Fun Easy To Make Sensory Bottles

Sensory bottles are so easy to make and can also be super handy for calming down upset children! There’s something super mesmerising about watching the interaction between all the ingredients

The bottles are also really adaptable. Experiment with the amounts, put in plastic toys, feathers, glitters, buttons and so much more!

Here is how we made ours!

You will need:

  • Plastic bottles (you could recycle your own old pop bottles or amazon sell empty bottles reasonably cheap, we got 250ml bottles but you could go bigger).
  • Water beads (easily available on amazon or eBay).
  • Water
  • Baby oil
  • Glitter
Method:

Soak your beads, instructions generally say overnight but you can get away with 3-4 hours!

Pick your colour scheme – I went for an ordered rainbow theme, Zak went for clear beads, Kaesey used purple and blues and Toby just grabbed handfuls if any colour. They all looked amazing!

We filled ours to the brim, we then found you’re better off not filling up completely to allow movement which should increase the calming affect!

Once you’ve added your beads fill up the space that remains with baby oil.

Add any glitter you want and close and seal the lid! Hey presto, easy peasy sensory bottles.

If you wanted to add more interesting items such as buttons leave out some of the beads, or all the beads! There are so many different versions of these that would be effective! Fun to make and use!

Just one warning! Don’t take the tubs of beads into a carpeted room! Just don’t! 😂

Video – Sensory Bottles

Bullet journaling and home education

Last week we didn’t get much done. I had so many ideas swimming around in my head that I overwhelmed myself with them and I decided that if our home education journey was to be a success then we needed a plan going forward. So I decided to return to bullet journaling. It’s a hobby I previously had and enjoyed and I hope that I will use it going forward now I have a real purpose for it. Bullet journaling is basically a DIY journal with no limits whatsoever. You can have anything in it that helps you, just unleash your creative side! Some popular pages in a bullet journal are weekly/monthly spreads, to do lists, mood trackers, exercise trackers and so much more.

I bought the Leuchtturm 1917 Slim which is an A4 journal and perfect for what I need it for. I previously had the same but in A5 instead.

November 2019

My journal is obviously a work in progress but will be used to show our home education plan to officials, it will be used to organise ourselves and every aspect of our busy lives. It is a source of self-motivation.

I chose a double page monthly layout for my main plans, as you can see we don’t have a particularly busy November planned so far although it’s not complete. This style offers me plenty of room to add in plans for our family of 6. The little dragon in the bottom was added at the insistence of my daughter who was desperate for me to try draw one! I feel he ruins the page in one respect but then when I see him I think of her so he actually makes me smile :).

This is my plan for this week, in no particular order. The beauty of home education is there is no set timetable, if he wants to look at energy today that’s fine, if he doesn’t that’s also ok, as long as he does it this week. Monday we did some work on algebra, and the history of Christmas with History.com. His life revolves around coding so it’s a bit of a given that he’ll do that daily.

I found a great Christmas stocking pattern and tutorial at Bags of Love which we have printed off. The material is on order and we’ll make a start soon. The objectives for this will be to see that he can read and follow the pattern, use a number of different stitches (perhaps not on the sticking but certainly some practise pieces first), safely use a sewing machine, complete the stocking, and finally write up about the project.

We have lots of sources and resources for the other subjects, books, websites and materials. Home education doesn’t have to cost much, in fact many of ours were free or very cheap second hand!

Our First Week Of Officially Home Educating

Well what a week it has been! It has been a bumpy start and not the best first week, I had an interview to prepare for, dad was on days all week, the boys broke my brand new laptop screen and I’ve had horrendous pain from what I think is a pinched nerve in my shoulder, but nevertheless we have started.

I was sort of expecting a phone call from High School this week to see if they could work with us to encourage the boy to stay in school rather than take him out, and help with suggestions to help him want to be there. I got absolutely nothing. Not even an email. No acknowledgement at all. This to me shows how much they care about him attending their school. I feel like it was a relief to them that we took him out. I’ve never really complained about support before from them but this has made me wonder if we should probably have done this sooner!? Could this attitude have been picked up by him earlier and he just hasn’t realised? Is this why he would not go? I’ll never know but I will forever wonder, and when the time comes for him to (hopefully) return to mainstream education I’m not sure I’ll feel comfortable sending him back there!

How we’ve started!

We have started slowly, investigating helpful websites that we can use, resources available, and I’ve been reading up on the curriculum which should be getting delivered to a child of his age. We’ve also rejoined the library.

He’s 12 and would be in Year 8, exceptionally clever with an amazing ability to learn and retain information when a subject is delivered to him in a way which grabs his attention, or even just if it’s something that interests him. He’s pretty closed minded unfortunately when it comes to learning, he doesn’t understand why he should have to learn geography and history for example, his interests lie purely in computing. I want him to realise that everything about our lives relates back to history and the world around us. I want to teach him to experience a taster of everything so he can see that it’s all a part of our bigger picture, and I don’t want him to be bored of it. I also think it’s important that he has some input into what he learns about! I don’t have any complaints whatsoever with his primary school but I do feel that he hasn’t learnt to love learning and that is a tragedy! This is most important to me.

So with all that in mind we have registered on Khan Academy, he’s currently working his way, slowly, through Algebra and coding. It’s a brilliant website, a non-profit organisation with the aims of delivering world class education for free to anyone, anywhere! I mean how amazing is that! We haven’t done much of it but what we have looked at is brilliant! We’ve got a number of workbooks and a bonus for me is I also work in a school so I also have access to Twinkl for supplies.

We used to read lots when he was little, his reading books after school and we would read a story before bed, every single night. It’s precious time and very very important. As he’s got older and been introduced to technology however his love for reading has ebbed away. Rather than jump straight into an English course we are trying to encourage a love of books again. It’s taken two visits to the library before one caught his eye and he’s still to start it, but he will I’m sure. He has a very strong vocabulary, often choosing words that you might expect to hear from someone very highly educated. He always uses them in the correct context and it amazes me that someone who has fallen out of love with learning can pick up and use language like that!

He’s always been interested in science, we’ve seen a number of websites offering science experiment kits containing everything you need to do them at home. This was an area I worried about as I thought, and school also reinforced previously, that he would never have the same hands-on science experience that he could get at school. I’m not sure that’s entirely true. I’ve seen a number of places that offer scientific workshops to children who are home educated too. Whilst I probably won’t be able to make these with him his dad almost definitely will due to his 4 on 4 off working shift pattern.

I am currently looking into the sports opportunities for him. He hated PE and his high school agreed it was best not to push it in Y7, and dropped it from his timetable. However they insisted he do something in Y8 and he often got in trouble for not having his kit or for not joining in. They kindly offered for him to go to the gym instead which he was keen on, but unfortunately as we couldn’t get him to school that never materialised. As he’s not very active at all it’s going to be a priority of ours. He loves swimming and he also loves ice skating, although he doesn’t have a natural ability for it, so these are two potential areas we’ll look to utilise. Once he turns 14 we can register him at our local gym but that’s a way off yet.

We were told he wouldn’t get the same social opportunities if we took him out of school. I agree, he won’t be forced to sit in classes full of people he doesn’t really know or like, and he won’t walk around on his own anymore amongst hundreds of other children. Instead he’ll take advantage of the social opportunities that come from everyday life. Speaking to people he doesn’t know. He’ll join groups of other home educated children and make new friendships. We’re still in contact with friends he’s had for years who do go to his school but who he didn’t share lessons with, and they are wonderful families who won’t stop inviting us to events just because we’ve chosen a different path. I have no doubts that this will help his social skills in the long term.

We still have a million other things to think about but I believe whilst we haven’t done much in our first week, we’ve made a bloody good start! So far his sister (Y7) hasn’t played the “it’s not fair” card. It would simply be too much to get my head around home edding two, but I can honestly say that in the future if I still feel as positive as I do now it wouldn’t be out of the question to consider taking her out as an option too!

Our next big job is to begin to write our education philosophy for the education welfare dept as they’ll be writing to ask for it soon. I’ll be using this blog to catalogue the work we do – the exciting and the boring.

The Start Of A New Journey

We did it! We sent in the deregistration letter for our school refusing 12 year old this afternoon. After months/years of deliberations we’ve finally bitten the bullet and took him out of school.

Do I feel like the weight of the world has been lifted from my shoulders? No! Do I feel like I have definitely made the right choice? Yes and No! Are we going to give it a bloody good go? Yes!

School Refusal

As you may have read on my previous post we have gone through years of school refusal, it’s not just behavioural which is how I always imagined these children, he has Asperger’s syndrome and just isn’t coping with the school environment. Our hope is that in the future we can get him back to school to complete his education but for now we need to get him to a place where this is a possibility.

So Much To Consider

I currently have around a gazillion questions and thoughts floating around my head. Will the education authority agree to give us funding from his EHCP towards the costs of tutoring and materials? Will we even be able to get him to learn at home? What if it doesn’t work out and he has to return to school but has fallen behind? I’m reassured that these are normal feelings and that they’ll soon fade away. I hope so!

Family & Friends

I’m lucky that all our family and friends have been supportive of our decision so far. It would’ve been so much harder without their approval, which seems ridiculous as I’m a grown woman with 4 children, but I think everyone wants others to get it! And they just do.

What Next

I’ve yet to hear from school regarding our decision, I was a little sneaky in that I sent the de-registration in at the end of the day, the last day of this half term. I doubt I’ll hear anything now until they return. This suits me nicely as I’m not ready for the conversation with them just yet. I don’t know how we’ll begin our journey but for sure we’ll find our feet and I intend to make this a journey to remember.

It may end up not working out and I am okay with that, but it may be the answer to our prayers too, and we would never know till we try!

I have everything crossed now for our future and I will be sharing our journey on my blog!

Our Story Of School Refusal

If you’d asked me ten years ago about my opinions on school-refusal I’d have been quite frank and said it was something done by feral kids as a result of poor parenting. Nowadays however I find myself in this very position, I am the parent of a school refuser. I’m not the sort of parent I pictured 10 years ago, I gave up work to stay home and raise my children, we were fortunate enough to be able to give them what they needed and wanted, they had holidays and technology but most importantly they had my time.  School refusal wouldn’t have happened to parents like us in my mind 10 years ago. I guess I was narrow-minded, I had no experience of raising children who were old enough to really refuse school, I thought of school refusal as a bad homes issue. It isn’t, not by any means, and I’ve seen lots of parents in a similar position who are blamed and persecuted for their kids not being okay at school.

Looking back our son never loved school. We would often drag him in upset and leave him crying because we’re almost conditioned to believe that school is the only way for kids to succeed in life so we push them to go, and for most kids they do love it, and that’s great.   Once at school it’s the teacher’s job to keep them there and try settle them down for a day of learning and socialising. They don’t do this out of malice, but I do believe it sets in motion a chain of negative experiences – upset, feeling out of control and restraint for example that eventually causes the child to become disengaged from the education system.

Our son was diagnosed with Aspergers in school, it was clear from nursery that he was very different from his peers, choosing to sit with his back to people than join in, watching the class circles from the other side of the classroom, and generally having a really hard time. I knew nothing at all about the Autism spectrum when it was first suggested to us by his school, we were already struggling to cope with the problems he had at home and every healthcare professional he saw must have been able to see he was Autistic but chose to do nothing about it, it really was scarily obvious when I look back. School we felt was our respite from him. It gave us 6 hours to recharge our batteries and be able to leave the house without constant meltdowns. We could go shopping and not have to leave because the sight of the stores toilet doors caused him to lose the plot completely.

He would come home every day and his emotions would be everywhere, he would stim, he would play with water and flood our house, he would be angry and he didn’t sleep. I guess looking back they were all warning signs that he wasn’t coping with the demands of school life. We needed the break whilst he was at school though to help deal with the emotions when he got back. It was a vicious cycle and at that point home-education was most definitely not an option for us.

We got a lot of support from primary, by year 2 they had applied for a statement of special educational needs. He was granted 30.75 hours just in time for him going into year 3 and from then until the end of his time there he had 1:1 all day every day with the same person. They put in place social skills groups, friendship groups and other interventions to help him succeed. He was always encouraged to try things outside his comfort zone such as swimming lessons and even a 2 night school trip. He really blossomed and had many friends, but he still hated going to school. His refusal looked behavioural, he would kick, punch and bite as I tried to drag him up the drive, it got worse with the arrival of his baby brother in 2015.  

The time came for him to go to high school. This was a very difficult time for us as we weren’t convinced this was the right school for him, but we live on the coast and there isn’t another high school for 11 miles. He wanted to go with his friends and we felt he deserved to give it a try. We tried to iron out any issues before he started, make sure everything would be perfect and in place by the time he started. They were aware of his refusal issues with school but we were reassured that  they understood and could help. Quickly he began to refuse, he missed his second week completely and he was put on a reduced time-table. This was great and only meant to be supportive, but he takes things very literally, so when school said “Monday you only need to come in and do the one lesson, more if you want” in his head that meant “Monday do one lesson then leave”. That was fine and we worked with it and soon got him back to going, now and again. They put things in place so if he felt he couldn’t be in class he could go elsewhere. I felt positive that they really wanted to help.

Not even 6 months in we were informed that the ‘Parent Support Advisor’ in school had took it upon herself to refer us to the educational welfare department. Now I could understand if I wasn’t in school every week trying to find a solution, if I wasn’t dragging him in only for them to mark him as not there because none of us could get him to go past the reception area. The woman had never so much as spoken to us. We were now on the path for prosecution if things didn’t improve. I honestly felt betrayed. We sat in numerous meetings with overpaid EWO’s (Education Welfare Officers) who were being paid a decent amount of money to sit and tell us what we already knew. Their favourite phrase was “you could be prosecuted”. As if their constant reminder was somehow going to be the answer to our years of problems. We listened to them quoting false laws to us, telling us how we should punish our sons refusal by giving him nothing until he decided school was for him (we tried, it doesn’t work). They admitted there was nothing they could offer to help, but yet we were expected to be “working with them” to resolve his attendance issues. I can see why some parents struggle with their own mental health issues when forced into a corner like this. Some parents have to leave their jobs over it. I work in school myself (his old primary) and the fear of prosecution weighed heavily on me. I know only too well how capable he is and I want only the best for him. Unfortunately as of now, part way through year 8, his attendance is currently sat at 67%. I’m waiting for the inevitable letter reminding us of our responsibilities as his parents and demanding we go and explain ourselves at more pointless meetings. I am looking into the chances of having EOTAS named on his EHC Plan rather than his current school because it just isn’t working, but realistically we’re going to end up de-registering and taking responsibility for educating him ourselves, I just know it. I actually like the idea of home-educating him, but I don’t want to feel pushed into it.

I am thankful we have an education system, free to all, and I have one child who has gone all the way through, one in her first year of high school and one in reception year. Its become clear though that it is not the right system for everyone. This high school just cannot meet our needs for our son, but the only alternative is special school which he is not severe enough to go to. There are no options for children in the middle.  The system needs reworking to become a fairer system for all, we need schools for everyone because mainstream simply does not suit every child. We’re lucky to be in a position to provide him with education at home, not everybody forced to take the same route is as lucky as us. It would not be the easy option for us to take, but I honestly don’t know where else we can go.