I’ve just realised that it was April since I last posted! That really is a very long time even for my standards. Anyway here’s a catch up on what I’ve been doing.
Home schooling my daughter
We’ve lengthened our lessons and now do about 8 hours of work a week. This may not seem a lot in comparison to formal schooling but I’ve found that you can get through a lot when you’re working on a one to one basis. (This doesn’t include the hours of informal learning which we do ‘on the hoof’ that is in response to something in the news or on the telly.) In terms of formal subjects, we are doing maths and English and now moving towards science (more about this later on). For maths we are sort of following key stage 3 but also recapping primary level numeracy. This may sound a bit odd because, theoretically, you need a good grounding of number work to proceed to more advanced maths. However, I’m not strictly following the rules because if I was to just focus on number work my daughter would be bored stiff. Also because she has been put off maths at primary school I’ve had to find ways to engage her again. It wasn’t easy to start with as she was really anti-learning but slowly through the use of practical activities (ie shapes, graphs, probability) she has picked up and is ready to start doing some number work in more detail.
As for English, we’ve made some progress in that she is starting to read again and out loud. This is a major breakthrough as a few months ago she refused to read anything. She had been put off English at primary school mainly because there was such an emphasis on reading stories which she absolutely hates. She finds language difficult to understand, particularly when its non factual, plus she struggles to follow a story without the aid of a picture. Throw in the lack of support and not surprisingly we ended up with a child who refused to read. Needless to say I had to start again, looking for ways to encourage her. Fortunately I came across a fabulous book called Wow!: The Visual Encyclopedia of Everything. It is a visual book full of super photography and information on subjects as diverse as nature, science, space, people and culture. It is a great book to dip into and has proven so popular with my daughter that she is now reading it to me.
Then there is science! I have to admit at not knowing how to teach science in the home. I mean we don’t have the equipment for a start plus the bulk of my scientific knowledge is at O level standard (though I did part study the environment during my degree). Even so I didn’t feel confident about teaching the subject plus the key stage 3 books left me cold. Even my engineer husband thought they were too theoretical. So, chucking the books aside, we decided on a practical approach and bought a crystal making kit. My daughter loves crystals so it made sense to start our science lessons with something she had an interest in. Overall, it has been successful. Except for one or two experiments that didn’t work, she really enjoyed the practical work and has been able to create some lovely crystals including a geode (a hollow rock filled with crystals). We’re now moving on to a chemistry kit which is something we will be working on during the summer holidays (well that’s the plan).
As you can see from the above badge, I’ve linked up with the Adventures in Home Schooling Weekly Link Up. I’ve decided it would be a great opportunity to meet other home educators particularly those teaching tweens/teens.
My son’s school and the transition to college
Now an update about my son. As some of you know, he will shortly be finishing school. I am finding this a difficult time as I keep thinking about how education has treated him (and us) and the loss of opportunities as a result. I have much to say about this but will not go into detail here as it warrants a blog post all of its own! Nevertheless we have turned things round and my son has been able to complete his final year at school (the school wanted him out at the start of year 11). He has also been able to sit a few exams. We are relieved that the school backed down on this because it was important for him to complete his education without the trauma of moving schools mid way through year 11. I’m not sure the school appreciated this but my son compartmentalises his life in such a way that he had to see through his last year before thinking about college.
However, as far as college is concerned, transition between school and college has been hopeless. In my opinion this has mainly been due to him being schooled out of town which has meant that the colleges the school have worked with have not been our local ones. In view of that you would think that our local authority would provide some sort of support to help pupils like my son to move across to a local college. Alas nothing like this appears to exist (not for us anyhow) and yet again we’ve found ourselves trying to sort something out ourselves. Eventually we chased up a specialist careers adviser and organised a learning difficulty assessment and made contact with various other people in college. However our son didn’t want to become involved and we were left to look round college and meet the tutors on his behalf. This wasn’t ideal as we wanted him there but if he wasn’t interested (or alternatively too stressed to go) then we had no choice but to get the information for him. Eventually after a lot of encouragement our son asked us to apply for an IT course on his behalf which we have now done. Now he’s waiting for an interview. Fingers crossed that he will go.
So there you have it. Life is busy and chaotic and very up and down. However, in comparison to a few years ago things have improved a lot. There is still a lot of work to do and a lot of support to give but in general our household has become calmer which is not something I ever thought would happen. I only hope it lasts.
PS: I forgot to mention that my eldest daughter now has a job with a city company. It is a temporary job which she is doing before heading off for university this autumn. She has been doing this job for several months now and, it appears, quite successfully too as she has been given extra responsibilities. I’m really pleased (and proud) of her as she appears to be coping really well with quite a demanding job.