EP Homeschooling Heroes – Jenny Valentine
Meet Jenny Valentine:
One of our awesome homeschooling families from NSW! Jenny and her three kids use Education Perfect as part of their homeschooling curriculum. They have been standouts on the platform since they started! Read more about their homeschooling journey below…
Tell us about you and your family!
We have 3 kids aged 9, 13 and almost 15, and we live on the NSW Central Coast. We have 3 cats and 4 chickens. My daughters and I have recently been learning to roller skate. My son and youngest daughter recently built a canoe with their Dad. We love science and doing experiments. The kids also love putting together kits and making things. Like all kids they love playing board games and online games.
Why did you decide to start homeschooling?
The kids all attended mainstream school until the middle of 2019. All 3 of the kids have an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and mainstream school didn’t work for them at all. They were missing a lot of school which left some large knowledge gaps. When they were at school, they were often so anxious that they weren’t able to learn effectively. And then my son started getting bullied because he behaved differently sometimes. The kids were miserable and we were miserable so we decided to try something else.
At first we tried distance education through a school but they required us to do multiple individual weeks of face to face classes throughout the year at an unfamiliar location with a teacher who seemed unaware of how to deal with kids with ASD. The rooms were noisy and cramped. It seemed great at first because we didn’t need to register for homeschool or do any lesson creation, but we had no control over the choice in curriculum, lesson content, or assessments and we had to work to the school’s deadlines as they marked the work.
What are the biggest challenges you face when homeschooling?
Our first challenge was working out how we were going to homeschool – create the lessons myself, buy some curriculum, or a combination. And what homeschool style would work for each of the kids.
Then I needed to work out how to create registration documents that would meet the requirements of NESA. I also started thinking about recordkeeping for registration renewal (I like to be prepared).
I struggled at first with balancing the very prescriptive NESA requirements with what my kids want to learn and how they want to learn.
Finding lesson content that keeps the kids engaged has been difficult at times too.
My current challenge is juggling part time work with homeschooling.
What have you loved the most about homeschooling and what has been the most rewarding moment?
I love sharing their learning experiences with them. Learning is a two way street here – they teach me new things all the time too. We’re all so much happier. There’s been lots of rewarding moments. I love seeing that moment when they’ve struggled with learning a new concept and they suddenly get it – the lightbulb moment. Homeschool gave us the opportunity to identify knowledge gaps, largely caused by school absences, and to fill those gaps.
There have been other moments that have been really rewarding like seeing my son, who had been becoming more and more introverted and anxious at school, telling his younger sister about saturated solutions after we had done the EP crystallisation experiment. It was one of those moments where you’re so proud to see your child enjoying learning to the point that they want to share their new knowledge with others.
How did you hear about EP and why did you choose it as part of your curriculum?
Wow… ummm.. I think I did a Google search – actually many, many Google searches – trying to find a better system and I stumbled across EP. I did the free trial and I was so impressed by the system, both as a parent and also looking from the student login perspective.
I also felt comfortable that it was going to provide what we needed as I read reviews from schools that use it for their students. And that also gave me the confidence that the level of the lessons was going to be on par with the lesson content provided in schools. My kids are good at Maths and Science and I didn’t want them to fall behind their peers.
How did EP improve your homeschooling journey? What are some features or support you’ve loved and how did they help you?
EP took a lot of the stress out of homeschooling. My kids have always had difficulty with handwriting (partly related to ADHD). They love online learning and EP presents their lessons in a format that is great for short attention spans. The system is also really flexible so I can set the lessons in 20 minute blocks (based on the EP estimated lesson times), I can remove long answer questions, or I can reduce the number of sets of multiple choice questions really easily. I can also add two short lessons together to make up the 20 minutes or split a long lesson into 2 lessons.
20 minutes is a length of time I’ve found works for my kids. I link the lessons to Google Classroom so I tell the kids how many lessons they need to do each day to get the week’s work done and they choose what lessons they want to do each day: some days they might not be able to cope with English lessons (they find reading tiresome – I have ADHD too so I get that), some days they might want to focus on Maths or History.
I guess to sum up, the features we’ve found great are:
Works well with Google Classroom.
The kids love that they can get the system to read the page to them.
EP documents linking content to the NSW curriculum
Parent portal is really great. I’ve only used the web version.
EP homeschool support team are amazing and their Facebook group provides a community of parents who help answer questions (when they can) at all times of day.
Describe EP in 3 words.
Has EP helped with any learning difficulties?
The text to speech function has been great. My kids use it constantly. The EP platform has been really adaptable which really helps with some (at times) very short ADHD attention spans.
What can EP do to better support your learning?
Having a speech-to-text option so that the kids can dictate their answers would be amazing.
Improve reporting functions by making the % accuracy for each lesson part of a simple report by subject.
What’s your or your learner’s favourite joke?
I regularly tell the kids “I think I need to call your teacher”…. it usually gets a giggle out of them, or at least an eye roll.