Jai is a second generation home educator – how cool is that? I asked her what being home educated was like and how it influenced the home education of her own children. This is her story…
My first experience of Home Ed was when I was five. I had started school, but after asking my Mum to teach me how to read because I couldn’t understand what they were teaching me at school, Mum took me out and did just that, taught me herself. I don’t personally remember much about those early years, but Mum tells me that I used to want to wear a school uniform, second hand from a friend, and have lessons with a blackboard, just like school. I went back to school when I was about seven, having had some flexi-schooling in between. The school was great and pre national curriculum, my teacher was brilliant and knew us all so well. She used to give me word puzzles to do when I had finished my work ahead of the others, something I still love today. When we moved to another town, my next school wasn’t so positive. Because I could read well and enjoyed reading, the teacher, who couldn’t cope well with children, used me to teach others to read. I spent a week colouring in a green dragon and told my Mum. That news, together with the fact that my teacher enjoyed shouting at us a lot made Mum come to the decision to take me out of school for good.
I don’t think there was ever a grand plan for my education. Mum went with what I wanted to do, noting down the subjects that I was interested in as we went. I never felt pushed into learning anything particular but I do remember library trips, lots of library trips as I loved reading. Mum would insert a classic into my book selection, Dickens or Austin etc. and then ask for a book review. I will always remember learning to type. I wanted to learn, so Mum and I found a second-hand typewriter in a charity shop and a book about the subject. I did nothing for the next two weeks but type every day. At the end of those two weeks, I could touch type to a better standard than my Mum, who had been through secretarial college. That skill has stayed with me and helped me out when it came to writing essays at University.
I had a more formal structure of lessons as I grew up but only because this was the way in which I wanted to learn. Mum never forced the lessons and if I wanted to get up a dawn to continue a project I could. When it came to thinking about exams, we couldn’t afford for me to study them at home, so when I was fifteen I went to the local Sixth Form College. I did five GCSE’s in a year and then went on to A Levels. I did go to University and ended up with HND in Performing Arts and a 2:1 Degree with honours in Media Performance.
When it comes to Home Educating my sons, I take a lot from my Mum’s approach. I sent my eldest son to school because he asked to go and having had no bad experience of school myself, I wasn’t prepared for the damage that can be done by the system. When I took my eldest out of school, I knew he had to heal and re-gain his love of learning and his love of life. I follow their interests and let my sons dictate the pace, because I think children learn best when they feel free to make the choices. It wasn’t until I started to Home Educate my sons that I realised how much my own time at home has shaped the person I am today. I want them to have the same freedom that I had as a child. I met some amazing people from all walks of life and I had many friends who were different ages to me. I had the chance to focus on my passions and interests. Those passions still survive and my love for learning is something I’m beginning to see in my children.
Without the choice to Home Educate, I don’t think I would be a passionate as I am, I don’t think I would have survived the difficulties that I have faced as an adult. I gained a sense of self-direction that has stood me in good stead for dealing with life. What I see my children doing now is using their imaginations, creating their own games and exploring life. They are never bored, they can always find something to do and their problem solving skills are immense as a result. Having been there myself, I know that all of this is building the best foundation possible for them to succeed in life and like me I know that whatever they do they will be happy. Their free imaginations will allow them to fly.