Thursday, 26 January 2017

Recovering Children From The School System

Today I saw this message on a Facebook page I belong to.

I contacted the mum and asked her permission to share here because this is not an isolated incident. The little man spoken of is on the autism spectrum, and I'm hearing story after story of these wonderful children being broken by the “system”.

I'm also hearing many stories of neuro-typical (or what might be called “normal”) children losing their confidence and their zest for life; loving relationships with siblings/parents going cold; children withdrawing into themselves as the system and some of the people within/using the system affect them detrimentally.

Followers of my blog will know that I never intend to bash schools – I am not anti-teachers. There are many different types of school i.e., traditional, alternative, democratic etc, but schools cannot adjust everything to suit the child who is not coping. Many do try, and some of the staff care a lot about these children, but a home situation cannot be replicated at school. And a home situation is where these children most often thrive. 

 Our home, in all it's messy cozyness, and four of my boys xxx

I share this story here to encourage others, as this mum wishes to do. There are many parents who feel like they are watching from the side-line, powerless to do anything as their at-school-child hopelessly slides down a slimy, slippery slope into a dank and dangerous place.

Home education is an option. You are not powerless. And you're not alone. There are people to help you with the process.* 

I just had to share this. I got a memory from Facebook this morning and it was a video of my eldest taking my youngest to the park to ride his bicycle. My youngest was around 5 or 6 years old and was riding his bike (with no training wheels) with such confidence.

Sadly, a year on from that he went to class 1 (Waldorf only starts formal teaching at around 7) and his world came crashing down around him. He went from a confident, happy, well adjusted child to a child who would no longer sleep in his room, wouldn't sleep with the light off anymore, refused to pick up a pencil for fear of ridicule and could no longer ride the bike he used to love riding. He became terrified of children his age and had a terrible mistrust of adults after that experience.

Up until this video I had forgotten about the fact that he had been riding a bike without trainers at the age of 5, because he had to relearn how to ride a bike with trainers all over again and only managed to ride without them when he was 8 going on 9.

We have been home schooling for 4 years this March and he is back to the amazing, confident little boy he was before school broke him. All it took was 2 months to break him, not even 1 whole term.
For those of you still contemplating whether homeschooling is the right choice for your little person, let me tell you that it is not only the right choice it is the best choice if what we went through is anything to go by. Our youngest is now an avid reader who not only draws but writes (Occupational Therapist said he wouldn't be able to write). Best decision we ever made. Thanks for reminding me of how far we have come Facebook :-) Have a beautiful day everyone”

*Some places you might find information or support to help you with your decision:
Facebook pages: 
AS Homeschooling NZ (ASD Home School Support)
Unschooling NZ networking
Home education in NZ


Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Correcting Someone

The above photo show a page from my Adventures In Natural Learning:  Seasonal Journal.

For those of you who are not familiar with the Journal - I have laid out lists of suggestions for topics that could be studied in each season.

These lists, revisited each year, in their season, is the jumping-off point a family can use to give a child a WIDE knowledge base, and run down many glorious rabbit-trails in their learning - perhaps skipping over/completely missing out the things they are not particularly interested in but stopping for  LONG TIME if they come across a topic that really sparks their interest.

All the major "curriculum" areas are covered using these lists over the years.

This post today relates to something on the list above:   "How to/when to correct an older person respectfully"

Ah!  A topic close to my heart as some of my children really struggle with this concept!  I'm not sure if many, many children in today's society also struggle, or whether they are just not being taught, but I hear SO MUCH disrespect to adults that it makes me sad.  

I believe the best way to teach respect is to model it, and it is horribly true that many children DO NOT have respect modelled to them by the adults in their lives.   

But another way to teach respect is role-play.  Some children LOVE this so much it is a game they often request.

Another way to teach respect is to (bravely, if you're not used to doing it) put yourself in a position where your child will know more than you.*

For instance on a game they're playing, or learning a new language with them (and they will most likely pick it up faster than you).

We've had a go at learning some German.  The children remember it better than I do, and if they are sharp with their correct of my bungled pronounciation I can specifically say to them "When you tell me off harshly it puts me off trying again.  Be gentle with me!"   

Woah!  Two-fold benefits here.  They learn to correct people gently, and I'm reminded that they need gentle correction in their lives too!

It is also important to let "serial correctors" know that sometimes an adult does not need to be corrected, and some adults will be angry to be corrected (by a child or even another adult)  even if it's rather important to let them know they said something wrong.

So much to learn to function well in society!   Some children learn it all easily by absorbing and computing, whilst others need a little help in learning.  

And it is wonderful if, as a connected, aware parent, you can see if your child needs help with these things.

 * It is a really good idea to practise doing things where your child knows more than you because a child who is raised in a natural home education environment will surely overtake your knowledge on various topics very soon!   Rather than condescendingly taking an interest and giving "fake praise" try and be really and honestly interested and connected with your children.  Most children can spot a fake and hypocrite from miles away   xxxxx

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Cheap and Free!

You don't need to spend lots of money on children to have fun with them!

These photos show my 2 year old, but these sort of games have been fun for all my children at various ages.

Outside the op-shop they have "These things free" box.  The other day I found a stainless steel teapot, and a little pottery jug.

This fun lasted ages!   First we just used water, then I added some washing-up liquid for bubbly water.   Now the teapot is in the sandpit for different games.

The good old cardboard box game!    I made the door so small that only our toddler could crawl inside, but surprisingly his 9 year old brother managed to get in too.  They both thought it was hilarious!

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Story Stones

We've been playing with our story stones for a while now.  I saw the idea on the internet, and bravely went ahead and made my own.

The reality of home-made, non-pinterest-worthy story stones looks a little like this (very cool retro suede fringed bag was an exciting op-shop find):

How we decided to play with them:

We all take turns.  Player one chooses five stones, carefully considers them for a moment and then launches into an oral story using the picture on each one.
Then we put the stones back into the bag.
Player two chooses five fresh stones and tells their own story.

A couple of the children here have a go, but usually they prefer it when Mummy tells a story!   

It can be a bit tricky getting a pen to work on your stones (I'm way too messy with paints) - a bit of trial and error, and it would have been better to maybe use some spray fixative as a lot of handling smudge the pictures off!  You can see evidence of that on the bottom right hand corner of the above photo (cave) or above the bucket stone (pond). 

Here are some most-excellently-Pinterest-worthy ideas for story stones: