If i hadn’t had a splitting headache for most of it, today would have been an excellent day. As it was, it was mostly passable with some excellent bits and no awful bits (unless you count the endless “WE BLOODY DO OWN SOCKS, SO GO AND FIND SOME!!!!!!” arguments.)
The big girls are very into Civilisation 2 (the computer version – and i consider this to be an extremely valid educational tool and i’m more than happy for them to spend time playing it. They holed up for the early part of the morning playing a game in a companionable fashion and from the snippets of conversation i heard, learning a lot about the evolution of a race of people. When Max and i first discussed home ed, we talked about the day when Civ 2 would become a relevant learning tool, so it is funny to see it happen. (Damn, i’m going to miss having Fran at home 🙁 )
Josie was VERY excited about going back to Gymmies, to the point of being almost beside herself, but predictably when we got there, she got very shy and overwhelmed again, not helped by a new little boy running riot in a very unpredictable way. I’m an old enough hand to not be worrying about this unduly but i do think we probably need to give her some help in gaining confidence now; glad to have got passed the “push it till we have a stand off” thing though, i hate seeing kids and parents getting into that. I helped her a bit with the warm up, cajoled a little, moved her limbs a little and just walked over to the box with her to put away the tap sticks when going with the other kids overwhelmed her. There doesn’t seem much point in forcing it. She unthawed gradually and by the time we reached the equipment, she was ready to join in. Josie is definitely Maddy without the Aspergers in character, soÂ by thinking back but not making too many allowances, she is easy to bolster up. She doesn’t like change, she doesn’t quite know how to let go and join in but she does want to. She DOES NOT like being touched by other adults, unpredictable children or being turned upside down.
What really pleased me was that the 3 gym coaches (who are frankly flipping excellent anyway) are total naturals at following a lead from a parent and that makes such a difference. Having come up against stupid grabby dentists, people who don’t listen and people who think the “get over it and get on with it” approach is the only way to ‘force’ a child to join in over the years, people who are in tune with my “home edder” way of child led fun is a real pleasure. Last week Josie wanted me to hold her hand as well as the coach on the beam; the coach left it to me to suggest that Josie tried with just one hand this week and just led her so naturally into trying new things that it was completely easy. She had fun swinging on the bar and making leg shapes and when it came to the bars where some kids were being swung over and Josie said clearly that she wasn’t gonig to do that, K led her in such tiny steps towards a half way point and left her with such a sense of achievement that i know next week will be even better for her. One of those sets of people you just would give 15 out of 10 to, not a foot wrong, not a boundary overstepped, not a moment where my child lost faith in herself. Brilliant.
Josie was thrilled by getting to ring the bell (a reward thing) 6 whole times and her rather lovely sisters all stood to clap her each time 🙂
In the meantime, the other 3 had been working but the boy who was being challenging was about to be removed because he was completely out of control and putting others in danger (like knocking them off the beam). His mum had brought him to try out but was tied down to a smaller boy at the side, also being a handful and she was getting distressed and clearly upset that gym wasn’t working out. The little one kept making a run for it, the older one was bellowing and so i suggested that perhaps my girls could occupy the little one while she tried rescuing the gym session with the big boy. Fran took control of the little one, Maddy and Amelie scrambled and covered the exits so he couldn’t escape – and harmony was restored for the last 20 minutes.
I was SO proud of them; to be adept enough to be able to do that responsibly, to not mind doing it, to want and be happy to help out an adult and to be sensitive enough to see it was all a bit of an emotional meltdown and just normalise it all seem really mature skills to me. They saved the day a bit and i nearly burst with pride. Thinking back to some of my “i’m just such a failure” moments when Fran was clingy and Maddy was doing regular hysterical meltdowns at those ages, i know what that would have meant to me. An hour or so later, listening to how “home educated children can’t possibly learn social skills” on the radio, i thought of it again. I thought they showed a genuineness of spirit that will stand them in good stead as adults. After the class, every single coach came and said something nice to me about my children 🙂 Burst, burst, burst.
Got home to a call to arms on BrightKite about another Jeremy Vine Radio 2 show on ANOTHER consultation about how on earth to control these possibly child-abusing home educators. I’m not a political person… but really? A fourth consultation in 2 years on the possibility that home education is a cover for child abuse? Being held at the same time as a review of child protection in the light of Baby P? ANOTHER load of flannel to curtail a freedom to parent our children in a way that we see fit? And if you MUST do it, can the NSPCC do no better than go on a Radio Show and say “we are very concerned about this but in fact we have no evidence or statistics to suggest it is a problem at all.” I mean… REALLY!!!!!!
So i rang in, was slightly surprised to actually get through to a researcher and even more surprised when they rang back and said they wanted me to speak about my feelings on this. I’d got as far as making a list of things to say but then got slightly dropped in it by the caller before being of the “it is just wrong to lock kids away to home educate and arrogant to think you can teach them without the 6 *rolls eyes* years training teachers get.” I said my bit in response to that and did okay but do wish i’d been able to address the real issue of being lumped in with people who hurt their children just because it is impossible for some people to get their head around the idea of us actually enjoying being with our children. Grrr.
Rest of the day just kind of went really… the kids all ranted on the home ed thing and went off to make outraged posters, which i liked… and then it was evening!