Living in Cyprus - March 2000

20th March: 

I think I must have had a mild ear infection the week before last: every time I went outside I got a raging pain in my left ear, and was coping by staying in and taking as much aspirin as allowed and mega-doses of Vitamin C. I almost got to the stage of seeing a doctor, although they'd probably only have given me antibiotics, but it got better - thank goodness! It was quite windy so everyone got earache from being outside for long - and meant I simply didn't go into the town.

TV unit, newly built by RichardLast week we had an unexpected guest - someone who works in Egypt, and who had visa problems which meant she had to come here to sort them out. We were the only people who could have her to stay as there was also a conference going on - so it's been hectic and I'm only now just catching up with paperwork and mail etc. Richard has built us a 'new' TV unit from flatpack bookcases, which we're very pleased with, and which works rather better than the old trunk we used for our first two years in Cyprus. 

It's been colder than usual for the time of year but gradually warming up. Richard has to go to Egypt and Jordan for nearly a fortnight, leaving in a couple of days, arriving back just a few hours before my sister and her family arrive for a couple of weeks over Easter. Daniel keeps growing (he's now taller than Richard), has decided to give up piano, and is about to be accepted into Larnaka Town Band with his clarinet. He's also probably going to join a recorder consort, although that's more complicated as most of the other members are in Limassol. Tim is continuing in his unique way with piano and guitar, doing very well with the new guitar, which his teacher was most impressed with.

29th March: 

It's got distinctly warmer in the past week; not unpleasantly hot yet, and no humidity, but probably 20-25C during the daytimes though cooler at nights. We're still wearing long trousers, and jumpers as well, but we notice tourists in tee-shirts and shorts!

looking through to our dining room areaOur first week with Richard in Egypt has slipped past quite quickly. There is always plenty to do around the house and the boys seem to keep occupied all day long. It's not ideal having the computer in the dining room and working at the table where we eat, but it seems to work most of the time. 

We only do a couple of hours of school-type work, and that pretty informal (and not every day even then) but they're busy composing music (T), writing programs (D), doing graphic art (D), airbrush art (D), stamp-collecting and sorting (T), web page design, email, writing stories, and of course reading, though they've more or less run out of the books we brought back after Christmas

31st March: 

Richard has been in Egypt for nearly 10 days now and gets back on Thursday night, a few hours before my sister and her family arrive. We've managed to find a cot for the youngest child - an old one in our basement which the landlady left behind - and borrow a mattress, high chair, cot bedding etc. Richard put the cot up before he left. Unfortunately Sophia (the more orange kitten) has decided it's a new bed for her! We're discouraging her and I'll keep her out of this room for a couple of days before they arrive.

We have decided, after much thought and email discussion, to start using an American Christian curriculum (with European adaptations) for the basic academic part of the boys. (More detail about this can be found on my March 2000 home education diary page).

As the boys are doing music and art anyway, and creative writing for the American magazine where Daniel keeps winning prizes, not to mention programming and web design and computer graphics, it seemed that a basic academic course that covered English language, maths, sciences, history, geography and RE - plus some electives - would be ideal. I have had reassuring emails from various people whose children have followed this path and gone on to college; the NCSC handbook also has quite an impressive list of home educated students (as well as those in some private schools which use this curriculum) who have gone on to a fair range of univerities, including Oxford (St Hilda's).

Since the entire A-level structure seems to be changing, and univerity regulations altering every year anyway, we decided to go ahead and try this course for at least the first year to see how it works. It functions on the American system of 'credits' for each completed course rather than specific GCSEs, but I'm told that the UK A-level system is going to that system, and that now many universities prefer students who've taken international diplomas, because GCSEs aren't very academic any more.

We are keeping the options open, however; if Daniel were in school he wouldn't actually be starting any GCSE courses until September 2001, so there is still time to re-consider that, if we decide this curriculum is too boring! But as a friend pointed out, it only occupies 2-3 hours per day, which is the amount of time they'd have to spend on homework alone if they were doing GCSEs in school. Both boys are enthusiastic about trying this out, anyway, so we're about to register and hope to get started after Easter.

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