Home education diary, June-August 2002

August 10th

In June, Daniel and Tim finished the modules they were working on with ACE, but didn't start anything much new. Daniel was very taken up with extensive drama rehearsals for the 'Nuts' performance in London. He got rather burned out, since he was having to rehearse just about every day, but he did manage a weekend away with the inter-church youth group in Larnaka.

Dan took the Grade 5 drama exam at the start of the month. He was very stressed about it, convinced they hadn't done very well - although his group did, apparently, pull together somewhat at the last minute. So it was a very pleasant surprise to find out later on that not only did they pass - they passed with Honours!  That's the Guildhall equivalent to Distinction, the highest grade possible. So, that can count as an 'elective' for his ACE work; it can also count as a GCSE, should he ever need one.

Tim continued doing a lot of music, playing two or three times in church services when the regular pianist was away or unavailable. People seemed very impressed with his playing; he certainly exudes confidence, and does seem to be doing well. He often plays the piano at home for an hour or more, not doing a whole lot for his teacher, but working his way through the church song books, or other random music books we've acquired over the years.

In July, we had the excitement of our brief trip to the UK, including watching the performance of 'Nuts' at the National Theatre youth stage. It was very impressive, and we were delighted that the boys' three grandparents were able to be there too.

We didn't bring back many books this year - about fifteen we found at charity and second-hand shops, but not the usual 50 or 60. Daniel bought some new juggling equipment in London - this is his latest hobby - and a 'diabolo' that he's learning to use. I also did a big order of ACE materials, as they had a 10% discount offer for large orders during July, and of course it was much cheaper to post to a UK address.

We've spent most of our time since then in our air-conditioned living room, not doing anything much. I read to the boys, and to myself; we've done some jigsaws; Daniel has spent time on some web-site projects of his own, and Tim mostly plays computer games and reads books. We had wondered about doing some ACE work, but none of us have felt remotely inspired to do so during the hot summer months.

August 18th

I wonder sometimes what Daniel will do when he's 18, or whenever he decides he's had enough of the NCSC course they're doing. He'll be 16 in October, and has said he wants to complete level 2, which is equivalent to something like 8 good GCSEs, or A/S levels. He'll probably finish it around next Summer, which is when he would have done GCSEs if he were in school. But although he's bright, and grasps things quickly, he's not really an academic. I suspect that the more specialised A-level-equivalent (but more formal and structured) of the level 3 would make him really fed up.

He's had all sorts of ideas about his future - at one point he thought he'd be a full-time web designer, as they're so needed in Cyprus. But when he did six sites professionally after Christmas he got a bit bored with having to meet someone else's criteria, and the repetitiveness.  He still does some, but likes to pick and choose. He's recently designed the publicity leaflets for the drama group, and they look very professional, but he said he wouldn't want to do that full-time either. Although he enjoys the basic design and concept layout, he finds the fine detail rather tedious. He likes programming and has worked on some open source projects, but he rarely finishes anything he starts; he gets things mostly working, then gets bogged down in fine-tuning and lengthy testing.

His clarinet teacher told him that if he practised more he'd be good enough to play clarinet professionally, and perhaps join the state orchestra. But although he likes playing, and being in the town band and church music group, he finds that practising regularly is tedious. He manages about twice a week usually. Then the drama group people think he's pretty good at acting, but that's very difficult to do full-time. When he started juggling recently he learned that it's possible to make quite a good living as a licensed street performer in London. But he doesnt want to live in London, and thinks he would probably get bored doing juggling full-time.

Of course he doesn't need to decide anything yet, but it's almost as if he's too much de-schooled, and too involved in so many activities - all of which he does well - that he can't specialise or decide to follow one at the expense of the others. He hasn't expressed any wish to go to college - except possibly the graphic arts college here in Larnaka. But since schools here do almost nothing in either art or IT, that course would probably cover a lot that he knows already.

I can imagine him still at home in another 10 years, doing the things he does, earning a bit of income doing professional design work every so often, contributing to the household funds if we ask him. Of course I'm happy for him to live at home as long as he wants to. But he sometimes admits that he lacks direction and has far too many things he wants to do, without enough focus or time in the day. And all his friends will have gone off to college or the Cypriot army, or started work at 18, and I don't want him to feel he's missed out. I can't visualise him in a 9-5 type job, somehow.

August 22nd

The theatre group that Daniel is in were asked to put on an old pantomime for three Thursdays in August at one of the huge hotels in the next town. It's only about five of them, but they asked Daniel if he'd like to do the lighting. Although he would have done, Tim is extremely keen on theatre lighting; so he and Richard both got involved, and Daniel's been going along to help stage manage, move scenery, and sell CDs afterwards. All useful work experience, I suppose.

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