Hazel Davis and her fella are home-educating their kids. This week, there are tears, spelling tests and the lure of gin (for Hazel).
Oh I know I make it sound like all we do is Instagrammy bat-walks and coordinated dance routines from Annie, but sometimes home-edding can be a right tit-ache.
I’ve written before about how I don’t want the children to be the sort who roll out of bed at 10am with bad attitudes and an aversion to structure. But at the same time, it’s REALLY nice to know that if they are awake in their rooms at 10pm as they were last night “doing a band”, then it doesn’t REALLY matter, as they don’t have to be spick and span the next morning. And oh how easy it is to accept.
We struggle sometimes, I’ll be honest. Yesterday it took about an hour for the oldest to get through one page of a maths book. She KNOWS the numbers. She can do the sums. She can read the blooming questions, but getting her to focus long enough to actually complete one can be a chore.
The weather isn’t helping much. During the summer we’d wake up at the crack of dawn, walk the dogs, identify all manner of leaves and flowers on the way, come back all refreshed and ready to learn. Now the children are dragged out of the house once the sun has risen (at about 10am), crying round the reservoir and back to claim they’re hungry/tired and ready for lunch/bed.
But as with most things, a good night’s sleep and a change of scenery can make the world of difference. A hearty walk and a big bowl of porridge and it’s all go again.
“Some days the opportunities for learning come thick and fast and the children are like tiny sponges, astounding me with their ability to retain facts about the eye and their understanding of Victorian child poverty.”
Today, we couldn’t cram enough knowledge into them. The youngest, keen not to be left out, demanded a spelling test, despite the fact she is only three and her writing isn’t QUITE up to speed.
Giving her a spelling test at all sounds like the actions of a Tiger Mom but let me assure you it’s only so she feels she’s joining in. And also she’s actually got the hang of spellings out loud so she naturally feels entitled to join in with a pen too and it’s very hard to say no. She has the misplaced confidence (and hair-styling skills) (and probably handwriting) of a pre-school Donald Trump.
What this means, however, is that the under-confident five-year-old turns to her sister for help. Her frigging three-year-old sister. And what it means for me is delivering two tests at once while trying to prevent the smallest child from corrupting the mind of the older one with maniacal guesses. This must have been what used to happen in The Olden Days of schoolrooms full of differently aged children.
This happened earlier:
Smallest child: Can I have a spelling test too?
Me: OK. Number one, ‘Pen’.
Smallest child: No, not pen, CHICKEN!
Me: Er, OK then, chicken.
Her: I can’t spell it!
Older sister: Can I do chicken too?
Me: OK then. Chicken.
Older sister: (looking over sister’s shoulder) What does it start with?
Me: G… I… N…
What I’m saying is that it’s not always amazing and it’s not always bad. Some days the opportunities for learning come thick and fast and the children are like tiny sponges, astounding me with their ability to retain facts about the eye and their understanding of Victorian child poverty.
Other days I find myself screaming the words, “She. It’s SHE. S… H… E spells SHE. You read this word from scratch EVERY SINGLE TIME YOU SEE IT. WOULD IT KILL YOU TO REMEMBER IT?”
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".