Monday, August 10, 2009

The Annual Visit...

Today was the day that I had my annual visit from the HE Support/advisory person (CP). She has been visiting us for 7 years now and we get on really well. We chat over philosophies over a cup of tea and I twitter on about the kids as I would to a friend while she hurriedly tosses from sheet to sheet jotting down stuff about each of the kids :D I never stress about it. I seldom show any work and this year, as it is holiday time the kids weren't even working. They were all busy milling about and asking to go the computer and/or Wii. The house was a relative mess as befits holiday times and no-one getting up very early, sleepovers of friends the night before and me only remembering about an hour before she was due and rapidly running around trying to make sure everyone was dressed and chores were done, as well as putting away all the underwear that was drying on pipes (I do have some pride)! In the midst of our conversation R&R arrived to take Babsi off for the day - and the phone rang at least twice, but I left it to the kids to say I'd ring back soon. We sat in the kitchen to chat (often the quietest place to be) and then I just showed her the school room before she left - and the new workbox system, which I very briefly explained. As ever she proclaimed me highly organised (which I suppose I am really, even if it doesn't always feel that way) and left with a smile on her face . I did broach the subject of 'current reviews' with her (didn't want to mention 'Badman' as I think that is a bit undiplomatic, as she is so nice...) and she said she was not really sure what would happen. She anticipates the main change being compulsory registration and perfectly well understood that everyone in her 'trade' was as open minded as she and that this is a major cause of concern to many HEers - their concerns come out of past bad experiences and are not unfounded. I expressed a distinct distaste for the idea of my children being interviewed without me present and she said that actually that left a bad taste in her mouth too and she could not see that as being right. She thought there would have to be TWO interviewers (for safety reasons) and I said that that would make it more like an interrogation than a friendly chat! I expressed that I could not see how any child faced with two complete strangers would be flowing in conversation about how wonderful their schooling was (home or otherwise). For instance, take your average, well developed chatty 2yo and put him/her in a room with a Health Visitor for their developmental check-up and how do they behave? Most hide behind their parent and won't do or say a thing!! It is not possible to make a fair assessment of that child's development without having a conversation with the parent - the child is giving NOTHING away! I suspect this would be how any child would behave under the duress of what I can only see as an interrogation. When CP visits us just now the children are always about and because we are having a friendly chat over coffee they often voluntarily come and show her something they have done/are doing and they do not feel under any stress if she looks over their shoulder to watch them for a minute or two (as she has done in previous years, but only ever at my invitation). Surely this is a far better way to assess the happiness and progress of children than any 'interview' would be. That said - I am not actually very pro the assessing of progress at all because unless you have someone very open minded (as CP is) then they might not be prepared to consider ALL the areas in which children progress as being relevant to 'school', but again that would depend on what their idea of the purpose of school is. For me it is to see my children functioning as confident, independent, intelligent individuals who can hold interesting conversations and be strong enough to cope with what life throws at them, but even more importantly than that, I want that their lives are deeply rooted in Christ and their faith in Him be the underpinning of all that they are and do. Tall order...maybe, but actually, it just means listening to the hearts of your kiddos and I do feel we are making progress to that end :D The academic stuff is all in there too, but that is just PART of the progress I want my kids to make.
I know we all have different purpose for our HE, hopes and dreams for our children - as different as the children themselves are! And THAT's why I resent the idea of being squeezed into a one-size-fits-all mold where someone else, who doesn't know ANYTHING about us or or family, or our genetic make-up, etc..., gets to say whether or not my child is making the progress they 'should' be. Here's hoping on this one that they throw out the baby AND the dirty, stinking bathwater!!

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