My first thought on this term is that is wasn’t everything it could have been. I had big plans and a stack of resources but with a two-week holiday to Ireland bang in the middle of the ten weeks as well as my operation, it feels like it never really got off the ground. We always go to Ireland in the autumn and next year I will be more aware of the effect it will inevitably have on whatever we are studying at the time. On the plus side we have learnt lots and really felt like we understood more about what it really means to be a member of the Ojibwe nation. Many of the books I bought were written by Native Ojibwe men and woman – living books if you like rather than information books.
My second thoughts are related to hands on activities. The children are growing up and are needing to be stretched far more. All three now (finally) enjoy writing and enjoy being given assignments on a daily basis. They all love researching and finding out the information for themselves. We have definitely moved into a different stage of their education. Hands on activities are plentiful in this household, really plentiful. And for the first time ever, I am feeling the need to weigh their importance up against more academic work. The children seriously love our history studies. I can see them in jobs and at uni but coming home in the evenings to do a bit of history! They particularly enjoy the hands on aspect of it, as do I. Yet I am wondering whether we do too many. Time feels precious and is slipping through our fingers at the rate of knots. I want to use it wisely and meaningfully. I want to build healthy habits like cooking from scratch, exercising, bible study, quiet time reading and so on. The list of things we can do are endless. There are not enough hours in our day and we need to be wise as to what we choose to fill them with. Hands on activities are fun, relationship building and of course educational but they take time and sometimes that is in short supply.
My final thoughts come to rest on the comments I received about the study, possibly written by someone of Ojibwe or Native American origin, outlining the right and wrong way to address them, correct words to use and words which might offend. Someone even left a message stating that they found my home-made Native American dress up offensive and that I should be discouraging rather than encouraging this type of play in my children. It took the edge of pleasure off what had been an incredibly interesting and earnest study. I attempted, as I do in all our studies, to reveal an accurate as possible portrayal of the culture we were studying. At no point did I intend offence and yet I obviously offended. In the end I hesitated posting what we had learnt for fear I had got a turn of phrase wrong.
All in all, I am pleased to be returning to European history, with which I feel comfortable and familiar enough to write about with confidence and without fear of upsetting anyone. The coming year I will be focusing on choosing hands on activities which also teach a skill. For example sewing or wood work. Each activity will have to fight for its place in our home school and will have to justify its existence in terms of the skills it will build in our children. We all agree that we need to avoid hands on activities just for the sake of doing a hands on activity (if you see what I mean!). More changes in our little school, but I guess changes will always come as fast and as furious as the growth of the children who require the changes. Nothing is static in life and the one thing we can be sure of is that changes are always afoot. All we can do is meet them with excitement and a willingness to go with the flow.