Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Home ed thoughts

I've been contemplating the nature of our home ed journey today, trying to decide what name might characterise our style. I suppose 'autonomous' is the closest, but it's not purely that as I do initiate things sometimes and also impose a little background structure as I find everything runs more smoothly and the kids are happier with that. My daughter, especially, has a great need to know what to expect.
When we first started on this path, I had thought about doing things with quite a lot more structure - of having a particular time of day where we sat down and did more formal educational things, but it doesn't seem to work, and so I am happy to let things go at their own pace a bit more. But I'm not sure where the line is drawn between facilitating, encouraging, and suggesting. My daughter is often reluctant to try something new as she hates not being able to do something and if she can't immediately master a skill she would often rather not do it. Would being truly autonomous mean that I drop it and trust that she'll come back to it later when she matures enough to see that some things are worth practising? Some people never learn that. Or do I push her gently to stick with it, knowing the joy and excitement she feels when she does master something she found difficult? I suppose it depends on the situation - I have reacted in both ways in the past.
I know some people call themselves 'semi-autonomous' and that others say there's no such thing, either you're autonomous or you're not. But does being child-led mean that you respond to their consciously stated wishes, or to their subconsciously expressed needs? Although I hate to say it, and I'll probably be shot for saying so - I do believe that being the parent does give me an extra dimension of knowledge and experience that my children do not have yet and therefore, dare I say it, sometimes I know best.
Home ed can throw up tricky decisions that are taken out of your hands if children go to school. Groups are something I've been thinking about recently. My daughter may be ready for something, but finding a suitable group is tricky. All the activities I've looked into seem to be very much based on putting on shows, taking exams or levels, or training for competitions. She's 5, can she not just do something for the sheer joy of learning a new skill? Plus they're so age-segregated. She and her brother are used to doing things together and he'd be upset if he couldn't join in too, and she she'd feel happier doing it with him there. They're a team.
We had such a bad day the other day that for a few hours I seriously contemplated sending my daughter to school. Later on, once she was in bed and I got a bit of perspective I realised that doing so as a 'punishment' was not the best reason for such a momentous decision. School, if it is chosen, should be a positive choice, not a last resort if you feel you're not coping. Also, as my husband kindly pointed out, it was a Saturday so she wouldn't have been at school anyway! Everyone has bad days and things have been fine since then, but I am still pondering introducing something new to the mix, either some more formal stuff on an ad hoc basis when the kids fancy it, or maybe a more formal activity or group if I can find something appropriate that the children want to do. There is a local HE ice-skating thing, but I'm not sure if I can make myself take a 3 year old and a 5 year old skating by myself. Oh well, just more to meditate on.


arwen_tiw said...

I don't want to shoot you down in flames, I want to agree wholeheartedly - and give you a gentle hug for caring so much that your children have the best opportunities, and questioning what path you ought to persue to support that. :)

Liz said...

Thank you, a bit of encouragement is just what is needed on a horrible grey day like today!