Change of Seasons

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After muddling through for just over a year with most of our books still in storage and without any significant social contact, Motor-biker decided at the beginning of April to try school.

It took a while for the bureaucratic wheels to turn, but once the ball was rolling everything seemed to happen very fast.

We had a tour of the school on the Thursday and then filled in the forms to officially apply for a place. On the Monday we were informed by the County Council that the place was ours and so he started on Wednesday morning.

We agreed that, given that the transition from home to secondary school is such a massive one, it could be overwhelming to jump in at the deep end and so he would start gradually. One lesson the first day, two on the second and so on.

Tomorrow is due to be his first full day.

So far it has been a mixture of enjoyment, overwhelmed exhaustion and frustration. (I will elaborate on the reasons for his frustrations later.)

For those of us left at home, there is also a mixture of feelings of joy and sadness – joy because I am happy for him to do what he wants to do (and he is such a sociable character, I think he will be in his element), sadness because my home education journey is coming to an end before I expected it to and with that I am experiencing feelings of disappointment and a niggling sense of failure.

It is nonsense of course – motherhood inevitably includes a sense of guilt but I know that actually I have done my best and we have had an incredibly difficult set of circumstances that have been and continue to be outside of my control.

Baba Zonee has decided to stay at home. He is a different character from his brother and doesn’t feel ready for school.

Pony-rider has turned 16 and is still at home mainly because she can’t decide what she wants, and Dragon-tamer is still at home struggling with mental and physical ill health after his breakdown which school caused.

I’m not worried that Motor-biker will have the same experience at school that Dragon-tamer did – again, they are very different characters.

Whereas Dragon-tamer found the education useful and the social contact difficult and frustrating, Motor-biker is likely to have the opposite experience, and I am prepared (and fully expecting judging from his reactions to the lessons so far) to need to supplement the education at home.

So perhaps not much will change in a way except for the timetable, and Baba Zonee will benefit I’m sure from having one-to-one attention for a change (not to mention a bit of peace and quiet! Motor-biker’s other nickname is Tigger due to his irrepressibly boisterous and bouncy nature!)

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I couldn’t help noticing that this massive change of season for us occurred on the occasion of the Full Moon at Passover and Orthodox Easter (also counted as Beltane for those who celebrate on the full moon rather than on May 1st according to the calendar). That confluence of Christian, Jewish and Pagan dates felt auspicious to me in a way. Perhaps it’s just me being fanciful, but perhaps that’s just me! 🙂

I feel a little as though I, like Dorothy, have been caught up in a whirling, mad tornado (again) and deposited in a new land – charmed and bewitched, and I’m a little bit lost and unsure. Unfamiliar territory with unfamiliar landmarks. I will triumph eventually, but we may have a strange journey ahead.

I am thinking happy thoughts and taking deep breaths, and trying to adjust to the idea without going crazy.

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The Very Hungry Princess

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Birthday week

We made the fatal error of saying to Pony-rider “what would you like to do for your birthday – you can do anything you like!” Now that I think about it, I realise that we got off lightly. She could have asked for a trip in the Virgin Space Shuttle!

Instead, she asked for:

1 trip to Grandma’s,
1 trip to a Farm,
1 trip to Toys ‘r’ Us,
1 Swimming Lesson,
1 Party,
1 slice of Swiss Cheese
1 Ice-cream Cone and
1 Slice of Salami
(just checking to see you’re actually paying attention).

So instead of a birth-day, we ended up having a treat every single day for an entire week: Monday was a trip to a farm and a swimming lesson. (More about the Farm later).

Tuesday was a trip to Grandma’s (actually we had to go Monday evening because she particularly wanted to wake up at Grandma’s on her birthday – we obliged.)

Wednesday was a trip to a favourite local place which provides an outdoor play-area positioned conveniently close to picnic tables where mums can chat over coffee (a treat for me too!);

Thursday was playgroup, followed by the girliest girly birthday-party imaginable (it was so great – maybe more about the Party later too!).

Friday was play at an indoor play-centre (while the mums had coffee) followed by lunch at the unspeakable McD’s, and in the evening a surprise visit from some friends from out of town who took us to Pizza Hut!

And finally, on Saturday we shared the birthday cake with her best friend (who couldn’t make the party due to not actually being a girl).

On Sunday, I laid in bed with a headache, neck-ache, back-ache, leg-ache, etc., the result, I think, of party-stress and way too much icing, coffee, chocolate, cake, McD and Pizza Hut. I did eat one nice green leaf, and after that I felt much better. 😉

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Originally posted on the Svengelska Hemskolan blog.

High Culture: Closed for the Winter

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We started the day with Latin: Dragon-tamer orally going through the noun tables and verb paradigms we have learnt so far, and reviewing vocabulary, and finally doing a simple translation exercise that involved placing the correct words in sentences. He did quite well considering we only do it occasionally. Pony-rider listens in too.

As we are fairly relaxed and unschooly, I never insist we do these or any other lessons. My goal in introducing Latin, and other languages, is to give the kids a flavour of the language so if they decide they want to take it up seriously, they can.

We all listened to a children’s classical CD (Bernstein Favourites: Children’s Classics), and Dragon-Tamer dictated a couple of music reviews which I typed up and posted on to our local home-ed reading group website.

We thought that, in the afternoon, we would just ‘pop in’ to the local museum, or gallery, but when I checked their opening hours, I discovered that both are closed: the Gallery for two weeks while they change exhibits, and the Museum for the whole winter (except for education groups of 20 or more children… so possible to organise for a later date but no good for today).

Disappointed, we discussed other alternatives for the afternoon, but nobody could agree, and since Motor-biker was poorly with a slight temperature, we opted for a quiet afternoon in, watching nature programmes and schools maths programmes recorded earlier.

Originally posted on the Svengelska Hemskolan blog.

Hook Was an Old Eton Man

peterpanI could hardly believe when I checked how much of the year has gone by since I last posted! Time flies by when you’re having fun!

We’ve had lots of adventures and shenanigans and, when I get a minute, I’ll come back and tell some stories around the camp-fire, but I just wanted to mention our latest very popular read-aloud. Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie and abridged by er… well actually I can’t check because I think Pony-rider has gone to sleep with it under her pillow. I suspect that any version will do – the adventure is so much fun whichever way it’s expressed, but the original is a bit wordy and difficult to read, so although I don’t generally like abridged version, this is a story that I recommend you find a good abridged version (the same is true of Moby Dick and a lot of classic books written during that era).

The funniest (or is it disturbing) thing is the way I’ve noticed the story coming out in their play-times: Dragon-tamer isn’t too affected – he views the whole story quite philosophically (“it is quite an odd tale”, he told me before I read it – I can’t keep up with him, he has taken to pre-reading everything now!), Pony-rider has been spotted rooting through sock drawers for shadows, and generally loitering around windows in the vain hope that Peter will visit, but Motor-biker has been caught curling his forefinger into a hook on several occasions! If he had a pipe, I’m sure he’d smoke it…

I did worry that J. M. Barrie’s axe-grinding over growing up was affecting Dragon-tamer when he remarked “I hope I won’t get to 12 too soon”, but it became clear that this was prompted by a big sign at the play-ground which read “No children over 12 may go on the equipment, by order of the Management”.

 

Originally posted on the Svengelska Hemskolan blog (and given that Dragon-tamer will turn 21 this year, probably almost 10 years ago!).

Play-station beats Dyslexia

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My middle son, Motor-biker, who is 14, has struggled with quite severe dyslexia for years. I know I have mentioned it several times here.

We had tried all sorts of reading schemes and books and resources and we weren’t getting anywhere. In fact, I was at the point of tearing my hair out with frustration and just about ready to throw in the towel.

But a remarkable thing has happened over the Christmas holiday – having unrestrained time on the Play-station, particularly playing the creative game ‘Little Big Planet‘ which has a fair amount of text, he has had a breakthrough.

I can hardly believe that I am saying it, but he is now – all of a sudden really – reading!

I am really just astounded at his rapid progress, and so relieved! I really felt that we had reached an impasse and that there was no way to carry on learning at home. I am so glad I was wrong!

One of the neat things about Little Big Planet is that you can create your own levels, and part of creating things is tagging them with text, and the text interface has a suggestion box which is really helpful for learning spellings and the shape of words.

So far, it hasn’t helped Baba Zonee, 12, quite so obviously; but from what I understand, this may be due to having a different type of dyslexia from his brother (he also has dysgraphia, and physical difficulty with fine motor control). But even though Baba Zonee is still struggling, I am beginning to see slow improvement, so I am really encouraged, one that learning at home with dyslexia is possible, and that learning with unschooling (which means natural life learning with little or no interference) is sometimes the best way.

John Holt quote

“I don’t see homeschooling as some kind of answer to badness of schools. I think that the home is the proper base for the exploration of the world which we call learning or education. Home would be the best base no matter how good the schools were.”
~ John Holt

Ohana Home Education Yahoo Group

When I started home educating, the internet was fairly new, and so at the time (1999) the main source of networking between home educators was ‘e-groups’ which eventually got taken over by Yahoo groups.

I know that almost everybody now has migrated over to Facebook, but although I am obviously there (and Ohana Home Education has a presence there), I’m not a big fan and don’t particularly like entrusting photos or files to them, and so while lots of yahoo groups now stand empty or quiet, I have decided to revive one of my groups as a handy place to store files and links that may be of use to home educators.

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The group is, surprisingly enough, is called Ohana Home Education and you can find it here: https://uk.groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/OhanaHE/info

There are already lots of files and links there. Mainly they are related to lapbooking, unit studies, home economics and some religious topics (mainly relating to Messianic Judaism, celebrating the festivals, cooking etc.), but I hope in future to add resources and worksheets on all other topics, and anybody is free to contribute.

It is not particularly meant to be a discussion/ support group, although if it does get used that way it would also be OK. But there are of course lots of other places online (especially, inevitably, on Facebook) for that sort of thing. One of these days I will get round to making a list of the most helpful groups.

So please do go on over and take a look, and if you would like to join to contribute/ make use of what is there, please do make sure to confirm when you apply that you are a home educator. Feel free to suggest as well the topics that you would like to see there.

I know that, when I was first home educating, I very much appreciated the resources that other home educators had made available for free, so it is all good to make sure that there are free resources still available for a new generation of home educators.