Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Days in the Park & School Revamp.

On Saturday - yes I know I'm late again, but I just don't seem to be able to keep up at the moment. I seem to be always busy - schooling, feeding, cuddling, playing, etc... You get the picture! Anyway On Saturday we went to a local-ish park we haven't visited before. Paul had Ellie on his bike and I cycled too (ouch sore legs!!), while Mum took the rest of the children in the car. Lots of green space, a small play area, a brook (not too clean though) and great woods! There were some fabulous Oak trees for climbing. Aren't they just the best? Branches from the bottom and going up and round in steps almost. When I was a child I was an avid tree-climber. At about 7 I climbed a tree in a garden of a pub - to the very top - higher than the pub and worried my Mum rather. Well - history repeats itself, but not always in the next generation! Jacob is oddly NOT one for tree climbing. He is so confident at most things that you would think he'd shin up no trouble, but he's simply not confident on the branch of a tree. Joel is a little better, but younger of course. But me - I couldn't resist! I climbed that tree!! My son below was worried silly; "Mummy you're gonna die, Mummy come down, Mummy you'll fall..." , My Mum was nearly as bad but managed to contain herself a little, or maybe she has learned to trust my judgment a little over the years!! Joel thought I was stuck; "You are Mummy, you're stuck! You're just stuck!!" For me it felt like a taste of youthfulness again - just before I turned 32 - Today!

And today's news is...

We have decided on a new system for scheduling school in our house. I already carefully plan out each half-terms worth of work, making sure there is never too much demanded of any child in any one day and that there is a balance between independent & interactive/supervised/group work. If the children applied themselves well school could all be done in just under 4 hours (2hrs for Joel) including 2 x 20 minute breaks and an hour for lunch. Leaving the whole afternoon free for whatever. Joel manages well, but Jacob is just not one to apply himself and school often drags well into the afternoon, leaving niether me nor him with any 'free' time and a whole LOT of tension & weariness between us. SO, as of Yesterday, we decided that we need a more definite timetable for him (something I had hoped to avoid, but that might actually be liberating). School-days now go like this; 9am start, 10.30 break (30mins), 11-12 continue school. Morning school finishes dot on 12pm. Any work not finished gets 'carried' into the next day. Afternoon school starts at 1pm and finishes at 3pm - on the dot (with a 20 min break where suitable around 2ish) and again any work unfinished carries over to the next day. As we only work Monday-Thursday this means that any work unfinished by Thursday 3pm gets carried into Jakes 'day-off' - which of course is quite punitive and hopefully will teach him to be more concentrated when he's supposed to be. Of course if he finishes everything early that's a bonus and he's free - might happen, you never know! I'm hoping this might be like giving him a jump-start and once he gets into the swing of it he'll be fine. Today he had some 'carried over' work - tomorrow he has less. Also the schedule means we can make things like piano practice/lessons more regular (3.30pm) and he's all finished in time to veg out with CBBC if he wants too. My hope is that the structure will lead to generally less tension because we will both know the score & Jake will understand what is expected of him and what to expect should he not meet the mark.

Our school journey seems to go in circles! We started out with TEACH/ACE - PACES and a very structured program & way of working. But Jake and I both found it suffocating, restrictive & boring.(btw - that was just how it became to us - no criticism of ACE intended). So we signed off and went 'free-style' - not unschooling, but self-resourced and self-designed. Still structured, but with more room for diversity and flexibility. An 'order' to our day & a rough timetable, but a rule that we DIDN'T carry over work to the next day, so that that day didn't become over-loaded & so that the boys were learning from an early age to meet targets by deadlines. But the rule and the structure have become a burden and a restriction in themselves and I have seen that in 'real-life' we are not ALWAYS working to deadlines, only sometimes in fact, so why in school? Silly me - why didn't I see that before now?! We learn as we teach I guess and our school has taken a turn once again! Hopefully with a definite 'end' to each day we will all be a lot happier and less stressed at each other. Yelling at Jacob to get finished at gone 5pm on occasions, when he had lost all motivation & ability to learn & I had lost any desire to be with him & help him, was really NO fun!! Why sometimes, can we not see the wood through the trees!!?

13 comments:

Jan said...

Happy Birthday Caroline!

Hope the new school plan works for you.

Sarah said...

Yes, Happy Birthday Caroline!

I used ACE paces at school myself, so I can identify with your comments there - I think anyone who has done a pace could! It was one of the factors in our decision to home educate, because the school Anna and Abbie were at is an ACE school.

I hope your plans work out too, and that it turns out to be peaceful and fruitful for all of you.

Caroline said...

Thanks for your good wishes.
How interesting that you are an ex-ACEr and thinkas I do. Did your girls dislike it too?

Jax said...

Happy Birthday Caroline.

Sarah said...

It was only really Anna who used it properly, Abbie did one term of the ABC programme before we started HEing. I don't think Anna would verbalise that she didn't like it, because it was part of the whole school experience and she enjoyed school - also I wouldn't want her to be too negative about it because lots of her friend are still doing it - so we haven't really discussed it!

Her teachers told me that she hated it and that they had to stand over her to get her to do anything! I think I hated it *more* as a parent than as a student - I got on quite well with it at school myself, but to see Anna being forced to do it when a lot of it seems *so* pointless just broke my heart!

merry said...

I've got no idea what these are - at least, i've googled but the page i found left me none the wiser! Do either of you feel the urge to enlighten me???

Caroline, i admire you for your restructuring - i know we all need a change from time to time. I really don't know how you do what you do though - if i tried to get my kids working like that you would hear the rebellion from there! I'm trying to push Fran to try and achieve more but i'm really wary of making HE a chore or a friction between us rather than something pleasant.

So however you manage to do what you do, well done!

Jules said...

Wow, I really don't know how you do it! If I mentioned "working" to a timetable like that I think my kids would faint lol. I admire you though. I don't think I could do it myself either!

Caroline said...

TEACH - stands for The European Academy Of Christian Homeschoolin, ACE is Accelerated Christian Education, PACES are the workbooks.
http://www.christian-education.org/IMAGES/index-image.gif - tha's a link to the home page of CEE who administer ACE in the UK.

Jax said...

I think that you might have meant Christian Education Europe? The link you gave was just an image...

Sarah said...

Yep, that's right. The best website to look on which shows it in all its cheesy glory is School of Tomorrow

Caroline said...

sorry about the misleading link folks!

merry said...

Ah well... netscape doesn't like those pages atm so i will have to wait till the weekend when i reformat!! lol! (And presumably disappear forever too!)

When we first looked at HE we looked at WES, given it had a certain amount to do with PNEU and that was all i could find before i got the connection with CM. Then i got very into Montessori and am still gtlad it did although we don't use any of it in a very formal way.

However, i thought i might experiment on the kids and have a monte/CM/sonlight type summer and see what we make of it!

Caroline said...

OK - you've got me - what is WES & PNEU? Charclotte Mason I got & FIAR I know, but you stumped me on these two!!