Friday, 29 July 2011

I wanna be famous......

When I was thinking about what subjects Charlotte and I should follow, I thought it might be best to concentrate on ones that would be relevant to a future occupation.

"What job would you like to do Charlotte?" I asked her.  "Is there anything you're really interested in?"

"I want to be famous," she mumbled in a voice not unlike Harry Enfield's portrayal of Kevin, the rebellious teenager.

"Eh?" I uttered, momentarily unable to say something more sensible. "What d'you mean, famous?"

"I want to be a popstar like Rhianna or Jessie J,"  she explained, still mumbling and looking anywhere but at me.

I groaned inwardly thinking of all the wannabes on Britain's Got Talent and The X Factor.

"But there must be something else you want to do," I persisted, "like business studies or fashion and design?"

"I just want to sing," she said.

I let it go for the moment and thought of all the tactics I could employ to divert her from her line of thought, all the people I could enlist in persuading her to do something more 'sensible'..... more ordinary.

So much for tactics. Charlotte began vocal coaching last night.  Her father and I stopped resisting and thought if that's what she has her heart set on doing, we should do all we can to help her.  She loved it and can hardly wait for the next session........ but she needn't think that English and maths, etc. are out the window!

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Schools out for Summer!

Yay, that's it..... no lessons for six weeks.  Well, why should we be pondering over algebraic equations when hardly anyone will be ....... unless she really wants to of course!  Formal lessons may have finished for now, but learning never stops, no matter what we're doing.  The text books have been put away but our minds are ever open and receptive to new material.  Children begin learning things from birth.  Parents and siblings are our first teachers and it's a life-long relationship.

I've learned a lot myself since the beginning of our homeschooling:

I am capable of teaching my child.
It needn't be a slog.
We can choose to explore whatever captures our imagination.
'Lessons' are best conducted little and often.
If Charlotte is struggling to grasp something and I am struggling to explain it efficiently, leave it for another time.  It's not the end of the world.
I actually enjoy putting lesson plans together.

So, what now for the Summer holidays.  Having fun is top of the agenda.  I'll probably spend some time thinking of forthcoming topics for next 'term'.  The world's our oyster!

Friday, 22 July 2011

Babushka Dolls

Yesterday, Charlotte and I finished making our cloth Babushka dolls.  Babushka dolls are symbolic of Russia and are one of the most popular souvenirs bought in that country.  They consist of a number of wooden dolls that nest inside each other.

The largest doll is the grandmother with future generations of dolls tucked inside her. This symbolizes the hope and value of life and the family; the heart and soul of Russian people.

Here are the dolls that we made.

We followed the instructions given in The Craftseller Magazine..... well, I followed the instructions.  Charlotte wanted to sew it her own way and she was delighted with the result.  That's good enough for me.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Let's read a book......

From the first week of Charlotte's birth, her dad and I told her stories and read to her.  Billy is better than I am at making up stories, because he has the gift of the gab and can ab lib better than anyone on the stage.  Right from when she was a three pound premature baby still in the prem baby unit, she was hearing about the fairies who lived in the carrot patch...... a sort of mix of Brambley Hedge and Thumbelina!  And I really believe she was taking it all in as he cradled her in the palms of his hands.

Charlotte grew up loving books, through toddlerdom and right through primary and junior school...... until she was nearing her teens.  Then the computer took over.  Little Women was displaced by Facebook and Jane Eyre was ousted by Twitter.  Not a book was to be seen in her room anymore - just piles of pop magazines and her laptop.  The realisation that Charlotte was no longer an avid reader saddened me.  I thought of the times in Waterstones bookshop when I couldn't prise her away from the children's section.  "I don't like reading," she told me when I offered to buy her a book on a shopping trip.  What happened?  Where did it all go wrong?!

When we took over the responsibility of Charlotte's education, I determined that we would read a chapter of a book daily. I believe that just by reading words on a page helps with spelling and reading an enjoyable book is both relaxing and stimulating. We take it in turns to read a couple of pages or so.  We started off with Malory Towers by Enid Blyton, but I have to admit it wasn't doing anything for me.  "Whoa, wait a minute!"  I hear you cry. "It's supposed to be for Charlotte's benefit, not yours."  Yeah, but I want to enjoy our reading too....... so I gave her Malory Towers to keep for herself to finish it on her own and we started another one.  It's called The Intruders by E. E. Richardson.   

Here's what it says on the inside jacket:

"Joel Demetrius is quite looking forward to moving in with his new step-family, but as far as his sister Cassie's concerned, they're nothing but intruders.  She doesn't want anything to do with Gerald and his two sons, and to make matters worse their new home is a derelict old house, neglected for decades.  Joel thinks it's interesting.  Cassie thinks it's a dump.

But his sister isn't the only reason the house doesn't feel like a home.  As fascinated as he is by the place, Joel has to admit there's something not quite right about it.  Not only does he keep seeing things out of the corner of his eye, but his sleep is plagued by nightmares.  He can't seem to stop dreaming about a terrified boy who keeps repeating the same fractured prayer:

If I should die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take......

As events in the house become harder and harder to explain, it seems that the line between nightmare and reality is getting steadily more blurred.  And when the battle between Cassie and her stepbrothers draws everyone deeper into the mystery, all four kids are forced to confront the question of just who the intruders really are."

This is more like it........ I can hardly wait until tomorrow to read the next chapter! 

Sunday, 17 July 2011

In the beginning.........

I tried long and hard to think of a good title for my homeschooling blog.  I thought of all kinds of names - some with the relevant word 'homeschool' in the title, some clever ones with a hint of Shakespeare and Chaucer and others that were just plain ridiculous.  You might think the title I've chosen is ridiculous but that is really how I felt when I realised I would need to homeschool our 14 year old daughter.  "Oh well, that's the way the cookie crumbles."  To be fair, there's cleverness in there somewhere with the attempt at latin translation.

I'm not one of those parents who wanted to homeschool because of a philosophical or religious belief.  On the contrary, I used to beam and happily wave my daughter off at the school gates each morning, hurrying home to have some 'me' time.  And those few hours passed all too quickly.  All went well when Charlotte was at primary school.  The first two years at secondary school weren't too bad either but, come the third year, all hell was let loose.  She seemed to become a different person and we often got telephone calls from the Head to come and take her out of school because of her behaviour.  She got excluded and decided she wasn't going back to that school anyway.  We managed to get her transferred to another local school, but it wasn't long before Charlotte began to behave as she had at her old school.  

My husband and I were frantic.  We didn't know how to help.  The longer she was absent from school, the more disturbing my thoughts became.  We spoke to Charlotte..... or tried to speak to her...... she didn't seem able to open up to us.  We spoke to staff at school and came to the arrangement that I would escort Charlotte to school for certain lessons.  I thought this might be a good solution, but I could see the unhappiness and distress on her face the nearer we got to school.  Our once naturally outgoing happy daughter was now terribly unhappy and it seemed to be the school environment that was making her feel this way.  I decided then that she wouldn't have to go back to school.  I would teach her myself.  We began on the 27th June, almost a month ago..... so we're just at the beginning of our homeschooling journey.  Put on hold are the Open University courses I used to do, the knitting and the crochet and a list of other interests.  Oh well, like I said, that's the way the cookie crumbles!