For a while now a few of us have been working on trying to set up a slightly more formal home ed activity for some of the ‘mid age’ children I suppose the best description would be.
Our aims are primarily about developing social skills. One of the problem of home education is the one to one element (or one to two or whatever). Obviously from nearly every perspective this is ideal. However having done numerous home ed workshops in museums and the like over the years, I see kids that struggle in formal ‘learning’ situations, and I’ll include mine in that. They struggle with sitting, listening and sharing ideas in group situations, either through enthusiasm sharing too much and not allowing others to get a word in (yes that is you Sam!) or not having the confidence to join in at all.
They also don’t get as many opportunities to work and discuss ideas with people their own age/ability. Of course as parents we spend huge amounts of time interacting with our children but with the best will in the world it is very difficult to act as ‘equals’, we adults tend to have a wealth of experience that we draw on, kids on the other hand far out strip us in enthusiasm, attention to detail and inventive thinking.
Obviously to some extent these skills develop informally in the organisation of playground games. But I see time again kids who are perfectly confident playing in their friendship group, losing confidence when it comes to sharing their knowledge and ideas in more formal situations.
The relaxed informality of home education socialisation and the comfort and involvement of adults is to me infinitely better than school based socialisation. However, there are times as home educated children I feel they need to fit a more standard model of social behaviour, for example to gain the most (and allow others around them to gain the most too) from educational workshops which are all geared around social norms associated with schooled children. And while creativity, independence of thought, initiative and enthusiasm are all very important skills and attributes which are fostered by home ed, the ability to sit and listen in meetings, speak up in a room of colleagues and work with a group of people towards a project are all practical skills which we need to help them develop too.
Therefore our aims were
– To encourage co-operation and group work skills
– Foster independence.
– Develop confidence; both in their own abilities and in their ability to speak and interact in group situations.
To take some of the fun and positive aspects of school and try to make them work in a relaxed, comfortable group.
History as a topic was purely arbitrary, something the kids were interested in and a topic that allows us the option of lots of visits/use of local resources.
For the trial we did an hour in the morning looking at aspects of what history is and how we study it.
It started off badly when I forgot the timeline but we skated over that and the kids got involved in organising themselves into a timeline based on their dates of birth.
They then used photos they had brought to make timelines of their own lives.
And we looked at different sorts of evidence, working as a group to sort them into primary and secondary sources
We finished off with a look at a set of sources to see what deductions they could make about a particular person.
After lunch we moved on to the practical session, Victorian and some other families joined us. In groups the kids moved around 3 activities.
Making sequin baubles with me
Crackers with Susie
Finishing with some games
Did it work? Not sure.
Kids had fun and enjoyed themselves which is obviously a major plus.
Initial email we sent out got the pitch a bit wrong I think and put of some of the 6/7yo who are not fluently reading or writing but could have coped fine.
Noise in the room was too much, it was difficult to concentrate for me and kids. Bad acoustics and I need to get better at asking parents to stop gossiping at the side of the room.
Need to get feedback of others and I think we need to look at another potential venue and see how other potential activities in the pipeline pan out before committing.