Thursday, 18 October 2012

Normal Service to be Resumed Shortly

Hooray for time off!  My brain is starting to return to normal again - we've had a lovely week just enjoying being together, with no pressure - I guess it was a sort of half-term, in that we had got to a point of needing a break.  It kind of felt a little naughty, as the schools here aren't on half-term for another week and a half - but then, the boys were gearing up their 'learning' before the schools went back in September, so it's not really surprising that we were a bit tired sooner.  And anyway, one of the many things that I love about HE is that we can just take a break whenever we need to, rather than dragging our feet for weeks until we get scheduled time off :)

So anyway, if you've been following, you'll know I've been thinking about restrictions, suggestions, structure etc, and I think I've decided on the 'tweaks' that I started suspecting we needed a week ago in Not-so-helpful Suggestions

Firstly, we had been running a "no-screen-time until after lunch" rule, which kind of bit me on the bum as it seemed to generate a desire for screen-time AS SOON AS allowed.  I'm going to tweak that so that although Mummy will still have no laptop time before lunch (otherwise blogging/ facebook/ photobooks would leech all my time with the boys), the boys are free to watch TV/ go on the PC whenever they like.  After all, it really wasn't an issue when they were deschooling: they watched less then than they do now.  The thing I do have an issue with is the games consoles.  A chat with my wise friend helped me to realise that PC time is actually OK - pretty much the whole time they are on it, they are learning something valuable.  Games consoles however seem to shut down their ability to think creatively.  They're OK for encouraging teamwork occasionally (depending on the game), but on the whole they seem pretty mind-numbing.  So I'm not going to ban them or place set restrictions specifically - but I am hoping to just try to distract the boys away from playng on them if they are mentioned - with the aim that maybe we'll save them for weekends/ holidays... we'll see how it goes, anyway.

Secondly, I was concerned that by making suggestions so frequently, the boys were depending on me for ideas instead of thinking creatively for themselves, and finding their own inspiration.  Where I had viewed suggestions as just a verbal kind of strewing, it turns out that actually they carry more weight than books/ resources just left hanging about, as the boys perceive that I want them to do the things I'm suggesting.  And it's true, I do - although usually just because it looks like fun, and we do usually have fun - but by relying on my suggestions every day they were making noticeably less effort to discover their own interests.  It's not the worst thing in the world in terms of Home Education, but it's just not what I want for them.  So I think I'm going to restrict myself.  Some kind of schedule really does help me, albeit a very gentle, flexible one - so I think I'm going to limit my suggestions to my favourite days, Mondays, and see how it goes.  Tuesday - Friday it will be all about the boys finding/ developing their own ideas, but that still leaves me with a day when I get to suggest things that I've seen that I think they'd like that they otherwise wouldn't have thought of.  I'm not totally convinced about this, but we'll give it a go and see what we learn :)

Thirdly I was thinking about structure: the small amount of online curriculum that I ask of them.  I never get into a fight about it with them - if they really resist, I don't push it - but I do ask them to do an hour each of Reading Eggs & MathsWhizz per week, and I still feel that for us, that is about right.  I've been reading comments from people who home educate in a much-more structured way, and I have to say, it does appeal to my routine-loving teacher-head; I'm just not convinced that the boys would go for it...  actually, I'm convinced one of them would really struggle - so we're going to keep it light and do the minimum that I am happy with, leaving them the rest of the time to be as "autonomous" as they like (as long as that doesn't involve games consoles!!!)

So that's where we're at now - hooray for wobbles that cause me to step back and reboot :)  Tomorrow we have our regular '360 soft play' HE group trip, which is always lovely, and then next week is going to be really busy with Legoland (hooray for them letting Home Educators visit at school prices!), visiting best friends, HE coffee morning & Usborne book sale, barbers visit and non-school photos - so all of the above is on hold until the following week anyway, but I feel better for having had the chance to sort my brain out!

Also, today I received my copy of A Funny Kind of Education by Ross Mountney.  Ross wrote the first book I ever read on HE, Learning without School, when we were first serously considering Home Education early this year.  It was absolutely the best book I could have read at the time - answered all of our practical questions and encouraged me that we could do it.  Ross's experience as well as her practical, humorous, non-judgemental style makes her one of my favourite Home Ed authors (she has a brilliant blog too: here), so I'm really looking forward to reading this new book, a more personal account of her HE journey with her own family.  Actually *whispers* I read a few chapters earlier when the boys were occupied with other things - I couldn't resist - and I can already see that it's going to be a fun and encouraging read.  Having met Ross online since reading her first book, I know she is such a lovely person that she often reads other HE blogs and offers encouragement, so I'm fairly sure she'll be reading this, blushing away (Hi Ross, *cheeky grin*) - but this isn't flattery: I honestly and strongly recommend her books!

Finally, mini-blogger's fans will be pleased to know he has written some more in his diary (so much for my concerns in September that he wasn't interested in writing) - so I'll leave you in his entertaining little hands...

13th October
played predator with (Middle).  I was
     1st - snowleopard
     2nd - octopus
     3rd - lion. 
     Yep, (Middle) was the prey and would not survive in the wild.

17th October
at the 14th, 15th and 16th I didn't feel writey!  Feel a bit writey now.

normal day.  I did
two days ago - waking up, eating, sleeping
one day ago - waking up, eating, sleeping
today - waking up, eating, sleeping
tomorrow - waking up, eating, sleeping
Where's entertainment when you NEED IT!

calmed down
Bored, have a cold, and MESSY room.  "BOOOO!"
I'm so annoyed that my room is a mess, I'm reduced to a puddle.

froze to normal shape, no longer puddle

18th October
at night, hedgehog in garden - amazing
morning, woodpecker in woods - amazing
5 min ago, tidy up - not amazing