Monday, 16 February 2009

Stuff we've made

So, first the crafts. Today we have made treasure maps (aged with tea-bags, not that you can see that very well in the photos). This one was my son's:

And this one is my daughter's:

And a couple of days ago we made Mr Men biscuits with a set of cutters which used to be mine when I was a child and that my mum recently found in a kitchen cuoboard clear-out and brought over. I was quite impressed at how well they came out, but didn't take the 1970s instructions to paint them with vast amounts of food colouring. Mr Sneeze was a bugger to get out without breaking his legs, and my daughter observed that this was probably why there wasn't a Mr Tall cutter. I had to agree.

But this is my question. Do other people find this 'fits and starts' pattern to home ed life? It feels like we do several 'activities' or special craft projects, or workbooks within one or 2 days and then nothing but lego, or playing Spiderman, or listening to audio books, or making huge messes (I mean picnics for their toys out of tissue paper, of course!) for several weeks until I start to worry that we're 'not doing anything' and instigate some more activities and then the whole thing starts all over again.
I mean, obviously I offer ideas and stuff if they can't occupy themselves and we read together every day and often go out to groups and stuff, but I don't want to get in their way when they're obviously flowing in the activities they're planning and carrying out for themselves. Is there an ideal balance? Obviously, they're still quite young, but my daughter's 6th birthday tomorrow is making me wonder if I should be *doing* more in some way?
I was reading an argu... I mean intelligent discussion on one of the HE yahoo lists this morning in which the merits or otherwise of autonomous HE were once again bandied back and forth. And I'm always very aware that true autonomous HE doesn't consist of just leaving your kids to get on with it, but actually requires offering opportunities and ideas and facilitating well when one sticks. We've never even been fully autonomous anyway. I'm not sure what I'm asking really. Any thoughts?


Jax said...

I believe that children learn in bursts anyway, and that following that along is a perfectly reasonable way of progressing. If you feel that there are things that they need to know about slotting them into your day is unlikely to do much harm (imho anyway) and they'll get around to all sorts of things if you let them.

This type of learning is recognised in some alternative systems such as Montessori as well, where it is not uncommon for a child to focus pretty much exclusively on one area or activity for quite some time - it's then called a sensitive period, and the directresses are trained to recognise and support them. It's one of the things I hate most about the education system in this country, that education is chopped up into sessions shorter than an hour in many cases.

Carolyn said...

Sounds just like how things go here...periods of long inactivity by bursts of creativity or such like. It is especially hard with the 4 boys because sometimes it really seems like it is ALL or nothing!!
Why can't they take turns in needing my attention or input?!!! Why do they all suddenly want me at once? And why does it always seem that it is hardest to fulfill my oldest's desires?!
I think that this is definitely the most difficult part of HE.
I always try to remember back to my previous life as LSA/TA and the periods of inactivity at school....queueing for lunch, lining up in the playground, waiting for everyone to be quiet, school play rehearsals, when you are only part of the crowd (hours and hours are wasted in this way!!) and waiting fo rothers to finish befor eth ewhole class can do something else or on the other extreme...watching the clock hands!!! Although I guess the last one is maths to some extent!!!
So relax, and sometimes it is good to be a dead fish!!!? lol

Joxy said...

I think sometimes we parents can get a bit stuck in a method.. we are purely attachment parenting, purely automonous, purely child led, purely authoritarian etc etc.

All the methods have their pros and cons. I think it is perfectly possbily to have a basic philosphy, for instance, attachment parenting as a basis and then pick and choose from other methods/ideas.

I don't hold with the idea that I will be irrevocably harming my child's ability to learn if I try to guide him.. heck even teach him sometimes; it just has to be respectful and not forced. (IMO)

I do strongly believe in trusting yourself; you know yourself and your family best and you know what works for you all as a family. Methods etc are by their nature generic; it is up to us as parents to pull those methods into a personal parenting and educating philosophy that works for us and our children.. and also be open to reviewing and adapting as needs and abilities change and grow.


arwen_tiw said...

Sounds just like my house too. The girls, small as they are, can have a week of being very self-contained and mostly just messing around, but by the end of it if I'm not yet suggesting projects they start asking for them or getting generally antsy!