Monday, 24 August 2015

Home Ed on the Move

Wow, has it been a month already since my last post?!

To be honest, it feels as though we haven't done anything much worth blogging about since our end of "term".  A month or so ago we were becoming more convinced that it was time for us to move house, but I didn't want to say anything official as we were very unsure of the details.  Actually we still don't know exactly where we are going, just that we are planning to leave Herts and head for Worcs, and that is almost certainly going to be before Christmas (hopefully sooner). Consequently most of our summer holiday has been very free-range on the boys' behalf, with them doing pretty much whatever they fancy while I sorted and decluttered, hoping to make the packing easier once it is time (oh, and I spent a few weeks looking after poorly hedgehogs, though they are almost all happily back in the wild again now).  The only restriction I put in place for the boys was no computer games before lunch - purely because their behaviour (esp the younger two) really deteriorates if they have unlimited gaming console time.  So they have had fun, but I can't help feeling a bit guilty that we haven't done much this holiday. However, guilty feelings aside, the decluttering badly needed to be done (it's not quite done yet, but the worst of it is).  They have watched TV, read books, drawn pictures, played board games, had playdates, and played on their consoles - so if nothing else I can reassure myself that they have had a really good rest!

Today as I handed the younger two boys a pair of rubber gloves each so they could retrieve the post-it notes that one had put down the toilet and the other had peed upon, I reflected that it was probably time to start planning a bit of structure into the coming term.  After all I am expecting to be fully in the throes of packing and moving before long, so I really need to have a well-organised (and ultra-flexible) game plan for us all to follow.  Now this is where it has got a bit complicated, but actually not so much as I feared.

Last term I was really gearing up mentally for Eldest's impending IGCSE season, and trying to get my head around everything involved.  Well the approaching house-move has of necessity become much more of a focus, and I do not feel it would be in any way wise to make a start on GCSE studies before we get to our new home, when I can then start looking around for exam centres, exam boards etc.  I am sure that other HEors may have moved house mid-IGCSE, but I just know that is a step too far for me - so we are going to move and then get to grips with what we are doing once stress levels have normalised again.  Anyway, Eldest is still only 13, so we have plenty of time for exam courses etc. With that in mind but also knowing that he is mentally ready for a bit more of a challenge, I have drawn him up his own timetable that hopefully complements what Middle and Youngest will be doing, but places a bit extra demand on him.  We will see how he gets on - it's not meant to be a huge deal for him, but just to help him keep focused.  If it proves to be too much, we will adapt as always!

I was previously a bit stressed about the thought of educating the boys at ever-differing levels, but actually the fact that Eldest is becoming so much more independent really helps.  It will be good to have a season of him doing non-critical stuff by himself before we enter the season of me presumably needing to be more involved again with his exam course(s).  Anyway, he will be doing 40 minutes of Maths three times a week instead of 30 minutes of Maths twice a week (effectively doubling his work but hopefully not proving too onerous).  He is still "behind" his peers from when he was at school, so we are going to push a bit to see if he can catch up in time for IGCSEs.  Again though - if it's too much we will back right off again.  IGCSEs seem to be the right way for him to go, otherwise I couldn't give a fig about how he compared to his peers.

Then on the two days a week that he is not doing Maths, he will be doing Literacy Planet.  I am resolved to arranging an English tutor for him once we have moved as English GCSEs are so baffling (and that's coming from someone with a degree in English!), so I don't feel the need to put much pressure on in English right now.

He really likes Brainpop so his second scheduled activity of each day will be watching a Brainpop video and answering the accompanying quiz.  After that he should (if I have worked it out properly) have time to do an activity with the rest of us: Art on Mondays, History on Tuesdays, writing on Wednesdays, swimming on Thursdays, and board games on Fridays.  We will probably continue with the tradition of Mummy choosing an educational DVD or recorded TV programme (we still love the BBC's Learning Zone) to watch with lunch, and then the afternoons will be for all the boys to fill with their own choice of activities, or groups/ playdates etc.

Middle and Youngest are also going to get their own timetables, though less demanding as suits their ages.  They will also be continuing with Maths Whizz and Literacy Planet: Youngest is 'ahead' in Maths, so he can just continue with two half-hours a week.  Middle is slightly behind, so he can go to 90 minutes (three half-hour sessions).  They will both still go on Literacy Planet twice a week, and join in the family subjects together.  Youngest can only do one Brainpop video a week as he is at BrainpopJr level who only do one free video every week.  Middle can do two or three, and then we will have further activities to fill in the rest of the time, including lapbooks...

It all seemed so daunting when I was considering it last term, but having had a break to do lots of the fairly mindless physical work of sorting etc, my mind has obviously assimilated all of the issues while I was otherwise engaged, and come up with a plan fairly effortlessly.  It's amazing how your mind can move on subconsciously when you have a change of focus - though I see it all the time with the boys' learning, so it needn't be that much of a surprise.

Anyway, there we are: the boys are mvoing on to a new season of structured learning, particularly Eldest whose mind is maturing and ready for new challenges - and we are moving on physically too, to a whole new home.  Of course I will keep you updated, but for now I am just glad to have plans in place to keep us ticking along until we get there!