Home education diary, January-March 2006

January 15th

The early part of the month was dominated by saying goodbye to Daniel, as he flew to Germany for a conference/induction, prior to joining the MV Doulos. It was probably the hardest time in my life to date, which perhaps shows how very blessed I have been. Getting used to being a three-person family will take some time. We are pleased that he did, at least, arrive safely at the conference despite going the wrong way at first on the trains in Germany!

Tim's regular activities have started up again after the Christmas break. So during a typical week he has a piano lesson, a singing lesson, a music theory lesson, an aural lesson, playing guitar at the church student group, a 'Christianity Explored' course at St Helena's church, and the inter-church youth group. 

He is also continuing with his home education ACE coursework, in his own time, mostly in his room. I would be wondering what my role is, except for the fact that we are now house-hunting in earnest. 

(Details in full about our house-hunting, and discovery of a suitable house to buy, can be found in the January 2006 pages of my Cyprus blog - slightly confusingly with the most recent at the top)

2nd February

Tim worked on several of his home education coursework books this morning, including a science one which was mainly about acids and chemical reactions in general. Since the course is American and Christian (of a somewhat fundamentalist nature), it contains slightly irritating 'moral stories' interspersed with the science, and so-called 'wisdom principles' every so often. The science course has the information booklet separate from the student workbook, so Tim is using science booklets that Daniel used a year or more previously.

He was amused to turn over idly to the back of the science booklet, and spot where Daniel had annotated:

Wisdom Principle:

Jimmy was a scientist,
He studies here no more;
For what he thought was H2O
Was H2SO4.


When Tim finished his coursework,he did some soldering on a piece of PA/music equipment which Richard had written off as not worth repairing. Tim took it to pieces a few days ago, bought about 20 tiny components (for a grand total of about 2), and has been fixing it. He had to have a quick tutorial last night from Richard on how soldering printed circuit boards is different from soldering wires, so it's all useful practical education.

Then he popped round the corner to buy a new folder for some music he's singing. He's going to take a singing exam in the spring, and is also apparently going to sing some duets in a concert some time soon.

Then he set off some downloads of software which Daniel wants on the Doulos. Last night Dan sent Tim a lengthy text message, asking for Firefox, Ad-Aware, Avast, Gimp, Ubuntu... and various other things, for Linux and Windows. Dan's laptop (like Tim's) is a Mac, but it sounds as if he might be going to help out with the computers on the Doulos, and wants to ensure that they have some decent free or Open Source software installed.

In the afternoon, a friend arrived with her 11-year-old son who is going to take guitar lessons from Tim. Cypriot schools don't really do much music at all, and this lad has just learned a few very basic things in whole-class lessons. He's keen, and Tim says he learns fast so he's going to teach him both basic classical guitar, and chords for church music.

28th February

Tim is still plodding through his NCSC course, which he would like to have finished by the summer if possible. But he has a busy life so doesn't have time every day for workbooks. He's helping to get a church computer working, trying to install an old windows hard drive on his and Daniel's PC, in the hope of making an elderly scanner work with it, and also doing a lot of music.

He's signed up for three different music exams in May and June... not that any of them will be very difficult. He's been taking singing lessons since the Autumn, and his teacher wants him to take Grade 1 singing as he's working on some of the pieces. That should be an easy exam since he's done so much other music over the years. Cypriots seem to like exams, and music teachers here often get their students to take several.

Grade 5 seems to be a significant level in music, being roughly equivalent to a GCSE in 'points', and one of the other exams he's doing is Grade 5 music theory. This is necessary before he can take any higher level exams, and he would like to do a Grade 7 or 8 piano accompaniment exam (which Guildhall offers, and we hope will continue to offer when they combine with Trinity) in the next year or two. 

In the meantime. he's decided to take a Grade 5 piano exam even though he's playing music at a much higher level. The NCSC allows Grade 5 or higher music exams to be taken instead of academic electives, and as Tim hasn't taken any music exams since he did piano Grade 1 at the age of 8, he thought he might as well take it this year.

1st March

The Doulos just left Qatar and is either in Bahrain, or on the way there at present. Daniel is having a wonderful time, working as a deckie and also doing drama and music, and even some clowning/juggling. I think he's actually throwing himself into it too much as he says he's been getting really tired, probably not helped by having to do some overnight watches which means he just grabs a few hours' sleep randomly.  Anyway I hope he'll start to pace himself a bit better.  He says he has an audition for the official drama team next week, and if he gets in that then some of his time will be allocated to drama so he won't have to fit it into his free time as he is now.

16th March

Today I paused and thought about home education at a meta-level, summing up our experiences over the years.  Rather than pasting in here, anyone interested can read my long and rambling post about home education on my Cyprus blog.

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