1. There is more to life than English and Maths
This might be a controversial statement in today’s world but seriously, English and Maths isn’t everything. Is it important? Of course it is and we will certainly be spending time making sure that Olive and Luna can read, write and “do maths”, but it is not the only subject in the world (despite what our government might think). Home education allows us to explore those other subjects.
We want to engage them in music, art, geography, history, science, science and more science. Instead of my child telling me what a fronted adverbial is, I would rather she learns how to think critically, not just taking what is said or written as face value but be able to look beyond what is said or written. Why is that person saying or writing that? What evidence do they have for the assumptions they have made? That is so, so important in today’s world (#notfakenews).
2. Lived experiences are better than learning about experiences
Going to a farm is better than reading about a farm. That much is obvious. Don’t get me wrong, schools can take children on incredible trips that will last a lifetime. But the amount of red tape that teachers and schools have to go through to get from A to B is astounding – and sometimes it all depends on the weather!
When they get to their trip, they have to do things in somebody else’s way. They have to walk from this place to that in a prompt way with no deviations because that is deemed the safest route and is on the risk assessment. Children are not allowed to be children and be excited by the new experience.
Walk in your pairs and walk in silence or as near to silence as possible. We went to Lightwater Valley last month and witnessed a teacher scold a child for being too excited about being on a ride. What is wrong with being excited?
The picture underneath the title was taken earlier in the year, when Olive wanted to learn more about the blossom on the trees. Just like that, we drove up to Alnwick Gardens and visited the cherry blossom trees and seeing the look on her face as the blossom blew in the wind around her was just magical. You can’t experience that stuck indoors!
3. Children do not need forced socialisation
“But how will they socialise?”
By engaging in life. Seriously though, is it not weird to be sat in a room of about 30 people your own age from your own geographical location and be told to make friends with them for 6+ years? Learning is absolutely a social endeavour and it occurs continuously as a child.
When they have the space to develop their own interests and to pursue them with reckless abandon, they will make friends who have the same interests, the same beliefs, the same passions in life. Those friends are the ones who will stick with them.
And that is not even considering the people they will see during day to day life. The other home educated children (of which there is a surprising number), the people they see out and about during the day, the experts in the field such as glassmakers, librarians, botanists and historians.
We met a lovely man on a rainy Sunday afternoon at Jarrow Hall who explained to us all about how a Saxon loom worked. Olive had a thousand questions about the Saxon hall we were in and all of the artifacts on display and got to ask every single one of them. Needless to say that would rarely happen with a class of kids, if at all.
4. My daughter’s voice is just as important as anybody else’s
I’m often complaining as much as bragging about just how fiercely independent my kids are. To say they have their own mind and their own voice is a massive understatement (my poor ears). To be able to give my daughters the opportunity to find and develop their own interests in their own time is an incredible feeling.
Children want to learn. They want to engage in the things around them that spark their curiosity. They want to explore and investigate and experiment. Home educating allows us the ability to follow the rabbit holes that would otherwise be left untouched.
My daughters can learn to say, “I don’t think I’m feeling this today, can we do X, Y or Z instead.” That might mean delving into a favourite book or covering the living room floor in paint (man I hope they choose the book).
5. Because we can (for now)
“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.”
-Education Act 1996, Section 7
In the UK we are fortunate to be able to legally Home Educate our children if we wish. Whilst there are calls to implement a register and monitoring system in the UK, it is still the legal right of a parent to be able to educate their children at home.
We know so much about how children learn. Every child is different and yet we pigeon hole them into a single, restrictive system that may be great for some, but is also not for everyone. In an age where we have the entire world in the palm of our hands, why would we not utilise this?
Last week Olive asked about the difference between helicopters and airplanes ahead of our visit to Norway to see nanna and granda. We researched it together, we spotted them when out and about and we watched some documentaries on aviation. It was not planned, it was not mapped to curriculum objectives and it was not assessed for learning. Instead it was a parent and child, exploring the world together.
Liam is a working class dad from a large town a bit to the east of Newcastle. He is a father to two beautiful girls called Olive (4) and Luna (2), who are simultaneously the loves and banes of his life. As a home educator, Liam is essentially the main care-giver to his children as his wife is studying to become a Children’s Nurse. This means that a lot of his time is spent in the great outdoors looking for adventures with his kids, or otherwise sitting at home watching with distraught horror as said kids smash the place up.
He is a qualified primary teacher and has a Masters in Education. Liam works part-time assisting students with additional needs in a college and (very) occasionally teaches English and Maths. His hobbies include camping, watching and analysing WWE and finding things to gross his kids out with (like bugs and slime and stuff). He is a raging lefty feminist.