Finally after a long grey close day there is a breeze in the air and the sun is shining. Two little ones are actually asleep and eldest is just back from youth group and so begins the journey of helping him unwind after a fun evening when he is running short on sleep and is heavy-headed with hay fever. Of the three so far Bob is the one for whom transitions are hardest and switching from one activity to another needs time but when that is coupled with tiredness and hay fever it requires from one or other of us the need to dig deeper to make that journey smoother and doable for him. He stops thinking in terms of connection to this world and the people around him and we have to keep bringing him back to reality as he spins off in outer space, at times in a solar system all of his own.
It has been interesting observing the three of them and watching how they all relate to their surroundings and the complete differences between them all. Bob is our wordy one who loves history and science and a new love for languages and is found dwelling inside books in some other solar system. Zog lives within our own solar system joining in the creative work of God adding colour and glittering sparkles to anything that stays still long enough for him to put his creative touch to. This has meant walls have been worked on too, not the best when you are in a rented house that has been thinly painted and so as soon as you go to clean the wall the paint comes off. Zog loves the picture a story paints and is fascinated by art and numbers. He has started to write numbers much to my surprise when this morning he proudly presented me with a piece of paper with the numbers on it. Tonight in the bath he put up all our foam numbers counting down from 10 and declared that these were space numbers as they went the other way to our numbers. He can generally be called back to earth without it throwing him for a loop though it may take a time or two of addressing him to get his attention. Kanga lives fully and whole heartedly on this earth and as though she knows how it should be run. She is the first to be ready at the door with necessary footwear if I mention that we are going out and she is up and straight to the door when Daddy comes in and acknowledges his departure with waves and often tears. The boys may or may not now register he has even left when he walks back in some hours later.
Each are so different in personalities and yet to see them they could never disown each other. It is a learning curve for both of us as we seek to raise them and know how best to journey through each day to ensure each one is allowed to be themselves within the context of family life when inter-relationships matter and actions are not taken in isolation in different solar systems however far off one may feel one is actually living. The rewards though are massive when we are able to get alongside and track with each of them exploring the world around them.
Lessons have been ticking along most days but the evidence for learning is often not in those moments but at other times such as conversations in the car or from comments others say to us when they have spent time with our children. There are days when lessons can seem so futile but then a later conversation comes along and you realise in that moment that they are all learning and growing and seeking to make sense of the world around them.
What has been encouraging, exciting and somewhat daunting to this non linguistic parent is Bob’s emerging love of languages. He is already doing French and has decided that maths in French is far more fun and he has no problems with addition in French. He also loves to do bits of Hebrew or Greek with his Daddy and this week has decided that he wants to learn Latin and Spanish. I don’t want to squash his enthusiasm and need to work out how best to do this and find ways of exposing him to language. Any suggestions/recommendations that are not going to break the bank would be greatly appreciated. Think I might need to see what there is out there to watch or listen to that he would enjoy. I regret my lack of langauge skills and if he is to take after his Grandpa and his enjoyment of languages I do not want to stifle it.
I still struggle with the total brick wall we hit as soon as he needs to write anything but Mark keeps reassuring me that he never did and still probably does not like actual pen on paper writing and as he is completing a PhD I probably don’t need to worry too much. All momentum of an encouraging morning can be lost as soon as a pencil/pen is produced. It is more to do with my own personal pressures and expectations and defensiveness when it comes to what other parents with children at school say. What I do wonder at times is whether we should teach him to type yet to give him a way to express the overflow of words his brain has? Any thoughts from folk who have been down this road would be appreciated. I suspect we will not have the same battle with Kanga as she has total melt down as soon as we remove a marker from her hand as she walks through the house with her forbidden treasure. Whereas Zog may move off paper onto walls through creative forgetfulness, Kanga is delighting in forbidden treasure.
We have all learnt lots this year both in and through the journey of home educating and so I am wrestling at the moment of how to adapt and move forward next year as we do not yet know where we will be and so knowing how our days will look and what there will be to be involved in restricts my need to plan and organise which is hard going but it is also a time to trust and keep walking these days out faithfully, living and learning in the moment.
The rain is falling softly and steadily this evening and in many ways that sums up our learning journey over the past two weeks. Lessons, life and even some glimpses of sleep have been happening. As I have been pondering what to reflect on over these past two weeks it is that life and learning have been simply and gently rolling through each day and at times nights in more hands on ways than I would choose. Each day has looked quiet different and so there has been a tension especially for Bob and myself in the uncertainty of each day which we are having to navigate through. I have been a less than helpful companion for him this week with that as I am still playing catch up (if one ever can) on a complete lack of sleep for two weeks as Zog recovered from surgery. On that front thanks to our wonderful osteopath we are turning a corner there.
It has made me more aware of the unsettledness I am feeling as we live in this season of asking ‘ what/where is next?’ Bob keeps asking where are moving to and what we could do in our new garden, he is keen to create a wildlife haven, while Zog is consistent in his desire to move to Africa so he can see a buffalo. I am also longing to know where we are going to be so as to know what we can be involved in within the home education community and to plan how our days will look. Yes I am still wanting to plan and create a routine to our days though I know only too well that life brings with it plenty of invitations for different ways days can unfold. That said I still hold to the idea of having a plan in place which can be flexible rather than just winging it which does not work well for us.
All of these ponderings have had the question of what I would also do with my days thrown into the frame. We met with a couple who are walking this season with us and I was asked the question of whether I felt fulfilled. This question has got in under my skin and has continued to make me feel uncomfortable. For as long as I remember all I wanted to be was to be a wife and mum. And so right now I feel a tension within myself because I do not feel fulfilled. There is a sense of betrayal to my long held dreams come true and yet I also feel that in having children there is a laying down of many of my dreams even if just for a season and for us home education means a prolonged laying down of dream, for to do it well it takes time, my time, in preparation. I would not do it differently as it is right for our children in this season. I think my regrets go further back as I reflect on the choices made since finishing school. I have wandered for 20 years and my hope for our children is that while they do not need to know at 16 what they want to do with the rest of their lives that they will be more aware of their options out there and be confident to be more creative with the paths they follow. To not do the assumed right thing but to seek God’s will, considering all that God has given them and the way He has created and wired them to be. God has worked all things for good for me but that still leaves room for me to which things had been different. The question now for me as they watch and learn from me not only the ‘school’ lessons, is how do they see me live out a life in Christ, being all that I am made to be in Him and to show them that it is never to late to step into all that God has for us to be and the difference between a life lived out on the wings of the Spirit and one that talks the talk but is still grounded in the nest. (yes Bob and I have been hooked on springwatch for science the past three weeks and have watched many birds’ nests.) I have two different trains of thought going on as to what I would love to be doing.
Back to actually what Bob is covering, history has now brought us to Ancient Rome which he is very excited about and has many building/craft projects planned. Maths continue to be an area he is not patient enough to work out the right answers and writing is less than loved. Reading is going really well and so history and science are favourites as there is much reading to be done around topics of interest. Despite heading into the summer and Bob doing well with reading I have introduced a new reading programme into our days this week. We had been using one but the way it was structured did not work for my with my dyslexia, so Mark had to do it and finding time was hard and Bob was bored by it but I do think it gave him a great initial spring-board and because he has an incredible photographic memory he is able to learn many words by sight. So wh introduce a new programme at this point in the year? I was looking for a good spelling programme for next year and came across All About Spelling and its companion All About Reading which because of their multi-sensory styles of learning work to the strengths of the dyslexic with others I know giving it great reviews I decided to start on level 1 of the reading which feels somewhat redundant but I was aware that Bob was reading based on sight recognition of his words and not through sounding out words. This is just like myself and means it is very easy early on to make amazing strides with ones reading only to hit a massive wall further down the road and so to try to help avoid that hurdle which I have never got over, we have gone back to level 1 to learn sounds and lots of basic skills. I suspect we will be ready for level 2 early on next year and he is really enjoying the activities each day that the lessons include.
So yes, like the rain softly and steadily falling learning is going on, questions from all of us are being asked and God is sowing seeds deep within all of us for a new work that He is preparing us for.
(computer is still being unhelpful hiding photos so once again there are no pictures)