Monday, 25 January 2016

The bad and the good.

I have come to believe that after the bad comes the good.

I am not sure whether or not this is actually a philosophical question (a la Augustine) but for us, when there has been a true sh*t storm, there then comes a precious calm.

During this awkward time of  such rampant and blatant persecution in our country (world?) (whether that be because of your religion, race, disability, sexual preference, choice to home educate etc etc etc) big things are happening.

In the last week I have spoken to three different parents who had just/were about to de-register their children from school.

It is almost as if, by way of their blatant persecution and singling out of the alternative education community (NSPCC report, the saddening, recent (but not current) story about the little boy in Wales, the supposed ' hidden' ulterior motive whereby parents mean to 'radicalise' children, Loose Women), the government have in fact created a tidal wave of people having a closer look at this area.

So, for home education, one of my passions, parents are actually considering the question on a massive scale. This is giving the home education community an unprecedented opportunity to discuss their choice rationally, animatedly and perhaps most importantly, logically (because the success of individualised learning is well known and should be the gold standard for every educational establishment, not just home education), In this article from 2010 in the Guardian newspaper, you can see this quite clearly.

So, yes, this full frontal assault has resulted in an amazing opportunity for everyone. Let's talk about it. Properly. Using evidence and experience and whilst feeling confident in our ability to make the best choice for our family. Let's not fight amongst ourselves.

It is really no one else's business how you and I as parents choose to educate our child/ren. We're all doing our best!

The major point to be taken from these kinds of massive, light-shedding events (specifically the home education events in this instance) is that all choices/options are valid. We can't like them all (some are truly horrifying indeed in the broadest sense of these events) but we have to respect peoples rights to make them all.  It sucks at times, but mostly it is what makes us free. Choice, as they say in 'The Matrix', is the problem.

But, I digress, what inspired me to write this post in the first place, is my current experience with my kids.

This past week has been truly horrendous at times, ('throwing in the towel' kind of horrendous) but, that utter madness has been concluded with exactly the opposite degree of madness.

The level of achievement in my house right now!

The communication, the the life skills, positivity, learning name it. I am so energised by the progress occurring in my house that I am hardly needing to sleep! For the first time in my life I am surviving on about 6 hours...and not feeling tired! Something must be fuelling me and I think it is the children.

Harriet is apparently in training to one day climb Mount Everest! She would surely be 'The World's Climbing Champion' ... in the under 12 months category!!! She is so fast, so sure footed and so determined. I simply stand by her and help her learn how to do it safely. It is heart-stoppingly nerve-racking but it is so worth it! She goes easily and confidently up the stairs now. She can get down from a bed. She attempts to climb up into her high chair and will push things around to climb somewhere she wants to go but can't!! She is also loving a set of little stackable eggs with a duckling in the middle. Watching her figure out how to do it is so fun. She also LOVES being read and sung to. 'Dear Zoo' and any song will do.

Lily has suddenly, and I mean over night, gone from not doing any maths to doing additions of three figure numbers, subtractions of three figure numbers and is beginning to understand the idea of 'times tables' and why they are helpful.

As an aside, I feel that school does this the wrong way around. They try to teach the times tables before children learn for themselves why they are good to learn! It is much easier when the child is motivated by their own experience to explain to them a new concept which they now know, will be helpful to them now, and in the future.

Dominik has yet to 'avoid' a single day of his physiotherapy work. He is still doing parkour. He too has suddenly found the relevant patterns in maths (but still won't work with any odd numbers!!!). He is also trying his hand at his first model kit. Loving it, but finding it challenging for his fine motor skills. Excellent! Oh, and he bought a comic with his own money! Unheard of. He is reading again.

(We realised tonight that we all have our own bookshelves..such a lovely moment.)

Hannon has just simply worked like a trojan on his coding. But, alas, I truly have no idea how well he is doing. I know that he is not nine yet, and that he began learning at the end of October after doing two tutorials with me, but is his progress considered 'good'?

Meh, who cares! Hannon is learning so much, so fast, and with so much enthusiasm that I do not think that the kindest measurement of this is one that means he feels he is in competition with anyone aside from himself! If he is happy with what he is learning, that is good enough for me. He is achieving to his highest possible standard. Brilliant.

He is also still attending Cubs after asking to quit in October! He's slightly wary but knows that I will allow him to stop at the end of any month if he wants to. But that has not happened yet!

He is actively enjoying things now. Partly because the pressure if off to stay and partly because the activities have suddenly become slightly more 'challenging' and it turns out, that he is excelling! Now that the number of 'games' that he doesn't know have decreased the tables have turned.

He has, on two occasions, been the only child to successfully complete both the co-ordinates task (he was also, coincidentally, the only child there who had not 'done them already') and the first aid task! He was STUNNED and so bloody proud. He really stands out among his peers when it comes to his ability to learn new skills (what we focus on most I guess...not what to learn, but how to learn) and the speed with which he can acquire them if he wants to.

He's a hidden, understated little gem. I cannot believe the grace with which he is growing up given that he is enveloped by two such demanding, strenuous siblings. He is my inspiration.

They all are. I just feel so privileged to be on this journey with them all.

To end, I have these motifs in my bedroom. Call me sentimental but they really do help.

Don't let anyone dull your sparkle
Be the change you wish to see in the world
She can do it
Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass, it's about learning to dance in the rain
When it rains look for rainbows, when it's dark, look for stars

I have more than those but they are the only ones I can read from where I am sitting! :-)

My hope is that you feel inspired by this to consider your own challenges and demands in a slightly different way for a moment or two.

Without the bad, I wouldn't have the good.

Sleep well.

N x

PS - I am tired now but I want to publish, so please excuse any typos. :-)

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