Nearest

Early morning frosty walk.

One of those walks where it feels like you have the world to yourself.

And someone is on a mission to find the nearest tree.

Sometimes that nearest tree is frustratingly too far a way for such little legs.

February 2020, the last time Hawklad was at school. Where did those couple of years go……

Up to that point Hawklad hadn’t been comfortable in school. Well not his current secondary school, a school with over 800 other pupils. Too big, too noisy, too many sensory distractions, too many faces, too many strangers. It had been so different at his first and so much smaller school. Just 2 classes with no more than 40 kids. He felt more at ease there. He made some very good friends there. Frustratingly those friends got spread around the next school with none in his class stream. But he did manage to make a few more new acquaintances. So he did get to socialise with people his own age.

Then the last two years happened.

Two years of school at home.

In those two years, socialising has been at a premium. Two years and he’s seen one friend. She is good friend he met at his last school. They play some online games together and have met up a few times. But that’s it in two years. That is one consequence of a pandemic.

Two years and counting.

Skating or not

Not sure it’s skating ice. Certainly not this skater. You will find more aerodynamic elephants.

Four lessons today in theory but in practice just one turned up. Add to that all the homework is up to date. So plenty of time for things like skating, or in my case, sinking. Hawklad is used to these quiet teaching days now, so he does his own thing. So he looks after his own learning. Maybe not exam related but definitely not wasted learning.

So while Hawklad was immersing himself in American Political History I played with the school’s online parenting portal. Lots of helpful information – so I’m led to believe. But I did find one thing that caught my attention. Homework stats. How much homeworking has been set by each subject. Can you guess which subject has set the most work since September. Not Science, not Maths (no homework set at all), not History, not Geography, not English, not Design Technology…..

So in second place on the homework league table we have Information Technology.

And the clear winner. The subject which has set the most homework.

Religious Education.

Why did I think it would be something like Science. Giving its homework I think Hawklad would prefer if it was something like Wrestling, Chelsea Football Club or SpongeBob. I would definitely take skating over pesky homework. But here’s the serious point. What is the point of homework. Is it adding something to his education or is it just about eating up time. Sadly it feels like the latter too often.

Golden

A golden sunset produces stunning tree shades.

I’ve talked about how my bereavement journey has moved on. I’m not stood next to that permanently locked door anymore. Life has to be lived. That’s something I didn’t think I would ever say in the early days. But approaching 6 years after the world changed and now I can.

But what about Hawklad.

Losing a mum is devastating. Losing a mum at 8 years old is beyond words. I did what I could but there is a limit to what anyone can do in those circumstances. If he wanted to talk, we talked. If he wanted to forget, then I shielded him. Understandably he found it tough to talk about his mum. He found it distressing to hear references to death in TV shows and Movies. Professional Grief counselling has been slashed by Government cuts, so he is still waiting…. So we muddled through.

Roll on 6 years. He still finds movie references to family death tough, so we still try to avoid. But here’s the thing. Now he can openly talk about his mum. He asks lots of questions about his mum. He wants to learn more about her. He smiles and laughs at the memories. He is getting there.

We are getting there.

Drifting

One if those bright but misty starts to the day. Fog and mist is part of life here.

The School at Home project has seemingly moved into another phase. Clearly the class lessons in school are now more about revision than learning new information. A few lessons continue to teach but most are in permanent revision mode. During these revision spells the feeling of Hawklad being cut adrift from his classmates escalates. Direct contact with the teachers just seems to disappear. It looks like teachers run through past questions or ask the pupils to go through classroom notes. Class discussions, white board answer review. This just doesn’t transfer to the home based pupils. So lessons go through with hardly any contact. In class you can compare performance with others. Kinda benchmark yourself. That can’t happen at home. Hawklad tries to work with the bits that are distributed but it’s all a bit haphazard. It does feel like he’s aimlessly drifting. That can’t be a good thing.

With final exams not much more than a year away, is it too late to pull him out if school. Do our own thing with qualifications. Or do we just soldier on with this. It’s not such a clear cut decision but one that isn’t going to go away. He is no nearer returning to class.

Sunday walk

It’s Sunday so another perfect day for a walk. A much needed chance for Hawklad to relax. Feel part of the world, a world that still can be sampled without too much human contact. We didn’t see another walker today.

Six miles, six glorious miles in the Yorkshire mud. Proper mud.

But it was definitely worth the slog.

And what would Sundays be without another one of those Farm signs.

Swiss Sunday

It’s Sunday so it must be time for a little walk down memory lane. To holidays spent in the one of the worlds must picturesque countries set amongst the majestic Alps. Yes it’s to go back to Switzerland.

When the sun shines, the skies are so blue in this wonderful country. But if the weather turns, guess what. Switzerland is still a magical place.

If you get the chance, please visit this stunning country. You won’t be disappointed.

Moving two

Another school exam at home today. More walking about. More music. Not much sitting around. The exam room was basically the house and at one stage, extended to the garden. It works for Hawklad. He gets more information onto the papers this way.

So I spoke to school. What are the alternatives to exams. The initial response of a separate room, under exam conditions, just doesn’t go far enough.

I watched Hawklad do his work while in perpetual motion, my mind wandered back to university. My last exam there. I wonder what Hawklad would have made of that.

Everyone in fancy dress. I went as a Roman Centurion including fake plastic sword. I was not allowed to take the sword into the exam room, it was deemed a banned item. I’m not sure how a cheap plastic sword would aid with any Degree Paper. During the exam, the overall experience was bizarre verging on transcendental. I can remember many of my fellow exam candidates. All living the last few hours of a 4 year course. A chap in traditional Moroccan dress, although everyone thought it was actually more like Obi-WAN’s Jedi costume. A girl dressed as a mermaid. Another as a air hostess. Barbarella made an appearance. The Blues Brothers, Thelma and Louise, The Village People and Elvis all turned up. A guy dressed as one of the Charlie’s Angels. That guy was clearly in much discomfort during the 3 hour exam. He couldn’t sit still. Apparently his figure hugging garment was applying too much pressure to his nether regions. I had the other experience. My centurion tunic was a little on the short side and it kept riding up. Not only was my modesty under threat (I was conscious of the poor female friends in viewing distance) but it was also far too draughty for my liking. Those Centurions were seriously tough, wearing so little while stood on the exposed Northumberland Hadrian’s Wall during winter.

The crazy thing is that it all that mayhem and madness worked. We all passed that exam. Most with higher marks than expected.

I wonder if school would consider that particular exam adjustment. I wonder if Hawklad would. One thing is for sure, I’m not fitting into my Roman attire these days. I suspect that even a 10 man Roman Tent would be tight around my thighs now.

Moving

Here’s the problem with school exams. Sitting in a deathly quiet hall. Surrounded by people who you probably don’t know and if you did know them, what’s the point as you can’t talk. Sat for hours, without moving, writing in silence. The only sounds, the occasional cough (that might be really off putting these days), the rustle of sweet papers being opened and the never ending clicks of the large clock at the front. Then the deafening booming voice – ‘and that’s time, put you pens down’…..

Today Hawklad had a History exam to sit at home. A slightly different exam environment. Sat on a sofa – sometimes. Then pacing around the house to think. A trip to the kitchen to get a piece of cake and soda. Then relocating to his bed to do the long question. All to the tune of music. Some Queen, some Bowie then some Journey. Not forgetting the 2 minute break to give his fingers a rest, best done by tickling the dog’s tummy and kicking a ball around the room.

That’s how Hawklad thinks, works and is most comfortable. Sitting still for more than 10 minutes is stressful, his body needs to be in constant motion. Quiet spooks him. Concentration is done in short bursts then a break. He thinks best when he’s relaxed and moving.

Looking at his completed paper. That free form exam approach works perfectly. Problem is that it isn’t going to be allowed in the final exams. The traditional exam environment is so alien to him. He just can’t perform in that setting. It’s bad for him.

What on earth do we do about that.

Time changes

Virtually every day for over two decades I have looked at this landscape. Looked at that tree, stood alone in the next farmers field. The occasional trip away, the all too infrequent Swiss day broke those years up. But definitely for 6 years, every day I have looked upon that view.

After my partner died, I couldn’t contemplate making changes to the house. It just didn’t seem right. Then a few hesitant steps. Clothes, shoes, handbags and some books taken to a charity shop. But her cd’s are still sat, untouched, in the same place. Her ornament largely in the same locations. But now the mindset is changing. Time for change if Hawklad is ready.

A start will be my partners cd’s. A quick scan revealing a taste for 80’s pop and dance music. They are never going to get played in this metal and rock house. Music is such a waste of its not played. Time to move them on to a better home. Ok I might keep the Dido cd…..

I’m looking at a sofa that is over 20 years old. Cats, a mad climbing dog, food and drink spills, my enormous backside has taken its toll on the poor thing now. It’s really time for a change. Well kind of. Hawklad would appreciate some more comfort but is kinda attached. So we have plan b. But a new sofa, finally change the living room look. But the old sofa can find its way into the conservatory.

That’s still change.

Life has moved on.

I’m not stood by that permanently closed door anymore.

New neighbours

A couple of new neighbours have moved in to the field over looking our back fence. They are much quieter than the usual neighbours. No farting and no incessant water works. Actually the don’t smell as much as well. That’s just lost me all my sheep and cattle followers. Its ok, I’m just horsing around.

Today was one of those school days. Every subject featured lesson material which was difficult for Hawklad. Covering areas that made him uncomfortable. Content which stoked his anxieties and fears. So today was schooling which focused more on the new neighbours and not much on lesson details.

One of the advantages of homeschooling……