I have reached that time of the term when I try to make sense of what we have been doing. I look at the few pieces of paper in the children's folders and my heart sinks: we have done nothing! But, somehow, we have been very busy doing nothing! As I piece it together, dig out work on the hard-drive, come across leaflets from our days out, make a note of the books we've read and remind myself of the work that has gone into achieving a certificate, I begin to see that is is a whole load more than nothing. But I still find myself wondering what 'an inspector' would make of it, what evidence I have that my children are learning, how it compares to a set of filled exercise books adorned with red ticks and ten-out-of-tens.
One way round this, I have found, is to print a list of everything, something that we can all look at, reminisce over and celebrate. I would like us to celebrate more often our achievements, but there never seems enough time, I guess I never make enough time.
When we moved house, four-and-a-half years ago, we cleared out a lot of junk from our loft, including boxes of my old university files. Reams and reams of close-knit, incomprehensible calculations using ancient Greek letters: calculus and matrices, differential equations and three-dimensional integration. (I barely understood it at the time and fifteen years later it made no sense at all.) It all went in the bin: hours and hours spent the library, gone. I have almost nothing from my twelve years in school: one story written in an exam and a project on cats completed when I was around eight. I remember that, even then, I felt they were good and I was proud of them.
So I often wonder what the point is of keeping all the children's work. Who is it all for? That is partly why there is so little on paper. Is it for them to remember, or to show someone else what they have done, or for me to look at and reassure myself that we did do something? Once I have carefully sorted it all out and it has lived in the back of my wardrobe for a few years, what will happen to it? I want to find a balance between putting enough on paper to remember and celebrate and simply writing things down to show an imaginary inspector. This blog serves both of these purposes: fun to re-read and evidence for anyone who requires it. And still a while away from university entrance forms or job applications, the greatest celebration and proof of learning is the children themselves.