When your children don’t attend nursery, it can be a bit over whelming knowing if they are on the right path; are they doing as well as they *should* be. If Mr D was in nursery or pre-school, we would. by now, have had a parents evening where we meet with his teacher(s) to see how things are. They would be concerned with how he is doing in line with the goals of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) and would be, by now, talking about things like school readiness and the transition from nursery to school.
Instead, we have opted to stay away from that path. Not because nurseries are terrible places; they’re not. But because, when we visited some, we weren’t convinced they could offer more than what the children get already. I struggle with the notion of early years education and all that it brings. I see the evidence around what we know about how children best learn and I see the policies in place. I see the conversations in facebook groups of nurseries and reception teachers concerned about children making a mess, not gripping the pencil correctly, not being ready for a ‘pen licence’ and the utterly soul destroying comments of ‘they just won’t play with things properly’.
Whilst the children aren’t in a formal learning environment, they are constantly learning and so it’s my job (and Damian’s) to facilitate that learning in the best ways that we can. It’s often done in snippets and sometimes it can be frustrating when you don’t think something is going in or making sense, but then, you have a breakthrough and you realise that all those things you’ve been quietly doing behind the scenes have stuck in somewhere.
Mr D is slowly beginning to develop his reading skills. We have always read and we read each day with the children. We have been working through reading eggs and other bits and pieces but just the past week or so he has demonstrated that he is beginning to be able to read some words independently. I had printed this ice cream cone number and word matching activity off and left it out for the children. Mr D proceeded to match up the words and numbers with no input from me. I could hear him saying the various numbers and sounding out the sounds he could hear and from there he was able to match them. I was so impressed.
We may not have sung the jolly phonics of other phonics schemes but our mixture of online games, regular reading and just general games have seen him grow in confidence.
It can seem like a lonely place sometimes when you don’t follow the ‘normal’ routes or paths. You can have the best of days, but then days that remind you that you are responsible completely; there is no ‘passing the buck’ when things don’t go right.
This week has been a week of thigns going right. Mr D is showing ever more interest in writing and he is able to begin to spell some simpe words himself. He is more engaged in drawing and confidently writes his own name. He is enjoying making friends with those we are seeing more and more regularly as we join more and more home education groups and outings and both he and Miss E are developing their imaginative play.
In the next six weeks or so we have some key decisions to make. In truth I can see the pros and cons for both reverting to the norm and opting for school and staying on the path we are on. However, for now I will enjoy the little victories for our approach to early education. I will enjoy the impromptu breakfast table maths lesson using wooden numbers and craft sticks and the excitement when the children independently write and draw something for me. Our approach is working for us, and despite the pressure to conform and the endless answering of questions it’s the right choice for us.
I am glad that, despite how hard it can be sometimes, and how overwhelming it can sometimes feel, we have left them with a few years of childhood. We have been keen to set out to let our children be small and enjoy those early years. Enjoy them free from the stresses and worries of the wider world. To be free to learn and discover at their own pace in their own way and in a manner that works best for them.