One of the reasons I decided to de-register my eldest son from school was that this creative, innovative boy who was always so full of ideas, always drawing out his inventions and machines, had stopped finishing anything. In fact, he had stopped even starting anything because, he said, it wouldn't be good enough. This was leading to quite stressful interactions - especially over homework. I had become aware that there was quite a strong emphasis in his class on presentation and handwriting and that this was causing him some anxiety.
We have been home educating now for almost 6 months, and I have laid off reading and writing completely to remove the pressure and to try and get the boys to relax. I have a confidence that, in time, they will come to these skills themselves and that their enthusiasm will be greater because it will come from their own interest and need. I read with the boys every day. We have just started the Narnia series, and we plan to make a folder each in which they can respond artistically with drawings, character studies, maps etc. I also plan to set up their MP3 players or computers so that they can record their story ideas orally without the pressure to write.
I have observed my older two boys reading spontaneously, silently and independently things which are of interest to them - far more difficult texts that they were being given at school - but their own choices. I have observed this quietly and without comment, and it remains my belief that such reading will continue and increase.
I have also been really thrilled this week to see my eldest son finishing things! He has begun to set himself targets and to complete his projects, something I was afraid he would never do again. He has his own motivations .... He has recently started to watch 'Blue Peter' and swiftly caught on to the fact that there were badges to be earned! He set about earning a blue one and, having done that, is now determined to earn himself a silver one!