Hazel Davis and her fella have decided to home-educate their kids. Summer holidays? Nah. This week is business as usual, with added Shakespeare, sculpture, bees and wet latex.
It’s summer now (in case you hadn’t realised) and all the schools are breaking up. I’ve seen a clutch of weepy and sweet end-of-term, haven’t-they-grown updates on social media and tried to feel sad that my child isn’t ‘graduating’ from something (though she did get a certificate at choir) – but I don’t.
The other day a friend asked whether we were stopping for six weeks. It’s something that hadn’t occurred to us really because *adopts very best mung-bean voice* education is an all-the-time thing.
But this doesn’t mean that of a sunny morning you can find our children sitting at their slates sweating through some tricky sums. It’s just business as usual for us. A spot of maths and English in the morning and general living (gardening, shopping, drawing, playing) in the afternoon. I’m not great at maths but even I can work out that doing more of the same over the holidays means you can do less overall during a day throughout the year. And it also means you can do it at any time of day.
In any case, in the last few weeks alone my children have done all manner of things that I would consider educational. They’ve helped their father make a bee house from wood, latex and concrete, for example. When I’ve returned home I have been regaled with information about What Bees Do. I know now, for example, that bees favour blue and yellow (who knew?!) and that sticking your finger into wet latex is much fun.
They’ve also been to a full-length outdoor performance of Much Ado About Nothing, getting in a Shakespeare funk in the process (in fact I spent much of Monday trying to work at my laptop while my oldest child insisted on listening to a very bad audiobook of Romeo and Juliet next to me, drawing pictures of the star-crossed lovers and writing their names in hearts).
And even though there’s no way they could have known what was going on all the time, listening, paying attention and trying to work out which character was which (each actor played several parts in this particular performance) is working on crucial skillz.
“The other day a friend asked whether we were stopping for six weeks. It’s something that hadn’t occurred to us really because *adopts very best mung-bean voice* education is an all-the-time thing.”
They’ve (for a change) been to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, making good use of the oh-so-very-shiny educational resources to build their own sculptural world and dragging me around the excellent Not Vital exhibition like they installed it themselves. They’ve been to my choir’s concert of early and super-modern music (and only went to the toilet 27 times that I could see) and they’ve sat in on (and joined in with, whether they were asked to or not) a clutch of folk band rehearsals.
In and among all that and the usual daily SIT-DOWN-AND-DO-SOME-WRITING they’ve been to the usual choir, musical theatre (yeah that’s still happening) and gym classes. This weekend we’re going to a music festival and next week the oldest is attending a three-day summer music club. They draw pictures (and offer copious explanations) for every single visitor who comes to our house, they make papier-mâché beads and they read stories every night before bed. All this is ample education as far as I am concerned.
And every time I think, ‘Hmm. Are we shoving Music and The Arts down their throats too much?’ I think about what our new straitened times means for education full stop and come to the terrifying conclusion that if the arts weren’t already suffering they’re going to suffer even more now and we owe it to them to keep shoving, blazing sunshine or otherwise.
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".