Tuesday, 1 September 2009
"How do you *do* home education?" seems to be another popular question. Thing is, it's incredibly difficult to answer, especially when the person asking the question doesn't really want a long, drawn out explanation.
The how is different for every family, and often it is different for each child within one family. The thing that you need more than anything is time. Time to learn about different ways of doing things; time to try them out to see what works best; time to readjust if something doesn't work so well; time to develop a faith in the inate learning capabilities that are a part of every human being, if they are only allowed to be cultivated.
We have tried all sorts of different approaches over the years, and we are still adjusting as we go along now. It's called life. Nothing is set in stone, and anyone who thinks that there is one true, tried and tested method of education is frankly deluded (or a member of the DCSF? You decide!)
When we first deregistered the girls I prepared an intricate timetable of activities, lessons, radio and tv programmes, outings, books to read etc etc. I spent money on workbooks and maths curricula; our drawers groaned under the weight of educational supply catalogues and lesson plans. It didn't last long, we all found it far too restrictive and suffocating, and tempers became frayed - not conducive to a happy family, nor the most fertile ground for our daughters' developing minds.
Thankfully by the time we reached this point, I had joined the great UKHE email list, which was a wealth of information and full of wonderfully helpful home educators who freely offered their experiences. I researched some more, and having found numerous sources which supported the theory of child led/autonomous education, we took a big deep breath and .... relaxed.
Miraculously (tongue in cheek!) the girls learned to read, in slightly different ways and at different times, but it proved to us, beyond doubt, that we as a family were really able to do this education thing.
Now our son is showing us, once again, that it's all about adapting and looking at what each child needs, because of course he is now learning to read in a way that is all his own. He is taking longer it's true, but he is getting there, and you can see him starting to make sense of these strange squiggles that make up our world, as the weeks pass. It's very exciting to be able to be such a big part of this process. Just like all the other milestones we love seeing our children reach as they grow from babies to toddlers and beyond. That excitement and pride doesn't have to stop at the age of five, we don't have to hand our children over to *professionals* to enable them to make the next leaps forward in their development, we just need to have faith in our child and a willingness to explore the world with them.