How does one go about running away with the circus?
I love that expression. My Mum always used to say it when people were negative about my countless surprising decisions, “Blimey, it’s not as if you’re running away with the circus”. As if, somehow, that is the most extreme thing one could do. It has always quite appealed to me actually.
Anyway, once we had decided to home educate, we needed to let the school know. I researched the process required to de-register them and I did the deed in typical warrior style. I waited until the summer holidays, pushed the letter through the door of a locked and deserted school and didn’t show my face again. Rock and roll. I did follow up with an email to thank the staff for all of their hard work. I didn’t hear anything in return. No big deal. And it’s not that unusual nowadays. It’s not as if I sent a letter to say we had polished the tumbling act and bought a caravan and an elephant. So why did I feel so naughty?
I know why now….because I had been well and truly schooled. I was schooled to the max. I did primary, secondary, college and drama school (if that counts), that is all I knew. So when the possibility of home education came up, naturally it was all a bit alien to me, but it felt so right. But then we had to get our heads around the decision.
I had heard of de-schooling and instantly dismissed it as too hippie – even for us. I thought we should bypass that bit and cut to the worksheets. WRONG! For those of you who don’t hang out on home-ed forums, de-schooling is a process that should be undertaken at the start of the home education journey. It is all about getting school out of the system. For every year a child has been at school they will need around a month de-schooling. During that time, they do bugger all. Woah! Wait a minute. What is this lunacy?
Yup. I started all keen and eager with my pen pot and armful of worksheets, thinking that home-school was school, at home. How wrong can you be? Worksheets, desks, structure and repetition were all the things they were trying to escape, so why was I just recreating it at home? Well, it took about a week of battling with a disgruntled 6 year old before I realised I had the most to learn.
So de-schooling began and while they were ‘doing nothing’ we all learnt so much.
Learning does not only happen between 9am and 3pm, Monday to Friday. It doesn’t only happen at a desk. Education and school exist separately. We played, we created, we made, we baked, we explored, we talked, we read, we watched, we learnt. The de-schooling process was for me, as much as for them.
So, de-school. For as long as it takes. Let people’s eyeballs pop out on stalks when you say your kids are ‘doing nothing’ for a few months. I can tell you now, a child learns through this process and just because you can’t measure the progress on some ever changing scale of made-up levels, does not mean there is no value in it.