Home education diary, October-December 2005


One of the most important things we had to do while we were in the UK was to clear out the things we had left in our house in Bournville. Having decided to sell it (to the person currently renting it) we had to decide what to do with the various furniture, clothes and the large number of books we had left behind in boxes and cupboards. It was, I suppose, an educational project in its own right! Although we had moved country, we had owned that house since before the boys were born.

For more about what we did in the UK, the places we went, and see some photos of the boys' choices of musical instrument, you can read about our UK trip on my Cyprus blog

Early November

Part of our time is taken up with house-hunting, and also beginning - in a very low-key way - to think about sorting out our current house prior to moving, assuming we find somewhere. 

Meanwhile, home education in a more formal sense continues, in a low-key kind of way. Dan has about eight workbooks in two subjects to complete for his level two NCSC.  He may never need the qualification, but it seems silly to stop when he's so close to the end.

Dan is also busy with his new clarinet, continuing with drum lessons, teaching himself piano, taking aural music lessons, doing drama with the English-speaking teenagers at Antidote, helping out occasionally with Antidote's other productions (keeping the website up-to-date, designing posters etc), taking stage combat and karate, learning Greek, and playing in the church band. In addition he's starting to make short video productions, and hopes to be repairing/servicing more clarinets and other woodwind instruments in future.

Tim has rather more to complete for his level 2 NCSC qualification, but is working steadily through. He's mostly making sense of the maths (American-style geometry with rather convoluted proofs required - however he's grasped the techniques) and quite enjoys the history. He also still takes piano lessons, plays keyboard in the youth band, and sometimes plays the organ at the church he attends. He takes singing lessons and aural music lessons, plays guitar at a group for international students, is on the committee for the inter-church youth group, and administers some online forums. For the future he's thinking about taking some technical computer qualifications, and has a hankering to study theology.

Home education, it seems, had given both boys widespread interests, social contact with people of all ages and backgrounds, and the ability to teach themselves whatever they want to learn.

Late November

Eventually we heard that, after Daniel's interview and medical in October, and after getting his various references, he has been accepted by the Doulos, for two years, leaving Cyprus on January 12th.

Since we moved here, eight years ago, Daniel has been learning clarinet with the town band leader. However, he isn't really a clarinetist. So for the past couple of years or so Dan's really been teaching himself. He plays for at least an hour each day, often more, but was worrying at the lack of an expert who can tell him if he's going wrong, help him with tricky techniques, and so on. Particularly since he's recently bought a professional level instrument.

After a lengthy process of half-promises, and possiblities - which I wrote about in great detail on my Cyprus blog on November 14th - he managed to arrange a lesson in Nicosia. Enormously expensive by Cyprus standards, but then we hadn't been paying anything for his lessons since he joined the town band. And it did seem a good idea to have at least a few good lessons before departing for the Doulos. 

The clarinet teacher is wonderful, and Daniel feels encouraged. She is impressed with his clarinet, and also with his playing, and said he would be ready to take Grade 8 easily in the spring, if he were not going away. She has arranged for him to play some duets with a girl she teaches, who is also at an advanced level. 

So, for a few weeks, Daniel finally will be able to have some really good clarinet lessons.

December 10th

Daniel's time in Larnaka is running out fast. Only a month until he leaves now. He has to go first to a conference in Germany, then to some training in the United Arab Emirates. He actually joins the Doulos early in February. There seems to be a lot to do before he goes, although not as much as last time, and at least he knows what to expect. 

We do need to get him a new passport, as his current one is a child's one which expires near the end of next year. Also he needs hepatitis B jabs, the one he didn't have before going in the summer. They've only just become available in Cyprus (the quick course, that is). And as we're hoping to move house, he's trying to organse his room and reduce the clutter, which is not at all easy.  

Also he's been finishing the last few ACE paces in level 2 NCSC... he's down to 5 now: three science and two New Testament church history. He's really hoping to finish by Christmas. Tim hopes to finish his level 2 by next summer and then wants to study theology by correspondence. He's doing loads of music too, as ever, and IT stuff. He's muttering about going off to college at some point, but I hope not for a while - I don't want them both to disappear at the same time.

December 31st

Daniel is feeling the mixed anticipation of looking forward to going on the ship and starting the next phase of his life, yet hating the thought of goodbyes and actually leaving.

I'm feeling something of the sort too, but without looking forward to his being away. I'm thrilled that he's strong and healthy, that he wants to be more independent, that he has so many talents. I'm even more pleased that he's never given up on God, despite going through some rough patches; and that he's embarking on two years of missionary life and travel. And I'm thankful that he's been happy to stay at home until he's past 19, and even more that we've home educated for the past eight years.

In retrospect, nineteen years seem to have whizzed by. They've been the most fulfilling of my life, and I don't feel ready for the 'empty nest' just yet. I'm glad Tim will still be here for at least another year or two, although I'm sure he'll want to be independent before long.

This week, there's a lot to do. Dan's been working on de-cluttering his room, and the last couple of workbooks from his home education coursework. He's worked out what he wants to take with him (maximum 20kg, plus hand luggage) and done an initial packing. He has one more drum lesson, and perhaps one more clarinet lesson. He's teaching himself German. He's practising his juggling and working out how to make more clubs when he's on the ship.

He also wants to learn to cook. Tim started cooking about nine years ago and is now competent at almost any meal. Dan hasn't been interested in any cooking other than making salads and herbal teas (from dried herbs). But on the Doulos there aren't many options for vegetarians, and in the two months he was there in the summer, he got very bored of white rice and vegetables. Apparently there are extra little kitchens where people can make their own meals if they want to - on occasion - so he wants to know how to cook a few favourites.

I learned to cook by following recipes, and Tim seemed to pick it up by osmosis (and reading), as happens in home education. But Dan hasn't, and I don't really know how to teach him. But we've decided that for the next week he'll choose the menus for our evening meals, and cook them too, with me directing. Tonight we started with basic spaghetti and an onion/garlic/tomato sauce. One of Dan's favourites, and pretty simple. He also cooked frozen peas in the microwave, and stir-fried courgette slices in oil.

It turned out fine, and I'm sure he'll turn into a competent cook once he's more confident. So long as he doesn't get distracted...

(taken from my Cyprus life blog entry for December 31st)

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