Thursday, 12 July 2012

Sunshine and Food for Thought

What a difference some good weather makes!  Not that we've had a bad week in itself, 'cos we haven't.  It's just that we've all really had enough of being stuck indoors.  Twice yesterday I looked out of the window to see the sun shining, but as soon as I told the boys they could go outside and play on the trampoline, it started raining - the first time it rained the exact second that eldest stepped outside (I'm not exaggerating), the second time they didn't even get their shoes on before the rain started again :(
So this morning (as with most mornings) it was with trepidation that I checked the forecast to find nothing but white clouds and yellow suns!  Hooray!  When I told the boys it was going to be sunny all day, Middle looked at me with wide incredulous eyes and asked, "really?"  Bless him - I felt like saying "when I was a little girl they used to do real summers when the sun shone nearly every day!" That may be rose-tinted nostalgia for you, but I don't ever remember a summer as wet as this one has been so far...
Anyway, we were all heartened by the good weather and decided today would be a good day to let our butterflies out into the big wide world (rather than tomorrow when the forecast is less bright). So even though we still have one left in chrysalis form, we set the others free - it felt mean keeping them trapped indoors now they have beautiful wings to use. Before we let them out, we did get to see them using their long curled proboscis to drink from the orange segments we put in their 'garden', so we felt we'd probably learned as much as we could for now.
butterfly feeding from orange       remaining (very dark) chrysalis

being released: posing on edge of net...    before flying to the nearest hedge

Being in positive sunny mood, we also re-attempted the bread rolls that went so badly the other day.  No problems this time - perfect result! Even better, they had cooled down just in time for lunch - yum!  Warm, buttered, freshly-baked bread has to be one of my top favourite foods :) 

While the dough was proving, Eldest went on Maths Whizz while Middle, Youngest and I played on Middle's Brainbox 'My First Pictures' game.  It's basically a memory game - they do a whole series of games about Nature, Maths, History etc etc - you have to memorise the facts or pictures that appear on the cards then answer a question about it without looking.  Lovely games, but not that easy!  Both the boys did really well (we allowed Youngest double time to look at the picture because of his age) - I think we might get some more from the series - their brains were well exercised and it was fun (they especially like it when Mummy gets one wrong). :)

This afternoon, we left our single chrysalis behind and went to the park.  It was a risk, because it (the chrysalis) had gone really dark so I felt it would be emerging any minute, and we did really want to see it come out, as we'd missed the others.  There was no way we were going to miss the only few hours of sunner this week though (we'll get more caterpillars if necessary), so we headed to one of the boys' favourite local parks with some friends... it felt really good to see them running about and playing together while us Mums (and Dad) chatted, all soaking up the sunshine and getting some fresh air... at LAST!  And of course, it wouldn't be play outdoors if they didn't get completely covered in mud from the puddles there... I am so grateful for baths and washing machines!

So anyway, once the boys were all in bed and I settled on my laptop with the rain pattering once more (sigh) against the window, I was going through my usual kind of mental checklist to see what we'd covered while deschooling today (not because I have to - just because I always find it encouraging): Biology: nature project, D&T: baking, Maths, & memory skills, all as mentioned above, plus there was Art: pictures the younger two drew for me, and English: LOTS of stories being read...
Then a lovely friend sent me a link to a really encouraging post, called What Is Deschooling... it's a great blog post in itself, which is why I have included the link, to encourage any of you who want a read.  In the post the author links to another post by Sandra Dodd, called Unschooling: You'll See It When You Believe It - and I was really drawn to a comment at the end of that post by Pam Sorooshian, who said she used to jot down what her children were busy doing, but not worrying about sorting them into subject at first.  She used to jot things down under simpler headings, such as Reading, Doing, Making, Writing, Watching, Listening, Talking, Visiting, Thinking (and she explands on each 'heading).  Some of those fit into 'school subjects', some aren't so obvious - but I can feel my brain stretching again as I ponder on how helpful it could be using those headings.  You see, I'm told that if the Local Authority contact you, they require some kind of 'Educational Philosophy' from you - some idea of how you will undertake your child's education... and as far as I'm concerned, if I cover all the traditional subjects using one method, whether it be books, computers, or me telling and the boys listening - it feels a little stifling, and would probably put me off before too long, let alone the boys! The more methods used the better - particularly when I'm still experimenting to get to know the boys' learning styles better.  So I think every now and then I might also do a quick mental checklist of the different types of learning, as well as different 'subjects' - so for example today we had Reading (in the morning and at bedtime), Making (bread), Doing (MathsWhizz & Reading Eggs on the PC, plus the boys made up a song in the car - which I had forgotten until I asked myself what 'doing' might cover), Watching (Spongebob and Backyard Science on TV), Talking and Listening (Eldest telling Middle about centrifugal force as he asked me to take the corners sharply in the car), Visiting (playpark with friends), Thinking (we have a learners clock in the kitchen from which (as I often do) I asked Middle if he could work out the time)... and more.
So, another lovely day; another train of thought to follow and see where it leads...  This is why I call Home Education a 'journey' - we are already so far from where we started, and I know we have a long way to go before we're done - but although the end destination is definitely of interest (ie all three boys being grown and equipped to pursue whatever it is that they want to do), that will then become their journey - my job IS the journey, and I fully intend to enjoy every minute of the ride!

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