Home education diary, January-March 2005

January & February

Tim got back to doing some ACE work. Daniel continued working at Antidote Theatre. Both spent time on music and church activities. Daniel returned to the Larnaka Community Church services on Sundays after a few months' break at the end of last year, and Tim decided that it was right for him to move to St Helena's Anglican church, despite there being almost no other young people there.

By this stage of our life, I was keeping almost no records of our home education as such; with the boys both beyond 'compulsory school age' in both the UK and Cyprus, it seemed irrelevant. However, I did start my Cyprus life blog in March of 2005, so have been able to extract some relevant paragraphs, with occasional minor amendments, to continue the saga of our home education as the boys grew up, in addition to a few notes and emails that I did write during this period.

March 16th

Tim was 16 last September so would be in Year 11 if he were in school in the UK, or could have left school if he wanted to. In Cyprus, compulsory school age is only up to age 15 or the end of Year 9. So he feels as if his education is optional now. He's still working (sporadically) through the NCSC/ACE coursework but also spending time helping Richard in the office, doing a lot of music, setting up and administering email forums, writing and of course reading. He's hoping to finish level 2 of the NCSC by about Christmas, and then give up on formal education, at least for a while, though he's not sure what he wants to do instead.

Daniel still has a short way to go - about 15 'paces' (workbooks) - before completing level 2 of the NCSC course, which is the certificate equivalent to A/S levels. But hasn't done any in many months. He said he wanted to finish it as he's so close, and it seems like a waste of money and effort otherwise. But I'm not sure if it's ever going to be much use to him. He's still working for the theatre group - not paid much, but then it's not full-time and it's all good experience.

He's also working hard at playing clarinet, learning drums (he only started in October, and his teacher has said he's nearly ready to take the grade 4 exam, so he must be doing quite well) and teaching himself piano and guitar. Also doing a lot online. He's applied formally for a two-month stint on the MV Doulos - the book-ship that goes around the world, which will be in Africa in the summer - and hopes to be there during July and August this year.

He's decided not to work for the theatre group again next year. It's just too stressful at the moment. He plans to take a short course in musical instrument repair (woodwind) in Wales in October, so we're thinking of going to the UK at the end of September for a few weeks, rather than earlier in the year. Then he hopes to be able to work with a stringed-instrument repair/manufacturer here in Cyprus for a while as apprentice, though we're not yet sure if that will work out.

Dan's also doing juggling, stage combat and karate, and was really interested to hear about a circus/theatre training school not far from my brother and sister-in-law in Sheffield, so we're going to find out about that too. Apparently it does work with special needs children and that's something that also appeals to him. He's definitely not the kind of person to do a three-year academic course - he doesn't learn step-by-step or from lectures - but if he does go to the UK he really hopes to find a good clarinet teacher who can stretch him a bit. His current teacher has reached about as far as he can with Dan, and there aren't any others around.

So at last he has a sense of purpose, almost too many things interesting him and plenty of ideas for the future.

March 21st

Home education is a bit piecemeal at present. Tim has about ten paces left to finish level 1 of the NCSC (equivalent to GCSE) and then quite a few more before he gets level 2. I don't see that there's any hurry: he doesn't think he wants to go to university, at least not in the immediate future. I'm less and less convinced about the need for any formal qualifications other than for the few careers that require them.

So life goes by, and there are other activities and distractions. I'm not the kind of person to sit them down to work, even though I issue random reminders from time to time.

Right now, Dan is in the middle of a performance of 'The Little Man's Best Friend', a lovely play with very little dialogue. They've finished the public performances, but are still booked for some school ones - this play attracts primary schools and the very youngest children love it. Dan is one of the musicians in the play, with a tiny amount of acting; mostly he's playing the clarinet.  (from Cyprus life blog 21/03/05)

March 22nd

Daniel had another theatre performance this morning, at a school in Nicosia. He got back about 2.00pm, had a quick bite to eat, and then rushed out again for the 'stage combat' class he attends at the theatre. 

He's tired already. Yesterday morning was fairly peaceful, but in the afternoon he went to his art class, stayed late talking and then had to rush back to eat at great speed before rushing out again to his music theory class. He's taking the Grade 5 theory exam in the spring which will then allow him to take instrument exams higher than Grade 5 level.  (from Cyprus life blog 22/03/05)

March 24th

Daniel had to leave the house at 6.30am this morning as the theatre group had a performance in Paphos which is about an hour and a half's drive away. So I set my alarm for just before 6am to ensure he got up, and once I was up I knew I wouldn't get back to sleep.

He got back about 2.30pm, then both boys were out at 3.30 for a church music group rehearsal. They got back about five o'clock and we ate at six, as they were both out yet again at 6.30 - Dan to a drama rehearsal, Tim to a youth band practice. Life tends to be fairly hectic in our household and the timing of meals is quite complicated at times, since we all like to eat together whenever possible. (from Cyprus life blog for 24/03/05)

March 28th 

Tim had his music theory lesson at 9.30, as usual. He's preparing to take Grade 5 piano in a couple of months. 

Dan had his drum lesson at 11.00. He had a test this morning (his teacher is very into tests, as are most Cypriot teachers apparently) and got 100%. Apparently that means he's learned everything he's supposed to have learned up to now. The teacher was pleased and I think Dan was too. He seems to be picking it up amazingly well. He just shrugs and points out that he's home educated, so of course he learns fast... (from Cyprus life blog for 28/03/05)

March 29th

One of the great benefits to home education is that the boys can follow their interests and do voluntary or paid work as and when it crops up. This morning Daniel had two theatre performances in Nicosia - at different schools, so it was a bit chaotic and he was pretty tired by the time he got back at lunchtime. However he still went out to his stage combat class afterwards. When he got back he spent quite a bit of time working on a poster for the 'Kids Fest' - the day when the children's classes at the theatre put on their end-of-year performances for family and friends.

Tim went into Richard's office for most of the day, to help one of the other people with various computer problems. Tim has the right sort of mind for software support and seems to understand better than anyone else around what needs to be done when there are problems. Some people have an instinct for recognising what's gone wrong or what needs to be downloaded, and Tim is one of them. He said he enjoyed it although it's a lengthy process and he'll be spending most of tomorrow at the office too.

So I've had a peaceful day at home, mostly on my own, and was thinking how odd it is to have two sons who are quite capable of being employed... and legally beyond the age of having to be educated.  (from Cyprus life blog for 29/03/05)

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