Monday, 9 May 2011

Teaching My Children.

The Boys. (James, right, Daniel, left).
Following on from last week's post about focusing on one thing at a time and becoming good at that thing, I'm going to spend the next week or two really looking at home education. In particular, what I am doing with James on a daily basis. I've got lots of ideas, some more well-formed than others, about projects to embark on and trips to take, as well as weekly and daily routines. I've taken a semi-structured approach to James' education so far, partly because he likes to know what is going to happen each day, so a daily and weekly structure (I use that term loosely) is helping to keep things calm, and partly because I like the freedom of being able to 'go with the flow' of the day's ups and downs, and, if necessary, throw the routine out of the window and escape into the wider world or just veg if we need to.

Since we began home educating at the beginning of February, we've sort-of stuck to a general theme for each day -

Maths Monday (mainly maths, obviously)
Try it Tuesday (a chance to try something new - be it food, handstands, cycling uphill, or whatever)
Wordy Wednesday (reading, writing, listening to stories, talking, etc)
Thinking Thursday (sciencey stuff)
My Day Friday (A project or some such frivolity)

So far, this seems to be vaguely working, except when it doesn't. There are weeks when we get loads done at home, and weeks when we spend loads of time out and about. At the beginning of April, I did a little evaluation of what we had covered so far, and it was really reassuring, because in black and white we have actually done quite a bit of stuff, which put a stop to my panicking that we might not have made any progress. Since the Easter break, which for us was about two and a half weeks, I've been easing James in gently with some worksheets and games that basically reinforce topics we've already covered in maths (one of his stronger areas). He's especially keen on counting and spending his pocket money! (Who isn't?)

I would like to tackle some more challenging stuff, for me I mean. I feel I can handle the maths and English quite well (James is only seven, I should add). It's the sciences, geography, history and such subjects requiring a bit more planning and preparation that I need to get my head around. So I'm going to be doing some research and preparing some activities, as I really want to do stuff that captures James' attention and enthusiasm for learning. (I know it's in there somewhere, I've seen glimpses!)

This needs to be an area of ongoing focus for as long as we home educate, and that is why I'm choosing to start my 'one thing at a time' here.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Finding Focus.

Image credit

If you're anything like me, you try to do a million things in one day (OK, slight exaggeration, a thousand things). You succeed at doing no one thing very well, and end up going to bed each evening feeling full of inadequacy, with a side-order of guilt and a glass of must-do-better to wash it down with. On most days I have a 'to-do' list as long as my arm, consisting mainly of the mundane and the glaringly obvious (housework, appointments, shopping lists, bills, etc), and rarely do I get to cross off every item on it. 

Add to that the virtual 'to-do' list in my head for the bigger things I dream about doing with my time (reading, writing, creating music, losing weight, changing the world, that sort of thing), and it's a wonder I manage to stand up without getting dizzy from all of the buzzing thoughts and self-criticism whirling around inside my brain. 

Clearly this is not an ideal way to function. There is a perfectionist in me trying to get out and boss me around, and the me that won't stand for it is digging her heels in and refusing to co-operate, so I spend quite a lot of time bouncing from 'must get that done' to 'can't be bothered' and back again. 

I understand that someone looking in on my life might see things very differently. They might see that I am a mum and wife who home educates one child and looks after two full-time as well as working occasionally for the family business and staving off the 'Black Dog' of depression (it's currently in its cage, thank the Lord). I have a reasonably clean and tidy house, my kids and husband have fresh food and clean clothes, and most family and friends get birthday cards on time. I do loads of good stuff. I can see that. But I never see myself as being good enough. Good enough for whom I am not sure, but there you have it, the thought that crosses my mind on a daily basis. I'm not good enough. 

How do I counteract this daily tendency towards self-disparagement? 
How do I become 'good enough'? 

To my mind there are two answers to this, both of which, while seeming at first to be contradictory, are complimentary to one another. The first answer is that I can't be. No-one can be 'good enough' on their own. We are all falling short of God's perfection each day, and that is why Jesus was necessary -  to sort us out, to make us like him, like God intended us to be. That work will not be completed until the day he returns. The second answer is that I already am, in God's eyes. God sees me as good enough, because He sees me as I will be when I am made fully alive in Christ. So it is not by my own effort that I will satisfy my need for acceptance, but by the work of Jesus on the cross and afterwards, through the resurrection, and after that, through the work of his Spirit in me each day. 

There is, however, something I can do, requiring a bit of effort on my part, to make myself feel better (though I must point out this is not necessary for my being 'good enough' for God). In order to generate a feeling of achievement for myself, and thus contribute towards a sense of being good enough for my own standards, I must be realistic in what I can achieve. I need a sense of balance, not overload, to reduce the feelings of inadequacy I take to bed with me on a regular basis. In short, I need to do something, and do it to the very best of my ability. 

I need to focus

Years of juggling the acts of feeding, changing, cleaning and dressing both my children and myself, along with the numerous other trivial actions necessary for the maintenance of a credible day-to-day existence, have significantly reduced my ability to focus on one thing for any length of time. My finely-honed multi-tasking skills seem to have had an inverse effect on my ability to concentrate. 

So I am going practise. I am going to try and focus on doing one thing well, for one or two weeks. When I feel I am making some progress with that activity, I will shift my focus onto something else. I don't mean I'm going to neglect my daily routine and all the necessaries that it entails. I am merely talking about working at something until I am good at it, and then working at something else, and so on. I have an imaginary box full of things I would like to do well, and I am going to pick one at a time, and have a go. 

That's it. No pressure to be great, but just the intention to try.  

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Choose Your Words Carefully. (Reflections on Parenting: For My Family)

I've been finding the act of writing monumentally difficult lately, so I shall, for now, just borrow some words of wisdom from one far wiser than I. These words are about words, actually, and Heaven knows I need to work on mine.

"The one who holds his tongue is wise."

"Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing."

"Pleasant words are a honeycomb: sweet to the soul and healing to the bones."

"A (person) of knowledge uses words with restraint, and a (person) of understanding is even-tempered."

How are your words today?

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Not A Monster After All.

Image Credit
Last week I had a visit from the Local Education Authority 'Home Education co-ordinator', who came armed with a form and loads of questions about our reasons for home educating James, and our methods for doing so. I was feeling somewhat trepidatious beforehand, as I wasn't sure quite what she would be looking for, and I was fully prepared to have to defend our decision to take James out of school and to present her with a well-reasoned argument in support of the approach we have taken so far. I was relieved to discover however that she wasn't offensive in any way, shape or form, that her questions were simple to answer, and that she actually had some helpful suggestions for topics and activities we could attempt in the future. She was complimentary about what we had achieved so far and her subsequent report painted us in a very good light! Phew. Panic over.

Many people choose not to allow local authority representatives into their houses and refuse to fill in their forms, preferring instead to supply their own format of evidence, or, in some cases to supply no 'evidence' at all, and just have an informal chat on the telephone. I didn't feel the need to draw the line at our front door, or to avoid the perceived intrusion of answering someone else's questions about what constitutes a good education, and I am glad I didn't, as I think I got as much out of our meeting as this lady did. In the end I came away with some good website links and project ideas, and Local Authority Lady went away with enough information to satisfy her curiosity until this time next year. It's actually a nice feeling to have someone say 'good job', to know that what we have done so far has not been wildly off target, and that we are free to carry on as we are. Not that I should be so desperate for the approval of others, but there you have it.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Our First Project.

James and I have been working on a little project about castles. Yesterday was a bit of a crazy day, with both boys at home, full of beans, and being sillier than ever, but amid the silliness we managed to produce this:

 It's a painting the boys did of Pendennis Castle in Falmouth, which we visited a couple of weeks ago, plus photos of our visit and some snippets of information about the castle. It's on display so I can look at it when things are going pear-shaped and remember that even on a bad day, we can still do something vaguely educational...

Thursday, 17 March 2011

The Fear. (For My Family: In Search of Wisdom.)

Photo Credit: Savage Chickens
Everyone is afraid of something, right?

Spiders, burglars, stock market crashes, aliens, terrorists, politicians and all sorts of other random things keep many of us awake at night (or at least they should, according to some newspapers).

Not me.
I will not fear such things.

The only fear I have, the only fear I need, is the fear of God. He is powerful. He is just. He is everywhere. He is the beginning and the end. He is the creator of life. And as such I fear Him. He is God, after all. If I didn't fear Him, He wouldn't be my God, the other stuff would be, in His place.

I believe He is loving. I believe He is good. I believe He is compassionate and merciful. But I also believe there is good reason to fear Him. And it has nothing to do with thinking He may be some kind of unpredictable monster.

Lately I've been reading through the book of Proverbs, trying to uncover some gem of wisdom relating to parenthood, something that would underpin my days of stumbling awkwardly from one mistake to the next. I've become desperate in recent days and weeks, particularly since homeschooling James, to improve my mum-skills, to be the best parent I can be. I've wanted to do this job since I was a little girl playing with my dolls, and yet it leaves me feeling more inadequate and ill-equipped than anything I have ever attempted in my life before.

(Sounds dramatic - feels true!)

I should be enjoying this. I should be good at it. I believe God wants me to parent with knowledge and understanding, and not blindly, with compassion and kindness instead of automatic reaction. I want to be a good mum. I want to be better. And for that, I need to know what I should and shouldn't be doing. I need to be aware of how I can bless my children. I need to understand their personalities, their strengths and their needs.

I need wisdom.

Throughout the first few chapters of Proverbs, we read the words of a father teaching his son about life. He pleads with his child to seek knowledge and understanding. It is as worth searching for as precious silver, he says.  He tells him that the starting point should be the fear of God. "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." It is the very foundation upon which wisdom is to be laid.

What is this fear of God? Are we really to be afraid of Him?

Some people play down this concept of fear. They explain it away by downgrading it to 'awe'. A sort of breathless wonder, or extreme regard for something we love but don't quite understand. The trouble is, the word 'awesome' is applied to so many things these days (waves, hair styles, hot dogs) it's hardly fit for talking about how we should feel about God.

I feel there is another way to understand this call to fear God. I think that we humans are naturally fearful, and that God knows it. And so He gives us the option: we can choose to fear Him (as we are also called to love Him) or we can choose to fear the world's violent, unpredictable evils. I believe that the fear of God is in direct opposition to the fear of man. One cancels out the other. When you truly fear Him, you begin to understand Him, He honours you with His wisdom, and we see that the world can do nothing to us that God cannot deal with.

What does Jesus say? He tells his disciples not to be afraid: "In this world you will have trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world" and also tells them to "fear the one who has the power to destroy both soul and body". Is it possible that the two are connected? Could it be that as you fear God, the fear of man leaves your heart? I think we need to hold this fear within the context of our knowledge of God's character as shown to us in Jesus - his compassion, his relationship, his mercy and his healing. But I think we need to hold it all the same.

Proverbs 14:26 says "Whoever fears the Lord has a secure fortress. And for their children it will be a refuge." A refuge. A place of safety. A place to run to in times of trouble. In fearful days, we can feel safe in the knowledge that the only one we need fear is God. We fear God because He is truly awesome, we love Him because He is truly good, and because of this we are afraid of nothing.

And so my search for wisdom continues. For now I feel like I am starting in the right place.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

For My Family.

Day One.

I don't usually do Lent, being as I am from a more non-traditional, less 'religious' Christian background, and I have never really understood why people do it. I mean, I know why people do it, in a religious sense, as a commemoration of Jesus' 40 days fasting in the wilderness, and as a period of reflection and repentance in advance of Holy Week and the Easter celebrations that follow it. But I've not really got to grips with the benefits of observing Lent, spiritually, and personally.

I always thought that people did it because it was expected of them, it was traditional, it was customary, and perhaps even believed to be required for God's approval. (I definitely don't believe that). I've regularly (annually, in fact) dismissed Lent with a casual 'no need for that' and a shrug of the shoulders.

Until now. 

Recently I have begun to notice that there is more to Lent than the ritual fasting and penitence, spiritual shoulder-lashing and theological navel-gazing I had previously (wrongly) assigned it. Today, as I find myself in the midst of one of the most turbulent, challenging and revealing chapters of my life as a wife and parent, what with all the home-educating, house-churching, own-business-running, and depression-overcoming that's been going on, I have to acknowledge that I need to stop. I need to disengage the autopilot, I need to think hard about what I am doing on a daily basis. I need to get before God and be completely transparent before Him, or very quickly the bottom is going to fall out of what it is I am trying to do (and be).

Conveniently for me, this realisation is emerging at a time when Christian tradition dictates that a season of contemplation has begun, and wouldn't it be a good idea to take stock of one's situation, think about how one approaches life, and change things that are wrong or out of sync, perhaps even give some of them up?

I have, rather surprisingly, given that I am, well, me, decided first and foremost to give up chocolate as this year's Lenten sacrifice. I don't think I really thought it through (ha, story of my life!), but the decision has been made, and I may as well stick to it. (My husband laughed in my face when I told him. But then, he does that in response to many of the things I say.) I'm assuming it will do me some good along the way.

More importantly as far as I am concerned, I have decided to focus on doing something positive, on building something good. A model, in fact. A model of parenting, of wife-hood, of family-being-ness (if I may say that without it sounding too, y'know, blech).

I am going to spend this season searching for a deeper understanding of how to do these things well, and in a way that God maybe has always intended for me to do these things.  I have two children, aged seven and four, and at some point in the future my husband and I hope to take care of some more, via fostering and/or adoption. So I believe this exercise is long overdue. In fact, I feel I am going to be catching up on many years of missed opportunities to meditate on things in this way, and building a measure of understanding that I have needed many times before, but never really had.

So, to cut a long story short (!) during the next 40 days or so, I'll be looking to God's word, to my own experiences, to the words and experiences of other parents, and to my children, as we build something together. And I hope you won't mind if I share it with you.

For my family.

Friday, 4 March 2011

The End of Month One: Is My Boy A Right-Brained Learner?

Well here we are at the end of our first month of home educating our seven-year-old son. I think he has learned something. I know that I, however, have learned a LOT.

I've learned that getting cross with him doesn't get me any results whatsoever, except to increase my own, and his, stress levels. (Duh - you'd have thought I'd have learned this years ago, but no. I am a slow learner!)

I have learned that when he is enjoying an activity, he absorbs a lot of information about that activity. The opposite is also true. If James really hates the idea of something, or struggles with it, I have to weigh-up the value of actually making him do it, as it seems at such times that all potential for learning temporarily takes flight. There are some things I feel it is important to strongly encourage/bribe him to do, such as writing a daily diary. In fact, some days I don't mind if that is the only writing he actually does. I have seen some improvement in his written expression, and his handwriting, since we started this daily exercise. I view it as a valuable tool for recalling the things we've done together, and for reflection, and an opportunity for James to see that he is actually making some progress, and having lots of fun while doing so. It's something he protests against on most days, but he always seems pleased with what he has written afterwards, and when his Dad walks through the front door it's usually the first thing he shows to him. It's akin to getting James to go to bed on time - not something he really wants to do most evenings (unless he's feeling particularly sleepy), but something that we see as necessary, something that will benefit him in both the short- and long-term, and something that, generally, James seems pleased with once it's over!

I've learned that James's capacity for assimilating information is huge. When it comes to Star Wars, that is. He has read through the whole of his Star Wars annual, which recounts the stories of all six film episodes, as well as giving loads of biographical information about each of the characters. He's completed quizzes, word searches and anagrams. He can pretty much answer any question about the films and characters (although he hasn't seen Episode III - a bit too much burning if you ask me). You might think this is all a bit inappropriate, obsessional, perhaps. To me it speaks of James' potential for learning and his mind-boggling ability to understand the complex world of imaginary intergalactic warfare. Which is amazing to me when I consider that he struggles to go through the mechanisms necessary for successful teeth-cleaning of a morning.

I've been pondering the nature of James's learning style as we've embarked on this new phase of life, and in all my digging and hypothesis-positing I have uncovered a couple of possibilities (and they may be very closely linked) that I feel warrant further investigation: The first is that James may have a mild, and specifically inattentive, form of ADHD. Gasp. I know little about such things but from the bits of research I have done (initiated by an inkling of mine) I have discovered enough to justify getting an assessment appointment for James. And that is what we have done. More on that later. The other thing I have had an inkling about for some time is the idea that James may be a completely different kind of learner from me, and indeed, from most of the children that formal education systems and tests, etc, seem to cater for.  I have been reading about right-brained (or 'visual-spatial') learners at Throwing Marshmallows blog  (her son is a visual-spatial learner) and also by following some of the links she gives. (This person has also written an excellent post a couple of years ago about ADHD, homeschooling and the olympic swimmer Michael Phelps here. I like her blog muchly.) I think James may be a predominantly 'visual-spatial' learner. The other main type of learner is called 'auditory-sequential'. I think I am one of those, with a bit of the other thrown in, just to keep things interesting.

Now, I don't have any of the answers to my questions about James's learning style and attention 'needs' yet, but I feel like I am making some headway into understanding him better.  I look forward to discovering more about him, because the more I get to know him, and try to do things in a way that suits him, the better our relationship gets.

Sunday, 20 February 2011


Week three of home educating: the highlights.

On Monday James and I visited an animal welfare centre and spent some time hanging out with the cats, with a view to possibly adopting one. By the time we left we had fallen for a beautiful black cat called Angel. Fast forward a few days and Angel is now our cat. She is currently hiding under a cupboard in the conservatory and only came out briefly during the night to scale the windowsill and knock some stuff onto the floor. I think she must have scared herself silly as she's back under the cupboard with a look on her cute little face that says 'leave me alone'. However for a couple of hours when she first arrived home, she had a little nosey around the room and seemed, well, not too offended. James also dug out some cat-related books at the library on Wednesday and since then he's been discovering the best ways to settle the cat in to our home and how to look after her in general. (This will all help towards getting his Animal Care badge at Beavers in a few weeks' time.)

On Tuesday we got up dead early and drove to Plymouth, where we checked out the City Museum. There we found, amongst other bits and bobs, some mummified animals from Ancient Egypt, a Hippopotamus skull, various bird skeletons, and some African musical instruments and games which the boys enjoyed playing.

The rest of the week included a steady mix of maths (digital and analogue clocks), English (writing all about 'me') and science (the human body) workbook pages, diary writing, Beavers, and Gruffalo play preparation. James and I worked out how we were going to make the various set pieces - Owl's treetop house, Fox's underground house and Snake's logpile house, as well as the rocks, the stream and the lake, all out of large cardboard boxes. We found some pink fur for the mouse's ears and tail, some orange fur for the fox, and some brown fur for the Gruffalo. We haven't got to the filming part yet, as we are a bit behind with making the costumes. We're going to do lots of painting and costume-making this week, and I'm going to help James make the invitations on the computer for family and friends to come and watch the play later in the week.

There have been some tricky times, but I've decided not to focus on those. All in all, I feel that we have found a happy medium between the structure of the first week and the freedom of the second. It is still very early days, and we are both adjusting to the new pattern of living. We are finding our way, and it feels good. Challenging. But good.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

The Gruffalo To The Rescue.

This week, thank the Lord, has been a much better homeschooling experience than the last. After wrestling with our routine for the first week,  I decided to take a different approach with James for the second - more 'hands off' (ie. less bossing from me). I let James choose what he wanted to do, play, read, and watch, making some gentle suggestions along the way, but not pushing anything. And two things happened. One, we both relaxed, which made a huge difference to our ability to communicate and have fun, and two, we actually got some stuff done!

Contrary to my fears that all James would want to do would be to play with Star Wars lego morning, noon and night, he actually surprised me by choosing to spend time listening to The Gruffalo story on CD (a firm fave in our house - thanks Auntie Lou!), watching the brilliant BBC animation that was on TV a couple of Christmasses ago, and then making plans to put on a house performance with Daniel as the mouse, Karl as the Gruffalo and James playing all the other parts (I'm the narrator). We had a 'planning meeting' on Thursday to plan the cast, costumes and set design. We're going to get the materials, make costumes and set pieces and practise the performance during the coming week, film it next weekend (for you lucky people, and for the express purpose of embarrassing James on his 18th birthday, hehe), and perform it for friends and family in half-term (they get no choice in the matter - tough pants!).

What a difference a week makes. We are all smiles here once again. For now.

(Check out the excellent Gruffalo website here.)

Monday, 7 February 2011

In The Beginning: Our First Week.

My son, James, and I have just completed our first week of homeschooling together. The whole process has really served to hold a mirror up to my parenting skills. And I find myself seriously lacking. Lacking patience, lacking compassion, lacking flexibility, lacking joy. I had made all sorts of plans, about how our week would look, and how each day would flow. I was dreaming about the fun we would have together.  But so far it hasn't quite worked out as I had hoped. It's mostly been tough. Tough with a huge dollop of difficult. Or perhaps that's just my perspective.

 We have had some fun, on some days. Like when James, Dan and I went to the woods, and did a nature collection, fed the ducks and swans and had lunch together. The next day James and I made a huge nature picture featuring photographs of our time in the woods, and some of our nature collection. We both enjoyed that.

But most days have been full of struggles. James has been quite out of sorts. He's been angry, confrontational, defiant. He's been cheeky, silly, and distracted. He's been really unenthusiastic about many of our plans (things we both had talked about and agreed on), and unresponsive to my attempts to direct him or challenge his behaviour. To some extent I think this is due to the disruption of the change from school to home. Perhaps he is just pushing the boundaries because I'm his mum and I am trying to carve out a new role as his teacher. Maybe he's reacting to the newness of the circumstances, and things will settle down. I hope they do.

I am trying to be flexible, to think about the options for different ways of learning and interacting. At the same time I am worried about what other people are thinking - how do I convince my husband and other family members that this is going to work out, that we can be adaptable and unconventional and still give our son a well rounded and effective educational experience? How do I convince myself?

I haven't behaved particularly well either. I've been cross and shouty, and too, too serious. I've been anxious to get things done in a certain way, to achieve my goals according to my timescales. I've been talking too much and listening too little. And the furrowed line in the centre of my forehead is getting deeper! I thought I was well prepared for last week. Now I think I've been flying blind.

Preparedness for me has always been about the external - the paperwork, the to-do lists, the right things in the right places, the materials and the books, the trips and the experiences. But I have not prepared myself. And I have not prepared James. Our relationship has taken a bit of a beating over these last few months, as he and I have struggled to navigate the ups and downs of school and home life, and to communicate in our different languages (that's what it feels like some days).

I thought that being prepared meant having the right plans for each day and each week's work, planned responses for this and that behaviour. Now I realise that being prepared is much more than that. It's about me being a mum, the right kind of mum for James. It's about my heart and his. It's about our relationship, our connection, our trust. I am not here to control him, but to nurture, not to boss, but to train, not to do for, but to show. My role is to care, to love, to bless. I am to raise him towards adulthood with care and affection. And our homeschooling journey is now a major part of that. I want to worry less about what he is achieving academically, and concentrate more on how he is developing as a person.

"Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is older he will not turn from it". (Proverbs 22:6)

I am going to spend some time thinking about what kind of character I would like James to become, and how I can help him to grow into that character. I'll be on my knees praying a lot - I need all the help I can get!

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Be Prepared!

James joined the Beaver Scouts a couple of weeks ago. (A younger version of Cubs). Their motto is 'be prepared'. I've decided to adopt this as my motto too. A few weeks ago I was thinking ahead of the coming year, and what I would like to do differently. I came up with two main thoughts - I would like to be more prepared, not just for home ed, but in many areas of life - domestically, as a parent, as a friend and so on, and I would like to enjoy life more, to laugh more and have more fun. I've been way too serious for way too long - and my kids could certainly do with some cheering up.

So this week has been a week of preparation, getting ready for home education. I know that the boundaries between education and life are not clear cut, as education should permeate all of life. However, we still need a place to work, to create, to play, to talk and read and listen. As we've been having some building work done recently, that has taken a few weeks longer than expected, we are still in a bit of a pickle here in terms of organisation and space. In other words, there is stuff everywhere, and none of it in the right place. So James, having finished school last Friday, has been helping me to sort things out. We've done some housework, some clearing up and some organising (I even had James willingly mopping the floor and doing dishes! Not bad this home education lark!).

The other thing we have had time to do this week is just talk. We have talked about some of the subjects James would like to explore as we spend time learning together in the coming weeks and months. We have talked (mainly me) about our expectations regarding behaviour, and this week we are going to establish the 'rules for a happy home'. I'll share those with you another time. We talked about what a typical week might look like, and decided on a theme for each day, so that we have something to focus on as we plan our work. Again, I'll share those another time. I'm just grabbing five minutes to get some thoughts down on the blog.

So we are looking ahead to next week, our 'official' first week of home educating. And as we do so, we are praying for guidance, enjoying the time and space to think and talk, and excitement is bubbling up as we anticipate the journey we are about to begin!

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

We have a date!

For starting home educating, that is. Next week will officially be James's last full week at school. We start on Monday 31st January. Excited!!!!

I had planned for James to finish school a week later, but two things have changed my mind. One is that there hasn't been a day since the new term started that James hasn't dragged his feet of a morning and emphatically declared his hatred for school. I know that he isn't alone in feeling that way, and that isn't by any means our only reason for taking him out of school, but I have witnessed a gradual increase in his reluctance to go to school and his objections have become stronger as the days and weeks have passed. I can't wait to start home educating if only to put an end to the whingeing. (Of course I realise it won't put an end to it really, but it helps me to think that it might).

The other thing is that James came home from school the other day and told me that his teacher had called him a 'lazy child'. Now, I know that James is lots of things, but lazy isn't one of them. He is bright, challenging, daydreamy, quiet, sensitive, distractible, and a bit silly sometimes. But he certainly isn't lazy. And even if he was, I really don't think any child (or person) should be subject to such unhelpful (even borderline abusive) comments. I also don't think that he made it up. He isn't usually given to telling tall tales, and we don't use the word 'lazy' at home at all. He told me when and where it was said and explained the context. I have also witnessed his teacher being less than kind to some of the other children in his class. So I believe him. I am really cross with his teacher.

But I haven't expressed that to anyone (well, apart from you). Instead I have channelled that energy into getting as geared up as possible for our home educating adventures. And I have taken this incident as confirmation that we are doing the right thing for now. The sooner James comes out of that environment, the better.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Another Pound Bites The Dust.

As the title suggests, at my WW weigh-in today I discovered that over the Christmas season I actually lost a pound in weight. Astonishing. Maybe it was all the illness, maybe all the stress, who knows? I have been eating a teensy bit less recently, but haven't done much exercise to speak of. Oh well, I'll take it! And now I start the year with a new determination to succeed at this weight-loss malarky.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Conservatory Update 2: Another Photo.

Unfortunately, the weather and the state of the roads and the availability of concrete and the size of vans and the general attitude of builders and heaps of other things seem to be working against us at the moment, thus delaying the completion of our new conservatory. However, we do now have walls. I am thankful. And I sat in my lounge recently thinking to myself how fortunate we were to be having an extra room built on the back of our already fairly decent-sized house, while some people live in houses half the size of our lounge, with ten children, several grandparents and a few chickens. And a goat. And no toilet. So, again, I am thankful.
Here's a photo: