Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Questions people have asked...

I thought I would write down a few of the questions people have asked and comments that have been made regarding our decision to learn at home, and answer them for anyone who may be wondering and just hasn't asked! It will also help me to be clear about my thoughts on some of these things. I'd like to say a big thanks to anyone who has asked a thoughtful question about all this, it gives me a great opportunity to reflect on my own thoughts, feelings and motivations, and helps to remind me why this is such a good decision for our family.

Are you intending to use a curriculum?

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.

What if Joseph said that he wanted to go to school aged 7, would it be a kick in the teeth to you?

If Joseph or any of the boys really want to go to school at any point then that's fine and no, it would not be a 'kick in the teeth'. This is not about me, it's about them. Although I can't really say how I'd feel without knowing the circumstances involved, I hope I'd feel fantastic that I had a child who felt confident enough to make such an important decision for himself, and I'd feel grateful for the extra time they had at home, preparing them for formal learning.

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!

You're brave!!

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.

No comments:

Post a Comment