Home education diary, April 2000

April 24th

Now we've decided we will start using the ACE certification programme in the Autumn, we're going to abandon our current text-books and follow a mostly autonomous or unschooling lifestyle until then.  Although we've agreed that the mornings will be for 'something constructive', on the whole.

My sister and her family came out to stay for a fortnight, so we've not done anything overtly 'educational' for a couple of weeks while they were here. The boys have enjoyed spending time with their young cousins, and we've been out with them to one or two places of interest around the island. Yesterday was Western Easter, and next week if Eastern/Orthodox Easter, so we're taking this week off as well, and probably also next week as that's the school holiday here.

But for some reason, Tim has decided that this is going to be a week for learning French. He started yesterday afternoon, telling me he was going to translate parts of the Bible into French. I was curled up in my room reading, but attempted to help. However he'd chosen a passage which had quite complex grammar (at least from the translating point of view) so I got tied up in knots trying to help and suggested something a bit easier - like looking at some of our 'learning French' books or CD-Roms.

So my peaceful Easter afternoon reading turned into a difficult and frustrating one, trying to dig up French resources and see if there were any helpful online French lessons.  But I couldn't really find any. I guess this is the downside of autonomous-type learning, in that it can happen at any time and Mum never gets any guaranteed peace!

I thought it was just a passing fancy, but this morning Tim got up and translated a passage from a lesson in one of our really ancient French books. He's now reading his way through the grammar guide in an old Letts GCSE French revision book that I picked up at a charity shop somewhere. I've told him that I've forgotten most of my French, particularly everything about past and future tenses which we didn't even start until about the third year of French in school.

But I'm trying to be encouraging, since he learns things in his own way and perhaps will pick it up. We've done a fair amount of Linguaphone, but that's mostly listening and understanding rather than translating into French or deep knowledge of grammar. And his English grammar is rather shaky too. He keeps asking things like 'What's a definite article?' and 'What's a preposition?' It occurs to me that when we get to starting the ACE work, I should think he'll be way below average on grammar.

April 30th:

We had two other home educating families for a meal last night: the local ones whose father works with Richard, and a family from Limassol, about an hour's journey away, who were taking some friends to the airport in Larnaka, and came here afterwards. It was good to get together and talk,but a pity we live so far from them. We've arranged another tentative get-together and are going to try to meet up once a month, and involve anyone else we come across who's home educating in Cyprus. There were some other families in Limassol but they've all moved away

The boys have been so productive, and life so pleasant without any structure or timetable in the past few weeks that it's tempting just to keep going as we are until they actually ask for something more .. but I may suggest it this week and at least talk about a potential plan of work, even though we're abandoning the textbooks and GCSE work. 

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