Saturday, September 05, 2015

Planning for FrogAcademy 2015

This year sees the dawn of a year when I have my eldest son, who has completely finished his education and is job-hunting, whilst at the same time my youngest just begins the journey of his 'education' years. If I am being totally honest here, I'm 13 years in, with another 12 years looming ahead of me, and the thought is very daunting! I cannot even begin to drum up the mad-enthusiasm I had in those beginning years. In those early days (after we walked away from ACE) I would spend hours downloading - on significantly slower internet, printing and planning. And then I would try to muster up the same enthusiasm in my children ~ and often it fell flat, but I persisted anyway. Gradually, over the years, I began to hear my children better and started to model their education around them more as individuals, and life improved. If you read back over the years of my blog though, you will observe that we began very structured and timetabled; loosened up somewhat, but still had very much a formal style of learning. Up until now that has worked for almost all my children. I don't think it ever fitted Jake that well, but I was unable to make the shift in my head (or heart) back then and ultimately he has done very well, finishing college with Btec Level 3 Photography with great grades (D*DD), plus a GCSE in both English and Maths. For Joel, the girls and DD the scheduled approach has worked fine. Even Lilo, who might have struggled most, has been OK with the way things have been. Even if the content has been a stretch at times - and not that enjoyable for her, the structure hasn't bothered her. But then Stitch came along, and after him Chip. Stitch began home-ed with gusto and enthusiasm, but that has quite rapidly worn off because, as more has been 'required' of him, he has increasingly switched off to the idea of table-work. He is definitely not a child to sit still and learn to a timetable and the way we have done things has been a bad fit for him this last year - leading to tension in him and stress in me - giving me a sense of deja-vue that took me back to Jacob's early days, and I have no desire to go hang around there again! Adding Chip into the mix this year, and I am thinking it's going to be a nightmare to carry on doing things with the same structure this academic year. 

After a bit of a think I have come up with this:-

This is DD's sheet, but they each have one with slightly different headings - except Abbie, who has chosen to write her own timetable (without times). Phoebe is also unsure how she'll get on with this system, but she's giving it a trial run for a month and then she'll decide. In reality, it's a trial run for all of us, but I think it'll work so long as all the children are honest ;-)

The idea is that they are each entirely in control of what learning they do, how much time they spend and when they do it. It's centred around 10 minute slots and the only requirement is that there is SOMETHING written in every coloured box by Saturday bedtime. Although there is still a requirement for them to do a certain amount of learning each week I am chilling out about what that learning looks like. Math could be done in a workbook, on Conquer Maths, on a app, or on a learning website (e.g. Skoolbo, or Sumdog). They do however much they choose to do and record how much they did, and what they did by writing in the boxes. If they did 20 minutes of Skoolbo they'd just write Skoolbo in the 10 min box and a ditto in the 20 min box. 

General Interest will be filled in with things we do in groups together ~ like cookery and art. 

'English' I have split up a bit, so they can record what kind of learning they have done. This is because some of the workbooks they have contain various types of tasks and it's often difficult for me to make sure they are getting a balance. This way I will be able to see at a glance where any gaps are forming and address them ~ although not necessarily with workbooks ;-). I am also hoping to do a lot more literature based work with the younger ones this year ~ bouncing off the back of poetry and prose. We begun using FIAR a little last year, and it was enjoyed by all three younger boys, so I am hoping to inject more of that into our learning this year.

Also, I am hoping to make plenty of use of our Spielgaben set ~ especially with the youngest two boys.

All this could add up to very busy days for me - jumping from one activity to another as and when the children need my attention. I know am not too great at that in reality, which is how we ended up with a structure in the first place I guess. I do better knowing what's coming next and working with low-energy activities. I was a workbooks kind of child myself. I simply loved doing pages of little exercises. But imho home-education is about an education that fits the child (and as much as possible the family), and so this year I am going to have to make a big effort to make learning work more relaxed, happy and stimulating for my younger boys, whilst releasing my older children to take more charge of their own learning. I would really like to gradually phase out even this much structure and fall into a much more chilled educational style. I think it might be good for us all - because don't have the energy for so much nagging any more! I know my younger boys are bright, and intelligent. I am not concerned at all about their ability to learn, but I am a tad concerned about their desire to do so. Trusting the process is definitely not my strong point!! Maybe I will get there - I hope so. 

So, today the stop watches arrived (so they can know how long they've been at work on each activity, and help keep things honest) and Monday will be our first day of this new way ~ I'll let you all know how it goes at the end of the week!


Michelle said...

Can't see the image but sounds useful here. If you can reload the image I'd like to have a look. C has lots she wants to do but struggles with time management. Or rather, she wastes a lot of time on things that are fun and enjoyable (mostly on iPad or reading fiction books), but are not what she says she wants to do. Then she gets stressed as ill prepared or behind on workload that is mapped out weekly in order for her to take the exams she wants to take in May. Not a great problem from my pov as if I know in January she is mega behind I won't pay for the exams and she can do them the following year. But she'll be majorly grumpy and mad at herself if that is the way it pans out.

Caroline Hampton said...

You should be able to see the chart now :D Hope C manages to get herself organised ;-)

Michelle said...

Sentence typo there. I think this is really good. It gives lots and lots of flexibility and choice yet the child can see they are being productive and not spending a disproportionate amount of time on Pinterest (for example...).

Michelle said...

Or time spent in the bathroom. She did a bike ride with M today and had a 2 hour soak! I'm convinced there was no watching of science videos on you tube.