Learning without time frames

Those of you who know me will know that my lovelies moved on from education at home a while ago now.

But I’m still a home educator – as in; I’m still learning for myself at home even if they’ve moved on! Once you lead a learning life in that way you always do.

My new book to help support parents who also want to educate without school is coming out very soon and that’s been a steep learning curve for me. It is a book containing some of the writings that I did over those years to help alleviate parents’ inevitable wobbles. We couldn’t include all of it and I found this one among the archives that I thought would be worth a re-post as it’s not included but is an issue we all confront; learning to see education without time frames.

Our youngest is back here again for a while and I still find it difficult not to launch back into that Home Ed role that was predominant when they were little; ‘come see the moon, it’s fantastic’ or ‘want to come for a walk?’ Or, when I’m really irritating; ‘seems a shame to be stuck in front of that screen on such a beautiful day’…

My daughter would be rich if she were paid every time I slipped in a bit of advice. She’s very tolerant – she knows I’m on a learning curve too; learning to let go!

But these little regresses aside, the home educating I do now is not really for them, it’s for me. It’s self education and much of it still takes place in the home and it’s still ongoing.

Because that’s the way we’ve always seen education. Not as something that happens between the ages of five and eighteen. But as an ongoing, lifelong process. One that integrates into all aspects of life and work at any time. Throughout life. And is not confined to ‘doing’ education. But is just the way life is led – continually learning.

Learning can extend or develop you personally whatever stage you’re at, six or sixty, whatever you are doing or want to do, change, or develop, whether it’s dexterity with your latest device or cooking something new, drawing, driving or gaming, learning business, budget, or new job skills.

Education is not just for kids. We can all do it, parents included.

And the useful thing about this idea is; if you can view you child’s education like that, in that bigger context, it puts into perspective those little worries about whether they can read yet, write yet, understand long division or the periodic table. For just because they haven’t got it now, doesn’t mean they’ll never get it – you have an ongoing chance at learning, a lifetime’s chance, it doesn’t have to be confined by time or age.

You don’t need to do GCSEs at sixteen for example or a degree at twenty one. Or coding at four, or spreadsheets at fourteen, not unless you want to. You can take up anything anytime – there are ways.

And it’s so often the case that once you stop worrying, pressurising, and trying to make learning fit into certain time frames (often dictated by a system that doesn’t work that well anyway), learning becomes more natural and easy and gradually clicks into place.

Think of your child’s education as part of something much bigger than this age now, as part of a learning life that can be updated at any time.

Take the pressure off your children and focus instead on giving them a wide, diverse and enjoyable experience with learning and with life. This way they’ll feel able to continue with it whenever they need to, to get where they want to go. Whenever. Wherever. Which sets them up for life far better than anything else.

Both my daughters learn new skills constantly, in their twenties; I envisage that they always will.

And I’m learning the new skill of backing off and allowing them to!

8 thoughts on “Learning without time frames

  1. It’s always lovely to read that others feel the same way as you about education. Over the last eighteen months or so I feel that I have gone further down the road of deschooling myself, throwing all the concepts of ‘traditional mainstream’ education out the window. I will not be pushing GCSEs at 16 or A levels at 18, neither my husband or myself graduated at 21/22 we were both much older! But it is hard not to do something that other expect. We shall see how strong my resolve is as time goes on!

    • I agree – it’s very hard not to follow others’ expectations. And most of the de-schooling that is required is of ourselves and the other adults around us rather than the children! Good luck, may your resolve remain strong, but of course flexible, so that you find the path that’s right for you and yours. x

  2. As always, perfect timing! Just what I needed to read this week; a week when academic activities have caused us several arguments. I too will be backing off!

  3. I so needed to hear this today! Many of my daughter’s friends are now beginning or in the midst of doing iGCSE’s and she is just not ready but I feel like I should be encouraging her to go them… Need to back off is this month’s motto x

    • So pleased to know it’s helped you feel more confident – thanks very much for commenting. I remember the GCSE wobble when ours had friends doing the same. It took some ignoring! But I know other HEors who still went onto do exams, just at a different time, and now they’re adult all that becomes totally irrelevant – you wouldn’t know they did it differently. All the best.

  4. So very true – from school where I didn’t flourish – I learnt more at home in evenings and weekends – I have never stopped wanting to absorb more and more knowledge – my father taught me what ‘education’ should be, encouraged my curiosity and I am forever grateful. There is so much to learn, to try, to investigate, all around us and as you know time is not my side:) I hope I never stop learning.

    Deemed too stupid at school to sit the 11+, I achieved my dream of university in my 40s gaining a BScHons and then an MA – it is never too late, as you say.

    • Thanks so much for your fab comment Alberta, and for leaving your story. You’re so right in saying that curiosity is the precursor to becoming educated something that rarely flourishes in the conventional system. Your support has been so very much appreciated! x

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