Monday, 16 April 2012

What's your Home Ed style?

More lovely weather today - and a trip to the park with my lovely sister & lovely niece - lovely! ;)  We were chatting about Home Ed (what else?) and apart from saying that I bet I'm going to look back on these blog entries in a couple of years and groan with embarrassment at my naivety, we were talking about the different styles of home education that there are.Some people seem to like the structure of 'home school', which seems to me to be generally about having a timetable, specific lessons, workbooks etc - with a start and end to 'learning hours'  I can see the appeal - especially for someone who is concerned that they wouldn't know where to start when it comes to making sure their child gets a good "education", but as I have already mentioned earlier in the blog, one of the things I really enjoy about children is their natural enthusiasm for exploring and learning new things.  I find it quite stifling to try to contain that within certain hours and certain books.  Of course, it also depends on each child's learning style - eg DS2 really struggled with this sort of structure at school (I can foresee a bit of experimenting while we work out his preferred method of learning).
At the other end of the spectrum is the highly autonomous style which is harder to pin down as by nature it is driven by the individual child.  These are parents who do no "teaching" at all - who let their children play & follow their own interests, which may or may not bring them to anything that would be considered 'academic'.  This is more common among experienced home educators who have learned to relax and trust their child's inherent love of learning.  Obviously this is appealing from the point of view of the child: no pressure, no targets or expectations - and it would appear to be less stressful to the parent also (unless - and here's the rub - you're the sort of parent who needs to see their child making measurable progress compared to traditional schooling)  There is also a risk that your child may turn into a complete couch potato.  From all the home educators I have chatted to so far, this amazingly never seems to happen, but it does seem a very risky strategy to someone who is just setting out...
And me? I guess I fall somewhere in the middle.   I am usually the sort of person who likes to have things ordered, organised, neat & tidy (not that you'd know it, looking at my house most of the time).  I like plans and lists.  So for me, I am feeling remarkably relaxed about the whole process.  Every now and then when someone asks me what home education involves or when we're going to 'start', it triggers an almost Pavlovian response to produce some sort of timetable - but the rest of the time, I am happy to 'go with the flow'.  However, I don't have the confidence to have no say at all in what the boys learn, so I have two basic measures in place...
1/  I believe that like it or not, we use Maths every day, and that I would be putting my children at a disadvantage if I didn't help them to aquire a broad base of Maths skills - hence Maths Whizz mentioned in my first post.  Of course, I have done my best to make it appeaing and fun - and although I hope the boys will continue to love it as much as they currently do, I have to accept that there may be days when they don't want to do it.  Well, we will 'suck it and see'.  We have a year's subscription, so I will expect them to 'play' on it often (I guess every other day, but that's open to review), but if it doesn't go well, I'll be more experienced next year when we're considering subsriptions (or not) :)
2/  I also believe that English is an important foundation that opens up the world of education: if you can read, you can educate yourself.  English is my subject, so I am passionate about it, and I am pleased to note that all of my boys love books - reading, and being read to :)  I absolutely believe that if you force a child to do something, you risk them possibly resenting/ hating it for life - so I'm going to go at their speed and again, take my cue from them - but for example, DS1 likes making books - writing and illustrating - so I guess we'll do a fair bit of that.  DS2 loves wordplay - alliteration & rhymes, which at the moment is more spoken than written - which is cool, and I am more than happy to join him there.  He also really wants to learn to write in cursive like his big brother, so we've got some lovely workbooks lined up for that purpose.  DS3 is just learning his letters - is chomping at the bit to read, so there will be lots of times with Mummy reading books, playing games with fridge magnets & other 'early literacy' games
And for everything else...? I still have no real plans other than to see what the boys are interested in - and take it from there.  I see it as my job to introduce them to new things - and then see what sparks their interest.  I can't wait to see where this journey takes us :)

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