Category: Learning & Education

When what you want isn’t what’s right or easy.

I’ve been avoiding the blog for a while. Not because things haven’t been moving along, not because I haven’t actually *whisper it* made things or done things. Because in April this year, Miss K went back to school. To her local, catchment area RC (Roman Catholic) state primary school… and so far, it’s working.

The area around it is euphemistically called an “area of regeneration”, so they receive high levels of funding and have the most amazing staff I’ve ever met. Miss K started at the end of P4 for the summer term and has, so far, made it almost to November. She went back part time, she had in class ongoing support from the first day. She has a tent in class where she can go when it’s too much and she needs time to calm down, although this is now something she avoids as social pressure to be normal and conform increases.

I’d say for the first term up to the summer break, her best friend was a boy with a similar obsession with crazy science (he knows a lot more facts but they both have a big vision and intended to go to Oxford together to study science). Since the summer holiday, she has been BFFs with a small red haired girl, H, who joins in her obsession with soft toys, cuteness and other girlish things. She has had many more bumpy days since September – There have been few weeks where she has survived a whole five days, as we ramped up her attendance to full time and it’s not really worked. What has worked? Seeing the amazing, unflagging, dedicated skill and love the teachers put into their time with her. I’m not sure the PSAs are just the same but her ASL teacher is surely an angel sent down from heaven… who is about to go on maternity leave… 

Anyway. Over the next few weeks I’ll try and update with my projects: sewing, knitting, baking, gardening, the usual. I spent FOUR DAYS while Miss K was away reorganising and decluttering her room so it’s now the nicest place in the whole house – she loves it so much she’s started sleeping on her OWN and voluntarily stops watching TV to go play in it. Wow. More soon.

Week 5: FiaR New Coat for Anna (cont).

Monday

After a very mixed up weekend with some late nights, we had a later than usual wake up call at 7:30. Although we agreed to go to Church, I was very pleased that the Liturgy didn’t start til 10:30, as we were going to try and do something before then and maybe walk. I managed to hoover while K did recorder practice and the dog snapped at the hoover, then we got the bus. It was freezing, literally. We talked about weather, temperatures, why our breath is visible and what Makes frost slippy.

This has nothing to do with the frost but it does mean things are even slower Han usual. The GP diagnosed overuse. Not arthritis, which is a bonus.

During Liturgy K likes to draw and today produced this gem.


We stayed for a Serbian slava service and then made our way to coffee, where K had one gingerbread and then worked away on maths and English on the laptop. She found it tricky to start with but managed to get into it enough to do 40 minutes. Far too cold for a walk at her pace, we got the bus home at 3 (late Liturgies are tricky) and spent the rest of the day feeling tired. No full moon but 10pm before sleep was achieved… no work or down time for mama today.

Tuesday

Recorder lesson dominated the day, getting there by bus and stopping off at the Treasure Trove, where makers can sell their knitted, sewn & baked goods direct to the public through the Edinburgh based Self Aid Society. I bought a knitted bunny for K’s name day and a colour work beret for myself. We got to Class on time and thirty short minutes later, hopped onto a bus back home. I have to say getting any formal work done was not easy today…

Wednesday 

Grandparent day, eventually. They have done better at getting her to work than I have this week!

Thursday & Friday 

Not a great end to the week, with a bare minimum of work. We went to see Trolls at the cinema on Thursday as she just couldn’t work or focus at all. Huge upset and just an unhappy little soul. I’m so glad to say that the film was great – very positive message – and we both loved it (and having the cinema to ourselves)!

On Friday she went to G&G as usual, had a good time and did a little work, but became very focused on a toy which won’t be available til the first Friday in December… a long week ahead.

Week 1: fiar “Mr Gumpy’s Motor Car”

This week we began homeschool again after the half term break. A few years ago we bought all the Five in a Row books and curriculum guide 1 and 2, so it made sense to use these as a good introduction. We also signed up for IXL Maths and English as a trial to see how K got on with online lessons, given her migraine problems with too much screen time. As it turns out, maths is the biggest issue in terms of motivation so we also signed up for MathSeeds, Reading Eggs and the follow on reading programme Reading Eggspress, as they are a lot more entertaining than endless lists and questions (sorry IXL).
Mr Gumpy’s Motor Car is a lovely hand illustrated book from 1973 by English author and illustrator John Burningham. It follows the adventures of Mr G, his open top car and the animals who invite themselves along for a day out. When the rain makes the dirt road muddy, they all try to get out of helping push, until there really is no other choice and everyone has to join in and rescue the car. The day ends with a nice swim and the invitation to come again.
We followed the suggestions in the FIAR vol. 2 book on what topics to cover during the week and mostly it went very well. I would say that there are definitely days where not much sit and study is possible so on those days I would be best to have outdoor activities alternatives planned.

  • Monday: Field Trip to the Glasgow Transport Museum. Different types of engine, old and new cars. Social Studies: friendship, cooperation, sharing, excuses. IXL maths.
  • Tuesday: Language: what is onomatopoeia? examples from the book. Art: sun rays, hatching, types of line
  • Wednesday: Science: friction examples, using blocks, slides, etc. Times tables.
  • Thursday: Maths (counting animals), Science (friction: sliding on the slide at the park)
  • Friday: Science – the water cycle, cloud types. Assemble lap-book. (NOT a great day for focus).

Overall the first week went really well. We didn’t fit in any visits to Church or too many nature walks, no time for German or French, and that will have to change. Next week I let K decide which book to look at and she chose one NOT from the FiaR curriculum – the School Ship Tobermory, by Alexander McCall Smith (we are currently reading book two in the series, the Sands of Shark Island).

We did dictation for the last part: the stamina needed for writing meant she was tired out for the rest of the day.

We learned about onomatopoeia and made notes about the words in the book which we thought were onomatopoeic

Using similar techniques to the book illustrations: Sun, leaves, cross-hatching

One morning she decided to get all her old phonics books out and read through twenty of them…

A week’s lesson planning. FiaR makes it very easy to fit around other commitments and make sure you’re getting a good spread of lessons.

Week 2: School Ship Tobermory

This week K chose to look at a book by Alexander McCall Smith, more famous for his books on the Number One Ladies Detective Agency set in Botswana and also the 44 Scotland Street series, set here in Edinburgh and starring the precocious Bertie and his dreadful mother amongst others. School Ship Tobermory is a new addition to his series of books and we are already onto the second.


The week got off to a tricky start. Halloween and a small party had been looming large for at least a month and now it was here, so from about 6:30am the refrain was “when do we go to the party?”. We managed to use the laptop for some maths, English skill building and then researched the author for our biography sheet. K was very impressed by how many books he writes (especially given how her head is full of stories trapped by writing problems). I’m not sure if it is just his face (and who can help how their face looks) but I get a great sense of honesty, kindness and a deep sense of ethics (which is unsurprising given his career teaching medical law!) from every one of his books. Even the unpleasant characters are treated humanely (without excuses). He reminds me a lot of Maggie Keswick Jenks, who I am only aware of through documentaries and her wonderful legacy, the Maggie’s Centres – the sense of joy in life, of taking all of it, up and down, and deciding to embrace all of it’s complexity with a deep love and vibrancy and raw honesty. I digress – but let’s say this week was a good week for me too. We used the internet to research the author, asking what we needed to know and how important the facts were to understanding his writing.

One of the challenges was deciding just what to study, as the book lead us in such amazing directions – geography, navigation, history, naval terminology, knot tying, friendship and bullying.

We compared different types of map: how did the artistic version look compared to the ‘realistic’ one? what techniques did the illustrator use to show mountains when he couldn’t use colour? how do we know there is water around the island? Compare the scales used, to work out the size of the island – why are there different measurements?
Using scratch board to try art techniques. I really loved looking more closely at Iain McIntosh’s illustrations – there is such a great use of line, shape and it’s all done with ease and mastery (in the finished result). We looked at his website to find out more about him, his techniques and get ideas for using the scratchboard. It is a LOT harder than we thought, although using different shaped tools (all ordered from Amazon, sorry) was a good art lesson.

K spent a few days with her grandparents – who are fully on board with homeschool so far – and so she stepped up and produced her own timetable to make sure everyone stayed on track.


Miss K decided that everyone needed a timetable for the day so we all knew what was happening when. I love the illustrations! It’s interesting that she naturally uses pictures as well as words to keep on track.

Her navigation studies included a couple of astrolabes – made at home with cardboard and ingenuity from the site DIY, a safe online space for children to learn how to make and do. It’s a wonderful resource and really worth spending time on. You never know when it will spark off a learning journey.

We are only using the site in a limited way as I don’t feel she needs the community/sharing aspect yet – lots of time for that in years to come!

She also began her nature studies, using the online book “Exploring Nature with Children” by Lynn Seddon. Each week has a great list of resources based on each topic, this week being fungi. There are books, computer links, things to look out for on your nature walks, a series of art prompts and an appropriate poem.

Studying different types of mushroom from her walk.

Reading out her nature studies to granny and grandad.

K and Grandad did a series of experiments from a Twinkl science project on finding the best materials for making boats. I was impressed with how much writing she did, as it is not easy for her to focus and the physical act of writing is tricky. She is learning so much though.

The cardboard astrolabe from DIY.

As usual, she did the start of a very detailed and exciting story about the adventures of Penny Lolly and the were-fox but lost focus after two pictures. It looks very interesting so far.

We used the twinkl website for handouts to look at about friendship and bullying, as the characters of William Edward Hardtack, Maximilian Flubber and Geoffrey Shark (school bullies) are quite prominent in the book, as is the friendship between brother and sister Ben and Fee and their schoolmates Poppy and Badger.

There are lots of special words which you only find on board ship – we made a note of some of them but didn’t have time to do the illustrations!

Overall a great week for learning, although the hardest thing is actually fitting everything in during the week. We need to factor in a lot of breaks to regroup and focus, time for music practice, time to walk the dog and move around, time to get household jobs done and of course there are intermittent appointments. Social time is limited just now and in winter that is always a challenge but I hope it will get easier as we ease into the routine. Next week’s topic is Dogs, one of her favourite subjects, rather than an individual book, and it will last for several weeks.

Online Learning – for grown ups! Creativity, Business Skills and more.

cellophaneSo this blog covers a wide range of subjects – a garden post later this week, an embroidery machine review after that – but it’s also about learning. Learning is something I really enjoy: I find it harder now than when I was in my twenties but I’m hoping to be one of those people getting into new things when I’ve silver haired and zipping about on a mobility scooter.

These days, the internet has revolutionised how we can learn – I’m a big fan of Lynda.com for instance, and hope to teach myself photoshop and illustrator using their courses – but I think Skillshare is awesome. THey have such a huge range of subjects and with some incredible teachers, notably Seth Godin, king of the entrepreneurs. At the moment they have a chance to win a lifetime of *FREE* courses – just click this link http://www.skillshare.com/~kx5u3sb and enter for your chance!  Plus, if you click on the link, I get another entry 😀 Have a look around at their courses and I’m sure you’ll find something you want to learn. Here’s to learning for grown ups!

FIAR: a Pair of Red Clogs

As we began homeschooling, I looked at lots of different curricula. There are soooo many it is quite mind boggling and, until you know how your child (or children!) learn, it’s tricky to choose. There are lots of ‘out of the box’ ones which cover all topics with separate textbooks and a ton of worksheets… but for our Wee Bear, that would be a disaster. She thinks on her feet, she twirls and spins, she jiggles and dances. Finding a way to read is tricky. Then somehow, somewhere, I read about “Five in a Row”. A selection of well written, beautifully illustrated books, chosen by homeschooling parents and with a manual that supplies, for each book, a series of ideas to spark your little one’s imagination and thirst for understanding in the areas of science, mathematics, arts, language, geography, personal studies… You can go as far with each book as you, or more importantly, your child wants. On the days when you’re feeling less inspired, this will literally save your bacon!

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We started by having Wee Bear choose the book we were going to ‘row’ – “A Pair of Red Clogs”, about a little girl and her shiny red clogs in (what looked like) pre-WWII Japan. We went to our favourite outdoor garden cafe and I read her the book, asking her questions afterwards to see what had sparked her interest. There was a lot of discussion about motivation – why did she nearly lie? why did she do something that damaged her clogs? We talked briefly about the clothes she was wearing (“Make me a kimono Mama!”) and the way their house was laid out – the boiler for water in the kitchen, the table with mats around it rather than chairs, the paper screen doors etc.

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After our snack was finished, we went to our local Chinese supermarket – they sell all kinds of Asian food and since Wee Bear was unlikely to eat ANY of it, I figured it was more about the experience than the actual taste.

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The following day, we wrote out some of the key words (‘language’) in Wee Bear’s word book and of course they were illustrated. What I particularly enjoyed was the sketch of the bottom *cough* which was in the right place and size but done while the book was folded over, so she was kind of working blind! A word on her handwriting: yes, she is mixing upper and lower case. Yes, the way some of the letters are formed isn’t ideal. Her spelling also tends to the idiosyncratic. At this point, I don’t care – the urge to write and draw is far more important and (as I know her very well) any discouragement could backfire quite spectacularly.


 

 

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For our “Art” day, we made Japanese kimono peg dolls, complete with ‘obi’ belts, coloured in some of the printables from Homeschoolshare who have a great selection of free resources for almost every subject imaginable, looked at the pretty writing and packaging of our purchases and then goofed off in the garden explored the great outdoors,

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before we looked really carefully at the shading, use of colour and way the figures show us physical motion through their line drawings. By this time we had a really good selection of materials to get stuck into the lapbook!


Our final day was spent assembling the lapbook, colouring in and glueing and sticking, talking about earthquakes and tectonic plates (Geography), and really enjoying the feeling that we had got to grips with the book. We counted up clogs, we talked about pairs, we did very basic maths and number awareness…. Keeping it all very simple and low key so that no horses or small people were put off FIAR.

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Guinea Pig Lapbook

Now that we are homeschooling (or home educating, as it’s more commonly called here in Scotland) there are lots of ways to record our interests and what we investigate. One of the popular ones amongst homeschoolers are lapbooks: It’s a really simple way to collect information together and present it attractively (as well as provide lots of paper cutting and gluing time)…

We began our lapbook journey by using a template from Creative Learning, to celebrate the arrival of Robert & Rupert, our resident boar guinea pigs.

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So while we were doing the research, I found that this cage:

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Is far, far too small. So we built this one!

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And we added a base made from sign board material called “Correx” or “Coroplast” and then built some drawers for the base, so we have a lot of storage for all their food, hay, bedding and newspapers. It’s called Piggingham Palace.

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Although there was a lot of writing that Wee Bear is not yet ready for, we learned all about their life cycle, the kind of food they like best, the names of pups, boars & sows etc. She even drew portraits of our two boys. It’s since been doodled and and filled in rather randomly but I have a feeling we both like having these kind of ‘books’. So far she’s asked to make lots of lapbooks on subjects that randomly cross our path and the fabulous thing is, we can. Whatever she finds interesting, we can investigate. If something is boring, we won’t. I can hear some of you saying “we all have to do things that are boring” but just think: how much of the stuff that you crammed into your brains because you *had* to in school is still there? Did it encourage you to study, investigate, communicate with random passers by or shopworkers about your current project? No?

Education is to light a fire, not fill a bucket. (W.B. Yeats)

Burns Night in Edinburgh

At the end of January we celebrated Burns Night – albeit without the haggis & traditional imbibing of whisky.

Wee Bear visited the Storytelling Centre for a short play with puppets about the life of Burns and was so fired up about the poem “Tam o Shanter” that she sat down and made these drawings to illustrate the story.

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Here is Tam’s house, where his wife sits, waiting for the drunken lout to return.

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Tam rides on his guid grey mare Meg to the inn.

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And the pub, where Tam & friends get unco fu’ (full – of drink!)

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The auld Galloway Kirk (church) where the devil & witches gather.

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Here are all the instruments they played!

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This is the young & attractive witch who wears a short shift (sark) so exciting that Tam calls “weel done Cutty Sark” and they all start to chase him.

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Auld Nick himself…

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And finally, Tam escapes but only by leaving behind poor Meg’s tail.

She couldn’t sleep until she had done all of these but I think they’re great & show how important poetry and story telling are for her.

Organise and Conquer!

Now that we are homeschooling properly (whatever that means) I find that our lack of organisation feels like a huge problem. I’m not sure that it is, but how we feel about something can change what it actually is or does in our lives. So being or feeling disorganised means i enjoy our days less (and get a lot less sewing done).

While looking through the incredible Ambleside Online website – a free curriculum based on the Charlotte Mason approach to teaching, I found so many fantastic links. Lots are very American, some have really hideous web design but most are worth a good look at. For instance, there are literally hundreds of really good free books if you are looking for ‘living’ or more classical literature, all available online from the Baldwin Project. Best of all, the Ambleside site says very clearly:

It’s normal for a child in Year 1, and even Year 2, to need all of their school books read to them. Children who are still learning to decode phonetics will not be able to comprehend their lessons unless they have help. Easy readers such as Arnold Lobel’s Frog and Toad books can be used additionally for phonics practice. (Easy readers have not been scheduled into the curriculum because the age/year at which a child will need such practice varies.) Parent and child should be working towards the goal of the child reading the majority of his own books by Year 4 or 5. A transition suggestion is buddy-reading, where parent and child take turns reading a paragraph at a time.

Still, I feel like I need a little help with organising both the records of what we are reading together, how we are practicing Wee Bear’s writing and reading, and maybe even looking more than one lesson ahead. (I’m not there yet. My brilliant idea last night was a giant solar system collage poster, since she’s really into the planets right now. No, we illustrated and dictated a little story about princesses and zombies and pet bats. Thank you Halloween commericialism.)

So the two sites I would send you to for homeschool (and indeed home organising in general print outs are) Donna Young’s Printable site. Practical rather than pretty, there is SO MUCH information it will blow your tiny mind. Mine has exited, stage left. I’m using the Zaner Bloser cursive practice sheets – or hope to – as WB has developed a bit of a phobia about cursive. “No Mama, don’t write in CURSIVE!” – whether that’s because it’s harder (and anything requiring effort is verboten for her) or she can’t read it, I’m not sure. At any rate, we don’t want to scare the horses and the best thing (for both of us) about Charlotte Mason is her emphasis on short lessons stopping before the child gets bored and resents the lesson. If we happen to be writing as part of our story time, that’s not an issue. Those days when we sit and “do class” it has to be short – this little bear wants to be moving.

Young children may be impulsive, need to move and have trouble focusing enough to listen to an entire story and narrate it. Charlotte Mason knew this and therefore recommended that children not do formal school until they were 6 years old. She said that no child under six should be required to narrate. They would gain more from playing, exercising their limbs and getting to know their environment first-hand in a casual, natural way by being outdoors.

Some children still aren’t ready at six. There is nothing to lose and much to gain by waiting until a child is ready. More is required from Ambleside Online with each progressive Year, so the child who is not ready for Year 1 at age 6 may not be ready for Year 2’s more intense history at age 7. Some children need a year or two more to mature. One Ambleside student wasn’t quite ready at age 6; he couldn’t keep still and was easily distracted. He didn’t start Year 1 until he was 8. Two years later, he is in Year 3, reading most of the books himself and enjoys school – a couple years made all the difference. Had his parents insisted on making him sit still for school at age 6, it would been a struggle for both the student and his parents and he would have quickly learned to dislike school. How do you know if your child is ready? When he can listen along and follow a story and tell enough about back to convince you that he comprehended.

In the years when a child’s readiness is still developing, there are things you can do to prepare him for Ambleside Online. Severely limiting TV watching will help his mind to reach its intended potential and help his ability to focus attention. Jane Healy’s book Endangered Minds explains the relationship between the visual information of TV and a child’s attention span. Help your child become less dependent on visual images by reading him chapter books with few pictures – perhaps Peter Pan, Pinocchio, fairy tales, or E.B. White’s books. These sorts of books encourage him to form pictures in his mind as he receives auditory information. Get him used to hearing well-spoken language in the form of poetry and well-written stories like Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit series, nursery rhymes and classic children’s poems, A.A. Milne’s Pooh classics, and James Herriot picture books. Cultivate an interest in growing things by planting a garden (or even a potted plant) or watching insects. Listen to music together, including classical music by Mozart and Bach. Go for walks and enjoy the sights and sounds of nature together. Help your child learn to be observant.

Ambleside ONline FAQ

Finally, I’m enjoying the many printables available from – there are so many for free and those that are paid for are very reasonable in cost. The idea of ‘notebooking’ or journalling fits in very well with both the Project Based Homeschool approach and Charlotte Mason but for at least a good while, I will have to pull back my expectations about how much writing she does. It seems to work really well right now if she draws the pictures and I do the writing to her dictation – the opposite to what I was expecting but hey, it works! Please check out the Notebooking tutorials and try out some of the downloads. I am seriously tempted by “Managers of Their Homes” but that might be going a bit far. After all, Charlotte Mason herself pointed out that while children do grow like plants (needing good soil, weeding when the plants are fragile and growing, etc) people – including young ones – are not “rows of carrots” who will all turn out the same.

Homeschooling: a surprisingly joyful choice

When our only daughter was born a little over five years ago, we gave a lot of thought to where she would study. We live in Edinburgh, where nearly 25% of children attend fee-paying private schools. Often these were set up as charitable homes or hospitals, for the orphans of Edinburgh. These days, they still offer a few places to ‘fatherless bairns’ free of charge but most of their students are from Edinburgh’s substantial middle & upper classes. They pay extortionate amounts of money each year – in fees, uniforms, music lessons, kit for sports, trips etc – and in return their children are drilled in a wide variety of academic subjects (no shortage of languages there) as well as hopefully given the sense of confidence – and sometimes entitlement – that their parents believe will pave a smooth path to university and joining the ruling classes. To be fair, that’s often how it works.

Papa Bear, who regularly mentors visiting high school students on work placements before they apply to university, says that the biggest difference between state & private school students is not intelligence or academic ability: it’s confidence.

We were reluctant to go down that path and not just because we couldn’t afford it: we both have first class honours degrees (& I have a PhD) after being in some pretty grim schools where a tiny percentage of students went on to university. I am the first member of my family to attend university, never mind have two degrees! While we don’t like the cookie-cutter approach of state classes, we felt the same was true of expensive private schools. That’s not prejudice, it’s just a fact when you have 30 children in a class. In our local primary school, the first year students (aged 4-5) are split into a class of 25 and one of… 40. Yes, forty. Two teachers and a teaching assistant but still.

In the end, we visited half a dozen nurseries, read online about different approaches to learning and found we agreed most with the Montessori one. It respected a child’s individuality, encouraged independence and cooperation with peers as well as focussing on real life skills. The fact that Montessori graduates tend to have a great record of creative thinking and confidence didn’t hurt either.

The school we chose didn’t take children until the age of 3, although we attended a parent and child group a few times a week once she was 18 months. It was a nice space and Wee Bear was happy to explore. When the time came for her to attend Children’s House, we moved across the city so that we could walk there each day – in ten minutes! – and enjoy freedom from the tyranny of the car. In fact we sold our car, but that’s because we couldn’t afford it.

Two years later – and two teachers later – we are taking her out before she completes her final year of Children’s House. Montessori operates on a three year cycle, so she should be there until she is 6 and transitions to Elementary. Why are we doing this crazy thing, having signed up so much to the Montessori philosophy that we moved house, and have invested a large amount in her education so far?

At the most basic level, she’s not happy. 90% of her peers left age 4 to move into mainstream schools. That’s up to their parents and we are not judging. Four children stayed on, including her. The other girl doesn’t speak to her at all (or anyone else, being the most reserved child I’ve ever met in my whole life) and one of the two boys hit her on the first day back. She’s worked hard to become his friend but its a daily struggle. All the other children are younger than her. I see a regression in her behaviour, as she tries to cope with classmates who don’t know how the room operates or respect her space. I see a daily reluctance to go to school. I see two hours of aggressive behaviour when she comes home, ever day. I see someone who is, frankly, bored. The school have tried to help but I don’t think they have the qualified staff to make much more than positive sounds.

So we are trying homeschool. I know, I always thought homeschoolers were a bit mad or religiously extreme or… Just odd. Now I’m one of them and yes, I am odd and I am religious.

We signed up to St Raphael’s Homeschool and bought a few books – the traditional kind of rhymes, stories and curriculum that have been used for years. We bought reading and writing materials from Simply Charlotte Mason whose “no twaddle” approach to reading material, emphasis on respect, good habits, practical life and short lessons to build a child’s concentration share a lot of common ground with Montessori and found a ton of free materials for extending reading, writing and lots of religious materials from Paidea Classics – as well as some books that can be bought.

How is it going? Well, we are working out our notice at Montessori but she goes less and less. When she does go, she comes home with an attitude or a virus. At home, we can squeak in a ten or fifteen minute reading session before dinner or whenever she shows signs of being ready. We talk about history, maths, the universe, writing a lot. We do baking, sewing, gardening, housework and yes, watch Dad’s Army on DVD. It’s her favourite show.

Best of all, when I freaked out that she was too frustrated with the online classes, her absolutely wonderful teacher spent nearly an hour on the phone with me. We came up with a plan combining both the early Elementary and Elementary classes as Wee Bear is too far on for the younger class in some areas, using the school as both a curriculum and support network, so that I have back up and we can listen in until she gets to the point of wanting to participate again. In the meantime, she has one-to-one attention from me and I am following their curriculum at our pace. I’m not sure how it will go after Christmas, when we are home full-time, but I genuinely can’t wait to be watching her learn & helping her move on at her own speed.

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She’s reading and writing – this is her Christmas list – so we are, I think, already half way there.