Friday, 16 December 2016

Some thoughts on re-integration ... one term in

Today my eldest son will finish his first term at our local engineering academy. He decided to go in to Year 10 in September to gain qualifications, having been educated 'otherwise' for 7 years. He missed 7 years of being in school, which you might expect to be detrimental to his education. So, it is interesting to observe ...

1) That he is so self-motivated that he has insisted we buy text books for him so that he can study at home and go in prepared for each lesson;
2) That he arrives in class having pre-read that lesson's material and ready to ask questions;
3)That he is the only Year 10 student to be on the F1 enrichment team, and has been put in charge of design;
4) That he has been elected head boy;
5) That despite not having been very keen on reading or writing throughout his years at home, he finds he is actually not too bad at English (towards the top of his class) and that, as he studies the terminology needed to do well in the exam, his scores are rising rapidly;
6) That he is leading his class in the sciences and is doing well in maths, too;
7) That he finds he is able to draw better than his peers, useful for design, and is excelling at CAD;
8) That he is well able to handle some of the material at A-Level standard, and
9) That he has been given special privileges to use the engineering equipment because he has proven himself competent and responsible;
And 10) That his teachers are mildly baffled by the fact that he hasn't been in school and are not really sure what to do with him;

For all the prejudices against it, home education can produce young people who are intrinsically motivated learners, who know how to learn for themselves, who are articulate and able to communicate with adults and other students, who have leadership qualities and the skills they need to be successful in the world of work. I said to him, "Everyone must wonder what happened to you" and he replied, "It is not what happened to me. I am the natural one who was left alone to learn. What on earth has happened to everyone else?"

Another observation ... He has always loved audio books, and we have always enjoyed family read-alouds. He goes off in the morning with headphones on now listening to his assigned English text on audio. His English teacher told him audio isn't so good, he needs to read the book. But he questions this. And when it finally comes to his turn to read aloud in class, the teacher is surprised at his expression and ability to read, as though not having been to school - and not being an avid reader - he wouldn't be very good at this. My son observes that audio books are so useful for hearing how the story is supposed to sound. Stories are made to be told. He has listened to and heard the story read, so he is able to read it with expression and to understand it. Why is this approach considered to be inferior?

Emergent Writing

Until very recently, my four-year-old has not shown much interest in putting pen to paper. Other skills have taken priority for him ... Physical skills, and verbal skills. He hasn't really been interested in drawing, let along writing. But in recent weeks, I have noticed he is drawing more ... Figures are beginning to take shape on paper, and drawings have meaning and tell stories. He has begun to leave me 'notes' around the house consisting of patterns on paper, and 'maps' which direct me to 'treasure' ... Again, these consist of wiggly lines, zigzags and patterns. He has some interest in letter sounds - mostly in context, for example playing scrabble with his grandparents. They help him to form the words and then he remembers what they say on the board. His knowledge of letter sounds is pretty good now. He spots letters he knows, especially his initial and the initials of other members of the family.

If he were in school, he would be in reception now - and learning to write ... but at home, there is no rush. We can take our time and allow him to develop his skills in this area at his own pace trusting that, with support and encouragement, as he learns to make sense of the world, he will learn the skills he needs to read and write.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Fascinating Ice

These beautiful clear, crisp days have inspired in my younger boys a fascination with ice. We have loved looking at the patterns in the crystals, so evocative of plants. Try these YouTube vidoes to learn more and to instill a sense of awe and wonder ... Or use as an introduction to talking about fractals. Remember the science of pattern?


The Secret Life of Ice