So as I wrote about in a post the other day... Jude has now made the change to online learning on a full time basis. Not home schooling... online schooling, because they are two entirely different things which many people are not actually aware of. Home schooling means that the child is taught by the parent or a present tutor. Online schooling is done completely online. The classes are pre-recorded with interactive video lessons, quizzes and then certain exercises which are completed manually in a notebook and there are online tutors available to assist with any problems they may encounter or subject related queries... but essentially the lessons are initiated and completed by the student alone.
I made the decision to pull Jude out of his previous school for various reasons and according to the news yesterday it looks like the schools here in South Africa may get shut down again because of Covid. It has been an incredibly disruptive year for most kids and parents alike and now, just when it seemed like things were going to begin returning to normal... they have done a 180, which makes me even more grateful for the decision I made because instead of another looking disruption, Jude can now simply "get on with it".
I enrolled Jude with Think Digital College which is one of South Africa's first online schools. Although they also offer Cambridge as a curriculum option, they are not accredited so probably something you could choose to do as an "addition", so I opted to stick to the South African CAPS curriculum which will give Jude all the traditional (and valid) reports etc. that he would receive at any traditional school.
To be frank, the CAPS curriculum is not great in my opinion... none of the school curriculum's are - unless they are approaching learning with a 21st century mindset with things such as "project based learning" etc. - so I am not particularly interested in that side of things... I just want Jude to complete what is necessary so that he can attain a pass and move on to the next grade.
From the beginning and alongside the decision to move him to online schooling was that he would do the basics and then be able to put more time and energy into educational and recreational stuff that he is actually interested in as well as course choices that will actually stand to benefit him moving forward... so it is about finding a nice healthy balance and the online learning really makes that a lot easier, because he gets his work done in a fraction of the time that he would have at school... With that in mind, one of the additional courses with Think Digital that we did sign him up for was coding and robotics.
So his new learning experience kicked off at the beginning of last week and since then both Jude and I have been finding our feet with the lesson structures, length, quantity etc and formulating a set weekly timetable for him. We have tweaked things a few times and at the end of last week I sat down to finalise it, add some the "extras" I had in mind and get everything in order so that he now has a clear idea of what he is doing every day.
Joining sports clubs is definitely something that will be on the cards once it is permitted again and thankfully, until that point, we are blessed to stay in a place where he has plenty of friends to interact with outside - be t a game of soccer, a Nerf war... no matter - he is getting at least a little daily social engagement which is obviously of paramount importance. That aside, I wanted to fill in the "other gaps" so that was what I sat down to research.
Art is something that I feel is really important part of a childs development, no matter their age. Jude has never been a lover of art and literally rolls his eyes when he has to do anything creative on paper... cooking, singing, dancing... no problem - but drawing and such is always a painful experience haha! So I wanted to work around that...
He absolutely LOVES technology (don't they all!) so I figured, the best way to go would be digital avenues of creativity. I am not prepared to spend money on any apps and I do not have the time to sit and teach him design, which probably wouldn't really interest him anyway... so I started looking at what was available in terms of open source software. There are probably LOADS of other options - and if you know of any I would love to know about them... but for the time being I am really happy with what we have added to his schedule.
I know Jude loves to animate things and has delved into that previously at his previous school. Not only is it a fantastic creative skill to learn - but is also something that is relevant to the world right now! There were a few apps recommended, but I decided on Pencil2D Animation It is an open source app, so completely free and on-hand tutorials are available too which is fantastic... although there are countless tutorials available on YouTube as well.
The other open source app I found is called Krita which is essentially a digital art program in which you can do anything from illustration, conceptual art, comics, photo editing etc. so not unlike Photoshop in many respects... and again, there are ENDLESS tutorials available online, which I will source accordingly and guide him according to his progress
One thing that Jude has ALWAYS loved is music (mothers child haha) and especially singing! He was always excited for vocal ensemble at his previous school in the mornings, so I felt it really important that this passion remains a part of his weekly agenda and he was equally excited when I mentioned this. He will often stick YouTube on in the lounge, pick some of his favourite songs and sit for a good hour singing along with the karaoke or "with lyrics" versions so that he can learn the words... he is also an avid shower singer haha! I have left this lesson pretty open on his timetable and he can choose what he wants to do with it, because to my mind it is more about the JOY it brings you, the self-expression and feel good vibes!
One of the lesson sessions we jointly "created" in the week, I have left completely open for him - whether he wants to learn how to build something, cook something or even do an additional lesson with one of the other creative options he now has available... it does not matter - it is completely up to him each time. I think it is really important for kids to have that sense of independent freedom and choice!
Jude is a typical boy and has never really expressed any true interest in reading. He would far rather be outside smashing bricks with a hammer, playing soccer or climbing a tree... but over time he has learnt to respect the importance of reading in life. He is an incredibly competitive young boy and very quickly discovered how an inability to read fluently, hindered him greatly... so reading is EVERY DAY! One chapter a day. At this stage he has a book that he is really enjoying so I don't get any complaints from him and he is always quite happy to share the details of what he read with me - which I insist on - because he is too sneaky for his own good when it comes to things he doesn't particularly feel like doing, lol. Believe it or not, the book he is currently busy with is one I have had since a kid, because we didn't have access to any new books during lockdown - but he is loving it! I realise there are countless online books available for kids, but this is one facet that I would like to try and keep traditional... for now anyway...
Thus far, the only subject I have noticed him struggling with quite noticeably is Afrikaans. Personally I think it is because his previous school put a lot more focus on Hebrew than they did on our local South African languages... so although he is managing, he is not loving it and that is because he is struggling... so I looked into a few android apps to assist with that and there really are some great ones available that teach you the basics - starting you from the ground up. The one really cool one is called Learn Afrikaans with Master Ling. So there is a basic vocabulary lesson every day and you build up your progress as you go along. There are quizzes and even games included to make the learning fun. I just feel that adding this to his agenda on a daily basis will slowly help him to get a better grip on the language and hopefully find the actual lessons easier moving forward. The app is not free, but there are so many apps that offer the basics without you having to buy them and I am certain that those are resource enough to get him on his feet and they make it fun too! - Besides which, there is plenty available online too.
So now that we have his daily timetable all in order I feel a lot happier knowing that he is getting a little bit of "everything" so to speak - not only is he covering his bases with the standard education requirements but he gets to explore skills and develop talents which I know he will love but will also stand him in good stead looking toward the future. All we need now is to be able to add some sports to this and he will a very happy camper!
Although excited, I was also very nervous when I made this decision - it is a HUGE change in both our lives, but the more we get settled into it - I am reminded that there is so much out there for kids, beyond "a classroom" - and this is a great reason to get excited about it all! Not to down play what he learnt at his previous school, as they afforded him the most critical foundation... but I honestly believe that he will thrive a LOT more down this avenue and I thought perhaps that me sharing this, might give other parents the confidence to consider "climbing out the box" and to contemplate the fact that online learning is in many ways a LOT more productive in terms of "getting things done".
It also affords a LOT more time for additional (more beneficial) skills development. When it all becomes available again, Jude will be able to pick and choose the courses he would like to take - online or in person. I realise that it may not be an option for everyone, but for those parents that also have flexibility in their own "day time jobs"... it is most certainly an avenue to consider. The complete flexibility is a total game changer - never mind the freedom to be able to learn anywhere, anytime - whilst still enjoying life and grabbing the opportunities we can for travel and escape... (well, when the national borders open again).
In addition to that, it costs a fraction of what private schooling does and ultimately opens the doors to a lot more personal development and choice. Well, that is our road forward and my ten cents at any rate. We have only just "stuck our toes" in the water and I am already beaming from ear to ear at the unlimited opportunity which awaits Jude!!!! He can now, at the age of 10 begin to put FULL focus on his OWN passions! Not subject matter that is dictated by an archaic education system. I am incredibly excited about this new way of life - it just feels RICHER with the things that actually matter... more quality time, feeding passions, no school bullying and peer pressure, no teachers that "decide" they don't like your kid and make their life a living hell - nope... none of that - just all the good stuff - learning the things you WANT to learn and can actually get excited about! In essence, freedom of spirit... and that is what I love!
We are all so conditioned to societal routine... I am sick of it! I became sick of it a long time ago and it has taken me YEARS to try and remove the invisible coat hanger on my shoulders - it is something I work towards snapping every single day... so I would LOVE it if my son grew up without it to begin with!
Irrespective of my personal opinions... I hope that some of you reading this perhaps find the exploration, excitement and resources useful :) And if anyone has anything to add - be it resources, advice... you name it - please do!!!
Until next time...
Much Love from Cape Town, South Africa xxx
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