Tuesday 24 January 2017

"It takes half your life before you discover life is a do-it-yourself project."


These gloomy grey skies recently, make it really difficult to get motivated to get out and do stuff. It's wet and cold and would be so much easier to take the literal sense of Home-schooling and stay at home where it's warm and there is a steady flow of coffee and warm milk if needed. Sadly that doesn't fit into how we want Opeie to be educated so we've been going out as much as we can, braving the damp, bleak daytimes.  Over Christmas I watched a Youtube video made by a 13-year-old girl who was home schooled talking about her experience and how she felt it had benefited her. It was an awesome video and she was a very intelligent and well-spoken girl which was great to see as even now I still have my 'Is this really the best thing for Opeie?' moments.

One of the things that really stuck out for me was that there had been no structure to her home education by her parents and that she was left to her own devices as she got older. Her parent's roles were to simply keep her motivated and help with the things that she enjoyed doing. She also said that most of her home education was project based, projects that she chose herself and if she enjoyed them she continued with it and if not she moved on, giving her the flexibility to really get stuck into the things that interested her.

I loved this way of educating as it made me think of a project I did at school (a long, long time ago). I was probably around 8 and we started a project on dinosaurs, I remember thinking Wow! and I was hanging off every word the teacher was saying, it was fascinating, but... within a couple of weeks the project was over and we really hadn't covered much. I don't ever want Opeie to feel like that about something he is learning and both Mrs M and I will always do our best to get both of the boys the best resources that we can to things they are interested in.

So... projects! Opeie loves going to museums, I couldn't even tell you how many we have been to as there have been so many. We had a little chat and have decided to start a history project, which of course gives us the opportunity to go to even more museums and find out lots of interesting things about the past. On Seth's recommendation, Opeie has been watching horrible histories which he loves and it has been great for breaking into our project.

Today we decided to go to our first museum of the project which was the RAF Cosford Air museum. We've visited many times, but not in the last 2 years so it was clear that Opeie would take a lot more in now and ask lots more questions. I love the museum mainly because of the planes, so visually it is a great place to spend a couple of hours. If I'm honest I had not really taken the time to read much of the facts and information that is available during previous visits as Opeie was so young and excited just looking around, so this was a completely different kind of visit for me too.

As we walked about looking at the planes we talked about World War II and what it was all about. We talked about what life must have been like back then, compared to how different things are now and it was interesting listening to Opeie, really concerned about 'why people can't just be nice to each other'. At 5 he didn't really understand some of the things I was talking about and reading to him but what is great about museums like this is that between all the information available, there are lots of child-friendly things to do to break it up and make it more of an experience. We got to climb into a cockpit and play with all the buttons and switches, learn about altitude and how to measure wind speeds, fly a model plane and do some experiments around air pressure. One of Opeies favourite things there was learning about how ball bearings work.

We only stayed at the museum for 2 hours but as with all museum visits it was fascinating to see how much information was actually picked up, we talked about what we had seen all the way home and when we got home we printed out our pictures and Opeie wrote about it in his history project book. Today was a home education day at its best and this hands-on active learning is what really sticks with Opeie. I think it's going to be a busy few months making the most of the museums that interest us.

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