10th September 2015: Today was one of those days where homeschooling really came into it’s own. Such a lovely day.
A common misconception is that homeschooling is doing school at home. That you have to meticulously plan six hours of school for each day. That you have to make your child/children do exactly what you have planned at exactly the time you have planned. I had that misconception myself. However, it is nothing like that. I guess I shouldn’t call it homeschooling. Home Education might be better, but actually it’s just living life.
If you put it into ‘school’ terms we spent the day doing literacy, numeracy, science, geography, humanities, computer science, home economics, music, and more. And yet there was no planning involved whatsoever, and there was no set timetable.
The day started with Buzz eating All Bran and asking what it was. Recently we had a long chat with a lovely older man who works in a horse supply shop, who we had previously met at Polegate Windmill (which he and his wife help to look after in their spare time). He told Buzz all about the process of ‘harvesting’ flour. So I asked Buzz to think about what the man had told him, and helped him to remember the answer to his question himself. We wondered why cakes are always made with white flour, and not wholemeal flour or bran [science – tick]. We decided to find out if cakes could be made with bran, so we looked up some recipes on my phone. Buzz found a carrot cake recipe using All Bran and wholemeal flour that he liked the look of and asked to make it [computer science – tick].
We went and had a look around the kitchen to see if we had all the ingredients. We had everything apart from the mixed spice. So again we looked up online to see what was needed for mixed spice. Buzz helped to measure out the spices and grind down the coriander and cloves. We both now know what spices are used in mixed spice [random lesson – tick!]
The cake recipe needed six carrots. Buzz has never actually peeled veg before. Grating yes, but not peeling (we have a very sharp peeler!). So I showed him how to use our peeler and he started peeling carrots. It was very slow going for him, and I fully expected him to give up after five minutes. He spent half an hour peeling the six carrots, without a single hint of frustration, boredom or distraction [fine motor skills – tick; patience and determination paying off – tick!]
As he peeled them I was adding them to the cake mix, and weighing each lot separately. There had been three lots, so three different weights. And we had the total weight required. Buzz had a pile of peeled carrot and I said we need to work out how much of it had to go into the mix. I gave him paper and pencil and he happily took up the task. Since he had been the one choosing to make the cake, and peeling all the carrot, he was happy to do these calculations. He added up the three amounts together so we knew how much carrot was already in the mix (using two different ways of adding). He then had to subtract that from the total amount required to work out how much still needed to go in. Obviously I make sure he’s using his own initiative to work out the process, rather than just being told to do a bunch of sums [20 minutes of numeracy – tick].
We finished the cake and put it in the oven, and when it was ready we took a piece each and sat in the lounge to eat it. Buzz got out one of his birthday present books, which had fun quizzes in it. He started to read it out to me, questions and answers, so I asked him to let me try to work out the answers. He covered the answers so that he could also try to work out the answers. We did this for a good 45 minutes, with him reading aloud the whole time [literacy – tick]. Topics covered included national emblems relating to different countries, and traditional foods eaten in different countries. We talked around the topics and I told Buzz about what I had eaten in countries I had been to and asked him to think about traditional foods for England, Scotland and Wales (the only countries he’s been to!) [geography and humanities – tick].
Lastly, Buzz keeps forgetting to wash his hands with soap when he’s supposed to. Instead of having him write “I will wash my hands with soap” one hundred times (I’d never do that!) I asked him to make up a rhyming song about washing his hands while I made signs to remind him. He was amused and enthusiastic about his disciplining! And he has learned to remember to use soap [music and more literacy – tick].
During Buzz’s last few months at school he was very easily distracted and distracting for other children, he struggled to focus, he fiddled with things a lot, he was restless, he couldn’t sit still, he rarely finished his work, and was often kept behind during break to finish work. I’ve seen all this myself, focus can be a huge issue for him, and it is very frustrating to watch him struggle. However, days like today show a completely different child: incredible single mindedness, focus, enthusiasm, determination and patience. It is so rewarding and exciting to see him like this and really encourages me that homeschooling is the right way forward. It’s a big learning process for both of us!