This week started innocently enough with a Home Ed meeting at Longford Park, Chorlton where Jessy enjoys the climbing rock.
The next day, however, there was a shocking discovery! Tom Riddle’s Diary in our house! Jessy asked it a burning question and the diary showed him Hagrid with his giant spider Aragog, being discovered by Tom Riddle.
Luckily Jessy destroyed the diary when he realised the danger!
Thursday Jessy is at Wood School. On Friday we went to our friend’s birthday tea and met their new dog.
Saturday was one of those days where autonomous education seemed to flow really well. In the morning I found Jessy taking his Ant-o-sphere out of the box. It was a birthday present. It is made up of several chambers which replicate an ants’ nest, the idea being to keep and study ants. We had one when he was younger, and I think he will gain more from it now he’s bit older. Jessy explored the contents while I read the booklet out loud. We went into the yard to find grass, leaves and moss to go in the spheres. Next we needed ants! The last time we did this, finding ants was no problem as our garden was over run with them – both red and black! This time we weren’t sure where to find any, so we looked it up and found conflicting information. We remembered Jessy’s bugs collection from the magazine he used to get each week. Jessy found a giant ant in the collection and we read a bit about Carpenter ants from the magazine.
After that we decided to head out to the local park and look for ants. Within minutes though it was clear that it was just too cold for the ants to be out. It was snowing! We did spot a hole which we recognised as the entrance to an ant nest, and Jessy dug around a bit with a stick, but we soon called it quits. Back at home I suggested we watch something about ants. Jessy was flagging slightly and when we went to look on YouTube he spotted a lego version of ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’ which he really wanted to watch, so we agreed to watch that first. It was quite entertaining! We found an ant documentary on YouTube, ‘Natural World: Empire of the Desert Ants, which we both really enjoyed. It followed a single Honey Ant colony from the moment the Queen dug the first hole in the ground, to the sad demise 8 years later. I felt genuinely upset when the Queen we had watched build up her ant Empire was destroyed! The ants were fascinating and incredibly brutal too! We both enjoyed our spontaneous ant themed day.
We had a quiet Sunday where we listened to old fashioned children’s songs and chatted. Jessy asked about the character Cho Chang in Harry Potter, and whether she had come from a Chinese school. That led to a discussion about emigration and Britain being a multi-cultural society and how people travel and live all over the world. That evening we travelled to Birmingham on a coach to see my niece performing in a huge Stagecoach performance of ‘Cats’ celebrating 25 years of Stagecoach. The arena was absolutely enormous! Jessy had never been anywhere quite like it before.
Jessy is very close to his cousin and was really excited to see her. We both enjoyed the show very much and it was brilliant to finally spot Anais after keeping our eyes peeled through the whole thing! It was 1.30am by the time we got to bed, so I decided not to send Jessy to Wood School the next day.
Jessy started the day in a very humorous mood. He created a short version of ‘The Chamber of Secrets’ on paper (which he called ‘the stupid version) and then enacted it as a play. He could barely get his words out for laughing and kept literally falling over with the hilarity of it!
As he often does, he ripped the paper into small pieces afterwards. He was still laughing!
Our day at home brought about a confession from Jessy and a chance for us to do some problem solving together. Jessy confessed that in the mornings he’s been sneaking chocolate and going on the computer. Jessy has been getting up before me for years now. He’s always been very sensible and enjoys time alone, while I have never been an early bird, so it works well. A while ago we made an agreement that screen time happens later once I’m up, so that I can help him monitor it. He’s usually been very good about it. The bit that troubled me most is that I’ve asked him on several occasions whether he’s been on the computer and what he’s eaten and he’s been lying to me about it. This raises a red flag for me. If he is feeling the need to lie to me it is most likely that I’m doing something wrong. Keeping open communication and trust between us is so important to me. I explained that to him and said that I can’t do my job of helping him and doing my best to keep him safe and healthy if he isn’t honest with me. I realised that I may have been too grumpy and shouty recently when he’s done something I don’t like or broken a rule. I recognised this and reassured him that I would try to be calmer and talk to him like we were doing. I talked about balance when it comes to food an activities to remind him why we have some limits around food and screen time, and reminded him that we’ve decided those rules together.
On my good days I try to have us problem solve together. Jessy was on the ball. It was clear from his confession that he wasn’t enjoying the situation and wanted to stop. He came up with the plan. He asked me to put all the sweet things away for a week. More than a week would be upsetting he said, but he felt a week would help him get out of the habit. With the computer, he came up with the idea of just putting it off and unplugging it and I suggested putting a ‘stop!’ sign on the computer. We both felt better after that.
This morning I heard him giggling downstairs when he found my sign on the keyboard saying, ‘BEWARE!! Very small elephants holding feather dusters will tickle the toes of anyone who uses this computer before Lucy is up!’ For good measure I also stuck a sign on the T.V saying ‘No! Not the T.V either!’, just in case!
The rest of yesterday involved reading, writing, playing and drawing all around the current favourite Harry Potter theme. We finally put the batteries in the duelling set Jessy got from his Aunty and had fun playing with it.
Today a spare place came up for Jessy in a Greek Mythology workshop. I was really pleased but he wasn’t. He gets anxious about doing new things and doesn’t like sudden changes so I’m not sure why I was surprised when he didn’t want to go. I spent half an hour or so trying to convince him, talking about courage and overcoming fears and trying to remind him of all the times when he hasn’t wanted to go somewhere but enjoyed it when we got there. It all had no effect.
Then I had a WOBBLE!!! Every home educating parent knows about wobbles. They can strike at any time whether you’ve been home educating for less than a week or more than a decade. Suddenly it is all wrong! It can’t possibly work! He will have to go to school and all the effort counts for nothing because all he wants to do is play on the computer in his pyjamas which is obviously illegal!! There were tears. First mine, then his. Then there were cuddles. Then we got on with our day and got on with home education.
As it happens, after the huge wobble was over we had another one of those spontaneous theme days. Jessy wanted to crack an egg and I’d come across egg experiments online. I suggested that instead of wasting the egg we should find something to do with it. I found lots of simple science experiments involving eggs so we went and bought more eggs! The first thing we did was put an egg in a glass of vinegar, as that experiment takes a few days. I’ll show the results in the next blog.
The next one we did involved two glasses of water. the first was plain water and the egg sank. Into the second you put 10 teaspoons of salt and the egg floats! I captured Jessy’s gleeful expression as the egg floated at the top.
The next experiment involved trying to crush an egg between forefinger and thumb, showing how surprisingly strong the egg is! Jessy rounded off the egg themed day by watching ‘An Egg’s Guide to Minecraft’ which is actually rather funny!
This evening Jessy was at Cubs which is when I get this blog done, although he’s home now with a very blue mouth from a bubblegum lolly he saved (off-set by Rainbow Trout and green stuff for dinner!) so I should go and get him to bed!