Being a home educating parent can be frustrating at times, especially if you follow an autonmous route. Inevitably there will be times when your mind tells you the children should be doing more formal work (at least, if you’re quite new to all of this or if, like me, you’re an ex-teacher and can’t quite shake off the shackles of state education thinking, even whilst disagreeing with most of it!
But this isn’t a post about how frustrating it can be, this is a post about rays of light poke through that frustration and how reassuring those rays of light are.
Bean is 9 and like many children his age, he likes computer games and plays them a lot. More than I would like, but I keep reminding myself that there are skills in them too, and whilst he’s playing them his brain is still processing other things that he’s learnt by being. Just being.
Earlier this week, he put down his game very deliberately and headed for the Arts & Crafts supplies. After digging around he found a set we’ve had for ages, for making sand mandalas. We did one of these a while ago, and he enjoyed it, so I was pleased to see the set making an appearance again. He completed a mandala, closely following the “sand by numbers” formula and was pleased with his results. And then he said something that shocked me. He was putting away the instruction booklet and choosing his own colours!
This is a big step for Bean. When it comes to certain things, he has to play it by the book. If the instructions say to use number 7 in this section, then number 7 it must be. So to say he was just going to use the colours that pleased him was music to my ears. To put it into his words, he was “going freeform” with it (all the freeform crochet I’ve been doing has clearly had an effect!) He hasn’t finished that mandala yet, but he has been really happy with the results so far. He loves how the colours he’s choosing fit together and give the mandala he’s doing a different look to the colours laid out in the set. I’m really proud of him – I know that this is a big step for him.
And then later he came with me when I took Plum to her ballet lesson. Not because he has a particular interest in sitting in a stuffy waiting room waiting for his 4 year old sister to finish her lesson, but because the boys street dance class began straight afterwards and he wanted to give it a go.
Bean loves street dance. He loves watching it, he loves trying out his own moves at home. He has not, to this point, loved the idea of anyone seeing his moves, or of going to a lesson. What if he wasn’t good at it? But he finally decided to give it a go. And he loved it. He came out full of confidence, beaming like a Cheshire Cat. I was proud all over again.
And I can’t help but think home ed plays a part in all of this. He has all the opportunities he needs to stay safe in his comfort zones when that’s what he needs, building his confidence, bonding with others with similar interests, trying new things in a “safe” environment, and when he’s ready, he has equal opportunities to push beyond those comfortable spaces, and the confidence to do it.
When we first took him out of school, coming up to two years ago, he had none of that confidence. People thought he was a confident boy, but mostly it was an act. He’s managing to move beyond that now and not worry so much about what others might think or say.
It’s great to watch and be part of.