m i a o w


Tag: Education (Page 1 of 4)

The first of many

Gulp. Last night I made Small Z’s lunch for the first time in preparation for the next day. Got out what she was going to wear in the morning. Checked her bag of spare clothes that she had helped me pack, and took out the various face-washers, toys and socks she had added. I felt the future sort of unrolling in front of me – years of making lunches and getting it all together. It wasn’t so bad…

Today was her first day at ‘Two Group’. This is the group at the Montessori preschool that is for kids aged between two-and-a-half and three years old. It’s like a transition to their three-year-old kindergarten. And whereas mainstream three-year-old kindergarten is (I think) maybe three hours twice a week, the one at this place is either four mornings a week (three hour mornings) or two full days. So I thought that it would only be fair to Small Z to have the chance to do the ‘transition’ semester before launching into it next year.

This is also for her to establish her own little routine and social network before her world is invaded by the impending Pikelet. So yeah. We whizzed off this morning and arrived there at 9.30am. We put her photograph above her very own hook for her very own backpack, hung up her ‘spare clothes’ bag and then I said,

“See you later Boo – I’m going shopping and I’ll be back at snack time.”

“See you later Mama,” she said.

And I left. Going all the way to another room about twenty metres away and plugging in my laptop. Yeah. So I’m a pussy. I’ve never left her anywhere before and I wanted to be close by if she freaked out. The staff there didn’t raise an eyebrow, and said people often sit in the staffroom for the first few times, or in their car with a book.

I headed back in almost two hours later and heard her before I saw her, narrating her lunch as she sat at a small table, eating the cheese from between two slices of bread. I knelt down beside her and suggested she eat the bread as well. I turned to have a word to the teacher and Small Z came around behind me and gave me a hug. I am so relieved it went well. She didn’t want to leave!

First day at preschool

unschool monday: touch and texture

I have been looking at things on the interweb – toddler activities – that will keep Small Z entertained and interested. She so often hears, “Wait a minute – in a second – just give me five minutes…” as I feed or change or try to settle Small DB. I don’t care if it’s messy – ANYTHING that gives me half an hour to get things together is great, and so is anything that we can do together in the snatches of time that Small DB slumbers.

So yesterday? We started with GLOOP. I sat her on a small square of tarpaulin and told her to have fun. She thought it was great! Gloop is this weird combination of cornflour and water, with food colouring added in for entertainment. It feels hard in the bowl, but turns liquidy when you grab it. Small Z was wearing a smock, but had green hands for the rest of the day…

She enjoyed making drippy patterns on her legs and feeling the strangeness of the texture i.e. what it looked like in comparison to how it felt. Yeah, it was messy. But easy to make and to clean up! Later on we got out her old playdough and I told her all about volcanos. I think I was rather graphic, because when I said we were going to make one, she said, “No, thank you.”

I explained that ours would not belch lava and fire, but that we would make it erupt with some stuff that she could poke with her finger. I got this idea from the same site. We made a volcano shape around a small cup with bicarb in it that we poured vinegar spiked with food colouring into. My experiences with bicarb have left me a little timid, but it was fine. We made it fizz right up over the top of the ‘volcano’ and Small Z was happy to touch it once I’d convinced her it was all cold.

We kept going until the bicarb ran out, and for the next 24 hours she was volcano obsessed, giving M and I ‘volcano names’ in place of our ‘train names’. For the record? I was LavaLava. After the eruption we chucked the playdough and made a new batch, beautiful dark blue with sparkles. Small Z helped with the measuring – evening off the cup of salt and the tablespoons of cream of tartar. When it had cooled, she went and made her own volcano…

(I will post a GLOOP picture when I can reclaim my phone from being a white-noise machine…)

unschool monday : computers

Small Z watches Playschool on my computer via iView. But she has never really used it as a computer – just as a television really. So this past week she has been watching me type and, usually when I’m sending an email, she say;

“Type the letter Q mama!” or “Type V!!”

And I have to explain that then my email would not really make sense. She asked to do some typing herself, and I set her up in Scrivener – which is great, because the composition window is distraction free. I made the font big, the ‘paper’ wide and then I wrote down words that we both came up with so she could type them.

This meant she also learnt as she went along about the ‘return’ key, the ‘delete’ key, the spacebar and ‘caps lock’.
After she’d done it for a while we changed fonts, which she loved! I’m not sure who she looks like in this picture – but it doesn’t really look like her!!

Learning to type words

She is getting a bit better with the touchpad. I was thinking of getting a mouse for her to use, but I think she’ll pick up the touchpad with more practice – there’s plenty of time!

More unschooling over at the lovely Owlet’s

unschool monday : what the hell is it?

So I’ve been posting on this topic on Mondays when I can manage it. Your eyes may glaze over. Or they may not. But I was asked on the weekend “What is unschooling? And are you actually going to do it with Small Z?”

I don’t know a HUGE amount about unschooling, but I know enough about it to feel like it’s worth investigating as a definite option for our family. So here’s how Wikipedia lays it out:

Unschooling is a range of educational philosophies and practices centered on allowing children to learn through their natural life experiences, including play, game play, household responsibilities, work experience, and social interaction, rather than through a more traditional school curriculum. There are some who find it controversial.

Unschooling encourages exploration of activities, often initiated by the children themselves, facilitated by the adults. Unschooling differs from conventional schooling principally in the thesis that standard curricula and conventional grading methods, as well as other features of traditional schooling, are counterproductive to the goal of maximizing the education of each child.

Are we going to give it a go? I’m not sure. Our future is too fluid. I do like what the bit on the Wikipedia entry says about socialisation. Because it ties in so well with what we’ve always read and heard about kids that are brought up aboard boats:

They [parents] feel that their children benefit from coming in contact with people of diverse ages and backgrounds in a variety of contexts. They also feel that their children benefit from having some ability to influence what people they encounter, and in what contexts they encounter them.

The entry says a good deal more than just that. But I suppose socialisation is the main concern I have. I don’t doubt Small Z will learn like a sponge – she’s interested in everything. But it’s hard because our future is so unknown… Obviously in an ideal unschooling situation I’d like to be either committed to living aboard a boat (debtfree – of course) or in a community where other unschoolers were not too far away…

We may well sell our boat. We are going to have to live aboard our boat when our lease runs out. What that means for Small Z and her education next year is still up in the air. It may mean that we live aboard somehow in this local area and she continues to attend her excellent kindergarten. An idea which sounds completely opposite to unschooling – my justification – if I need to have one – is if she is in a learning situation that she enjoys – why not nurture it?

At the age of four – if she’s happy going to kindergarten a few times a week, then party on! I have no problem with it. I have a problem with the idea of her attending school five full days a week and being in a class with over twenty other kids all of different abilities with one teacher trying to give them all attention.

I’m still trying to grapple with the whole thing. ‘Going to school’ is such a given in our society. But why do you have a baby, pour yourself into nurturing that little person for five years and give them the groundwork for the person they will become, only to hand them over to an institution for the next 13 years? One that segregates by age instead of ability?

I am not sure that it’s what I want for the Smalls. I am not sure it would be the best thing for them. It might be the easiest thing – for all concerned, but I don’t want easy. If I did I would have weaned Small DB by now and have her sleeping alone in her own room. I want what is going to be best – for all of us.

But I’m still trying to figure out what that might be.

Read more unschool monday posts over at owlet

…and I would LOVE to be able to attend this conference next month – finances won’t stretch that far – but doesn’t it look amazing?!

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