Recently I signed my eldest up to an online English literature class for home educated teens. She’s never been a really keen reader, and it’s not really something she would ask to do herself, but I felt it would benefit her in general because it follows a Charlotte Mason style of home ed, which I believe is a very effective way of helping a child to learn to read more difficult texts in a more analytical way. These skills are all very helpful for a child to succeed academically. The course might not suit everybody, but for a child like mine who is generally compliant, quite hardworking and curious, this might work – and if it didn’t, I would stop it. I saw on the first lesson that the class size is about 15 students, from 12 years old to about 15 years old, which I liked as it allows a greater range of abilities and viewpoints to come through – she will benefit from exposure to all this. Also she is someone who prefers studying with a group of kids rather than on her own, however she is pretty easily distracted, so online schooling seems to work really well with her as she tends to lose focus easily in actual school classrooms with disruptive kids. In online school environments, there is little disruption, and disruptive children can be taken out of the class immediately if they were really posing a problem.
So far, she’s been coping well with the coursework. She also, surprisingly, made a friend within the first 3 lessons. The friend in question is the same age as her I believe. And their interaction somehow ignited a keen interest in Scratch programming in her. So much so that she has been staying up every day for the past week, working past midnight to make new Scratch videos for her new friend to rate on the Scratch.mit.edu website, I even had to remind her at around quarter past midnight how late it was! Only then did she usually shut the laptop and go to bed.
I first introduced Scratch programming to my children about 3 years ago, I think. It was quite a while ago, and I believe I blogged about that somewhere on here… somewhere. Anyway, she never really took to it back then, and then 2 years ago, because she had a keen interest in playing Minecraft, I thought it would be an idea to buy her a heavily-discounted Minecraft Mod programming course from Homeschool Buyers Coop, and maybe that might spur her interest in programming. Well she found the course a little too difficult for her after doing just over a quarter of the course, and hasn’t touched it since. I think programming is a good skill to learn these days. In fact many people do learn to do so by themselves or via cheap courses on Udemy and the like. For the internet-savvy, those who think they may need to use the internet in future to help pursue careers, or need to create their own online content etc. the knowledge of programming is really useful. Besides, just studying programming on it’s own helps develop logic and problem-solving skills in anyone. But, since I tried twice to get my daughter into this, and both times it seemed to have flopped, I just kinda left it there.
Imagine my surprise when I saw her busy fiddling away on Scratch programming a week ago. To me, it seemed to have happened overnight. What started all of this sudden interest in Scratch? Oh, her new friend from online English Lit. class. Wow.
That is the power of motivation, folks. More than anything I could ever do – just one new friend did it all. Some people are intrinsically driven to do what they do. Some others are extrinsically driven. My daughter is one of the latter. She never really had any burning keen passion for anything. She would say she likes drawing, or Japanese manga, but she wouldn’t really like them to the point of working past midnight by her own free will. But she has shown she would, if she had the right friend who shared a similar interest. What I mean to say is that without a friend who shared the same interest, she would never have pursued her interest so intensely and improved herself in it so quickly. I mean she has improved so much. It astonishes me. My middle child is quite different from her because my middle child has also been one of those intrinsically driven people – she would spend hours and hours on doing something she liked just for her own sake. She used to be really interested in Scratch programming and became better at it than my eldest. But now my eldest has surpassed her in that ability, within a week or two of hard working on Scratch every night past midnight. I don’t even know if my eldest is aware of the time when she works on Scratch. Why is she going past midnight and not stopping? I’m sitting here using the same laptop as her (we share it) and we have Win 7 on the laptop. I can see the current time clearly at the bottom right of the screen ALL THE TIME. So surely she would have noticed how late it was… but perhaps she was trying to see how long she could keep going until I start telling her “it was late” and she gets the hint.
I don’t have anything against teenagers sleeping late. Actually, I just want my laptop back ;-P No but seriously, she gets up at around noon everyday despite going to bed at about half past midnight each day. And I admit she has a pretty packed timetable – almost all of her own choice. She is currently following an OOL Science KS3 course, which she enjoys very much. She also has drumming class on Monday afternoons, piano class on Tuesday, online school classes that take up most of Wednesday, martial arts classes on Fridays and Saturday mornings, and it is impossible for her to study in peace in our home in the later part of the day – mostly because her younger siblings have earlier sleep times and tend to be playing in the evenings with their Dad chilling out watching TV and horseplaying, plus she finds it impossible to nap during the day, so it would be best for her to follow some kind of sleep routine rather than have haphazard sleeping times, so she can get enough sleep and still maximise on the quieter late mornings and early afternoons for studying. She has just finished her Bronze Arts Awards (hooray!) and said she wanted to start on a correspondence course to create an art portfolio from Pete Stanyer. I have no idea how she will be able to fit in everything like this, with an additional art subject on top of everything she does currently, but if it is what she wants, then why not? She would still be better off than at school being forced to study subjects she didn’t like and having the dreaded subjects take up most of her free time.