Yesterday I shared some of the ideas the family had about increasing the community service the older ones do, thoughts about team projects they could do together and with friends, in addition to everyone’s thoughts on running their own pet sitting business. We are using Gatto’s Guerrilla Curriculum as inspiration for next year’s schooling. Just as a reminder, Gatto believes every child’s learning experience should include (I have crossed out the items previously discussed in yesterday’s post):
Substantial community service
- Parent Partnerships on school time
Team projects (gardens, cross-age tutoring, talent shows, food co-ops)
- Independent Study
Work/study (including starting a business)
- Solitude (fishing, hiking, contemplation, silence)
- Adventures/discoveries (mapping, exploration, meandering,challenge)
- Field curriculum (furnishing an apartment, shadowing an employee at the job site, analysing the characteristics of good and bad swimming pools)
- Improvisational play in groups without guidance
- Flexi-time, flexi-space, flexi-sequencing, flexi-text selection
I have been discussing solitude, parent partnerships and field curriculum with the family and these are the ideas we have come up with.
I have always considered solitude as one of the most important aspects in my life. I adore being by myself and feel completely re-energised after substantial time to ponder alone. Whenever I am feeling bogged down with life, or feel like things are threatening to crowd me in, the answer is always time alone. When I was a teen, it was long walks in the wood which were my salvation and the answer to all the changes which occur in a normal teen’s life. We live in a different world now to the one I grew up in, and going for long walks in the wood is just not safe for a girl on their own anymore.
For our children, time alone after lunch is encouraged, for reading, but as the children have got older I have been more easy-going and they all now listen to music and/or the radio during this time; L13 makes jewellery and Thomas practices his guitar playing and the little ones play quietly. I am wondering if creating a time for absolute quiet would be beneficial, even if it was only for a couple of hours a week.
Whilst I was lazing about in the bath at almost midnight last night, something struck me. I wondered whether simply having large blocks of undisturbed personal time would be an advantageous alternative to solitude. Time to dream with no expectations…..
- Parent Partnerships in School Work
I LOVE the term parent partnerships, and this is definitely what I would naturally aim for. On talking with both Thomas and Charlotte, they said they prefer when we set goals for the week together and I hold them accountable to attaining them. I already know that Thomas considers us partners in his education from his interview. But what does this practically mean?
I think it will look different for every child, for every parent and for every family. For Thomas and I, it means co-agreeing on the expectations for a given week and then holding him accountable. He hopes to take three IGCSEs next summer (Maths, Chemistry and English Language) as well as the first year of an Engineering BTEC (if he gets accepted onto the course). Maths he will continue with Conquer Maths, with maybe the addition of the Edexcel text-book; Chemistry will be continued through Echo Education, as well as some one-to-one time with me (because believe it or not I am beginning to understand this whole chemistry thing!); we will also be having regular English lessons, as well as continuing with the only British spelling curriculum I have been able to find, which we will have started this summer. His BTEC in Engineering will be all day every Tuesday.
For L13 it means constantly being in discussions over her next creative endeavour and ensuring she has the supplies she needs. She is so passionate about her jewellery making that I do not need to set her goals each week. She would exceed them daily if I did and so I think they would hold her back rather than spur her forward. She literally spends every. spare. moment. in creative pursuits. That said, she will also be taking an English Language IGCSE next summer and this I will be teaching to both her and her siblings.
Charlotte is, as you probably have realised from reading my blog, completely a rule unto herself. I encourage this because I firmly believe it is because of her quirkiness that she will go far in life, not in spite of it 🙂 Charlotte needs high expectations because she will rise to whatever level is expected of her. If I lower my expectation she will lower hers and become listless and bored. If I keep mine high, she not only raises her standard to meet it but more often than not blows it out of the water. She is my enigma who I’ve only just recently begun to understand. I have a sneaky feeling she is way more intelligent than any of us gave her credit for and has much higher thinking skills to those expected of her at thirteen. She has asked to be stretched this summer and I have spent over £100 buying her books I am hoping will stretch her sufficiently. As a girl who is over half way through War and Peace and enjoying it so much more than Les Mis (which she loved) I am thinking it might be tricky. I have tried though 🙂
Charlotte has asked that we set goals together, that she has a schedule to keep to (more about this in tomorrow’s post) and that I give her weekly accountability and high expectations. She has also been complaining about her maths. She is not a natural mathematician at all and finds all the rules ‘hem her in’ Goodness only knows what she would do with the numbers if she had no rules….Anyway, I have listened to her woes and we have been in discussions about moving to a more literature based maths program such as Life of Fred. She does not require a maths GCSE for what she wishes to pursue in her future, and this may work out better in the long run for her.
- Field Curriculum
This part will be fulfilled in many ways. The first is by being given a budget to furnish their teen nook. This means they will not only be planning how they want it but will be responsible for finding required items to complete their visions for what will essentially be their hang out room.
Thomas has worked under many of the sound technicians at church and is currently working alongside one of his friends who is hoping to make a career of it. Although Thomas does not want to work in sound, he does want to lead worship one day and it is helpful to know lots about the sound equipment. To this end Gary is going to ask someone he grew up with, who lives over in the South of England whether Thomas can shadow him for a week. He is the sound technician for a well-known Christian band, with whom he has toured on multiple occasions.
I have put a lot of thought into L13 and her artistic inclinations. We have one friend who makes her own jewellery (in fact, I believe she does very much more than that) and I will be talking to her about the possibilities of L spending some time with her. We also have a lovely jewellery shop in our village which sells the type of jewellery L likes to make, along with lots of other niknaks. L and I will pop up there after the summer is over and see if she can spend a week in the shop seeing how things are done.
As far as Charlotte goes, she has always wanted to pursue her faith, writing or/and music and by chance last week (when she was at Big Church Day Out with her Daddy) we have found a Christian college where she is able to pursue all three when she is eighteen. She is required to have an English GCSE and three good A Levels, and she can study towards a music degree. The best part is that the first two years are for a diploma in Popular Music and Worship (which includes modules in vocals, Bible studies, Live Playing Worship, pursuit of Worship and Contextual Studies). She is then able to do an extra year and turn her diploma into a Degree in Music at the University of West London. So for Charlotte I want to find ways she can shadow worship leaders in our church. In September she will be old enough to go into the teen youth group and they are incredible at encouraging musical gifting to come to the surface through encouragement and inclusion in the youth worship band. Gary is a worship leader and he already takes Charlotte with him when he leads worship at the meetings for adults with learning difficulties, and I know, as soon as he feels Charlotte is mature enough, he will be including her more when he leads worship in the main church.
- Independent Study
We do a heap of this already, but I had noticed Thomas doing less and less and focusing more and more on academics. I am hopeful that this time put aside for less exam driven learning will be beneficial for him. I have asked what all three would like to pursue.
Thomas immediately said he wanted to make a Cajon from scratch and learn to play it. He would also like to attempt to make an electric guitar, but as he already owns an electric guitar that is lower in priority than the Cajon. He is still deciding whether or not to buy a kit or attempt to literally make it from scratch. Last year he made a bass guitar and LOVES it:
L13 wants to focus on her jewellery and multimedia art projects. I had noticed that her bead making skills are really very good and so sourced a book which contains 52 ways to make beads. Perfect for a year-long project 🙂 A couple of weeks ago, she and Charlotte baby sat for a lady who is a ceramic artist and had been working with paper clay, which when fired looks like porcelain. In the same week we were both exposed to metal clay, which looks enormously fun to use. Both types of clay require a small kiln so Gary and I are in discussions about the possibilities of getting her one. She writes a blog and is always recording herself demonstrating how to do certain things in jewellery making. She would like a YouTube account to post her own videos.
Charlotte wants to spend her independent learning time on playing the piano and the bongos as well as her singing. In addition to her music she wants to continue with writing her book and hopes to self publish it at the end of the year. She also writes a blog and would like to start recording YouTube videos of her singing.
The whole family is enjoying coming up with ideas to create a 24 hours a day, seven days a week self-directed learning life style. Gatto’s guerrilla curriculum is helping us work from a framework, and is stretching our thinking out nice and wide, and challenging us to dig much deeper into our collective creativity than ever before 🙂
Tomorrow, I will be covering the last few items on the list: Mentorship; Aprenticeship; Adventures/Discoveries; Improvisational Play and Flexi-time, flexi-space, flexi-sequencing, flexi-text selection.