Category Archives: Russian

Learning last year

In and amongst the new year celebrations here, I’ve been thinking and chatting with the children about what we all learned last year. It’s probably quite easy for me to list some of the skills that some of us mastered:

Keeping accounts
Holding conversations
Getting dressed
Playing guitar
Playing piano accordion
Dismantling, fixing and rebuilding piano accordion
Resolving certain laptop malfunctions
Map reading
Drawing faces, with BIG smiles (but no noses)
Building Lego ships
Driving a computer mouse

I’ll let those of you who know us work out (or remember) who learned which of those skills in 2009!

And I think most of us have garnered quite a lot of information, in response to our own curiosity. Some of the areas that some of us have been learning about last year have included:

Where other countries are on the globe in relation to the UK
Other cultures, beliefs and customs
Letter sounds
Politics, economics and the history of these
The development of technology

But it’s a lot less easy to list what we learned in terms of thinking, ideas or principles. I’m struggling to do that for myself, let alone for the children.

I think I learned that it’s ok to apply a certain amount of teaching to completely unschooled children, as long as they’re happy about it and interested in what’s being taught. This was difficult for me to grasp at first because the older three, having been in school for a few years as younger children, had so much resistance to the idea of actively being taught something that they just learned more, better and easier under their own steam.

I assumed all children would be like that in non-coercive situations, but I now know from the younger two that they’re not, if they haven’t been damaged by the violent coercion of schooling.

I don’t think I worked that out in its entirety just in 2009 though. It’s been an evolving train of thought and experiment for the past three years or so. But last year probably provided enough clarification for me to accept it as being ‘true’.

I also learned that it’s ok if I don’t say ‘yes’ to every request that’s made of me, although after a childhood of violent training to the contrary, this is a hard realisation for me to put into practice all the time, even 30-40 years later. Those childhood lessons really do run so deeply, which is why our relationship with our children is so fundamentally important. But that’s nothing new, is it? Just yet more verification of something very old.


Filed under Business, Co-operating, Driving, ICT, Innate, Numbers, Reading, Russian

This week, we’ve been mostly…

Learning how to drive:


This is going really well, mainly because Zara so passionately wants to learn. She isn’t quite 17 yet, so we’re still learning off-road but luckily there are plenty such areas around here in which to practice. I’m just glad to be able to give her the chance to get familiar with driving a car before she goes for her first on-road lesson ( – planned for her 17th birthday! She’s had her provisional licence ready for weeks!) It’s bound to make a big difference.

The baby spent a happy hour sorting nuts on top of the washing machine (as you do..!)


– which obviously addressed whatever stage of brain-development she’s currently at, because she was completely absorbed in the task, which was all self set-up and organised. I had no idea what she was doing, until she started doing it!

Ali has been learning more Russian, courtesy of a home-educating friend who supplied him with a great stack of resources last week, and Tom’s learning resource, unsurprisingly, seems to be mainly coming from his new business at the moment. I’m loving watching this take shape. He’s succeeding, and he can hardly believe his own success. He’s amazed that other people can’t do what he can with computers, when learning it seemed so natural at the time, but that’s the beauty of autonomous learning. It doesn’t feel difficult, and it invariably turns out to be eminently applicable.

Lyddie’s taking a natural break from the workbooks and folders that she loves so much and wants to be read to a lot of the time, which suits me down to the ground, because I love reading to her. We spend at least an hour, morning and evening, doing this and her understanding of quite complex narrative is growing every day, as is her enjoyment of the process of being swept up in a great story. Otherwise, she’s outside experimenting and exploring, or inside experimenting and exploring, or on her computer.


Filed under Business, Driving, ICT, Innate, Russian