Thursday, September 11, 2008

One Week Down…many more to go!

So as we near the end of week one… it's been an up and down week. Day one was ace, day two was more of a struggle. Yesterday was OK and today was lovely. I'm finding my timetable to be quite 'tight' but at the same time doable - just. I am sure as we get into the swing of things it will iron itself out. I wish though, sometimes, that I didn't read all these blogs of free-style home-edders leading a child-led lifestyle. Not because I feel they are doing anything wrong and it annoys me or anything, but more because I think I envy that way of life. But in all honest - how? How would I realistically let my children lead our education? I would be led in so many different direction all at the same time and they are such a diverse bunch (and some of them are way too competitive to be healthy) that it would be almost impossible to find something for them all to do together that was entirely from them. I would love it if they were the kind of kids who pow-wowed and came up with a stunning idea of for a project they could all work on together - and then actually had some ideas about how to bring that into being - but sadly they are not L. JI basically tells me he has no desire to learn anything - and I think he is being blatantly honest, he really is disinterested in life in general atm and that is where he is at fair and square, but sorry mate - that is not an option here. If he doesn't want me to tell him what to do he had better come up with some ideas of his own, or else knuckle down with what I set him to do. AR - well, she is creative, but a bit ditsy. She might come up with an idea, but she would have no idea about how to make it happen - and that is so how I was as a child. BUT she is a sponge and LOVES school and everything I throw at her pretty much (except Miquon Maths which she hates and which we are stopping at the end of the red book as it seems superfluous now). She never complains at writing and can write way more than JI in any given amount of time. She has good levels of concentration (most days) and is a dream to have around. PG struggles to work independently and likes to have someone hold her hand, but she is getting better at it and can work for longer periods without being so distracted or demanding of me. I have her and A at the same end of the table as they are so close in age and A will occasionally give P a little nudge in the right direction just to keep her going. That seems to be working well. If P were to do anything autonomous it would most certainly be to do with princesses - I'm not sure there is much else of importance in her world just now, but maybe animals. She loves animals and says she wants to be a vet, but that may just be because her best friend is totally obsessed with animals and some of it has rubbed off. Anyway, who am I to judge and I don't mind encouraging her to take an interest in that field at all J. EN is definitely my best candidate yet for autonomous learning. She has always been a sponge and I am constantly amazed how much she picks up from the happenings of life going on around her. Atm I am actually trying to keep her learning to her style as much as I can, but she keeps begging to do workbooks! So when she asks we do - and she has a little timetable like everyone else, but I am sticking very loosely to it and would far rather she spends as much of her day playing as she wishes to. She is not 5 until November so I see no rush to be learning 'stuff' she has no need to know, but if she wishes to join in she is more than welcome. JA on the other hand is my star of the moment - applied (generally), keen, enthusiastic and motivated - he is a joy to have around - AND he can help the little ones when they need it J. It has given JI a jolt to not be the eldest one who 'knows it all' and that has to be a good thing! That said, JA's knowledge base is not as broad as it might be and JI does know more about some stuff. What this has made me realise is that even if I do stifle my kids a little with timetables and schedules, they still learn more about what we learn about than they ever would at school. JA joined in with our continuing Greece project (nearly done now) this week and even though he had covered it at school there was some stuff he simply didn't know. We are looking at Language and Literature in this section of our study and although he had written his name in Greek at school (as we did) using the same website that I used to get a transcript, he hadn't heard of the Iliad and Odyssey (although he had heard of Odysseus), or know that they were epic poems. To be fair I didn't get taught that at school either, what I learnt was probably very similar to what he has been taught (i.e. not a great deal of any importance), but my kids will know it - and he does now!

Some of our school time is simply hard graft - mainly English and Maths are that way, but in regard to English I can see that Jake has been awakened to the joys of writing and tonight (as out-of-school work) he had a writing task and produced this (with minimal help towards the very end as he was getting tired);

The Circus

Trapeze artists flying,

Clowns pieing.

The ring-master introducing each act.

Budgies do some tricks,

Trampolinists do some flips;

Such things I could never do!

You never want it to end

When the acrobats bend,

In their very sparkly leotards.

Big Top reaching higher and higher,

In the ring below jugglers with skittles and fire.

Stalls of people entertained.

Bare-backed riders circling round and round,

Finale comes, dust flies from the ground.

The show is over! Applause.

There were a few spelling errors, but not many and it was neatly presented. I was pretty pleased with that as a starter for Yr7 J and it gave me hope for the others, that they will get there. If JA can get this far with literacy, then I know the others will too. I am so excited about seeing it come into being! With Jake I kind of missed it because is happened at school. I am only glad I get to share it now J. JI is just majorly reluctant to write much at all, but when he does put his mind to it he is pretty good too - I just wish he was less resistant and put his mind to it a little more often!

Today was our first non-book day of the year and I did manage to keep it that way although I have decided to be a little more prescriptive this year, for reasons chatted about above - they simply do nothing if left to decide for themselves because they never agree! So the day started out with the introduction in THIS book and it went really well. El decided she wanted in (even though she was eating breakfast whilst listening due to sleeping in til 9!) and when we had done lots of reading and chatting about things (again discovering things I thought JA really ought to know already) - and a bit of hooning from JI - we set out to make a solar system model using THIS kit and it has come out really well. E did Pluto and Uranus, JI did the Sun and another and the others shared out the others between them with JA going between them all and helping them with the fiddly bits - like I said he is a real asset J. C was at playgroup at this point - thankfully! Next week will mean a little writing up but I am planning to use Live and Learns 'learn 'n' folder' alongside it so that should make the workload sharable, more manageable and lighter all round. A is looking forward to filling in the books and JA was pretty keen too. I hope they don't get left with the lion's share too much, but I want this to be the kids work and something they put together without TOO much help from me.

The afternoon was filled with music - learning about 'Ostinato' (repeated pattern), playing with it, walking around the room in silly steps and banging things and then watching a stack of 'Stomp' videos on YouTube - great fun!! J

After that they wanted to do PE, but I had nothing planned so I told them to go set up an obstacle course in the garden, which they duly did and, after initially arguing about how to set it up and who was 'in charge' they sorted it out and played at that for a good 45 minutes or so - and then P came home and took them to club!

Another memorable moment in my day today was when E & C had a scrap this evening over a toy microphone! C had been tidying away the instruments which he had played with after our music session and E wanted to continue to play with this mic'. C was adamant he wanted it, but more than that he simply did NOT want E to play with it. E hung on for dear life until the wire snapped off - leaving her holding the mic and C holding the now useless wire. I had decided to see how this one burned itself out and just watched (the toy was old and useless anyway so I could cope with it's decent into even less usefulness!). At this point C lost it and laid into E some, but she didn't flinch and hung on regardless. C now screamed at her (very shrill, loud, nasty screams), but she stuck to her guns. Eventually C got so rough that E threw the mic at him across the room and hit him with it - reducing them both to floods of tears, but C - now triumphant - went and gloated to his Dad (with his limited language) about how right he was and the injustice of the whole thing and then marched upstairs to return the toy to it's box. He didn't even want to play with it for himself! When he returned downstairs I spoke sternly to him about his meanness and made him go and get the mic for E, who sadly by this time was in so much of a sulk she would not accept it back, or a hug from me (as I had evidently wronged her by not intervening in the beginning). Now, perhaps I was wrong to watch this play itself out, but to me it is important to me to see what shapes the dynamics between my children at times. Who is really in charge? Who is the one most likely to give in to persuasion? Who has the strongest sense of right and wrong - and how well adjusted is that opinion? In this instance C thought he was in the right because he wanted to put away the toy as he had been asked, but to what degree did he need to stick so rigidly to that instruction and to what cost? He was not even content to accept that I was willing to let E carry on playing with it and thereby supersede my own instructions! He was very indignant when I asked him to return the toy to her even though I explained that she would have to put it away in the box when tea was ready. Interesting to see though that E was not so worried about the infliction of screams on her ears or blows to her body, but the injustice of my not sticking up for her - that was what hurt her most I think and hence not accepting a hug from me afterwards (we did sort it out though). It also showed me something of the softness of her nature in that she gave in against her will in the end purely to prevent things escalating any further, but not without a hint of vengefulness (the throwing of the toy). She was certainly no push-over - good for her!!


Jan said...

I'm really glad Jake is settling back into homeschooling so well. C isn't interested in anything either, it's so frustrating

Michelle said...

There are lots of words here! I struggle to read the script you use on your blog (tho it looks very pretty!) so please don't think I'm disinterested and not popping by from time to time.

pcjjap said...

yes - lots of words - sorry bout that - I'm a chatterbox and his is where I get to chatter about school! Sorry about the font too. I find it really easy to read, but I find ordinary type font more difficult. I like 'writing' like type I guess. I chose an unjoined one as I thought would be more friendly. I'll see what else I can find that might suit better, but I don't want anything too kid-like either - this is MY blog about them, but not their blog! :)

pcjjap said...

you could always read it in an RSS reader an that would do away with the font issue. That's what I do for most of you. I use Google reader and it's great, then I just hop over to each blog to comment :)
OR you could read the blog post from it's own page where the font is simplified.

Michelle said...

I used to try RSS reader but it didn't seem to update exactly when the blogs updated.

Will try the own page thing.