Archive for July, 2008

Is it really necessary?

Ah, the Summer holidays; glorious sun-drenched days of lazing around doing whatever you please…or the bane of home educators everywhere???

Today we had a great afternoon, visiting a local gallery which had a Family Open Day with lots of lovely free kids activities and workshops. We met various home educating friends there, enjoying the sunshine and opportunities to get arty. Sukie, Bobbie and Willow participated in the “drawing and sculpture” and  “make a clay tile or coil pot” workshops, and Sukie had a go at throwing a pot on a wheel, though she was disappointed not to be able to take her effort home afterwards. Best of all, they did all this with good friends, and let’s face it, the right company can make any endeavour a pleasure! Unfortunately, all good things come to an end, and we made our weary way home, pots in hand.

Within minutes of being home Bobbie and Willow were playing happily with some of the children who live in our street, who all go to school. All went well for a while- paper and pens were taken out so that they could sit and draw together, then acoustic guitars were required- how idyllic! Right?

As usual, things started to go pear-shaped after about half an hour- squabbles, name-calling, certain girls storming off saying that they were now “worst enemies”. Me sat indoors, sighing at the inevitability!

Bobbie and Willow are rather nonplussed at this seemingly “normal” childhood behaviour. Why do these girls feel the need to boast and lie and fall out every five minutes? This is not something they tend to experience with their home ed friends- no need for constant one-upmanship and trying to impress, they take each other for what they are and value each others differences.

Now, I’m not suggesting for one minute that Bobbie and Willow and their home ed friends get on perfectly- far from it. We have more than our fair share of sibling dramas, and they have been known to argue with their HE pals- but these things tend to pass by without the need for prolonged slanging matches, bitter grudges and side-taking.

So I sat surreptitiously listening and wondering: is this where I go steaming in, the over-protective mother- ordering Bobbie and Willow never to play with these children again, getting embroiled in the petty quarreling? Or should I let things run their course, hoping that they see the situation for what it is, and make their own decisions not to get involved?

I know that this scenario is nothing out of the ordinary- it happens every day up and down the country, in a playground near you. I’m sure that the general consensus is that it’s all essential childhood experience- girls are bitchy and gang-up on each other: that’s just the way it is. Trouble is, I’m not sure I believe that. Surely there are other ways to go about resolving conflict? Is all this really necessary?

I remember the playground politics when I was at school, and the price of fitting in. I don’t recall learning much from it, other than the fact that it was all a bit daft and pointless, and to be honest I think Bobbie and Willow have come to that conclusion without having to go through 11 years of schooling!

So….I kept my thoughts to myself today; will I manage to do so for six long weeks? Well that’s up for debate!

Why government monitoring is a bad thing

With the current concerns about the latest consultation on Children Missing Education I thought I’d explain to anyone who’s interested why I think giving local authorities an excuse to monitor and judge home education is a bad thing.

Every now and then someone will come out with the old chestnut, “Why are you so against monitoring? What have you got to hide?” How about we turn that around? What exactly have I got to gain?

I’m responsible for my child’s education, the law is clear on that. I pay for it, not one penny of government funding to justify their interest. My LA wants me to give up my valuable time (they’re certainly not considering paying for it) and they’d really love me to surrender my privacy too letting them into my home, and for what? Does my child benefit? Do I benefit? Can the LA actually DO anything for us? No, no and again, no. Just like SATs this isn’t about the child, about the quality of their education, this is about box ticking and control and the illusion of caring. So, I say again. What have I got to gain? Why on earth would I welcome or even tolerate all this extra aggravation when I’m under no legal obligation to and get nothing at all out of it?

Its been a good fortnight (eventually)

I had a major wobble about Home Eding a couple of weeks ago, after dear son and I decided to have the biggest falling out ever.  Resulting in me questioning everything that I have researched and believed in, but as is the way with HE (or so it appears to me) you have these major hiccups and then your children make a massive leap forward.

 A week after the major wobble we went to Legoland for DS birthday, as a treat my husband and I also took his best friend with us.  Now his best friend (BF) goes to the “good” local school and is a great boy, but it was interesting to see that in spite of his two years in full time education, and my sons complete lack of structured education, my son was more than able to keep up in the literacy and the maths stakes (and on many occasion over take BF).  I was also completely thrown when BF informed us that one of the boys had head butted him at school and given him a nose bleed - this was told to us as if it was an everyday occurance, and when a few further questions were gently asked he said “oh the boy does this all the time to loads of the children”

 So all my wobble was thrown out of the window and I realised that we are doing the right thing for our family at the moment.  I am gradually coming to realise that everyone has wobbles - whether you send your child to school, or HE - and in what ever structure (or lack of) that you HE.  I think that having the chance to meet / talk / email with other people that are Home Eding is so wonderful, as it just gives another perspective of what is happening in life.

It also seems that autonoumous education does work (yep I have wobbles about that as well). My DS having shown no interest in writing at all, has now written most of his thank you cards for his birthday presents.  He has had help from me, but compared with two months ago, his concentration, pen control and willingness to write them have amazed me.

Anyway thats enough from me for now, I am sure another wobble will be along soon, but hopefully they will get fewer and less strong as the years go by