Tag Archive | kids

Important message!

No one wants to read long blogs right now. I’m not that keen on writing them whilst everyone’s holidaying. So have created another way of leaving you with an important message:

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Feel free to pass it on!

Short of ‘Good Ideas’?

My blogs might slow down for a bit over summer, but if you’re short of ideas dip into Michael Rosen’s book. DSC06116

This man has surely got to be a home educator at heart!

His book ‘Good Ideas – How to be your child’s (and your own) best teacher’ illustrates beautifully an approach to learning home educators already use; just being engaged with your kids.

And it shows how all parents can teach their kids and get involved with education simply by being an engaged, attentive, observational and a curious parent. A good article on what he says about that here. It’s more about parenting than teaching, how the two are intertwined, how the world is full of the best curriculum you’ll ever have, and how interacting with the children whilst you show it to them will help them learn and will build essential life skills that go beyond the academic, to application in the real world.

It’s a fabulous resource. A readable book. And a reminder how to be curious yourself so that your child will be and how this is a precursor to learning.

When you’re too tired to think up anything else, dip into Michael’s book, and you’ll be inspired and regenerated.

Living life is learning about life and Michael illustrates how easily this can happen.

Education and School don’t always overlap!

Remember me saying I find stuff about education in the most unlikely places? Saw this quote in an Art book the other day (‘Steal Like An Artist’ by Austin Kleon) and thought I’d share it as my post today, to maybe get you thinking about yourself for a change as well as the children!

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So nice to have what I’m always saying endorsed!

It’s the ongoing life’s work of all of us to educate ourselves, as much as it is all parents’ job to take responsibility for the children’s, rather than always abdicating it to schools, for learning can take place within our lives all the time, not just in institutions and on courses.

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Just for today though, think about your own education. By demonstrating it’s importance in this way you’ll also be indirectly educating the kids. This book might not do it for you, you might be inspired by Instagram or cookery, but inspiration is just another route to education. Go find some for yourself!

Term end – sad or sweet?

School term ends, summer hols begin and so does the usual media coverage on the good, the bad, and what to do with the kids all day.

I know it’s a challenge for many parents, especially those who work out the house. But it’s sad if it reflects on the children, making them feel they’re perhaps a nuisance in grown up lives.

We were lucky enough to never have that problem – we were with the kids all day anyway, home educating. A choice we made that meant having to do without a lot of stuff that money can buy to give our kids something money can’t buy – our company.

Holiday time!

Holiday time!

And I say ‘lucky’ but I sometimes feel it’s a kind of luck many don’t want. The choice to be with their children is not one everyone relishes as much as we did.

We all have the right to have our choices respected. But maybe we should make them with deeper consideration of the consequences, even the choice to have children at all! We managed on very little, which meant we didn’t have expensive holidays, top-of-the-range brands and constantly up dated technology. We didn’t want to perpetuate that culture of consumerism as being desirable anyway. We thought about what was truly of value to us and made a choice.

Our culture is based around that consumerism and it’s bred an expectation of a right to have; have far more than we ever really need. And although I respect and empathise with those who have the real challenge of just maintaining a roof over their heads and paying the bills, there are equally as many who expect to maintain a standard of consumerism for the sake of their image, not because it’s a value that’s been deeply thought about and prioritised.

The rewards for us choosing to have less (and I mean real thrift here – no frills at all in our case) in order to have more time for the kids outweighed any amount of disposable income we may have had and was a sweet choice we never once regretted.

We realised that giving time and attention to our kids at that time in their life was of irreplaceable value.

And thinking out our values is something we all have a choice to do.

 

Find out what our home education life looked like in a fun and easy read with my book ‘A Funny Kind of Education’. A book for laughter and learning – the two should always go together!

The value of the Quiet Ones!

My treat for the weekend is to take a book outside and read. DSC06096

Doing it outside makes it less of a busman’s holiday for me. Since I’m concerned with words all day, it feels less workish to do it under birdsong, roses and the lullaby of the breeze, with the occasional annoying fly just keeping me from dozing off.

With some books I don’t doze off. ‘Quiet’ has been one of those.

It’s full title is ‘Quiet. The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking’ and it’s a fascinating observation of the valuable personality traits of Introverts. (TED talk here)

In fact, it’s a celebration of Introversion; of all it’s valuable attributes, and how it should never be seen as something wrong with us that needs to be corrected – as it is in many social climes, particularly with reference to children. The author Susan Cain talks about shyness (which I’ve blogged about before) and how it’s often tied up with Introversion yet is quite different.

We are all different, and we need that diversity for our species to survive, but it is often only the loudest that get revered, overlooking the quiet ones and the huge contributions they make to progress with their reflective and considered thinking and the fact they spend less time polishing their image and partying and more time in deep thought and invention. Whereas extroverts need a high stimulation environment, introverts feel most stimulated and do their best stuff in low key environments. The ‘key to maximising our talents is to put ourselves in the zone of stimulation that works best for us’ says Susan in her TED talk. Sadly most school environments fail to provide a low key environment for those who need it. no wonder so many kids fail to thrive there.

The last chapter contains some important ideas with regard to raising and educating our children with respect to the fact that many children need smaller social environs in which to learn and grow. And this is okay. We do not have to force them ‘to get out there’ as some parents believe, in order to socialise or succeed, but respect their preferences and grow their confidence within that respect.

I have always believed, back from when I worked in classrooms and through the contact I’ve had with a diverse range of home educating families, that many children fail in school simply because the climate of crowd and buzz does not suit them. But this does NOT mean they have a character defect, any more than someone with blue eyes has a character defect, it’s just our inability to accept differences between us and provide for the needs of those quieter children.

In our image conscious, Facebook crazy, media driven culture we have to sometimes stand against it to be who we need to be and respect our personalities for what they are, rather than try and be all the same. That goes for our kids too. Particularly important is to recognise that they are not us, are different from us, and should be respected for who they are, even if they are quiet, require alone-time, prefer smaller interactions and dislike crowds.

That’s perfectly okay. Quiet people are just as successful and don’t need to be made into anything else.

I know it’s my quiet reflective times, often with my books (often in the garden), that has made me who I am; able to work, parent, home educate, write, and develop two reflective home educated beings who as adults still have a vibrant social life, loving friends, and a successful life out in the fray without ever being forced!

The fine line between boring or crisis

We had a terrible crisis last winter. It could have been so much worse.

Appreciating a moment's equilibrium

Appreciating a moment’s equilibrium

It was a road incident that was a hair’s breadth away from being an awful fatality that we’d live with forever, due to the irresponsible behaviour of a drunk.

He staggered oblivious out into the main road in front of our car.

In the dark and driving rain, with black clothing and oncoming lights on a rural road that was not lit, there was no chance of spotting him beforehand. Although well within the speed limit we weren’t going slowly. Charley was driving. He glanced off the side of the car with a sickening thwack which made me think we’d killed someone. Thankfully not – he was hardly hurt, too drunk to even know what had happened, didn’t even go to hospital. We were scarred with the trauma of it for months – I can only just speak of it now without shaking.

Thankfully these incidences don’t happen often. When they do, the sameness of life I might have been bored with seconds before, becomes incredibly sweet.

When the shock and the anger at the perpetrator of it, who walked away unmoved, wore off I was left with the replay of the awful event that could have marred our young driver’s life for the rest of it should chance have swung the other way. It took us both a long time to settle back down to calm.

We all develop strategies over time to even out the pitch and toss of life. And to have strategies to hand is an enormously helpful skill to pass on to our youngsters. However we deal with things will be the way they deal with things. If we react with screams and drama it will not help. We have to be strong, pragmatic and move on forward with the practicalities as best we can. (Even if we crumple later).

And I also guess that these experiences are a reminder to take note, during those times of equilibrium, of what we value about life, even the boring bits, instead of always letting them slip insignificantly by.

Learning from The Shepherd’s Life!

I love finding comments on education in the most unlikely places. There was I having a bit of escapism with James Rebanks on his sheep farm in the lakes and up pops the subject again.

I wasn’t there in reality, just being bowled over by his fabulous book The Shepherd’s Life; the true and rugged story of his life on the farm, early and current. The writing wasn’t rugged though and his story not without surprises. DSC06069 (2)

I love books that don’t balk at saying it how it is, yet still captivate with a style that moves you to read on. His passion and knowledge of his subjects reignites my own, in particular the idea that there is an education that exists other than in classrooms. He talks about an education fit for purpose and respects that all lives are different, not just lived in cities, worked in banks and cultivated for industry. He talks about his dad whose encyclopaedic knowledge  of the landscape challenges conventional ideas of who is and isn’t intelligent. “Some of the smartest people I have ever known are semi-literate” he says.

Some pretty smart people I know don’t have those conventional educational labels either!

He describes his own schooling and how he felt that “the whole modern world wanted to rob me of the life I wanted to lead”.

When I read books like his it makes me think again very hard about what education is and what it’s for.

There are two ways of looking at that question. One from the point of view of society, politics and someone else deciding what’s ‘good’ for people. And another looking at it from the point of view of each of us, the fact that each of us is different – an individual, will lead different lives, and how these differences might be accommodated in a system which clubs everyone together for ease of administration and service.

Finding a balance between the two is the key. I’m not sure the system is doing that effectively right now. It has swung too far towards perpetuating a construction that clearly, for many individuals within it, is just not working well. Creating far too many individuals who feel disengaged, disregarded, disenchanted with learning of any sort, and in many ways dysfunctional as a result of being told they are failures because they don’t comply.

Sod complying with something that doesn’t work!

No one need fail at education – you have a lifelong chance at it. And we need education both for ourselves as individuals, so it’s satisfying enough to be purposeful and ongoing, and for our place within the wider planet that supports us and the society within it.

What is failing here is the system; destroying the natural passion for learning that children are born with by taking it away from them and dehumanising it.

We who are the adults, who profess to know best, should know better than that.