starting-school/

 

“Overcoming Reading Comprehension Difficulties in Children: Training Program Can Help”:
http://www.aspie-editorial.com/2011/01/22/overcoming-reading-comprehension-difficulties-in-children-training-program-can-help-2/

 

“Family Wins Disability Tribunal Against School/Council Criticised For Prosecution Over Boy With School Phobia”:

http://www.aspie-editorial.com/2011/01/22/family-wins-disability-tribunal-against-schoolcouncil-criticised-for-prosecution-over-boy-with-school-phobia/

 

“UN Calls For Investigation at Autism Facility”:

http://www.aspie-editorial.com/2011/01/22/u-n-calls-for-investigation-at-autism-facility/

 

“Australia: State Sued For School Abuse of Autistic Boy”:

http://www.aspie-editorial.com/2011/01/22/australia-state-sued-for-school-abuse-of-autistic-boy/

 

“One in 5 Five Preschool Children in the U.S. Demonstrates Mental Health Issues When Entering Kindergarten”:

http://www.aspie-editorial.com/2011/01/22/one-in-five-preschool-children-in-the-u-s-demonstrates-mental-health-issues-when-entering-kindergarten/

 

“ADHD: Counting the Days Until School”:

http://www.aspie-editorial.com/2011/01/22/adhd-counting-days-until-school/

 

“Ireland Hosts Conference ‘School Psychology: Making Life Better For All Children”:

http://www.aspie-editorial.com/2011/01/22/ireland-hosts-conference-school-psychology-making-life-better-for-all-children/

 

“BBC – Democracy Live – Debate on Autism/Patchy Provision for Autistic Children”:

http://www.aspie-editorial.com/2011/01/22/ireland-hosts-conference-school-psychology-making-life-better-for-all-children/

 

“Victoria, Australia: Autistic Children Failed By Education System”:

http://www.aspie-editorial.com/2011/01/22/vic-australia-autistic-children-failed-by-education-system/

 

“Summer Reading is Key To Maintaining or Improving Students’ Reading Skills”:

http://www.aspie-editorial.com/2011/01/22/summer-reading-is-key-to-maintaining-or-improving-students-reading-skills/

 

“Long-Term Benefits From Musical Training”:

http://www.aspie-editorial.com/2011/01/22/long-term-benefits-from-musical-training/

 

“Autism in the Classroom: The Benefits and Drawbacks of Inclusion”:

http://www.aspie-editorial.com/2011/01/22/autism-in-the-classroom-the-benefits-and-drawbacks-of-inclusion/

 

“Australia: Whiz Kids Awarded for Special Games”:

http://www.aspie-editorial.com/2011/01/22/australia-whiz-kids-awarded-for-special-games/

 

“South Lake Tahoe Autistic Boy Learns To Love Horses”:

http://www.aspie-editorial.com/2011/01/22/south-lake-tahoe-autistic-boy-learns-to-love-horses/

 

“Teachers Head Back to Class This Summer”:

http://www.aspie-editorial.com/2011/01/22/teachers-head-back-to-class-this-summer/