State of the #homeschool

It’s been a while since I last updated you, stalwart reader, on how homeschooling is going at Chez Augustin. Over the past two years, I’ve been finetuning the curriculum and this year has seen an expansion of topics now that Little Dinosaur has reached, and is well into, double digits, age-wise. First, the subjects, and then a little discussion:

Maths – 7 days a week
English grammar – 2 days a week
English drama – 1 day a week
Reading – minimum 8 books a year, followed by discussion
Elocution/public speaking – 1 day a week
Art – 1 day a week
Art appreciation – 1 day a week
Martial arts – 1 day a week
Music – 1 day a week
Theory of music – 1 day a week
Understanding opera/classical music/symphonic music/jazz – 1 day a fortnight
General Science – 1-2 days a week
Geology – 2 days a week
History – 2 days a week
Astronomy – 1 day a week
Cooking – 1 meal (choice to shopping to cooking) per fortnightly Saturday, alternating
Cooking lessons/culinary history and traditions – 1 day a week
Cinema – 2-3 movies a week (Hitchcock, Woody Allen, vintage SF, Hollywood classics, foreign, Monty Python), followed by discussion

While the kids are notably reluctant about some lessons (theory of music readily springs to mind), they are surprisingly interested in, for example, geology. They also love watching cooking lessons, with the “Cooking At Home” series by Julia Child and Jacques Pepin a particular hit. (In fact, The Wast recently quoted Child on a feedback form at a restaurant we were frequenting for the first time.)

I know the curriculum looks rather packed but it isn’t. While most lessons take place in the morning, some of them occur in the evening (appreciation of jazz, e.g.), when all four of us can discuss what we do and don’t like about what we’re listening to. The grimaces on Little Dinosaur’s face when we began exploring opera has now turned to open laughter, especially when we started exploring Mozart’s contributions. The Wast is a much tougher customer.

I’m particularly proud of us (and I do mean that; J is equally to blame for this!) incorporating movies into the kids’ education. Again, surprisingly, the kids really like Hitchcock’s “Rear Window”, but are meh! on “The Birds”. They laughed at “Barbarella” and “Sleeper” but found Monty Python’s “The Meaning of Life” too overwhelming to absorb. They found “Jaws” very effective in how it built tension, but thought “Looper” was both boring and irrelevant in places. We like the fact that the kids don’t appreciate our favourite films, because it means they’re developing their own individual opinions and tastes. We would worrry greatly if all four of us were in lockstep.

So there you are. An eclectic curriculum that takes as much time as needed. If the kids need more to complete a particular assignment, they’ve got it; if they finish early, they get to have a time-out till the next lesson. And, somewhere in between all that, I still need to find time to write! QUINTEN’S REVENGE is ongoing….

PS And a Selamat Hari Raya and Happy National Day to all Muslims and Singaporeans, respectively!

Homeschooling progress #homeschool

[I talk about self-publishers and missing the elephant in the room over at the Sandal Press blog. Why not head on over and post a non-spam comment? It’ll be a rarity!]

It’s been a while since I last blogged about our homeschooling adventures, so here’s an update.

The Wast (13 yo) has begun O-Level Maths and English and is doing pre-O-Level Science. (As the O Levels are designed for 15/16 year olds, this places him 2-3 years ahead of his peers.) He plays piano (Grade 3) and is also cooking twice a month.

Little Dinosaur (10 yo) has just graduated to Primary-4 Maths and English. This puts her 1-2 years behind her peers, but it’s better than it was even just a year ago, when she was a full 3 years behind. She plays violin (Grade 2) and is also tasked with cooking twice a month.

It’s been interesting having two such different children in the same “school”. For starters, it tells me that my teaching methods are not the reason that LD is behind. With TW doing so well, I must be doing something right. With the peace of mind that comes from this realisation, I am able to concentrate on finding ways to make things (a) interesting, and (b) memorable for LD, without having to second-guess myself. And, in fact, with LD showing marked progress over the past year, I feel I can give myself a pat on the back. (Thank you very much.)

We have continued with the Enopi extra tuition all this year. It is hammering the basics into the kids and I honestly believe that it’s helped LD’s wonky memory. I have toyed with the idea of switching them to the Kumon system as I’m not 100% happy with Enopi, but we’ve chopped and changed with the kids so many times now that I think consistency may be more valuable at the moment than technical advancement.

Wushu has fallen by the wayside, for the simple reason that we were not impressed with the school. The kids finished up last month and we’re thinking of enrolling them in a different martial art in January. There isn’t any Ju-jitsu around, so we think it may end up being Tae Kwon Do. Hopefully, the Koreans are more dedicated to their art than the Chinese appear to be.

That’s the formal update out of the way. Now for the informal part.

I was talking to a mother recently. Like me, she stays at home during the day while her husband works in Singapore. She said to me: “I really envy you your ability to teach your kids.”

“I don’t know why,” I replied. “You could do it if you wanted to. It’s really not that big a deal.”

I made this point in particular because her kids are much younger than mine, barely out of kindergarten. Imagine my surprise when she laughed and said: “Oh no, I couldn’t do that. I can’t imagine spending the whole day with the kids. I want them out, away from me. If they were underfoot all the time, they’d drive me crazy.”

Good gods, why the hell did you have them, then? I wondered.

So, in order to keep her sanity, this mother is quite happy spending MYR$140,000/year (US$46,000) sending her kids to a private school. A school that already told us, quite bluntly, that “we can’t cater to every child” although, to be honest, I think that might have been a reaction to my comment (to the Primary Head) that I thought his school was nothing more than a glorified social club. Whoops. (Actually, it was not meant to be an insult. He asked who would be enrolled, and I said that enrolling TW was completely out of the question because he would “regress”. If we did enroll anyone, I told him, it would be LD who, we thought, needed more of a social club environment.)

Anyway, getting back to the story, after Doing It for several years now, I am actually reluctant to put the kids back in a “normal” school. That’s what’s changed since my last update, I think. My initial goal was to homeschool the kids until we got to a civilised country and then slip them back onto the regular treadmill. I don’t feel that way anymore. I think I would be doing a great disservice to our kids to throw them back into a system that, more and more, discounts their individuality in favour of placid conformity.

I’m not sure where this new epiphany is going to lead but, at this moment, I’m quite prepared to tutor the kids till they’re ready to enter university. As a concerned parent, I feel I can do no less. Will this pan out? Who knows. We’ll see.

 

Oh no, the holidays!

[On the Sandal Press blog this week, I talk about how opera is like self-publishing. No, it’s not what you think. If you’re piqued, head on over and have a read.]

J approached me after reading last week’s post on the state of homeschooling.

“When was the last time the kids had a vacation?” he asked.

My reply was prompt. “Last year, when we went to Poland for 3 weeks.”

“And besides that? Over the past two years of homeschooling, how many long vacations have the kids had?”

“You mean, including our Polish holiday?”

“Uh-huh.”

“Um…one?”

My husband was Not Happy. He believes in the rejuvenation qualities of long periods of inactivity.

“I think you’re working them a bit hard,” he said. “Why not give them a month off?”

“A month?!”

“Didn’t you get a long holiday over summer when you were at school?”

“Yeah sure but it’s not like the kids have a nine-to-three school day each day the way I did.”

“It doesn’t matter,” he told me firmly. “They need time off.”

So the kids will be getting all of August off. Of course, they’ll still have to attend their Enopi classes. And wushu. And music. But no homeschool. Little Dinosaur was delirious when she heard the news but The Wast (TW) frowned at me.

“A whole month? No school?” he asked.

I nodded.

“You don’t want us to do any work at all over the month?”

“Not any of my work, no.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yep.”

He’s not keen on the idea, my darling son. But when J’s right, he’s right. Besides, that gives me an entire month to be almost a full-time writer. Can you tell I’m slowly warming to the idea? I just hope TW does too.

State of the #homeschool

[On the Sandal Press blog this week I’m talking about the New Big Thing of choosing manuscripts based on reader popularity and why I don’t like the trend. Chip in if you have an opinion.]

I’ve been doing the homeschooling for a couple of years now, through ups and downs, and my verdict is that I really can’t imagine NOT giving my kids a homeschool education…at least for a few years.

The one-on-one Enopi tuition has been a godsend, lending structure to the kids’ learning while I weave other elements in and out as is my wont. Little Dinosaur, who I thought was severely mathematically challenged, is now memorising her fifteen times table and The Wast is really getting into Ancient Greek tragedies. I wouldn’t have guessed any of this two years ago. The next big thing on my agenda is taming the children’s handwriting. At the moment, it’s atrocious. And — yes, call me a snob but — they’ll be learning cursive with fountain pens.

With having The Wast all to myself in the Maths department, I started him on Geometry and Algebra early this year, but I think I’m going to have to pull back. He’s a bright boy and can solve the worksheets I set him but, and this is key for mathematics, he doesn’t really understand the underlying reasoning behind a principle. It is my personal philosophy regarding mathematics that knowing is critical. Know a principle and you can solve any problem that relates to that principle, no matter how it’s couched.

Take gradients, for example. Very simply, you can calculate the gradient of a slope from two sets of coordinates by dividing the delta (difference) of the given y-coordinates by the delta of the given x-coordinates. Yeah sure, he can do this. But he’s completely stumped when I ask him one question: why? Why is the gradient the product of the division of two deltas? And if he can’t answer that question then the topic of linear equations using two variables (that we’re going through now) is going to confuse him somewhere down the track, maybe on a revision test or pop quiz, but sometime when he least needs such confusion. And I’m not asking for any esoteric explanation of a gradient, just something along the lines of the gradient being a ratio of two numbers…how far you move along the x-axis being related to how far you move along the y-axis. A relationship between the two axes, if you will. I will take the use of keywords such as “difference” and “moving” and “always” but, at the moment, I’m getting silent panic and a complete mental shutdown.

Having observed TW in this fashion for several weeks, it is now my firm opinion that intellectual capacity is only part of the picture. As I said, TW can solve the worksheets, but I don’t think his emotional capacity for absorbing the mathematical principles are there yet. It seems strange to pair maths with emotions but, the more I look at it, the more it makes sense. Emotions, and how we handle them, are an indicator of our maturity, self-discipline and self-control. What I am asking for from TW is an emotional maturity when confronting mathematical principles that he’s just not ready for yet. And, I’ll admit it, I’ve been pushing him.

So, for now, I’m pulling back. Going back to basics. Drilling fractions. Gently introducing pre-algebra. And maybe, this time, I won’t get a brain shutdown when I ask the pre-eminent question of mathematics: Why?

Being a selfish #homeschool parent

From the time The Wast was born, he puzzled us. Here was a child who could not go to sleep for the first four months of his life if he wasn’t resting on my chest. As a result, I learnt how to sleep while half-reclining in bed, holding him loosely in my arms as I dozed. It was strange and we didn’t know how to deal with it until we stumbled across the term “attachment parenting”, which is a philosophy that prioritises parent-child bonding above everything else. In fact, you could say that The Wast actually set the pace by demanding attachment parenting from us. He was much more content (and quiet!) if he slept near us, was breastfed on demand, carried about in a baby sling and generally handled more than not.

Being an attachment parent can be very demanding but The Wast trained us so well that we fell into it again very naturally when Little Dinosaur arrived. It became normal to hold them at every opportunity, to check on them while they slept. Their beds were in our room and we co-slept until our move to Singapore. We eschewed baby monitors, pacifiers (dummies) and commercial baby food. And boy, it was tough. There were days when I was t-h-i-s close to a frazzled nervous breakdown. But we persevered because we had a long-term goal in mind, and that was to bring up children who considered us friends and who would themselves develop into caring, responsible adults.

When they started “normal” school, J and I hated it, although it took a few years to figure out why. Was it because we didn’t get to see them for the best part of their day? Was it their exhaustion when they finally walked through the door? The hours and homework that ate away at the time they could spend with us? But we kept them at school because that was how we thought it worked. We thought we had to put aside our own reservations for the good of their “education”.

Then, all the problems started and I won’t repeat them because I’m sure you’ve heard enough about them, and we made the hard choice to homeschool. And it’s turned out that homeschooling is exactly the right choice for us as attachment parents.

Our children are our friends again, and we share plans and projects with each other. We share our lessons and interests with them (the Byzantium Empire, cooking and publishing) and they share their lessons and interests with us (mathematics, movie-making, and computer animation). This is all apart from the satisfaction we get from crafting an individual educational framework for each of our children, one that’s seeing them move beyond their peers (and kneejerk diagnoses of “autism”, “nervous system disorders”, “severe retardation”, etc.) to achieve at a level a year or two beyond their age group.

Now, I sit back and wonder how I ever thought of education in any other terms. We’re not religious or dogmatic people. We homeschooled our children at first out of necessity, but are now finding it a joy because, in addition to the academic achievements, we’ve rediscovered our children and they’ve proven themselves to be wonderful, resourceful humans. We know they’ll go and find their own way in life — they must do — but, in the meantime, we’re proud to be sharing part of our life’s journey with them.

ADDITIONAL: One of the links I’ll be putting here is from a report by Bonnie Rochman, who says:

As I understand it, attachment parenting puts babies first and mommies and daddies trailing behind in a distinct second/third position.

While that may be how it looks to an utterly disinterested observer (and let’s not even start on the patronising “mommies and daddies” term! Jesus frickin’ Christ!), that’s not how the dynamic actually works. To me, attachment parenting is about respect. Just because you’re in a position of power over a child (and, as a parent, you are) doesn’t give you the right to dictate particular actions without respecting the child’s opinion or perspective. That’s it in a nutshell for us. And if you can’t do that (respect your child as another growing human being), then don’t have kids.

To learn more about attachment parenting, try Attachment Parenting International

You can read the opposing case from Ms. Rochman and Erica Jong at Healthland 

Can I just say…Jong seems to think that caring for a child 24×7 “shackles” me, as a mother. Yet, not only do I do almost all the cooking at home, as well as homeschooling, ferrying the kids to a lot of their external classes, and seeing to the other domesticated animals, but I also find time to write for a few hours, chew the fat with J over a couple of glasses of alcoholic beverages, watch a movie almost every night, and get some recreational reading in. Not to forget my 8-9 hours of sleep. Admittedly, I couldn’t do all that with toddlers, but kids are only at that stage for a little while. Take it from me, attachment parenting is not a death sentence.

I’m back to writing BALANCE OF TERROR and am a little over 10% done. 90% to go!

The reluctant homeschooler, Part IV of IV

And so here we are. What began as a move of desperation now appears to me to be the only way to properly educate children. I understand that it’s not for everyone for a number of reasons.

  1. It requires that there is only one, maybe one and a half, breadwinners in the family. With the current economic assault on everyone by The Rich, this is becoming more and more difficult to achieve. However, in areas where homeschooling is not such an oasis in the desert as it is here, there may be a way of cobbling together a co-op system with a group of parents with varying skills and experiences.
  2. It requires a major throttling back of unrealistic expectations about what can be achieved in a given amount of time. (That, I believe, is where I went wrong with LD and I readily admit paying the price for my unreasonableness now.) Baby steps first….
  3. It requires an immense sense of confidence, not only in yourself but in your children.
  4. It requires constant adjustments and tweaking. No egos allowed here!

The fact that those reasons appear contradictory indicates the complexity of mindset and expectations required if you’re going to make homeschooling work.

Where does that leave the kids? One of the PUKS Masters disparagingly asked us what we were going to do with TW when we’d finished homeschooling him to Senior year/Form Six. “Tell him to go out and get a job, I suppose,” he said. It was only because, at that time, I was still holding hopes of having LD accepted there that I held the inevitable retort of calling him a pretentious, self-righteous, impolite wanker.

“No,” I replied instead. “During that time, I’ll be preparing him for pre-University exams. I believe those are independent of schools.”

I believe, if I have planned this right, that TW will be ready to take his pre-U exams when he’s 15. And, if so, it will mean that he would have spent no more than four and a half years in a formal school system.

As for LD…well, we’re waiting. There was something that sparked in TW and he blossomed. Could the same happen with her? I see flashes of it every now and then. TW is living proof of the plasticity of intelligence and we are hoping for something similar with our daughter. But, in case that doesn’t happen, we still have the flexible system that she’s currently schooling under and that we’re constantly adjusting. There’s no way a traditional school system can hope to match the nimbleness of our current framework and, at this stage, I’m not even willing to put her back there to try.

And so that’s the tale of the atheist homeschooler. I’ll keep you updated on the results.

The reluctant homeschooler, Part III of IV

We are now in the third quarter of 2011, by my retelling. Our overwhelming feeling is that our kids have been treated as nothing more than guinea pigs by people who had boasted to us about their years and experience in education. Years that we readily admitted we didn’t have. We fell for their spiel to “trust them”. And, by turns (with the one notable exception of Boon Lay), our children were ignored, assaulted, bullied, insulted and yelled out by people who were in positions of authority over them.

I don’t know if I can adequately explain the sense of burning rage I still feel as I type these words, and that anger has not diminished. But still, despite all that, we had hopes for Prestigious UK School (PUKS for short). We went along and had several meetings with them.

I pause now so I can give you some context. Our son? TW? The one who was “severely retarded”? He’s two years ahead of his age in English and at least one year ahead in Maths and Science. Putting him in a regular school, we thought, would actually stunt him at this stage. PUKS told us that school would begin at 8:30am and that kids would get home by 5:15pm. That was the equivalent of a full working day, plus homework on top of that. That would leave no time for TW to indulge in his other passions of movie-making, game design and learning graphics and computer animation (all of which he currently does outside homeschool hours).

LD was another issue. There’s an old adage that says you should treat your children equally. Bullshit. Children are individuals and that means tailoring your demands to their personalities. However I was teaching was working with TW but was causing major tissue avalanches with LD. After some enquiries, I discovered a tuition system that was Kumon-like and close by. Encouraging independent working, they would take LD through Maths and English twice a week. But was this enough? We enrolled LD for those twice-weekly classes while we considered PUKS.

Tbh, I considered PUKS the superior choice. I could work on TW at home and LD, a really sweet and caring kid, could do what was so important to her and develop relationships outside the family circle.

I so wanted PUKS to be the answer. And then they turned out to be like everyone else we’d encountered. We heard the same old statements we’d heard before. “We have values that all children must adhere to….” “Our years of experience in education….” “You understand that, during the Primary years, we won’t be concentrating on academic performance at all….” “We have an excellent Sports programme….”

There were two death knells. The first came when we couldn’t even get a provisional place for LD. Oh, they went on about what a wonderful child she is, based on a one-on-one interview they conducted with her, but they wouldn’t even give us a tentative answer as to whether she’d be accepted in PUKS. They would have to wait for a Psychologist’s Report and — and these are my words — how much work they would need to exert before they could give us their final decision. They had already told us that they were over-subscribed and so not every child would get in. And, once more, we felt we were being set up for a fall. (We’re still going through with the psychological assessment, but that will be for our own benefit.)

The second was when the Head told us quite baldly at the end of our last discussion that we couldn’t expect their system (even with a given that there going to be a Learning Support component added) to cater to LD.

And it was like a lightbulb exploding in my head. Hold on a sec, I thought. Right now, I do have a system that specifically caters to LD. To my surprise, she was really taking to the outside tuition classes and, in the alternate days when I was schooling her, I was seeing improvements in her attitude and the quality of her work. I was also working on other, multi-sensory methods to help her with Maths and, to a lesser extent because she doesn’t seem to need it so much, English. Add violin, Wushu, Dance, and UK-accredited Speech & Drama classes, and I was still spending less than RM6,000 a year and getting out of it (I thought) a pretty well-rounded child.

PUKS was telling me that they were unable to be all things to all children and expected us to shell out RM60,000 for that first year of schooling (almost twice the average annual wage). Plus uniforms plus food plus extra-curricular activities plus a four-figure non-refundable registration fee, and so on.

Why would I give up a totally personalised, completely customised, eminently flexible, lightweight system that was working, for one that was rigid, inflexible, ponderous, with no guarantees, at TEN TIMES THE PRICE???

The reluctant homeschooler, Part II of IV

When I finally got my hands on the kids, and put them through their paces, I was appalled. We had been paying high school fees and I discovered that both kids had actually regressed. LD, at the age of eight, couldn’t even repeat the alphabet!

But we had an advantage. Being foreigners, we fell straight through the cracks of local federal regulations. Thus, if I wanted to, I could teach or not teach my children however I pleased.

J and I sat and discussed our options. There were a number of schools being built in our area. We would wait until one was open and enrol the kids there. In the meantime, I would homeschool. And that’s how it began. It was a move of desperation and we always thought that the time would come when we’d fold our children back into the traditional schooling mix.

The first six months were the worst, as I well admit. Per an old blog post:

Well, I had the kind of super-obsessive, “Asian tiger” parents that I detest but I have to admit they did a good job on brainwashing me. So I had to get rid of all that “it’s A’s or it’s nothing” shit (including the classic “you only got 99% for that exam; I refuse to talk to you for the entire day”) that made my own childhood such a misery. Forming new disciplinary pathways in my brain took months, to be honest. Months to relax into the kind of attitude that put comprehension, fostering an air of exploration, and questioning above 100-question drills on how to add mixed numbers. (Not that I don’t do that, but that’s usually at the end when the kids can do all that in their sleep!)

And when I started to relax, I branched out a bit, searching out resources on the Net. (There are no local homeschoolers to talk to.) LD looked like she was suffering from both dyslexia and dyscalculia, but there were also flashes of brilliance that made me catch my breath.

I totalled the amount of money that we had spent on school fees and told J that I was funnelling that amount into homeschooling. He readily agreed. I bought workbooks, reading books, learning systems and DVD courses. I set up a smartboard system to use at home. We bought the kids new laptops. We enrolled them in some external classes. And do you know what? With all that expense (and I spent money on whatever looked promising, figuring we’d assess its worth once we started using it) I still wasn’t spending a fifth of what we’d thrown down the drain at the local private school.

That made us think. What exactly were we paying for in a private school?

I would spend half a day teaching the kids, test them, and still give them enough remaining time for them to indulge in their own interests (which, increasingly, seem to encompass making their own movies and games). Given the choice, without any kind of persuasion on my part, our children would prefer to storyboard a short movie than sit down and watch TV.

But how could this be? Weren’t we told that the “best” system was the public/private schooling system? That homeschooling parents were somehow “cheating” their children out of much-needed social and cognitive development? Yet, when I watched our own kids, that wasn’t what I was seeing at all.

Something wasn’t gelling.

As these heretical thoughts swirled around in my brain, two things happened. One very prestigious UK-based school announced that it was opening a campus ten minutes away from us. And LD started to burst into tears the moment she tackled any difficult problem.

The reluctant homeschooler, Part I of IV

Let me get one thing straight before I begin. J and I loved school. (I may not have liked what went on around school, like the bullying and the name-calling, but school itself…brilliant!) We were very good students ourselves. And, until fairly recently, were gung-ho proponents  of yer basic, federally-supervised, school system.

Our story actually started back in Australia, when The Wast was at the beginning of his schooling career. Now, TW has always been a bit of a “different” child…shy, a bit obsessive and stubborn. But, as parents, we could always see the intelligence lurking under that shield of obstinate near-silence. In our ignorance, we expected teachers (i.e. people with actual degrees in Education) to be able to discern part of that too. They didn’t. What the teachers proved to us was that they were super-quick to jump to conclusions, even after admitting they had no training in pedagogy or child psychology, and we have the reports on our “severely retarded” and “highly autistic” son to prove it.

When we moved to Singapore, and TW joined an International School (a move I was dead against, btw, because I had attended an International School and saw them as nothing more than social clubs for children), things didn’t improve. Again, he was accused of being developmentally challenged. When we paid for tests and got the results that said that he was “normal” (whatever that means), the school still didn’t believe it.

With, we thought, nothing left to lose, we put TW in a publicly-funded Singaporean school. (Hi there, Boon Lay Garden Primary School!) And, for whatever reason, he thrived! He became one of the class monitors and started scoring straight As in his subjects. It was as if a light switch had been clicked on. We still don’t know what, why or how it happened.

When we moved to Malaysia, we reluctantly made the decision to school the kids locally, and here’s where I start the tale of our second child, Little Dinosaur.

Both children were emergency, premature births, but LD spent a month in the hospital’s Special Unit that TW didn’t. We were warned that her complicated birth would have ramifications, and the ramifications came home to roost while we were switching from Singapore to Malaysia.

We put the kids in the top private school in Johor state at that time. And then, over the space of two years, we started to notice a deterioration in both our children’s performance. TW was bored and LD was being ignored in classrooms of 36 and 37 students. If you add the Great Tuition Scam, then it was a travesty.

All the school seemed interested in was making as much money out of status-conscious parents as it could. But, if we wanted our children to be educated in English, it appeared we had no choice. We had to stick to private schools.

The breaking point finally came when a repeat offender younger boy stabbed my daughter in the thigh with a pencil. The school actually forced LD, in front of the principal, vice-principal, her class teacher and the boy’s teacher, to say she “forgave” him and the school considered the matter closed. To my mind, that was coercion of the worst kind (where do I begin?) and there was only one solution: pull the kids out of school.

At the coal-face with the children

As you know, stalwart reader, I’m homeschooling the kids. Part of their curriculum includes the use of technology and the concept of blogging. For their very first blog, I asked the kids to write a short post on anything that took their fancy. This is Little Dinosaur’s 9yo effort. After she came up with a title, being about herself (yes, she’s a vain little thing), she goes on to say:

I wake up in the morning to eat my breakfast.

If there is noting to do on my computer then I go up stairs to watch TV[.]

I watch Animal planet, Mhtbusters [sic] and and TVIQ so that[']s what I watch.

Okay, we’re working on her punctuation and a bit of her spelling. Ahem. You’ll notice she doesn’t say anything about school though! In any case, here is her 11yo brother’s comment to her post:

The whole family knows what you are doing. It’s not like we don[']t pay attention.

They have wonderful arguments and all J and I can do is try to stifle our laughter as we listen to them. Ah, kids. I know I keep threatening to sell them but I think I’ll hang onto them for a little while longer. Hope your weekend is an entertaining and I’ll catch you next week.