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Monday, 30 January 2012

Farewell January....

Well, we've had a rather average start to the year.  What started in mid-December as us all having colds (including laryngitis for me) turned out to be Whooping Cough.  We're about 7 weeks into it now, so another 4-5 weeks of coughing to go.  Jasmine is still coughing to the point of vomiting a few times a day, especially after eating or exertion, so we've been taking things pretty slow.  We had chicken pox at the same time last year, so I'm not really keen on this pattern of sickness to start the year!  Still, no doubt our immune systems will be all the stronger for it.  Just wish there was an easier way!

Someone posted a link on Facebook earlier this evening that relates directly to my previous blog post.

It turns out I did actually have it bookmarked from a while ago, but it's not often I go back & re-read things.  Reading it tonight was like reading it for the first time.  I think the article really resonated with the head-space I'm in at the moment, so much so that I forward the link to some of my immediate family members.  Jasmine often talks to family via Skype and tends to mimic the speed at which I type.  This results in long strings of random letters, with family suggesting she types "real words" instead of gobbledegook.  There are a couple of words like 'poop' and 'hello' that she knows, and she will copy people's names from the screen, but she's still not at the point of writing cohesive sentences.  While that's fine with me, I think others still have the expectation that she should be reading & writing at a more advanced level.  By forwarding the link to them to read, I hope they gain a better understanding of our learning philosophy.  It's something we've never really discussed that much, but I think it's time to give them the info so that they don't have inappropriate expectations.  It's a bit scary because you never know how somebody's going to react to concepts that they may not be familiar with, but I can't control their thoughts any more than they can control mine ;)

Actually, I've found it really interesting observing Jasmine's developing literacy lately.  

I woke up one morning to find some phone numbers of the '1800' variety on a piece of paper on the lounge.  Jasmine asked later if I'd seen the piece of paper, to which I said I had & asked what the numbers were for.  Turns out that she'd been watching early morning infomercials (what happened to her normal ABC4kids???) and informed me that we HAD to have a pilates machine which would "really work" to increase our fitness and she thought I might like an AhhBra because it would be comfortable.  That lead on to a conversation about the power of advertising and how they make people want to buy things they don't always need.  Still, she was motivated enough to write the numbers down ;)

Next is a message she wrote to me on Skype the other night:


Can you work it out?

"Is dinner ready?"

She's starting to associate sounds with letters, but fills in the blanks in her own mind.  If she's writing a letter to someone, she may just write 'D' & say she's written 'Dear'.  If she wants to write a letter, she'll get me to spell out words for her, but always asks, "what does it look like"?  Even if she knows the letters well, she still needs a audiovisual clue.  V for valley, a for apple, e for egg, l for line, D for Door, M for mountains, w for wiggly worm, s for snake, etc - it's almost like the Doctrine of Signatures.  In herbalism, it's said that a plants physical characteristics are a clue to it's healing properties.  Likewise, Jasmine needs each description of the letter to match it's physical characteristics.  Of course, it's not always possible, but she always finds it much easier to write when being assisted in this way.  Sometimes, I don't want to sit there for half an hour sounding out every letter, so I write out what she wants to say so she can copy it.  Sadly, that usually results in a meltdown.  I suspect she's actually dyslexic (with a bit of a family history) and/or her sensory processing issues extend into the reading process, so she finds it hard to follow letters sequentially.  

The other thing that seems to be intensifying is her desire to write "perfectly".  If a letter is not perfectly formed to her standards, she'll screw up the piece of paper & start again.  Suffice to say, we've been going through a lot of paper recently!  I've tried explaining to her that writing is one of those things that takes practise & it's taken me over 30 years of practise to write the way I do now.  

When her last tooth fell out a few weeks ago, I came across  Oh, how I regret that!!!  :/  Still, she LOVES the site & the idea that she knows her "real tooth fairy".  She can send her RTF letters (fill in a few blanks on letter templates) & her RTF will send her letters in return.  Of course, everything on the site comes at a cost.  Rather than pay for her RTF to send her letters printed from the webpage, the REAL tooth fairy prints out notes in Word, complete with butterflies & lots of purple.  The RTF has said to Jasmine that she loves getting hand-written letters, and she has done a couple so far.

Apart from all that, she's still riding her new scooter every day, creating with playdough, role-playing with her gazillion Barbies & toys, making balloon snow people, solving jigsaw puzzles, WIIing, swimming at the local pool (especially in today's 40C heat) & testing the laws of gravity with our r/c car....and ripping off half my toenail with said car.  Hubby was away for the last few days (looks like the issues of the last 6 months since the family deaths have finally been sorted), so I took the opportunity to do some de-cluttering & sorting.  The old whoop de whoop means I didn't get as much accomplished as I would have liked, but I'm happy with what I got done considering.  Jasmine can once again access the cupboard where all her toys & puzzles are kept, so it's almost like having a whole new lot of things to play with ;)  I've also started a different system of storing Jasmine's work so that when it's time for THEAC to pay us a visit, it's all there, ready to show.  I've also got myself a diary this year to record more of the day-to-day activities which tend to slip my mind.  I'm feeling more settled & prepared and Jasmine is looking forward to a year of less disruption & more learning.  I can feel a change in the air and I'm looking forward to it :)

I'll sign off with a pictorial wrap-up of January, 2012 :)

Saturday, 14 January 2012

An epiphany

I had an epiphany the other day.

It is coming up to a year now since we registered with THEAC as home educators.  In the next couple of months, I will need to collate & assess our first year, as well as make plans for the next couple of years.  Because Jasmine tends to resist written work, we don't have a lot of physical evidence of her learning.  That fuels my fear that maybe we'll be judged negatively at the next visit from THEAC; that people will think she hasn't been doing 'enough' to keep up with the State curriculum.  

But then it struck me.  If Jasmine's education is about meeting the expectations of other people, I might as well send her to school.  I realised at that moment that it really doesn't matter and I felt a deeper trust in the 'process' of unschooling.  It does rattle me a little when her friends are starting to read quite advanced books while she still freaks at the mere suggestion of learning to read.  However, I then think of all the stories I've read of children who don't learn to read &/or write until 7, 8, 10 or even older, but have then caught up within just a matter of weeks.  I think Jasmine's one of those kids who just needs to do things to her schedule - no one else's.  When she wants to do something, NOTHING can deter her.  Head-strong is an understatement & I know that drive will carry her through.  

I think I've been doing some deschooling in the past year.  Even though I understand the philosophy of unschooling, I'm still working through some of the ingrained expectations from my own school years - and it is still a work in progress.  Reflecting on my own experiences also helps me to understand how Jasmine feels when coerced  to do something she's not comfortable with.  I hope that other people (hello family) can give Jasmine the space and time she needs to learn when she's most ready rather than commenting on what she "should" be doing at a certain age.  We are not trying to speed up or slow down any areas of her learning based on a curriculum.  We are not doing "school at home" so there will never be a direct comparison between Jasmine and those who undertake institutionalised learning.  She has the freedom to learn what she wants, when she's ready and at the end of the day, she'll have all the skills & knowledge she needs to be a fully-functioning adult.  It's all good :)