Posts Tagged ‘homeschooling’

Deja vu, it would seem.

January 20, 2009

The DCFS is going for another round of consultations on home education policy. Technically, as we’re in Scotland, this isn’t immediately relevent. That said, we’re not likely to be north of the border forever and how homeschoolers are viewed is something that everyone should be concerned about, particularly as I’ve heard that this particular review is inspired by cases uncovered by the Crown Prosecution Service of children being listed as homeschooled when in fact they were forced into marriages. Here is my response:

Do you think the current system for safeguarding children who are educated at home is adequate? Please let us know why you think that.

No.

Comments: I don’t think it is acceptable that home educators do not necessarily have to make themselves known to the government. I also believe it is a mistake that, as far as I’m aware, the identities of home educators are kept by councils–there should be a centralized database that councils pull information from. Beyond names and addresses, I don’t believe the government is entitled to further information as 1. the government cannot ensure that the level of safety and education is sufficient within its own schools and 2. home educating parents are entitled to the same assumption of innocence and competence that parents of schooled children enjoy until there is evidence to the contrary.

Do you think that home educated children are able to achieve the following five Every Child Matters outcomes? Please let us know why you think that.

Be healthy

Yes

Comments: Parents are in the best position to monitor and ensure good health, and the government should assume that the vast majority of parents will do so.

Stay safe

Yes

Comments: It stands to reason that as parents tend to have the keenest interest in keeping their children safe, having more contact with them can only lead to increased safety. The thrust of questions relating to safety seem to be a veiled attempt to assess opinions on the degree to which home education is or can be used as a cover for abusive practices. I think, however, this is the result of faulty logic. There is no reason to assume that more abuse occurs in home educating households. Just as the government doesn’t uncover pockets of illegal activity in schools by turning the entire student population upside-down and shaking them, neither will Orwellian monitoring of home educators be an effective means of revealing child abuse. This mindset and the actions that follow from it only damage the home educating community and make them more distrustful of the government and its policies.

Enjoy and acheive *it makes me warm inside when education reps can’t spell ;)*

Yes

Comments: Again, parents can best assess the interests and abilities of their children and in the majority of cases will work to satisfy their needs.

Make a positive contribution.

Yes

Comments: While the desire to make a positive contribution has a great deal to do with intrinsic motivation and personality, home educating families are just as likely to provide the kinds of role-models that inspire such activities as schooling families. It is hurtful to home educators to imply otherwise.

achieve economic well-being

Yes

Comments: The ability to have economic well-being, whatever that is, is subject to so many factors and varies so widely across the entire population that I really don’t think this question merits a response, as indeed it cannot be answered honestly or in an informed way.

Do you think that Government and local authorities have an obligation to ensure that all children in this country are able to achieve the five outcomes? If you answered yes, how do you think Government should ensure this?. If you answered no, why do you think that?

No

Comments: I think the focus is misdirected. The government can hardly ensure that these goals are achieved in its own schools. Rather than focusing so keenly on intangibles like testing in schools and endless home education policy reviews, time and resources should be spent in making the country a friendlier and more supportive environment for families generally.

Do you think there should be any changes made to the current system for supporting home educating families? If you answered yes, what should they be? If you answered no, why do you think that?

Yes

Comments: A home educated child should be entitled to the same level of government financial investment in learning materials and experiences as a schooled child. This should be a policy across the education system. More should be done for children who are being home educated because of failings on the part of the school/s. Certain community investments in the education of all children would be helpful. For example, children should be provided with free or deeply discounted public transport to encourage more outings. Policy-makers tend to overlook the fact that parents with children in school as well as homeschooling parents often find it difficult to find suitable work arrangements. In fact, the government ought to swiftly reverse the overall trend of encouraging work over family life.

Do you think there should be any changes made to the current system for monitoring home educating families? If you answered yes, what should they be? If you answered no, why do you think that?

Yes

Comments: Once a child is identified as being home-educated, there should be no monitoring unless there is evidence to suggest his or her rights are being breached.

Some people have expressed concern that home education could be used as a cover for child abuse, forced marriage, domestic servitude or other forms of child neglect. What do you think Government should do to ensure this does not happen?

Answer: Abusive parents likely exist in similar proportion across all the spectrum of educational choice, and certainly many abuse in ways that are not readily detectable, even with monitoring. The government needs to accept that it is not wise nor is it even feasible to isolate a particular population with no proven increased risk of abuse and subject them to undue scrutiny. There needs to be a point at which the government can accept that it cannot read the hearts and minds of its populace and does not allow itself to engage in civil rights abuses simply so it can feel proactive.

*****

Saying that kids should all get funding is a tricky issue, I know. Basically, I don’t think that money should be the main entitler to a good education. Neither should testable/assessible ability! A poor child who doesn’t test well is left to the postcode lottery, which, from what I understand of government schools in this country, he’s unlikely to win. Some will argue that many private schools have bursaries, etc., but what if the child lacks parents who have the necessary awareness and wherewithal? And a bursary doesn’t alleviate the stress of having to compete to be able to attend a school. Does it seem right that a child is tested to be allowed his education, tested repeatedly while he’s receiving it, and then tested hugely at its completion? Is the stress associated with simply growing up and being deemed as having a proper chance at a successful life worth it? Is it not in itself a kind of human rights breach?

It’s simply unacceptable that there is such variance in school quality and that the bad ones are truly dire. If the government cannot find a solution, then it really is sort of left with the idea that keeps getting thrown around by US Republicans–the voucher system, which assumes that competition heals all. It seems to me that what is needed is a policy U-turn with regards to working with children, as I mentioned above, and a clear vision of a family-friendly culture. I’d say a good starting point would doubling the number of people working in education, and ensuring each of them, even those in support roles, earn a meaningful wage. You cannot change a nation of failing schools with endless policy consultations, particularly the pointless finger-pointing sort. Most people understand the importance of happy, educated children. What we need are lots more heads and hands on the ground assessing real problems and creating real solutions. As a society we generally need to be more friendly and responsive toward children, while at the same time challenging them to be good people. I get the general sense that children just really aren’t looked after very much. We plop them in front of a Disney film at the first holler when they’re tiny, and we continue keeping them disengaged thus until we deem it’s time they did something with their lives. I feel very bad for today’s teenagers, because now they also have to step into an adult world that is very badly off, because the grownups who were meant to keep the economy strong were similarly tuned out..

I dunno. It’s 4:30 in the morning, and the only reason I’m awake is because I have heartburn. 😛 I’m sure most of what I wrote will seem nonsensical after I’ve slept a bit. Yeah truly, I should definitely do my part for a child-friendly world and get enough sleep such that I’m not beastly to the kids tomorrow. 😉

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‘Let’s be clear’…

October 23, 2008

…to quote an Obamaism.

I am going to do my part for election-season clarity. Not many people read this blog, and not all of the people who do agree with my positions on things. I’m really sick, however, of reading homeschooler propaganda about Obama opposing their education choice. In case there is any doubt amongst my friends here, I invite you to google ‘Obama position homeschooling.’ The gist is, you will quickly find, he considers it a choice to be honored.

There. People who have visited my site will no longer be able to use homeschooling as an issue over which to hate Obama. Of course people can get all hinky about the issue of degree of approval, but they can’t say he’s looking for a blanket ban and to march 2-year-olds into the schoolyard at gunpoint. I’m feeling very patriotic now.

Crieff and suchlike

September 9, 2008

The kids’ grandparents were nice enough to let James and I tag along on their holidays with the kids. We weren’t able to go for more than a couple days, due to James’ work and Joseph’s prescription fiasco (still don’t have it, btw), but it was nifty to get out of town.

The place we stayed in Crieff was something else. It was the tower flat in the St. Ninian’s church conversion (see link)–that’s right; for two days I had a tower! Buahahahaha. I did plot mightily the myriad ways I could use such a lair. I need one now.

Woww


My superstar in front of the building. They had a trippy color-changing LED light thing. Was very tacky and cool.


Window and chair in our bedroom.


A feature I was NOT impressed with. Why am I gasping? Forget that this was a wetroom and all the unpleasantness that entails–this window, beautiful though it was, did not block people from outside peeking in from the bedroom. If you’ve lived with James, you’ll know why this is neurosis-inducing. If you look carefully, you’ll see not one, but two naughty faces depriving me of privacy. I’m not impressed with Joseph for succumbing to James’ teachings.


Nyn enjoying the trippy tower.


On the road to Ben Nevis, Britain’s tallest ‘mountain’.


I’m not sure what I was doing, probably grinning and saying, “Whaaaaaat?” I’ve been overly fond of photographing James since the beard went (YAYAYAYAY). He doesn’t share my enthusiasm.


On the gondola. Aint he cute? I can see why he’s a bit paranoid people will think he’s a lot younger. Maybe it’s my age, but I have no sympathy. Only, as evident in the picture, an apparent inability to keep my hat on my head.


The view from the top. Have to say, this sort of scenery doesn’t do anything for me. In fact, apart from farmland and forests, not much about the Scottish scenery is that exciting to me, visually. I think I’ve sussed it out–it’s the color scheme. I don’t like yellowed greens. I really really don’t. They remind of things that are unpleasant. It occurs to me now the reason perhaps that those strange sort of colors always end up in Rowan tweed yarns. The air is also fairly oppressive–for the most part there’s a sort of haze that washes out the color, at least to my eyes. It’s like I’ve not seen anything clearly since I moved abroad. Yes I’ve had my eyes checked. Yes, I’m also probably overstating the point. It just makes me happier still with our house, as our view is over stone walls and wheat fields and trees that are dark green for the most part. The rain and haze just make them more picturesque.


I think the gondola workings are pretty interesting to look at. Thinking about it detachedly helps me forget that I’m about to willingly step onto a glorified zip wire.


Neener neener.


My lazy, surly kids. Hehe.


Jamie’s cunning new way to torment and confuse monitor the cats when we’re not at home: the USB Missile Launcher with Integrated Spyscope Webcam. He can log into it remotely from anywhere he has an internet connection. I’ll let your imaginations run wild. Poor kitties.

The kids are now in Nairn with the grandparents, hopefully having seen porpoises yesterday! I’d be jealous, except that I know how windy and cold it probably is out on the water. I’m such a wimp.

Friday I’ll be going with Kosmic (more interesting than just K, and she’ll surely know I’m talking about her, buaha) to the Learning Without Limits conference. They’ve managed to snag John Taylor Gatto as keynote speaker, which is quite something. It also means there’s been a lot of interest outside our little homeschooler network. Have I actually read Dumbing Us Down…, etc.? No, but I can appreciate reputation I suppose. It will also be funny to see the mommy worship. Should make cheeky fandom t-shirts or something. Pfft.

Other than that, not really doing much. When the weather is nice I work in the garden, and when it’s not I work on gutting Nyssa’s room. Ugh. Speaking of Nyn, I’ve taken delivery of most of the presents we’ll be giving her:

She’s still got a CD player coming as well as a few other small things, along with all the mountains of things she gets from her adoring family. Is she not utterly spoilt? The Sylvanian set is actually very, very cute. It’s from the Japanese range and is a little house with a cafe on the front. Sort of ideal for her, really. Also got her a little juice bar, a teeny sewing machine, a wee bureau..hee hee. I do wonder how much of this is my living vicariously through Nyn the childhood with all the toys I would have wanted…ah well.

Speaking also of gardening, I plucked a pretty orange flower the other day and wondered what else I might come up with for a bouquet. I was quite impressed at the variety of things I found!

Curriculum..dundundun

April 16, 2008

I keep meaning to do this, so here it is:

We have an on again/off again homeschooling style (sorry..I know it offends UK folk, but I’ll never get used to saying ‘home-edding’, and just forget ‘home-based edding’..). By that I mean that we have a fairly set curriculum, but it’s entirely hashed together eclectica-style and just about anything can and will interrupt it, be it a homeschooler outing or just a sunny scottish day which is too rare to waste indoors.

So generally, mornings are left as free time. Nyssa is the only morning person in the house, so I’m afraid she has to work around us. After lunch is time for chores (and no, I’m not going to sugarcoat them by calling them ‘happy tasks’, etc. Chores are work and they suck and it’s best that they get used to having to do crappy labor that they’d rather avoid). Our afternoon learning Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays is ‘Unit’ (which currently is anything that can be related to water), maths, and history (we’re currently on ancient civ). Tuesdays and Thursdays is Spanish, spelling, and writing. Weekends are arts/crafts, music, games, leisure reading, etc. though in reality, these activities get interspersed into the week because I can’t bear to go so long with no board games.

Our math program is MathUSee.


Once you get past being taught by a guy who could be Dr. Phil’s brother, it’s quite good. I unnecessarily started the kids in Alpha, which was painfully boring (anyone want two sets of mostly unused books?) but got them used to the idea of manipulatives, ‘decimal street’, etc. We’re in Beta now, which is not much harder, but I do think the kids need reinforcement in their skills before we move on. The program goes up through quite high levels in maths in UK editions, so I imagine we’ll stick with it. It’s also sort of awesome to have a DVD teacher to make fun of, er, learn from.

Our history program is the homeschool mainstay, Bauer’s ‘Story of the World’.


I like it because the text is written in a narrative style which is engaging to my kids. The accompanying activity/resource book usually has at least one decent activity for each lesson. I wish the author spent more time on pre-literate humans, but for obvious reasons that is technically beyond the remit of a historian.

For Spanish we use the latin-american online edition of Rosetta Stone.


I like it a lot, particularly as we have an awesome set-up with a wireless mouse and keyboard on the coffee table and the tv as the monitor. The kids sit at the table, and I sit at the whiteboard easel madly scribbling down new vocab as it’s introduced. I’m not an aural learner, so I insist on written activities and lots of flash card games. Nyssa, I’ve discovered, has a bewildering ability to memorize her vocab.

We use Avco Sequential Spelling, which the kids and I like and teaches the concepts they need. That’s probably all you need in a spelling program, to be honest. I like this one because there’s no pretest/final test with words being abandoned once ‘learned’ nonsense like we had in school. I say a word, the kids try to spell it on their own, and then we correct it then and there before moving to the next. Words get revisited, which is think is very good. One other selling point–particularly as we’re paying in US $$ and you can download your own text to print out, this program is seriously cheap.

Writing is generally just prompts I pull out of my ass, the variety being in whether it’s related to another subject, if it’s to be free-write or formulaic, etc. I’m mostly just looking for the kids to flex their creative muscles, as I find that when they’re delving into their brains for something interesting or funny or shocking, the good vocab and impressive sentence structures come out as well.

Our next craft is going to be silk painting and nuno felting, hopefully at some point a combination thereof. I trawled ebay for the necessary goods, I have a shedload of fibre left over from my Woolfest haul last year, so we’re ready to go. That is, as soon as I clean up the landing, which is our designated craft area. It’s another good weather day today, so as the kids are tearing it up in the garden, I’ll be attending to the mess. Anyway, I was inspired by this lovely gal down south, Rachel, who is textile artist. Here is her felting tutorial: click

I’m lucky in that my kids don’t moan when told to read. It probably helps that I have a generous book-buying policy. At this point I generally try to encourage Nyssa and Joseph to read more reference-type and chapter books, respectively, because they naturally gravitate towards the other. Nyssa is particularly amusing in what she’ll want to read about. I’ve had requests for toilets, mushrooms, and Elvis, for example. Joseph is fairly predictable in what he wants to read–Doctor Who and space books. He has expanded his interests in include Star Wars recently, and we were fairly annoyed to not find any good books for him at the shops. Shall have to try Amazon.

We adore games. Our next acquisitions, inspired by our new grown-up friends we met in the Isle of Wight, are to be Carcasonne and Halli Galli.

Youtube Goodness

January 6, 2008

Whatever would we do without youtube? A movie nowadays isn’t complete without the kids harping afterward to chase up various scenes and songs online. This time, after watching Nacho Libre, they insisted I find ‘Religious Man,’ by Mr. Loco. In the course of searching I found this:

As you can probably imagine, my weirdo offspring squeaked with laughter to this ten or so times.

On a semi-related note, we tried out the Rosetta Stone language program because they offer latin-american Spanish. Is good. Now I’m banging my head against the wall trying to decide whether to go for the online subscription or the homeschool cd edition. The latter comes with books and worksheets, but having to use multiple cds generally pisses me off. It’s also exorbitantly expensive, as I’d have to buy 2 copies, and I’m not convinced I couldn’t just make up the written drill myself, i.e., with Edhelper.com and the like. Argh. In any case, I was surprised that it was Joseph who took to it most readily. He finds the verb ‘beber’ amusing, particularly as you can say, ‘Bebé bebe.’ If he can already appreciate that sort of word play, he’ll do just fine. Nyssa is, um, a bit of a learning hummingbird. Having to sit and repeat after the speaker for a certain length of time at a pre-determined pace really rubs her the wrong way. I’m a big meanie I guess, but that will prepare her for life just as the British practice of queuing does, imho. Opinions?

Fall is coming up on me..

August 22, 2007

..though you wouldn’t know it, as today it was the hottest I’ve experienced this summer. Hmm.. It figures of course, since our activity today was indoors. Next week for our beach trip it will surely be raining.

The local kids have gone back to school, and I’m still trying to get the kids set up with their activities for this term. So far, we have a homeschooler singing group (meaning, mums sing, and the kids run off to play together :/) and varied activities every fortnight, which amounts to something every thursday. We got them registered today for a saturday morning arts and crafts class. Have to say, that was value–no tuition fee, just a fiver for the term’s supplies. Yess. Something has to offset Nyssa’s dance fees/expenses. Speaking of which, they still haven’t got back to me with the fall schedule! It’s a bit irritating to be honest. Same with the scouts. We’d do Woodcraft Folk, but it’s just too far away without a car for a weekly activity. I’d set one up, but I don’t have that kind of energy. The kids got into the Edinburgh Young Archaeologists’ Club, which meets monthly at the castle. It looks really cool; my inner child is jealous. On Mondays they have a theatre arts group. I’m almost thinking, do they really need scouts and dance? Maybe their failing to get back to me is a sign? I could use the extra money to get us to the unitarian church each week..I’ve been thinking about checking out the Dundee one, since the train schedule is less goofy on Sundays than the Edinburgh one for some reason.

My big concern is the lack of athletics. There will be movement in the theatre group, apparently, and they always manage to run about with the other kids when they have the chance. I seem to recall most of my exercise at that age being had during recess when we were forced onto a playground for 90 minutes a day. Not that they’d be getting that in school here–their old school didn’t even have grass! Still, I get neurotic about these things. Nyssa wants to learn to swim really badly, but James has been so busy that I’m thinking that maybe I just need to sign them up for formal lessons. That of course means getting on year-long waiting lists. Other kinds of exercise I can think of are problematic. We need a car so I can throw bikes in the back and we can drive them to a safe area for them to ride in. I dunno, at this age shouldn’t it be enough that they run and climb and jump regularly? It’s the same paranoia with a lot of things, whether it’s dance, maths, or language. I think it’s the fear of the modern parent who reads too much that they’ll forego certain kinds of learning for too long and their kids will miss that nebulous ‘optimal time’, forever handicapping their education. My kids have healthy bodies and can absorb information, acquire skills, and express themselves. I should be happy!

Speaking of happy, my wee girl is about to turn 8, which makes me not so. At least she is cooperative enough to be mind-bendingly cute at times. Poor Joseph spends the 2 months after her birthday every year in a perpetual state of mild irritation over the fact that they’re the same age. This year, Nyssa wants a doll house. Heck, I want her to have a doll house and I’m happy she hasn’t outgrown the notion yet. I think we’ve settled on this one — http://www.chce.co.uk/products/dolls-houses/336 . Of course, she’ll need the extention, and the car, and the playground…well, that’s what Christmas is for anyway. Doll houses are expensive! I was applying the same logic that I did to spinning wheels (i.e., I can make one myself, damn it), and started sketching floor plans. I thought about taxi trips to the B&Q, all the paint, hinges, wood, not to mention a jig saw…and reluctantly concluded to James that it would probably be cheaper in the end to just buy one. He actually laughed at me! He never knew the junior high me who spent most of my time in the shop room, particularly at the drafting desk, so can’t blame him really for thinking I was ‘cute.’ (grr)

I bought a strange food item from the freezer section today simply because it was, well, strange. It was a box of breaded crepes (they call them pancakes here, wtf) that were filled with cheese. Well, we tried them out and decided that we won’t be buying those twice. Ew.. I’ve been in a sort of cooking rut lately. I’m tired of beans, grains, pasta, sweet potatoes, potatoes…well, lots of things really. I was excited when I saw that quorn had come out with beef-style pieces, but was let down to discover that they’re just the chicken-style pieces dyed brown. Irritating. I need to make more frequent orders to goodness direct, as they have lovely marinated tofus and lots of properly interesting vegetarian options. Thing is, the stuff has to come in so much packaging to keep it cold that I feel guilt. I don’t like guilt.

I never know how to end blog posts. My instinct is to wrap them up like I would a letter, but that’s so very cheesy…

Various updates

May 16, 2007

Hello, I’m sure everyone’s given up on regularly checking here as I never update, but the weather is improving and so seems to be my vitual chattiness. I did check the digital photo folders, but it seems that neither James nor I have been doing much in the way of visually documenting our lives. Shall have to remedy that.

So. The weather is pretty on and off, though the on days are almost warm, which is nice. I have a weather icon for Moscow, ID as well on my desktop which shows it to be 76 right now, about perfect. Sods.

The kids are developing their own styles of learning things, it would seem. Joseph has an interesting bias against spelling, which I can’t even manage to budge giving him the example of his writing dr who comics requiring basic spelling skills. Nyssa confuses me–she has to be reminded how to approach subtraction word problems but can mentally add fractions with differing denominators. She also needs a lot of positive energy from me or she’s likely to get down on herself and go into hopeless mode. That’s fine, but I can see why she was having trouble in a classroom.

Nyssa has a dance exam coming up, and she’s getting quite anxious about it. She had a bad rehearsal this week and wanted to quit, but I don’t think I’ll let her at this point. She doesn’t have to do an exam, but I think the kids need to experience perseverence paying off. Particularly if they feel that not going to school anymore was an escape from something they found unpleasant. They don’t tend to remember anything nice about it, so, rather perversely, I find myself recalling good things that happened. This will kick me in the ass of course when they start pining for the classroom.. Anyway, it’s hard to know when to press things and when to let the kids self-determine. To James and me, the ‘three r’s’ are non-negotiable. Could be because I’m a writer (well..) and thus see being able to communicate with words as a vital part of living, and a person needs to be able to do their taxes. There are essential skills, right? But then what other things do I get to push? Music, since my personal sense of aesthetics demands it? Social science, since I think humans benefit from studying themselves? The list goes on and on. It’s said that the home-ed parent’s job is to expose and facilitate, but it’s often not that easy. I also have to remember that the vast majority of my academic interests were not pursued meaningfully until university, and that as a kid the things that served me were, yes, the three r’s and the pleasure I got out of my own chosen hobbies. So maybe I should mellow out and let Nyssa draw her fairy people and Joseph act out his Doctor Who fantasies while they’ve still got the leisure and active imaginations to do so.

Lessee..oh, for those who might have been concerned Mitten’s tummy issues seem to have resolved themselves. With the help of hella expensive catfood.

I found a splendid new online diversion– http://icanhascheezburger.com I shan’t tell you which commenter I am in order to retain some dignity. It’s good to go a little ‘squee’ now and again.

Oh oh, I succeeded in sticking it to the manufacturers of expensive spinning wheels and made one myself. I mean, seriously, it’s ancient technology. If I couldn’t put one together with some crap I found at the DIY, then what good were all those years I spent in the jr. high shop room? It even works fairly well, though I need to find a properly-sized long bolt. The DIYs here are rubbish. I need those excellent places I went to the in the States, the ones with the huge tubs full of nails, screws, bolts, etc. etc. for aisles and aisles that you could happily stuff into little paper bags. It’s like pick-a-mix lego for grownups! Well, certain kinds of grownups. I might be a little odd..

Joseph was relating to me today what he and Nyssa read in Matilda. He said that she had read the entire children’s library collection at the age of 4. I asked him if he thought that was likely. He mentally calculates for a moment, considering the fact that she had several months, and concluded that it was indeed ‘definitely plausible.’ He’s been watching too much Mythbusters. 😉

Last week we finally made it out to Craigencalt Ecology Centre, though the weather was so miserable that the kids whinged more than they learned. It would have been so fantastic had the weather been good, the people there really had their stuff down. Joseph injured his leg a bit, and Nyssa took her coat off in the rain, soaking her t-shirt *and* her coat, apparently having forgot that we had a wee journey home.

Tomorrow the kids are having friends over to watch Jump In on the Disney Channel, the latest teenybopper movie. When I was 7 was I so interested in what teenagers did that I would actively seek out shows and movies about them? I think back then a teenager was someone who babysat you, and if you were lucky managed to be somewhat interested in what you were doing. I blame all this on Bratz (even though we’ve never had them) and whoever coined the term ‘bling’ (though, now that I think about it, I’ve never actually heard the kids say it). I dunno. I fantasize about giving the kids a proper ‘traditional’ childhood, with Nyssa in pinafores (to muddy up) and Joseph having a tree (to get stuck in) and no media influence at all, just family-friendly radio stories read in a lulling voice in the evenings in front of a fire. Maybe a bit hokey, but only as much as my current situation is not. Hard to avoid consumer trends when you live just off the high street. Hard to savor a peaceful evening with drunken wierdos shouting outside. Don’t even get me started about the yard, or I’ll pitch headlong into a rant that starts ‘back when I was a kid in Idaho…’ Ah, but I whine. We have cats! I didn’t used to. Life, therefore, has improved!

Well, no eye candy, but I do believe I’ve written enough for one entry.

Interesting day

November 10, 2006

Today we had the first hall meet in Edinburgh, with the scheduled activity being puppet-making. Nyssa made one fairly quickly by putting a sock on her hands and blopping on two eyes on with a magic marker. I encouraged her to try a bit harder and we made a sort of bride, according to her. She was going to make another bride so they could get married, but she got bored and wanted to go play a rough soccer game with the boys. She was in a lacy little dress with two pig-tails and would alternate between aggressively going after the ball and doing cheerleader dance moves. It was very cute, must say. Joseph turned down puppetry altogether in favor of playing pool, oi. We didn’t manage to make it to gymnastics this evening either because of a minor health crisis. Mum K and I decided that finding someplace warm to have tea and do some watchful waiting would be in order, and it happened that the most convenient place to do so was the Ikea. This was not contrived, I swear! That said, since we were there anyway…and it was my first Ikea visit after all. K was good enough to let me wander around, fulfilling my need for storage solutions. We even managed to come up with a project for our little art group. Traffic home wasn’t abominable and, I’m assuming, the health crisis blew over, so really not a bad day at all.

Deep breath, then back into it

October 29, 2006

So, now ends a good solid month of friends and family visiting and generally spoiling the kids rotten. The kids have been fairly upset, Joseph in particular who has a hard time with the frustration of always having to say goodbye to people. Tomorrow is the first day of what we might consider a ‘normal’ homeschool week we’ll have had in a long time. The kids have some new activities starting, and looking at my calendar, it looks rather formidable. Technically, the kids have one day per fortnight that isn’t scheduled, and that has often been a day of socializing with other homeschoolers. It will be interesting anyway, though I reiterate my whinge for a car. I have to wonder how kids in school cope with so many activities. Then again, I lived and breathed the extra-curricular life in my youth and really loved it. I think in any situation, it’s the parents who take the brunt of the exhaustion :P.

I was saying tomorrow would be a back to ‘normal’ day. Thinking about it, that’s not entirely true. James and Joseph have built a marvelous dalek costume for Jos out of styrofoam, cardboard, and apple crate bumpy whatsits. Tomorrow, Mum has to come up with a way to make it look like Dalek Sec (does anyone else think it’s totally fruity that those four daleks had names and announced them to those present like so many Power Rangers?). At least that Dalek is mostly black and not some insane bronze color that would require gallons of carcinogenic paint. Looking at the two Js on the floor, I totally envy my boy. My parents were too busy and tired and had too many kids to have the energy for that sort of thing. Not to mention the mess! *sigh* That leads to what will be the other half of my day tomorrow–getting the house back in order!

Cleaning out

September 20, 2006

I’ve only been homeschooling for 6 months or so, but already when clearing out superflous material I’m discovering some earlier mistakes in approach:

1. Certain binder covers are cat hair magnets.
2. When we began I bought a set of SATS practice papers. Both the English and Maths were just painful for the kids to do, and I wrung my hands together trying to figure out why. They were put on a shelf to collect dust, and now that I’ve relaxed a bit I’m bemused that I bought them in the first place. Assessing your own kids is a skill that comes with time and attention, not with the standby testing materials from the schooling system they’re no longer a part of.
3. Just because a workbook was deemed worthy to be published does not mean that it is interesting, engaging, or indeed even makes sense. A spelling workbook bought at the library (surely they’d only recommend good books, right?) was dutifully attempted then finally binned when it took three times as long to complete a page that would have otherwise been simple due to crap instructions.
4. Initially I had bought a file thing, and made little partitions for the areas of record keeping that I thought I’d need. I even had one labelled ‘behaviour.’ I find this fairly amusing at this point.
5. Plastering the walls with ‘educational’ media becomes problematic when a young Doctor Who fan has nowhere to put up his fantastic posters.
6. I get the feeling that the kids have learned more vocab words that they actively use from Spongebob Squarepants than they’ve gotten from ‘Just So Stories.’ Additionally, this book provides better material for quirky drama practice than it does bedtime reading.
7. A plan for learning is best approached with ideas rather than day planner pages and scheduling the hours of the day.
8. Printing out reams of papers on curriculum theory is fairly pointless. If you’re not interested enough to read it when you find it online, you’re not interested enough period. And, more importantly, fair enough!
9. Sometimes a perfectly good teachable moment is going to be ignored by your child in favor of her showing you how cool it is to half take off her shirt to give herself luxuriant purple jersey hair.
10. Some days all the kids will talk about when you’re out at the shops is what they want for themselves. Some days they will please you by asking for their charity money after having read about a cause on a collection tin that moves them. And some days, they actually will win the ridiculously huge teddy bear in the charity shop raffle…
11. The best and most surprising learning can take place when you say, ‘fine. What do *you* want to learn today?’ The last time I asked that, we learned who our neighboring galaxies are, courtesy of the boy, and how toilets work, courtesy of the girl.

I’m sure more will follow, but I need to finish up with the cleaning. Flat inspection on Friday. 😛