Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Education otherwise...




I've been asked on a few occasions about how we're all doing with our adventures in home education, so a few weeks into Eli's full-time 'unschooling', I thought I'd offer a report of how we're getting on. 

On the whole it has been great, spending time with Eli on his own has been a real gift. In our first week there was a real skip in his step and we enjoyed some perfect golden moments when everything felt just right.




Since that first week challenges have crept in, as they will, but nothing that some thought and good management couldn't put right. It's sometimes hard to get the balance right between social engagements and quiet time at home, and of course, having Eli with me all the time means there isn't much chance for me to switch off.

There's plenty to feel good about however; Eli has started reading which is a great relief for me. I've been trying to hold onto the wisdom that all children surrounded by books will learn to read in their own time, but I knew I'd be nervous until he actually started being able to put letters together. I was never totally relaxed about just leaving him to it, so I've put various things in his path like a Letterland book and a Montessori moveable alphabet, but mostly it's been his own motivation and enquiry that has lead us to this point. He's been enjoying writing for a while, asking us how to spell out various words and I think again the Letterland book really helped us with that - if he didn't know what a letter was we could refer to the corresponding character and this prompted his memory. 

I have no idea how they teach reading in schools so my approach has been mostly based on instinct and knowing Eli's moods and preferences. The real breakthrough only happened because he decided, very definitely, that he wanted to read. I've been enjoying his triumphant exclamations when he manages to read a word totally without help, it's an amazing thing to witness. 

Other than reading, we've been drawing, cycling, shopping, talking, climbing, swimming, cooking, having fun in the woods, meeting up with friends, and all the bits in between. I think I'm learning to relax a little and trust in his own innate ability to learn. I know there will be tough times, when I worry about how differently we're doing things, when I feel weary and low on resources; but I can't help feeling that for as long as it lasts, this is a special way to live.

Recently, on a bike ride, as we were zooming down a hill beside a river, Eli shouted at the top of his lungs 'I'm free!'. How wonderful it was to hear it.












6 comments:

Alice ~ writer, boater, dreamer, traveller said...

Reading this is like reading about my experience :-)

Sometimes it is hard to get the balance right; some weeks it goes unbelievably well, some weeks we need to just take a deep breath. I was reading something last night about children and reading. A parent was thrilled that finally their daughter started reading a book about cats off her own back, they asked her why, suddenly? and not when they were trying to teach her? She replied "because I wanted to know about the cats, so I read." (or something like that!)

I have moments of fear where I get things out and start trying to 'teach' but as time goes on, I too am becoming more relaxed in an approach that trusts in a child's in-built ability to learn... and I too love it when I see my daughter running along shouting "i love being free!" priceless :-)

Rob_Shaw said...

Beautiful. The 'I'm freeee!' made Mr moist of eye. Curse my full time job and missing this stuff.

Selina Gough said...

It's a bit scary at times isn't it? I have a friend who is home educating her eight year old; he has just started reading all on his own, because of Calvin and Hobbes. What an incredible gift of empowerment for our children and for ourselves...

It's so good that you're here Alice, feels like we're sharing a journey

Alice ~ writer, boater, dreamer, traveller said...

cool! It is wonderful when you hear how it has happened for others, but it's about keeping that faith that it will happen to you too... it certainly is scary at times! but then giving my daughter the freedom to be who she truly wants to be, is so important. It's always a work in progress though! Yes, glad to have found you too. We all need support from like-minded people, whether in the real or virtual world :-)

Jill M Hodgson said...

My daughter was in Montessori here in the US until she was 11. In the first years they allowed children to write using phonetic spelling to encourage open flow of creativity. They weren't introduced to the idea that there was a right or wrong way to spell a word and would write reams and reams every day and draw illustrations. It was often quite funny to see the spelling she came up with but also a little worrying as a parent because her cousins in England were being taught in a more traditional manner and learning to spell correctly so it didn't look too great by comparison! Just had to trust the process and hope it would even itself out in the end. Which it did. Later I homeschooled her age 12 to 14, "junior high" years here.
It takes courage to make decisions based on your own intuition about your child but it's a worthy adventure. Wish you all the best, looks like it's going brilliantly so far!

Selina Gough said...

Thanks Jill. It really is all about the letting go and being able to trust isn't it? When all around are doing things differently it can make it harder to listen to that intuition. For now I think we're still managing but it's always good to hear of others educational journeys to remind and reassure us that it's ok to sometimes tread a different path.