Yet more families are deciding that the school approach to their children’s education is not for them and choosing to home educate.
Having been through it ourselves people often ask what advice I would give to those just starting out.
My answers often change with whoever’s asking; there are so many different ways to approach learning and every family is different and come to it with different needs and circumstances. So maybe that’s a good place to start;
- There’s no single right way to do education! People home educate because the needs of their child are not being met in school so a good way to approach your home educating life is to always keep your child’s needs – and the way they learn best – at the forefront of your thinking. Think first of what you child needs to do – not what you want to teach them!
- Your child grows and changes constantly. This means you’re likely to change your approach to their learning as they do so, as you review and adapt, gain understanding yourself, meet new people and try out their ideas. So keep your eyes and mind open. A flexible approach is far, far better than a rigid one.
- Discard the idea which schooling upholds that certain things have to be achieved within certain time frames. They don’t – and it won’t harm your child’s education. There’s no rush and it’s no race against others either. Your child won’t ‘miss out’ if they don’t learn something at the same time others do.
- And another aspect of time; we know it takes years for a child to grow – yet with education we seem to want results overnight! Remember that education is a bit like growing your hair; you keep staring at it in the mirror and it doesn’t seem any longer. But next year, when you look back at old photos you know it has grown! Education is like that – like when relatives haven’t seen the kids for ages and then say ‘my, haven’t you grown’! That’s how education develops – without you even knowing it’s happening.
- And you don’t need to test that it’s happening either. This doesn’t help kids grow – it just stresses them. Tests in schools are not for the kids’ sake – they are for the grown-ups and the politics! I was talking to an ex-head teacher the other day and she said that they prepared masses of notes and test results for the teachers when their primary children moved up to secondary but they were never looked at!
- Education is a long-term thing. Like a tree it takes a while to grow and there are no short cuts. The very best you can do is to make your children’s activities enjoyable each day, and be patient.
- Another aspect of time use is that children only take one small moment to learn something. There is a huge amount of time wasted in a school day. Your child at home with you will have lots and lots of time for play and personal pursuits. In fact these are educative in themselves.
- And something else to remember: Contrary to what most people think kids don’t necessarily learn from being taught. They learn from being actively engaged in their learning. Find practical ways for them to learn something.
- Nowhere is there any law that says education has to be stressy, rushed, tense or unpleasant. It is far more effective if it is the opposite!
- Each day your child is physically active, busy, practically engaged or creative they will be learning. Academic learning is only one small part, best left till later.
- Make each day a good one; happy, busy, fulfilling, relaxed – as much as possible and don’t worry about the not so good, because there’s plenty of not-so-good in school! Then, all those good days pieced together will eventually make a good education!
You’ll find more ideas in my books; ‘Learning Without School’ and ‘A Funny Kind of Education’. And the final part of ‘Mumhood’ also shows how you affect your child’s education right from the start. Scroll down the My Books page for details and extracts, or find them on Amazon.