Friday, 6 July 2012

Normal service resumed

Sorry to those of you who were hoping for something a little more sensational after yesterday's stroppy blog - we're back to the beautiful, small highlights (no real lows today, just a minor squeak) of our day-to-day Home Ed journey.  So here we go...

Our caterpillars have graduated - yay!  They are no longer teeny creeping caterpillars; they have all fully entered the pupal stage - so this morning Eldest and I took a moment while the younger two boys were occupied elsewhere, to carry out the delicate procedure of transferring the chrysalises from their little plastic pot into the large net container.  It was very fiddly as the paper disk under the lid that they were attached to was quite holey and fragile - and the pupae had lots of sticky threads joining them to the rest of the pot, that all needed to be teased apart.  We got there in the end though, and then pinned it to the inside of the large container.  One of the chrysalises was wiggling energetically after the transfer, but apparently that's normal, and it calmed down again soon afterwards.

the new, bigger home                    chrysalises close up 
I'm really glad that we took this 'live experiment' on - the boys are learning so much more through it than they would by just reading or being told about it.  They all knew that caterpillars turn into chrysalises and then butterflies, but by having it happen in front of us they have observed so much more - such as the rate that the caterpillars grow at, the J-shape they assume when entering the pupal stage (and the fact that they shed their skins at this point), the wiggling that they do as pupae - and of course there will be more revelations to come when the butterflies finally emerge.  It all reminds me of the Benjamin Franklin quote:
"Tell me and I forget; Teach me and I remember; involve me and I learn"
Today we had a quiet day at home - partly because Eldest and Youngest are fighting off colds, and partly because it rained pretty much all day! This morning Middle spent a long time on Maths Whizz and then the CBeebies website, Youngest then had a turn on Reading Eggs and again, CBeebies (at one point I heard all three boys giggling over something the Teletubbies were doing on the computer... I mean, Teletubbies... really??), and Eldest mooched for a bit and read some of his Deadly 60 book, before watching more Deadly 60 on TV followed by 'Kid Detectives'... all very scientific!

This afternoon Eldest had his turn on the computer (Maths Whizz) while Middle, Youngest and I made some 'Rock-and-Roll Eggs' (like home-made Weebles, for those of you of a certain age), from our fabulous new Science Things to Make and Do book. We're really enjoying this book - each page has a short, child-friendly explanation as to the scientific principle being explored in the activity (the boys thought it was really funny that the information on their 'Rock-and-Roll Eggs' was titled "Heavy Bottoms"). 

left - Youngest; right - Middle

While we waited for the glue to dry on the eggs, the two younger ones made a tissue-paper 'under-sea collage' with Mummy while we waited...

Eldest by now had finished with Maths Whizz so then he got to grips with a Glow-in-the-dark art project that we found online a while ago, from Ellen McHenry's Basement Workshop - a great site, packed with fab Home Ed resources and ideas.  He used pastels and glow-in-the-dark paint to produce a really nice piece of art - and then Middle decided he wanted to do it too... it was so lovely listening to them chatting while they worked - Eldest telling Middle all about what the different deep-sea creatures did etc.  I love it when they share their knowledge & enthusiasm, and educate each other :)

top - Eldest; bottom - Middle

So today was another good day: gently paced, and even though no work was scheduled (yes, we're still deschooling!), we achieved a fair bit, which always helps to dispel any angst that might be lurking.  And it does still lurk at times... this time I think it was because of the novel I've recently finished reading where the protagonist decides to 'home-school' her daughter to meet her own selfish needs.  Unfortunately I think that as a story it would encourage the perception of those who think that HE is just a cover for neglectful parenting.  True Home Edders will know that if the child in the story was being home educated by a loving and attentive parent she would have thrived - but it left me feeling slightly uneasy, as if an underlying message of the book could be that bringing children up out of the norm is an inherently bad thing.  Although it was a good read (you know I love my books), I was just a little discouraged by being reminded that not everyone thinks Home Ed is as fab as we do!  So, I'm particularly glad for blog posts like this one: A Home-educating Parent Looks Back, where a real Mum shares the successes of her own HE journey, now that she has reached the end of it.  As we're at the beginning of our journey, full of questions, it's just so encouraging to hear from people who have gone ahead of us, and who have seen that Home Ed really does work.  Not to forget that we're already seeing little shoots of success ourselves in our own children as they relax and are starting to demonstrate a returning enthusiasm for questioning, experimenting and learning.  So, minor squeaks notiwthstanding, we are seeing real progress, and that is what makes this journey so worthwhile :)

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