Instincts – the big kids

Lucas has had a bit of a blow recently as R&A have decided they are going to try the Steiner school. He found out before I could tell him myself and typically he said he was OK with it (he often tries to be OK with things even if he isn’t) but I don’t know whether that was because he’s steeling himself or whether he really is OK. We are presuming that we will still see R&A often but Luc just said he thinks he’s even more likely to go to school himself now. He still wants to carry on going to Acorns until then. He gets on fine with the other boys there (there are now 10 boys) but it is a jolt for him.

Not that I am sure about Lucas trying school either. I just can’t see what Luc will gain out of it. Oscar seems to enjoy the competitive side and seems to need it to motivate him. Lucas doesn’t seem to need any other motivation, is not particularly competitive but just enjoys things for their own sake. He is also young for his year and I think he needs more time and space to develop his talents and abilities and I don’t think school will do that for him. He can try it of course if he wants to and I can’t know how much he will have changed in 2 yrs time anyway but at the moment it feels like I am helping him prepare for the lions den but he wants to do the 11+ as Oscar did.

Oscar has been more negative about school recently though. He’s said that he thinks he wants to stop but he isn’t completely sure. Neither are we. We’re trying to open our minds to every option. It’s surpisingly difficult to really work out what you feel about it. I have so many different scenarios buzzing around my head; the two main ones being Oscar as a self motivated home educated teenager taking responsibilty for his own courses, running his own business and doing iGCSEs in things like astronomy and economics, and the other scenario is that of him happily buzzing along at school with a good crowd of male and female friends. There are of course other, less positive images that run through our minds too and it feels very difficult to pick which ones are more likely.

His negative feelings about school are concerning the amount of time it takes up, the small amount he feels he is learning for the amount of time he is there, the interests he has that he is not spending as much time on (music mainly) and the quality of the friendships there. He feels he is better friends with R&A and I can see why he says that. There is something about friendships at school where you end up guarding your own back. It is each for his own and there is always someone ready to laugh at you (or “own” you as the lingo seems to go at the moment). That’s not to say that those friendships can’t deepen or that they don’t seem to be nice lads – they do and Oscar is very much at home with them but it’s just that school cultivates a different sort of friendship. There is no edge to the boys friendship with R&A.

Oscar’s work did start suffering a bit during the last couple of weeks of last term. Here is something I wrote back in December:

“This week I have been getting uptight with Oscar over his homework. He has cooled down in his attitude towards work and while he’s still scared stiff at the thought of getting detention for not handing something in on time he’s become less concerned with the quality of his work. I’ve always found it quite tricky to help him because he doesn’t talk while he’s working. The educational psychologist said the aspect of his slight dyselxia that will cause him the most difficulty is that it will be slightly harder for him to put things down on paper so I can’t ask him to do so many things at once but this means that it’s difficult to discuss the work before he’s typed/written it, and that means if he’s got something wrong it needs to be rewritten/retyped which annoys him of course and frustrates me. I do keep out of his homework where I can but sometimes he does need a hand and frankly I think that working on something one to one is where he learns the most about presenting and thinking through his work which is where he has the most difficulty. Being interested, learning and remembering information is much easier for him.

Seeing his drop in enthusiasm towards doing good work recently has made me question the value of school again of course.”

I think the problem with the work is that not everything they present is interesting to Oscar (although he is interested in a lot of things.) I have been disappointed for instance that he has lost interest in art, R.E. and geography simply because he doesn’t like the teachers. I can’t fault his attitude though as even when he thinks he is not very good at French he even goes to the lunchtime French club off his own bat. His friends think he is mad! In fact they think he is mad because he does clubs on 4 out of 5 lunchbreaks. (Rugby, French, Warhammer and String group). I think he likes the groups because they are voluntary and as such have a different feel about them. Ah, if only school was like that – signing up for classes. Bad teachers would be out of a job and pupils would be motivated. What sort of a crazy idea would that be. Dream on Lins.

Another problem with his work has been that sometimes he has spent a long time on a piece of work that hasn’t even been looked at let alone marked. He says his R.E. teacher sometimes just asks them to hold it up so she can squint at it! While I do realise that it is the doing of it that is important – it is a piece of work that he didn’t choose to do so I think the least they can do is follow through with their response to their request. Because of this he has become more selective about the pieces of work that he considers worthy of effort. I can’t blame him and I also try not to decide for him which pieces of work he should concentrate on. He also knows the standard expected better than I do. I look forward to our first parents evening though.

The history teacher’s comments are encouraging and I’m impressed by how well he can write his essays sometimes as that doesn’t come easily to him. If he’s not concentrating properly though he just adds in whole paragraphs full of waffle! I do also agree with him that most things could be learnt so much more effectively and quickly by himself. They still haven’t caught up at school with what he was doing on the Conquermaths programme.

Still, that’s not to say that he would be doing it easily at home without us falling out. We fall out more than we used to these days and to some extent I blame the increased time pressure since school for that but I also recognise that he is going his own way and doesn’t want to conform to my timetables these days. His hearing also seems to be suffering even more recently or he will say “In a minute” (but not be tied down to which minute he is referring to) or even more infuriatingly he will just given me the response I’m after whether it is true or not. e.g. Are you ready to go? (if we’re waiting for someone to pick him up) and he’ll say “Yes” when he actually means “No.”

Oscar is unfailingly good humoured though and optimistic. He is very ammenable to talking about school and wants to make a sensible decision himself so I’m sure we’ll be talking about this for a good while yet and in the meantime he has agreed to look for all the positives. No hasty decisions will be made. He came 18th in his year for cross country yesterday which cheered him up (and amazed me! Whoever would have thought that I would have a child who could run?) He bears all my criticisms patiently (when he’s listening) and even responds sometimes…! I have faith that he, and we, will sort this out.

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