Helena has been doing pottery for a while now. We tend not to do it in the summer terms as I think we will be away more than we are! Helena really likes it on the whole. It is after school social contact with kids who go to schools during the day (not that that is why she goes). It’s a particular kind of contact too – guided by task, she doesn’t have to ‘make friends,’ she doesn’t have to chose who to be friends with, it’s a slow get to know others (collegial). However H stopped wanting to go a few terms back as she found the other children to in her face loud, and distracting, and not as interested in the task as she is. H primarily goes to pottery to make her ideas concrete. She often doesn’t want to make the prescribed idea, mostly this is fine and sometimes she likes their idea -the current idea is so good that she told me that she isn’t allowed to make what she wants (what her mum would like) which has never stopped her before. Helena’s focus is on the clay, chatter is ok as long as she can can get her stuff done.

H also goes to a reading club she likes at the library. When they play a game she doesn’t want to play she zones out – on purpose, she considers this a successful strategy and is proud of herself for working out what to do. This implies to me that Helena can articulate a state which often happens at school, that ‘not doing the task’ is highly visible to her, that she knowingly chooses when she feels like and will do something not of her choosing. Do other kids at school think this? I don’t remember asking kids that – I knew when they were off task but I don’t think I thought of it as a conscious choice, that they were possibly congratulating themselves in finding ways of hiding? that they were not doing the thing they thought was dumb.

Helena also wears a mask during these after school events, and goes as far as not eating the popcorn at the reading club as this would mean taking off her mask. I am proud that she is strong enough in the face of peer pressure, being different, that she is able to maintain her belief (the fact that masks reduce the spread of respiratory viruses) and keep her mask on to reduce her risk of bringing Covid home to her 88 year old grandfather.

I have seen research somewhere, when I find it I’ll add it here, that homeschooled children are more content driven, and focused on course work in tertiary education than kids that went to school. I certainly see this in Helena.

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