Why we chose to Home Educate our children…
I first became aware of Home Education by accident, whilst having a conversation with friends over dinner about it. I can’t remember how the conversation started, but I do remember it wasn’t a positive one! In the following days, I thought more and more about it, Osito at this time was about 2 1/2 and Pebble just a baby. I hadn’t really thought about school yet, but the idea appealed to me and I started to do some research. I joined a couple of Facebook Home Ed groups, asked some questions and read as much as I could on the subject. The more I found out, the more I felt it could be a great fit for our family.
I arranged to meet up with a lady who lived locally, at the Zoo for a chat and to pick her brains as she was a bit further down the road of experience than I was. It was great to realise that HE is actually a ‘thing’, and that lots and lots of people are doing it! It’s not strange, it’s not weird and it’s certainly not isolating. I was excited and in my head, this is what we were going to do!
The next problem was trying to convince my hubby! He was open to discussion, but had the same concerns that most people have initially, mainly socialisation…more on this later! At this time, quite by chance, I came across several You Tube videos of Home Educated kids, and TED talks by Sir Ken Robinson on the subject of Home Education. We watched these together and became more and more aware of the failings of the school system and how detrimental the pressures of constant testing and comparing children, from such a young age can have on them. I thought I was winning the battle, but Biz was still unsure! I had time to convince him though, we didn’t need to register for school just yet! As time went on, we met up with more and more HE families, built friendships and realised what an expansive, flourishing community it is. Starting so young meant that by school age Osito already had established friend groups and a regular routine of meet ups and activities. He did attend pre-school for a few months, just to let him experience it, but was never really settled there and certainly wasn’t learning any more than he would at home, so we took him out. We never did register him for school, and I still feel it is the best decision we have made.
So what does Home Ed look like?
Well, it’s everything that the first 4 years of a child’s life looks like, and plenty more! We get up when we wake up, no alarms for us! We get dressed, or stay in PJ’s if the mood takes us and we don’t have any other plans! We play, we read, we walk, run and explore, ride bikes, scoot around, bounce on the trampoline, practice forward rolls on the bed and dance around the kitchen! We cook together and eat together. We do maths in everyday situations, making it more relevant to real life. We have regular social meet-ups with our friends, play football, attend Woodcraft Folk, go to Forest School at our local woods. Learn guitar, practice Spanish, travel, climb trees, write stories, lots and lots of drawing, colouring, painting, molding, creating, knitting and crafting. Picnics, bowling, sleeping in mediaeval tents, dressing up in Victorian Clothing, watching a Gladiatorial battle, visit lots of National Trust and English Heritage sites around the country and regular zoo trips. We go to paddling pools, splash parks, spend time gardening, growing and harvesting fruit and veg. Building with Lego, creating Lego animations, photography and playing Minecraft and Disney Infinity. We discover new music, play board games and make believe games, build dens, watch films or documentaries etc. snuggle under blankets (or in the den), puzzles, discuss and research any questions that come up, bird watch, take trips to the library, trips on the bus, go to the cinema, play in parks, look at maps, help with household chores, fly kites, star gaze, learn about road signs, word-searches, workbooks and learn to tell the time. We have travelled to the US, Cuba, Mexico, Paris and Venice, climbed pyramids and scaled the Eiffel Tower, been to the seaside, learnt to snorkel and swam with dolphins. We have lessons in swimming, parkour, gymnastics, tennis and ballet. We visit museums – local and London based. Recently we have also have a small group of families doing joint projects together, some of these include; space, under the sea, romans, Olympics, boats, music, fashion, food bank and homeless collection, world landmarks, making bird feeders and various power-point presentations. So it looks something like that and much much more!
What are our main reasons for Home Educating?
- To enable our children to enjoy and experience each day in their own time and to learn at their own pace, without pressure, comparison or testing.
- To offer an infinite range of experiences and allow them to run with whatever sparks their imaginations.
- So they can follow and encourage whatever their passions are
- So their desire for learning never fades
- So they can be themselves, whoever they are – without the peer pressure and social constraints of school
- To allow children to be children and let them learn through play.
- Quality family time, building strong family relationships.
- The ability to travel/holiday when we want, outside of school holidays.
- The opportunity to play and learn with a wide age range of children and adults.
Pros of Home Education
- The confidence our children gain of themselves
- The freedom and variety that our weeks hold. No week is the same as the last, and we are free to flow with the natural rhythms of our days. Some days we are at home in our pj’s the next we are dressed and out at a large home educating event
- Child-led and individual learning
- Being able to see their passions come alive
- More time as a family
- Getting to witness each new learning moment or achievement!
Cons of Home Education
- Finding 1:1 time with each child
- Juggling everybody’s needs – making sure that we don’t forget about our own needs too
- Cost implication
Is it the right choice for everyone?
No, probably not! It is a wonderfully enriching experience, but I’m not saying its easy! It doesn’t leave much time for yourself and in moments of chaos, I do sometimes ask myself what I’m doing! It takes time, patience, and enjoying spending that much time with your kids, but it is most definitely rewarding! You obviously also need to be able to afford to do it, as there is no financial support for materials for example. However, an awful lot of places offer HE discounts on courses and visits etc. You do not need to spend 6 hours a day sitting at a desk with your child, nor does learning have to take place between the hours of 9 and 3. There are so many different ways to home educate that there will always be a style that suits your family and the individuality of each child. You will also always find other families that follow a similar style to you. So if you are interested in home education or are just starting out, don’t be afraid to reach out to other home educators. A great website to start out your investigations is Education Otherwise.
There are probably many more questions you will have if you are considering Home Education, and i’m happy to answer those as best I can, please feel free to leave comments below. You can see more about our home educating journeys on our Instagram and Facebook pages. We look forward to hearing your story!