Home education diary, Jan-Feb 2003

January 7th 

We did start a little of the ACE coursework yesterday morning, deciding to get back to being all together around the dining room table, at least while the weather stays chilly, since we can switch the air conditioner to 'heat'. I produced new schedules for the next six weeks and we sorted out the new 'pace' workbooks. 

In the afternoon Richard suggested we go for a walk, since it was sunny again and we had all felt rather cooped up, so we did that. Along the sea-front to get some breezy fresh air, then up past our favourite ice-cream shop - which was closed, as were most other shops. We would have stopped, but it was probably a bit cold for ice-cream anyway.

On the way back we went past a cinema and realised that 'Harry Potter II' is showing, so decided to make a family outing to see it in the evening. It was very well done, like the first, although there were some rather scary scenes with giant snakes and spiders. Before it was shown there were trailers for several other films, including Tolkien's 'Two Towers', second in the Lord of the Rings series. Tim and I both decided definitely not to see it at the cinema, based on the trailer, although Tim would like to see the DVD or video when available.

January 12th:

Yesterday the island-wide home educators' group had the first gathering of 2003. We met in Limassol, on a day which wasn't nearly as cold as it had been. We were able to do some country dancing outside, and played some games. In the evening several of us went to a performance of 'The Frog Prince', the Christmas production by Antidote Theatre that Daniel's in, which was taking place in Limassol. Our family was invited to supper afterwards with yet more friends, so in all it was a very pleasant day, though rather busy.

January 29th

Today was the last public performance of 'Frog Prince', in Nicosia. Richard has been away all week, at a conference, so Tim had to be responsible for the lighting and sound himself. I gather it went pretty well - there was a technician there to help, and to advise him about the lighting desk, but Tim was 'in charge'. He did the sound, and talked someone else through doing the lights. There are about three more peformances in schools during February, but those usually seem to be more straightforward than the public ones.

February 3rd

Daniel seems to be quite depressed most of the time, which is making me miserable as there's nothing I can do, apparently. He wants lots of hugs, and he seems to be getting on and doing the things he needs to do, so it's not like serious clinical depression. Maybe a touch of SADS; but we've had some sunshine lately, and he's gone out for a walk or on his roller blades most days to get some exercise and fresh air.

His right arm is hurting him again any time he uses the computer; so the chiropracter only gave temporary relief. The symptoms Dan's describing now fit with something we found online called radial nerve dysfunction, which apparently doesn't have any cure, just rest and getting rid of whatever the cause is. But we don't know what the cause is!

He's getting frustrated that he has so many ideas for computer programs and sites, and at least 90 emails he wants to write, yet every time he goes near the computer his arm starts to ache. We got a roller-ball mouse which fits his hand better, and a gel-filled mouse mat which Tim likes a lot, but neither seem to help Dan. He's now looking for a reasonable graphic tablet. He had a basic one a couple of years ago, but it's got rather jerky and unreliable to use lately, and he has some Christmas money, he might as well buy something he wants. Using a pen doesn't seem to hurt his arm, so if he could use a graphic tablet for mouse functions it might make a difference. I don't know what else to do.

February 7th

Daniel writes reams, and starts so many projects, but he's never been particularly good at finishing things. So when he hits technical problems, or his arm aches, or he can't figure out what's gone wrong, it drives him wild. He's driven by ideas at present, and it must be so frustrating. I suppose it's not surprising he gets somewhat depressed, being so creative and full of ideas, and somewhat perfectionist too.

He's currently working on open souce code for Blender, his favourite graphics program, and coming up with ideas to make Linux more friendly. I thought as he grew up his ideas would become more manageable [at school his reports used to say that he had a wonderful imagination and came up with ingenious ideas, but unfortunately they were usually impossible or too complicated...] but he still has dreams of re-writing entire games or operating systems single-handedly.

And it's all so complex. He has an incredible grasp of these things, while Richard and I don't have a clue. I worked as a programmer for nearly four years, with weeks of training - yet simply by teaching himself and doing online tutorials, Daniel is programming way beyond either of us. Besides which, the wishlist for Blender is so long that anyone who comes up with an idea is asked to write it themselves, now it's open source.

In a sense, it's reassuring from the home education point of view. I worried that I wouldn't be able to teach much beyond about Year 9 level in anything other than maths. Now I know they just learn what they want to learn, irrelevant of whether I know anything about the subject. 

But on the other hand, it's very frustrating when there is nobody who can help with Daniel's questions. I know it wouldn't have been any better if he'd been in school; I'm fairly sure most IT staff would not have the expertise or the time to work through this kind of thing with one student. But I suppose it's in the nature of any home educator to worry, from time to time, whether we're doing the right thing or not.

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