It’s been a really interesting, and nerve-racking, first month of homeschooling! It still feels like it’s absolutely the best decision for our family but the pressure to ‘do a good job’ is enormous. However, when I resist this, as I believe I should, and just ‘go with the flow’ it’s an amazing feeling. It feels like we’re all in harmony now. Edward is so much happier and therefore so are we.
I’ve been trying to find the best way of actually home educating my recently-schooled 7 year old son, on a day by day basis. To work out how to do things on a daily basis, what we do when we wake up in the morning, I’m trying to work out what my homeschooling philosophy is. I’m trying to work out what works best for my son, not what other people are doing, not what other people think we should be doing, not what looks like school at home but what helps him to love learning and to learn to learn. What this has meant in practice is:
– Continuing with a couple of pages of Maths worksheets a day from an attractively illustrated book (but this is revision for him really)
– Trying to incorporate a little bit of Maths into each day in a ‘real’ way e.g. weighing and measuring familiar objects around the house and discussing our findings. This is introducing new concepts to him like decimal points. Some days we bake together, discussing the weights and measures and how the ingredients change form e.g. butter from solid to liquid. Unfortunately, I absolutely hate cooking so they don’t cook with me as much as they should, since I think cooking is really educational on many levels. But as hard as I try not to, I think I do give off ‘I hate cooking’ vibes, even when we’re baking, and I’m a bit short-tempered with them when they try to ‘help’ in the kitchen because I’m not in my milieu anyway. Awful I know. I really don’t want them to turn out like me in the kitchen. But I’m only human and I do try 😉
– Reading to the kids just about whenever they ask me to
– Very lightly suggesting Edward read something himself, at the moment this isn’t met with success. Since he left school he’s on reading strike. I think I have to wait it out until I find something that he finds interesting enough to start again
– I try and point out on the World Map on the wall where in the world we’re going on holiday but there’s not a great deal of interest in this. Nor is there much interest in doing the lovely Usborne World Map puzzle laid out on the big table, despite the fact Edward really likes puzzles. He says it’s boring. I end up doing it instead, which is not a bad thing since my geography is awful (because I was conventionally educated which meant I sat, bored, in geography lessons, not really learning much and remembering even less)
– Trying to think of interesting discussions about everything we come across in the world around us, all day, every day. This could include why some people queue jump in heavy traffic or what’s going on with the kids’ home life who we see wandering around on the very unsafe highway
– Edward teaching himself to type with http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/typing/
– Doing Maths or Science on http://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/ks1 He never wants to play the Literacy games so I don’t force him. I hope that once he can type, he’ll start writing creatively or communicating by email which will teach him grammar and spelling along the way and then a lot of literacy will be covered
– Looking up and playing on other educational websites that are recommended. Although all of this Net time is quite limited because he’s not that interested
– Doing some Arts activities from drawing to sticking and colouring. Petra is far more interested than Edward
– Doing some outside-home activities that presently include a weekly kids-run Chess Club, music/dance class for Petra and a swimming lesson each. I’m trying to find a guitar teacher, we’re always on the lookout for someone who could teach fencing. And if there were good drama opportunities for Edward that would great
– We go to as many interesting-looking events as possible. Bahrain is a tiny island so these opportunities are very limited but we’ve been blessed with a month of world-class performances organized under the title ‘Spring of Culture’. We’ve been to everything kids could go to. We went to an amazing drama workshop this week, run by the Kennedy Centre for the Performing Arts from Washington D.C. which is here doing performances of ‘Knuffle Bunny’. Edward got to improvise with the talented cast members and learn about the actor’s ‘tool box’ that includes voice, facial expression, body movement, imagination and a few others I’ve forgotten! The cast signed our Knuffle Bunny book afterwards and seemed genuinely impressed with Edward’s innate talents with comments including, ”You are a Star! I look forward to sharing the stage with you some day! You rock!” from Cy who plays Trixie and, “I can’t wait to sit in the front row of your starring role and watch you perform. You will be an amazing (heavily underlined) actor!” from puppeteer Andrea. How supportive! We watched the show tonight and it was so much fun and Andrea said again, “Edward is going to be a great actor. I can tell already.” Wow! Look at this for dedication – we had to leave home by midday in order to reach the performance by 6pm because of planned mass protests today!
Whatever we’re doing ceases if Edward’s best friend drops in to play. This is a great opportunity for Edward to get his Vitamin D dose outside and I think their imaginative and physical play is more important than anything. His friend has a lot of homework, in part because he’s nearly 3 years older than Edward and in part because of the system he’s schooled in, so he’s not available nearly as much as we’d like him to be, so we’ll happily drop everything for him! And I do the same with his Mum if she’s free to walk around the compound, so I can get my dose of exercise, Vitamin D and intellectual conversation!
The most important achievement over the last month is, I think, that I worked out the reason Edward doesn’t like reading, because nothing in the world, fact or fiction, compares with his interior world. He would rather be in his imagination than anything else. Good for him! How amazing to have an imagination like that! That is how the most creative people really are. Who knows if that imagination will result in a life of performance or fiction writing or making beautiful buildings or new worlds in different planets! But I do believe the most important thing is to nurture this special imagination and that means, yes, being literate with words and numbers but not killing everything else off in the process of attaining that goal. So, our rather haphazard exploration continues, of our son’s interests and learning styles and of the resources to suit this. Bring on month two on our home educating adventure and may it bring more exciting discoveries and continued joy but maybe a bit less anxiety!
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