Thursday, February 02, 2012

End of December & January

I've decided that I don't have a lot of time to blog anymore. I want to keep the blog going though, because it's a brilliant way of documenting what we are doing.

I'd like to tell a little bit more about the changes in our HE (home education) style. I've answered quite a lot of questions about it IRL or via email, but I haven't talked to 'everyone' yet.

I started off HEing (with workbooks) when Adam was around 6yo. Until then, I didn't think it was necessary (and it's the same for Levi (4) now, unless he wants to join in) and I used workbooks for maths and for writing. I tried to teach him how to read, but that didn't work. When I let go, he went from almost not reading anything to (I guess) the level that kids have, leaving primary school, within a few weeks/months. 

When he started having trouble (allergic like reactions) doing the workbooks, I decided it wasn't worth it. He was actually fine without them.

Around the time we moved to the UK, Adam was 8+ and I had an other go at the workbooks. It was obvious that it didn't work, so I decided, after reading lots about unschooling, to give it the 'right' try and unschool together with the boys.

It was really great. We didn't have a 'learning' scedule, so for the last two years, we've been able to go to a lot (!) of places, especially in Devon, meet a lot (!) of people, make friends, explore interests, enjoy our life here. It might be a bit too early to call it 'looking back', but I think unschooling was the best thing we could have done here. Even now we are doing things differently, I don't regret how we did it.

At the end of this summer, there was a change. A lot of different things happened. One of these things was the 'schooling' of the boys. It started off with me not being content with their screen obsession. Going back through my blog, I'm sure I'll find that we did loads of different things, but whenever the boys had the choice (and they (almost) always had, when we were at home), they would choose to go on the play station or the computer. I don't mind the play station (well, it's not my kind of thing, to be honest, but I guess that is 'taste') and I don't mind the computer, but there are so many other things that can be done! 

One of the other things was my decreasing confidence in unschooling. And I also discovered that there were actually things that I would like them to do/learn, that they wouldn't choose to do. And I'm talking about the basic things here, writing, maths, spelling etcetera. I don't have the guts to (maybe) wait until they are 16 and discover they can't do it and have to figure out where they need to be (for further education) at that point. I also don't want them to feel embarrassed  in front of their peers/friends who go to school. It's not that, by unschooling, the boys haven't developed. Not at all. It's just the practical things like writing, or something you have to do (if you're not a natural) like spelling, or the tricks and know-hows of solving a maths problem). I know peer pressure (for me or for the boys) shouldn't be a reason, but it's there and I can't ignore it. It's definitely not the biggest reason.

Soooo... came the workbooks


Levi joins in when he wants to

They don't always like it, but I'm still quite relaxed, they work at their own pace and level and the longer we do it, the better it goes. Adam has discovered that writing isn't that bad after all. The 'allergic reactions' are gone. Having Boaz joined in, might be of some help too.

We've almost finished The Story of the World audiobooks. Job, Adam and I love it. I've now bought the activity book and we're going to start with the first volume (again) soon and try to integrate some fun activities to remember the stories better (at least, that counts for me, Adam has got an amazing memory, but I think he will like talking about it and doing more stuff around the topics).

I've also tried to do more art stuff. Boaz has discovered that he likes to draw; he never showed any interest really. But he's on a roll now and developing quickly. We're doing Mona Brookes' drawing with children, helped by Donna Young :)


Making a model of the temple that Salomon built

The finished temple. I've also read a bit from the Graham Hannock's book 'The sign and the seal' to Adam, who was interested in the subject, about where the 'lost' ark might be now. Interesting stuff.

Nicked this idea from a friend. Definitely going to try this.

We also try to do one or more science expermiments in the weekend, when Job is home. I use Pinterest (let me know if you want an invite; that's quicker than signing up) to collect lots of ideas. It works better for me than adding bookmarks on my computer.

Making bouncy balls. We didn't have clear glue, should try this one again. The white one was ok, but the others didn't really work (didn't even want to become a ball!). Looking at what they were supposed to look like, makes me laugh ;).

We also did the lava lamp experiment. Nicked the picture, didn't take one of ours.

We did the M&M experiment. A yummy one. And not difficult. But the boys liked to see the different colours and the M's floating (and eating them!). Adam said the m&m's might have been a bit healthier after this experiment ;).

Do you see the M coming off?

A Saturday afternoon.

Since these are the last couple of months in the UK for us, we're making the most of it and trying to visit the places that we want to see before we leave.

A visit to Cheddar Gorge

A random trip to Dartmoor. Entering the park from a different angle.

We've also gone out with friends several times, this is Paignton (beach and cinema) 

Totally out of the order, but I've also missed a bit of the end of December, where I got to see my first Pantomime! I thought it was great!!

And a backstage tour.

We also had friends coming over for Christmas. Levi is decorating our pathetic, plastic, foldable, very small christmas tree, the evening before they arrive.

Playing together in 2011 ;)

Kid's Christmas party in church. I don't really get the Father Christmas thing, but it's funny to experience it while we're here.

Babysitting Seth

This is in church. Painting platters and chalices

Adam and I went to friends one evening to see Lisbee perform in their living room

January seems to be a month that we're at home quite a lot. The boys are almost never bored. Boaz en Levi are playing together a lot. They love building huts everywhere in the house and play in it.

Enjoying the views. So going to miss it!

This was January. A good month. By coincidence a sort of fresh start (I've started around November with our new approach, but it takes time to get there and really know what you're doing). Together with waiting for more information about Job's new job and for the plans to move back, it's also a bit tiring (besides exciting and getting used to it). I personally like the (more) structure in our lives (and keeping the unschooling bits that I really like and enjoy). I didn't think I would ever say this. It definitely works for me and for things like keeping the house (fairly) clean and (sort of) tidy as well.

Roll on February!! (with probably our last guests, 2 x family) 


Josh said...

Thanks, Mirjam. Goed om te lezen, en bedankt voor de uitgebreide uitleg.

baasbraal said...

Wat een mooi en helder verhaal. Ik denk dat dat Unschoolen ook op een gegeven moment verlaten moet worden met het klimmen van de jaren (van de kinderen dan hè?). Als kinderen ouder worden, is het misschien beter om wat meer structuur in het leren te brengen, wat meer lijn en om te kijken waar hiaten dreigen te ontstaan in basisvaardigheden. Het is gewoon belangrijk om goed in de gaten te houden wanneer je een beetje 'lost' dreigt te raken en dat heb je precies gedaan. Die scheikunde proefjes en die geschiedenis vind ik wel erg leuk hoor, evenals dat tekenen! Je zou willen dat ALLE kinderen zo onderwijs zouden krijgen.....

Lieke said...

yeah eindelijk weer een logje!!!!! Wat leuk om te lezen en de foto's te zien. vooral die zaterdagmiddag!!!! Wat doen jullie leuke dingen op het moment zeg... geniet nog maar even van die prachtige bezienswaardigheden, gelukkig (ook voor ons ;-) neem je je prachtige gezin weer met je mee ;-)

Owen, Mare, Emil, Arno en Nell said...

I know the feeling of just let go and eventualy start of again...

Happy Homework said...

Ha Mirjam, wat leuk, weer een bericht! Mooi om te lezen en te zien. Ik heb dat tekenboek hier ook liggen, maar heb er nog niet zoveel mee gedaan. En Story of the World klinkt ook goed! Wie weet als we wat verder zijn met Engels..

Angelique said...

Wat een helder, overzichtelijk 'denkblog', wat een uitleg en wat interessant al je beweegredenen. Fijn dat je nieuwe lijn jou/jullie bevalt; altijd goed om een ingeslagen weg te monitoren.

Succes met alles in elk geval en geniet van de laatste stukjes Engeland, echt prachtig als ik je foto's zie.


Eliz said...

Leuk te lezen! Dapper ook om een nieuwe benadering te kiezen. Succes met de integratie van unschoolen en 'de werkboekjes'.