I well remember how daunting it is just starting out home schooling. Incredibly exciting and inspirational but daunting just the same.
Having emerged from the other end of our home education journey now I was wondering what advice I could give, knowing that is often the most simple – but less obvious – that helps the most!
Five things that spring to mind are:
– Keep light and flexible.
We are almost conditioned to get heavy over education. Worried. Intense. Objective led. Prescription obsessed. That’s how education has been seen throughout the decades. This isn’t the best way forward because whilst we are intensely pushing to specific objectives, we are often wearing blinkers and missing incidental learning that is happening all the time. Learning is just as effective when it happens by incidental experience as it is when it was planned. For example; did you need intense objectives to learn how to use your mobile? No – you just experienced it. Could other things be learnt the same way? Definitely!
– Be patient.
You cannot force an education any more than you can force a child to grow. You have to nurture it instead. This takes time. Just because your child cannot grasp something now doesn’t mean they’ll never grasp it. Ignore the concept of achieving things by certain ages – kids will get there in the end. Time needs to pass by. Sometimes you have to leave it alone.
– Relax and enjoy.
Who says education has to be all hard work to be effective? It doesn’t. Conversely, an enjoyable education is very effective. A child who learns in an environment that is relaxed and happy will achieve far more of use to living a successful life than one who is hung up about learning. If you’re hung up about learning, it hampers your whole life. Enjoy your children; enjoy showing them this wonderful world and the skills they need to live in it. That’s what education is for.
– Remain open minded.
The traditional practices associated with learning in schools are so ingrained in us it’s hard to believe that any other approach could work. It does. Lots of approaches work. Learning through play being one of them (think phone again). Another simple example: children can learn maths on the settee, lying on the floor, in the car, in the chip shop, going round the supermarket, just as well as sitting at a desk. It’s only adults who think they can’t!
– Remember why you’re doing it!
One sure thing that gave me big wobblies about our home educating was focussing on schools and the way they did things, instead of focussing on why we were opting to do something different. Most HE parents want their children to be happy, learning, achieving – if yours are doing so you don’t need to worry what other school children are doing. For example; there will be thousands of children who went to school during the years my two and their HE friends were home schooling, but they and ours have all ended up in roughly the same place at the same age. Different pathways; same results…although it turns out the home school children seem to know a lot more despite not sitting in classrooms all day.
(You’ll soon be able to read just how terrified I was, how we got through our first few years and exactly what is was like living a home educating life in my new story ‘A FUNNY KIND OF EDUCATION’. Keep visiting and I’ll let you know when it’s available. Meanwhile, for support with some of the practicalities check out my book ‘Learning Without School. Home Education’. (see page). And be sure to visit the Home Education Blogs page too – lots of reassurance there!)