Friday, 20 May 2011


I believe our life is a process of juggling to preserve a fine balance; thus to reset the equilibrium that was thrown off by our super smug home educating post on Monday, the universe has thrown us a glorious cold that has left the rest of the week looking mostly like this:

This, I suppose, is actually another benefit of HE: little lady gets to spend her poorly time concentrating on getting better and doing the little things she enjoys (like Lego - which also doubles up as an educational tool for fine motor skills, following instructions, translating 2D pictures into 3D reality, shapes, number recognition etc. etc.) and neither of us have to worry about 'missing' anything.

(well, apart from being confined to the house with a child that can't even walk down the stairs)

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Writing and Phonics

As an aside to our tale from yesterday, I thought I'd chat about the Phonics workbook we were doing, and the Playful Parenting technique that, I felt, gave us a massive breakthrough in working together.

I know, it sounds hideously boring, but I managed to demonstrate to myself that Playful Parenting really *does* work better than having a conversation, sometimes. I'm in no way connected to the author of the book, I simply had it recommended to me and found it at a good price on Kindle.

The premise of Playful Parenting is joining the child in her world, instead of forcing her into the parental world of 'Do As You're Told.'

For example:
NP has become very anxious about 'doing writing.' I blame the school nursery entirely for this because they regularly forced the kids to write their names, making NP do it against her will by holding the pencil with her, so that they could assess her. After this, she was unhappy about writing unless someone was helping her in this way. I also think she has performance anxiety about getting it perfect (which is probably inherited from us freaks ;)

Yesterday she dearly wanted to have a go at the workbook, she flicked through and found the pages she wanted to do (as I bit my control-freak tongue about working through the pages in order) and found the letter 'M', which we haven't officially 'done' yet (in terms of listening to the songs etc, we have, however, been writing 'Mommy' quite regularly).

We chatted about the page and NP had a go at a capital M. Then she told me I had to do the rest. I wasn't about to start filling in the book for her, how would she learn anything from that?

I decided that the situation here was about control. She was trying to gain a little power in a situation where she felt unsure and inadequate. I felt I needed to give her a way of having power without confirming her belief that she wasn't good enough to do it (which is what I thought would happen if I filled all the letters in perfectly for her).

So I decided to have a tantrum. I huffed and grumbled that I was rubbish and I couldn't do it. I said "I can't!" I pretended to cry about it. I said she had to help me do it.

With a tiny smirk, she filled in the first letter, free handed. I looked at her, wide-eyed, and said "You wrote a 'mm'" Not praising, just a statement.

This game continued until all the letters were filled: she would tell me to do it, I would have a little tantrum, and then she would cheekily fill it in herself. She finished the whole page independently.

Now, they weren't perfect, and she didn't mind, we'd had a fun game and she'd managed to do it all.

Playful Parenting and self-reflection are things I'm really keen to share with other parents because it's so easy to fall into the trap of only ever treating your kid 'one way.' We tend to speak to NP in quite a mature manner, having conversations and reasoning with her about behaviour or routine. This works OK if she can see the point of what we're saying. However, sometimes she gets into this state of mind where she wants to 'play up,' causing escalating irritation and eventual arguments that negate the whole point of what we were trying to achieve at the time.

'Playing up' normally happens when one of the Onions clan (myself or Mr O) is trying to 'teach.' Be it writing, drawing, cooking or how to use something, NP gets frustrated, we get frustrated, she giggles in our faces and we get annoyed. NOT the best way of inspiring self-directed learning, huh? On many occasions we didn't adapt our approach, we just kept forcing our way upon her, to little success (see where the self-reflection comes in?) So, in the future, instead of seeing it as 'playing up' I'm going to think more about 'playing,' period.

Monday, 16 May 2011

A day in our life

I decided the best way to kick off our Home Educating journey would be to join the Patch of Puddles "A Typical Home Ed Day in Photos" carnival!

Now, you might notice I don't do a lot of photo blogging, so forgive me if this goes slightly wrong, I have no idea what I'm doing :)

Today had NP and me pottering about the house, buying new shoes, having lunch out and going to Stay and Play (a group for 0 - 5's). Bit of an expensive day all in all, but good times were had (apart from usual grumbles about walking too much).

We started the day with some Jolly Phonics songs over breakfast, with 'clicking castanets' resulting in a quick percussion session:

Mommy had to do 'a a ants on my arm' too:

Daddy gave us a book about Greek Mythology last night so we read about Cerberus and Hades:
Getting the percussion instruments out of the cupboard reminded us about the Timmy Time Pop Up game we keep in there, so we had a few goes with that:
After a quick drink we got our snack and worked some more on our new sound with a Jolly Phonics worksheet:
Bit of our favourite background music (and a promise of watching some of the film later):
Some workbooks seemed like a good idea:
We didn't get any photos in the shoe shop but we had a lovely lunch then made our way to Stay and Play where we had some messy fun:
After a lovely (and exhausting!) walk home:
we settled down to watch Bilbo:

Then I cooked dinner, Daddy came home and we ate and had cuddles!

Today was definitely a 'busy' day. We don't always work on phonics every day, but I do try to introduce a new sound each week. NP started Jolly Phonics at the failed nursery and ate it up, so we decided to carry on at home. Normally we spend a lot of time just hanging out, playing games, watching TV or going to the park or library. I don't really believe NP needs much 'educating' at this age, but I take advantage of the opportunities. For about 6 weeks I've left the phonics things lying on the table for her to pick up at her will, some days she has a go, some days she doesn't. Today was a day when she felt comfortable and interested enough to have a go.

Phew, I hope that was enlightening or at least un-boring! I can't guarantee whether my future posts will or will not be like this one, like I said, this is new territory for me. Feedback always appreciated :)

Click on the house picture to see more Carnival entries!

Friday, 6 May 2011

More on education

Please excuse me whilst I work through some sh*t here, I'm slowly figuring out my relationship to school and my current feelings towards it for my daughter. If you were coming here for the feminism and analysis, I'm sorry, very little is appealing to my argumentative side these days, I think most of my passion is being channelled into my little one and her situation.

Expect reflective essays and personal history in future posts. I'm sure there will be some ranting. There usually is :)