What is important?

Have a think… what is important, in education, to you? What do you want your children to know? What do you want them to understand? Is there a particular subject that you would like them to do well at? Is there anything indispensible, any skill that you feel they must have in order to succeed? What lack of knowledge do you feel would present the greatest obstacle to their future success?

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Trust

One of the things I have found difficult coming to terms with as the small bears were diagnosed with autism is the differing developmental trajectory that comes alongside the diagnosis. As an educator, I have tracked children using various target setting proformas and the EYFS, but these have been designed for neurotypical children and come with an expectation that development in different areas will remain broadly within a range. Trying to track Teddy in this way has challenged my confidence in my ability to successfully meet his needs. He is working well above his level in some areas (mathematical ability in particular) but well behind, sometimes more than a year behind in others.
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A Week in the Bear House – Day 7 – Monday

Last day of my challenge! I thought I would find it hard to write every day, but it hasn’t been so bad as I thought it would be. Fitting it in has been tricky, and I was behind uploading most of my posts, but I’ve done it!
If you missed the rest of the week, follow the links to read: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, Day 6

5:30am
I was so pleased to get Teddy into bed straight from the car, but paid for it in the night Continue reading

A Week in the Bear House – Day 6 – Sunday

If you have missed Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4 and Day 5, click the links!

Usually Sunday is a very chilled day, mostly spent at home, often with a walk in the woods in the afternoon. I get a much-needed lie to catch up from Teddy’s atrocious sleep patterns (he likes to wake up for a couple of hours in the middle of the night and chat), Daddy Bear cooks a roast, and it is just lovely.

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A Week in the Bear House – Day 5 – Saturday

Here is the Day 5 of my challenge to blog about our home education every day for a week. Follow the links to read about Day 1, Day 2, Day 3 and Day 4.
Today is a little different as it is the weekend. Daddy Bear is home today and it is my turn to go out to work.

5am
It was one of those nights. I was awake for a pretty large part of it, although in small chunks. Daddy Bear slept in Teddy’s bed, the small bears in with me. Teddy is a fidget, and also woke up around 4am. It got to the point where he was not going to let Little Bear sleep, and he had already been in to disturb Daddy Bear, so I decided it would be safer to take him downstairs. Octonauts went on pretty quickly, as did the coffee. I spent a bit of time sorting out my bag for work, which is job not done often enough. I also managed to get a whole four shirts ironed, which is almost unheard of! Teddy played with dinos, and braved the freezing playroom to shove his hands in the sand. We also had a nice time organising the letters from our Melissa and Doug spelling game, and used Little Bear’s new time game for matching practise.

7am
Little Bear arrived, yawning but in a relatively chilled out mood. He was immediately on Minecraft, and Teddy started hollering for porridge. Once it was ready, Little Bear showed me what he had been building: a Roman villa and a fleet of boats. He is getting really quick at creating in Minecraft! I was surprised about how much he remembered about Roman villas, partly from the book we were reading the other night and partly from visiting the excavations at Chedworth. We chatted about whether Romans built windows on their villas, and he looked at his book to find out. I pulled out the postcards and laminated print outs we had stashed away, and he studied the way the floors were raised to allow for their underfloor heating system.

7:45pm
Leaving Teddy watching Cars2 and Little Bear still Minecrafting, I take coffee up to Daddy Bear. I get dressed, say goodbye and head to work. I mentioned on Wednesday’s post that I tutor children to make a bit of extra money, and the bulk of that is on Saturday mornings. I have three hour long sessions with  Y5, Y6 and Y7 children, as well as the Y9 young lady on Wednesday nights. It is interesting to continue to retain a toe in school life whilst travelling on this home education journey. My ideas about how children learn and develop, and what useful learning looks like have changed a lot since I was last teaching in a classroom. I don’t think I could ever go back to mass education, but I do feel that I am doing a good job helping these children who are struggling with aspects of the system. I have been seeing two of them for a long time, and have built up a strong rapport with them and their parents, and it is nice to feel I have that little community around me, away from the home as well.

12pm
Last lesson completed. I have my parcels to post, and then I can head home. I love working, I love chatting with my tutees and puzzling out their difficulties with them. Above all, I love helping them to shine. I get a real buzz when they or their parents tell me about some success in school that I might have contributed something to, if only in confidence. And I also love returning home.
Daddy Bear is cooking sausages, the fire is on in the living room (it is bitter outside), and the small bears seem calm and happy. Little Bear waves to me from across the room. It takes Teddy a few minutes to realise I am back, even though I sit next to him and say hello. Then it is bear hugs and giggles before lunch.

1pm
Little Bear is keen to show me how his Roman villa is coming on. It looks great, and he explains to me that he didn’t know if Romans had doors on their houses, so he looked in his book and found big wooden doors on the picture of a Roman farm. He shows me the wooden double doors he has added to his villa, and the veranda down one side inspired by one of the printouts we were looking at this morning. It is wonderful to see how he not only knows a lot about this period in history, but he is also developing some good research skills when he needs to find something out.
We all settle down in the living room for a bit with our separate activities.

2pm
Daddy Bear pops out to pick up some things in town. He is going to fetch the mugs we didn’t manage to get yesterday, as well as some other bits and pieces we need. The small bears and I get some hot chocolate and a snack, and settle down with the train track. Little Bear wants to build a track from England to Africa, via Australia. He shows me the route he is planning on his big world map (when did he learn where Australia is?!), then makes a big wiggly track on the rug. Teddy makes the longest train he can with all the carriages, and is not keen on giving it up when Little Bear’s track is finished. Fortunately, Daddy Bear averts an argument by coming home, and Teddy takes him upstairs to snuggle on the bed.

3:30pm
I like to take advantage of Daddy Bear being home at the weekend to have a nice quiet bath. Usually I would have it on a Sunday, but we will be out tomorrow. Since it is peaceful, and escape upstairs today instead.

5pm
Daddy Bear has made tea, and the boys are wrestling again. The train track nearly gets accidentally demolished, and they calm down to rescue it. I try to persuade Teddy to calm down with a story, but instead he is intent on covering the chair, and me sitting on it, with blankets, cushions and soft toys.

6:15pm
Teddy is still rather wired, but seems tired and asks to go to bed. So up we go. He doesn’t manage to listen to The Hungry Caterpillar all the way through, but wants the light off. We snuggle down with cat videos again at his request, and it isn’t long before he relaxes and sleeps.

7:15pm
I tidy up downstairs whilst Little Bear is watching Dragons. After a while he starts following me around, and I suggest he might want to snuggle in bed and read The Twits some more. He agrees and up we go. Some reading, lights out, and he falls asleep quickly.

9pm
I am getting felt ready for making various things for Christmas. I need to update and renew our Nativity characters, I have a gift I promised, and I want to have time to make a couple of decorations before the big day as well. Daddy Bear appears with tea and the biscuit tin, and we watch Doctor Who on catch up while I stitch. I do a little more after the programme ends, then tidy up and head to bed.
I am completing my blog for today in bed, and Little Bear suddenly appears and jumps in. Teddy sounds restless in the next room as well. I am hoping it won’t be a night like last night again…

 

A Week in the Bear House – Day 4 – Friday

Day four of our home educating week. The first three days can be found here: day one, day two, day three.

5:30am
Teddy is up. He asks to watch Cars2 on Netflix, so we snuggle down together under a blanket on the sofa. After a while, he moves to the floor and lies on his back running cars on his tummy as he watches. I decide to catch up on my blog, which takes longer than I expect it to.

6:30am
I add the car mat and garage, and make hot chocolate. Teddy is still happy watching Cars2, so I get back to my blog while it is quiet.

7:30am
Little Bear gets up (with a little help from his brother!) Daddy Bear mutters he will be up as well, any minute, so I pop some croissants and pain chocolats in the oven the heat up. These are Little Bear’s favourite breakfast food. The small bears eat theirs whilst watching Octonauts and Abney and Teal, so DaddyBear and I get to have a chat.

9am
Daddy Bear goes to work, and the small bears are still busy watching TV, so I take the opportunity to shower and get dressed leisurely. I spend a bit of time sorting out some bits and pieces I need to post tomorrow, making a small pile to deal with later.

9:30am
Little Bear decides he wants to build a train track, and he needs help. He does like to have a train track out, and likes to decide where the various tunnels, junctions and turntable are placed, but prefers someone else to do the building! Teddy fancies playing with trains too, and the arguing begins before the track is even finished. Negotiating is not working, so Teddy and I go upstairs for a bit, to read and snuggle on his bed. He plays for a little while in his room, and I fold laundry.

10:15am
I suggest we pop into town to pick up the mugs the boys painted as gifts the other week. Teddy gets very upset, crying, he doesn’t want to go out. This is becoming a more regular occurrence, he just wants to stay home. Since I already had to drag him out when he didn’t want to this week, I decide that the mugs can wait until tomorrow. Teddy returns to playing in his room.

 

11am
Teddy decides he would like to do some painting, so I set him up with paper and paints at the easel. He loves to paint, and creates some beautiful pieces of abstract art. He doesn’t name or label his work yet, but is clearly very interested in how colours mix together and how the way he uses the brush affects the marks he makes.

12pm
We eat lunch and talk about what we would like to do this afternoon. Inspired by a friend, whose son adores Frozen, I suggest it. I expect the reaction to be lukewarm (historically, it has not been Little Bear’s favourite film), but to my surprise he agrees. I tidy up whilst he prepares (fetches a blanket, sits on the sofa and shouts for me). Teddy joins us for a few minutes, then pinches some of my yarn (I am crocheting a new blanket) and sits winding it around a toy train whilst singing to himself. 
Little Bear is chatty during the film. We talk about: what makes ice; caribou and why they call the one on the film a reindeer; how pretty snowflakes are; when it might snow here; and lots about the relationships between characters. I have noticed recently how the emotions of characters in films seem to affect him strongly, he gets very angry with anyone who is sad or not behaving nicely, but the plot seems to leave him behind quite quickly. He needs me to explain why people behave the way they do quite often, particularly when they are not telling each other the truth.

3:30pm

Film over, I potter a bit. Little Bear pulls out a dinosaur book and disappears to the nook next to the sofa. A few minutes later he is in the kitchen looking for an egg. After some heated discussion, it turns out he wants to paint an egg as a dinosaur egg, like the one pictured in his book. So I explain that a raw egg might get broken and pop one on to boil. Teddy is playing with cars on the mat, on his tummy, in the sand, back on his tummy and across the sofa.

4pm
The egg is boiled, and Little Bear settles down to paint it using the paint left over from Teddy’s painting earlier. It doesn’t take him long, and afterwards I suggest he checks his snails. I usually check them everyday, and spray their tank with a bit of water. They don’t need a lot of care. Little Bear ‘exercises’ them on a tray every few days, and tops up their food.

5pm

It is tea time, and the boys are hungry. Then boisterous. Something very noisy is going on in the living room whilst I clear up in the kitchen, but I try not to intervene unless it is dangerous or someone is getting hurt. They get it out of their system, then help tidy up the living room. Teddy does some jigsaws whilst Little Bear flops around on the sofa, and eventually we all head upstairs.

6:15pm
Teddy is tired, and not all that bothered about stories tonight. He sits through half of Dig Dig Digging, then asks to turn the light out. We watch kitten videos on my phone for a few minutes, and he turns over and goes to sleep.

7:30

Daddy Bear is home, playing HeroQuest with Little Bear in his room. I settle down to wrap parcels that need posting tomorrow. Then Little Bear suddenly comes down to find me, very upset. He thinks he may have swallowed a piece of Lego, just a small one, and he thinks it is going to get stuck in his pipes so he can’t breath and he’ll die. It takes a while to calm him down, he is very frightened, but at last I persuade him that it will probably just pass through and he won’t even know. He admits that he isn’t even sure he swallowed it… 
HeroQuest is abandoned, and Little Bear snuggles into bed with me. He chooses The Twits, and we read a few chapters until his eyes start drooping. Despite being very tired, once the light is off he starts worrying about the Lego again, and I need to help him calm down again. I agree to come and fetch him when I go to bed, and bring him into the family bed, so I can keep an eye on him over night, and he relaxes and sleeps.

9:30pm
Downstairs again, I finish wrapping my parcels, potter on Facebook briefly, then go to bed. Little Bear hears me and arrives before I am even in my pyjamas. We snuggle in together, and he falls back to sleep quickly. A few moments later and the thud of Teddy’s footsteps also make their way to my bed, and he cuddles in. It is cosy between my two bears.

A week in the Bear House – Day 3 – Thursday

I’ve never been the most regular of bloggers (haha!) so I am really proud that I have got as far as Day 3 in our week of home education. Follow the links to Day 1 and Day 2.

6:15am
Teddy has a lie in! Then he and I get up and go downstairs. He watches some Abney and Teal, and I do a little more sewing until he starts to call for porridge.

7:15am
Teddy is a little disappointed that Little Bear isn’t up yet to eat porridge with him, but he and I have breakfast together and wonder what we will do today. Then he goes back for more Abney and Teal whilst I clear up and make coffee.

8:15am
Daddy bear gets up. Teddy has Octonauts on the television, Little Bear has eaten his breakfast and is playing Angry Birds on the iPad. I have a chat with Daddy Bear, then take advantage of the peace to check my emails when he heads into the bathroom.

9:15am
Little Bear and I are dressed, the food shopping arrives, and Daddy Bear goes out to work. The small bears settle down with toys, and I set a nature study handbook I found printing. We love to go for walks, and the Little Bear in particular is very interested in the changes of the seasons, studying bugs and collecting twigs, feathers and other bits and pieces (and then not letting me throw any of it out, ever!) This handbook is a nature curriculum, created by another home educator, with ideas for nature walks and looking a bit closer at what is out there in the natural world. I doubt we will follow it strictly, but it is nice to have a bit of a focus for when we go out sometimes. If you think this is something your child might be interested in, the PDF for the nature study handbook can be found here.

9:45am
The small bears are still happily playing. Little Bear has moved onto sand, enjoying letting ito run through his fingers. Teddy is getting out jigsaws, something he loves to do everyday, and I help him get the pieces out and sit with him whilst he does some. He doesn’t really need me, so after a while I go and get some laundry on.

10am
Little Bear needs me to help him get out the car mat and the garage, and sets up a complicated arrangement of cars and other vehicles with the wooden garage. I sit near doing some planning for Advent and flicking through the newly printed nature study book. Teddy wants to play cars too, but Little Bear is worried he will spoil what he is doing. I spend a little time trying to negotiate between them, then take Teddy and the iPad upstairs with me for a bit to read stories and watch Cars whilst I hang up washing.

11:30am
Little Bear wants to work some more on his clay model of the Polar Express whilst I cook dinner and listen to the radio. The other day he noticed the big radio transmitter tower not far from here whilst we were out, and now he starts asking lots of questions about how a radio works. I can’t answer many of them, but I jot them down and suggest we look up the answers after we have eaten.

12pm
Little Bear and I eat lunch (Teddy isn’t interested yet, and carries on playing). The questions move on to trains. We watched a film about the Trans-Siberian railway last week, and now Little Bear would like to find out about the Orient Express. Again, I note down the questions I can’t answer, and start hunting for films.

1pm
Little Bear and I start watching some films about the Orient Express. I have found a short clip from Blue Peter with one presenter pretending to be a rich passenger and the other the steward. Little Bear is interested, but finds it hard to follow their pretending. I find a film of David Suchet travelling on the Orient Express. It has a lot of references to Agatha Christie and Poirot (of course!) but he watches the whole 50 minutes of it, then together we plot the route the Orient Express followed on the film on his giant map which already has the Trans-Siberian Railway plotted on it.
Teddy eats his dinner, then takes himself to bed with the iPad to watch Cars 2. He would quite like me to join him, and I do on and off, but Little Bear also wants me. This is one of the things I find really hard about having two children. They either both want me at the same time or not at all!

2pm
I help Little Bear build a train track, then leave him naming trains: the Amazon Express and Australian Express. He describes the route, and I suggest he draws a map, but he prefers to just play for a bit. I settle down with Teddy, still in his bed, and watch Abney and Teal. Then we get up and play with cars in his room until Little Bear comes to find us.

3pm
One of Little Bear’s close friends started school in September, and he has been very worried that she won’t be his friend any more. It is partly for this reason, and partly to help out her parents, that we have an arrangement to collect her from school every other Thursday. It is nice for Little Bear to see his friend regularly, and gives me a little time to devote to Teddy whilst they are busy.

3:15pm
All three children get busy making sticking pictures. We keep a large printers tray with all the compartments filled with interesting bits and pieces (pasta, lentils, leaves, sequins, cut up straws, etc). I add some glitter sprinklers and shiny card, and they are off.

3:45pm
Little Bear and his friend decide they want to play in the garden. I point out it is getting dark, but I think that is part of the lure! They poke around in the piles of pruning that is still waiting to burned, hoping to find hedgehogs, and debate how to reach the last couple of apples on the tree. Then they have a bounce on the trampoline, discover it gets their socks wet and come back in. Socks off, they go up to Little Bear’s room, and do something involving lots of thumping and bumping. Later Little Bear tells me they were playing Lego, and his friend say it was schools, so it is a mystery what they were up to!
Teddy and I play with the trains. He makes a really long one and discovers it can’t go as fast as he would like without falling off the track.

5pm
Little Bear’s friend goes home, and we have some tea.

5:30pm
It is time to tidy up a bit. Teddy gets out his jigsaws again, and Little Bear produces a book about Romans he has found. We read about half of it, until Teddy gets too disruptive to continue. He wants to go upstairs, and so we go to start getting ready to bed.

6:30pm
Both small bears are in their PJs, and snuggled into Teddy’s bed to look at books and drink milk. We read Sharing a Shell and Tip Tap Went the Crab. Then Teddy wants his light off, and Little Bear goes to play Minecraft in his room.

7:30pm
Little Bear looks very tired, although he says he isn’t. A second cup of milk and a snuggle in his bed helps. We read the rest of his Romans book, and then read it again. Then he ‘reads’ it to me, and I get an idea of what he has taken in. We visited a Roman Villa excavation in Chedworth about a year ago, and I am surprised to hear how much he remembers from it. Once he is ready to settle down, we turn off the light. It takes him a while to settle tonight, but eventually he drops off.

9:15pm
Daddy Bear and I have a nice glass of wine and catch up with The Apprentice together. Then it is time for me to head off to bed as well.