After a lovely Easter weekend spent in Kent with family, came the hideous car journey back to Cheltenham. The man at the petrol station had no idea how ironic his statement was when he asked if that bottle of wine I was buying was to get me through the traffic. I laughed; it wasn't just the traffic that was causing problems. Jenson had spent the entire journey thus far tormenting the dog and Wren with two giant snakes and I had the rabbits going nuts in the boot, who were clearly fed up with all the shouting. I'm amazed the children and I actually made it back to Cheltenham without having an accident.
Three hours later though, we arrived. Jenson took one step inside the house and turned into a completely different child: he was calm and quiet. He sat down on the floor in his bedroom and played with his LEGO. He's at his happiest when he's creating and building and that's exactly what he did this afternoon in his own space and familiar environment
His play was briefly interrupted when I discovered a dead bantam; he was fascinated and desperate to see it. I disposed of it in the bin as he and Wren tried to catch chickens. The two white ones are notoriously difficult to catch but Jenson did manage it and I was very impressed with his assertiveness and confidence.
I then got distracted with some weeding while the children ran off and occupied themselves. I had no idea what they were getting up to until Jenson enthusiastically ran up to me to tell me he had made his own bubble mixture. That wasn't the half of it. Not only had he produced a brilliant home made bubble mix but the most fantastic LEGO bubble wand too!
As ever, I was left mightily impressed. His imagination to produce such an object and the creativity and vision to know how to build it is incredible. Everything about the bubble wand was brilliant: the size of it, the shape of it, the length of the handle and the number of holes. He has a natural, instinctive ability to build and create. He needs no instructions and no guidance. He is just like his Father in that respect. He has a real gift and you can't teach that in a child.
His excitement and enthusiasm rubbed off on me as I grabbed the camera and started snapping! As you can imagine, I reeled off plenty of shots but he was a joy to watch.
By this point Wren was feeling a bit left out. She was desperately trying to make her own bubble mix, which she achieved, but had no wand! Jenson refused to help her as he was too busy blowing his own bubbles so it was up to me to hash something together for her.
It would be fair to say that my bubble wand wasn't a patch on Jenson's! It didn't look great or work particularly well. Wren, bless her, made the best of a dreadful piece of engineering!
Jenson meanwhile was going great guns with his! He was having a super time in the sunshine in an activity that had all been his own doing. He had got the idea from our Unofficial Guide to Learning with LEGO, but it wasn't something that he had read about recently. He had seen the idea months ago when the book first arrived in the post. He said he had remembered seeing a LEGO bubble wand in the book and that's why he had wanted to make one. I said we could perhaps make this a feature of our next LEGO club and he replied saying he was about to say exactly the same thing!!
Our bubble blowing bonanza went on for most of the afternoon. Jenson even gave me step by step instructions about to how to make a good LEGO bubble wand. They went like this:
1. Make the wand small with a tiny handle and use two long LEGO bits.
2. Get a large jar and dip the wand in, right to the bottom.
3. Take a big breath and it blows.
The afternoon summed up exactly what home school life is about. Jenson doesn't need to be taught things. He can teach himself using his own natural talents and imagination, his own insatiable desire to learn, his own natural ingenuity and curiosity and his wonderful enthusiasm for life. As master of his own curriculum, actively engaging in tasks he wants to be doing and that have been initiated by him, will inevitably make him a more self-motivated learner than school taught children. A brilliant tool for him to possess. I mean that with no disrespect to the wonderful job all of his old teachers do. In my opinion, it's a problem with the way this country's education system spoon feeds information to children whether they are interested in learning it or not. Children are equipped with all the tools they need to teach them how to learn things for themselves. It was brilliant to see Jenson engaged with his own ways of learning. That is how, I hope, he will become a confident, self-motivated adult.