Friday, March 21, 2008


This year it's been a low key Ostara for various reasons, but we did get round to blowing and painting eggs, decorating polystyrene eggs for the festival tree, making hama bead eggs and chicks, felting beautiful little yellow chicks with real feathers. Voldemort took a fancy to some of the multi coloured fur we'd been "haircutting" to get the fibres for chick felting - he ran off with it into the garden and played with it for ages, bless him!
Feeling under pressure for "making Emily do too much", this week we tried a little experiment in doing things a different way. As in, Emily was left to her own devices and I was left to mine. Emily hadn't been very keen on the concept, pointing out before we even started that she rather likes the way we do things. But we did it anyway. We both hated it. Emily missed my interaction with her, I missed my interaction with her and Jon missed both of us being our normal selves.

Emily did do some interesting stuff - she made a chart about Victorian servants, did lots of colouring and scrapbooked a few pages of old photos, among lots of reading and playing and writing stories. All of which she could and would have done anyway, under our "old" system. She was just lonely doing it instead. I know there are plenty of people who successfully and happily "unschool" single children, but I've also discovered finally, for the umpteenth time, that it doesn't work for me or my daughter. Emily was less than impressed, as stated above. As for me, in theory, I had a whole week to get on with my own work and hobbies. Except that I didn't actually want to - I wanted to be involved with Emily. We home educate partly so that we don't miss our daughter growing up (among a trillion other reasons) - why on earth would I want to be off doing other stuff instead of being around her and sharing her love of learning and sense of fun? That's the problem, you see - that if I'm not actively engaged with Emily, I'm actively *not* engaged with Emily, because of our grown up work situation.

Perhaps it would work better if I didn't have a self-employed "job" to do at the same time. Since I do have a lot of work to do, though, I can't be "available and interested but not necessarily actively engaged" all day long, to facilitate unschooling, because when I have spare time I have to be doing something that brings money in. And that takes concentration, so once I've started doing that, I can't drop everything on the spur of the moment to go back to home educating Mum mode again for ten minutes, then back to work, and so on. I seem to be in a minority in not being able to make the unschooling model work, and I admire those who can and do make it work, but at least I know that we've tried it, on and off for several years least it doesn't any more leave me wondering whether I'm home educating the "wrong" way. I guess the more we experiment the more we come back to the fact that the way we do it now is the way that works for both Emily and we two parents.

All non home educators we meet seem to think that I must spend my days standing up lecturing Emily while she sits, meek and mild, and takes notes and puts her hand up and cries tears of boredom and frustration and asks please may she go to the toilet. I don't teach Emily anything, and I certainly don't lecture her. We work together. We find out about things together, we learn things together, we work on projects together; if she's doing some art, nine times out of ten I'll be doing something similar alongside her; if she's working on a map, I'll be sitting with her reading to her; if she's writing a summary of something, she'll be laughing and joking with me as I sit with her figuring out what we can tackle the following week. I like to be completely involved and she likes me to be completely involved. As a way of educating, I'm rather fond of it, but best of all, so is she :-))

Anyway, next week we're back to our "old" system with a slight twist. We've worked out a plan of half a dozen different things to "do" in each of history, geography, English, Latin, biology, art, craft and music; after we've done maths and spelling each morning, Emily will choose whatever takes her fancy from the list to do that day, in whatever order she likes. When that list is exhausted, we'll make a new one. I think that blends our need for structure with a need for freedom of choice and flexibility too, so I'm happy.

In other news this week, Jon had his endoscopy at the hospital on Monday; they took biopsy samples, so we'll have to wait and see. The doctor who performed it is considering Reiki training and apparently has taken meeting Jon and talking about it with him there as a sign that she should go ahead and get on with it, lol.

Yesterday Jacki and George came to visit us, ostensibly to pick up Jon's old car which we've sold to them; naturally they ended up staying several hours while Emily, Mei Lin and Jasmine did a fabulous fashion show with Emily's real and dressing up clothes.

I see that yesterday the BBC weather forecast for our nearest town was promising "heavy snow" on Easter Sunday. Today, it's promising "drizzle". Of course! We really do live in a weather bubble here. It's weird. Everywhere else in the country can be having snow storms, thunderstorms, torrential rain or gale force winds. Here, we have "a bit windy", "slightly chilly" and "overcast with drizzle". Not much chance of Emily's easter egg hunt taking place in the snow then. Grumble, grumble.

Must just add this picture of Emily wearing her best Severus "WHAT did you call me, Potter?" Snape attitude and expression during a pretend, lol :-)


Linda @ The Briar Patch said...

Love the pic of the cat! My black girly cat carries things off like that too, although its usually teddy bears and the like.

WRT structured HEing, you should do what works for your daughter and your family and not feel pushed into doing something you are not comfy with.

HelenHaricot said...

yah boo sucks to pple who would like to run your home ed. it is my mantra that we home ed in the way that suits us as a family at the present time. we might change, we might not, and we all have a voice.
because i work externally, when i am at home, i am v 'involved' my DH, who does 4 of the days, is less personally involved and more facilitative. the girls seem quite happy with our schizoid mix!