Our Story

"Tell me the Dreaming Spires story"

Dreaming Spires Home Learning technically had its start in 2012 -- but, like all journeys in home education, the story goes back much, much further.

It's a story worth telling to anyone thinking of using Dreaming Spires for outsourcing. After all, nobody wants to delegate their child's education to a stranger without good reason, without connecting on some level.

Hopefully, the way Dreaming Spires got its start and continues to grow will encourage you to trust that all of us who teach for the company are sort of like the "you" that you could be for your kids if you could just clone yourself!

For many parents, remembering those early days of career, and then children, and then the idea of educating at home conjures up feelings of push and pull, stress and worry, and also relief. And that's exactly what it was like for our founder, Kat Patrick.

She had been in academic and education careers for many years, both in the US where she was born and in the UK where she spent most of her adulthood, before having her first child in 2000. She struggled with the tug-of-war between her desire to be a super-teacher to her students and basically just surviving with a new baby. Ultimately, the baby won out.

You can read about this decision on her personal blog, Boyschooling.

Over the next decade, she dabbled in various styles of homeschooling from Konos to Five in a Row, Heart of Dakota to Montessori. In the end, the best fit for her four children, all within seven years of each other, was the Charlotte Mason method.

In the meantime, she was building connections with home-educating families throughout Oxfordshire, England, and its surrounding counties. The history co-op she ran out of her home for seven years played a huge part in what became Dreaming Spires, because that was where she met and taught with Jackie Pavlenko, Jenny Wells, and Alison Samuels -- who are now Dreaming Spires' creative writing, art history, and classics tutors respectively.

Then came the crunch moment: Kat's eldest was then 12, an avid and excellent reader. Thinking that it would be the perfect time for her daughter to jump onto Ambleside Online's Year 7 curriculum, Kat ran into another few homeschooling moms on its Yahoo forum who were wanting to do the same thing, even though they were dotted all over the UK and the US.

That was when the idea for live, online tuition by a subject expert began. Kat's original Middle Ages Literature course, with her daughter among the guinea pigs, ran from 2012-2013. The next year, she taught Middle Ages Lit for another group of home-educators while adding Renaissance Literature for her daughter's group from the year before. This pattern continued until all four years of English were created and running simultaneously.

Kat still runs all four of these courses today, and every year, most of them reach their maximum before the end of May.

While growing Dreaming Spires organically in these early years, she also leveraged her teaching experience to mark national exams in the UK -- namely, IGCSEs in English Language -- and started an intensive "crammer" course to help home-educators access the kind of information and preparation that kids in regular school receive from their teachers-cum-examiners. These revision courses run three times a year, and for those who can't attend a live webinar, she has written a step-by-step revision guide that's available on Amazon.

The next phase of Dreaming Spires came when, after the co-op disbanded for teens to go their own ways, Kat approached her former tutor friends and asked them to create some courses. As before, most of these were trialed by Kat's own children. The benefit of outsourcing to experts was becoming more clear as her children moved into the latter years of secondary school.

In 2016, Kat moved back to her home town in Texas. She kept running Dreaming Spires and started a new local co-op, and it was at this stage that she met Kim Jones, a local homeschooling science teacher. It wasn't long before Kim was recruited for Dreaming Spires, and ever since, expansion in the company's timetable has come thick and fast: Joel's foreign language courses, Yvonne's history, and -- new for this year -- Sandra's astronomy, Jenny's second art history, Kim's anatomy and physiology, and Robert's geometry courses.

As Dreaming Spires has grown in the courses that it offers, happy clients have returned year after year, signing up their whole families, spreading the word to their friends and acquaintances, and talking about it on social media. At last count, we have served over a thousand students who live in more than 35 countries.

The take-away from our story should be clear: this is a genuine venture of home-educators for home-educators, a family created from families.

We've been around long enough now that we're seeing how our courses are impacting the lives of our students beyond secondary education -- how they're getting accepted into places like West Point, Edinburgh University, Hampshire College, and Cambridge University. One or two are even in graduate school now.

And in summer 2019, Kat graduated the child who began it all. Dreaming Spires' Student Zero was awarded an academic scholarship to study English and Astronomy at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts, and she also swims for their varsity team. An interview about how she navigated this journey to a competitive college program can be found on the 7 Sisters Homeschooling podcast.

For more information about the part that Dreaming Spires Home Learning can play in your child's innovative learning journey, and the reasons why families all over the world are choosing us over the other options out there, please see this page.

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