It seems like I’ve not written for ages, so after over a month of blogging hibernation we are back. December was a funny month for us. It felt strange not to be caught in a whirl of Nativity plays and rehearsals, and the mania that surrounded us when B was in school. After struggling to shake off the dreaded cough that’s doing the rounds we spent time recuperating, chilling and taking the festivities in a far more slower fashion.
By taking the time out it was like having another period of deschooling which I can’t recommend enough. I love how you can evolve your home education style as you go. As your children grow, and their needs change, so can the method in which you educate them. I noticed that B had emerged with a new fascination with the world. Those constant questions of “how does this work”, “why do we do this”, “when did this happen” were back. But a month without much structure also brings about challenges for the both of us who secretly thrive on it. So this year requires a way in which we can have enough structure to give us a framework to know what we are doing, balanced with the freedom to let our minds run riot with ideas.
So far we’ve got a lot more organised at booking events up for the year ahead which is something I’m usually a lot more impulsive with, but B likes to know what he’s doing in the future and with whom so it’s a must. On the flip side it also gives me a chance to see which times of the year are getting too busy, and to schedule in some downtime to stop us burning out.
I’m not sure how long we will prevail in this style, but when it needs evolving again, that’s what we’ll do!
As part of our de-schooling one of the hardest things I’ve found is trying to convince the boy that he could learn anywhere and everywhere. It doesn’t just happen in a classroom. It’s everywhere. He’s accepted this with aplomb when it comes to Lego funnily enough. As he announces to me most mornings, he’s off to do Lego maths. However, it’s been slightly tougher showing him beyond that bucket of brightly coloured bricks, that there’s a whole world he can learn from.
What we have found works for us whilst we are in this transitional phase is a question and answer exercise. Here is a typical example from a recent jaunt.
Q. Can you remember the names of two different birds that we saw on our walk?
A. Kingfisher and a seagull
Q. How do boats move from one part of the river to another?
A. The lock opens
Q. Can you explain how the answer to the previous question works?
A. They close the first lock and open the second lock so the water flows down, and the open the first lock and the boat gets across and both of the locks close.
Q. Do you know why the meads are important?
A. Because the floods can go on the meads.
Q. Why do you think the river is sometimes higher than others?
A. The rain fills it.
Q. What was your favourite part of the dog walk and why?
A. The kingfisher because I learnt how fast it flies.
What I love about these type of questions is that they work in a number of ways. There are some that have an exact answer, which always boosts the boys confidence by knowing the answer. He is at a stage where he loves to know that he has got something right, and doesn’t rely on hefty interpretation. Then we have started to introduce questions where he needs to reference another source. For example we watched a short clip about how locks work to back up what we knew about locks. We are learning to use books and technology as research tools, how to build our referencing skills, and getting out in the great outdoors. What better way to learn?
Having only embarked on our home education journey the week before half term, we decided to take a half term ourselves. After all, technically we are still in the deschooling phase ourselves. So we spent a week spending precious time with all of our friends who are in school and whom we rarely get entire days with.
On the whole all seemed pretty normal. From frosty days out to the wonderful Danbury Lakes, where we spent time building dams, to some high speed adrenaline at Adventure Island (or Peter Pans Playground as it will always be to me). It was great to watch B just having fun with friends, and without the ever impending cloud that this would only last for a week.
What struck me away from the safety net of close friends and familiar surroundings is how my little one has lost his confidence. This was the boy who would talk to anyone and try everything before he started school. A reticence from 18 months of bullying is still there. So rather than worrying over what we are going to learn over the coming months, I’m working on getting that confident, exuberant little man back on top form. We will of course be out and about, working on the varied projects B has planned, and writing never ending stories no doubt. But first and foremost I want to see that care free boy who’s intent on changing the world through the power of rollercoasters back.
Watch this space.