So for those who regularly read my blog or follow me on social media you might have seen me mentioning the home education groups we have been going to so I thought it was about time I wrote a full blog post explaining our decision to home school / educate the kids.
This is one of those topics, a bit like breastfeeding, that can be quite hard to talk about without people feeling like you are judging them for making a different choice. Firstly I just want to say that I don’t and will never do that. Everyone is different and what works for some families doesn’t work for others, the decision we’ve come to is one we feel is best for us and our kids and in the same way we don’t feel it’s our place to comment on what other families choose I am hoping for the same kind of courtesy back. Obviously I’m happy for people to ask questions but I’m not open to people leaving comments telling me our decision is wrong.
One of the main reasons I wanted to write this post is because I feel like home education is completely misunderstood, when I first tell people they imagine that my life from now on will involve sitting around my kitchen table all day trying to teach my kids the exact same things they would be learning in school but for us that won’t be the case. One thing you learn about home education when you start researching into it is that there are lots of different ways you can do it. This is where some people don’t like the phrase ‘home school’ as it implies you are doing what schools do at home when that’s not always the case, of course some people do follow the same curriculum but that isn’t essential.
We are going to be using autonomous education or the ‘unschooling’ method as it is more commonly known. This basically means that you follow your child’s lead when it comes to what and how they want to learn. For me there isn’t any other way I could imagine doing it as it’s already clear to see how it’s best for Cherry. When it comes to learning to write etc we get bursts of about 5-10 minutes before she’s had enough and sometimes they are at completely random times like when I’m in the middle of doing my make-up or when we are out with friends but that’s fine. When she expresses an interest I’m there to help her with what she wants to learn. The other day she asked me a question about clouds so we came home and did an activity about clouds, you can see it in full over on my craft blog.
The way I look at it is that when people want to learn, they learn easily. Trying to teach someone something they don’t want to learn is pointless and is not only going to be frustrating for the teacher but is going to result in the pupil switching off and not paying attention. It’s basically a total waste of everyone’s time. I believe that life is too short to be wasted and why spend time learning about something you have no interest in when you could be using that time to build on a skill you enjoy and want to take further in life.
Another thing I discovered after delving into the home ed world was that there were more groups, meet-ups and events than I ever imagined, it would not be possible to go to everything even if you wanted to. At the moment we have started going to one group on a Monday and will soon be attending one on a Thursday. On Fridays I’m waiting for some spaces to become available at a forest school then in the afternoon Mr C will watch Tiger while I take Cherry to a fun science group. We also go to a lot of National Trust education events with other home-ed families and have been to the aquarium. I think there is a trip to the airport being organised at the moment which I’m actually quite excited about too! For older kids there is even more, pretty much anything you can think of. On the other days of the week we meet up with friends or family so we really don’t spend that much time at home at all.
When Tiger is a bit older there is a group which runs nearly all day on a Friday that I’m planning to go to. It was visiting there that made me feel 100% sure home education was right for us. They run all kind of things through the day, none of which were compulsory and if the kids start something and find it boring then they can go and do something else. They had a sports teacher with them for the term when I visited and it was so lovely to see kids of all ages doing activities together.
It was seeing the teens that led to me feeling so confident it was the right thing. I wasn’t sure how it all worked once you got to secondary school age but from the age of 14 you can go to college to take GCSEs if you want to then the possibilities are endless and all so different. You can go on to do A-levels then uni, you can do GCSE’s online or you can skip them altogether and still be accepted to do A-levels. The FB home ed groups are a great place to read stories of what is possible for older children.
It definitely helped me having some friends that were home-edding too. I met Adele through blogging, we’ve known each other for a good few years now and she was the one who answered my questions when I was first starting to think about home education. We have been to a few of the same events now too, Talitha and Cherry are really close in age which is nice. Then there is Polly, Laura and Laurenne whose blogs I’ve been reading for years.
I’ve had a few people say to me that home education is something they are interested in and my advice is to search for local groups and arrange to go and visit and search for local and national Facebook home education groups to join.
I’ve also been asked where I get resources from: I’m a member of Twinkl which has over 150,000 sheets and ideas to print off. Pinterest is full of home ed boards and obviously Google is a huge help too!
We are still so new to it ourselves but it’s a journey that I feel so excited about.