Today has been a good day. It finally feels like we're settling down again after a difficult couple of weeks. It sometimes takes a knock to shift your perspective and help you see things differently.
And so out of a pretty dismal time has come a new and quite frankly refreshing approach to this home ed journey of ours. For the first time since becoming home schoolers I'm not feeling that constant pressure to compete with what school can offer. I guess when everyone else is doing one thing and you choose to do something else, there's always that feeling that you should be trying to keep in touch with them a bit in terms of the level of learning and opportunities the other children are getting at school. The irony is that if we were living in Finland, my way of doing things would be the total norm. Oh the difference a few thousand miles make.
So why the realisation? Talking to Simon about the situation has helped enormously plus I've also been reading a lot about our fantastic Finnish friends. They've got education nailed: children don't start school until they're seven years old; the foundation for school is laid out even before little ones are out of nappies; there are no tests or exams of any sort until children are sixteen years old; teachers have to have a masters degree; the respect for teachers is on a par with lawyers and doctors; there is no Ofsted equivalent; teachers are allowed to follow their own curriculums; classroom work is limited to just four hours a day; there is no homework; and so on and so on. Children leave school or university with brilliant qualifications that are the envy of every other education system in the world. So, the fact that I'm following in their footsteps gives me much confidence that actually, perhaps, I'm the one doing things right and everyone else has got it wrong. Perhaps right or wrong is a bit black and white, but you get my gist. If everyone stood up a bit for more what they believed in, who knows where the possibilities could lead.
I think it would be fair to say that we had lost our way a bit. One can get so caught up with life one can loose sight of the reasons why one decided to make a change to one's lives in the first place. Our decision to home school Jenson wasn't to give him what he can get at school, rather it was because neither Simon or I agree with the whole school system: the pressure, the testing, the homework, the long hours, the neglect of childhood as a result. I hear so many comments from parents with children at school who feel great unrest towards the current system and yet none of them feel able to act upon their instinct. Where they could make a protest against homework or draft a petition of signatures for more outdoor play, they instead go the other way and end up saying things like, "X can manage the homework okay." Who are they trying to kid? Just because some children can manage two reading books, homework and spellings every week, does that mean they should?
I feel comfortable now that if we have a day of doing not very much, then that's okay. My worry about how fast Jenson's school friends are racing ahead of him has been replaced with a sense of calm. I feel settled knowing that I am the one doing things right for my family. Screw the UK schooling system and screw what everyone else is doing. I'm going to stick my head in some Finnish sand and keep it there happy in the knowledge that we are following an education system that is a world beater and whose children come out of it as competent, confident, high achieving adults.
All of these photos were taken over the last couple of weeks and really are just happy snap shots from days that were otherwise dominated by lots of screaming, shouting, crying and kicking. I"m posting these pictures for my own benefit so that when I look back on this blog in years to come I will find happy memories among the horrible noise that thankfully a camera can't record and hopefully I won't remember.