Majik Audiobooks (free!)

Majik Audiobooks (free!)

My daughters love audio books and I love seeing their imaginations expand as they listen. One thing they love to do is paint, or draw, whilst listening to their latest adventure. We discovered recently MajikKids. MajikKids says its audiostories help inspire kids imagination, creativity and joy sparkle.  Each month MajikKids releases a new story with an adventure to enjoy. You can listen on Spotify, iTunes and YouTube.

There are many things that I have enjoyed about MajikKids stories:

  • My girls love them (even though at age of 11 they are a little ‘old’)
  • They are narrated by multiple voices which makes it so engaging to listen too
  • They are fun to listen to as adults. My absolutely favourite is ‘Beyond the Wall: The untold story of Humpty Dumpty’. Honestly, you must listen and understand what ‘actually’ happened, this clever story had me smiling all day! Another one that has brought delight for us all was ‘The Other Side: the Untold Story of why the Chicken REALLY Crossed the Road’ – perhaps a question you may have wondered yourself?
  • They are a fair-trade publishing company which means all their staff get paid well
  • Bradley, the founder, writes the stories with his unschooled five year old son!
  • The stories use real words (not ‘little people’ words) which is refreshing, and they have good values embedded into them which are inspiring and rich.

I haven’t signed up for a subscription, as I feel my girls are a little too old, but for a $11 Canadian dollars a month (£6.90 at the time of writing this review) you can join the Majik Club and receive downloadable activity books and colouring books, to name a few of the benefits.

It is always a winner in the home ed world when you find a new FREE resource and this one with worth checking out.

  • 0-4 years | 5-7 years | 8-10 years | Parents
  • free OR $11/month
  • 5
How I started appreciating home education

How I started appreciating home education

In the middle of studying for my English language IGCSE exam, at age 14, I could never have fathomed pursuing any kind of writing as a career. I didn’t like formulating ideas, didn’t like having to be creative and struggled when having to. This dislike, or even distain, for anything to do with writing didn’t disappear, even when I was forced to write stories. I liked reading during this time, but when I compared myself to the authors of the books I enjoyed, I couldn’t see myself ever reaching their heights. 

Having nothing to compare myself to only worsened this feeling, as while I did have the authors who I read from, that didn’t mean much as at that age it would have been a miracle were I to be as good as them while so young. 

Nevertheless, I continued studying, practising for my exam, although I held no expectations, and was expecting myself to fail, or barely pass. I was pushing myself, but as with all home education, I had no one to compare myself to, so I couldn’t tell if I was doing well or badly. This carried on until the day of the exam. The nerves were running rampant, not letting me focus on anything but trying my best on this exam. Once I was inside, however, all emotions flew away, leaving my dull husk as remains, and I no longer had to worry about anything but the questions, which I started on instantly. 

The first question, done, second, done, third done. I was blazing through all the questions which made me feel worse, as instead of looking at it like I was good at this, I looked at it as if I wasn’t any good at all and instead was just rushing through the questions without much thought. Finishing half an hour early, I sat there, looking over my writing and trying to correct anything I had done wrong, including making my writing more legible. It felt much longer because I kept watching the clock, but I couldn’t stop, because there was nothing else to do. The relief I felt flooded through my whole body as the clock finally reached the time I could leave, and I did instantly. I didn’t want to think about writing anymore and was just hoping that I was able to pass. Weeks passed, me doing everything but thinking about my exam. I hadn’t even failed one before and I didn’t want this to be the first time that it happened. 

One day, while I was up in my room watching videos on my phone, nearly falling asleep, I heard someone coming up the stairs. That alone wasn’t anything abnormal, but once they reached the top and entered my room, I knew that something was different from normal. In my dad’s hand was a piece of paper. The results from my English exam. 

Ninety-eight. I looked at those two words, not understanding what they meant. Reading the rest of the page I felt the hands that had been wringing my heart all this time finally release their grasp. I suddenly realised that maybe I wasn’t as bad at writing as I had previously thought.

Groundmark Learning

Groundmark Learning

We have made use of Groundmark Learning for several years. They are based in Leamington Spa and Coventry, so my children used to go to Ian Richards (founder) for maths. The idea was that they would be prepared for their maths IGCSE and they were able to join a group of home educated children for weekly tutoring, which was significantly more affordable than one-to-one tutoring. Ian is very highly thought of amongst home educators in this area as he does a great job of preparing the children for exams in a calm and methodical manner.

With the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic, Ian took all his tutoring online, which means that classes can actually now be accessed from anywhere. When all exams were cancelled, my daughter was able to go ahead with her maths IGCSE as Ian was able to work with the exam centre to provide tutor-assessed grades. This was a huge relief to us in a somewhat stressful and uncertain time.

In the following year, with most exams still cancelled, I needed to ensure my son stayed on track with his plans to gain a couple of IGCSEs. He continued his tutoring with Ian, but we also signed him up with Elaine who tutors English for Groundmark Learning. Elaine was extremely positive and supportive, and was able to prepare my son for the tutor assessment process that summer (a period of about 5 months).

My son related well to both Ian and Elaine, and felt that they provided him with an organised programme of preparation which helped him to feel confident and equipped throughout the various tests and mock exams which would allow the tutors to assess him. We have made use of other tutors, but my son has felt that Groundmark Learning provided him with the best tutor experience. Ian and Elaine were both very accessible and responsive when any questions arose, which provided us with a stress-free and supportive experience.

Copywork Cave handwriting programme

Copywork Cave handwriting programme

Where we aim to be self directed in our kids learning there are a few basics skills that I actively encourage my kids, now 14 and 10, to engage in even if they are not jumping at the opportunity to learn! Handwriting is one. For a couple of years we bought the handwriting workbooks, easily found on amazon to order. I will be honest, even I found them dry; the text dull and uninteresting also written for younger kids not 10/14 year olds. Needless to say, handwriting was a chore in our weekly rhythm, and in particular my younger daughter was happily able to express her unwillingness to complete a daily exercise. 

I discovered Copywork Cave a few months ago via a friend’s recommendation. We bought the Level 3 Classic collection which contains 12 weeks of exercises, 5 a week. Quotes from Martin Luther King, poems by Yeats and Lear, letters by Da Vinci and Einstein, quotes from Shakespeare. They are great excerpts that I enjoy reading with the girls.

CopyWork Cave’s website explains “Let education enrich the soul” – “We are inspired by Charlotte Mason’s philosophy of education in which children undertake daily copywork across a variety of written texts. We have carefully selected excerpts from classic children’s literature, engaging poems and thought-provoking quotes with rich and descriptive language.”

Developed by Amanda, a home educating mum of four, the layout is clear and easy to follow. Where, I will be honest, handwriting is not the highlight of our week! It definitely is more interesting, less tedious and undertaken without a battle. On the odd occasion it has also led to further exploration – for example a few weeks ago we were exploring who Martin Luther King was – an exciting rabbit hole to head down.

It is currently £6.99 for a 12 week course, once bought it is a downloadable pdf.

I would fully recommend this as a fantastic meaningful resource as well as a lovely introduction into the Charlotte Mason approach. 

Doodle Maths / English

Doodle Maths / English

My 9 year old son has just starting using these and so far, he’s doing really well.  The apps work well on his iPad and they seem quite engaging.  Once you’ve logged in, there is a short assessment so the program can analyse the level your child is at and provide the right level work for them.  It then gives a new set of questions each week and then provides him with ‘7 a day’ questions to reinforce what he has learnt.  There’s a couple of games he can play on each one too.

With DoodleMaths, you also get DoodleMultiply and with DoodleEnglish, you get DoodleSpell.  On top of this, there is a parent app called DoodleConnect where you can track their progress and see how they are improving.  After the initial assessment, your child is given a Doodle age which the level that the program thinks your child is at. My son is enjoying it, he collects stars as he completes questions and then you can use the stars to ‘buy’ parts for your robot. Designing and building his robot has been a big motivator for earning stars.

You can monitor how their Doodle age improves on the DoodleConnect app.  It goes up to Year 9 in Maths and Year 6 in English. Just Doodle Maths is £12.99/month as is just Doodle English, however if you buy a subscription for them both is costs £16.99/month.

  • 5-7 years | 8-10 years | 10-12 years | 12+ years
  • £12.99/month each or £16.99 for Maths & English
  • 1