Hazel Davis and her fella have decided to home-educate their kids. This week, a little sibling rivalry means September’s looking less daunting.
I write all the time about how thrilling home-schooling (edding, whatever) is. And it really can be. But sometimes it can be shite. Terrifying. And also boring. For every, “Hey, let’s walk seven miles in the sunshine and identify birds along the way,” there are four, “TRUST ME, there IS an ‘e’ at the end of Jane. There just IS, ALRIGHT.”
Occasionally I open a Reception-level workbook and scoff. Name three different types of flowers? Try a bit harder, Nicky Morgan. Other times I look at SATS maths questions for six-year-olds and think, “Oh god. We are never going to be able to give our children a good enough education.”
And then I remember that our eldest is not five until the end of the month. Everything we’ve been doing has been, theoretically, pre-school stuff. End of June though and it’s game on. And then it’s the holidays anyway (do home-edders observe school holidays? Stay tuned…).
The post-five onslaught has been made easier by the fact that her little sister (three-and-a-half) has learned to read. I know. Our first reaction was “Shit, we’re screwed.” She’s already a little know-it-all. We should stop her power surge immediately.
Then we saw what was happening. The oldest has all the basic tools and can seemingly read and write to an appropriate level, but she’d usually rather be doing something else, like drawing a picture or singing a song. The youngest, on the other hand, practically slid into the world saying, “What does episiotomy mean?”
Ever since she could talk she’s been trying to work out what words say and mean. Now she can actually work it out by herself*, it’s affording her all manner of points over her sister. And it’s put something of a welcome rocket up said sister’s arse.
“What does this word say?” the youngest will ask and quick as a flash her sister will jump in with, if not the right answer, a good crack at the right answer so as not to lose face.
“The oldest has all the basic tools and can seemingly read and write to an appropriate level, but she’d usually rather be doing something else, like drawing a picture or singing a song. The youngest, on the other hand, practically slid into the world saying, ‘What does episiotomy mean?'”
So our slight worry that a younger sibling would hold home-edding back is starting to evaporate and we’re confident that come the arbitrary September date the playing field will have levelled a bit more and we can do slightly more formal ‘joint’ lessons if we decide to. Thank goodness because, come Christmas, the now-three-year-old will be four and has to leave the nursery she goes to twice a week and will be at home full-time. Ye gods.
But we’ve got all manner of joint activities lined up for this. A Monday-morning quiz, for one. Obviously this will never happen but picture it: two identically dressed children (maybe with their hair in buns and pinafore dresses on), cleanly finishing their porridge, setting their slates in front of them, ready to impart the weekend’s general knowledge learning.
It’s an idea, even if one of them will immediately rip her hair out of said bun and take her knickers off and the other one (who would dress like that all the time if we let her) will catch on to the idea that a quiz might be Something To Do With Learning and slope off to draw a picture. What I’m saying is, we can finally tailor stuff to both of them at the same time. Whoop.
*Yesterday the smallest got a book about wild animals off the shelf and correctly read the word ‘members’ from the sentence ‘members of the animal kingdom’. “It’s a book about members!” she pronounced. Wrong bookshelf, love.
Read all of Hazel’s adventures in home-edding here.
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Hazel Davis is a freelance writer from West Yorkshire. She has two tiny children but the majority of her hours are taken up with thinking about Alec Baldwin singing sea shanties and the time someone once called her "moreishly interesting".