Sneaking the education in

This is not a home education blog. I read a reasonable handful of home education blogs regularly, and I know that this isn’t one. One of the reasons is that the blog predates the decision to home educate by a significant period. Another is the vast number of things that we end up blogging about that have no discernible link to education, home education, children, or indeed any other related subject. This is very much a Whatever-Was-In-My-Head-At-The-Time blog, and sometimes, home education is what’s in our heads, and therefore gets a look-in.

The other home ed blogs that I read tend to indulge in a set of fairly similar practices: this week, many of them have told me their educational plans for the New Year – what websites they’ve decided to subscribe to, what resources they’ve bought, how they plan to address various subjects, concepts and ideas. It’s January – most people get a little absorbed in planning for the future at this time of year.

Another common occurrence is a list of the educational activities that the blogger’s children have indulged in during the course of the day. I can see the value of that, to a parent – it’s rather reassuring to be able to tick off a list of things that have some form of educational merit. Since you’ve got no-one to blame for the quality of your child’s education but yourself, mechanisms for constantly checking that education is, in fact, going on, are highly useful.

I’ve never made such a list before. I’m not used to thinking about Daisy’s activity in those terms, and I therefore don’t give things the educational credit that they deserve. However, today, I think we have excelled ourselves in sneaking education into our day. So here goes:

  • This morning, we walked up to the main road, put my boots in to be soled and heeled, and called in to see some friends who live up that way – physical exercise, including balance (it was very icy, and Daisy landed on her backside pretty hard at one point), followed by socialisation – talking to grown ups is a valuable skill, and socialisation doesn’t always mean other children.
  • When Henry was in bed, this afternoon, we decided to play some games. Daisy got the Jitterbugs game out (fine motor skills, when she wasn’t cheating),
  • then we played snakes and ladders (numeracy, and the subtle art of holding your attention span all the way to the end of a game – Mummy had to be firm, though, and it’s just as well that she got the sudden-win ladder at the end…),
  • then we played pairs using the Roly Mo cards, which are sneakily hard; they have the picture of the item and the word written on one card, but the pair doesn’t have the picture, so you have to read them (literacy, observation)
  • then we did jigsaws (logic, pattern matching, visual attention to detail, and a bit more finishing-what-we-started).
  • After which, it was time for Gymbobs, which is the bigger-kids class of Tumble Tots, to which Daisy was just promoted (more PE, more socialisation – with kids, this time).
  • After tea, she shrewdly picked on the most educational computer game we own, in a calculated bid to get me off my computer so she could play. So then we did more reading, phonics work, and IT skills with a literacy game my mum gave me ages ago.

All in all, it’s been a successful day, a fun day, and a day when I felt like home education was something I could pull off, and was, in fact, already doing. The thing with home ed, is that it all counts. Do remember being young, and occasionally stumbling across something that counted for school, or Duke of Edinburgh Awards, or something, and being delighted because you were already doing it – you were getting free credits, in effect, because something you were doing anyway could be made to count? That’s what home education is like, except you don’t get the thrill of cheating the system, because that is the system. Everything that teaches you something counts.

I don’t have a proper plan, like some of the bloggers I mentioned up at the top. That’s partly because she’s still at the pre-reception level, and all the of the really cool educational stuff that I stumble across is still beyond her (like this, for example). My plan, for now, is to keep pushing the reading, and the counting, and give her lots of opportunities – answer her questions, listen to her theories, take her to places, show her things, and just see what sinks in. If I try to plan for the next year, it all gets a bit daunting. Planning for the next step, though, and identifying where to go from here, a step at a time – that’s attainable. That we can do. Indefinitely, I think.