And my answers.
- But what about a social life? Won’t they miss their friends?
Well, I am the first to admit this was something I had wondered myself before we actually started home-educating, but they are not locked in a cupboard under the stairs – they are home educated. Perhaps the word ‘home’ needs to be replaced with something that does not suggest they are in the house at all times. They belong to a fab group, we meet regularly and they play. They also have plenty of play-dates with friends who are not home-educated and they interact with people of all ages from all walks of life and not the same children 5 days a week. I personally feel that they are much better off now than when they were in school in terms of variety.
2. So do you have to follow a curriculum?
No. That is one of the reasons we jumped ship in the first place. I have copies of the National Curriculum and I have picked out the things I think will help them to progress and discarded the age inappropriate nonsense for the time being. I don’t have to, but it helps me to formulate a plan of sorts. We have the ‘recommended’ Maths, Science and English workbooks and we work through these together. Other than that, we choose a topic and we learn as much as we can through the internet, books, day trips and programmes. They enter creative writing competitions, as it gives them a reason to write and we play and explore together and with friends. It is a joy to see progress with my own eyes. I used to collect them at the end of a school day and ask what they had done, only for them to reply ‘nothing’, every single time. Once we step back from what we know of education, and look at the curriculum through children’s eyes, then we see how irrelevant most of it is to their lives. It is a way of measuring them against each other, I suppose.
3. What about exams?
Well, personally I think they will take them when the time comes but we shall see. They certainly won’t be concerning themselves with SATS tests and I don’t feel they are missing out, as a result. If they are still home-educated when GCSE’s become an option , then I would recommend they study the subjects that interest them. I resented being forced to choose subjects that were not remotely useful or interesting to me and surprise, surprise – the results showed my attitude to the subjects. Our school careers advisors could not think outside of the teeny tiny box they had created, and it was only when I left college that I realised just how many qualifications were available to me. Research is key….there is a world of opportunity out there.
4. How do you teach them? Are you qualified?
Well, I am a qualified teacher but in performing arts, which helps in a very small way. But no, I am not a qualified classroom teacher and neither do I need to be. When I had my first baby, nobody asked if I knew how to feed her, or if I had a certificate in nappy changing and sleep studies. As she grew, people did not inquire as to my suitability to the role of speech educator, or walking facilitator. When we taught her to ride a bike, nobody asked for our licence. As parents, we teach our children everyday. We guide them when they need to use their manners or help when they show an interest in cooking, or shopping, or when they need help making sense of an emotional situation. Why, then, are we not fit to continue nurturing and assisting them as they gather knowledge and develop their literacy and numeracy. One home-educator I know was asked if he would get a tutor for his 6 year son. His reply? “When I can no longer teach him what he wants to learn, I will. So maybe when he studies for a doctorate”.
I have taught, and providing you are a step or two ahead of your pupils, you will be fine. Once you are out of your depth, there is always the internet. This is, in no way, a judgement on teachers. I LOVED the teachers at my children’s school and if they were free to teach what they wanted and create the environment they wanted to create, then we would be back like a shot. Until then…..the kids are stuck with me.