It’s half term and absolutely lovely to have M back in the tribe full-time. I am battling with feeling enlightened and progressive as a home educator whilst watching my 6-year old becoming part of an education system that I don’t believe in. I am only managing the reality of her being in school because in my head I can deregister her at any time. Of course, it’s not that simple.
Last week, M told me she had an idea for a story, could I create a ‘story challenge’ for her to do at school? The background to this is that the work at school seems to be too easy for her, and a while back I offered to send in some resources similar to those I use with the girls at home for M to use as extension exercises. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but now I wonder what possessed me. Anyway, of course I told M I would draw a story planner that she could complete and her teacher said that was fine, she could do it if there was a gap in the day. Well there was time, because M tells me she always finishes first and goes to the book corner (nice, but she says it’s a bit boring to do every day) or goes on the iPad (not ok, no need for the screen, she’s only little).
After school she showed me her story plan, which was funny, detailed and illustrated (how much time had she had?!). She then asked B and I why she couldn’t use connectives such as ‘because’ at the beginning of her sentences. ‘You can write what you like, it’s your story’, replied her thoroughly deschooled big sister. Why is M being taught that she cannot play with language and be experimental? I read recently that this rigid approach to learning can be detrimental to children’s confidence, and it’s easy to see why.
Having her at home again this week, I can see with fresh eyes that M needs to be constantly busy. She flits from activity to game to chat to drawing in much the same way I know I am prone to. I understand why she is drawn to school: she wants to be where the action is and she wants to be given a job to do that she can easily achieve and quickly do another one. I’m onto her now. Now my job is to establish what the positive parts of her school day are (I’m guessing seeing her best friend and being part of a community – I also think M likes being part of the crowd) and try and meet those needs as a home educating family.
With my new eyes, I can clearly see that M will benefit from more space to explore her ideas. More sleep will be good for her too. We declared today Official Lazy Day, and the girls stayed in their pyjamas being anything but lazy all day long. There was dressing up, singing, building a model bridge, drawing, telling jokes, musical instruments, puzzles and books. Home education can be intense, but, to me, it’s the stronger education model at the moment. I think it’s time to be the grown-up, dig deep and break the rules again…