I’m always intrigued to see kids out and about with their parents during school time.
Last week we were having a walk round a nature reserve when a woman and her two children came wandering into view along the footpath. They were looking and talking, stooping and investigating the little things at their feet, pointing and stopping and watching, in just the way we used to when everything was to be learnt about.
Home educators surely?
I was dying to go up and ask if they were. Except it would seem so nosy and rude. It was just I was so delighted to see them. It’s such a special thing to be doing and I wanted to ask them how they were getting on and show them some support as, if I remember right, you could often get the opposite.
People didn’t seem exactly supportive when we were out and about in school time during our home educating days. It was more likely we were challenged. It was fairly unusual then and we hadn’t been through the recent periods of school-at-home the lockdowns flung upon us, like we have now, making people more aware.
“Not at school today?” we’d be asked more accusationally than interested. And sometimes this was directed at the kids by bullies who were too cowardly to take it up with me.
Other times we were criticised for what we were doing: “Shopping on the curriculum is it?” one horrible bloke sneered when the children confidently declared they were home educators. (Read the full story here)
But just occasionally something nice was exchanged.
“Not at school today?” asked the cashier at the supermarket, who looked little more than a school kid herself.
“No, we’re home educated,” the eldest answered.
“Ooo-er! What’s that when it’s at ‘ome then?” she asked pleasantly as she scanned the groceries through.
The girls were totally bemused by her expression so I took over.
“It means they do their learning at home instead of going to school” I explained.
“Ooo-er! Are you allowed to do that then?” She looked at me whilst she scanned automatically, genuinely interested instead of one of those who made you wish you’d never brought the subject up in the first place.
“Yes, there are quite a few of us doing it now,” I replied.
“Do yer like it then?” she asked the girls, smiling at them and still scanning.
“Yes, it’s better than school,” the eldest said. The youngest added; “I hated school, I got bullied.”
“Wish I could have been learnt at ‘ome, I ‘ated school too.”
I smiled at her as she handed me the receipt, finished the packing and we picked up the bags.
“‘Ave a good ‘ome edicated day” she called to the girls. Other shoppers looked round at us obviously expecting to see something weird.
“Have a good day,” the girls called back to her.
“She was nice,” the youngest said as we walked back to the car.
“Yes, she was,” I agreed. And I was thinking how open minded a young woman she was, compared to the many who would actually be considered more educated than she was, but who behaved in a far less educated way to my mind. I don’t call rudeness and bullying an educated way of behaving.
Things have moved on since then. People are generally more familiar with home education now than pre-lockdown. Has it made a difference? I wonder what kind of comments you get when you’re out and about in school time. I’d be interested to hear.
And if one of these days some mad woman comes up and asks you, not what you’re doing out of school today, but if you’re home educators, do share. Because it’ll only be me and I’m genuinely interested.
I watched the family potter off into the woods and hoped they found the gorgeous little den we saw as we’d walked through earlier. It’s just exactly what we’d be playing in when mine were young and out and about in school time!