So, it’s true. As I thought. It just had to be the right book. Edward borrowed C.S. Lewis’ ‘Prince Caspian’ from a friend and when I woke up the next day (Edward is almost invariably the first to rise in our house) he’d already read the first chapter and immediately announced, “You can read it to Petra but I want to read it myself”. And he said it in a slightly combative way, as if I might argue with him, which I found quite reassuring because it proved that I haven’t been hassling him to read alone and instead he thought that I might insist that I read it to him (as if)! Then we were at a book fair (which sounds way more exciting that it was) and he finished reading a little ‘Star Wars’ book right there at the stand, as I browsed. And he’s already twice read the one that we bought. So he seems to have halted the reading ban he seemed to have imposed after he left school, which is a huge relief and I’m so pleased I didn’t pressurize him about it, yeah for the child-led learning philosophy!
But boy is it hard to find books that he really wants to read for himself. The library is frustratingly limited and we don’t have many secondhand book sales around, so it’s hard to try something first to see whether to buy it on the internet. Edward loves the ‘Henry and Mudge’ books but doesn’t want to read them himself, so there are obviously two categories of books for him – the ‘read to him’ ones which is very extensive, with the proviso that they’re fiction, and the ‘he reads’ ones that are much, much more limited. It’s very hard for me to discern between the two! Hopefully all this will become more evident as our homeschooling continues at its leisurely, getting-to-know-Edward-better pace.
At the book fair, I did pick up a couple of Usborne non-fiction books. They look so appealing! He wasn’t very interested in them at the fair and kept asking for more Narnia books (which nobody had) but I thought that, despite the fact they’re designed for kids to explore by themselves, I’d see if he enjoyed exploring one with me. This worked quite well. I tried the Usborne’s ‘See Inside Space’ lift-the-flap book first since he’s a bit interested in planets. I let him lift the flaps 😉 I read the outside of the flap and he spontaneously read the inside. I had to say several times that I didn’t really understand what a particular part meant e.g. about things looking squashed if they move at the speed of light (Einsten’s ‘Theory of Relativity’) but he didn’t call me out for being an idiot! Phew! Although I would love to unschool Edward I’m too afraid at the moment to do it more ‘purely’ because I don’t see many interests to encourage yet. He’s all about the playing really and I already try to give him enough time to do this.
However, I did try to follow Edward’s interest in building. He asked for two ‘kits’ recently – an Usborne Wizard’s Castle book that makes a paper castle and a balsa wood tall-masted ship. I felt like a model unschooler as we started on the former together whilst I thought of all his ex-classmates stuck in front of the ‘daily dozen’ – the 12 sums they have to do as they enter the class each morning.
I discussed the process first, making sure he listened carefully to the instructions, then I gave him scissors and we both had a go. It was tortuous. And not all that clear exactly what’s meant to go where. We lasted about half an hour before he said he was finding it hard, very fiddly, and I confessed I was finding it harder. As much as I want to encourage his interest in building things, I just couldn’t face doing so much of the building myself and this kit needed a lot of adult input (even I needed an adultJ!) So, I decided to put that project aside, initially hating doing so because it felt so much like ‘giving up’ but on second thoughts feeling quite grown-up that I had managed to not keep soldering on thinking one should always complete what one has started, however much one hates it, however much one could be spending time much more productively and enjoyably. I feel that was an ‘old school’ mentality and I feel so proud to have put it behind me and even happier not to be passing it on to my kids.
So, with sinking heart in my case, out came the model ship kit. I thoroughly examined it and declared that this was another one that needed a superior adult to supervise and that it would have to wait for Daddy to have time to do it. I hate admitting Daddy is superior at anything 😉 especially anything that I feel women should be able to do, but fitting tiny bits of wood together with meagre instructions won’t lead to me being a model of an enthusiastic, happy builder! And that’s the model that I would like to have for him. The spelling and grammar on the instructions is atrocious. I hope the Chinese did a better job with the model itself otherwise, Daddy isn’t going to be a much better model either, although, being the typical man that he is, he tends to disregard instructions for anything as below him and view anything from IKEA shelves to model ships as intelligence tests that have to be worked out all by oneself. It normally drives me mad! But in this case, he might be better off working out how to build this ship himself without the ungrammatical and possibly misleading instructions! Sometimes, I have to admit, I hate being both Mummy and Daddy though, because Daddy is away so often and so tired when he is here. I hate admitting defeat with Edward’s budding building interest. I have no idea if these kits will be touched again for years, which is really sad. But I think it’s back to solo Lego for the time being because that’s another thing that I just can’t face doing. Anyway, sitting on the floor, the way kids prefer to do Lego, is uncomfortable enough to start with! And I try to reassure myself that I don’t want to hold his creativity back by embarrassing myself with my pathetic creations! So, he’s on his own with his Lego and so far, he’s pretty OK with that.
I think I have to realize that homeschooling is like a full-time office job (with without the commensurate respect and pay packet!) and that, without support, I have hardly any time to myself. I was grocery shopping until 10pm last night! I couldn’t believe it! But I don’t want to take the kids on errands when we could have a much nicer and more productive time at home together. They hate grocery shopping almost as much as me. We’ll do it when we have to, it is part of living a ‘real’ life but they don’t have to come as often as I have to do it. But that precious time after they go to bed is getting eaten into now and I’m sad about that! But like a full-time office worker, I might have to start considering internet deliveries! I have no idea how that works in Bahrain but I think it’s available. Something else to add to my ‘to do – research’ list!
I’m reading more and more about ‘pure’ unschooling and I’m digesting and I’ll post soon with my thoughts. I did read a very alarming analogy with wives reading romance novels that was meant to persuade readers of its excellence but did the opposite for me! You’ll see ;)!
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