Review: Dork Diaries, TV Star

Nikki Maxwell, Queen of the Dorks, is back in the seventh book of the blockbuster Dork Diaries series. Nikki and her friends are about to have their five minutes of fame! A reality TV crew is going to follow them for the whole month as they record their hit song together. But will the excitement also cause unexpected problems, now that cameras are everywhere Nikki and her friends go?

Is life in the spotlight really going to be all they think it is or will it be a Dork Disaster?

Full of Nikki’s doodles, diary entries and dorkish disasters, get ready to embrace your inner dork with his brand new novel from the hit series. Perfect for fans of Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Tom Gates and Jacqueline Wilson.

Rachel Renee Russell has said that the Dork Diaries series was inspired by her own middle school experiences, as well as those of her two daughters, Erin and Nikki. Her older daughter, Erin, helps with writing the Dork Diaries series and her younger daughter, Nikki, helps with illustrations.


We asked two of the Tuesday Project families to review Dork Diaries, TV Star . Here’s what they had to say.

Rebecca, aged 7

It’s about this girl that likes this boy. Her BFFs are Chloe and Zoey. The mean girl in the book is called Mackenzie. I love it. It’s the best book I have ever read. 10/10



Praise indeed!

William, aged 10 said:

I wouldn’t normally read this type of book because I don’t like the way it is written as a diary but I think other people would like it because it has funny characters and the story has lots of twists and turns. I didn’t like the look of the book or all the text talk. There were quite a lot of characters but my favourite was Nikki’s Mum.



You can visit the Dork Diaries website and Facebook page or buy the book here.


The Great Socialisation Myth

When I was researching home education, the concern that came up time and time again was socialisation. How do I intend to make sure my kids are properly socialised? People have this image of all these poor home educated children, sitting sadly at a desk, mother stood behind them denying them access to other kids or daylight! And I had all the answers – their education would be Maths, English and then interest led which would involve joining many regular weekly home ed groups. While there’s nothing wrong with my initial approach, I have come to some conclusions and will be making some necessary tweaks to my original plan.



Firstly, I dont have to teach my children anything, nor can anyone. I have to facilitate their life long  thirst to learn which is a totally different thing. They very quickly saw the benefits and wonder of learning new things and it wasnt long before they were hooked. Their natural curiosity fuels all of their learning, if it doesnt interest them they wont learn it, no matter what, so the trick is to make everything as interesting and fun as possible. Should this involve other children? It can but doesnt necessarily have to.



 Secondly, weekly groups are fine but I need a couple of days a week that are just us. Why? Because the biggest part of socialisation should and must start with the family. Mum, Dad, siblings and grandparents should always be there for you. I know this doesnt always happen but it should. I need to invest time, real quality time with my children while they still want their Mum around and that cant necessarily be achieved if all I do is ferry them to clubs and help them with the odd bit of written work. We need to spend time gardening together, playing together, watching the stars together, cooking together, laughing and crying together. Thats what family should be and learning should go hand in hand with that, not least learning who we each are, what makes us tick, what strengths we have and what weaknesses and not just on an academic level. I want my kids to be able to ask me anything without feeling embarassed or self conscious – they can only do that if they trust me not to judge them and to have their best interests at heart. I couldnt hope to forge these relationships with my children while they were at school – it took up too much time. Now that they are home educated, I think the biggest risk I face is missing this mark, it isnt to get them 10 GCSEs by the age of 16, its to ensure that i am present and with them and they know we all stick together and help each other and no matter what happens in their life, we have each others back.



Im paring down the weekly comittments and setting aside a couple of days a week where we have no plans and can be spontaneous, maybe on a nice day, pack the books in the car with a picnic and go learn at the seaside!

As for their friends, they see their good friends often and have a wide range of other kids they interact with, some they like some they dont but they learn the best way to handle both. They have far more contact with kids with problems than I ever did and they handle it beautifully. They are far better socialised than myself or my husband who both went right through the school system. How many friends do we have as adults who we met in school? I judge a real friend as someone who can rely on me and who I can rely on in return, I can count those people on one hand and consider myself lucky. I know thousands of other people who I am friendly with but I doubt very much in a crisis that they would lend a hand.



At the end of the day, if the apocalypse were to decend on us I would have a big enough band of merry folk to survive but small enough to be manageable.

We dont need a million friends, we just need a few true ones and to more or less get on with the rest.

Homeschooling around chronic illness

Life is complex when you have a family member who suffers from one or more chronic illnesses or disability. You have all the symptoms to manage, all the medications, numerous hospital and doctors appointments, pharmacy visits, a constantly changing schedule when appointments are issued or symptoms flare. It’s a headache! When you also work and have children that headache is a migraine! If it’s one of the children that has the condition, that can be even harder to manage as you have the added feeling of helplessness that you can’t always make it better for them.


One unexpected benefit of home schooling is that not only do you have the flexibility to change your schedule to accommodate appointments that used to have to be rearranged to fit around school hours (and we know how that procedure can turn into a stress-filled circus waiting on hold, press button 1 for this and button 2 for that) but also you can make it educational and make the loved one who is suffering the condition a priority when need be. The patient can give the children their point of view about how the disorder affects them and answer any questions the children have. The children can see that things are being managed and are reassured that proper care is being taken of the person – once they know they can have all their questions answered and they have an insight into what they can do to help, it’s not so scary. Being in a waiting room environment is perfect for quiet reading or writing and teaches patience and consideration for other waiting room users. It also teaches them to work together as a team, cooperating, to ensure the person needing the treatment is looked after, by us all. The children feel important, included and no matter how serious the illness, know they will be kept informed, so nothing is unknown, nothing is scary.

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The most important thing they have learned is to question things they feel are not right, not just assume that what the doctors or nurses are saying is always right. They learn to trust their own judgement and see how essential it is to know that if it doesn’t “feel” right to research and question until you have your own solution and better answers. Another essential life skill learned from the medical system in the UK is to be respectful of others and patient but if you need something urgently, tell someone and keep telling them until they attend to you. If someone wants to know your personal details, ask why they want to know and who they are before you tell them your life story. My children have seen my family and those of their friends challenge the people in authority to receive proper care. They have seen when things go right and seen how we handle it when things go wrong. They see me do written battle with the managers of the NHS trust in my pursuit of funding for an essential series of operations which are necessary to keep me mobile and out of a wheelchair. That process is ongoing and they are a big part of it – they should be, the consequences of it affects them too and for my daughter it may be something she will face in later life.


Had the children been at school, all this activity would have been largely hidden to them and they would have just received the bullet points but would have missed out on the bulk of the events. In today’s climate of austerity where NHS services are getting squeezed it is good to know that my children can stand up, in the most effective way, for the things they need from the NHS instead of just trusting the system to have their best interests at heart. I see this as an essential aspect of life to master, not only to the wellbeing of the family now but to the future well being of my children and their families later on.

Wishing you all good health!

June x

Tic, toc ….. time pressure

When the kids were at school, life was all uniforms, homework, permission slips, money for whatever, park here, attend this, work on that, bring this, rehearse that, bells, whistles, conform, conform, CONFORM! I had bucket list of things I wanted to teach the kids but never got the time what with school, after school clubs, outside school clubs and homework. It all felt like one irksome, endless treadmill that we wouldn’t get off until the kids were 16 and then they would be jumping on another treadmill for A levels and then another for university or work. Time was in short supply, pressure and stress were stalking each of us like deadly predators.


We would live our lives doing everything we were “supposed” to do and little that we actually wanted to do and at the end of it all we wouldn’t know or understand each other. How could we? Our family, the people we hold most dear, we only saw on the way to and from things …. I used to have more “quality time” with my colleagues during my breaks …. and I don’t even like some of them!

We have been home edding for exactly a year now and our lives are transformed! No more endless treadmill feelings.


We are now steadily working through our bucket list plus loads more and the children and I are learning everything we need for a happy life along the way. My children will be useful, resourceful, respectful and productive members of society if I have anything to do with it.They will both know how to look after themselves, their families and the planet, how to cook properly, grow their own organic food, keep in shape, maintain their house and car, plumb in a washing machine, lay bricks, put up a level secure shelf, change a tyre, jump start a car, seek medical and pastoral help when they need to, stand up for their rights, make ethical consumer choices, manage their money, manage the changes they may face in their lives and most importantly learn how to be self motivated to keep on learning, growing and adapting to the changing world around them.


It’s not the “done” way but it is the oldest and most natural way of doing things – passing on knowledge from parent to child. It’s not the easy way either, for the parents or the kids. The hardest lesson to learn for the children is self-discipline and self motivation but these skills will take them through the whole of their life, give them reason to get up, get dressed and get out in the world. Learning that actions have consequences and that you can only control the consequences if you first make good choices and control the actions. That’s a tough one when you are 7…. some people never learn it ….. but the children soon catch on. It’s not easy for home edding parents, especially if like us, both parents work practically full time. Husband works full time days and I work nearly full time nights…. we “tag team it!” I would dearly love to quit work to exclusively home ed but we are a way off that yet. My minumum wage work, pays for all the home ed activities we attend and love. I don’t get much time with my husband but we both get loads of time with the kids. I am dog tired for the four days I work but it’s no worse than night feeds when the kids were tiny so you manage, somehow you adapt. Our house is not a show home (it’s the house where things come to break) but it functions, we always have clean clothes and are well fed, clean and comfortable ….. tidy? Well that’s another story but we can usually find what we are looking for given a bit of effort…’s a work in progress!

The time pressure now is very different – we are mainly (apart from work) dancing to our own drum instead of someone else’s. It’s up to us what we do and when we do it. The problem we have now is there are so many fantastic trips and clubs that it is hard to turn any down so we find ourselves with a packed social and educational schedule.


This term has worked out quite well finding complimentary activities to deepen and reinforce learning. Both children are doing an Arts Award which is complemented by choir, performing arts classes and photography classes. These activities are improving the kids’ confidence whilst teaching them about the various art forms around them. Photography is something we all do and we managed to scrape the finances together enough to buy the children their first DSLR cameras last week and they have already taken some outstanding shots.


As we settle into the home ed world I am realising that we can further improve our quality of life. There’s not much we can do about my husband’s job, unless we win the lottery but I am researching cutting back my hours at work and finding ways to generate some additional income from home. Maybe we can make products or provide services we can sell, take in typing, lay on home ed classes? Who knows, there’s more than one way to suck eggs but there are alternatives, it’s just finding them that takes a little time.


In the meantime life is less stressful, we still don’t have enough hours in the day, life is full and hectic, life is good but having lots of time with the kids is absolutely priceless.


Home Ed Rocks!

Hello and welcome to our blog!

We are a family of four:- Dad, 2 kids (one of each variety) ages 10 and 6 and me.


Dad works full-time days, I work 30 hours nights over 4 days and between us we home educate the 2 sproglets. It’s nearly a year since we de-registered the children from school and I can honestly say it’s the second best thing we’ve ever done – the first best thing being actually having the children in the first place.


With hindsight I wish I’d saved myself and my son the needless hassle of school. Having said that, my kids both know what school is about and so can compare it to the home ed life and decide which they prefer. If ever they asked to go back to school they know they could but so far both are enjoying the wide and varied learning opportunities that home schooling provides.


The children had both been to nursery for their 15 hours a week from age 3 and both were doing OK at school, both seemed happy and were popular. There were aspects of the school that we weren’t happy with and as each issue arose we dealt with it but over time all these things made me question whether school was really the best place for my kids. It was deemed a good school, with good results but the bottom line is by the time you’ve done the school run and back each day you see precious little of your children. You get up, feed and get the kids dressed, hurry them to school, do it in reverse when school ends, do it again to get to and from any after school clubs then have to do any homework and then hurry them to bed so they can get enough rest to do it all again the following day…..rinse and repeat! You never really see your kids apart from to ferry them to and from places or to help them with dull homework that half the time goes unmarked. I have a whole bucket list of stuff I want the kids to know before they leave home and I never had the time to teach them these things while they were at school. I was certain that before I knew it, the kids would be leaving home and all I would have passed on to them is how to rush from one place to another and we would be so “out of touch” with one another we would never fully reconnect.


We did the research on home education and saw this not only as a brilliant way of educating the children but also as a way for us to be involved and fully participate with their childhoods. They get to play and learn alongside a wide and diverse range of children, learning how to handle conflicts, team work, negotiation, differences of opinions, all in a safe way with a parent close enough to intervene if necessary but far enough to allow their freedom. They can follow their interests, ask as many questions as they like, go off on interesting tangents to the original objective and explore what the world has to offer that they may enjoy or decide they hate but they get to choose and they get to find out. The things they learn, they learn because they want to not because they have to. Everything they do is relevant to life so they can see why they would need to learn it. Our aim is to expose the kids to as many different professions as possible in the next few years and see what they find the most enjoyable. If they then decide on a direction they’d like to explore for a career later on, they can tailor their qualifications specifically towards that career and gain as much hands on experience as possible putting them in the best position to get a foot on the ladder.


There are so many benefits of home schooling, we can take holidays when we like, we can visit museums and places of interests and beat the traffic and crowds, have the tour guides to ourselves, play with all the interactive exhibits without having to queue. We can learn what we want when we want, day or night, 365 days a year, we can be spontaneous – well, as spontaneous as my work and our budget allows. If the kids are doing a project on space and there is a meteor shower at 2am, I can wake them up, wrap them up warm and they can see it. With just the two to teach instead of a class of 30, we can rattle through “school work” at a rapid rate catering to each child’s abilities. If the kids are unwell, tired or just not in the right frame of mind for academic work, they can do something creative instead or just play and pick up the work later in the day when they are more “in tune” with it. My husband and I will certainly be able to pass on all our knowledge and skills that the kids will need for a successful and happy life. And the best thing, the very best part of home schooling is we have our family back, we have a deeper understanding of each other, a stronger connection. We truly spend quality time together and that is something you just can’t beat!