Friday, 29 April 2011
Thursday, 28 April 2011
Wednesday, 27 April 2011
Tuesday, 26 April 2011
Monday, 25 April 2011
Sunday, 24 April 2011
One big thing is that the smalls don't divide life up into subject areas e.g maths, art, geography. These are very school based distinctions, they have no idea about timetabling and I can see that they are very cross circular in their approach. On one LEA visit for example I was asked if we had covered ranking. What is ranking? I asked. "It is when objects are placed in size order" came the reply. "Oh, S has been doing that with toys since she could sit up."
My impression of teaching and schools in the UK is that you are signing up for a lottery based roller coaster in which you might have a fabulous form tutor one year and, at best, a personality clash the next year with very little opportunity to change anything. What I love about home ed is that we are in control and in charge. We haven't handed over the reigns. If we hire a tutor and they are not right for us we can replace them with no difficulties.
And I have seen from friends with children at Private School that handing over north of £10k per annum does not insulate you. One friend delayed her son starting school until the very last opportunity as she felt he was not ready. She found a school with small class size of around 8 children and a very gentle ethos where yoga was on the curriculum for example but one term in a new head comes and, bam, the school is as competitive as a formula one racetrack and opting into all the SATS it had previously sidelined in favour of a more holistic approach.
There is much choice at pre-school level. Even a rural village might have a Montessori or a playschool in addition to a preschool and then there are several primaries but as you head up the egg timer choice narrows considerably with the bottle neck of secondary where outside the private sector there is no real choice at all. Especially in rural areas secondary schools are far too big, often north of 1000 pupils. Grouping together large numbers of people of the same birthday is not natural in my opinion and there are some hotbeds for bullying. In our own area there has even been the horror of two bullying related suicides at the same school.
At the next age band college and Uni offer more choice again but what seems crazy to me is that at a hormonal whirlpool vulnerable stage of your life you should be in the weakest part of the educational framework.
Many people say to me "Well of course you will send them at secondary level." and there is no doubt that sitting GCSEs (should they want to) privately is costly but the more I see the more the secondary offering seems worse than primary. The bus for our local secondary stops right outside our house everyday and if those children are the ambassadors for the school the picture is not good. At best they look tired, fed-up and miserable at worst they are dangerous, their language is shocking and their behavior inconsiderate. I am often a champion for teenagers and can see why many struggle so much add the early sexualisation and peer pressure into the mix and the recipe does not look wholesome. The definitive book on this is "Hold onto your kids, why parents need to matter more than peers."
Fundamentally politically I guess also I disagree with the idea of meritocracy and as I have blogged before it is simply, in my opinion, not true that if you work hard at school you will get a good job. The majority of top jobs in politics and finance for example are dominated by white, middle class, privately educated, men and whilst of course there are odd exceptions they are just that. Odd.
The questions end with "Different journeys, similar end states" which I think is a restatement of the "they all get there in the end" type summing up I hear all the time but there are two major points this draws out. Firstly: Where is there or the end state? Is it the Times 100 rich list or is is it prison? Or, as in the case of Jeffery Archer and Richard Branson, both? and the second really crucial point that shouts louder to me everyday is that life is the journey as I thunder towards forty I realise the destination is death and if you can't enjoy the journey then you are in trouble. For a child always factor in that days are weeks and weeks are months. If you are unhappy at school you can't see a way out unlike an adult who is unhappy at work who can, in theory, leave and look for a new job. I see childhood as too precious to squander as a process of delaying gratification into adulthood. I am aware that since 2004 and through a journey of home births and, the currently very unpopular, choice of breastfeeding we have a arrived in a place where not many others reside. We decide for example when to go on holiday and when you have those choices the idea that others have handed them over in exchange for very little in return seems rather odd. But then I am not in the business of persuading anyone, in fact some of our best advantages would evaporate if home ed became too popular!
Saturday, 23 April 2011
Friday, 22 April 2011
Thursday, 21 April 2011
Certainly, back in 2008/09 I "taught" Big Small to read, she did ask and was very keen but none the less I taught her and after each session of reading we had a "treat." She started the Ladybird Peter & Jane key words reading scheme shortly after her 4th birthday and by 4 1/2 was, what is know in the jargon, as a independent reader.
That was two years ago now when she was assessed as having a reading age of 13. Her reading defines her in many ways and she reads for at least 3 hours most days, often several books at a time! It frees her too, enabling her to use the computer and read information signs for example.
But now Middle Small is four, and although developmentally very different to his big sister he too was keen to learn to read but his learning to read has rather stalled. He reached the end of book 4 in the Peter and Jane scheme some weeks ago now and has since lost interest. Not even the idea of a treat after a reading session inspires him. He is clearly not very reward driven. It certainly didn't work with toilet training, there development readiness was the only solution. I have blogged about Peter & Jane before, at book four the font size decreases dramatically and, the number of words on the page also increases very significantly.
Luckily for Middle Small we are much more relaxed about home educating than we were first time around. Living a non-consensual life can put a person under a huge amount of pressure to perform and many home edders speak of how they are judged if their child is not seen to be ahead of where they would be in school and when they are ahead they are then in turn accused of "hot-housing" - No, you can't win.
Many unschoolers believe that you learn by doing and that simply by reading to your child they will learn to read, almost by osmosis. This takes a huge amount of confidence to relax and wait for the process, especially as reading difficulties that are not detected til the age of 9 or 10 seem much harder to overcome.
As an alternative we have the DK Star Wars reading scheme out of the library at the moment and are still using the magnetic word games at home. For as much as I read about the unschooliong philosophy of not limiting food or TV I guess I am not confident enough to just sit back and let reading happen because I see how reading has liberated my firstborn.
Just when you think you have the hang of this home ed lark a completely different child comes along!