My schooling Seán needs a shot in the arm.
After Seán took his Drumcondra reading test the other day, I spent a while talking some things through with Kate, the teacher who comes from Dublin now and again to help me out. I told her that I am struggling with a lack of enthusiasm for teaching Seán and that things have become a bit stale. Kate assured me that this is quite normal for this time of the year. All over the country teachers are feeling over stretched and drained as they come to the end of their teaching year.
I hadn't thought of it in that way... I have about three weeks left with Seán before the Summer holidays and the week after next he is going to the Isle of Man with his granny for a week.
I am thinking about the two years I have ahead of me with Seán and so far have decided on a few changes.
I am going to step up my work with Seán. He is doing fine with his work but Niall and I feel that going to secondary school in two years may be tough on him. If he does experience problems, most likely his grades will suffer. There will be enough life changes for him to cope with without struggling with his work. So Lord willing, I am going to step up the work so when he goes to school he will have good grades. That way if his grades do suffer for a time he can take the loss.
I made a decision years ago not to hot house him, which would be really easy, but rather, let him enjoy the experience of being taught at home and ensure he had a reasonable standard of education. However, come September I will work with him more. It's amazes me how much more a child can learn on a one to one basis.
I'm also thinking about what work books to use with Seán and what projects to work on. Months ago I started giving him assignments to work alone on and complete within a certain time limit. This is working out well. So far I have been suggesting different subjects for him to source on the net, books etc., such as the Antarctic Explorer Tom Crean and Labradore dogs. I allow him a week to write the essay. However, I plan to involve him a lot in choosing different subjects and generally having more of an input in his own education. I need to work more on Irish history and geography. Other things I am working on and plan to work more on during the next two weeks are Christian science/geography books. I bought some excellent books in a Christian book shop last year and am enjoying using them with Seán.
I need to continue as I started with regards to music. For example, because Seán is learning Russian we decided to study Tchaikovsky. We listened to The NutCracker Suite (a favourite of mine since second class), got library books about the composer's life, sourced information on the net, kept a scrapbook and finally went to the Point in Dublin to see the Nut Cracker performed by a Russian ballet company. Later we met one of their ballerinas, Seán spoke a little to her in Russian, posed for a photo with her and she signed the scrapbook for him. It was a fun and interesting long term project and we would love to do something similar again.
Another thing I have not done since the Christmas break is organise boy fun/sport/educational times in the local community centre for Seán and his friends. The ones I held in the past were fun and interesting for the boys (at least that's what they told me!) and are very important for so many reasons, one being Seán being able to work with his peers.
There is more I plan to change with Seán's education but I won't go into the rest of it now.
Something I can do that is pretty immediate is to re-decorate the class room. We live in a three bedroom house and we have given over the largest bedroom to the class room. Seeing as Seán has two more years HS ahead of him and many more years of homework/study after that, I think it will be worth spending a few euros giving it a much needed face lift. I will take away some of the babyish/childish elements and get rid of the excess "stuff" that has gathered over the past few years. So when Seán is off gallivanting in the Isle of Man in a fortnight time, I can have fun dumping, giving away, painting, planning and enjoy taking the classroom asunder:0)
Any advice or ideas on any of the above will be very welcome, so don't be shy!
For some really lovely photos take a quick look here:0)