Saturday, 13 August 2011

Summer Reading Challenge

Children are often liable to take you by surprise, aren't they? 

At the moment, we aren't using any kind of structured learning but we are doing lots of reading and taking advantage of every opportunity. In this environment, over past month, my little one has discovered something awesome.

The glee on her little face when she takes a book off me and says, "Now I'll read it to you mommy," eek! It still makes me grin.

She uses a number of techniques to help her read the story, but I don't think it involves the writing at all. It reminds me of the wordless books that I think form level one of The Oxford Reading Tree. It has also set off a chain reaction in my head of Awesome Things We Can Do Now.

So, how does she do it? 

Firstly, she chooses books that she knows well and recalls the exact words from memory, she uses inflection she's heard from us.
Then she looks at the pictures to jog her memory.
If she can't remember the exact words she sometimes gets frustrated, but she has recently tried substituting similar words (and received a lot of praise for thinking of that idea!)

She has also recalled and re-told the story of Peter Rabbit for me, without the book, in order to create our own little version of the story in a mini-book (thank you, zine-making obsession, I knew it would get me somewhere, even if I never made one of my own!)

This week, she used her new skills to finish her first book in the library Circus Stars challenge.

I'm so excited to see what happens next in our reading journey and I'll be updating the fun reading stuff we get up to on the way :)

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

School, Socialising and Being Different

OK, I need to talk about school.

I'm not sure where this will lead. You know how hindsight is, it makes you feel much more important and self-righteous than you ever probably were; adult brains do love to rationalise past actions. It's important though. It's important in the context of why I want to Home Educate and why I don't agree that school is necessary for all children. Yet, please, don't for a moment assume that this encapsulates everything about my approach to HE, it does have an influence, but this is more a reactionary post than a personal doctrine - it needs to get out there, even if said influence is minimal.

It's about being 'social'.

Because school isn't a social experience for everyone. People ALWAYS have 'socialisation' in the baggage of worries they bring to any conversation about Home Ed. I won't repeat what other people have to say about it, you can find extensive information if you bother to use Google.

Anyway, anecdote time. I can't say I 'suffered' at school, I was offered plenty of help, I didn't receive any serious bullying, I didn't perform badly. But a lot of the time, I didn't go.

It's not something that was ever addressed successfully. My only perception of it now is that I didn't want to be there. Over time it became easier and easier not to be there. Every time I managed to maintain the work,   I proved myself right. I remember sitting in lessons thinking other people were stupid. I remember sitting in lessons fuming angry for no reason. I remember feeling so f*cking apathetic about it all.

I probably thought I knew best, but I don't remember thinking that thought. 

Anyway, what do you know? I, the girl whose high school attendance was often barely more than 60%, completed a degree at a Russell Group Uni with 1st class honours. Few people thought I would. Some voiced their fears, some emanated them without words (though I'd count my two 6th Form history teachers and my Mr Onions among the few who DID think I could do it).

And the school? Well, they accommodated me. Can you believe it? At a time when parents were being fined for truancy, the school let me do it. Because I was still achieving.

Well, what does all that tell you about school? I'm not sure. 

Sometimes I feel like I took the resources they offered and taught myself, but that's pretty arrogant, and inaccurate. Sometimes I feel like I had such a strong desire to be alone that perhaps I dealt with it in the only way available to me. Sometimes I feel like I was simply too self-absorbed and obstinate.

But besides all this educational rubbish there is one thing I do know: school, itself, didn't teach me to be sociable.

My friends taught me to be sociable. The school environment didn't facilitate socialising: it was an opportunity to meet people, but it wasn't the place to develop meaningful relationships. That part happened outside of school hours, with the people I had found. I didn't WANT to see people at school, I wanted to avoid them.

As a teenager, so many other things were important in my life, but school was just there. I never thought I was going to fail, I just wasn't sure when I was going to get around to it. I guess I was like many teenagers: if you ask them they'll tell you that school gets in the way of socialising.

Ahem. I know that all this secondary school stuff isn't relevant to my 4-year-old's education, who knows, perhaps she'll go there one day herself. Until then, however, no-one is going to convince me that school is a better social experience for her. She can get social interaction with different people every day of the week if she wants it, or stay at home with me if she wants to be alone. Her need for interaction is important to her and she will damn well tell me when she wants to go somewhere. And I will listen and adapt. Because I can, because it's important, and because it's my duty.