We have embarked on home education this week. It's been a stellar start and so far we're all loving it. For the most part, anyway.
The days mainly start with a swimming lesson (3 a week at the moment) where I basically avoid eye contact with all the older people at the pool. I can feel them eying me with suspicion. It's a strange, guilty feeling having school age children that are not at school... I feel like a naughty child and have the overwhelming urge to tell everybody 'it's ok- we're home educating! We're going travelling!' Then I remember that I am actually an adult and don't need to justify myself to anyone- I am doing a good thing! I still can't resist striking up conversations in the changing rooms to loudly announce that we are home educating and PLEASE DON'T JUDGE ME. I might just get a badge and be done with it- or just learn to not care.
I don't mind admitting I felt the weight of responsibility of the boys education and found it intimidating. The boys' old teachers were wonderfully creative, passionate individuals who we all adored... how could I possibly compete with that?! Well I realise that I don't have to- we are doing something very different, and hanging out with my boys is wonderful especially after all these months of moving, working and chaos... reconnecting with them has been good. No distractions! No work- no jobs to do- just them and our learning in anticipation of the Big Trip- It's been like a breath of fresh air.
Part of what we're enjoying about the flexibility of home learning is you can incorporate anything and everything into it once you shift your perspective and I've really enjoyed the change in mindset. Tuesday was a good day. We woke up, did our maths and then went out to find rainbows.
As part of Bristol Biennial, we went to an art installation called 'Our Colour' by Liz West. The old DWP office block has been turned into a massive rainbow and it was stunning.
I could have spent all day in there, just being immersed in colour, walking and admiring how the light bounced off each surface giving each blank pillar a different hue depending on how you looked at it. I tried to talk about how each colour made us feel and basically the boys just ran around. They probably didn't get much more out of it than that but I still patted myself on the back. Very smug I was, explaining excitedly to anyone who would listen about how we were home educating and implying how wonderfully expanded our children minds will be once we've finished with them.
Being in central Bristol we thought we should get the boys fitted for adventure shoes. There were none in Little Brother's size, so we ended up on a mission... 1 shop became 3, became 4... The whinging started in full force, my smugness faded. I checked my watch. We had been shopping for 1 solitary hour. 1 HOUR.
Reality hit- if they can't walk round Broadmead without becoming a writhing, gnarly, complaining beast, how in Gods name are they going to manage travelling?! I'm not even thinking about Machu Pichu when we have a trip to London next week?!!!!
As you can see, it isn't all rosy- I'd be lying if I said that the boys are always eager to sit down to do formal learning. On Monday they couldn't WAIT to sit down with their 'Maths-no problem!' Workbooks (as recommended by A's former teacher). By Friday, the shine has been taken off a bit and I felt outnumbered.
Stop making faces at your brother.
Stop pretending to fall off your chair- for gods sake JUST STOP DOING WHAT YOU'RE DOING.
Maths is fun right?! I mean who doesn't find maths fun? How come you're more interested in making fart noises?! How do teachers handle 30 of these little people?!?!? We got there in the end and I'm working on my patience- everyday is a school day and not just for them.
After wrestling with my children (metaphorically) we went to Arnos Vale cemetery and looked at gravestones and picked blackberries.
Big Brother, decided some time back that he wanted to do his own learning project on death. Embracing the macabre, (the old Goth in me squealed with delight) I thought it would be a good starting point to explore it here in the UK. We loved checking out the cremation furnace and the winch under the chapel, I was surprised at how interesting they found it really, but I guess death is fascinating- I just never expected them to get so involved. Hooray! We're winning again!
The space in the crypt was so cold and smelt so... old. It was very atmospheric and we hung out there for ages. In what has been our first week of home schooling, Bristol has been a gift and given us lots of opportunities to explore it. I'm not saying that we will always do so well but we're off to a flying start- fingers crossed we can keep this momentum going.
Now after a long wholesome week of home ed that we have so far LOVED, I'm off for the first of many leaving parties. It's all about balance and one (wine-centric) woman can only take so much wholesomeness.