How many of us Home Educating families look back to our first *official* home educating day and consider how far we’ve come and how things have changed since we began? Are we different people to when we first started out? After all, personal development and growth and indeed the learning journey is not limited to just our children.
I remember the very first day our home educating journey began. S (at the time 7) was taken to school minus her twin brother, L. He was the catalyst for our home education starting in the first place. We remained at home that very first day alongside our youngest twins (just 2) settled on the sofa due to a sickness bug.
I knew back then from my research that following the National Curriculum wasn’t necessary and I also understood that many families followed many different learning styles and that home education could look quite different from one family to another. We had decided to “go with the flow” for a while to see how things would unfold and it’s safe to say we’ve been *going with the flow* and *making it up as we go along* ever since.
I recall asking L the question “what would you like to learn today?” To which my son answered “Maths and History please”. He is still very keen on History five years on and he still finds Maths fairly easy at this stage. I know from the notes that I made back then the types of learning that took place; at that time I wasn’t keeping a blog.
Our very first day consisted of Maths Brain Training on the Nintendo DS which I wrote as qualifying as mental arithmetic; BBC Primary History covered ICT and literacy as well as buffing up on his History knowledge. Google played a large part even back then as we used it to find answers to questions that would naturally arise from our studies.
There were games and quizzes on the various subjects that interested him. World War II, Victorians, Romans, Ancient Greeks, Vikings and Anglo Saxons. Two hours happily absorbing information on subjects of interest in the peace and security of his own home to the depth that could satisfy him. He said that he learned far more that day than he ever had in school which of course was an encouraging start.
International Monopoly board game acquiring Maths Skills as well as more geographical knowledge. Questions about the first president of the USA took us back to google which then lead him to time spent on The White House website looking at photographs of all the presidents over time and analysing when and for how long they resided in office. Even then at just 7 he had a thirst for famous people, facts and dates. It’s true to say this has remained.
Our son certainly seemed like an excellent candidate for home education. At just 7 he was already self sufficient in many areas due to his reading capabilities but I knew that he would benefit from being removed from the school system for other more important reasons; self esteem, confidence and to limit his anxiety with the school environment as a whole. Happiness is key.
S soon returned home from school and playing and sibling arguments brought noise and uproar back into the household as it often did after school finished for the day, but despite that just two days later we pulled our daughter from the school system too. It was as simple as that. Within the space of days we had become a complete home educating family of 6. I doubt very much if we realised back then how far we would come along this journey or indeed how beneficial it would be to each of us for different reasons.
In our fifth year now and we have evolved accordingly. Interests that were there back then have been nurtured and new interests have been found. Our children are happily living and learning without school. In fact, they are thriving. We have spent time in many different places meeting many different people and enjoying lots of different experiences. New friendships have been forged and memories made. We are more confident than ever about our decision to home educate and we really haven’t looked back but of course nobody really knows how life will turn out and that’s kind of exciting.
There are many labels that rattle around the home educating world to describe styles, methods, philosophies etc but I admit I struggle with this. Instead, we are who we are, living and learning as we go along, adapting to circumstances and enjoying the flexibility and freedom to do so. We do our utmost not to separate life from learning and we regard all learning as equal. I guess we hope to demonstrate to our children that there are many ways one can choose to live their lives and the possibilities and variables are great.
All of us individually are on our own journey’s whilst trying to balance and blend together as a family unit of 6. It’s not always easy to meet everyone’s needs all of the time whilst balancing work but again this is just part of life’s lessons. We have bad days. There are days whereby nobody seems to be getting along but these are just moments. We have challenges but home education problems do have home educating solutions as one of my good home ed pals says often on her own blog.
The one thing I have learned more than anything is that home education for us has been just as much about a life style change as it has been about the importance of education. It has given us so much time with our children, time that we would otherwise not have had. It is a learning journey for everyone, parents included and is most definitely not limited to the children. We learn from our children too as well as alongside them finding ourselves questioning so much more than we ever did before. Consideration and thought is given to areas that perhaps we would never have spent time on had we not de-schooled.
The idea of Education has taken on a whole new meaning, taken us to new levels and understanding. The importance and value of parenting is high on our agenda and decisions that we once handed over to strangers are ones we have come to kick ourselves for accepting without questioning in the first place.
Personally, much reflection has taken place reference my own schooling years and education and most definitely my own experiences play a part in the decision to continue home educating our own children. My husband’s schooling experiences, which by all accounts differ from my own in many respects play a part too. It’s a system that simply doesn’t get the best out of everyone.
Fortunately, all our children are happy to be home-educated and have no desire to go to school. I hope that this choice remains.
If I were to describe our Home Educating Journey thus far in one sentence I would simply say “it’s like lifting the lid on a whole new world, a can of worms even and once that lid has been opened there is simply no going back.”