Home Education

We made our decision to home educate in 2008 when my eldest was three, by the end of that year we had to apply for a place at a local primary school.  We didn't apply and neither of my children have ever been to school.  You can read about why and how we came to our decision here.

I am based in the UK where it is the parents legal responsibility to ensure a child receives an education, as the education act states:

The parent of every child of compulsory school age shall cause him to receive efficient full-time education suitable:
a) to his age, ability and aptitude, and
b) to any special educational needs he may have,
either by regular attendance at school or otherwise

Most parents send their children to school, even then they are still legally responsible for their child's education not the school.  If you decide you don't want to send your child to school you are not required to register your child (the government here keeps raising this as something they want to introduce), you are not required to follow any curriculum if you don't want to, education can take any route you wish changing as the needs of your child change.  You always have the option, provided there is a space, to apply for a place in a school.  If you are not in the UK your own country or state will have its own legal framework and in some countries home education is illegal.

Nearly every family I have met in the course of this journey has chosen to home educate for different reasons and how this is 'delivered' in each family is also different.  I have pondered many approaches since making our decision including unschooling and autonomous learning.  I have also looked at the Waldorf approach, read a really interesting book, Project Based Homeschooling and its associated blog and the concept of exposure.

The most common words I hear when I tell people I home educate is 'I could never do that'.  I have pondered over why people would say that.  I am sure that most people think that I sit and prepare lessons which I then deliver to my children, as would happen in a school.  I have two children of official school age so that would mean two different lessons plans to prepare, except that is not how education looks in our house.  We focus on learning rather than teaching as there is a world of difference between teaching my children something they are not ready for or interested in and my children learning something by teaching themselves.  In order to understand a little of how we approach things you would need to deschool yourself, throw out all the concepts you have of education from your own experience and consider how learning could look like in your situation.  I went through this process again myself as I considered the education in the future for my eldest as we approached the day to apply for secondary school (the school that children moved to when they are 11 and stay until they are 16 or 18 if they want to continue their education at school).  I did not want to apply but needed to be clear in my own mind why I felt like this, you can read some of my thoughts here and in the previously mentioned post on deschooling.

So, what does learning/education look like in our house?  Well to an outside observer you would be forgiven for thinking that not much is happening, this goes back to my deschooling premise again, throwing away that idea that children need to be taught.  Education is part of our life, it is our way of life.  I can and do offer you snippets.  We have found that we need to have a rhythm to our life which evolves all the time.  In the early days we needed it to have regularity, particularly in our meet ups with others we didn't have a huge circle of friends at that time, when this started to fall apart it was time for a review, the start of many.  Now it evolves rather than changes, my husband returned to employment after five years of self employment which had a big effect.  Our rhythm is a comfort to us and when it stops because we are distracted and busy it has a profound effect on us all.  You can read a little about what our learning looks like herehere and here.

But what about friends I hear you say?  Socialisation? This is probably the second most common question/ doubt that I hear.  I don't want to become down on school, a diatribe against all its imperfections. for some it is the right place for children to learn.  Some schools in my country are excellent, the perfect learning zone.  But I totally disagree that the only way for children to make friends and become socialised is through school.  When you think about a school day, the time children have to actually play and interact with other children is fairly minimal particularly as they get older.  Sure they can find people that they want to spend time with outside the school day but does it have to be a school environment that allows this to happen?  What about after school activities, sports clubs, cubs, scouts, brownies, guides?  I try and ensure that part of our rhythm includes meeting up and spending time with other children most weeks.  Some weeks this might be not at all, and others every day depending on what else we are doing.  But in an average week I try to make this happen three days a week.  I suppose what is different is that you have to work on this all the time, it is not something that just happens, and if I don't think about this every week we would be at home or out and about just me and the children.   My children have made friends, very good friends, friends that I hope they will know for years.  They play and interact with children of all ages not just those that happen to have been born in the same twelve month period of a school year.

As of September 2021 my eldest started at a local college to further his education after 12 years of learning with me at home.  He is loving his course and is hoping to study at the college for a further two years from September on the next level.  This has been a huge change for my daughter and I.

I think I have said enough for now.  I hope this has given you a flavour of home education as it is in my house.  If you read other blogs on this they will look very different.  I will leave you with a list of other posts including topics we have covered and interesting places we have visited, a list I will add to as time goes on and I write more posts:

Subjects: MusicTimeMathsReading, Reading

Topics: Castles, Nature Study

Festivals: AutumnWinter

Places we have visited: DorsetHadrian's Wall,  York

Other fun activities: Bivvying,  30 Days Wild

Perceptions: Building an understandingSocialisation