When you choose to home educate your kids there are a few things you need to be prepared for…
1: The Mess.
Just accept it. You no longer get 6 child free,mess free hours a day where your home can be a place of calm and tranquility and your living room floor can stay tidy for longer than a minute.
No. Your house will be messy. No matter what day it is or what time it is, there will be some huge creative mess somewhere. Don’t get me wrong – I love the creativity kids have and the way they can make a castle or a dragon cave out of some clothes airers and a blanket. It just took me a little while to accept that tidy and creative do not go hand in hand.
2: They Will Always Be There. Always. Like, Every Minute Of Every Day.
I love my kids. They are kind and funny and clever. I love talking to them and hearing what they have to say. But when you’re used to them going to school it can be a bit of a shock when they’re all of a sudden home all day. Things you didn’t even know were things, suddenly become near impossible. Like taking an undisturbed bath, speaking to my husband in full sentences and having phone conversations without the person on the other end of the phone thinking I have Tourettes “Yes, I can do Tues… Put him down. I said put him down!”
3: The Questions. Oh The Questions.
I don’t mean from the kids. I’ll happily answer their questions all day (perhaps with a bit of help from google). No, I mean from other adults, usually complete strangers who see us out and about. It all starts with that one fatal question aimed at the kids “No school today boys?” and it tends to go downhill from there. There are some people that are just genuinely interested in home ed… then there are the others. My favourite questions being “Is that legal?” “Are you a qualified teacher then?” “What about socialisation?” and “But what about his GCSEs?”.
Now I try my very hardest not to be sarky but sometimes it just gets out (a bit like my resting bitch face.. I just can’t help it).
No, it’s not legal that’s why I’m walking round town in the middle of the day and happily telling you all about it so you can report me.
Yes, of course I’m a qualified teacher because no one else could ever possibly be capable of teaching anything ever.
Oh no, we don’t socialise them. We just keep them home all day all alone.
He’s 6… I don’t think he’s too concerned about them right now.
That’s sometimes what I’d like to say… but mostly I bite my tongue. I smile, I nod and I calmly repeat a line adapted from the education act “The law states that it’s my responsibility to ensure my child receives a full time education, suitable for his age and ability. It’s my choice how I do that” And we move on…
Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to chat about my education choice for my children to people who are keen to understand more about it.Just not those who are questioning to judge or criticise. I know it’s not for everyone but I don’t believe you can get better than an individually tailored one to one education.
So what have we been doing so far?
Our focus with Jake is progressing his reading, writing and spelling whilst allowing him the freedom to play and be creative. He can read well already (most words except very long or complex ones) and has a good understanding of basic grammar. He’s chosen space as a topic this month so we’re learning about the solar system,planets and stars. We do this in a range of ways – from books to documentaries, apps to experiments. It’s probably what’s classed as semi structured but child led, meaning I pay attention to what’s interesting him at the time and base his learning around that.
Josh is a little trickier. He didn’t enjoy school and has been left with low confidence (despite his high IQ) and a negative association to a few things – handwriting being a major one. So this last few months we’ve given him time to deschool and relax a little. He’d struggled with the workload at school and over time had become stressed and anxious. He’s now, over the last month, relaxed into home ed and seems to be back to my cheerful, engaged and inquisitive boy again. Our aim with Josh at the moment is to focus on his strengths (Maths,science and ICT) for two reasons: The first being that it will boost his confidence a little and the second being that so far no school has been able to keep him challenged and engaged in these subjects. So, even though he’s always been ahead of their targets, he’s never reached his own potential and we’d like to help him get there. He’s learning to code online at the moment, we do regular maths sessions and next week he’s going to be dissecting an old laptop with my dad (who will be able to answer all his techy questions!).
So what about the big S word? (Socialisation)
We go to the library every 2 weeks (they love to read and go through books at an alarming rate), they come out to all kinds of places with me where they learn to socialise with both kids and adults of all ages. They go to a parkour session once a week with other home ed kids. Jake does swimming lessons and Taekwondo and Josh has piano lessons too. They have friends come to play here and they go play at theirs. They have sleepovers and go to birthday parties just like everyone else. They just don’t go to school.
I’ll be posting some more about our home ed journey here but if there’s anything specific you’d like to know – just ask! I promise I’ll keep my resting bitch face in check… 🙂