reflections on our home learning 9

What a difference a week can make so far as the weather is concerned. Last week a picnic lunch in the park and t-shirts. Today the wind and the rain and the chill have decidedly moved us away from our Indian summer into very definite UK bleak late autumn. And with the change in weather have come the colds which have left everyone feeling under par and out of sorts. I have stayed strong till today but this evening I have joined the rest of my family. Thankfully I was up for going out yesterday which was my first full day out without children since Kanga arrived 3 weeks short of a year ago.

I suspect this week might be summed up more along the lines of go with the flow. For many in the homeschooling community unschooling is a style they have embraced so I do not want to trample on toes and I know little about it but I suspect this week might mirror their style of learning more than the classical education approach we are more generally following. Especially today, because while some may say that today looked unruly, chaotic and crazy, learning was happening by the bucketful and so I do not want to write it off. Unschooling, partly because I have not given time to research it and partly because anything which has a hint of disorganisation (however structured it actually may be) causes me to run in the opposite direction. Today though I realised learning was happening. We were watching the Birds of Prey in the BBC series Wonder of Animals and the next thing is I have Bob and Zog dressed up as birds of prey having found their biggest jumpers, to act as wings, and toy animals scattered around the house as prey. They then were re-enacting the behaviour of eagles and other bird of prey while Bob gave a flying commentary on all that he had learnt about these birds.

One highlight for me this week was on Wednesday which is known as Bonfire Day here.  We focused our learning around one of my favourite Naughty Little Sister stories by Dorothy Edwards. The story is called The Bonfire pudding and we used the story for writing work, narrative, reading and maths, baking and science. I had not yet succumbed to the cold and was trying to spur the boys on. In it the grandmother and little girl make the family Christmas pudding. Rather than pudding we made the christmas cake which I have made withe the boys for the past couple of years on the 5th Nov.

We had great fun on Tuesday with our co-op group for art and music and nature walk. For art we used conkers we had collected on another walk to make paintings to wrap around rainmakers which we made for music and then on the nature walk we used our sense of sight.

While there has been learning going on for the boys I feel this week has been about my growth in self awareness and understanding. Partly I had offered an off the cuff prayer of becoming more honest and more self aware with myself, with Mark, with God, with others and God unsurprisingly has taken that off the cuff prayer and turned things as He often does on its head. This week without knowing, though I would not put it past Bob to know in some way, God has opened my eyes to myself through our son Bob and his reactions and responses. The very ones that usually wind me up, for me to come face to face with in myself this very week.

He hates change of plans or gets very nervous about new places and people. It is not that I did not know that about myself either but I had never embraced it and named it for myself. When I stopped to listen and feel those moments in myself I realised how full embodying they are and while it is necessary at times to push through them there is nothing wrong in stopping and heeding them first. That has made me sit up this week and give more time to Bob as he fnds himself in those places, for while I as an adult may be able to make some attempt at articulating that very physical response how we can expect him at the age of 5 to do so, especially when I have neved modeled ot him that I feel the same. I have simply turned my feelings in military drill mode to get out the door, if for no other reason than to try and beat my own feelings back so that we get out the door at all and go somewhere new.

A different moment of learning came for me when I suddenly heard myself talking to a friend at the start of the week after a couple of days of little adult conversation and there was no stop button for my tongue. Not only was there no stop button, I was aware of how fully physically I was feeling my reaction, my cheeks reddening from below my neck line, my heart rate racing. It was not that I had anything exciting per sa to share but I was giddy with excitement in talking to a friend and I was reminded in that moment of how I wrestle when Bob starts telling us or someone about something in hyper mode. I want him to breathe, to calm down, to slow down, to give the other person a chance. And I realised in that moment two lessons, though both are similar. Bob’s love langauge for want of a better way to describe it is time. He craves reading with people and talking about topics of interest with anyone and some days there just is not enough time or will power on my behalf to give him all the time he needs so when someone finally listens or shows an interest he just goes for it. I am no different but as an adult I have tried to minimzie it before ever embracing or naming it in myself.  Mark and I have both recognised that we are in a season where we do not have the level of community and friendships we had at Regent and because we are in a season here where we are not here for the long run building that level of community here where others are or appear to be more rooted makes that harder for us and for them. But we are made by God to be in community, we are made to be with others, to walk life together with others. And when I don’t get conversation that feeds the soul and allows me to offer something to the table I binge talk when the moment comes along and then withdraw embarressed and check myself to keep my mouth shut the next time so others have a chance and don’t get time to contribute. The later is not a healthy response. Bob and I while both introverts we also need to be able to communicate and talk with others regualrly and for that not to happen leads to hyper over flows. What I need is to take time to be with others and was blessed by Mark making that happen yesterday when I got to spend the day with a friend. It is not easy in a season with 3 at home and one still nursing and evenings unpredicatable and exhasution but it can still be done, we just need to be intentional for both Bob and myself.

This has been an eye opener for me both in reagrds to how I respond to Bob in those moments and how I help him to embrace and name his physical and emotional responses in those moments and seek ways with him to navigate them and likewise with myself and how to prepare for times in advance which we need to go through and are goind to push us out of our comfort zones and how to direct our steps to minimise those events where possible. What this embracing, naming and working out will involve and look like I am not sure, but having come this far I know I do not want to go back.

Bob is continuing to love his French class and they are a doing a play of Owl Babies and he will be Bill in it. We have been encouraged by his teacher who having been unsure how much he was getting from the class before half term has realised that while he may not say much he is understanding everything fully and that one on one is happy to talk with her in French. But that is true Bob, he will not do something in public unless he is fully confident he has it right. So I am not holding my breathe on him actually performing as Bill but for now I am happy he has been included and wants to be Bill. Zog is making great strides off his own back as far as counting goes, not simply counting 1 to 10 etc but actually able to count and identify numbers of objects. He still struggles though with age and numbers and so thinks because he is two he should get two pieces of cheese, two DVDS, two cookies etc and when we are counting people he has to be counted 2nd because he is 2. So he is in for a surprise in 2 weeks when he turns 3. And not to be out done by either brother Kanga has well and truly found her walking feet and the kitchen bin and the toilet and the tin of yeast which must go all places with her.

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