Wednesday, 23 May 2012
Saturday, 19 May 2012
Monday, 14 May 2012
A bit of mess is fine here, the boys often enjoy helping to clear up. The only irreplaceable things in this house are the people who live here!
Tuesday, 8 May 2012
No. I'm intending to look out for the things they love doing, experiencing and hearing about the most, and ensure that they get as much opportunity for these things as possible. I don't want to make value judgements about what needs to be learned when, when they find an interest or fascination I want to give them the opportunity to follow it wherever it takes them. All subjects are linked so I don't see the need to separate topics out, Joseph's current interest in anything with an engine covers every subject I can imagine, even music as I am happily reminded when we all sing together "Down at the station early in the morning...."!! At some point depending on how their interests develop I guess a curriculum may be useful, but at the moment I'm not even going to look at what they 'should' be learning so that I can be with them where they are.
How will they be socialised?
Not really sure I understand the question. Socialising, like learning, seems to be something that happens as a natural part of existence to me. If the question is actually asking how they will meet other children their age, I'd say they already do. They won't be going to school that's all, they'll still be playing with children who live nearby, seeing the friends they already have and attending any clubs they are interested in. I know it's hard to think outside of the school system because we're all so used to it, but if you wanted to find a way to make me feel at my least sociable then put me in a room with 30 other people exactly my age and then compare us all :/ No thanks!!
Will you ever send them to school, if so when?
No idea! We're going with the flow. If at any point its what they want, or if school seems like a better option than learning at home then they'll go.
How will you manage teaching Joseph with the twins around? Won't it be difficult to find activities that all three can do?
Because I'm not intending to 'teach' I don't feel that this will be a problem, in fact from observing the boys both together and with other children, they seem to really benefit from interacting with children both older and younger than themselves. The fact that children are the same age does not mean that they are at the same stage of development anyway. I remember watching the boys playing with play-doh together one day, Joseph was making snakes and slithering them along the table, so Callum and Charlie joined in and Joseph began giving a context to the things they were making with comments like "oh look, Charlie has put his snake on a hill" when Charlie rested his snake on a lump of play-doh. They contributed to one another's experience of the play. Another great example of how happily this can work happened the other day during a role-playing dinosaur game between Ollie and the three boys. Oliver (the Tyrannosaurus Rex) could eat Joseph (the Triceratops) because he was a meat eater with sharp teeth, and Joseph could bash him away because he had armour in the form of spikes on his head! Joseph was cementing what he has learned about dinosaurs from books, while Callum and Charlie were just enjoying a bit of rough and tumble with dad! All getting what each of them wants and needs at that moment in time :)
How will you cope with being with them all the time, won't you need a break?
See the post 'Quality time apart?' (May 2012) for a full answer to this one. I get breaks when I need them with the help of some great friends and family, and Oliver and I are pretty good at being kind to one another when it comes to the need for a bit of space!
How will you separate learning time from everything else that happens at home?
I don't see a separation. Learning results from everything that happens. There will be no school hours, terms or school holidays.
School gives children the opportunity to try out different activities. If they don't have the opportunity to try these things, how will they know that they enjoy them?
School only gives them the chance to try out certain activities though, the ones that are believed to be relevant to the things they 'need' to learn or tick some other box. Something tells me that being out there in the world offers far more experiences than a classroom can.
How will they learn the three Rs?
In the same way they have learned everything else so far; by being given a rich, stimulating and interesting environment, time to develop the skills, space to develop the motivation and all the support in the world when they are ready to make the move. I often tell a lovely story about Joseph at bedtime one day when Oliver and I were putting Callum and Charlie to bed and asked him to wait a few minutes for a story. He replied, "No, there are two grown-ups so one of you can put the boys to bed and one of you can read to me"!! Given enough talk and experience of numbers and a lot of motivation, he could perform a simple division at the age of three! In a real life context, without us adults over complicating things, children seem capable of some pretty impressive stuff!
I guess is it brave to go against the grain, especially where something so precious as your child is concerned. I don't feel like I'm being brave though, I'm just doing what feels absolutely right and natural to me. I'd need to be far more brave to send the boys to school knowing that I don't think this would be the best place for them to learn, how could I justify this decision to them or anyone else if ever I needed to? Whatever happens, whatever they or anyone else thinks of the decision to have them learn at home, I know I made this choice because I love them and absolutely believe it's the best thing for them. A decision based on anything else would simply not be good enough.
Thanks again for your questions, I am never offended by a thoughtful question and always hope to give a thoughtful response.
Monday, 7 May 2012
A couple of lovely little observations from today. They were just passing moments, but they really reinforced for me a great deal that I instinctively feel about learning.
Joseph woke up earlier than usual today with a blocked nose and wanted breakfast straight away. I told him that I wasn't feeling too good and wanted to have a rest until his brothers woke up but that he was free to play until then. He told me he would hold my hand down the stairs, assuming that I had a back ache as his Daddy has recently! I told him my back was fine and that I had a sore throat, so he handed me a cup of water and said, "here mummy have a drink of my water, that will make it better. You can drink it all if you want to". It made me feel wonderful to know that he has enough experience of having his own needs met that he is able to respond with empathy to the needs of another, and to know that he has experienced enough kindness that he is able to be so effortlessly kind. No doubt he was partly thinking, "if I can help her feel better then maybe I'll get breakfast quicker", but it felt kind not manipulative!
In my post 'Why we've decided to learn at home' (April 2012) I wrote about my hope that our children will be able to learn by example rather than 'teaching' and I think this is a sweet demonstration of that. I'm not sure how I would start to 'teach' warmth, empathy, compassion and kindness, instead it feels wonderful and natural to immerse them in these things and allow them to learn from experience. When Oliver and I looked around a local school with Joseph last year, we were told about work some of the children had been doing on 'using kind words'. I'm not naive enough to think that all children are hearing these at home, indeed I've no doubt that for some children school is the only place they hear anything close to kind words, I just question how effectively such things can be 'taught'. Being kind, and using kind words seem like two different things to me anyway. In my working life I spent several years working with young offenders as a drug and alcohol practitioner, and observed many an attempt by the system to make them aware of the impact of their offences on others. In many cases these young people had experienced traumatic, disrupted childhoods and I couldn't help wondering how we can expect compassion and empathy from people who may never have experienced these for themselves. I'm not going to make any judgement about the extent to which a child will receive warmth, empathy, compassion and kindness at school, I can only say that I know my children will get an abundance of this at home, and I see this as integral to all the learning that happens.
The other little moment was humour! A situation had been brewing between Charlie and Joseph and resulted in a slap thrown from Joseph to Charlie as he stomped tearfully across the room. He shoved himself into a corner knocking a couple of empty nappy boxes on his head. We looked at one another, laughed and I said "It's not your day today is it!" which is a little line Oliver started with him whenever a minor mishap occurs such as when something is dropped or a toe is stubbed. He was soon giggling away, and within minutes the three boys had made a tunnel with the boxes and were pretending they were badgers, playing happily together. We didn't dwell on the argument or the slap, it all dissolved in the laughter. One thing I love about learning at home is that we can choose what does or doesn't become an issue in any given moment. I think a four year-old could back themselves into a corner pretty easily with impulsive outbursts of one kind or another whether they be excited, angry or frustrated in nature. As someone who loves him completely, I want to give Joseph every opportunity to come out of a situation feeling ok about himself and so as soon as the anger and frustration had passed for him, it had passed for me and all of us. He let it go and laughed, and we all knew that the incident was not worth pursuing. Sometimes an argument or tussle between the boys needs to be followed up and sorted out in one way or another, but this didn't and I love that we can make that call and he doesn't have to spend any time feeling bad about himself, and doesn't have to hear the tale of his poor behaviour recounted later. Instead he had an opportunity to learn how quickly negative feelings can pass if you allow them to, how peacefully we can all move through a blip.