There are occasions in the life of a mother of a six year old book worm (who was assessed as reading at an age 13 level two years ago now) when you worry that your daughter might run out of suitable reading material. Not today.
PS The reason she doesn't look very smiley in the pictures is because I interupted valuable reading time taking these photos.
Poor E really does have a big bruise on his bum from the slide slip in Worthing on Monday.
I am focusing (on their behalf) on friends of their choosing rather than groups. So today they had their BFFs over, their Daddy One dropped them off and for the first hour or so I didn't see them! Origami, lego, angry birds, lego website, barbies, barbies at the art gallery, in the garden teaching O baby animal names........... Then they came to me for help to make spy novels and adventure stories. In some strange way 6 happy children seemed easier than my usual 3. Baby Small joined in painted and we started talking about finger prints and forensics and evidence and I just love being a part of the way their minds go..... When we can have 3 children over and not a single upset until an accidental slip 30 seconds before they leave I know things can be okay.
After the friends left E and I made the duplo pyramid you can see in the photos and another day in which I am confident they have covered everything they would have done at school and more comes to a close. But the bigger change is in me I think, I worry very little now about where they would be at if they were at school or how they would fit it at school.
S (6) doesn't always want to bounce around as much as E & O so she sat with me and designed her dream home, that she plans to live in alone, whilst they fired balls in jolly jumbos soft play. The Smalls have done: trampolining, pony rides (O changed his mind at the last minute) tractor rides, soft play, tree house fun.
Baby Small (2) fell asleep on the way home so we collected a new Star Wars library book (Star Pilot) for E plus E (4) and I even managed 20 minutes of one on one word game with the key words magnets.
This is the kind of day that reminds me that if I am still a full~time full~term home educator in 2027 I will not mind. it is amazing what a difference sunshine and a few decent nights sleep make. S stayed up with Grandma and I last night for a bit and watched an episode of the BBC Royal Palaces series. Once again she knocked us out with her historical knowledge.
Credit due to her, obviously, and to The Daddy One and The Grandma One who have been taking S & E swimming twice a week between them since the spring time. She has had no formal lessons, instruction or classes just lots of time. Apparently E is pretty close to independent swimming too. I think the holiday to Center Parcs really gave them a flavour for the fun you can have in the water.
We are checking the childhood milestone boxes this summer, swimming, loosing teeth, riding two-wheelers.
It was the proverbial 'one of those days' at the park. O had a great time and avoided the mud but for S and E it was a lot more tricky. E was magnetically drawn to the bigger boys again, most of whom are older than his sister and have little Patience for his younger years meanwhile the Smaller boys (I say smaller because they are not necessarily younger!) are looking to E to play. I chatted to him for a while and I said "You can be a pest to the bigger boys or the cool hero that the bigger boys are to you to them" and he played fabulously with them until he unfortunately fell off the slide.............he has a massive bruise on his bum :(
S was doing okay playing with a friend until another older friend turned up and they went off leaving S alone, shortly afterwards she got stuck at the top of the climbing frame for quite some time before she could attract my attention and was really distressed and upset.
Meantime the mother of the friend she really wanted to see who had been unable to come because her Daddy had gone to work with her baby brother's pushchair in the car texted to say "Call in" so we did.
S had a great time hairdressing the girl's world and drawing as did O playing Thomas Tank Engine with his new friend but without an obvious playmate E was a nightmare. We offered him films. iplayer, glitter pictures but all he wanted to do was make mischief.
So we came home since which time the three of them have been playing fabulously together leaving me sort of wondering what it is all about! I guess the big advantage of having a trio is that in any given day you see what it is like from both sides of the fence.
In Other News
Stayed up late last night and watched "Milk" about the life of the 1st openly gay politician in the US. Today, whilst playing mini figures with E, I was struck by how some of them seemed to be modeled on the 1970s characters in the film, probably because they are from that same time period. The most shocking thing about the whole film was how junk food was used as a defence in court and its effect on behaviour meant that a lesser crime was recorded. I never knew about the twinkie defence. It probably resonated with me because of the post birthday party sugar low we have experienced today.
The Daddy One's monthly Friday off today and our first Friday morning with our new home ed helper. A lovely local Mum of a home educated teenager has agreed to come and play once a week for a couple of hours, opening up options for one on one projects and maybe even 5 minutes for me. It was great this morning S did origami for around an hour. She made a Neko Cat, a Kami Cop Cup and a Paku-Paku muncher. I noticed when I was clearing away that one of the book's authors was only 13. S is inspired and is now making paper aeroplanes and flying them round the house.
E had an hour of lego fun whilst I played with O and unpacked a shopping delivery.
In Other News
There were 8 home ed families at Warnham Nature Reserve this morning and 7 at a 6th birthday party this afternoon. I hope this volume of friends stick with it (& us) through to the teenage years and beyond.
S was very overtired and hungry thanks to a late night and no breakfast and was being really over sensitive about E & O running off at the start of the walk but E was a dream boat being really kind to the younger boys. Why can't I spin all the plates at once? We did see: dragonflies, butterflies, various mushrooms and many other signs of Autumn on our walk.
We really like Warnham. The working beehive at the start and the harvest mice are popular and it is flat walk that only costs £1 for adults and free for children. The cafe is gorgeous.
We didn't manage to hook up with 7 of the families that came this morning. I was going to cancel when we were invited to a party but we have to ship out on a Thursday anyway to give our cleaner a chance and the weather has been so lovely......... I hear some of the other families have only just come home!
Then, after our picnic lunch, it was onto Goring for a birthday party on a lego theme. Check out those mini figure cakes. Everyone has been moaning about the changes on facebook but I figured change is inevitable and facebook is free - until today when it had failed to update to show me that the party venue had changed! All was not lost though and we found our way there.
The Smalls had a blast, and a lot of chocolate! I always worry how they will be with several of their friends in one setting but it worked out really well.
Our local South Downs Small School has just become an official exam centre meaning that home educated children who want to sit exams now can far more easily than before. But do all home educated teenagers sit exams? To the best of my knowledge our local group has only one family, out of the 130 in the group, doing A levels at home. To most of the home educated teens after 15 or so the lure of a technical college or Sixth Form college or even school seems strong. My view was once if you are sitting GCSEs as a private candidate to do A levels then why not just go straight to the As? and if you are doing A levels to do a degree why not approach your chosen course and see if they have ever admitted a home educated candidate before without any formal qualifications or alternatively do an open university course from home. In other words why try and replicate the school offering at home. Employers like diversity and in my experience home educated candidates have that in spades.
More and more I am reading about uncollege (in the UK the term would be the rather clunky ununiversity) and this book "The Education of Millionaries" and yesterday I read this about how IT managers say work experience is better than a degree and at the moment I like this view. It seems like a natural and logical conclusion of our stance at the moment.
I have been musing of this of late, not least because we live miles away from any such Further Education college facilities but also because the maths of human capital theory have changed and I wonder what the future holds.
Personally, ideologically, I am very drawn to the world of uncollege and like the idea of a very organic transition from home to work. There is much written on US sites about home educated teens who have progressed with no formal exams but this seems less so in the UK.
I have been reflecting on why.
Is the lure of free education from 16-19 too hard to resist against the high cost of sitting exams as a private candidate?
Do teens have some fundamental biological need to spread their wings that college and later university provides? At every age and stage there is pressure to send to school or institutionalised learning does it all just get too much after a decade or so at home?
Is exam success so tied up with life success in our culture that the uncollege prism is just too risky?
Perhaps it is a continuation of the "well, you'll send them at secondary level" attitude that I blogged about here. In the UK the school leaving age will be 18 when it comes time for my smalls to leave, with this in mind I find it hard to see the advantage that would be gained from early study.
Is academic success how we judge whether a home ed experiment was a success? Maybe outsiders do but I have repeatedly stated for us it is about the journey, the living everyday, and the happiness. Is your job the biggest contributor to your well-being? or is it your partner? your children? your hobbies?
It is our intention to be in it for the long haul but I am interested in the views of those with older children and employers.
Do we devalue the time spent as home educated by adding college on the end? and then I wonder if even thinking of marketing yourself to an employer is too 20th century and probably they will land up preferring instead to be self-employed.......
Our first port of call was The Hunterian Surgeon's Museum in Lincoln's Inn Fields. We hopped in a taxi but changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace plus queues to see the Royal Wedding Dress and an accident meant we abandoned our cab and walked, the driver said it would be quicker. S wondered how I knew the way and I told her I had a friend who lived at Lincoln's Inn and The Daddy One and I had been to some parties there. You are not allowed to take photographs inside so S is outside the building with a postcard of the skull of a 6 or 7 year old child held over her face. You can see how the adult teeth are pushing the milk teeth out of the way. This is exactly what is going on inside her head at the moment. We saw the skeleton of a giant (nearly 8 feet tall) all kinds of organs in jars and bones on display, a necklace of human teeth, ribs cages of people with rickets, skeletons of people who were very small, the pickled brains of geniuses that had been donated to medical science. In a way you could view the contents as a bit gory and certainly S didn't want to hang around to watch the films of the operations but that would be no justice to their contribution to the understanding of modern medicine that we have today. S really enjoyed it, the portraits on the staircase reminded her of Hogwarts she said. I read on the leaflet that prior to the 1920s The Royal College of Surgeons was an all male affair and that most female surgeons were self taught and gradually developed into competent surgeons. Regular readers will know that as well as great songs to title posts after I am always on the look out for autonomous learning anecdotes and non traditional career paths.
Next we headed to The Grant Museum of Zoology which again is free, this was our second destination because it does not open until 1pm. My best thing here was a jar of about 30 pickled moles! S liked the elephant skull and heart and the tortoises. We talked about how similar the skeletons of humans and apes are and how we evolved. Their website is excellent and lists upcoming events.
I had a third destination in mind but I could see we had already taken on board a fair amount so we headed into the West End to pick up a few bits for Grandma and a new sticker dolly dressing for the way home. It is London Fashion Week this week and S enjoyed spotting all the well dressed folk in town for the event.
If you are looking at biology, bones, skeletons etc I would recommend both places especially if you feel you have exhausted the well trodden Natural History Museum. Some of the amazing things we saw today will stay with me for a long time.