Pokemon, Globes and Home Education
If you speak to (almost all) home educating parents, they will almost certainly tell you that they have had a wobble at some time or other about their decision to home educate. Some will tell you they have them regularly. For most I suspect it’s not actually about home education v school education, but whether they are doing enough work, the right kind of work with their children.
I fall into the latter camp. I’ve written before about how we are not at all structured in our education and that has led me to several “wobbles”. We’re three years in now and I think we are well settled into home education and I feel confident about what we’re doing. Of course that might change again when Bean gets older, but for the time being, I feel good about it all. And that’s entirely down to my kids.
Earlier this year, all three of them decided they wanted to take up activities, hobbies, sport and looked to me to provide those opportunities. In the past, I have questioned the sanity of HE parents who take their children from one thing to the next and wondered when the children get “down time”, which I’ve always considered one of the advantages of HE. I’ve also questioned how families afford to go from one thing to the next.
And now I am one of those people I questioned. I do question my sanity. And I question the cost, although we are in the fortunate position of being able to pay for classes for this, that and the other, thanks to Stonelaughter working hard hours from home. I know now though, that this insanity-inducing list of activities is down to the children, not something I have pushed. I suspect it’s the same for others.
All three children attend a HE Gymnastics class for two hours a week. Bean and Plum go to HE horse riding for two hours once a fortnight. All three have a 30 minute swimming lesson once a week. Bean has a two-hour long street dance class each week. Plum also does 90 minutes of dance each week (during which time she learns ballet, tap, jazz and acrodance) and an hour of theatre school on Saturdays. I’m exhausted just thinking about it.
Each day, we sit down and do some curricular work. Bean does 30 minutes of maths each day. Plum and PK do 30 minutes of maths or literacy each day, with me. Bean also does 30 minutes on his current project.
They all (including PK) are obsessed with Minecraft and Pokemon. It drives me insane, but I hear all the time how these things can be educational. It always leaves me muttering in my head. But lately, I’m seeing it in lots of little ways. And some big ways.
In the car on the way to Gymnastics this week, Bean told me he’d found a way to learn Japanese in Pokemon on his DS. He loved it. It was all Pokemon-related. When we got home, I did a search for an app that could help him learn Japanese. He wasn’t impressed. I was – I found one that came recommended by several blog posts and was free to download on the iPad (Learn Japanese by MindSnacks, available in the app store). I asked him to take a look at it before he dismissed it.
He loved it! It’s all done through game play and the characters look like they could have come straight from a Pokemon cartoon. He spent over an hour working his way through the levels, and mastered Level 4. He was really chuffed with his efforts. I think we can call that a success. I’m seeing Pokemon in a different light – it’s led directly to Bean wanting to learn another language. Woooooot!
Over the weekend, Plum asked Stonelaughter a question which led him to getting out the globe and showing her how countries can be on the opposite side of the world from each other. That led on to a conversation about shapes and the difference between 2D and 3D shapes. In the car yesterday, PK and Plum started chatting about that, and pointed out all the different shapes they could see. PK saw a Belisha Beacon and pointed it out, telling me it was a sphere, not a circle because circles are flat. Then they searched for different 3D shapes as we drove along, naming each one, along with their “flat” counterparts. They are 3 and 5 years old and I love that they have grasped this, and that they find it really exciting.
This is how I want my children to learn – out in the world applying what they have learned to what they can see around them, not sitting at a desk learning things in an abstract way.
This September, I am not having a home education wobble.