Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Last Day of Pre-School

Yes, you did read that correctly!


I have been on quite a journey since I posted about the first day, just a week ago, suffering physically as well as mentally, as I tend to do when there's a lot going on in my head. The pre-school we were going to was really good. They have have an excellent reputation, OFSTED say they are great too. They have really accommodated us and answered all my questions in the right way. But we quit anyway.

Why?

Well, once it dawned on me that I could home ed, and then I thought about what I would do if I did home ed, and then I realised that was what I am already doing anyway, but now preschool is getting in the way. Plus pre school hours don't allow me to work, which isn't really an option. Plus if we do go back to Australia so as to delay his formal schooling until he's 6 1/2 there is no need for him to get school ready, and if I carry on with home ed there is no need for him to be school ready either. And he doesn't like it. 

I do need him to go somewhere for a few hours though, so that I can do the things I need to do. Ideally it would be for a long enough period for me to run classes again one morning. I talked with him over and over to see if he would rather stay at nursery of  pre-school. Mostly his answer was that he didn't like any, but several times he said nursery. When I asked about pre-school the answer was "no mummy, that was the last day". Nursery hours are more flexible, they suit me better, he is used to it, he has a great friend there, he is attached to his key worker, it is more play based and less structured in the 'prep for formal learning' kind of way. So nursery won. Unfortunately they had already given away the session we really wanted, but they can do some other hours that work for us, and he still gets to see his best friend.

As for what I am doing instead, we are going to carry on as we are. BB is very inquisitive, he asks questions and then we investigate. This week we have been down to a nature reserve that he likes twice already, he calls it the water place. Someone has made a film of it on YouTube, BB said "we should do that too Mum", so I think we will. We took the camera yesterday when we went to pick blackberries. We might try and take photos every month so we can compare what happens over the seasons. Other questions he has been asking are things like "what does it look like inside your body?" We have now watched several documentaries via YouTube that show you that. He is really interested that your eyes see things upside down, and how babies grow in tummies. 

When I first made the list of what I thought should be included each week I noticed that we pretty much do everything already. At first I thought that music was missing, but I have since observed that he makes his own music all the time, by singing and with exploratory activities such as banging sticks on fences and tins and that sort of thing - experimenting with sound - that's the early stages of music development surely.

I am excited too as I feel that I can really pursue my passion now, which is education.  I am loving reading books about how children learn once again. When I first moved back to the UK, I registered a company called Learning Now (representing that we can learn from our environment that we are in, that modern life has changed but our education system is still designed for the industrial revolution, now we have technology which is a hugely powerful tool that is transforming learning (but schools and many parents are a bit scared of it), and there's also a little Buddhist influence of being in the here and now - I thought it was dead clever name!). The plan was to develop place based, rich, purposeful and contextualised learning opportunities but it never really took off - my only contracts ended up being for Australian companies that I had worked with before. Now I feel that I can develop that idea, even though it's in a different way - it's a more meaningful way really. I really don't know why I never thought  about doing it before! This is another thing that makes me feel like we are on the right track. It's a way for us both to do what we love.

I have mentioned my plans to home school to several other people. Interestingly people are only concerned about social interaction, no one is in the slightest bit concerned that he will miss out on some valuable educational experiences (says it all really). I too want BB to socialise, but he will still have a minimum of 8 hours at nursery each week, and group swimming lessons, and gym classes, and Home Ed meet ups, and play dates, and numerous family events, and visits overseas - so I think that's more than covered all manner of social interaction. 

I am slightly nervous, but not too much. The main thing that worries me is the fact that if he doesn't start school now but decides that he wants to go later, will he be able to deal with it? And then I remind myself that the countries with the best educational outcomes, children don't start formal learning until they are 7, so I figure that means we have two to four years to experiment and try things out before we really have to make a choice.

I think I am going to document what we do on a separate blog... partly because I want to have a record of it for the powers that be that might come asking, and partly because it will help me to see what BB knows and where his interests lie, partly for me out of interest as an educator and educational researcher, and also for BB as a record of some of the things we have done - if we continue maybe he will take over writing some of it as he gets older. It might be of interest to others once we get going too.

So there we have it. Undoubtedly one of the shortest pre school careers in history. 

FX no regrets!



Below are some photos from the "water place"