Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Playing to Learn?

One of my nieces sent me this presentation by Maria Andersen. It's quite long, but interesting. And it has some nice webpages to explore...

Thanks H.!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Thuisonderwijs goed alternatief voor school

Good article (in Dutch) about homeschooling as a good alternative for schools (97 parents want to homeschool their children after the Islamic College in Amsterdam will be forced to close; a big 'homeschool' hype at the moment in Holland).

In Nederland bestaat ten onrechte een negatief beeld van thuisonderwijs, vindt drs. Elly Stouten. Kinderen die thuis les krijgen zijn doorgaans net zo goed als of beter af dan kinderen die naar school gaan.

Thuisonderwijs is de laatste tijd in het nieuws. Begin deze maand hebben 97 ouders van leerlingen van het Islamitisch College Amsterdam bij de gemeente aangegeven dat ze hun kinderen volgend schooljaar thuis les willen geven. Het college moet namelijk na de zomer de deuren sluiten en de leerplichtwet biedt de mogelijkheid tot thuisonderwijs als er binnen redelijke afstand geen school van de gewenste richting aanwezig is.

Read more here.

Een nieuw blog voor Islamitisch thuisonderwijs vind je hier.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Saturday, February 12, 2011

How we do it; strewing part 1

Lydia asked me how we 'do it', homeschooling and "Alison" asked me to describe our day(s)...

First of all, our 'week', roughly.

Monday - at home (most Mondays) or group meeting with the most local HE group
Tuesday - helping out at a friends house,  boys play with the boys there
Wednesday - Christian HE group meeting, or if I think it's something the boys won't be interested in, we stay at home
Thursday - swimming in the morning
Friday - at home or sometimes HE meeting with the history/natural history/photography group
Sat/Sun - Job is off and we relax at home and we try to do one family outdoor thing (like Woodlands (leisure park) or a Kids am movie in Exeter for 1£ pp or swimming, or.....and church on Sunday morning.

And we do impromptu things during the week, like visiting friends, going to an indoor play area, the Zoo etc. Sometimes we have guests. Sometimes Job goes out, or I have a Mom's Night Out.

Sometimes we have four days on the road or with friends, sometimes two, like this week.

When we are at home, I think we do things that all families do when they are at home: reading, playing, watching a movie (or two, or three.....or the same one ten times ;)), baking, painting, building, spending time in the garden......

About the 'academics'....

There have been times that I've tried to make Adam do 'school'work. I've been writing about that before, but can't find that. Sometimes that lasted for a couple of days, sometimes it lasted for a couple of weeks. The reason why I quit, was because it made him VERY unhappy, even depressed. And he literally got allergic reactions from it. It didn't work and I had to remind myself of why we decided to homeschool....duh! Not to make him unhappy, but to make sure learning is fun and to do it in the way that suits him most.

So, what suits him most?

The first example that he could learn without me teaching him, was (besides learning how to eat, walk, talk, dress himself, laugh, you name it :))) reading. I tried to teach him, but it didn't work (like I said before), so I quit. And within a couple of months, he was able to read. Fluently.

The second example is learning English. I hadn't learnt my lesson clearly and I bought a curriculum for the boys when we moved to the UK. We did one lesson (Boaz maybe three) and I could just see it didn't work. So I let them go and provided helpful tools; not to force them, but in case they wanted or needed them.

They watched CBeebies a lot, they played online games on the Cbeebies website, they really liked Muzzy, I put English subtitles on as the default on our TV, they played and talked with friends who could only talk English, and started reading English books and game manuals (!!) (Adam). They didn't want to be read to (by me) in English. And they are learning! Because they want to and are interested. Adam reads almost as well in English as in Dutch now. His English is improving every day. He can have conversations in English, he can express himself in English. Boaz and Adam talk in English with each other when they're doing an English game or watching something. They even start talking in English to me, when they forget to switch off ;).
Of course (?), they aren't fluent yet, and they still have a Dutch accent (Levi has an interesting accent when he talks in Dutch by the way...), but it's amazing how much they have learnt already, I'm so proud of them!!

And it's the same for other things. They won't always know EVERYTHING about a subject (like bugs, or trains, or the solar system), but because they're interested, they will dive into it, and remember (especially Adam, who has an amazing memory!). There are weeks that he's reading and watching Star Wars, or Lord of the Rings, or The Fresh Prince of Bel Air (lol, that was a couple of weeks ago) every minute in a day that he can. Sometimes that lasts for weeks (or even months), sometimes 'only' one day.
There are days of playing with the lego the entire day, or reading Donald Duck the whole day, or playing Lego Universe online (another hit!). There are days of playing with the playmobil, painting, cutting paper, dressing up like warriors.

So because they're rather 'unteachable' (in the schoolish way), I make sure I have interesting things lying around and we visit interesting places and meet interesting people. That's something I've always tried to do, and I know there are a lot of parents who do the same, but since I've decided that I'm not going to try to do the workbooks anymore (unless they want me to), I try to put even more effort in making sure I've got interesting things for them. Learning is fun!

I try to facilitate their wants and needs. To think of things they might like. But if they don't like it, they can leave it, because I don't force it on them....

Sometimes I just start something myself, and they will join in. Sometimes one of the kids, sometimes two, sometimes all three of them. Sometimes I leave a puzzle or a marble run on the table, in the box/basket, sometimes I will set it up or start and they might be interested.....


I've taken pictures in our dining room (which we don't use as a dining room, unless there are a lot of people). It's a perfect place to sort of permanently strew things. The room looks different every week, but you get an idea of what kind of things you can strew. I could do an other room next time, if you're interested (yes, strewing happens in every room in our house ;))...

Some people ask me: but how do you make sure or know they know what they should know. I don't think they *should* know things now. We're not in the school system, they've got a long time to learn the things they want or need to learn. They know more than they *would be supposed* to know (in school) in some area's and less in other area's. Which is fine, I can say the same about myself. I graduated from high school with 7 subjects: History, Biology, Latin, French, Dutch, English and Music. I have forgotten most of the science and economic stuff I had to endure the first four years and I have even forgotten A LOT of the things I had to learn in order to pass my exams.

After highschool and my break year and a study of which I only finished the first year, I went to university. I wanted to help children who have learning difficulties. I hadn't done Maths exams in highschool, so I had to get that, before I could finish my first year at university. I bought the book and the workbook, didn't take lessons, had to start from the beginning, because even with four years of Maths, it became clear I hadn't understood most of it. I taught myself and passed the exam, even after I had passed two of my statistics tests (the main reason for having to pass the Maths exam).

Even formal tests don't guarantee that something sticks. I'm the living proof! And now that I am free to learn anything I want, I feel that I've learnt more than in my 20 years of formal education.
Going to school doesn't guarantee nice handwriting or knowing the times tables. I don't say it doesn't come in handy, to know them, but it isn't necessary to be able to learn what you want to learn. Because IF (or when) you need it, I'm sure you will and can. I'm (again) the living proof! And so are J. and J. and L. (to sort of name some of the people who *lack* something that schools think is necessary).

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Our origami champion

In December 2010 I bought an origami calendar after a succesful art workshop and recommendation from  a friend. It was supposed to be for me, but in the beginning of February, I still had 365 days to go.
And then Job found it (I left it where anyone could see it and I thought that one of the boys might like it). And immediately he completed one month! And he's good at it!





Monday, February 07, 2011


Last week, we received a letter from Compassion. I had asked them if they could find us an other sponsor child. So I was very excited to find out who it was! I chose not to choose myself. That's something I would find hard to do; so many kids that have been waiting for a sponsor for a long time....I'd rather let someone else pick and trust it's the child that we're 'supposed' to sponsor.

It's Deborah from Uganda. A nice match with our other sponsor child Debika.
Debika and Deborah :).

I'm hoping that we can build up some kind of relationship with her. It's not only the money and the prayers; it's the possibility of writing and encouraging each other, too. And knowing how their lives are enriched by being part of a Compassion program.

It's not just us, blessing the girls, but they are blessing us as well.

I've been writing about Compassion, recently. Feel free (again) to have a look at the websites and think about sponsoring a child yourself! I know of at least one other family that did so, after reading my previous post about Compassion. I'd love to hear from more people who are planning to! Or from people who already have a sponsor child!

Friday, February 04, 2011

Writer's block

Yes, I'm still here. And doing fine (not too bad, as they say here ;)). Thanks for all that have been asking :).

After removing (because it didn't feel 'safe') my last post about our adventure in Haldon Forest, I just didn't know how to get started again.

This blog is mainly for my own documentation; for the kids maybe, when they are older and interested in what we did, all these years. It's also for friends and family. And for other homeschoolers/unschoolers, or people interested in homeschooling.

I've been thinking of going undercover, by putting a password on my blog. I want to be open (nothing to hide), but maybe don't always say what I want to say, because of the openness.

Anyway. I haven't decided yet and once I'm on the roll, I might just be blogging again every day.
I was thinking of doing a series, like 'I'm grateful for'....or ....ermm....any ideas? 

Will be back tomorrow!