#100waysofhomeed has been fantastic so far! The purpose of this bloghop (and hashtag) is to increase positivity within the home education community by celebrating the variety of approaches and styles home educators take. It is proving that no two families are the same even if they follow a similar path. Every child is different, unique and special and their education should reflect that. Yesterday we heard all about the style of B Man and L Girl. Today, it is our turn.
I have never made much effort to research the labels placed on home education, so I’m not sure which term suits us best. I’d hate to confine our learning to fit within a particular label so I consider us ”patchwork home educators”. We stitch a bunch of ideas together to make them our own.
The freedom to try out new ideas and break the mould has encouraged us to change the way we think of learning.
We are explicitly child-led with a trace of structure to keep us on track. There’s also have a little Montessori tossed in for good measure. I approach activities for each child differently – focussing around their on their individual strengths and weaknesses. We are adaptable and our techniques are constantly evolving. Over time our family has changed and thus so has their education and learning styles. I have discovered what each child responds to well, what their interests are, what they loved and what they didn’t enjoy. Sometimes their reactions have surprised me. These experiences have inspired us to diversify how we work towards different topics or plans.
The ”s” word.
Our family isn’t the best model for the whole socialisation argument right now. We haven’t been going out tomany meets or events recently. At the beginning of this year, we had an immense list of events that we were looking forward to. But our car had other plans. Something about the engine…. flashing lights…. strange noises…. All I know is that it’s broken. So we’re saving up (again). We’ve still managed a few fun social meets and set up a small STEM club at our house. Plus a few friends have come around and we’ve explored our local area, but nothing overly exciting.
Zip is our only child of compulsory school age but Bear is actively involved as well. How she learns has influenced our attitude to education so I will explain more about what I do with her too.
Zip – inventor, innovator, coder, game designer, scientist and bookworm.
If it has buttons; he’s there! Zip works best when he’s plugged into a computer so most of his academic work is completed on a PC. He will research, write stories, letters, blog posts, code a game, record videos, create an animation, work through educational apps or software and more. Computers are Zips strength. They’re his ‘comfort zone’. Being a perfectionist, he often gets frustrated with his handwriting (in particular) and is fearful of making a mistake. Using a computer eliminates most of these anxieties so he can concentrate on working on whatever he is doing.
Using the parts of a flower three-part cards
A rigidly structured day has never worked well for Zip. Most children with autism thrive from structure, but Zip feels restricted and bound by it. Instead, we usually discuss ideas together a week in advance and once again on the day. He is much more willing to engage in an activity if he had direct involvement with the planning. We plan and brainstorm ideas for what we hope to achieve in maths, English, project work and skills practice. I also prepare the environment with ideas and things which will spark an interest or prompt a discussion and encourage him to investigate.
We agreed to cut back on all the other ‘subjects’ for a while and focus on improving individual skills.
Zip finds some of the more basic skills really difficult and frustrating so we’ve chosen to made skill work one of our priorities. We will be working on:
- Fine motor.
- Gross motor.
- Pencil control.
We will practice these skills by working on simple Montessori-inspired activities. Last year he responded really well to the first great story from the Montessori curriculum and Montessori grammar, so we have been incorporating more into his learning. The rest will be practised through games and play.
Bear – a fearless, curious and energetic whirlwind of fun.
This young girl differs greatly from her older brother. She’s very energetic, very strong-willed and very independent. She has begun going to a nursery most afternoons so she can use up some of her energy while I can work with Zip. We have activities prepared at home so she can do them if she wishes to when she arrives home and we work on practical life stuff just by living. In the morning we will normally do some Montessori early maths and English such as simple sound games and bead work. Afterwards, we read, sing, dance, play, tidy, cook, talk. You know, the usual stuff.
It was over a year ago that I’d first discovered the Montessori Method. I was sold instantly and the term ”Follow the child” has stayed with me ever since. This is what Bear needs! This was the way forward for her! Since that first moment, I have done A LOT of reading and made an uncountable number of changes to our living and parenting style. Montessori is more than just beautiful materials. It’s a philosophy. A lifestyle.
There is still so much for me to learn and too much for me to discuss into on this post. But I’d be happy to fit inside the Montessori box more in the future.
So yeah. This is us right now. I’m comfortable with it and I see the kids not only learning but thriving. I hope you have enjoyed reading this little insight into our way of home education, just as I’ve enjoyed reading all those previous to me. Unfortunately, tomorrows blogger has had to cancel so #100waysofhomeed will continue on Friday with Helen from Never the Same 2 Days Running. I can’t wait to hear about how they home ed.