Friday, 14 December 2012

Setting off in a cupboard to a beautiful world!

The boys were playing in a cupboard as they often do, pretending it was a plane, car or some other vehicle taking them off on an adventure! They burst out of its doors and into the room saying "Look at this beautiful world!"

They seem to have a knack for reminding me, just when it seems I might be at risk of forgetting.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Good enough for me!

Joseph was doing some activities that involved writing down numbers and he needed to write the number 4. Recently he has been frustrated that his fours do not look to him like a good enough representation of the number 4, but on this occasion he wrote one while chatting away to himself saying...

"I do a 'L' then do a line through it - there, that looks like a number four to me!"

As I sat listening to him I thought how brilliant it is that Joseph's attempts at anything only ever have to be good enough for him! I don't judge or mark his drawing or writing and so as long as he is pleased with what he produces then that is all that matters. At some point in his life it might be necessary for Joseph to present his skills for critique by another person, (if he wants to take exams or be interviewed for a job for example) but I don't believe he needs to spend his childhood practising for adulthood. At four years-old he is occupied with the very busy and very important task of being a four year-old, and if his representation of the number four is good enough for him, then it's good enough for me too!

I am fairly sure that I could decipher one of Joseph's fours however uniquely it has been represented, in the same way that I know exactly what Charlie wants when he asks for a "fucker", otherwise known as a cracker, or that when Callum appears at his most energetic he is actually in the greatest need of peace, and sleep. As their mummy I make it my job to understand them where others may struggle; it's amazing what love can do :) By the time they need to write numbers, ask for crackers or otherwise communicate their needs without my support they'll have mastered these skills, and so no-one will benefit from knowing how they are 'progressing' in the meantime.

We were at a home-ed get together recently and some of the children were sat drawing at a table. Joseph's picture included a mouse. He turned to me and said,

"That's a mouse. It doesn't really look like a mouse does it?"

"I can see its a mouse" I replied

"So can I" said Joseph, and he happily continued his drawing.

I sometimes wish I'd learned sooner how important it is to be good enough by my own standards rather than worrying how I measure up against somebody else's. Thankfully Joseph is already way ahead of me on this one :)


Thursday, 6 December 2012

A little chat...and the great big world!

We were on our way to visit friends this week when Joseph remembered another friend he wanted to see....immediately! I explained to him that she is at school now, and that its difficult for us to see her during the week.

"I want to go to school" said Joseph.

"Why's that?" I asked.

"Because in school there are teachers and they tell you about things so you learn."

I have to admit I was a bit shocked that despite only ever attending nursery, Joseph has nonetheless absorbed the idea that teachers have knowledge they bestow upon others, and the sense that this knowledge cannot be gained without them. In response I told him that a teacher is just one person and doesn't know everything, and that in his life he has access to many people he can learn from; I listed my friends, his friends, our family, people we see around and other adults and children he knows. I also told him that a classroom is just one place, and that we are learning all day long, from all the different places that we go to. To this he replied,

"Ok. Well can we go to Africa, find a volcano and dig for dinosaur bones?"

Our little chat reminded me of two things; firstly how ingrained in our culture the idea of school and 'teaching' are, and secondly how huge the world inside of Joseph is. We talked about Africa, what we might see if we went there, what we would have to do to get there, why he thought he might find dinosaur bones close to a volcano and if there is anywhere closer to home we might be able to dig for bones! We talked about fossil hunting on the coast nearby and the following day I took him to a park with a big sand pit so that we could play at burying things and digging them up, giving one another clues in order to find where the 'treasure' was buried!

Joseph holds the Universe inside of him, and I aim to allow him to learn in a way that keeps it that way. Children think big if we allow them to and their ideas can be far bigger than classrooms and 50 minute lessons. While we save for our African Adventure (if this turns out to be something Joseph pursues!) I can find a way to bring the parts of Africa Joseph is interested in to him. We have made our own dinosaur bones and skeletons before, we can hunt for fossils, we can make our own exploding volcano, we can turn the back garden into a jungle...his interests and imagination can make all our lives more interesting if we let it!

His world is huge. I think that's how it should be.