Day 53

Day 53

Happy Sunday.

It is book review time for boy 2 again. My second boy finds no joy whatsoever in losing himself amongst the pages of a book. He gets this from his father. Boy 1 and I love nothing better than ignoring the world and reading a good book. This term the assignment is read a book, write a review and produce a scrapbook that represents the book from your point of view. It is very lucky for my children that I found Montessori as the alternative to “conventional school”, because we wouldn’t have survived home schooling. I don’t have the patience. The frustrating thing with boy 2 is he can read and if I ask him to read aloud to me he is a good reader. But trying to get him to do it is nearly impossible. He is not a story reader, for this review he read The Dangerous book for boys. It is an encyclopaedia for boys with everything in it from making a paper aeroplane to the lineage of the English monarchy. It has instructions on how to identify birds and what books every young boy should read.  This morning after breakfast I locked us in the office and began the torturous task of the book review.  We read through the criteria and I told him we need to focus on the outstanding column in the rubric. So I asked him the rich questions about the book, I asked him simple questions that he could answer with great detail. We wrote a 400 word book review the book only received a 7/10 for the rating and when I asked him why, because he had justified and reasoned and given great information on the book he said because it is a book. I challenged him and said I think your being really hard because the rating and the review don’t match it should be at least a 9 from the words you have written.  His answer – No. We will make the scrapbook tomorrow, on the pupil free day, we both need a break from the dangerous book for boys.

This afternoon was spent with my husband sitting next to the bonfire that we have in our backyard. The boys were outside playing cricket, riding bikes and playing soccer next door. The aroma of the roast lamb and vegetables cooking on the barbecue carried on the breeze every so often. The king parrot the swooped me while I was hanging clothes on the line on Friday, made an appearance. I sipped my way through half a bottle of wine and my husband had two beers while we chatted and stared into the fire. There is something healing about being able to talk about dreams, ideas, arguments, worries, while looking into a fire.

End of day 53

My mother in law mended some dresses for me, two of boy 1’s school shirts and cricket pants. So grateful.

This only took me a few minutes to write, must be the wine. There is a saying write drunk edit sober. Will have to check this in the morning.

Day 44

Day 44.

Looking at the gated area that is filled with garden beds, potted plants full of colourful blossoms, and outdoor play equipment. I could see one little head amongst the rosemary, one blonde little girl with a blue watering can drowning purple petunias, a wooden chair sitting in the shade held one little guy reading a book, and another boy was scaling a climbing frame. I witnessed this 10 second snap shot of a Montessori day as I went to pay for boy 2’s senior shirt for next year. I was in a foul mood because I had already worked 24hrs in 48hrs, I have to do night duty for the next two nights, I was feeling exhausted and we had an awful school morning, I was cranky because I had to go to the shops to pick up cricket whites for tomorrow for boy 1. But when I walked by that scene and even though my two are in older grades at school, my bitchy mood lifted slightly, because this school and a good education for my boys is why I do the crap shifts, with the penalties. Since the day boy 1 was born I have been focussed and driven in why I work. I have fought from the day boy 1 started his first day at the children’s house, to keep them in an education method that has nurtured them, has let them learn and grow and challenged them. A method of learning that has cultivated broad thinking, open minds, to work independently while also being considerate of the multi age class they are a part of.

Montessori has enabled my chalk and cheese boys to thrive in different ways. One boy is very strong willed, opinionated, has strong views on subjects that he is passionate about and doesn’t suffer fools and is happy to let them know, he can be arrogant and thinks he knows all. Montessori helped him channel all of these qualities in positive ways and was encouraged to study and learn about the subjects that he was interested in or wanted to learn more about. His principal from our very first interview with her knew exactly how to handle his arrogance and know all attitude and would sit and debate, challenge or make him carry out research on his views. They ended up with a solid and deep relationship.

Boy 2 is all about movement. He likes to move, he likes to study moving things, if he can use his hands or body to learn he flourishes. He is a thoughtful, kind, gentle giant my youngest boy. From day 1 of the children’s house if he was able to wash a window, sweep a floor or water the plants he was in his element. But put him in front of a bookshelf and ask him to pick a book and he will do anything in his power to find another activity. The directors that he has been blessed with throughout his Montessori journey have all recognised this in my boy and adjusted his learning accordingly ( for one book review he was allowed to read an instruction manual on how to build a car engine. He read the manual, built the engine and got top marks for his review). He came home today and talked to me all afternoon and during dinner about the new project that his teacher will be running every Friday, that is being facilitated by a local university, where the kids are given an iPad, an app and materials to code and build a different robot each week. He was thrilled this afternoon that his group was the first to finish coding and building their robot for this week and could start on the next level one for next week.

End of day 44

Spent money on a new pair of thongs today that are not at all comfortable. I hate them already.

Spent time on Pinterest today laughing my head off at quotes about night shift. Made me feel much better.

 

Day 36

Day 36

Our school has a school Facebook page and one of the teachers posted a fascinating article about parenting on the page.

It was called Abandon parenting and just be a parent the article is an interview with Alison Gopnik about her new book The Gardener and the carpenter. I also did some more research and the Guardian also talked to Dr Alison Gopnik about her new book.

 

I found these articles to be a fascinating read. I suppose I was more inclined to read it, you know with it being the school holidays and spending more time with the boys. I look at them some days and cannot believe that I gave birth to these gorgeous humans. I have always loved the saying “it takes a village to raise a child”.

I do worry about our parenting style. I do try to be a fit free range with the boys and let them explore and discover and learn lessons in their own way. To a point though. I do sometimes feel like a bit of a helicopter parent and feel as though I am getting a bit worse with that the older they are getting because they are stepping out into the real world, so different to toddler lessons and primary lessons. Alison touched on the work parenting and that it is a term that was introduced in the 1970’s.

It’s interesting that the very word “parenting” is so recent. It only showed up as a word in 1960 and became common in the 1970s, even though, of course, the words “mother” and “father” and “parent” have been around for as long as English has. The rise of that particular word came with the rise of a particular cultural picture of being a parent: that your job as a parent is to get expertise, information and tips that will help you shape children.

 

I have included some fascinating paragraphs that caught my attention when reading the articles.

 

What ends up happening is parents are so preoccupied with this hopeless task of shaping their children to come out a particular way that their relationships with children at the moment become clouded over with guilt and anxiety and worry and the need for expertise.

I so understand this. I found it especially hard when helping boy 1 to pick subjects for year 10. I took the route of if you love your subjects then you will learn lots, get good marks and then you will have lots of options at the end of school. I really tried not to go down path of what do you want to do when you leave school and pick subjects from that, because well his mind may change 10 times in the next 3 years and he may end up doing subjects he hates and fail. He was excited about his subjects so we will see what happens.

 

Gopnik musters all this evidence in an attempt to persuade parents and educators to stop trying to mold children into adults with some desirable mix of characteristics, the way a carpenter might build a cabinet from a set of plans. Instead, we adults should model ourselves on gardeners, who create a nurturing ecosystem for children to flourish, but accept our limited ability to control or even predict the outcome of.

 

It should be fundamentally both reassuring and liberating for parents to know that children are doing most of the work. All the research that shows how incredibly sensitive and intelligent and powerful and good at learning children are and that they do it by observing and watching the people around them doing the things they do every day and by playing spontaneously. Children learn much more from using their own brains to just observe and play than they do by having someone sit down and teach them.

Yes, yes, yes this is why I love Montessori education.

The things that come out of play and free exploration, which are things like capacity for creativity and innovation, those are things that we need more than ever in the adult workforce. It’s a bit ironic that we’re taking a school system that was designed for 19th-century factory workers to be able to do the same thing over and over again—it was to try to develop human robots. In the 21st century, what we need is innovation and creativity, but we’re extending the robot model to younger and younger ages and more and more children.

The message is if you do the things that come naturally to you, that’s the best formula for being a successful parent.

 

End of day 36

Boys and I spent time at the Skate Park and slothing on the lounge talking, laughing and enjoying each other today.

I got absolutely fried on the beach yesterday and today I am wearing jumper, jeans and socks.