Home education diary, April 2005

April 7th

It seems strange in retrospect, what a huge deal it was to begin home education. Had we never moved abroad, I doubt if we'd have tried it. But I'm so thankful that we did. Still, I think of the times when I worried that we weren't doing enough, or that the boys would miss out on science labs or whatever, or that they'd regret not doing GCSEs and A-levels, or... or...

And here we are, at the end of compulsory education age. They seem to have plenty to do, both now and in the future.  And it's quite difficult to get around to actually DOING any of the NCSC/ACE work, which they do both want to complete to level 2. Tim doesn't want me sitting with him most of the time, now, so I'm no longer as involved as I was. Of course I still check he's finished the relevant workbooks and supervise the tests when they come up, but he does his own scheduling and decides when he's going to do some of this academic work, and when he wants to do other things.

Daniel had another performance of 'The Little Man's Best Friend' with Theatre Antidote this morning. They left mid-morning to drive to a school in Kiti, about half an hour's drive away, and he was back just after lunch. In half an hour or so both the boys will be going to the jazz group Daniel started a few months ago. There are just four of them in it at present (Tim on keyboard, Daniel on drums or clarinet, plus an adult friend on trumpet and a teenage friend on Saxophone) and they seem to enjoy it thoroughly. It's the first time they've met for some weeks as they took a break over Easter. Dan's been downloading some jazz music since lunchtime.

Then we have a crazy rush in the evening... they should get back shortly after 5.30, and Dan has to be out again by 6pm. The older teenage drama group don't begin till 6.30 but he's going to help with the lighting for the younger (11-14) teenage group when they put on their end-of-year production so he needs to see what they're doing! Then Tim has a rehearsal with Narrow Gate (the youth band) at 6.30. So we'll be eating in a hurry around 5.40...

Back to the education thing. They're both learning a great deal of music. They both do a lot of computer-related projects. They both read a fair amount. Dan does plenty of art and drama. Tim is a good cook and helps in the garden. Dan does karate and stage combat. Tim does some wiring and soldering, and understands a fair amount about electronics.

Balanced? No, not really. But I suppose if we take into account the NCSC work, even though it's very sporadic, that currently covers maths, English grammar, history, Biblical studies, and physics/chemistry. Actually Dan only has the Biblical studies and science to complete but Tim's still working on all the level 2 subjects.

Does it matter if their education is unbalanced? I really don't think so. Five years ago this bothered me, but now I can see that they learn what they need to know for the paths they want to follow. Dan's immediate future includes two months on the Doulos (assuming he's accepted) and then, probably, musical instrument repair. And playing the clarinet, of course. He doesn't need any academic qualifications for any of these. 

Tim's future will probably be in music and/or the computer world. Again, what he needs more than anything is experience and understanding. Music exams aren't too difficult to take, and there are computer qualifications that may be relevant - possibly the Microsoft ones, more likely one of the CISCO ones. But no GCSEs or other academic qualifications seem relevant. 

If we had our time over again I'm not sure we'd bother with the NCSC, although some of it has been interesting and I hope they don't forget everything they've learned from it. (from Cyprus life blog 07/04/05)

April 12th

Daniel had another performance of 'The Little Man' this morning. So he had to be at the theatre by 9am. When he got back he did some drum practice, then spent some time online while listening to clarinet music. Last night he went to a classical concert by a Viennese orchestra of Mozart music, and said it was wonderful... that was after a day which involved an aural music lesson, a drum lesson, an art lesson and a music theory lesson.

Tim didn't get up till 10am today. He's in that mid-teenage stage of needing a lot of sleep in the mornings. Daniel was just the same at 16. When Tim had finished his shower and had breakfast, he decided to bake some crumpets. He found a Delia Smith recipe, then looked online to find a method of making crumpet rings out of aluminium foil. 

Yesterday Tim had an aural music lesson in the morning, spent some time online, cut half the 'lawn' in the back garden, popped into Richard's office for a bit, went to see if he could arrange some singing lessons at a local music school (unsuccessfully as it happened) and in the evening went to a YWAM meeting at our church hall - the last one for the current training school.

No 'academic' work at all... it gets increasingly difficult to get around to it, somehow. But I suppose if we were having to keep a schedule I could retrospectively allocate music (for both), drama (for Dan), ICT (for both), domestic science (for Tim) and RE (for Tim).

Right now they're watching an episode of 'Yes Minister' which we have on DVD. So that's a useful lesson in political studies...! (from Cyprus life blog 12/04/05)

April 13th

Tim got up early and did some of his NCSC curriculum work! Maths and English only, but he did the final workbook test in each so he'll be doing official tests tomorrow. He's doing geometry in maths - American style, so it's full of formal proofs of things that are really quite obvious. No enjoyable proofs like we had to do at school, where we actually found things out and were able to use whatever techniques we liked. Still, Tim seems to be making more sense of this than Daniel did. 

For Dan the Geometry was too painfully detailed. He always wanted to use some other method than what was expected, which of course would have been fine in the UK school system. For Tim, this US style Geometry is basically rather boring, but he likes it better than algebra. I do wish these curriculums used the British style of introducing algebra and geometry at a much younger age, and then doing them interspersed with other maths, rather than making such a huge deal out of them. It's not as if either is particularly difficult, but so much focus on just one topic becomes heavy and tedious.

Daniel had a busy afternoon, teaching the 7-11s at Antidote Theatre, because the directors were away. Unfortunately they didn't ask him until just under a week ago so he didn't have a chance to spend time in the class beforehand. Just to make it even more difficult, they didn't have the class in the usual theatre place, as the stage is being re-built. So they started in the car park and then moved to the foyer.  Dan said it went reasonably well, which is encouraging as he was quite worried about having to teach 20 children he didn't know! Rather him than me... (from Cyprus life blog 13/04/05)

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