Books

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E (age 6) and I are doing Five in a Row again. I’m tired, so it’s an easier way to manage, just like when Astrid was new. We started this week with The Story of Ferdinand and so far we’ve been doing the topics through conversation, which is working fine for her. She’s a very switched-on, thoughtful, articulate child, really. The selfish little horror. I think she’s got about the perfect balance for Being Six Years Old. She’s a delight.

As long as you don’t try to read her reading books while she’s using them to teach herself to read. If you do it FOR her you are HINDERING her ability to LEARN how to do it FOR HERSELF. YOU HAS BEEN WARNED.

I got L (age 8) the Beyond Five in a Row set and she has read almost the whole curriculum manual already – in three days – and most of The Boxcar Children and she and E made a Lego boxcar today and acted out the book very carefully – L read the book, said to E “And now you say ‘must be five blueberries’” and E said “Must be five blueberries,” and L said “‘Or even ten’” and E said “Or even ten,” all very obediently. Never works for me.

A hasn’t been in hospital or seen by paramedics for over a week. Her last one was mild concussion from jumping on the bed. She likes jumping.

Reading

Got tired of reading aloud. Shoved kids off onto Reading Eggs. Older kids read to younger kids. I recovered, read aloud some more.

Felt like I did nothing today, but doing nothing involved about a dozen books. So.

Roll on summer. I feel about all done with miserable weather.

New term! September! New year! In an alternate universe, Linnea is in something like Year Three, I think, and Emer is starting Year One. Actually, they are nothing of the kind, but it sometimes helps to remember what we’d be doing if they were, sometimes.Linnea recently read her first Young Adult novel – a friend had just finished Anna Carey’s The Real Rebecca and was going to lend it to me, but Linnea got there first. She really, really enjoyed it, and although it took her longer to read than most of her books – that is, more than one sitting – she persevered over little bursts of reading over several days, and finished it all. She hasn’t told me what it’s about or what about it she enjoyed, but she kept going back for more and wants us to buy it.Emer is getting more and more like a pre-reader, though I may have the technical terms wrong. She is reading some words and can recognise all the letters and write some things, but isn’t reading sentences or anything yet. I’ve offered to do regular reading practice with her but she’s not interested.Astrid can walk, and says all SORTS of things which we know are real words, and today Rob saw her spearing pasta with a fork and feeding herself with it. So that’s nice.I wonder what we’ll do this year?

Linnea and I are having a wonderful time. I mean, she’s ill, and on antibiotics which mean we have to seriously schedule her eating opportunities, but she found a Ramona book (Beverly Cleary) and liked it, so I’ve been ordering the rest from Abebooks and when they arrive we pounce on them, argue over who gets to read it first, talk about them – it’s a wonderful, wonderful experience.

She also sat with me today to watch a signed story and we both loved it.

And she has been learning, of her own accord and with great determination, to do the laundry. Sorting loads is still tricky – we had to do a colour-run remover session yesterday. But even so.

My mother remembered her name, we searched Amazon, and lo and behold we have a copy of Anything School Can Do You Can Do Better (The story of a family who learned at home) (ISBN 0006369316) which I am reading with great interest. She used a lot of Montessori stuff – I really must investigate Montessori at some point – but found that her children were too far ahead to take advantage of Montessori schools when they were old enough to attend them.

(Another interesting thing that happened recently is that Linnea was spotted by Radegund reading aloud from a book of Oyster’s. Apparently she was slowly reading the common words, a repeated phrase along the lines of “Yes, if you’re not too [loud, hoppy]” etc. Now I need to replicate this somewhere I can observe it myself, but preliminary questioning indicates that no-one had read the book to Linnea in the time, so it does seem like she recognises some words, at least.

She’ll be three in only four months’ time.

Books by John Holt, according to the most official John Holt website I can find:

How Children Fail. Pitman 1964, revised edition Delacorte 1982, Perseus, 1995.
(My library has the revised edition, Penguin, 1990, which I have read)(Buy on Amazon)

How Children Learn. Pitman 1967, revised edition Delacorte 1983, Perseus, 1995.
(My library has the revised edition, Penguin, 1991, which I thought I’d read before but apparently haven’t. When I read it, I’ll let you know.)(buy on Amazon)

The Underachieving School. Pitman,1969.
(Amazon UK have a 2005 Sentient Publications edition.)(buy on Amazon)

What Do I Do Monday? Dutton, 1970, Heinemann, 1995.
(Amazon UK can source a 1995 Boynton/Cook (US) edition in 4-6 weeks.)

Freedom and Beyond. Dutton, 1972, Heinemann, 1995.
(Amazon UK can source a 1995 Boynton/Cook (US) edition in 4-6 weeks.)

Escape from Childhood: The Needs and Rights of Children. Dutton, 1974, Holt Associates 1981.
(Amazon UK can’t even source one, though some are available second-hand.)

Instead of Education: Ways to Help People Do Things Better. Dutton, 1976, Sentient, 2003.
(Amazon UK have a 2004 Sentient Publications edition.)

Never Too Late: My Musical Life Story.. Delacorte. 1978, Perseus, 1991.
(Amazon UK have a 1992 Lighthouse books edition.)

Teach Your Own: A Hopeful Path for Education. Delacorte, 1981, revised and updated by Patrick Farenga as Teach Your Own: The John Holt Book of Homeschooling, Perseus 2003
(My library has the Lighthouse Books edition, 1981, which I have read.)(Buy on Amazon)

Learning All the Time: How small children begin to read. write, count, and investigate the world, without begin taught. Addison-Wesley 1989. Perseus, 1990. (Buy on Amazon)

I will get these at some stage, and own them. I already know that the library can’t source any more; even my pet assistant librarian who is an elite crack-squad of catalogue searchers all on her own can’t find more than she’s slready found for me. I must print the list off and take it to the local Waterstones; they’re the most reliable bookfinders I know of in the area, and might well find things more cheaply than Amazon would.

Title: How Children Fail

Author: John Holt

Publisher: Penguin

ISBN: 0140135561 (buy on Amazon)

I haven’t finished this yet, but so far it’s eye-opening. Like What Mothers Do, it articulates stuff I already felt to be true, and it does it clearly. A lot of my difficulties as an adult are easy to see in terms of methods of learning and being taught and surviving school, and I am – again – massively, immensely, technicolouredly grateful to my mother for managing to encourage independent, questioning thought anyway, in spite of, well, everything she had going against her.

This book is going to be a useful reread even before Linnea is school-age, because I’m going to need to be reminded of it for myself as well as for dealing with her and with other people’s opinions of how we’re raising her.

(She seems socially fairly well adapted, so far, though she does have a faulty ranking system – breastmilk is better than bananas, and better than banana muffins, but not as good as Maya Gold chocolate, damn her.)

Title: Teach your own

Author: John Holt

Publisher: Lighthouse Books

ISBN: 0907637000 (buy on Amazon)

Interesting nodding-head-in-agreement read, but practical-advice-based and very focussed on America before I was born, so not a whole heap of use really. But it’s nice to read books that have me nodding agreement all the way through. Except possibly for the “leaving your school-age child home alone all day regularly” which sits all wrong with me – but then, that was an emergency measure, so not a regular recommendation.

Not, I would say, an essential re-read.

Title: School is not compulsory (The essential introduction to home-based education)

Editor: Education Otherwise

Publisher: Education Otherwise

ISBN: 0952170337 (buy on Amazon)

A useful guide from the UK’s primary home education organisation, lots of useful tips about the law etc rather than suggestions for actually doing it (though some of those too). Definitely useful to get again when Linnea is “school age” – ie the first school start date after her fifth birthday, which I think is 01 September 2009. She’ll be 5 years and 4 months then, so they’ll start teaching her to count to ten and learn her ABCs. I can’t see that, somehow. It seems very unlikely.

New word: Pwing (swing) and now she pronounces horse correctly, H and all (English R, but never mind). She’s working on teeth, mouth, and flower, too, but not there yet. And she has a word for breastmilk – Thass. I have no idea where it came from – perhaps “Oh, that’s what you want, is it?!”

(Home education: get up, tidy house, wash dishes, cook dinner – you’ve done “domestic science” and probably maths. Go shopping – maths and reading comprehension and all sorts. These books are really changing the way I look at my day. It’s very funny to suddenly think “… and that’s geography!” when I’ve looked up a train timetable or something.)

Title: Free Range Education (How home education works)

Edited by: Terry Dowty

Publisher: Hawthorn Press

ISBN: 1903458072 (buy on Amazon)

I don’t often mention books here but I really want to remember which HE books I read and which I like. This is a good selection of essays and articles by parents and children doing home education in various ways and under various circumstances; it has really brought home to me that doing what’s most appropriate for one’s own family is actually OK, no really it is, and I think I’ll want to pick it up again later to reread for reassurance.

It does also have some practical information, such as how to fight the LEA if necessary and what groups you can join to meet other HE families, but I suspect I’ll be able to pick that kind of info up anyway.

[Originally on LJ]