Friday, 22 June 2012

Covert Education

The boys were awake far too early this morning - I think they were excited that their friends were coming to play after school.  I'm flagging a bit by now though...
I found a lovely online magazine yesterday, called Life Learning Magazine. (thanks to a Home Edder who mentioned it on Facebook).  It's a great resource for all Home Ed familes, but is particularly aimed at 'unschoolers'.  I read a great article there by Wendy Priesnitz called The Art of Inspiration, talking about the role parents play in unschooling their children, and basically saying that it's not a passive way to educate as people think.  I particularly identified with the Sandra Dodd quote, where she said: “I just strew their paths with interesting things.”  Education really doesn't have to be obvious, or forced!  As we are still in the deschooling period I am trying not to request that the boys do any 'work', but I love seeing what piques their interest - it's like a little challenge to myself to see what I can come up with covertly to entice them to explore - and this 'strewing' is a great way to do it.  I have already been in the habit of leaving interesting books out where the boys are likely to see them and flick through.  Some of our favourites include  Childrens book of Baking Cakes, 365 Things to Make and Do (Usborne),  and Richard Hammonds Blast Lab Science Experiments (particularly as the boys have recently discovered the 'Blast lab' TV Series that spawned the book - they love watching it - a nice combination of education (science) and gunge-filled competition).  I  realised though, that I need to rotate the books that are left out, or strewn - as it gets to a point where the boys ignore the books they've already seen, and also ignore the many books and games that we have on the bookshelves.  So yesterday evening, for a change I left out our set of old Oxford Reading Tree books - the very thin paperbacks - just left on the side, not in an obvious way that made them feel I wanted them to do some reading (can't have any hint of obligation while deschooling).   Middle found them very quickly, and all three of the boys sat for a good while, going through them.  Because the books are so thin, they don't look at all intimidating, and Middle in particular just kept going trhough them one after another - result! He even brought a few upstairs for his bedtime story :)  Today I was looking for a particular book on the shelves that I thought Eldest would like, but I couldn't find it.  However, as I was looking, he walked past, and just the sight of me hunting intently was enough to interest him.  I told him I was looking for a book that I thought he might like, but wasn't sure it was there - and fortunately I didn't tell him which one, as after I'd gone elsewhere he went back to the shelves and found not one but two books that he promptly sat down and read in one sitting! (one on the Great Fire of London and another on the Battle of Britain - neither of which were what I was looking for)  I loved that I didn't even get as far as strewing this time - just looking as though I was doing something interesting was enough to spark his interest :)
Books work really well for us hen it domes to strewing them about for covert education - and we do have quite a decent selection of children's reference books as well as fiction.  It can be a bit intimidating building up a mini library for Home Ed - especially if you don't follow a planned structure - but one of the ways that works for me is via the fabulous Book People. They are absolutely one of my top Home Ed resource sites... not a traditional bookshop in that they carry a very limited stock, but that stock changes regularly, and at any given point they always have some amazing offers on sets of book - for example, Eldest's 'Battle of Britain' book was one of a set of ten history books that I bought for a few pounds when I was browsing for bargains once!  You don't have to sign up for a minimum spend each month either - just a great resource :)
Other educational moments today included drawing, Reading Eggs (computer) and Deadly 60 (TV) - and seeing as it was such a soggy day and the boys needed to expend some energy, we fished out our old Boogie Beebies DVD, bought when Eldest was a toddler!  I can't think why they don't make the programme any more - it was fab!  Anyway, the boys all got to choose one 'boogie' each (Youngest chose one on diggers, Middle, one on monkeys, and Eldest, one on ocean creatures) - and we had a great (lively) half hour dancing about like loonies.
We're off to pick up their sleepover guests from school in a few minutes, & I seriously doubt I'll have chance after that to update the blog - so that's it for today.  Happy Friday everyone - have a good weekend!

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