Friday, 23 November 2012

Idealistically...

What I would like to do every week with The Babe is:

1 Picnic in the park (with friends)
2 Go to the library
3 Bake something
4 Have a play bath together (not with friends)
5 Go swimming (with friends)

It is funny how this seems really like a small list - and yet I sometimes fail completely.

We also read lots of books and go riding on her new balance bike, do puzzles, play games, go shopping, do painting, draw pictures, dance, and play with play-dough. We occasionally go to art galleries or museums or for walks along the Mersey.

But still it feels like I don't do that much with her. I still feel like I spend a lot of time trying to keep her busy so I can get on with other things that need doing...like last night's dishes.  So how can I feel that we are so busy all of the time, and yet accomplish so little?

Oh yeah, there are other family members as well, plus the many Pilates classes I have to go to just to be able to function. :-)

But today we have managed a splashy bath and some cookies. So am actually feeling good - just wondering why we don't manage it more often...when it is so damn fun!







Wednesday, 24 October 2012

We seem to be on a roll...

A last minute addition to our weekly schedule yesterday was a trip to The Edge Arts Centre  to see Handa's Surprise. Granted, I did only phone because I had an email saying that adults were free when you paid for the child's tix,  and it turns out that that wasn't the case. But it was £11 well spent as the show was enchanting! We are still singing and talking about it! I will be keeping an eye out for more from Little Angel Theatre.

Handa's Surprise is one of my favourite stories, although funnily enough we never had the book. We just got it from the library and saw it on Rat-a-tat-tat. We do still have some other Eileen Brown books which have been favourites as well; In a Minute, Wait and See and Through my Window. I think I will have to get them out for The Babe. In a Minute was one that my eldest could really relate to!

The rest of our week here is planned as well. We have a trip to the park and we have to do some mask making, and a Halloween party coming up. I'll have to fight to fit in my naps...

But don't worry, The Meister is still around. Two Museum workshops, Maths, Drama, horse riding....do you think she will allow me to drag her to the park as well?

And another phone call from the school we deregistered her from in July....I think I feel a snotty letter building up.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Unexpected fun

Yesterday was a good day. I wasn't expecting it to be, but it turned out to be pretty damn good. I like it when that happens.

I took The Meister to meet some friends and to do a workshop at the Manchester Museum. I thought I might potter around with The Babe for a bit. The Meister had a good time at the workshop, which was about genetics and dog breeding, and since I had forgotten that the Museum doesn't open until 11am on Mondays, I planned to head home with The Babe and get some English done with The Boy.

We said good-bye to everybody and headed outside, where little one found lots of things to interest her, leaves, ladybirds, fences, concrete steps, railings, windows, flowers, a garden hose, space, running, jumping, looking, chatting, and smiling. So we didn't get very far. In fact, we played around outside the Museum doors for so long, that eventually it opened, and we decided to have a potter around as first planned.  

Now, I haven't been to the Museum lately. I last wrote about  my disappointment with it last year. So this time we avoided the Living Worlds bit and just went to look at live frogs and snakes and lizards. That turned out to be great and we saw a monitor running around more than we have ever seen any of the reptiles or amphibians move since we started going to this museum 20 years ago and there was a caiman, some axolotl,  and some fish. This one monitor just went around and around and climbed and crooked its neck amusingly, and seemed to be looking at us, too.


We saw several frogs of varying sizes and colours and activity, the chameleon, a gecko, some lizards, and crickets and a tree python.The Babe thought it all rather wonderful. The tadpoles were most excellent as well. And were recognized thanks to the recent reading of a book about frogs, and a new DVD of the old programme Come Outside with Auntie Mabel and Pippin. They tell us all about tadpoles and frogs. :-)

But then we had to go to look at other things. I was led around by The Babe. We saw the huge Asian Elephant skeleton and its tusks, and the carved tusk in the next gallery. We had to go back and forth several times while she looked at them both again and again. We saw the sperm whale skeleton and the Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton and we looked for bird skeletons and we noticed that they all had ribs, and we felt The Babes ribs, and pointed out that all the people we saw had ribs too. Apparently, The Babe has muscles as well. :-)

We saw some African masks which will probably lead to us doing some papier mache masks at home. And some figures with big boobs, which was pointed out in a big voice. 

We missed the Born and Bred exhibition and the Alan Turing exhibition which I quite want to see, but I imagine those are for trips without a little one toddling along. Although, the point of this is that she is coming out of toddlerdom, and getting a bit more interesting. We chatted a lot yesterday and had a good time. And for me, it was nice to get that time with her, as most of my life has turned into just trying to keep her occupied while I accomplish other things.

I imagine the the future holds some fun, as well as some more trips to the park, and arguments about too many biscuits, and walking in any direction other than the one specified.






Oh yeah, and then came home and did some English with The Boy. And watched Auntie Mabel and Pippin. And had a nap. :-)

Friday, 19 October 2012

Oh the Irony...

In this case the irony is that I am not quite finished with home educating The Boy after all. Yes he is at college. Yes, he seems to be doing very well. But no, they are not helping him get his English GCSE. (He already has an A in Maths.)

They offerred Functional Skills. One hour a week. Except nobody else showed up for the first lesson.  And all you get at the end is functional skills level 2 qualification. When I asked the tutor if education institutions would view this as equal to a GCSE, should the Boy wish to go on to further study, he paused for a moment befreo replying in the negative. Of course not. So we are working at  home doing the English Language B IGCSE from Edexcel. He will take the exam in January as a private candidate and it is costing us £86. 

I share this irony with another home educator, who has a daughter who is also 16 as is doing a painting and decorating course.She already has a B in English.  Her college were going to help her get her Maths GCSE. But the resit class that she was attending was not receiving any instruction. They were only being given assessment after assessment and being told that they were not improving. No shit. So she is also working from home trying to help her daughter get a Maths GCSE.

So that is two home educators still home educating even though our children are in full time education. How ridiculous.

On a more positive note. I attended The Boy's first paid gig last night. I was impressed. I sat there watching this talented young man, and his talented friends, and I couldn't help but think that actually, getting an English GCSE is rather irrelevant to his life. And it seems a useless box ticking exercise when he is already writing essays for his music course and getting good marks. He doesn't need to improve his English, he just needs to prove that he has the appropriate piece of paper. What an expnsive time wasting exercise.

The gig was good. He debuted one of his songs. :-)

He has also mentioned in passing that it is a good thing he isn't doing Functional skills anymore, because he has auditioned for something called the Difficult Music Group, and has been chosen as the drummer. It is on during the same time as he would be sitting in a room with a bunch of kids who don't want to be there, and not learning English.

He is doing loads, and meeting musicians, and doing charity gigs, and writing songs, and doing well at college, and really getting on with life. And I keep nagging him about his handwriting and his revision. How odd.




Friday, 7 September 2012

Figuring it all out all over again.

I have been home educating since 1994, when my eldest turned 4. SHe had been part time at nursery for a few weeks, and we had toyed with teh idea of home ed, but didn't really know much about it. During the Christmas holidays, after she had been at nursery for mornings only after one term, we talked to her about it, and she jumped for joy at the idea. Not that she was having a bad time at nursery. It just seemed nicer to not have to go.

Since then, we haven't looked back. As each of the new ones came along, we just didn't think about school.

Now that same big girl is a university graduate, Number 2 daughter (the Changeling) starts uni within the next fortnight, and today is induction at music college for the Boy.

That leaves me at home with the Meister, who is nearly 13 and loves the idea of melodrama and being a terrible teen, and the Babe, who is nearly 3 and showing all the signs of being just as independent and pig-headed as certain of her older siblings.

And I am having to figure it all out all over again.

I have talked a lot about how this year is a year of change for me. And I am not done yet. I do feel that once September is over, things will begin to settle down. We are starting up home ed activities; I am building a new network for the little one; I am getting on with things. I am slightly worried that come December, I will be burnt out and ready to chuck it all in again, but in the meantime, we are making plans and timetables and hoping to get out a lot. The Meister has a list of GCSEs she wants to do. We have several social activities to attend. And it seems that I am going to be as busy as I ever was when I was actively home educating 4 children.

The most important realization that I have had recently is that the Meister is growing up. I know that seems obvious, but it is still something I am thinking about. I had always thought that she and I would have this time together to do all sorts of things - when the older siblings were not around. I don't feel that I have had that much time for just her. I don't feel that I have had that much time for all of them, but particularly for her, and her eldest sister. I feel that the eldest got pushed out too soon, and the youngest got left to fend for herself. ( I know that isn't really true, but we are talking parental guilt here.)

It turns out, that now that I am ready to have all of this wonderful time with her, she is ready to do other things. Go figure. She has had her two terms of school, and is back in the realms of the real world now. But she is building her own networks and her own life, and I am really just a facilitator. I went camping last week, and she didn't want to come. So the Boy and the Babe and I went and had a nice time. She made the right decision as she had a nice time here. But I missed her and was sad that we weren't together. She is sleeping in late, which is what all teenagers need to do as they grow, but I am downstairs wanting to wake her up to "do things" which I wasn't when the eldest was the same age. I used to just leave her to sleep as I had other kids to sort out. Now I need to stop myself from nagging.

I have realized as well, that I think there was a part of me that was hoping to do all of the things with the Meister that I wasn't able to do with the others in a way that was almost like redemption. As if I could make up to She Who Has Flown the Coop, by spending time with the Meister. And hey, guess what? They are two different people. I am home educating the Meister, and she is a young woman, and a stroppy cow, and a little girl, and a bit too clever sometimes, and a pain in the ass, and a bookworm, and she is her own person  who is growing up. I am not getting to make up for lost time. I am not getting live the perfect home ed experience that is in my head. I am not molding anybody. I am spending time with this person who pisses me off on an almost daily basis, until the time comes when she, too, will fly the coop, and then I will cry and feel guilty all over again.

So September for me is not just all the physical changes in what my children are doing, and what journeys they are starting out on. It is about the changes that I have to make in my head to adjust to the ever changing people that I live with. It is about getting ready for yet another adventure with yet another teenager, and no doubt doing some of it well and some of it crap. I am not coping well with the sudden desire of hers to act as if she is 17. I am not coping well with the messy room, and by messy, I mean health hazard - fruit flies, mouldy food, the general smell of decay. I am not coping well with her demand for money when we have so little of it. But I am hopeful. September does always feel like a bit of a beginning. And at least I realize that I am actually starting on a new journey, and that I don't have all the answers. I do have a lot of answers, but to all the questions that this child is not posing.

In a way, it is like I am a new home educating parent, and I have to figure out how to do it. All over again.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Back to home ed?

So the Meister decided to be home educated again. School finished on the 20th July and I took the dereg letter in that day. Haven't had confirmation yet. But do keep getting letters from the school about attendance and her full report and things.
The day after the end of term, we headed off to Hesfes. It was really weird for me since I have not been for several years. I think 2005 in Charmouth was the last time I went, although my eldest daughter continued to go for a few years.
The site was disappointing, although the weather was fab. It raised a lot of issues for me, about how I want to parent and what I am able to tolerate as I get older and slower. :-)  So I am struggling a bit and trying to figure things out in between periodic highs getting excited about all the things we are going to do - art and English and drama and horse riding and socializing and bike riding and more - and then we just disagree and have arguments. :-) So normal life I guess, but it is different for each of the kids, and I am still figuring one or two of them out and they change and grow.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Not home educating

It occurred to me on Monday, as I went 10 pin bowling with The Boy and the Babe and several other home educating families, that I am actually not home educating anymore. For the first time since December 1994, I am not officially home educating anybody. That is because The Boy turned 16 last month, and then came the last Friday in June after his 16th birthday, which marks the end of compulsory education for him. [It also marked the end of my nagging him as his Maths exams are finished and he has to give up piano lessons (sadly) because we just cannot afford them anymore. So I won't be nagging about the scales and apreggios  either.  I will just enjoy the Chopin he is learning, as it is one of my favourite pieces.]

The Meister is in school for the time being, and the Babe isn't old enough to be 'official.' :-) So I am not actually home educating. Of course, this doesn't really mean anything, as our lives continue pretty much as usual. We talk about things, sing songs, read books, bake cakes, and lately, go to the park with little ones to have picnics in the sunshine - and in the rain too.  I am already making plans for September, though, as The Meister has expressed a desire to return to the fold, after the end of term. She finishes school on the 20th July, and we head to Hesfes on the 21st.

So there is that to enjoy this summer, and Buzz camp with Guides, and maybe camping in September with some other families, and who knows what else. Probably lots of weeding at the allotment. Maybe a barbeque or two. And the Big Girl's Graduation from Bristol university which is coming up soon as well. I have just booked the car. It seems somehow significant that I will be attending the university graduation of my eldest daughter, before the youngest is even compulsory education age. But really, I am just looking forward to the day, and getting to take her and her boyfriend out to dinner, and having a nice grown-up time.


Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Feeling like the old me

I have been getting together with a select few other home ed families over the past month or so. We are trying to meet in parks, but houses will do when it rains. (Not my house yet , though. It is pretty disgusting.) Today we had another great day at the park! The Babe is getting to run around, climb trees, annoy other families, make friends, and even eat the occasional lolly, which is the the  best thing about being  the youngest in a family where the older kids were all toddlers together. I NEVER bought anything from the ice cream vans, because it was simply too much money.

It is nice watching the kids get to know each other. They all seem to be coming out of their shells, or just plain getting used to all the new people. It is nice to know that we are actually watching them make life long friends, and that the years to come with be full of adventures, camping holidays, sleepovers, and all sorts of things.

The best thing for me though, is that I am beginning to feel like a home educator again. I am remembering all of the reasons we opted for autonomous education in the first place. I am beginning to remember the freedom and sheer joy that  filled our days. It has taken me longer than with the other kids to come out of my baby bubble this time, but I think there were one or two other factors. I have also been spring cleaning a bit and have found my old John Holt books. I am reading Jonathon Kozol at the moment, and looking forward to revisiting some old favourites.


Here is the complete archives of the Growing Without Schooling magazine, which I really miss these days...along with Woolworth's.  It is a shame that our local group is more about accessing workshops and doing activities than it is about thinking about the nature of education. I suppose  a lot of us have just been doing it for so long that we don't feel the need to talk about it all the time. (Although that need is back for me.) But that is a shame for all  the newbies. I just want to shout at them, "Go read John Holt,  John Talyor Gatto, Jonathon Kozol, Ivan Illich, so many more! Question EVERYTHING about this society that thinks children need to be herded but not heard, raised but not raised up, and taught NOTHING about what it means to be a human being!

So I am feeling a bit like the old (younger) me. And here is to more picnics in the park!

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Phases

The Babe has entered the sellotape phase. She is 2 and a half, and has entered that phase where little people think everything can be fixed by good old sticky tape. Broken necklace chain? It must have been coincidence that she got the copper gardening tape for that one.  Broken video? "We need sellotape!" Torn book? Yeah! It actually works in that case.

I think all 5 of my kids have gone through this phase. It was most noticeable with the Changeling, though. Like the time she came into the living room, aged 4, to tell us that the computer wasn't working. That would be because she had severed the mouse wire with a pair of scissors. When we pointed this out to her, she merely responded, "But I stuck it back together with sellotape!"

Sunday, 20 May 2012

harrumph

I am planning on making lots of changes to this blog in the coming months. My biggest problem is getting time to organise my thoughts, never mind actually writing them down. And I guess I am planning on actually getting on with the home ed journey with The Babe. This means that I will be revisiting John Holt, Alfie Kohn, A.S. Neill, and others. I want to find the inspiration that I had when I started home educating and the world was full of endless possibilities, instead of LA meetings and arguments over who funds GCSEs.

I certainly do not miss the irony that I am writing this as my eldest daughter, home educated for the entirety of her compulsory education years, is finishing her degree at Bristol University.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Chaos...Pah!

I have just waved the Changeling off to her final university interview. This one is down in Bristol where her big sis already lives. I seem to have realised that the way to get her to calm down, is to panic myself. ;-) Just realised this as she was panicking, so when I joined in, she calmed down. I wonder if I should try over-reacting to things as a way to get them to deal in the future?!

She has been working and going to college in the days, and babysitting for a couple of nights this week as well. Having been to Barcelona with college, she is now trying to earn some money to save for university (excluding the stuff she will spend on this trip to see big sis...oh yeah, and go to the interview.) So having been at college on Thursday and Friday, and having evening commitments as well, and working all day yesterday then going babysitting until midnight, she decided to pack and prepare for her trip when she got back. Midnight. Thirty. Or maybe 1am. That was when she was reminded that she was supposed to prepare a project and brief for the interview.

So a minor panic, with which her little bro helped (as he had stayed up to make sure she got home ok!) I was in bed, so missed all of this. I was only part of the morning, "I need a bigger bag, rucksack, suitcase!" panic while the previous panic was being described to me. Oh dear. 

It may have not helped that the clocks went forward as well. And her train leaves and 8.30 am. And she has to get a bus at 7.20 to get to the train station. And she has had about 3 hours of sleep. And she hasn't had any breakfast. And I kept going on about her bare legs looking cold (well, I guess I am a middle aged mother.)

So what has any of this to do with anything? Well, I have a strangely satisfied feeling, that my kids are going to be alright; that they can take care of themselves and each other; that maybe they can deal with things that life throws at them. All that sticks in my mind now that she has gone, and everybody else is asleep and the house is quiet, is two things. Her parting words were, "Ya know Mum? I'm just gonna wing it..." And the fact that her 15 year old brother was there to listen and help her calm down last night (or early this morning.) It isn't the first time that has happened. And it seems that they are nice enough people to each other and that maybe somebody was listening to me say for all those years, "Every problem has a solution" even if wasn't me.

Confidence and kindness. What more could a mother hope for?

Sentimental moment over. I've still got 2 more to worry about.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Since I have had a pretty good day...

digging and sowing and planting...I can admit that I have been feeling a little bit lost lately.  I don't want to go on about it, but I have been a full time parent for over 21 years, in spite of the occasional degree, course, or part-time job. For most of those years, since my eldest was 4, I have been a home educator. At the moment, I have 2 children who are past compulsory education age, 1 who has chosen school, 1 who is too young for compulsory education age, and 1 who has about 3 months left of being officially home educated, before heading off to play music at college. Come the summer, and I won't be home educating anyone - officially.

I think I shall always be a home educator deep down - and a certain type - the old hippy type who believes in children's freedom, and taking care of each other and the planet, carries around Arnica and Rescue Remedy, and tries (too hard sometimes) not to get caught up in worries and fears. (Although as I get older, and more tired, I think a life of conspicuous consumerism would be fun, if only for a few weeks.)  But things are confusing for me at the moment, and I am wondering about getting a job, or doing another academic thing, or building up a new home ed network to carry on life with the Babe. So I know I have been writing a lot about changes this year, but it is only March, and there are more changes to come, and I just thought I would admit to being a bit lost.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Parents' evening

So we went to our first Parents Evening on Wednesday. Actually we have been to a couple with kids at 6th form, but this is the first with any child at high school. Let's see, how to describe it....chaotic, busy, disorganised, and pretty much complete nonsense.

It is like many professions, where teachers and so-called professional educators have created a language and a way of assessment and looking at the world that they use to judge our children...and then think they can tell us what our kids are like. I've lived with the Meister for over 12 years, they have had her for 6 weeks (and not taken very good care IMO) and then I go along to hear them tell me all about her.

Just have a look here for the complete nonsense, that they waste their time on. I really do think teachers time could be used more productively, and enjoyably for themselves, as well as their students.

It was quite telling that all the teachers were white, most were female, and most were young. I think there were 2 that were probably over 30. So they are all lacking in a bit of experience, but nice enough and well-meaning. They are a generation who has been educated and trained in the pathetic National Curriculum, and if any of them have any ideas about creative teaching they will soon be disillusioned and leave the profession.

I met the English teacher who didn't recognise Puck's final monologue when the Meister delivered it in a class where they were 'learning' A Midsummer Night's Dream. I met the drama teacher who couldn't remember the Meister's name. I met the Geography teacher who is trying to teach my child that our importing food from developing nations is a good thing for those nations so they can get money to buy things-ignoring the fact that Western companies are profitting from getting farmers in developing nations to grow monocultures with sterile seed using herbicides and pesticides that also have to be bought, so the farmers can have the money to buy the things that other Western companies are selling in those nations. There was no mention of sustainable agriculture, or any negative side effects of moving from a sustainable agrarian based economy to one that is based on dependence on export markets and the problems of erosion and drought, deforestation, palm oil, etc. But then again, they are only year 7. I met the RE teacher, the History teacher (who seemed to know his stuff), the Art teacher, the old Maths teacher (who seemed sensible), some others and the 3rd Science teacher the Meister has had in 2.5 months of school. I pointed out that she said she was studying 'Electromancers' and that there was no such thing. He concurred. Apparently the school have bought in a curriculum based on some magical world to teach the kids science. Is there really any need to comment further?!

In the end, after an hour and a half of walking around meeting people who seemed to like the Meister, and have good things to say about her, but who were generally talking performance and targets (apparently she has Target level 5A for just about everything-whatever the hell that means) her father and I convinced her to let us go home without having seen PE and Spanish teachers. We had a long walk, and it was cold, and we had to get the baby, which all seemed more important than listening to people whose opinions we don't really value.

It was a difficult exercise. And while I think they were all perfectly nice, and wouldn't mind socialising with a few of them, mostly I was just made to feel that institutional education is limiting and demeaning and causes much more harm than good. I keep thinking that if she stays in school, she is going to be judged using criteria chosen by somebody else. Her older siblings have all been able to apply to college or university using their own CV of accomplishments based on their abilities and interests and portfolios and auditions and interviews. She is going to be judged by tick boxes and grades and levels and other peoples' agenda. But of course, the difficult thing is letting her know we are proud of her, that we like seeing her growing up and learning things (inside or outside of school) and coping and finding her place in the world. We don't really care about the targets, but she does for the moment. So we are letting her know that we love her and are proud of her because of who she is, not because of how she performs. But I think that she is a bit young to understand the distinction. She likes doing well, and if they all think she is great, no wonder she likes it there.

I do think that having people tell you how great you are is limiting, though. Sometimes its just means you stop trying, sometimes it means you forget the things you love best and do those things that get the praise, sometimes it means you reject all learning because you don't get praise for the things you are good at. It is all damaging though. And I just hope that the Meister can enjoy her experiences, and not forget who she is.

On another note, the Boy got his letter from the Music Base. He has been offered a place at college on the level 3 performing musician course. WooHoo. He is rather excited, and sent off his acceptance after taking about 30 seconds to find a pen. :-)

Monday, 6 February 2012

Phases...

So the Changeling is traipsing all over the UK going to interviews for university; the Boy is practising pieces for his audition for music college at the end of the month,  I am taking the Babe to lots of toddler groups, and the Meister is just getting on with things.

The first month of school saw her get detention for damaging school property (she banged her paper sculpture on the table because it wasn't doing what she wanted it to do); have loads of supply teachers (3 in the first 10 days); get prizes for English quizzes, and certificates for being the Star of Maths class (THIS IS YEAR 7!!); make a few friends and a few enemies.

There was an incident at the park across from the school which means the police are involved, and are working with the school. I don't really know what they can do. They all seem nice and willing to do what is best, they just don't know what best would be.

These things don't surprise me. What surprises me is the low standard of work. They don't seem to have any textbooks for starters. I was worried about all the pressure of loads of homework, but actually, she hardly has any, and when she does, it is filling in printed sheets of inane questions. Never mind the students copying things from the internet, that is where some of the teachers get their work. Which means we just have to look it up, and find the answers. What a waste of opportunity.

It has helped me come to terms with the kind of schooly parent that I want to be, though. I am continuing to think of the Meister as home educated - she just takes part in school as a very time consuming extra-curricular activity. I have also remembered that one of the reasons  I don't like school, is that it validates stupidity. The stupid kids are the ones who are the loudest and most disruptive, therefore they have all the power. They are often the bullies too.

I had thought, back when She Who has Flown the Coop was about 4, that one of the reasons I wanted to home educate was that I worried that the children in nursery actually learn more from their peers than any adults around. The teachers cannot possibly have the time to interact significantly with all of the children, so the children end up learning more from each other. And I didn't want my child learning about the world from other little children who don't know much yet.

It is the same, if not worse, with high school. I want the Meister to meet lots of people with lots of  backgrounds and interests and abilities. I don't want her to sit around in an institution with its own agenda, with a bunch of damaged young people who also have their own agenda.  But she seems to be coping, and actually enjoying being constantly busy, and going to do other things after school, and joining in with mainstream stuff with gusto. I think she would be a good chav - at least in the short term. :-)

I must get over this idea that she has to be a certain way in order to make the school think well of home ed. That is me having an agenda. And I have to be patient, because she is only 12. :-) And yet I trust her to choose her friends, and to know what is best for herself. (Although I do worry about mobile phones, and social networks, and the potential for those things to be used for ill.) So for the time being, I am dealing with all the stuff that other parents deal with, PE kits and packed lunches and worries about other kids and pressures and curricula.

But having home educated for so long gives me a good perspective. Actually, GCSEs don't matter, key stage levels don't matter, attendance doesn't matter, and what the school thinks doesn't matter. SHE is what matters.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

All these new experiences...

So what does one wear when one is to accompany one's child to school to make a statement after one's child has been harassed in the park by 20-30 schoolies and punched in the face? Hmmmm....

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Home ed or just parenting?

When one chooses to home educate for philosophical reasons, how does one separate the parenting from the educating. The obvious answer is, of course, you don't. That is what parenting is. It is educating your children to live in the world.

There are problems, naturally. The generation gap, the technology gap. I grew up in a world of MTV and VCRs, which was much different from my mother's childhood, and my children are growing up in a world of Facebook and mobile phones. These things seem normal for them, whereas I worry about them.

I worry about brain cancer and online grooming, as well as the time that these things take away from other activities. But I try to realise that this is just a 2012 version of playing football in the street. They are socialising, albeit without the fresh air and exercise. (Whole other worry!)

So now I have a 2 year old and I guess we are starting on the whole journey again, and I can't help thinking that even between my 21 year old and my 2 year old, there will be a generation gap. They are growing up with different parents really. My 21 year old had a young, energetic, well meaning but slightly neurotic mother who was busy with other kids as well. Whereas my youngest will have an older, more relaxed, but slightly harder to impress mother who won't be worried about targets and achievements so much. Although both of them will have a mother who is tired. (Why am I always tired?)


I am just rambling, but I will probably return to these thoughts soon. I have just been thinking about them since I am only home educating the Boy for another 6 months officially, and then I will just have a toddler. But that doesn't mean I won't be a home educator anymore. The Babe will still be learning things from me, as I set out on the parenting journey yet again, with ideals and optimism, and hopefully, a good night's sleep.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

The Year of Change...

...or so I imagine it will be. The Meister started school yesterday. She came skipping home having had a nice day so I am a bit relieved. In the end, it was a bit of a non-event. She went off in the rain, got a lift to school with a neighbourhood friend, and forgot to say good-bye to us all. For her it is just one more thing she wants to try, for us, it is bigger than that, because none of the kids have been to school.


It was really sad when she was 7 and wanted to go. She lasted a week then, as she didn't really know what it was she was letting herself in for. But this time she seems to have made an informed decision, and is prepared to take things as they come. There have already been a few things that strike me as odd, but are perfectly normal for everybody else.

Home-school contracts. I was given one, but haven't signed it, and don't intend to. But not a problem, as nobody has asked me for it. :-)

Music lessons. It is a performing arts college, and the prospectus is full of photos of kids playing music. But if she wants lessons, we have to pay extra. £200-£300 a year extra, which you have to commit to pay.

The uniform. I don't even want to think about how much money we have spent on the damn uniform! And why does there have to be a separate black jumper for general wear (v-neck) and PE (crew neck) which both have to have the school logo.

There is a cash less cafeteria which is operated using fingerprint technology, to which I objected. So she has a swipe card instead, which I have to put money on. (This school adventure is much more expensive than home ed!) And the head of year says I am not the only one to object. They rather took it in their stride and didn't seem bothered at all. :-)

I can't help but think she is going to be fine; that school is not the big evil some of us would believe; that there are perfectly nice kids and adults there.

I guess it is like anything, there are going to be good things and bad things about it. We had a talk a while ago about how she was fed up with home ed friends ribbing her about choosing to go. I tried to be diplomatic. I told her to think of it as a balance. There will be good things, and bad things, and as long as the good things outweigh the bad, she will probably want to stay. But she has the choice to come out again. (After she gets some use from the damn expensive uniform!) And that is the crux of it, isn't it. It is all about choice. This is her choice.

But I still find myself wanting to talk about how this is for me. It is because in December, I was helping the Changeling with her personal statement for her UCAS form to apply to university for next September. And I was helping the Boy with his application to start college in September. And I was applying to the LA for a school place for the Meister. So it felt like I was losing three of them at once.

That was sad for a few reasons. Not the least of which is that I has always planned on this time with the Meister. I had always thought that her teen years would be the time that I got to do all the things with her, that I hadn't been able to do with the older ones because there were just too many of them. She was going to be the one to get one on one time, like we had started with the sewing and cooking. I was going to finally do the English group I had wanted to do. We were going to have a mature time together.

But instead, I have a toddler, and we are really struggling financially so we can't do much anyway, and she wants to have her own life, like her 17 and 21 year old sisters do. All of which I understand. But I still feel a bit sad, that I haven't been able to provide her with what she wanted, and she feels that school will provide it.


I think the fact that EO (for us anyway) all fell apart, and we don't have a national network like we used to hasn't helped either. There are no more gatherings and camps that we can go to regularly to keep in touch with friends from all over the UK. We used to go to 5 or 6 camps and gatherings a year. The kids used to travel at other times to visit friends in other cities. There was a community. The older two had a completely different experience of home education that my younger children have had, and that the Babe will have. I don't feel a part of a home ed community in the way that I used to.

That isn't to say that I haven't got great home ed friends. Just that the world I inhabit feels smaller, and where as I used to know that I was a part of something bigger, which included EO. But now, I am just coasting along, sometimes going to home ed events, sometimes not. Sometimes finding community in other areas. Thinking I have to build up a new toddler network, when I was ready for the menopause conversations, rather than the lactating ones.

So basically, the Meister going to school is really just part of a whole other focus for me. It is my life that is changing without me trying to change it. It is me who is going to have to think about what to do next. Do I get a job? Do I return to studying? Do I carry on, and start over with doing toddler things?  2012 will be a year of change for me.

And I will have a few things to blog about. What it is like to have a high school child. What it is like to home ed all over again. And what it is like letting go of those who are leaving the nest. Or who already have.

So here we go...