Tuesday, 5 May 2015

A Home Educator's Prerogative...

Well it was an experiment worth trying, but I have to say I am not happy with just strewing/ inviting/ provoking.  The boys are all happy enough, but I am not, and successful Home Education has to be about meeting the needs of the whole family, not just the children.  Yes, they are happy, but I also feel they are cruising in a season when they could be stretching themselves a bit more, and not getting as much out of this season as they could.  So, if it is a woman's prerogative to change her mind, how much more so a home educating mum?   After all, it is our responsibility to assess how everyone is doing as we go along, and alter our course if we feel we are veering off too widely from where we want to be.  I really value the freedom of being able to change my mind, not on a whim, but as a direct response to observed needs.

I think one of the main problems right now is that I feel we are a bit purposeless, and that is not a feeling I am comfortable settling with.  I don't like waking up in the morning without knowing what we are doing and why we are doing it. Yes, I can set up invitations so the boys all have something stimulating to do, and to be fair, so far the boys have joined in with every provocation I have placed before them - but all the activities are just feeling a bit too random.  Ultimately, as always, I am very aware that it is my responsibility (and Hubby's too, but I'm the one writing this blog!) to be sure that the boys are getting a suitable education, and at the moment I'm not sure enough that that is happening.  It feels too much like accidental learning, and I don't feel that 'accidental' is the best I can give my children.  I dare say this proves that I don't understand unschooling, but regardless, that is where I am at right now.  You could call it a wobble I suppose, but really I'm just rethinking (again) our approach.  This is an essential part of HE in my mind, so I'm not worried by it, just refining - yet again - the way we do things.

In particular I am conscious of Eldest's changing needs.  The older he gets, the wider the gap appears between him and his brothers.  They are still good friends and love to play together, but their learning needs and abilities are becoming more different all the time - which is probably why I feel the need to keep reassessing so frequently.  I do want to help Eldest to increase his ability to think creatively, and boost his problem-solving skills etc - but I don't want that to be our sole focus.  IGCSEs are on the horizon, albeit still quite distantly, and I think that mentally he does need the stimulation of studying something consistently (ie over a period of time, rather than jumping about between unrelated one-off activities).  It just needs to be something he enjoys. Maybe it is time to revisit notebooking as a way of looking at project-based learning without all the fiddly flaps etc involved in lapbooking, that Eldest was never that keen on.

That said though, the provocations etc have been successful and enjoyable, so I don't want to write them off, just to find a way to incorporate them into our weekly vague-outline-of-a-plan (I almost wrote schedule, but that implies something far more rigid than what we actually enjoy).  Time to go back to my six-weekly planner I think (well, the two and a half weeks that are left of this term) and think about including some more structured learning (such as one morning a week to work on lapbooks/ notebooks) as well as the more open-ended learning (eg invitations to explore) that have been so much fun to date.

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