You Home Educate! so how do you make working, work?

This week has been an exciting one for us in the Ellena Household, The children have been rehearsing like mad for their show (a modern take on Alice in wonderland) which they will both be performing in, this weekend and alongside that I decided this would be the perfect week  to launch a new business venture. Okay so maybe my time management has been a tad off, but this is In fact, only the first of four new business ventures I’m planning to launch in the next 12 months!!!

However I still found time for a little ‘sitting and scrolling’ on social media (you know you do it too) and It was then that a post on a Home ed fb page caught my eye. It was from a parent considering home Ed and asking about the area of work. They basically were all up for it and starting to believe that home ed could be for them but wanted to know how others make work…well work

It’s a good question. with more and more pressure on both parents to go out to work it could mistakenly be viewed as a luxury rather than a lifestyle choice to home ed. I want to say here and now that home Ed is a full time job in it’s own right! it takes passion, drive, commitment, financial investment and hard graft. It is enough and if you choose to home ed without working alongside I salute you.

Now I have also heard of families who home Ed where both parents go out to work and I hear it takes a lot of organisation but it’s more than possible, if this is you then I think you deserve a medal! keep on keeping on as they say.

In our home my husband goes out to work full time and I run a printing business from home. I had the business before we chose to home Educate and I have decided I want to keep it going.

So back to the question of how I make this work (I mean practically) well I suppose it’s important for you to know that it isn’t full time, the hrs required to oversee things can happen around the fringes of family life, so evenings and weekends or I may snatch an hour occasionally when the children are engaged in their own activities and I’m free for a while, but it could not and would not ever stop us from providing a full time education for our children, they are our priority! I also have an incredibly dedicated husband who supports what I do and helps me with advice, help and an extra pair of hands on a regular basis.

I’ve been thinking and suppose an even better question would be not how but why I make my work, work. Here is a little list I have come up with

  1. Autonomy: The Cambridge dictionary tells me that autonomy means “the ability to make your own decisions without being controlled by anyone elseand I believe that the best way to teach my children about Autonomy is to actually live it, so I guess I’m saying I work because I decided I wanted to and I had the freedom to try.
  2. Team work we have always called our family Team Ellena and aside from being a cute pet name it’s there because I want my children to know that this family is made up of four people (and a lot more pets) My children love to act and sing and dance so their play and rehearsals are very important to us. Nothing could keep their Dad and I away on their show days and we burst with pride when they win awards for their efforts. With this in mind I know that my husbands football team is massively important to him and we care about his team’s score when he’s had a match, and my business/blog writing/ faith is important to me. The children need to see that we have to make room for one another’s dreams and passions and make space for one another to live these out.
  3. Business studies some of the things I do on a regular basis include providing something that people want to pay for, marketing myself, having an okayish website and social media presence, making a product to a high standard, providing good customer service and working to a deadline among many other things. All of these skills are transferable I love that my children can grow up watching the inner workings of a business happening around them all the time, so when they get to the age if they want to run a business they already understand about the foundations of business. It means our children can have a go too and they do! often one will come and ask me if I can turn their designs into a t-shirt or mug so I’ve found it’s a great educational tool.
  4. Showing others I want to empower other women to have a go! believe me if I can do it anyone can. There are so many amazing talented women out there who have a burning desire to do something with their lives, maybe they crochet stunning colorful scarves, maybe they paint beautiful nails, maybe they can plaster a perfect wall or create an epic website, but so often I meet women who dream but lack the confidence to have a go! I want to tell you today that you should try it! imagine all the life lessons in healthy risk taking you’ll be passing onto those little eyes who look at you and see a supermum!
  5. Finances I’m not going to go without saying that a large motivation of running a business is to make money, I want to help towards providing for our family (there’s that team work again) I want for us to experience the best that life has to offer and money certainly helps with that, I’m not going to lie.

So there you have it! not only how I make my work work but also why. So how do other families tackle working I’d love to hear if you solely home ed, fit in a job outside the home or work from home and how you find it.

To find out more about my latest business venture 
click here: http://www.printingonsea.co.uk/create-n-print/4594009945
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The biggest problem with deschooling

Yesterday we were lucky enough to attend a beautiful wedding. The Church was glorious, the outfits were stunning, the people were fantastic company, the drink was flowing in abundance and the conversations were…

A little awkward at times actually!!!

Let me explain I’m only a few months into Home Education and I approach all conversations with strangers about it with caution. You could say I’m a little on edge as to the reactions or questions I may receive once they learn that we don’t do school.

It was at this wedding that a parent who was sat on our table at dinner quite understandably commented  on it being the summer holidays when my daughter interjects with “we’re not on summer holidays because we don’t go to school” quickly I explained that this was because we are home educating our children and that’s when I saw the raised eyebrow and I took a small, sharp involuntary breath inwards and waited for their response.

What I got was nothing I haven’t been asked before
“Do you do that yourself?”
“Do you get any financial assistance with that?”
And a personal favorite of mine…”Where do you get the national curriculum from?”

I answered their questions as honestly and briefly as I could explaining that I do indeed do home education myself (there’s no daily tutors here) That when I chose home education I also took on all the financial costs that come with it and finally that I was in fact letting my children follow their own interests and learning through life rather than following the national curriculum as we are currently in a transition period between leaving school and settling into our preferred home ed style (AKA deschooling.)

I got a little polite smile and the subject was quickly changed to something slightly less controversial and I took a big sigh of relief.

But since then I have noticed myself playing our exchange over and over again in my head because of course it was this very conversation that highlighted the biggest problem of all about deschooling, which is:

The desire to cave!

It’s literally every time that I discuss home ed with someone new that what follows is heightened anxiety that maybe the deschooling stage is taking too long and the desire to rush out and purchase some Science and English workbooks becomes quite unbearable, so instead I find myself looking up the annual fees for an IXL Maths subscription, again!

So I’ve been reflecting and I believe the desire to cave creeps in because well firstly I’m new to this and secondly I honestly want the very best education for my children alongside wanting them to be happier and more well rounded individuals I also want them to be able to earn a living some day!

Is the deschooling stage taking too long? I start to wonder, I mean will they forget how to read and add up if I don’t make them do it daily? and might they completely forget how to socialise with other human beings if they don’t set foot onto a school playground this year?

It’s during these moments that I have to take myself off and do a little self soothing the best way I have found to do this is to look back over my personal facebook home ed group. It’s a private place where I upload the things my children have done since we left school, the idea was recommended to me by another deschooling Mum to which I’m extremely grateful for.

And it’s here that I can see all the choices they have made, the children they have met, the new places they have been and the activities they have done. There’s loads of it! Day after day of experiences and learning and very rarely a child sat on a sofa under a blanket watching TV. (there is one of those actually)

So my advice to you if you are deschooling or about to deregister and deschool, and think you may fall into the trap of wanting to cave in and get structured, then I urge you to

Document your journey

Whether you start a diary or a facebook page or just take lots of photos and make an album or create a scrap book just do something to document what you’ve been up to, as this has been the only thing that keeps me going some days.

Then every time you feel that urge you can also self soothe and remind yourself what an incredible journey you’re on!

Do you feel the urge? did you feel the urge?

Anything you did or have thought of to combat the biggest problem of all about deschooling, I’d love to hear about it please feel free to like, share or comment below.

pho duvet

Love Leanna Ellena xxx

My top 5 discoveries as a new HE mum

Are you allowed to do that!!!!?

This it often the response I get from people when I tell them our children recently left school at the tender ages of  9 and 11 because we have decided to home educate! and what’s worse, I currently do absolutely zero structured learning! People find the concept rather odd and a little challenging tbh but of course the answer to their question is “absolutely yes, it is perfectly legal to leave school and home educate your children”

Team Ellena (my family) are exactly two months in, to the exact day and oh my goodness it’s been so much fun taking this massive leap into the unknown, and on this small anniversary I’ve been reflecting a little bit on my findings, so here are my top 5 discoveries as a new HE mum.

discovery 1. Learning is not just about subjects.

I discovered that Education is not just about a grade C or above in Maths and English like the world would have me think, but in fact, learning is everywhere, it’s all around us, it’s happening in our daily experiences, challenges, opportunities, successes and mistakes. I discovered that learning is cumulative as it builds on the last nugget of truth that we received as our own. And by nature, as living things, we organically add to the skills we’ve already mastered. Learning for my family has recently jumped out of its neat little subject boxes and made a giant, creative, beautiful mess all over our home.

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discovery 2. That I feel free rather that trapped.

in my head Home ed was going to be really tough! it was a sacrifice that I was willing to take for the sake of my children’s mental health but I was a little scared that in doing so I could possibly be putting my own at risk. I mean, taking steps which would lead to me being around my own children ALL OF THE TIME!!!! (mental idea) I was prepared for anything I thought at worst it would literally kill me and at best just trap and isolate me from the real world…

But I’m ever so relieved to tell you neither has happened, I wish I’d known then, that I would actually feel freedom to become the truest version of myself which, in turn would start my children on their own paths of self discovery. I actually feel more alive than ever before and spend so much time out in the world having adventures that I’m actually needing to add in some days at home to make sure we have some down time. I had no idea I was free to be me! and the kids were free to be themselves, it’s awesome.

discovery 3. That a period of autonomous learning (no structure) was as much for me as it was for the children.

Having worked in the education system myself I initially struggled with the idea of laying down all the structure, I genuinely got to a point where I said  to myself “Leanna, step away from the timetable!”

but in all honesty autonomy just seemed like a cop out for those parents who couldn’t be bothered to sit their children down and teach them properly! (yes I was that narrow minded, sorry!)  but through this season I’ve started to get the point… I’m as much the student as they are! because really none of us ever stop learning. and suddenly, I was off the hook,  I didn’t have to know everything! halleluiah!!!  It was okay for me to show my children as I tried out new things and learnt alongside them that I could honour things that were important to me just like they could. and as I said it’s only been two months but in that time I have been able to show my children:

  1. My faith is at the root of who I am. I believe in a good God who loves me and them.
  2. I am a fan of mixed media art
  3. I have a deep desire to empower other women to be courageous, and live the life they are called to live.
  4. That I’m especially peaceful when I’m at the beach
  5. It makes my heart happy when I’m caring for animals
  6. And Finally, that I love the fun you can have with hair dye!

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discovery 4. That I would develop my own Home Ed philosophies

This one was a bit of a shocker! little me, the girl who never went to Uni and was always in the bottom set would actually come up with educational philosophies all by herself! the two fundamental beliefs I have (with regard to educating my children) are

  1. that they know who they are before they work out what they do.
  2. rather than to be taught, I want them to love learning

discovery 5. That I would actually like my children more.

Possibly the most unexpected and saddest truth I’ve reflected on is that when my children were at school I had a relationship with them that could be likened to that of a prisoner and his prison officer. I know it sounds a little extreme but I didn’t like being around them much because all our interactions were difficult and strained. It had become where it was my job to force them to do stuff that they didn’t want to do. I would regularly bark out orders like “Eat your dinner!, do your homework!, get out of bed!, go to school!”

It wasn’t what I’d pictured motherhood to be like but I was assured by other Mums that this was how is was for their families too.

Luckily since leaving school they laugh more and I bark less! we have more time to do the things that really interest us and that in turn makes us more interesting to each other and I’m thrilled to report that I  actually like my kids company a load more than I ever dreamed possible!!!!

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So that’s it, if you made it all the way to the end of this beastly blog post I’m eternally grateful that you stuck in there, please feel free to leave a comment on what you thought and share with others interested in home education but I guess it’s important to end with this:

No it’s not perfect, no I’m not a hippy who walks around in floaty dresses, barefoot and pregnant, no it’s not all hearts and songs. but yes we’re all definitely learning heaps and definitely heaps happier

Till next time

Love Leanna Ellena x

Jump!

I have never been much of an extreme spots person. I can’t say I’d be interested in doing a sky dive or a bungee jump or anything like that, but that’s not to say I don’t admire the courage it takes another person to do such a thing, especially at the point when you have to jump! because the jumping point is the scariest part. I’ve recently had to jump into something new and boy was I afraid.

My Son moved up to secondary school in September of last year and it was clear almost from the offset that there were problems. He is an incredibly bright boy and holds enough passion and enthusiasm to burst most of the time but instigating positive and meaningful friendships with his peers is extremely tough for him.

Going from bad to worse

so a bad week led to severe anxiety, which led to becoming dangerous to himself and others at times, which led to a part-time school timetable which led to meltdowns on a daily basis, it got to the point where I couldn’t remember the last time I saw him smile or laugh, it was heart breaking.

My daughter was going through her own set of problems. most nights she would cry herself to sleep. she has ‘slightly’ more subtle ways of communicating than her sibling and so I would find little handwritten notes around the house telling me how stressed she was, how she felt the work was too hard at school and so she just felt dumb all the time not to mention the girl dramas that were always happening in the playground and getting her down. Soon her skin problems started to escalate her whole scalp was covered with eczema at one point (something which flares up when she is stressed)  she would scratch it so much her head was covered in wounds that would weep and bleed and at one stage it became so infected she was on antibiotics for 6 months straight.

Stressed out

that coupled with building problems in our home, my husband and I were really feeling the strain. It was like we were just surviving life rather than actually living it. “What on earth has happened to our family!” we cried out to God in prayer. Starting to fully appreciate the pain involved in having to endure your own child’s suffering.

But God had a plan. He was listening to our cries, and he understood what we were going through. All along I kept asking him “when will my children be at peace? ”

Well finally, last month, we made the decision to home educate both our children.

And although it’s an option we’ve thought about before, home education was not a path we particularly set out to walk down however it’s the one we’ve chosen none-the-less.

If there is one thing I can say that I’ve learnt from the long and drawn out decision making process it’s this…

time

I finally got to the point where I knew I’d done all the praying, planning, discerning, deliberating and discussing

Now was the time…

I had to take a leap of faith, it was incredibly scary to drop off the children’s de-registration letters and take back legal responsibility for their education but I knew in my heart it was time to jump in, so I could find out if it was right for us and it was only after I had jumped that I discover the peace I had been praying for, only then did we all breath a massive sigh of relief.

I don’t believe that home education is right for everyone but I do believe that we all get to the jumping point at some time in our lives.

I know it’s scary but it might be time!

time to jump all the way in and have a go

time to say I’ll give that a try

time to really truly live your own beautiful life

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Take Time

Happy new year everyone!!!!
as this is the first blog post I’ve written for 2017

I know I’m a little late but in my defence this wasn’t intentional but rather an unplanned break from my monthly writings.

Last month was hectic!!! let’s just say there has been a lot going on in the Ellena household lately, and parts of it we’re rather unexpected, meaning the areas of my life that I normally make a priority (like my writing for one) ended up being dropped for a while and the things happening for our family this month meant I needed to be at home a lot more than usual, “how lucky!” I hear you say, but no

It was more like arrrrrgh!!!
being stuck at home is not something I ever welcome. The problem is that by nature I’m an extreme extrovert. I absolutely love to be out and about, and around other people, in fact being at home for long periods of time normally starts to drain me of my energy. It also sadly meant that I couldn’t serve in church the way I normally do, even when I knew they were in desperate need of the helpers so I found myself getting quite frustrated with God complaining “I was hoping to get more involved with serving at church this year, not less!”

But still the fact remained, the demands on family life meant I needed to stay at home.

I started to get restless
What on earth could I do with myself being cooped up at home? I wondered

when I remembered a course I had taken last year which focused heavily on the practice of  regular journaling. So I decided to begin making a faith journal.

I found myself spending time writing and contemplating on my blessings, my ideas, my thoughts and my dreams even my fears and worries I pondered on it all, I started to make pieces of art that reflected on verses in the bible that friends had given to me.

I just took time…
to chill out and just be, and I’m pleased to say what started out as a frustrating situation became the most fun I’ve had in ages.

You see in the Christian faith it’s so easy to focus on what we are doing, For anyone reading this, whether you’re a Christian or not you’ll probably of heard of the term “do gooders” being associated with Christians and to be honest with you, doing some good in this world is a massive part of what I strive to achieve, it’s biblical, it’s relevant and it’s needed!!!

but it’s not everything
There’s this sweet story in the bible (Luke’s Gospel) about two sisters where one was doing a lot more than the other and Jesus said that the one who simply took the time to be with him was the one who had it right.

and so I came to the conclusion that God wants a relationship with me more than he wants me to do anything. I stand firm in the knowledge that God wants to know me more than he wants to set me to work.

So this month I’ve been focusing on my relationship with God. sharing everything that’s on my heart with him through a faith journal.

it’s simple but effective
and I believe this truth could be extended into all area’s of my life. so I’ve decided to start prioritising all my relationships over things that need to get done.

That doesn’t mean I plan to stop serving in church (far from it, I’m still hoping to do more one day) and it doesn’t mean I will shut down my business in favour of solitary confinement (in fact I’d rather like my business to grow)

But maybe I’ll choose to sit and snuggle a while longer with my little girl before doing the dishes (after all, she won’t be little forever.)

Or maybe I’ll share lunch at the dinner table and chat with my husband rather than grabbing a sarnie in my print room as I continue to work.

Or maybe, just maybe I’ll play a game on the dreaded play station with my son as a way to connect with him on his level over shouting at him to come off and tidy his room.

Maybe building all relationships simply requires me to stop what I’m doing occasionally and take some time.

Here is a couple of pics from the faith journal. God bless you for reading!

Under Pressure

This time last year I made some big plans! If you’ve followed my monthly reflections and can cast your mind back to my very first post, you may remember that I’d decided I was going to focus on three priorities which were my family, my faith and my finances (all in equal measures.) My time was going to be scheduled and organised which of course would result In meeting all of my personal goals and achieving high levels of success. Then I was going to wrap it all up in a neat little package labelled 2016 and add a big bow on top by documenting the whole beautiful journey in writing this very blog…

But I’m aware that making resolutions in the hope of bettering oneself at this time of year is not an entirely new concept and that it’s something many of us feel almost compelled to do every single year.

As I sit here pondering on the thoughts I’ve had during this week (the black hole that exists between Christmas and New year.) I find that same old itch has returned and as always and it desperately wants to be scratched. I’m talking about the desire to better myself.

In my head it sounds something like this…

I need to join the gym and loose weight.

I need to read the whole bible in a year

I need to grow my business and earn more money

I need a healthier diet, and to drink more water.

I need to walk my dog further each day.

I need to play more board games with my kids.

I need to have more ‘Me time’

I need to arrange more date nights with the hubby

I need to keep on top of all the school letters.

I need to get to bed earlier each night

I need to discover my life’s purpose, and at least make a start on it.

I need to watch less T.V.

I need a word for the year

I need to be more funny, intelligent, joyful, patient, meek, wise etc. etc. etc!

Maybe it’s just me but New Year is often a time when I evaluate my life and say

“This simply won’t do, YOU NEED TO MAKE SOME CHANGES!!!!”

But this year as those familiar statements return and start to circle around in my head I realise that in making all these statements that what I’m actually doing is telling myself…

“Leanna, you are just not enough”

The realisation of this got me thinking about how quickly my inner monologue has changed lately because literally in less than a week I have gone from…

Baby Jesus was a gift, he was sent for me so that I could be made righteous

To…

I have got so much work to do!! quickly!!! make a plan about how I can become a little less rubbish in this coming year!!!!

And so I challenged myself and asked the question:

What if I dared to believe that I am already good enough, exactly as I am? What if I stopped striving to change and actually decided that like Jesus I would accept me, just as I am?

The answer I got was peace. I believe I will actually be a lot more peaceful if I stop trying so blinking hard and let the life of that little baby, born in a manger impact me each day for the whole of the coming year (and beyond)

So I’m signing off in this final post for 2016, on this New year’s Eve simply to state that I will be doing things differently this year because I will not make plans to do better but rather remind myself that despite all my faults and failings, all of my mistakes and regrets and each one of my many short-comings (including my mummy tummy) that because of Jesus I am in fact, enough!

Colossians 3:15New International Version (NIV)

15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.

May God bless you and give you his peace!