Thursday, June 29, 2006

Bedside manners

Well, Robbie, poor boy had his adenoids removed today. It wasn't exactly a pleasant experience for him, especially after he came round after the anaesthetic. I went with him into the operating theatre and stayed with him until he was under anaesthetic.

The anaesthetist dealing with him was a very nice older lady, with a great bedside manner. I've noticed that when doctors are about to perform some invasive procedure on you they start chatting to you about a totally unrelated subject to distract you. So as she was about to insert the IV needle into Robbie's arm she asked him about his school. Awkward pause as Robbie looks at me. "He doesn't go to school," I say, "he learns at home." "Oh, with you," says the anaesthetist, "That's quite rare here". Comments the theatre sister, "I read an interesting article about it in the paper recently."

Then the anaesthetist switched topics to soccer (always a safe one with young boys at the moment) and said to Robbie, "So are you looking forward to watching Germany play Argentina tomorrow night?"

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

26th Carnival of homeschooling

Dh has fulfilled his promise to take our two eldest children to a theme park today and I'm left at home with the two youngest (one of whom is in bed with fever).
I think I'll console myself by a visit to the Carnival of Homeschooling at the homeschool cafe(which features a post by me) and a lovely caramel latte.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Scatty's Taxi Service

We spent the weekend in sporting fever (and that doesn't include the World Cup soccer we watched). Saturday I had to run Rowena up to Bremerhaven (3/4 of an hour's drive away) to train in the hall where she would be taking part in the championship the next day. Then it was back down to Bremen to watch Robbie taking part in a soccer tournament where his team came last (which was predictable, considering most of the other teams were a year older than them, they were two players short and they were playing on a full-size field for the first time). I felt like a kind of emotional sink for Robbie's frustration and disappointment, which had me praying that we wouldn't have the same situation the next day with Rowena.

Sunday morning saw Rowena and I going bright and early to Bremerhaven for the State Championships in Artistic roller skating (not such a big deal because the state Rowena skates in is the smallest one in Germany and is just two cities). We came home at about 10pm that night, Rowena clutching the little trophy she got for coming in third place overall in her section.

One of the results of the competition is that she saw the dance skating (similar to ice dance) and now wants to start doing that as well. Most of the girls in her group are doing it but I had not wanted to push her into it. At this rate, we might as well put up a tent on the skating rink for her.

This is what our weekly schedule looks like :

Monday - I take Rowena to skating where she trains from 3.15pm till 8pm. (Including 45 minutes of ballet).
Robbie cycles to Karate and then to soccer training.

Tuesday - I take Rowena to her riding lesson.
Robbie catches the bus into the city to play Yugioh cards in the back room at a gaming shop. I fetch him at 7pm.

Wednesday - Robbie cycles to soccer training or I take him if I'm free.

Thursday - I take Rowena to her piano lesson.
Robbie catches the bus into the city (see Tuesday).
I take Rowena to skating training which on a Thursday is conveniently at the (defrosted in summer) ice rink, minutes away from Robbie's Yugioh activity. Rowena finishes training and I fetch Robbie.

Friday - If Robbie has no football matches I take him to chess and afterwards he goes to karate, which is right next door.
Now Rowena will also be having roller dance on a Friday, so I still have to get my mind around that one.
If Robbie has a match, we forget the above two things and take him there and watch him play.

Saturday - I take Rowena to skating training, hopefully leaving the two little ones with their father.

Sunday - I collapse. Or there's a tournament and I swear and wonder when I'm going to get the washing done. I'm hoping that Rowena won't get really good at skating because then she would be in the Bremen State team, which would mean training on Sunday too.

Both Robbie and Rowena are having their adenoids removed at the end of the week. The only good thing about it (besides the fact that it would help their breathing) is that they are not allowed to do any sports activities next week.

Mission Impossible?

Last night, just as I should have been putting the little ones to bed, I got sidetracked. They were playing with lego and Leo wanted me to help him because he was having trouble finding some pieces. Our lego is stored in two rectangular bins and is frequently dumped out on the floor in the playroom. While I was searching for the pieces I realised that the smallest pieces always manage to end up at the bottom of the box. I had thought previously of sorting the lego and last night I tried out my idea. The next two hours were spent sifting through the boxes to find the small pieces and put them into little drawers, according to type - eg ones with only one connections (the really teeny tiny ones) together, the ones with two connections, pieces of people, etc etc. All the time I was saying to Leo, "Now you don't need to dump the lego out anymore, and you will put the pieces in the right place, won't you."

I think the lunatic asylum has a special straitjacket and padded room already reserved for me.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Socialisation quote of the day

Thanks to Janine Cate

I find it kind of ironic that one of the most frequent critisism against homeschooling is "socialization." Comments like, "They need friends!" and "What about the prom?" indicate a belief that school leads to friendship and connectedness. I think the opposite is true. School disconnects children from their families and from other children. More and more we see the "alone in a crowd" phenomenon, children with a pathetic need to fit it, but lacking any true relationships.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Update on our situation

In this post I mentioned that the education authorities had gotten wind of us and demanded that we apply for exemption of compulsory schooling. I sent a letter off requesting this, on the grounds that we move frequently and that we want to ensure educational continuity for our children.

Today I received a letter back requesting proof (eg. my husband's work contract) that we are not likely to be here much longer. For me this argument is problematical because it starts looking a bit silly if we are still here in two years time. The whole point is, though, that we can be forced to move at a moment's notice, even if we have the opportunity to live in one place for four years.

The letter stated the current legal situation (yawn - paragraph this and section that!)One thing that really jumped out at me was that "The state has control of education". I wondered why they can't at least exercise this control (or supervision or oversight, depending on which word you translate it with) by conducting regular inspections of homeschoolers, as is done in other countries. One country in which this works well is Ireland. I have spoken with a school inspector from the Irish National Educational Welfare Board, who is extremely positive to all manifestations of homeschooling, from curriculum-led to unschooling. I just think that the German authorities are too fearful and narrow-minded to consider this.

Another non sequitur in the letter is that the state determines the curriculum and educational objectives and routes. I guess they just conveniently forgot about all those Montessori and Waldorf schools that do their own thing. Nor did anyone tell them that the educational authorities themselves are trying to go more in the direction of natural learning. Sheesh. And of course the fact that I stated in my letter that our goal is to prepare our English-speaking children for the Irish school-leaving certificate has no effect on them - while they are in Germany we can forget all that and let them fall behind (if we weren't unschoolers - I'm speaking hypothetically here) while they moulder in a German school.

If they ask us, then why are we in Germany if we don't want to send our children to school here, my husband says he will answer, "To make money out of you idiots, because the German education system is so bad they have to use engineers educated in places like South Africa to do the work here." Hopefully they won't understand him.

Didn't I say it?

A few weeks ago I stated that homeschoolers who argue along the lines of religious freedom in Germany are barking up the wrong tree.

A couple of days ago, the German Constitutional Court decided in a homeschooling case and I'm afraid the news isn't good for homeschoolers. They declared that, "freedom of religion doesn't give parents the right to keep their children away from school" and that no-one is entitled to protect their children from displays of different beliefs or or points of view.

I know that this is a case that goes back years and that once people have started arguing along one line of reasoning, they can't switch arguments and say, "Oh, actually, we're not doing this for religious reasons any more." I do hope that people start thinking about the way they approach the situation, especially the very well known US organisation (that I won't name, but I'm sure you all know whom I'm referring to) that supports and sponsors many of the religious homeschoolers here.

Of course, it goes without saying that this judgement has negative repercussions for all homeschoolers in Germany, even those of us secular types to whom it doesn't even refer. Yesterday my friend in Bremen received a letter from the education authorities in which this judgement was referred to, as if it now gives them more leverage against her family.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Socialisation quote of the day

This time from my friend, Viola, whose daughter is a talented young figure skater in our club. She attends training four, sometimes five times a week (afternoons and evenings)and was recently in the newspaper, which gained her some negative attention from some of her schoolmates.

School can be a lonely place.