Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Happy Anniversary

It's our 1st anniversary of home ed today so it seemed appropriate that I get round to updating the blog. I'm in the process of making a year book and looking back on what we've achieved is great fun.

I thought I might take the chance to write down some of the things that I have learned during the past year. I know it should be about what the children are learning, but I think the two are intrinsically linked.

1) I've learned to trust myself.
This doesn't mean that I am without the occasional wobble. I have little moments of mild panic when we don't appear to have 'done' very much. I suddenly insist on sitting them down at the table and learning in a formal style for about an hour before I realise that they really do know their stuff after all.

2) I'm learning to trust the children
This is going to take a lot more work but I'm definitely getting there. I am in no way an unschooler, I don't want to be and the children prefer to be directed most of the time. However, I am learning to trust in their interests more and to think outside the box. For example, George 2 wanted to learn about duvets. I was a bit stumped until I discovered that I could in fact create my own lapbook which incorporated history, geography, science and maths all about the humble duvet.

3) I can relax and have all the children round me all the time
Please don't misunderstand, I'm not a particularly patient person and I was a bit worried about whether home ed would be right for me even though I knew it was right for the children. I am learning now, that 'me' time comes in lots of different forms and for me, doesn't need to be 6 hours a day during term time. In fact, I've found that because I don't get a break from them, I am becoming more patient as the noise, mess and mayhem is just a part of my life now.

4) Sometimes, they know more than me
George 1 asked me to look up liquid nitrogen on YouTube the other day. Unbeknown to me, he'd already done this and proceeded to tell me all about it's properties.

5) I love maths!!!!
This has probably been my most crucial breakthrough. I hated maths at school. Didn't understand it and although I passed my GCSE with a grade C, I vowed never to do long division again. Well.... That's all changed. Thanks to the The Khan Academy, I can now do long multiplication, subtraction and division. And that's not all, due to Murderous Maths, I know love looking for patterns in numbers and seeing how they all work. This has been quite a thing for me, I've had to change from saying "I hate maths" to "I love maths"

6) Time is irrelevant
I used to be tied to a clock. We would be rushing through breakfast, rushing through shoe finding, rushing through my jobs to get back to school on time, rushing through dinner, rushing through bedtime stories. The children had to rush through their learning so that the teacher could move on and they couldn't rush ahead even if they wanted to.
Since starting home ed, time has become irrelevant, most of the time. We still have odd moments of having to be somewhere on time, and we still have a daily routine. I feel that time discipline is very important. However, the fact that they're growing and developing in front of me scares me less than when they were away from me. The fact that they can read when they're in the mood at 2:26pm instead of at 10:00am means that they enjoy it. The fact that we have time to read 3 books if the mood takes them rather than rushing through 1, means that they get far more out of the experience.

7) There is value in learning anything and everything
Everyday, the children get out of be and learn. They learn about the seasons from looking out of the window, they learn about time by our routines, they learn about the world from looking at the BBC website etc etc etc. George 2 has learned the days of the week because on Sunday we go to church, on Monday their German teacher comes, on Wednesday we have home ed groups, on Friday we have chocolate spread sandwiches. He hasn't learned them because a teacher made him cant them endlessly. George 1 has learned to tell the time because we put a picture of a clock on his wall and he looked at it and studied it every night along with his watch. Not because everyday for weeks on end he was shown a picture and asked what time it represented. He knows what time the weather and news is on in the morning, what time Granny comes in from walking the dog and what time he has to go to bed. He's learned what time means in reality.
People so often ask if we have to follow a curriculum. We wouldn't have time if we did because life is full of endless learning opportunities and the curriculum that is used in schools is far too limiting.

I think it's clear that from these few examples, that I have by far learned the most. Although some days are very difficult and draining, I am glad everyday that I chose to do this.

So, now for some photos of some of the things that we've been doing over the past few months since I last wrote.

This is an apple free apple cake. It was a science experiment and is made using cheese biscuits, lemon juice and cream of tartar. It sound vile but was actually really really nice.

We went to Cardiff to join with other home educators in arguing against the Welsh Assembly proposals to bring in compulsory registration and monitoring. It was a good day and we met lots of people as well as getting our point across.

At one of the groups we go to, the boys had a chance to make Plasticine models. I was particularly impressed with the sheep

We had the great privilege of going to visit the Harry Potter studio tour. What an amazing and educational day that was. I was completely bowled over by the stunning model of Hogwarts castle used in filming various scenes,. A picture can never do it adequate justice.

Volcano making out of jelly. Enough said

We soaked an egg in vinegar to see what would happen. The shell was stripped of its colour and went all rubbery. This was part of the teeth lapbook to witness the effect of certain liquids on teeth

Some soap monsters. These were such fun to make. We're going to do it again for our next home ed group

A Halloween game of Sorry

Here are two of the lapbooks that have been made. Teeth and Volcanoes. They chose the topics themselves and really enjoyed putting all the parts together to create their books