Friday, January 30, 2015

How we're doing home education right now...

Noah is four and Eli is two right now, which feels like a good time to document what we're doing during the day. I thought I'd try to update this every month or so, to keep a record of what we're up to.

This year, we're trying out some monthly goals for the kids, that feed into yearly goals. Eug's gotten all into goals, and you know me. Just call me the Supportive Wife... But seriously, we come up with the goals together and it feels... you know... team-ey. This month, we had a goal focused on helping Noah and Eli to greet people, helping the kids deal with conflict (which was mainly about our not freaking out about conflict), and teaching the kids to swim.

Swimming was the goal that took the most planning, as we tried to swim almost every day, but we don't have a swimming pool. By the end of the month, Eli became cautious and doesn't want to swim unless he's sure he can stand. So we leave him be and don't force it, hoping he'll eventually come around (hopefully this year, goals and all). Noah, on the other hand, swam the length of the tidal pool at St James-- without me near him! He has barely inflated water wings to help give him confidence, and he's pretty much filled with pride over being able to do something so objectively scary.

To help with greeting people, Noah and Eli learned to buy a piece of fruit when we go on the train, from the man who has a fruit stall by the stairs of the train station. Eli shoves the money in the man's hand, grabs a banana and runs away in a kind of dance. Noah tries to talk and make his requests, but he speaks pretty quietly and is not always understood. Still, it seemed like a good idea. We go out for pizza (Narona-- best pizza in Obs) once a week, not only because it gives us a break from cooking, but also because the kids get practice sitting and eating in a different environment. Once or twice a week, I take the kids to our farm plot, where they fend for themselves for an hour or two while my dad and I dig holes and water trees by hand (we invite them to join in, but it's been so hot that I can understand why they tend to play their own games).

The kids play together for some of the day (hence the conflict resolution), play with us, read with us, cook (sometimes). We're still trying violin for a few minutes every day, which Noah and Eli suddenly really enjoy. I've eased up on their bow hold being perfect, in favour of just having them try and gradually correcting them when I sense that'll be helpful.

The extent to which it all feels like "education" varies a lot from day to day. Which I think is fine given their ages. Sometimes we do great, sometimes we just survive. Which is maybe the same whether one goes to school outside or stays home. I imagine that the difference between spending the day with parents and going to school might not be so great until children start to be expected to sit down for long periods and get tested on their knowledge. It's noticeable that Noah has a kind of innocence, or lack of insider knowledge, when it comes to interactions with other kids- that can make these interactions difficult for him to navigate. It doesn't seem to bother him too much, so we're just slowly trying to find more places for him to interact with kids.

Eug sometimes finds cool experiments to do with the kids. I cook and bake with them and do painting and drawing (painting when I'm in a good mood...). We also read a bunch of children's Bibles most days. The version of the Bible that the kids and I like the most is The Jesus Storybook Bible, which was sent to me by my friend Meera (thank you Meera!). It has a subtle humour, beautiful illustrations and most importantly, it helps Noah and Eli hear and understand something about a bunch of the Bible. But we read a couple of other versions too-- my feeling is that God can break through in many different ways, and it's mainly our job to just facilitate that as best we can.

Anyway, all in all we read A LOT. It's our calming go-to activity (um, that and YouTube but I'm not going to talk about that because this is a whitewashed account of our days). These are some of our books for this month (I wrote down our books two out of the four weeks). I've starred the books that Noah and Eli really liked.

*Featherbrain by John Yeoman and Quentin Blake
Our Village by John Yeoman and Quentin Blake
*Mouse Trouble by John Yeoman and Quentin Blake
*Mr Nodd's Ark by John Yeoman and Quentin Blake
*Splat the Cat Storybook Collection Rob Scotton
Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg
Brilliant Boats by Tony Mittoon and Ant Parker
Homer and the Circus Train by Hardie Gramatky
Nicholas and the Fast Moving Diesel by Edward Ardizzone
*Jack and the Flumflum tree by Julia Donaldson and David Roberts
Look Out, Ladybird by Jack Tickle
*A Squash and a Squeeze by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler
How to be a Viking by Cressida Cowell
Restarted the Magic Treehouse books Mary Pope Osborne.

How do train your dragon by Cressida Cowell (the storyline is too complex for Noah, but he wants to keep going.)
365 Things to do with Paper and Cardboard Usborne Activities.
*The Firekeeper's Son Linda Sue Park
Alice in Wonderland Lewis Carroll (Emma Chichester Clark version)
Primrose in Charge Alan MacDonald
Mabela the Clever margaret Read MacDonald
The Last Train by Kim Lewis
The Spirit of Steam: Locomotives in South Africa by A.W. Smith & D.E. Bourne.
*Snuff by Quentin Blake
Mister Magnolia by Quentin Blake
Knight School Jane Clarke and Jane Massey
The Storm Whale by Benji Davies
Patrick by Quentin Blake
*Mrs Armitage and the Big Wave by Quentin Blake

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