FOREWORD: If you are new to homeschoolingmiddleeast, welcome! I highly recommend that you start reading from ‘Day 1’. The fastest way to access this is to look for ‘Archives’ on the right hand side of the home page, click on ‘February 2012’ and scroll down to the bottom of the page that opens. If you want a quick first visit, you could type a term e.g. ‘socialization’ or ‘university’, into the ‘Search’ box or of course you could just read my latest posts without doing anything! Why I recommend starting at Day 1 is because this is an adventure into homeschooling that is not yet 3 months old and the journey has been a rollercoaster – philosophically and emotionally, catalogued daily for the first couple of months. For you to get the full intellectual and dramatic impact, it’s best to start at the beginning. You might be contemplating home educating and wonder what those early nail-biting days feel like or you might enjoy reading somebody else’s take on an experience you share with me, or you might be more generally interested in my thoughts and feelings on education and parenting. Whatever the reason you’re reading, I’m really humbled that you’re taking your valuable time to do so and I really hope I can be some kind of hope or inspiration for you. Thank you! Now for today’s post…
Imagine my elation when I woke up this morning to find I’d been nominated for an award and that being nominated for it means you’ve won it! Well, of course, I am honoured and humbled to accept and I was especially delighted by the reason for the nomination which was made by http://studentsathome.wordpress.com/2012/04/20/versatile-blogger-award/ (do visit her blog), “Penny’s commitment to homeschooling and her honest assessment of her journey encourage me. When I read her post, I find myself cheering for her to succeed!” I would like to thank my nominator by name, but I can’t find it on her blog.
This ‘award’ was so very welcome because this blogging business (not so much the writing which I adore but finding the time to work out how to make it better, especially in a technological sense) is often as challenging at the learning at home itself. In both cases, the challenge is enjoyable but anxiety- provoking because I keep thinking ‘I need to do better! How can I do better?’) in blogging when I see how beautifully presented other blogs are and with learning at home when I slip back into thinking of it as ‘homeschooling’ which smacks too much of ‘school at home’ for me.
Why is the thought of doing ‘school at home’ so much more daunting than simply ‘learning at home’? Because it makes me start comparing my children to their schooled peers and feeling anxious about what they might have learned by now that my children haven’t. This provokes a degree of angst, even though it shouldn’t, because I do believe that education is not a race – when children read and when they know the essentials of Maths doesn’t, within reason, have any bearing on how successful children will be in those subjects when they are older, let alone how successful they will be as adults, which is one of the main goals of education (the definition of ‘successful’ being surprisingly different between people of course). Nor are the curriculums that are being followed the ‘last word’ in what topics should be covered when.
We are planning a trip to Paris, Bruges and the Netherlands for a month in July. I have just ordered a bunch of books on the Net and once they arrive we will focus on them until we leave – preparation for this trip will comprise our curriculum! There are storybooks about Paris, quite a few of these although unfortunately none on Bruges or any of the Netherlands that I can find unfortunately (although both destinations are regularly referred to as ‘storybook’ or ‘fairtytale!). There are art and artist books, there are guidebooks (although really, with the Net these days, they are almost defunct so I feel a bit guilty and old-fashioned buying these!) Where does it say in any curriculum to spend 2 months studying the art and history of these places? In case you’re worried that I’m neglecting the sciences, Paris has the fantastic ‘Cite Des Enfants’ and Amsterdam the terrific NEMO science museum that I look forward to visiting repeatedly during our 3 weeks there. I also spent quite a bit of time this week trying to find a telescope in the Netherlands, since they are banned in Bahrain. I am delighted to have done so, thanks to kind and speedy responses to everyone I emailed from my Google research. So we’ll continue our tour over the next few weeks of the ‘wonders of the universe’ to make the most of this visit. The biggest problem, apart from having a clear enough night to see anything, will be keeping Edward awake until almost midnight because it takes so long for the sky to be dark enough in the Northern Hemisphere at this time of year! My 3 year old will be no problem, she’s much more of a ‘night owl’! If he should fall unshakeably asleep he will at least have had a chance to look through a sun telescope a bit earlier in the evening, not something I even knew existed, which will be really cool! Who’s more excited, me or him?!
Oh, I love home learning! Yes, we could do this if Edward was still at school, but we’d be much more focussed on having a relaxing kind of holiday for him to decompress after a stressful school year, much more focused on hanging out at a beach or something (which I find excruciatingly boring! I LOVE museums and trips out and about!) If we did do gallery visits, for example, we wouldn’t do much preparation first. Instead of finding out in advance about the pictures we’re going to see and learning a bit about the artists, we’d just turn up and look. I think the kids will get so much more out of gallery and tourist site visits if they have some familiarity with them first, through books or the Net. But this kind of preparation takes a lot of time, both mine and the kids’, that we’d never have the time or energy for these last few weeks of the school term. Edward could hardly bear to look at another book once at home, when he was at school. But it’s all different now! His enthusiasm for learning has really started to take off!
I can’t wait for those books to arrive! I can’t wait for us to bury our noses in all that European culture! I have never even visited Bruges before, so that is especially exciting for me. The architecture will be fascinating to see – especially for the kids. Being British, I am used to beautiful architecture, the buildings right on the river in Bruges even reminds me a bit of Cambridge. Living in Bahrain we, of course, have absolutely nothing in comparison to what is in Bruges, and Bahraini/Gulf architecture, what is left since the government has never treasured it enough to not let most of it be bulldozed over, is what the kids are used to, since this is their home.
I have come across some wonderfully helpful websites with tips and recommendations about visiting these places with children but if anyone has any more, I’d be hugely grateful. I will certainly blog about our experiences and add my own recommendations and tips in due course. I might even work out how to add photos 😉 But if you do know of any good storybooks or kid-friendly art, architecture or history books relevant to the kinds of things we’ll see in Paris, Bruges and the Netherlands (especially Amsterdam) I’d be so grateful if you could let me know.
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