Our descent into the Crazziness and freedom of self-directed learning, truly began when we moved to ‘beautiful, sunny Swansea’ with Alan. I had always said that I would be more structured when @PanKwake was older and we were more stable.
Well, that day had arrived. We had a supportive and involved father-figure. A dream home. Financial security. Even a home education community and friends.
There were loads of activities to choose from: swimming, gymnastics, horses, woodcraft, and so much more. It was not unlike the group that I had known all those years ago while ‘homeschooling’ in America.
But we were different. @PanKwake continued to struggle with structure. So many of those group activities were not appropriate. Groups could be overwhelming. But by far our biggest obstacle was transportation. Getting places usually was not too bad. But by the time we had gotten there, done our activity, and peopled, she was usually so stressed that getting home was a HUGE challenge.
After a couple of spectacular mistakes, I learned our geographic limits. And I came to accept that doing an activity outside of our @HomeCrazzyHome probably necessitated walking back…pushing her Maclaren Major buggy as I had around London.
Sometimes she could be bribed to accept a ride home with friends, if they could come in and play for awhile. Sometimes she would be so tired that she fell asleep in the buggy and I took take a cab the rest of the way home. But all too often the price of any activity was pushing her that final stretch home – uphill.
One of the ways that maximized her socialization was to invite friends over to play. I even watched a couple of them while their Mom worked. Ironically as a teacher with ‘troubled’ teens.
And we ‘partied.’ We became rather ‘famous’ for throwing the coolest parties. We had one almost every single month.
January – @PanKwake’s b-day
February – Valentines
March/April – spring/Easter
May – Cinco de Mayo or May Day
June – my b-day
July – Independence Day
August/September – NOT back-to-school
October – Halloween
November – Thanksgiving
December – Christmas
It was crazzy. Between a dozen and thirty people. We planned and I cooked for days. The clean-ups? Let’s don’t even talk about those.
But I discovered something…
@PanKwake did best in her @HomeCrazzyHome.
We did less of those outside activities. And had friends over more often. She is still best one-on-one. But can manage small groups. She is very aware and feels stressed by trying to balance the emotional needs of others as well as her own.
This past year has been especially hard on her. Prior to this pandemic, @PanKwake had people almost every day. She had two ‘companions.’ Young women that we paid to game and interact with her. She also had playdates two to four times per week with friends.
And each Sunday we opened our @HomeCrazzyHome for what I called F4 (Friends, Food, Fun & Filosophy). @PanKwake called it 3G (Gaming, Good Food & Gossip). It was anywhere from one family to over a dozen people.
@PanKwake was definitely a social butterfly and happily extroverted. So that first lockdown, from mid-March until mid-August for us (because Alan is high-risk) was a huge struggle for her. She was so relieved when we went to the bubble system. Ours was strictly her friends. Her companions were exempt under the rules for ‘carers.’
We have stretched the rules under this latest lockdown under the mental health exemptions. Though only with one friend who struggles as @PanKwake does.
What comes next for us?
Friday Friends – as soon as the rules on indoor gatherings loosen a bit. It will be our first attempt at those more structured activities in years. But we have dozens of science kits that have been collecting all this time. As well as a gaming, music, gymnastics, and clubhouse rooms. Basically we are once more attempting our own home ed group. For teens. Except we’re scheduling so that our schooler friends can come too.
Is @PanKwake ready for more structured learning? Does it even matter? Tomorrow I’ll tell you more about how I discovered how much she was actually accomplishing through self-directed learning.