Saturday, 4 October 2008

Why home educate? (4) Sport

We get to watch. We get to watch when Shark steps with singular determination to the sailing dingy; when Squirrel twirls, and with that face she thinks a serious ballerina should have; we get to watch how Tiger's eyes light up when she clings to a horse, and we even get to bite our knuckles and pray they don't all fall in, fall over, or fall off.

Every week throughout their lives we see some new and wonderful physical ability. From standing up to chew on the table edge, to falling off the climbing frame in the playground and not dying, swimming for the first time, cycling without pink princess wheels, then archery, abseiling, skiing. This month alone I've watched gym, trampoline, tennis, ice skating, kayaking. And the best of it is I can be right there when it happens. I can seek out any type of lesson that's wanted, we can choose the places and times to go, the instructors we like; and I can look at my little faces delighted and excited as a sudden new skill is found and disbelieved and found again.

Today I watch Tiger at the ice rink. Months ago she clung to the sides, her legs taking off without her. Then I watched tentative toe work, stretching out to the first leg's distance; then the sudden forward movement, one foot in front of the other, and then shooting straight across the ice with that face, that mixture of pure delight, curiosity, strength, ambition, shock, like Where did this come from?

Today I watch while Tiger jumps, really, jumps from the ice, with thin metal blades strapped to the bottom of her feet, and she jumps, up in the air and there is a breath of a gap between the ice and her blades and then down she comes back onto that ice and she stays upright! She actually stays upright! And her face is amazed and inside I scream wildly and declare that is the most stupendous and amazing moment and it will stay in my heart forever. Because now there's no stopping her. And next she'll be twirling and gliding and spinning and doublebackflipping on that ice. And as that vision grips me along with a terrible fear that makes me want to strap her into a helmet and body armour, I am gaping in awe, and I feel privileged and honoured, and with that triumphant fraction of a gap between the ice and her blades, have watched her grow up with a huge bound in confidence and self.

And I am not saying that any parent of a schooled child feels none of these things. Oh no. What I am saying is that home ed gives us all here at the Pile the time in which Tiger and her sisters can experiment, explore, choose and pursue whatever sport they need. I am there not only to set it up for a Tuesday or Saturday morning and then complain about it, but to see it working through and watch those moments of glory when Tiger does not fall flat on her backside for the third time in a row.

If it were only this. Because the local school provides numeracy and literacy hours, but not the thrilling diversity of sailing hours or trampoline hours. And their lack would put me in a mother's role of making up the deficit, probably with emergencies like swimming in the event of a canal or a drunken student party, ten years from now. But I couldn't cram our ambitious range of sports into those leftover weekends and holidays without Tiger giving up on me at 10.30 on a Saturday morning and shouting Mother! Leave me alone! Enough exercise already! Jam doughnuts next!

But most importantly, if Shark, Squirrel and Tiger went daily to school, I simply wouldn't have the imperative that home ed provides. In the land of home ed, the buck stops here. I look to no-one else to come knocking to provide a sports education for Shark, Squirrel and Tiger. I look to theirs and mine own judgements and Dig's overdraft. The knowledge of this responsibility gives me a huge kick up the rear end; it impels me to go out and find these sports and activities, plead for rates or special treatment, and get them all organised, scheduled and done. And I wonder would I do this if my kids all went to school? Because there on a Monday, Shark might come down and shout Muuuum! Have you washed my gym kit? If I don't have it, Miss makes me sit out.

Or worse, she might follow it with, On second thoughts mum, can I miss gym today?


sharon said...

Yes I can see the advantage there although the costs have to be factored in. However, I wouldn't have got too far with my elder son. Takes after me and hates sports! I don't think he would have chosen to indulge in any physical activity apart from shopping! The younger one, yes, but his activities were of the 'OMG, no, don't do that' and frequent visits to Casualty! No fear, no sense! The onset of severe myopia slowed him down somewhat as he couldn't see well enough without his glasses and found wearing them a hindrance to many of his preferred sports. We have the optician bills to prove it as no free glasses for kids in Australia. Strangely he refused contact lenses when old enough for them and even now won't consider either them or laser surgery. This from someone who now can't see much beyond the end of his arm! Ho hum, boys....!

alison said...

I like this series :)

Just saw your 'down the sofa' post too - on holiday this summer, we (i.e. my dad) found 3 remote controls, £1, a couple of pens and 8 DS games down the side of a chair. Thought that was a pretty good haul ;-)

Grit said...

hi sharon! regarding cost ... home ed can come cheaper ... like most things, there's a rack rate, and there's a negotiated rate.

and as for boys vs girls, i confess myself at a loss. although ask me again in 10 years and i may have some very firm ideas about boys in this house.

hi alison, thank you! at pontins we found one plastic jewel and a felt tip pen, so you did pretty good!