Thoughts for the day
1) There is definitely a certain level of insanity needed to home educate. At the moment my nights are taken up with reading about WW1 battles as my knowledge isn’t good enough to cover it in the depth I want, to a large extent we’ll learn together but I need enough of a grounding to know where to start and how to grab his interest (thinking tanks! — seeing some Airfix building happening). Then there are the hours I have spent preparing work for the next few weeks. Although I like his spelling curriculum the worksheets were poor (work for for the sake of work — not what I want) so have made my own thinning them down to the basics. And Maths! Having bought second hand there are sheets missing and some used and it is produced on really horrible paper so have spent most of the day redoing the first approx 3 weeks, making them metric and anglicised. And adding the vomiting penguin as Sam is much happier doing maths with a vomiting penguin on the page (I blame Pete and his really bad drawing!), hoping we can wean him off this before GCSE’s.
I am not saying that this is the only (or even the right) way of home educating but whatever the approach there is hard work involved (being constantly alert to learning opportunities, taxiing them from one social activity to another…), and at times you will find yourself doing things that pretty much anyone but another home eder (and no doubt some of those) will consider completely mad.
2) There is a home educators mindset where almost anything can be turned into a learning opportunity. This came up on the Guiders Facebook forum earlier.
‘What a nice idea for Mother’s Day’ say the comments. ‘What a pretty way to show convection currents’ I think. Obviously it is good to have new and inspired ideas but sometimes need to switch off that part of my brain and just enjoy things for their own sake.
3) If anyone was tasked to design an education system from scratch for today’s society I find it impossible to believe that they would come up with anything resembling the current system. A ‘one size fits all system’ where any differentiation is really down to dedication of individual teachers who are working in a system that ties their hands behind their backs and won’t let them do their job properly, is a disaster that fails too many pupils. Many will do okay — Jack will — but of course he could do much better if he was able to go at his own pace! The reason why this is on my mind is I have a whole curriculum ready to sell on that Jack worked through but I know won’t work for Sam as their learning styles are too different. Jack had a textbook and read through it, worked through the exercises and preferred to be left alone, he liked researching things himself without interference, Sam is much more an ‘active learner’ we read a lot, make things and chat while we do and handle stuff, do little on paper. If I have this much difference within one family how on earth does a school decide on which textbooks to use for a subject — isn’t just the 30 children in a class, they don’t change the books every year? Mindboggling!
And then there are the different strengths and weaknesses of individuals. Most of the stuff we use is American and Sam would be Grade 2. Now some of the stuff we are using is Grade 1 level, because I decided it was better to start from the start and judge level appropriate (writing) or very flexible (SOTW). Yet when I looked properly at the Grade 2 Maths curriculum (I’d bought months ago and failed to start) it is really miles too easy. Sam isn’t a natural mathematician and I’ve bought something with a lot of drill as that is what he needs but it is really simple (reading around a bit today seems to be a general comment on the course). Luckily I got a bit carried away and bought the next 3 grades second-hand so we are just skipping Grade 2. But this is where home ed shines — flexibility.
4) Thinking aloud here…one day when I have more time I am going to get back in to maths teaching — tutoring really (probably only at primary level — not up for stress of exams). Been glancing round and surprised at the call for it and primary level but so many people have a maths is hard mentality because they were badly taught. Maths teaching in schools is probably better now than it was in the 70’s/80’s, much less focus on there being a right method to work something out. And lets face it I have tried pretty much every curriculum out there between the boys so not short of resources 😉
5) Coordinating things with more than one other person at a time is a bit like going round in circles. All I can hope is if they are the right people then it should only be a couple of circuits before turning on to a straight road ahead. Plans are creaking into place