Last week, after handing in our de-registration letter to Bean’s school, I had a meeting with his class teacher. He’d asked if I’d like to meet so we could discuss Bean’s progress, and he could show me where they were up to with various aspects of his school work. It was a good meeting, and valuable to see Bean’s target sheets to see where his strong points are at the moment, as well as the areas he’s trying to move forward in.
In some ways though, the meeting did bring home for me one of the reasons we’ve opted for home education. This has nothing at all to do with the teacher, who I think cares passionately about the children he teaches and, though he is at the beginning of his career, already has a lot to offer the children.
We were looking at the “writing” part of literacy. There were about 20 different targets that each child had to attain – most of which were not to do with the mechanics of writing, forming letters etc, but to do with the structure of their writing, as I would expect. Things such as using connectives in sentences, using “wow” words and such. Bean is working on targets at level 2, although the majority of these were ticked off. For many of the targets he is working at level 3 and one or two at level 4, but his level for “writing” remains at level 2, and will do until all the targets on the page have been met.
The one that is holding him back, in the main, is to do with handwriting. The target is to use joined up writing. Bean can do this, but when he does, the size changes. “s” and “i” become super-sized, “t” shrinks. His writing is still legible (although it’s much neater when it’s not joined up), but it’s not all the correct size. And until it is, he can’t move off level 2. That seems like madness to me. I agree with his teacher’s point that once the mechanics of writing become second nature then the content becomes more fluid too. But Bean is 7 years old and he is left handed. That he can write neatly is more than enough for me. I no longer wonder that he is a reluctant writer. I think this is one area where the education system lets children down, and the teachers’ hands are tied.
And it’s one small reason that I’m glad we’ve taken the plunge.