Last night I read many posts from disgruntled parents who had children cramming for SATs exams. I also read that there were some schools that were opening on Sundays to prepare children. Hmmm. Preparing small children for exams many adults have taken, to prove a point, and cannot pass. Much the same would happen if I tried to take an exam in Spanish. Or in piano. It’s a language I don’t speak. And the English SATs test, paradoxically, is a language many of us don’t speak. Unless you have been taught to pass the test. Which makes the whole thing fairly pointless, especially when you’re 7, or 11. After last week’s self-doubt, where the ‘S’ word featured in my conversations and thoughts a great deal, I started this week reminding myself of what is great about home education. At 8am, we played our new board game. In depth and full of strategy, my 7 year old was stretching his mind while most kids were on the school run. When it transpired that Etienne was a bit stinky, P and E had a 9am bath. Indi was getting silly, so I despatched him to our room with a new Usborne book about Pompeii. 10 minutes later – engrossed. 20 minutes later – engrossed. He read the whole thing before the school day would have really started. Then to Tuppenny Barn in Southbourne.
A day of discussing sustainability, habitats and the essential jobs our insects do in the garden. Growing food. The boys cut their own kale and rocket in the grounds and made pesto in the kitchen in the barn. They pond dipped and found newts, tadpoles, boatmen and many larval stage creatures. They made simple bird feeders and paper seed pots. It was just divine. I heard children talk eloquently and with knowledge about the world around us. They were outside and learning. It was inspiring and refreshing. And though the boys haven’t written endless notes about the experience, or trained their brains with mathematical formulae today, I remind myself that the stimulus, the environment and the influences are what keep our thirst for learning present. There is plenty of time for academic rigour when the desire and the maturity for it is there. In the meantime, keeping them away from a failing system is for the best. I’m doing the right thing for them.