Thursday, 21 April 2016

Where we're at

I think we finally have ourselves sorted. We are settled in our new house, it's almost as we want it, just a few things on our lists to make our lives more comfortable and economical on the inside, and an overhaul of the garden to make it more usable, water wise, and productive, but we're definitely getting there. Our new life is starting to unfold, and our direction is becoming clearer.

I have stated a new business doing AromaTouch and was planning to study natural medicine, starting with massage, but that situation has changed. Firstly the college i was going to study at closed the local campus, and secondly, despite seeming to enjoy kindy, BB has decided that he still wants to home school, as per our plan in the UK.

I was a bit taken a back by the homeschool idea at first. Though I did mourn the loss of our homeschooling dream when we first started to settle in to our new location, I really thought that the (slightly) more relaxed education system and starting at 1 1/2 years older than he would in the UK would make it all OK. The kindy he is at is amazing. Lots of lovely outdoor space, only 17 kids, very play based. Its a community run kindergarten and all the parents are very involved. He has some good friends there and enjoys playing with them, and loves the toy library that allows him to borrow two new toys each week. He's very certain he doesn't want to go to school after though. I think they are quite explicit about the skills they are learning for school. He particularly hates doing Brain Gym (he is right - the whole thing has been refuted as a neuromyth), and as far as I can see it's just a way to train kids to sit down and shut up. I participated and so did his Dad, it's as boring as hell, and develops nothing but tolerance for boredom and sitting still. He also dislikes waiting around for other kids to get with the program, sitting down with his legs crossed, and rest time, (when they are rewarded for doing nothing and being quiet). In addition to this he has started to question the teacher already. She is lovely and I have a great deal of respect for her personally, but she has got a few train facts wrong and apparently (according to BB) insists she is right when he knows better, which to BB means she doesn't really know anything!

Homeschooling is one of those things that's a bit like having a baby as a single mum, by your self, on purpose. Although it seems like a crazy radical idea at first, once you start looking into it you can't actually imagine doing anything else. As a parent you know your child better than anyone. You can offer one to one tuition, go at the child's own pace, help them to explore their own interests, follow their lead and continue to nurture that innate curiosity and quest for mastery and understanding that they are born with. You don't have to be tied to school hours, they don't have to waste hours waiting for others to be ready to learn, going over stuff they already know, doing stuff that doesn't interest them which puts them off learning, or risk missing that vital lesson in week two of term 3 in year 4, which will never be repeated because that's not how the curriculum or the lesson plans or schemes of work are organised. You don't have to be subjected to demoralising tests. You don't have to be restricted to school holidays, learning can remain as a fun, self directed process of inquiry, you can do it anywhere, any time, in a multitude of ways. The world is your classroom, and the whole broad range of all the people of all ages, religions, and abilities in our society help you to develop social skills, not just a class of 30 other 4/5 year olds.

At first I thought that I couldn't possibly homeschool (several people asked me if I was going to do it and I thought it a crazy idea). I finally woke up to the fact that I could. Having been a teacher for 20+ years, many other people have trusted me to educate their child, shouldn't I trust myself? I have a masters of education. I have strong ideas about how we should be teaching (read as "facilitating learning"), which are very different from what is happening in our education system. Our education system has reduced and deconstructed knowledge down so much that it is meaningless to most of our kids and taught totally out of any real context. I always used to spout that learning should be purposeful, locally contextualised and of real meaning and value to the learner... that it should be inquiry basedself directed, exciting and fun.  I also wanted it it be real, and constantly went on about how we should teach based on real life problems, and apply the content of the curriculum at the time that the knowledge it offered was required, and if the need for that information never arose we should seriously question why we are teaching it in the first place... i think many of my colleagues were sick of hearing it.

I can do it. I honestly think it will be better for BB than school, and I think it will stimulate me enough intellectually and professionally to keep me sane. So that is our plan.  We'll be able to visit our family whenever we want or need without missing school too, which is great.



We have connected with our local homeschooling group and so far have been on two trips, to the fire station and the weather station, and BB is starting home schoolers soccer next week. There is heaps going on and some great people to meet so I am confident we can create a good social network. We are also making some lovely friends who are choosing a variety of schooling options, that we can socialise with at other times.

It also means we have to find a new plan for generating an income, which has yet to be defined - but where there is a will there is a way, right? I can still do some AromaTouch, I may still find time to study if I just do one unit at a time. Maybe we can do something online like we did before.

BB is calling it Train Schooling (because he loves trains and that's the main thing he wants to learn about, along with dinosaurs, space, beaches, playgrounds, making videos and cooking). I think trains could be a great way to teach many things, we can look at railways around the world, the people that built them, the things they transport... train carriages lend themselves very well to maths, think about the multiplication addition division etc you can do with x number of trains with y number of wheels, z number of windows... then there's the passengers and the multitudes of things that go with them, where they come from, where they are going, the jobs they do, they do, their families... there's stations, cargo, load management, design, aerodynamics, fuel economy, speed, time, networks, maps... There are books about trains to develop reading and writing, and he's already made his first film about trains, see Train School 1.  I think you could actually teach the whole "curriculum" through Train School if you wanted to.





I have also decided where we are headed with the blog. I do love writing a blog. Its a great outlet. It has also helped me to make money in the past and perhaps it could again. I have thought about  canning it completely, and about starting something completely different. What I have decided though is that I like what it does. I like having a place to store my recipes, to share craft ideas, I have enjoyed reviewing educational toys and products, making myself accountable for what I am eating, networking with other SMCs. I have some ideas about what we can do on a blog in the future, and doubts about sharing BB's story with our local peers. So we're going to carry on. We will share recipes and resources, and over time I may migrate a few of my recipes and craft ideas over. It will be place based, focusing on our learning in our environment, which will be mostly Albany, but may also include the rest of the world. We'll explore playgrounds, beaches and other local spaces, plus things in the UK, South Australia, NT and anywhere else we are fortunate to visit.

Hopefully we can continue to create and live our Blissful Life - we really are very lucky to be us.