Beginning Our Home Education Journey
This week, many of my fellow mums are busy getting ready for their little ones to take their first steps into the world and head off to school, buying their first uniform and shiny new shoes, wondering how their baby got so big and taking photos to remember their first day.
We will be educating our son at home.
There are lots of reasons for this, some of which relate to my own personal experience as a teacher and many of which relate to my feelings about what I wanted for him, and how he is as a person and what his ideal education would look like. Anyone I’ve worked with will know that I adored teaching in schools. I was very attached to my charges and invested huge amounts of emotional energy into ensuring they were happy and that I was delivering the best possible education for them. Parents who are sending their children to school for the first time, rest assured that the overwhelming majority of teachers are exactly like this. It’s a vocation. Teachers care.
One reason for home educating was that I wanted to be able to give all of this, all the skills I had honed over fifteen years in classrooms, teaching different ages and subjects in different schools, learning from brilliant colleagues, my time and thoughts and care, to my son.
A long time ago, I didn’t know home education existed. I certainly didn’t realise the huge numbers of parents who are choosing this path. Once I found out about it and met other home educators, I realized it is a really fantastic model for education. There are countless different ways to educate at home, with no legal requirement to follow the National Curriculum or complete a set number of hours of formal learning per day. One thing binds them all: home education allows children the time, attention and breathing room to be able to access an education which is tailored exactly for them.
So what are these different models? Some parents favour a structured approach. They might use textbooks, be part of an online school, access private tuition and spend more time on formal, ‘sit down’ learning. Others might take an autonomous path, where children take the lead in their own learning and you follow their interests, rather than the parent setting the pace. Many people do some adult-led work with a strong child-centred element. I think this is probably where we fall. We do some element of literacy and numeracy most days, including weekends. This could be phonics, making patterns or shapes, glitter letters or writing practice. It will take anything from 5 minutes to an hour, depending on how engaged my son is. If I present him with an activity or a selection of activities, he will almost always respond with enthusiasm. If he doesn’t, I put it away for another time and we go and play, or I offer him something else. If he suggests an alternative, I go with that. We explore different topics relating to the world around us. Last year we worked through Lynn Seddon’s beautiful ‘Exploring Nature With Children’* year-long curriculum. Recently we have begun our history learning with the Stone Age and Ancient Egypt**. Other topics we’ve enjoyed have been rivers and the water cycle. He likes watching short documentaries about building things and playing Reading Eggs and Maths Seeds. He is learning to swim and play the violin. We read together and listen to audiobooks, enjoy art, craft and messy play, nature exploration, the slide and climbing frame, tell stories with props and toys (the photo above is our Tiger Who Came to Tea scene!), enjoy imaginative and role play, building things with Lego and his Spielgaben. He builds fires and is learning how to use tools with his dad. We visit National Trust places, museums, galleries, the library, the shops, go on camping trips and dog walks, meet other home educating families. There are so many opportunities for home educated children to meet up – on just one morning, for example, there are three different groups within a 35 minute drive for us to choose from (a practical science club, topic club and forest school).
Sometimes people ask if we will ever send him to school. I honestly don’t know. Not because I am against schools, but because I feel that his education is so rich and rewarding at the moment that it would be difficult to beat. Who knows what the future holds, but for now, we are having an amazing journey, and he is teaching me as much as I’m teaching him.
However and wherever you’re educating your little ones, at home, school or travelling the world, I wish you all a beautiful and fulfilling year.
Further Reading If You Fancy It
* Exploring Nature With Children can be bought here: https://raisinglittleshoots.com/buy-exploring-nature-with-children/
** I am uploading mini resource packs for free onto our website, as we follow topics, so feel free to download them here: http://imaginationshed.co.uk/ (just click on the ‘Resources’ tab).
Follow my blog for thoughts on life, attachment parenting, home education and sup+porting your child’s learning at home, and our attempts at ethically conscious living.