Thursday, August 09, 2007

Home ed in the summer holidays

I've already had several people ask me if we're 'taking a break' from home education this summer. I'm still always stuck for how to even begin to reply, so I think I'll try again here today.

No, we're not taking a break from normal life, following our interests and gently meandering or frantically galloping along the paths of our curiosity, as the mood takes us.

We will not stop wondering as to the meaning of things, reading books or Googling answers to queries that come up in thought or in conversation. When Lyddie gets paper and pen and comes to copy the words on my screen again, as she did this morning, to practice forming the letters and to work out what they are, I won't be saying: "You mustn't do that! It's the summer break!"

When an unusual insect crawls on the ground, or bird lands in our garden, we won't stop watching to see what it does or wondering why. And when someone says: "I'll go and find a book to see what it is," I won't hold my hand up and say: "STOP! You can't! It's the summer holiday! Wait until September to do that!"

As for the teens developing their chosen vocational skills with single-minded obsession, I won't be marching into their rooms or their lives with a compulsory beach towel and insisting they immediately cease their activities and go and sit on it, just because it's August. (Though we are planning a day trip to the coast this summer, and no doubt some learning will inevitably take place on it - not least the sums to work out whether and when we can afford the petrol. And we're waiting until September to avoid the crowds and to get the best of the weather.)

I will not be covering anyone's mouth when they ask about anything interesting, or locking away the chess set in case anyone fancies a game. And running across our field will not be banned because 'it was Sports Day last month, not this!'

We learn all the time, just as we breathe all the time. We like learning. It's what makes us feel alive. Why would we stop doing it, for the month of August?

But when I try to explain this to some people, I can see their thoughts written all over their face. "You cruel woman. Can't you even give them a break in the summer?"

Yes, the aliens have already landed on our planet and are speaking a language that's unintelligible to human beings. I just can't work out whether that's them, or us.

30 Comments:

Blogger Elaine said...

Now it is logical we are the aliens I wouldn't want it the other way because that would mean we were responsible for what planet earth has become I would rather put myself down as an incomer wishing to change it for the better

11:35 am, August 09, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

Ok, I'll go along with that if you like, Elaine :-)

One thing though - we have visited before, a long time ago. I would even venture to suggest that we used to live here.

Archaeologists have uncovered evidence - albeit controversial - of actual learning in ancient times without schooling!

11:41 am, August 09, 2007  
Blogger Allie said...

I was just thinking the same thing. People are packing up a swimming bag here but Leo is actually busy asking for a pestle and mortar and sieve as he seems to be attempting make his own paper. August is different because most of our groups don't happen and I'm not at work - but the kids just bobble along as usual.

1:13 pm, August 09, 2007  
Blogger Louise said...

Lol and Amen to that!!!

1:33 pm, August 09, 2007  
Blogger Mieke said...

Nanoo Nanoo! Greetings! We aliens up here in the North are definitely effected by the Summer Holidays! Our younglings have dropped all their other seasonly activities to observe, study and analyse this sudden burst of strangely clad Earthlings into our secluded landing space! One curious observation is that these 'other ones' all seem to try and imitate our alien life style, but they appear to lack some elementary skills to make it work... Investigations into what and how continue... we will report progress... :P!

3:22 pm, August 09, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

ROFL!

3:32 pm, August 09, 2007  
Blogger Sarah said...

oh how I love being *able* to home ed in the summer holidays :)

It is a breath of fresh air for those of us poor souls whose children actually like being at school and don't have much time left for HE during termtime!

Loving my holidays and all the life/HE/whatever you want to call it - holiday time feels like real life, school terms just have to be 'got through' until the next holiday comes around.

Kids can't wait to go back to school though :roll:

4:41 pm, August 09, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

(((Sarah))) I'd feel just the same if mine preferred school. I hope you have a lovely summer, now it finally seems to be here! xx

4:49 pm, August 09, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why dont you just say 'no'. Sometimes overanalysis of a situation is unhealthy.

6:05 pm, August 09, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

If you think it's unhealthy, the best remedy is probably not to read it :-)

6:10 pm, August 09, 2007  
Anonymous lucy b said...

Hello Gill. Blimey, "Just saying no" wouldn't have made a very interesting blog post, would it? Anyway, what you wrote reminded me of this article that was flagged up on a list the other day:
http://sandradodd.com/pam/ilive
In the meantime, over here we're still trying to get our groove back ... a slow process, 'twould seem.

6:32 pm, August 09, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

Oh, that's a great article Lucy! I especially like this bit:

"Not all parents WANT their children to grow up strong-willed and truly independent-minded. And, it is fair warning to say: "Be careful what you wish for." If what we mostly want is for our children to respect us and to adopt our beliefs and goals, unschooling may not be for us. Many parents have a general definition of "success" in their own heads, and what they want is for their children to achieve their version of success. Many want their children to offer living proof that they were good parents—they may even be especially interested in outcomes that will impress friends, relatives, and acquaintances. Again, unschooling is probably not a good fit under those circumstances."

And yes, "Just say no" is pretty boring, isn't it? LOL.

Sending peaceful thoughts to your groove.. or groovy thoughts to your peace..

Ali's right, isn't he? ;-)

6:50 pm, August 09, 2007  
Blogger Ruth said...

"Not all parents WANT their children to grow up strong-willed and truly independent-minded. And, it is fair warning to say: "Be careful what you wish for." If what we mostly want is for our children to respect us and to adopt our beliefs and goals, unschooling may not be for us."

How very true. I think it takes a radical change of perspective to realise that children have a right to their own ideas, path and lifestyle even if it is nothing like you had in mind or even agree with always:)

Just saying no would have been a boring post:)

7:47 pm, August 09, 2007  
Anonymous Clare said...

I guess it's the same sort of conversation I'm having a lot at the moment: "Will you be starting to HE this September then?" (Flopsy being of the age when she could start school if I so wanted her to) or "I wouldn't know where to start!". If I have the patience I unhealthily overanalyse the situation, otherwise I just vaguely talk about crossing bridges when we come to them :-)

Cx

8:13 pm, August 09, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

My analysis didn't feel like an overanalysis to me, nor did it feel unhealthy! But yes, I usually just answer according to how I feel too :-)

8:18 pm, August 09, 2007  
Anonymous Lucy said...

Well I loved your analysis :) Have been asked that several times over the summer... people are just very into a school mindset and think we must be too. The only thing that changes is the season and we do more outdoorsy stuff... so glad you didn't just say 'no!

10:26 am, August 10, 2007  
Anonymous lucy B said...

"Ali's right, isn't he? ;-)"

Wow! Just discovered all these other Sometimes It's blogs you've been busy on. I have mucho catching up to do I can see. Good job I just cleared out my Blogs favourites list to the handful that I feel I can't live without ... there's room for more now!

11:02 am, August 10, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

Thanks, [Other Means] Lucy! :-)

Thanks you too Lucy B! Yes, you can rely on me to fill up a blog list, LOL

6:29 pm, August 10, 2007  
Blogger thenewstead5 said...

our only "break" in the summer is a break from going to all the places now filled with kids from school ;0)

10:26 pm, August 10, 2007  
Blogger Dawny said...

loved this post Gill, spot on :0)

12:07 pm, August 11, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

well perhaps patting yourself on the back is boring.The rest of us have to work long hours to buy food and pay bils etc.

4:27 pm, August 11, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

Oh, I see. You were just being bitchy but disguising it as a constructive comment.

Well, we all have choices in life. Each choice has consequences. I made mine, you made yours. Mine's hard too sometimes. I could use this blog for whingeing but that really would be boring.

Anyway, life's too short for that. Hope yours improves :-)

4:31 pm, August 11, 2007  
Blogger Rosie said...

O FFS, does that person have to be so rude and show their ignorance?
Anyway, and intersting topic, as I sometimes am asked are we having a summer break, and sometimes I just say yes, because we are, because that's what summer's about sometimes, just dreaming in the sunshine, but it doesn't mean you stop learning, of course, and theres' lots more opportunity to spend time outside, which is so much more interesting than being inside with books, etc.
Often people ask me something about HE and when I try to explain they just switch off anyway, so I don't bother going into too much detail.
I think the difference is between teaching a curriculum, at prescribed times, and child-led learning, which you can't, and wouldn't want to, switch off.
having said that, I do tend to 'give myself a break' during the holidays and stop worrying about the educational content of everything. And, of course, there's the sudden appearance of all those other children that you don't see most of the time, so you can blend in with the crowd more ;-)

11:53 pm, August 11, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

I think I've finally stopped worrying about the educational content of everything. But only because they really are learning all the time, and I can't help but realise it. Took a long time though!

And I'm afraid we batten down the hatches (well, stay on home ground) a lot in the 6-week holiday because there are queues everywhere! And traffic jams! September is lovely.

10:26 am, August 12, 2007  
Blogger Rosie said...

yes, I think I have been battening down hatches, come to mention it, but I thought it was maybe just my agoraphobia! it was really weird going to the park, though, not just children after school, we're used to that, but people on day trips- not a familiar face in sight. But as for doing things differntly in the holidays, we're sort of trying to carry on as normal but the rest of the world isn't, so that makes it a bit difficult sometimes. i think I blogged about this at half term- everyone seemed to go away, so just when I expected to see more of people we know there were actaully less.

10:40 pm, August 12, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been reading your comments constructive and otherwise, and It has reafirmed a belief that I have had for some time.That is that some home educators think that they are some how better than those of us, who do not have the luxury of choosing to home educate or not.I would like to not sit in traffic jams or pay a premium for taking the children on holiday in the school holidays.- Sarah

5:16 pm, August 14, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

Well, I don't think I'm better than anyone Sarah. And I think schooling should be optional for all, so that you don't have to sit in traffic jams or pay premiums for holidays.

And I know most of the commenters here, and I don't think they think they're better than anyone either.

5:23 pm, August 14, 2007  
Anonymous Nobby said...

I have read your blog with fascinating disbelief.. I consider myself an educated person and yes that was a state education... How you choose to educate your children is your prerogative. However, to insinuate that state educated children, or adults for that matter, stop learning because they are on holiday from school, is at worst pathetic, at best naive!! I am 45 and learn every day as do my children and grandchildren. They don't think, just because they are not in school, "oh I won't ask what that bird is doing in the garden" or if we are away on holiday in this country or abroad, their education is probably enhanced by different cultures and different people.Children are naturally inquisitive no matter how they are educated. That is in school, out of school, 7am in the morning or 9pm at night when approaching their bedtime!! Do you think we say to children, "sorry I can't answer your question, its not in school time"?????

9:17 pm, August 14, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

Well Nobby, this post was ever so slightly tongue-in-cheek, but thank you for your comment :-)

9:34 pm, August 14, 2007  
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