It seems strange in retrospect, what a huge deal it was to begin home education. Had we never moved abroad, I doubt if we'd have tried it. But I'm so thankful that we did. Still, I think of the times when I worried that we weren't doing enough, or that the boys would miss out on science labs or whatever, or that they'd regret not doing GCSEs and A-levels, or... or...
And here we are, at the end of compulsory education age. They seem to have plenty to do, both now and in the future. Of course we're still home educating in a way - they still plan to finish their NCSC coursework that will take them to A/S level standard but Daniel's not going to do any more than that and somehow I doubt if Tim will either, although at one point he thought he would do the third level, A-level standard, as well. But it's quite difficult to get around to actually DOING any of the work. Tim doesn't want me sitting with him most of the time, so I'm no longer as involved as I was. Of course I still check he's finished the relevant workbooks and supervise the tests when they come up, but he does his own scheduling and decides when he's going to do some of this academic work, and when he wants to do other things.
Daniel had another performance of 'The Little Man's Best Friend' with Theatre Antidote this morning - they left mid-morning to drive to a school in Kiti, about half an hour's drive away, and he was back just after lunch. In half an hour or so both the boys will be going to the jazz group Daniel started a few months ago. There are just four of them in it at present (Tim on keyboard, Daniel on drums or clarinet, plus an adult friend on trumpet and a teenage friend on Saxophone) and they seem to enjoy it thoroughly. It's the first time they've met for some weeks as they took a break over Easter. Dan's been downloading some jazz music since lunchtime.
Then we have a crazy rush in the evening... they should get back shortly after 5.30, and Dan has to be out again by 6pm. The older teenage drama group don't begin till 6.30 but he's going to help with the lighting for the younger (11-14) teenage group when they put on their end-of-year production so he needs to see what they're doing! Then Tim has a rehearsal with Narrow Gate (the youth band) at 6.30. So we'll be eating in a hurry around 5.40...
Back to the education thing. They're both learning a great deal of music. They both do a lot of computer-related projects. They both read a fair amount. Dan does plenty of art and drama. Tim is a good cook and helps in the garden. Dan does karate and stage combat. Tim does some wiring and soldering, and understands a fair amount about electronics.
Balanced? Well no, not really. But I suppose if we take into account the NCSC work, even though it's a bit sporadic, that currently covers maths, English grammar, history, Biblical studies, and physics/chemistry. Actually Dan only has the Biblical studies and science to complete but Tim's still working on all the level 2 subjects.
Does it matter if their education is unbalanced? I really don't think so. Five years ago this bothered me, but now I can see that they learn what they need to know for the paths they want to follow. Dan's immediate future includes two months on the Doulos (assuming he's accepted) and musical instrument repair. And playing the clarinet, of course. He doesn't need any academic qualifications for any of these. Tim's future will probably be in music and/or the computer world. Again, what he needs more than anything is experience and understanding. Music exams aren't too difficult to take, and there are computer qualifications that may be relevant - possibly the Microsoft ones, more likely one of the CISCO ones. But no GCSEs or other academic qualifications seem relevant. If we had our time over again I'm not sure we'd bother with the NCSC, although some of it has been interesting and I hope they don't forget everything they've learned from it.