Three Weeks In …

So, we are in our third week of home education, and we are still alive. And we still have our sanity (well, what we had of it when we started anyway). The first week was a struggle. Keen to take the advice we were given, and give Bean time to “unschool”, there was no structure to our week at all, and it didn’t work for us. Bean was bored, but unwilling to do any of the activities or projects suggested. Of course, he was also getting used to the idea of not being in school with his friends.

It was a hard week for all of us and at the end of it, he told me that he didn’t enjoy being home educated. We had a chat about it, made a plan and set off anew in the second week. More structure. Maths every morning. Guitar every day. Reading. Something from our project list. And it worked!  Well, it worked in that we saw our happy boy again, and he enjoyed what he did. We didn’t always do something from our project list. He didn’t read every day (but some days he read for hours). He did maths and guitar every day though.

I’d intended for him to do 20-30 minutes of maths each day, but at Bean’s request, this quickly increased to 60-90 minutes, depending on how challenging that day’s maths was. He loves maths, it’s his favourite subject and he is excited by what he’s seen he can do.  One weekend when he was in year 1, he asked me how to add two big numbers together. We sat down and I showed him how to do it, starting with two digit numbers. He quickly understood the process and asked for a page of sums to do. Before long he was applying the process to 3 digit, 4 digit and even 6 digit numbers. He was so proud of himself that he took his work to school the next day to show his teacher. Her response was “that’s year 2 work, you don’t need to know that yet”. End of conversation. I was so cross that this was how she responded to enthusiasm.

So, we’ve spent our maths time so far exploring lots of different areas of maths, so we can see what Bean is capable of, what he likes, what he finds more challenging. It’s been interesting – he’s managed to do all the different bits we’ve looked at, some with ease, some with perseverance, and he’s loved it. We’ve found that he really enjoys word problems, pictographs, plotting and reading graphs, measuring angles. We also looked at number lines, long multiplication, negative numbers, decimals (on number lines, adding and subtracting), radius, diameter and circumference, fractions, conditional statements, deductive reasoning, area and perimeter. Phew!  The plan from now is to focus on one area at a time to make sure he understands the process so he can return to it in future. It certainly helps that he loves maths.

His guitar is coming on to. He’s been reluctant to practice over the last year, but now he instigates the practice every day. We originally agreed 10 minutes a day, but he’s stretched this to half an hour most days, as he sees himself making improvements. He has declared that guitar has overtaken history to become his second favourite subject.

So it seems to me that what Bean needs is a bit of a structured framework in which he has some freedom to choose what he does. I think that’s something we can all work with, and it’s working for us so far.

Big smiles all round 🙂

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7 comments on “Three Weeks In …

  1. john hurt on said:

    I dont want to sound disrespectful of your choice to home study you child, and might be able to give him a better education than the schooling system of today, but may I make one observstion?!.
    Being in a school environment is sn importantpart of a chchild’s growing up and learning crucial life skills and experiences that will stay with them through there entire life.
    You may be able to give your child the best education that school cannot give because of the increased class numbers and how little time teachers have to give a child quality one and one time, but you cant possibly give them the experience and the social skills that being at school will give Weaver these be good or bad experience.
    So forget any political views you have about the uks education and give your child the experience they need being in school surrounded by there friends, not being stuck at home gaining little or no life social skills.

    • I take it you’ve never looked into the home ed social opportunities then? We’ve been bowled over by the choice of activities and groups on offer in our area – something different happening every day, as well as groups for particular topics. And these are on top of the groups he already attends each week. He’s certainly not “stuck at home gaining little or no life social skills”. (And anyone who knows Bean will be laughing at how far from the truth that particular description is!)

    • Stonelaughter on said:

      LOL “John” maybe you should reserve comment for subjects in which you are informed and up to date… your comment shows so little understanding of how homeschooling is done that the whole piece is laughable.

    • Stonelaughter on said:

      …quite apart from the fact that the spelling and grammar in your post is about as powerful an indictment of school-provided education as it’s possible to get…

    • John, as a UK teacher with 30 years’ teaching experience both in the public and mainly in the state sector, I totally support this family’s decision to home school their son. He has the benefit of amazingly intelligent parents who simply want the best for him and I think they have found the perfect solution. Kids are dumbed down far too much in our UK system, chat to any teenagers and be aware of their lack of comprehension of basic everyday vocabulary for example. If I had children I would certainly be heading straight down this route and would also enjoy and make the most of the freedom of dipping into the huge array of social activities that you quite rightly say are so important in a child’s life. Their children, their choice and I believe it is a good one. Peace and love.

  2. Well done to you Mahala for making a really brave decision to home educate. I love the fact that Bean can now go with the flow with his maths and a sense of achievement is so important. I think we underestimate the impact the school day has on our kids and how little time or energy it leaves them to be creative. If Bean’s interest in maths turns out to be a medium term thing you might what to think about finding out about computer programming for kids. I am also wondering if you could link maths to Egyptian pyramids some how? If you need some help on either of these later, I may be able to help.

  3. So good that you’re able to find what is working for him and run with that. I was definitely a timetable girl and insisted on creating an incredibly full timetable for every ‘school’ day. But I had home-ed friends who did the opposite and were all about unstructure and free-flowing learning. That is surely the biggest plus to home-ed – that you can entirely tailor it to your child/ren!

    To comment on the other commenter’s comment… (hmm, that could have been worded a lot better) I definitely feel that I missed out a bit on the social side of school, but my experiences in primary school were so awful that I don’t think it could actually have benefited me. My parents went to a lot of trouble to make sure I had a variety of group activities (lots of sports clubs, drama group, an evening Esperanto club, and some meetings with other home-ed children), but there wasn’t as much available as there is these days. In the right areas, there is so much available. In terms of the whole learning to be a member of society, there are of course benefits to being in school, but negatives too. I have friends who were persistently bullied through school and they probably would have moved ahead faster if they hadn’t been there. The idea that everyone will automatically benefit from school, regardless of the kind of teaching or wider curriculum is laughable.

    Well done. It sounds like you’re settling into it and that you’re all happy 🙂

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