‘Teaching’ French

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I didn’t plan on the boys learning languages. Their communication skills are bit delayed. We’re not worried anymore, they speak clearly almost all the time and are working very hard on their language skills. But I really thought that one language was more than enough for them to handle.
Home educated children don’t have to follow the National Curriculum and my intention was to take advantage of this freedom by skipping languages. Eldest, however, had other ideas. At school, he had French lessons so when he came out of school he asked to continue learning French.
I hardly want to discourage the boys from learning. So I went ahead and put French on the timetable.
It is, perhaps, one of our stranger lessons! We have some workbooks:
We have a CD and book set, which has a simple game to play on every double spread by Dorling Kindersley.
We also use online games from the BBC and the Duolingo app on my phone.
We have taken the boys to France twice, which they loved. We have done the traditional parenting trick of speaking French when we don’t want the boys to understand us – quite possibly the most efficient method of teaching words like ‘gateaux’ and ‘bonbons’.
My latest purchase is quite exciting. A home educating friend told about a book called The Avion My Uncle Flew. It’s written mainly in English, with a few French words scattered throughout.
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As the book proceeds, more and more French words are introduced, until the end where a letter is composed entirely in French. The idea is that, by the end, the reader will be able to understand an entire letter in French. It’s a great idea! If anyone knows of anymore books like this, please let me know!
But, basically, it’s our busy-work lesson. I want the boys to enjoy themselves, I’m not really expecting much progress. They do try quite hard, they are getting better at recognising words, I am unsure whether their pronunciation will ever be comprehensible. We make a couple of attempts at pronouncing a word, then I smile and praise their effort. Eldest finds it almost impossible to imitate pronunciations of English words that he hears frequently, so he cannot repeat the French that he hears. He makes an attempt, and that’s enough for me.
The most impressive aspect, for me, has been their sheer persistence. One year into home education and they still want to keep trying with French. I am very proud of their sustained efforts. If nothing else, they are developing their determination!
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Parenting Guide by My Boys

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This afternoon, I was still recovering from a pesky virus, so the boys were enjoying Free Time. They got on the computer together and wrote a book on how to be a good parent.
It includes 15 tips. Here they are:

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Well, it’s worth a try. We have always been very resistant to long term bribery (short term bribery is a cornerstone of my parenting, however). But, my boys have great faith in the power of the written word.

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I was rather pleased to see them including routine. I have always felt that our family routine is important to the boys. Not sure if this shows their self-awareness or their impressive ability to say what I want to hear.

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I am sure it is a bad sign that the boys are so confident that mummies and daddies can put on the TV or give their children electronic games and then relax. Eldest sometimes says ‘Mummy, why don’t you put on the TV and switch us off for a bit’. Oops.
They made a front cover, and even wrote a little blurb on the back:

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Then they gave it to Daddy for Valentine’s Day.