Wow – get me, two blogs in two days! This is because I’ve worked out that plenty of exercise in the morning leads to a sleep for Eti in the day – and I can speak my brains, briefly! So I think I’ll try and follow this method to ensure I can stay in communication with Emerald Lodge!
Over the last month or so I have tried to get a little organised. I have chosen to email my local education authority, and I now have a contact. They are ‘sending me some letters’ which I’m sure will be those horrid tomes of forms I have heard about, which of course are optional. I have a small desire to tow the line, as I’m not very good at confrontation, so no doubt I’ll fill them in anyway, if that means I might be left alone for a while before I get the inevitable home visit! At least middle boy Indi is above the radar now – for all the council knew I gave birth to him then trundled him about the world in a caravan, as he was never registered at a state school. I wish I had trundled him around the world in a caravan, but there’s always time for that, plus aeroplanes are a little quicker.
So – curriculum! I found the National Curriculum online, and discovered for Reception, well, there is no curriculum to speak of. It starts at Year 1. Reception falls within EYFS – Early Years Foundation Stage – so that is pre-school to Reception in this country. So really, the outcomes for his current school year (sorry, being really facetious here) are that he can put his hand up when he wishes to speak, and that he can get into line. Well, one out of two ain’t bad! But seriously, there are obviously some outcomes, and I am pleased and relieved to see that Indi is firmly falling into the year 1 outcomes for Maths and English, so, despite printing the relevant documents and filing them in his self-chosen folders for ‘Numeracy’, ‘Literacy’ and ‘Projects’, I will continue to help him work at the pace that suits him, and at the moment it seems he is working towards the next school year. By the way, his chosen folders have pictures of jellybeans and strawberries and cakes all over them. Hooray!
I have also been reading a book called ‘The Well-Trained Mind’ by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise. Another scary tome, but nonetheless an interesting standpoint which contradicts much of the other ‘child-led education’ books I have also studied regarding home education. The suggestion that Indi is in the ‘Parrot’ stage did make me laugh a little, as this seemed more than accurate. The very general viewpoint in this book is that I pour FACTS FACTS FACTS into Indi’s head continually, with much repetition, from dawn to dusk, rather like an educational radio talk show. I will be Reception Five Live, and no doubt we will be suffering with much radio interference, as Indi has a continual monologue himself. This means we will both be talking at one another, all day. Mmmmm – it’s Eti I feel sorry for. I felt more reassured when I got to the chapter regarding his year group (once I worked out what the US equivilant was – Kindergarten? First grade?) Luckily, she mentioned ages a great deal, and I was reassured with her sentiments on teaching a 5 year old. Something along the lines of ‘attention span of a gnat’ which I can concur with. The conclusion was that, this year, I should teach him to READ WELL. If he can read well, the world is his oyster, Other subjects are there, and can be explored, as no doubt Maths, Science, History and Geography will be, but if he can read, then that’s half the battle with the other subjects won. The author even suggested getting them to write before they were ready could easily switch a child off writing altogether, so I will take on some of this advice and do lots and lots of reading. We will read in the morning, we will look at books together, they will listen to me read out loud. I have already integrated this into the bedtime routine after the usual two picture story books, which I LOOOVE. I love it because I am reading a more challenging book (Paddington, the original book) to a two and five-year old, so that they are listening to tricky words and conjuring up the images of the bear in their head, and they love it because they get an extra five minutes before they have to go to sleep. The bedtime routine, dare I say, has improved as a consequence. Not sure if Darrell would agree!
The library will be a weekly visit, like it is at the moment for Eti and me, but with Indi, we will be selecting fiction and non-fiction, and books to help him with his self-chosen project. More on projects in my next post!