It was a huge shock to us all when Aidan failed his mid-term exams. He’d gone back to SA to see his dad, and the school arranged 2 days for him to come in and write the June exams for English, Afrikaans and Maths.
I thought we’d been diligent enough about his school work on the boat. We were more or less on track with the work according to the text books, and Aidan is a bright child who I thought was coping well with the work.
It was a big wake up call.
I’d like to explain what went wrong, and how I set us up to fail. Mainly, I misunderstood that a child needs repetition to embed new learning, and that Aidan is very good at rushing through work to get it done whilst retaining almost nothing!
I have learnt just how poor a small boy’s concentration can be, when a swim in the sea or a bicycle ride ashore is calling. I want Aidan to have fun, and I know he is learning about life and new cultures and new places on this trip, and I’ve allowed myself to think that we could handle the school work on the side.
This post is for all the parents who’ve told me that you can cover your kid’s school work in under an hour a day. We were doing our hour a day, and we were moving through the material at a nice pace, until an outside party checked how much Aidan had actually learnt and we came face to face with reality.
I’m sure there are kids who do fine on a small amount of home schooling a day, but I also suspect that home schoolers are not always subjecting their efforts to outside scrutiny. We have learnt to beware complacence!
Now I am doing what I hate – teaching by testing. I bought a collection of SA subject tests for grade 5, and we rigorously test each section of work. My printer is working overtime, as I print out tests for Aidan to do for each subject. We have also increased our school work time per day, and aim at between 2 and 3 hours a day, 6 days a week.
Aidan will go back to his school for the final month of this school year, and will get another chance to show that he has learnt his work. Maybe the wake up call has been good for him as well as me, as he has always sailed through school with little trouble, and is now learning about working for what he wants (progression to grade 6!).
From my side, I would only recommend home schooling if the parents really understand how much work it is. Kudos to our teachers for all the effort they put into our precious children – I will never take teaching for granted again!