Thursday, 5 April 2018

Life With & Without School.

I have been musing on writing this post for a while. It's not often that I share much about the kids education and it really has been a long time since I spoke about them in this sort of way. When I first started blogging I shared lots of tips and tricks in a parent blogger way but I think time has moved on since then and I suppose my interests were to talk about other things. 
Since losing Etta to the school system in September I have found an overwhelming obsession with making sure the kids are provided for far beyond what school gives them. In no way does this mean I am putting in over time teaching them myself, no, it's more in an activity based way. 
It came as no surprise to me to find the Raphael struggles at school. By struggles, I mean he loves school and fits in perfectly, but he doesn't reach the targets that the government have set for him. He struggles to fit into the lines that are there and that tell him he is doing well in his education. Luckily his teacher can see outside these lines and gives Raph an education full of support and fun which enables him to truly love going to school.

Etta on the other hand seems to be fitting inside the lines for now. She is away with it, just like lots of second born children, she is comfortable in learning and really has picked up her phonics and reading skills well. She loves school and actually in comparison to her brother actually wants to read her school books when she comes home. 
It's hard having two such differing abilities. Sometimes Etta shouts over the top of Raph and I do worry that this will become all the more apparent as she grows in confidence and as he maybe just happily bobs along. 
Because of this I became very conscious of filling a lot of their time with things other than school. School is great for the small achievements and recognising the children but it is actually what happens outside of school that can give children the biggest boost. We started putting the kids into as many activities that we could. We do everything to keep our weekends free from classes so that we can make our own fun but for the kids, we have tried to fill their week with activities they can achieve in outside of their school environment. We have tennis lessons once a week, swimming lessons, dance lessons and now after school drama clubs. All these are giving the kids these opportunities to achieve small 'wins' which really makes such a difference to their outlook. 
I personally love having weekday evenings full of things to do. I think it's nicer than coming home and sitting in front of the TV for the kids and it means we can leave relaxing for the weekend when we can all enjoy it together.

A few weeks ago the kids did their first fun run which saw them get a medal and Raph just kept saying how proud he was of himself. In fact it was the first time he had said it and really, really felt it. Like, more than ever before, his 1.5k run gave him so much more than any achievement has before and that really made me even more conscious of setting up these opportunities outside of school where he can walk away a very proud young boy. Having the self confidence and belief in himself is far more important to me than an educational certificate. 
I find this such an important thing as I have come through life really focused on how poor I was at education. How I struggled, how I always used to get by by the skin of my teeth, and I suppose I am just wanting to set him up so that it isn't just school he looks back on as his guide for how clever he is. 
I realise this has gone a bit Raph heavy but that, I suppose, is where I have pondered more. I see his struggles as the same as mine and maybe I am just projecting onto him something I think I needed but I know that what he gets from all these clubs is far more effective than what he gets from school. 
The first thing Raph always says to me when he comes out of school is "Have you got any food?" He then wants to go through the car journey, after 4-5 minues of talking about what they did that day, and just listen to music. This boy is tired. He comes out very flat, but I know by the way he talks that he does enjoy being there; he just is exhausted. Etta is usually quite opposite and that is a marker for how the two children differ in their educational experiences. 
These activities are there to build them up, Raph obviously more so and I believe they are right now the most important part of their young lives. Sports clubs are something I would try and just fall away from but when Raph gets on the tennis court on a Monday evening we get another child coming back to us. It just is his thing and having it at the start of the week does wonders for him!

What has me thinking a whole lot more too is that I was actually home schooled for a few years and actually my younger 4 siblings were home schooled nearly their entire educational lives. I must say there is a big pull to do it, but for me right now it does not fit in. Both our kids love the structure of schools, they like the environment and they love the teachers and having another adult to guide them. The kids are lucky that at their small school they stay with the same teacher for a few years due to mixed key stage classes which has really worked in Raph's favour as it has meant he has been able to have a more accessible education as he could go for extra phonic input even when his year group peers don't need it and it not be noticed so much. It has really benefited him to be able to not be the lowest achieving of his class because of course his class is not just a class of year twos all miles ahead in their reading stages, he sees that other children are still on similar books to him and that therefore is OK. For me, him being in school is great. It's what he needs. 

Through the powers of Instagram I have met a local group of home schools who have actually been really proactive and released a new magazine, LIFE WITHOUT SCHOOL. They are providing a service almost, to home educators in that they are sharing articles and resources to inspire anyone in helping build the education of their child. As locals to Lincoln, it's nice for me to know there are other women, like myself, taking on education and talking about what's out there to learn from. The magazine is full of ideas for activities, and way beyond your basics. They are just releasing issue two which I need to subscribe to really as, more than anything, it's just more ideas from local lovelies about how there is so much around us to use and learn from. 

As I said, home school isn't for me right now but I am making sure that when at home and out of school, achievement is still a big priority but really it is all out of love, because all I want is happy children who believe that they can in fact do anything and be happy doing just that.


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