Sunday, November 26, 2006


I've noticed with home education, that the way in which the family learns - and what they learns - becomes a very "organic" thing.

It varies not just from season to season, but also changes in relation to the circumstances and experiences through which the family travels.

This allows us the freedom to "go with the flow". Sunny days provide a different stimulus to rainy days. Tough times lead to the family focusing on togetherness, shared activities and cuddles. Happy times mean more play, fun outings, spontaneous activities.

There are days when this doesn't seem a blessing - this year has been such a tough one that I look back at times and worry that the tangible learning is hard to pinpoint. However, whenever one looks at the big picture - and particularly when you see other, schooled families struggling - one realises the huge advantage that it gives us as a family.

When we are out as a family, we stick out more than we used to before. We've always tended to stand out - I remember a family visit to a Harvester Restaurant (pre-gluten free days!). We started a silly game whilst we were waiting for our food, deliberately changing around the first letter on someones name with the first letter of their surname. We were in fits of laughter! We were obviously enjoying each other's company. When we looked around, we realised that just about everyone was staring at us - some with amused looks, some annoyed at the noise, most looking almost wistful...

Isn't it sad that it should seem unusual to have a family enjoying being together? I was reading some comments on one of the email forums today, about large families and how so many people express surprise at the number of children one has, and even more amazement that you chose to be together, all day, every day! Why should this seem so unusual? When and why did it become normal/acceptable for parents to want to spend as much time as possible apart from their children?

I suppose, to families like that, our choices seem as alien to them. That is one of the reasons why the HE community is so important to me - the validation that one gets from being around hundreds of other families whose choices are not "mainstream" is tremendous. Even when we do things differently - and there are more "versions" of home education than there are colours on the rainbow - there seems to be an overall acceptance of a shared interest in our children.

Its a bit of a waffly post - sorry! It's not that things are going on, but almost that there is too much. In an attempt to see the wood for the trees, a lot of standing back is going on. A lot of reassessing. Looking at what has worked, and what hasn't worked for us this year. Looking at what impact the various events of the year have had, and continue to have.

This is definately reinforced by the fact that we are doing the filing! Having new home/office furniture has meant gathering up all the hundreds of bits of paper from around the bedroom and finding logical homes for them. We are up to our eyeballs in folders and suspension files!

I'm also re-reading Tony Attwood's "Aspergers Syndrome" in an attempt to reassess how we are parenting Samuel. It is such a balance between treating him the same, yet raising him differently from his brothers - I hate feeling I'm treating him different, but I have to get my head around it otherwise I do him (and his brothers) such a dis-service by expecting the same behaviour from them all. They are all unique, and its about my focusing on that fact - rather than marking him out alone - that I need to address.

I'm also trying to work out more about what could be the problem with William and his eating. As I've commented before, it doesn't matter whether he has his favourite foods, or something he doesn't like - he takes ages to eat and doesn't eat very much. It takes him on average one hour to eat one sandwich at lunchtime, and a bowl of cereal at breakfast is usually a minimum of half an hour. Dinner is a nightmare, with it regularly taking more than an hour.

We've tried every tactic, every approach. Yesterday he said sometimes he felt too tired to eat, and othertimes he couldn't swallow even if he wanted to. So we have agreed with him that he needs to start going to bed earlier (bringing it forward half an hour this first week) and we will make an appointment at the doctors to check that he doesn't have any biological cause for the difficulty in swallowing. We need to sort something as he is getting skinnier every day.


Anonymous said...

Hi Ann,

I used to have trouble swallowing as a kid and when i saw the doctors they found that my tonsils were too big. One tonsillectomy later and i eat like a horse!!!

I hope they can find a straightforward answer.


dawniy said...

hiya it's not a waffly post , it paints a lovely picture.
Naomi is much like that, she doesn't like textures of food and is happier eating satsumas,ice=lollies, apples or soup - she eats like a little sparrow and is as skinny as one too. If I ever let it be an issue it ends up a nightmare so I just let her choose.

Anonymous said...

Food issues are very tricky, hope you find an answer.