Even though the weather hasn't been as good as it was last week, we were at the beach today with my brother and his family who arrived yesterday. We sat in the rain with towels over our heads for a while (the adults that is - the kids were oblivious to the weather and having lots of fun), and at one point we thought we heard thunder and were preparing to make a run for it, but it was worth it. The rain stopped and the sun eventually broke through, and I went swimming with A in the sea - fantastic!!
The flat is very quiet just now, as A insists on staying at Granny's while her cousins are there. They have such a lovely relationship, they only see each other twice a year usually, but when they are together they become completely emersed in their own little world.
It is just occuring to me that I have a very busy few weeks ahead of me, the day my brother leaves, some more visitors arrive to stay with me until the 16th, and I have an essay (which I haven't even started) for my OU course due on the 15th, not sure how thats going to work!?! A also has a few activities booked and a couple of overnight stays with her grandparents promised during that time, so its going to be a bit manic, but I'm sure it will all work out. Maybe I should be more concerned, but I just cant get stressed at the moment - its summer!!
We have been really enjoying the hot weather, and spent this afternoon on the beach with our friends - perfect. I'm hoping next week will be as good because my brother and his family are coming up and we never have good weather when they come - his partner doesn't believe it ever gets warm in Scotland.
A has been enjoying going to a drama group every morning this week, classes put on for the school holidays, and subsidised by the council - so very inexpensive. It has actually felt quite good to have a bit of structure to our week. From what she's told me the classes have been mainly drama games and improvisation, my idea of hell! But A has had a great time. This is exactly the kind of thing she loves. There was the usual nervousness about first going in, which is totally understandable, but one of her old classmates was going too, so that helped. Anyway, she seems to have made lots of new friends. This is something she is very good at, and I'm so glad because I'm not the most sociable person and would hate that to hold her back in any way.
A has also been rehearsing for a show she is going to be in at the local drama club - Roald Dahl's 'Revolting Rhymes'. They did it last year and it went down really well, so are putting it on again for a few nights. A gets to play a bratty version of Goldilocks, which she thoroughly enjoys!
Bedtime is becoming a bit of an issue, and I'm not sure how I'm going to play this one. I've been letting it go - not too worried about when she goes - the usual way I would in the school holidays, but of course these holidays aren't going to end! I'm torn really, part of me really wants to trust her to do what she needs and let her decide when to go, but there's another part thats going 'no! this is my time!!' I suppose thats the way its always been - once she's in bed I get a bit of time for myself. As a lone parent who spends a lot of time with my child (and it will be even more now she's not at school) I felt I needed that couple of hours at the end of the day. Another point is that I often watch things on TV later in the evening that I wouldn't be happy for her to watch.
I'm going to have to make a decision soon because she needs some clarity, either have a definate bedtime (tricky, as our lives are becoming much more fluid without the school timetable) or change my way of thinking about it all. Will have to think on this one...
We have been very much in the holiday mode the last few days. I got up at about 11 this morning and pottered about for a couple of hours, then the Steiner guilt mechanism kicked in when I realised A had been lying in front of the TV for at least 4 hours. At that point I 'suggested' she turn it off and find something else to do. What she found was Science Museum - Solar System Mobile Making Kit . Quite a lot of close painting involved, so we worked on it together. After a couple of false starts with me making obviously stupid mistakes about how we should go about the project (these are the moments where I ask myself if I really should be in charge of my child's education!?) we settled down to it and had a lovely afternoon.
We also made up a little story to help us remember the names of the planets in order (from closest to the sun) which was fun. I know very little about the solar system - was never particularly interested as a child and don't remember studying it at any point at school (although maybe I just wasn't paying attention!), so I'm really enjoying the process of learning new things too.
A has been indicating a growing interest in science for a little while now, one of her concerns about home ed was 'will we be able to do science?'. I was really pleased as I'm quite scientifically minded, so have been gathering a few resources in the way of books and web sites. The mobile kit was a Christmas present from my Mum (good old Granny!). A was so impressed with what we did and talked about today she now wants to get a telescope - not sure if my finances would stretch to that, in fact they absolutely wouldn't - but its great to see A so enthusiastic.
I can already see a difference in A's approach to learning, I think being able to take the initiative herself and have a greater control over her education is going to be so positive. I have been struggling to encourage her to read more for a couple of years, she doesn't have any problems with reading, but shows very little interest and doesn't seem to 'get into' any books. I've found this really difficult to understand as I have always loved books, and at her age I always had a book on the go, but I've had to tread very carefully as pushing (ok, nagging) her too much just made her dig her heels in even more. I had stepped back a bit from this concern the last couple of months, figuring she would be doing enough reading at school, but was pondering about how to approach it once she left school. Well, the other morning she produced a mini 'book review' she had sat in bed and written the night before - I had never even mentioned doing anything like that (although had been thinking along those lines). Amazing child!
I'm kind of enjoying the lull and laziness this weekend, as I know next week things will start to get busy again with activities, socialising and more visitors. All good stuff, but we need our occasional duvet days (or duvet weekends!) too. We did attempt to walk down to the park today but by the time we got to the end of the (very long) driveway it started to rain, so we turned back, came home and ate cake. At least we tried though!
A couple of pictures of my artistic daughter's creations
Just had a great week with some visitors up from England, lovely people we don't see often enough, A had a wonderful time with these members of her extended family. This week we will check in with one or two of her 'school' friends and maybe have a sleepover with one of them.
I've been working on an essay for my OU course yesterday and today, focusing on gender and sexuality in primary schools - really interesting stuff. As always I relate it back to whats going on with A.
My first thoughts were along the lines of 'is this something she will miss out on because of not being at school?' The boyfriend/girlfriend scenario was already well established in her class at her old school, although A didn't seem particularly interested in it all. But is this something thats important as a part of growing up - a way of practicing and developing emotional relationships?
After reading through the research studies I'm using I feel that although this is seen as a normal part of school life, I'm not convinced that it is altogether healthy or positive. Some of the case studies - particularly of boys who don't fit into the macho, football playing type role - were very sad. It appears that in most cases there is a dominant homophobic and misogynistic theme in the development of 'real boys', no surprise really, but rather depressing, especially when (as in one study) it is more or less encouraged by a male teacher.
I can imagine the retort now of: 'thats the way kids are/life is/the world is, she needs to get used to it', but I don't accept that. I hope that in developing a definate sense of self through the wider world, rather than the 'classroom' she will develop a confident and secure sense of her own sexuality as she grows up.
The school social environment seems to be about creating boundaries and rules about what is 'right' and 'wrong', and divisions between kids who are 'in' or 'out', 'romantic' relationships are a big part of that hierarchy. I want to give my daughter some freedom from that. I know that she will come across it in groups she's involved in, and probably needs to so that she knows how to deal with it. She's actually fairly astute socially and I don't think she'd have any real problems, but I don't want her to be hemmed in by these rigid 'norms'.
A had her final day at school on Wednesday, which went very smoothly - a few tears, lots of hugs, some beautiful 'goodbye' cards, and promises to keep in touch. There seemed to be quite a lot of children leaving the school, one other girl from A's class was going, which was good as it took all the focus off A, and gave her a kind of ally. There was an end of term festival for all the classes to perform in, and a ceremony to 'send off ' the top class, so it felt like a proper ending. I had been very nervous about the whole thing, mainly because I wasn't sure how A would cope with it being her last day, but she coped beautifully (as usual). To be honest I don't think there's much I will miss about school, I'll keep in touch with the people I want to, but it will be a drastic change to our routine.
Yesterday A had a little beach party for her closest friends, the sun was shining and we managed to get the barbecue going eventually - with a little help from another group on an outing. The kids went swimming in the sea and generally had a great time.
So this is it - the end of school and the beginning of home education! Although it doesn't feel like it yet as we are going to have a proper summer holiday first. I still feel a bit ambivalent about it, there is a sense of relief in getting away from all the things I didn't like about the school (and there were quite a lot of elements I struggled with), but it was more of a 'community' than most schools, and there are good things about being part of a community. I suppose the bottom line is - A didn't want to leave, she was happy there, and if money wasn't an issue she would still be there. So although we are both very positive about home education, and I believe it could turn out to be the best thing for A, there is still that sense of it not being A's choice.