Tag Archive | back to school

Considering home schooling instead of back to school?

With the return to school looming on the horizon I thought it would be a good time to repost this blog which asks;

What do you really know about home education?

The reason I ask is because there are still so many stories surrounding it. Including less than accurate stuff in the media often based around untrue myths. Add on to that the debacle of school-at-home style of home schooling that was forced onto parents during the pandemic and the concept of real home education has become quite blurred.

So I thought I’d put a few ideas here in case you were considering this approach to your child’s education in preference to school.

Firstly, did you know that there are thousands and thousands of families now successfully and happily home educating?

And did you know that most home schooled children go on to make a success of their education, career, life in the same way school children do, despite not having been in school for all those years?

Did you know that home educating doesn’t have to cost the earth and parents on very low incomes, including single parents, still manage to do it? Throwing money at a child does not make them educated!

Did you know that home educating children make friends, have friends, build excellent social skills, have a vibrant social life and socialise just as others do?

Did you know that there is a huge wealth of learning resources, lessons, curriculum, courses, printouts, both free and otherwise, available on line? You can literally find out anything.

Did you know that families never home educate in isolation (unless they choose to) and that there are broad networks of others to connect to that share resources, concerns, to learn from and find support via social media and other organisations which also lead to physical meet-ups and groups to get together with? Many of whom will probably be getting together for their annual ‘not back to school’ picnic right now!

Did you know that as much home schooling takes place outside the home as in it and your community is full of resources to facilitate it? You’re not at home day after day, on your own, not knowing what or how to learn.

Did you know that contrary to what many parents may worry about, being with the children all the time tends to improve their family relationships?

Did you know that parents are free to choose whatever approach to education suits their child’s needs? This could involve following a curriculum – or not, following age specific targets and objectives – or not, adopting either a structured or completely autonomous approach, or proceeding with complete flexibility according to your individual’s interests and the way they work best. And that parents find that home educating gives them the opportunity to successfully overcome any difficulties children encountered with learning in a school setting.

Did you know that it is completely legal, in fact it is the legal responsibility of the parents to see that their children are receiving an education suitable to their needs (see the law here), it’s just that most parents hand that over to schools? (I wonder how many schools get away with breaking the law in failing to provide that for some children?)

Did you know that most home educating families never use testing in their approach, yet home schooled children successfully go on to achieve a good educational standard, go on to further and higher education, including exams, or work without having done a test at all, and cope competently within those more formal settings? Testing does not make an education.

And finally consider this; home educating families are not weird or different or unable to participate in mainstream life, just because they don’t do mainstream school. They are just the same as any other family wanting to do the best for their children and that best may take a myriad of different forms yet all the home educated youngsters I’ve known have progressed into the working world just the same as their school contemporaries and once there you wouldn’t know they hadn’t been to school.

So if you want to know more, take a look at my books, Google some of the home educating blogs and groups (Facebook’s a good place to start) and connect with others to find out how it happens. And you can read our own story in ‘A Funny Kind of Education’ which will give you an idea of a home educating life and hopefully make you warm and giggly!

Home education…never once regretted

September melancholy!

It’s a while since our home education days, even longer since my youngsters were at school in the early days, but that doesn’t stop that sense of melancholy come September. It has a sense of ending; ending summer; ending holidays; ending of freedom from school, it seems entwined with our culture.

When home education came into our family life it brought with it a whole new sense of joy about September, about our continued educational freedom, albeit tinged with a sense of sadness for those who were going back to school.

I know not everyone feels this. But when we started home educating after a brief spell doing school it was nothing but joy that ours weren’t among them.

So if you’re standing on the cusp of making that decision yourself, or having a bit of a wobble about it, I wanted to share the fact that we never once regretted it.

Of course, that’s not to say it was without wobbles and doubts at times. But then, don’t we always have those throughout our parenting over all the things we do?

Some of our wobbles are described in our story ‘A Funny Kind of Education’ and in ‘A Home Education Notebook’. But I also describe the antidote to some of these. And that was to remember how you got here and why you want to make the decision in the first place.

There are so many reasons parents choose to home school – almost too many to mention. They range from the philosophical distaste of the systematic and prescriptive style of learning in a school, the one-size-fits-all approach to make the child ‘fit’, lack of attention to individual learning needs, to the more personal like disrespectful relationships (and I include the adults in that), bullying, too much noise and hubbub (and there’s nothing wrong with children who don’t like that!) and the destruction of personality and the desire to learn, sometimes the destruction of good health and well being too.

Education and learning should be a liberating and life-enhancing experience. Schooling has made it into the opposite for many learners. That’s not because of a ‘fault’ with the child as the powers that be would like us to believe, it is because of a fault with the system and its blindness to a broader, variable approach to learning.

So if you’re having wobbles and doubts just remember that.

Also remember that were your children in school you would also be facing dilemmas and challenges and worries, they’re not just exclusive to home educating. You have no more chance of ‘ruining’ your children than schools do. In fact there is less chance because you’re keeping your eye on your individual who can become lost in mass schooling. You can review and adapt your style of learning to suit your child’s and family’s (ever changing) needs (schools don’t do that). And you can make education a broad and life enhancing opportunity for your youngster to grow, life long. Which is what education should be.

With all the online facilities and opportunities to network and connect with others now, and with Covid concerns, home education is growing and growing. Real home schooling is not the same as school-at-home (post here). It is a successful and liberating approach to learning and educating in it’s own right which thousands have been practising for years – long before Covid.

And as well as ourselves, I didn’t come across anyone else who regretted doing it either. The only thing I did regret perhaps, was not doing it sooner!

New to Home Education? It’s worth a look…

Please feel free to share the post as much as you like!

You might be surprised to hear a former home educator say that home schooling isn’t suited to everyone. But, of course, that’s the truth because of the simple fact that every family is different, every child has different needs and everyone lives with different characters and in different circumstances. So it’s obvious really!

It’s also the truth that school does not suit every child and that IS NORMAL!

We should not de-normalise those who don’t flourish in a school setting. Firstly, it’s discriminative. Secondly, there’s nothing ‘wrong‘ with those who don’t – it’s criminal to suggest there is. Thirdly, some of us quite rightly need alternatives. Finally – and obviously – we are NOT all the same!

So for those of you who want to consider an alternative education – and home education is as valid and successful as school education – I’ve collated some posts especially for you:

The real truth about home education dispels the common myths

Thinking about home education instead of going to school looks at common doubts.

The ‘About Home Education’ page above briefly answers the usual questions, has a link to my talk about whether you could home educate or not, and further down has a wider educational philosophy which may help you formulate ideas.

The post 5 tips for new home educators may help get you going!

Among my books you’ll find my guide to Home Education; ‘Learning Without School’, the story of how we approached it; ‘A Funny Kind of Education’ which is an easy read, and lots of tips in ‘A Home Education Notebook’. All details on the My Books page above.

Meanwhile link up with me on my Facebook page or Twitter (or Instagram just for fun!) I’m happy to answer questions there or in the comments below.

There is a vast and on-growing community of parents who want something different from schooling. No one home educates alone and most find it an inspiring and liberating experience that they never once regret!

But – Could I really home educate?

It’s a bank holiday weekend. Who wants to think about education?

Of course, if you’re a home educator there is little distinction between education, learning and life. Which is really as it should be.

If you’re not a home educator and you’re perhaps considering it you might be interested to discover that there are thousands who are not going back to school after the summer but are continuing their learning life out of it – and much of it isn’t at home anyway!

Many parents think they couldn’t do it. A few are right – it takes a certain kind of parent, a certain kind of relationship with your children, and most importantly a mind that’s open to different ways of doing things.

But there are many parents who think they couldn’t homeschool who possibly could, with a little research and altered ways of thinking.

If you’re one of those I thought it might be helpful for me to repost my YouTube talk here to see if it might change your mind!

Click on the picture!

For more information and increased understanding of how home education really works see my books; ‘Learning Without School Home Education’, ‘A Funny Kind of Education’ and ‘A Home Education Notebook’. Details and extracts on the My Books page.

An alternative to going back to school

Learning out of school

As the beginning of the school year approaches I thought it might be helpful to repost this. For many parents think about home education but have so many fears about it they dismiss it as impossible.

It isn’t; it works incredibly well for thousands of families, even though they had fears at the outset too. This post talks about some of them.

I prefer the term ‘home education’ to ‘home schooling’ because it better describes it since most parents don’t do school at home they educate in other ways. And they’re not at home that much either; they educate as much out of it as in, as much with others as on their own – just in case those were some of the reasons you might not consider having a go.

So why else might you not consider home education?

Worried about not knowing what to do? You might feel like this at first, but there is so much help, support, resources and information online, as well as all the network opportunities through Facebook and Yahoo groups. Get Googling; you’ll discover a whole community.

So are you scared what others would say? It’s always a bit daunting leaving the mainstream and telling family and friends. But this can be overcome by making contact with other home ed families where you’ll gain instant support. You can boost your courage by keeping the company of people who support what you do. You can swot up your ideas and philosophies ready to answer doubters. There will always be people who criticise or judge those who want to do things differently, after all, you’re indirectly challenging what they do and they might not want to face up to flaws in their choices! But you stick to your principles and maybe you’ll be able to show others that doing it differently is okay – it works – and you might even rescue a child from a dire situation in school!

Perhaps you are just scared you’ll fail your child? Well, I always say that parents who home educate rarely fail their child because generally speaking parents who choose this route are thinking parents. Thinking parents review, assess, make changes, find solutions to challenges, and are able to overcome any difficulties by thinking them through. Some continue to home educate throughout their child’s education. Some use schools, colleges and Unis later on. Some decide it’s not for them. All are valuable decisions. The decision to home educate is not set in concrete. Like all intelligent parents you make new decisions when required. That’s what prevents failure.

Or maybe you’re concerned about being with the children all the time? Happily, most parents who home educate report a strong and loving bond. Some report that taking school out of their family life changed their relationships with the children for the better – even with teens. Through these respectful communicative relationships the children become gradually more independent in what they do and families find ways to create space from each other when or if they need it. For most it’s never a problem.

Perhaps your biggest worry is the thought of being alone and your child not mixing? This is another myth about home educating. What we found was that we had so many home educating friends to share activities and go out with we had to make sure we planned some time to stay in on our own. There are increasing home education groups to interact with, where the children have opportunity to develop social skills, conversation, friendships – parents too! It is normally the case that home educated children are far more socially skilled than school children who are shut away from normal society.

Or perhaps you’re scared your kids will turn out weird? I know many adults out in the world now who were home educated and no one could ever tell – as someone once said to my daughter. I think it was meant as a compliment! You can judge for yourself and meet her here – she presented a little film for me.

Home education is a growing alternative to school that thousands and thousands of parents are finding successful. It’s an approach to education that means the children develop and mature, grow in competence, intelligence and independence, without suffering. And who go on to make as valuable and productive a contribution to the world as any other child.

So if you’re thinking of home schooling, maybe you should do a bit of research and then dive in. You’ll find a whole community of people just waiting to befriend and support you and join you on the route towards a completely different, inspirational and uplifting style of education.

Which is what it should be anyway!

Check out my books for lots more info and a peep into a real home educating life! And here’s my little talk telling why you can do it too!

Not Going Back To School

It a20160829_155706.jpglways seemed to be the perfect blue-sky-over-harvest days when we had to ‘Go Back’. The ‘Going Back’ feeling settled over us all like Sunday nights.

When I was a child it wasn’t only going back to school, it was also going back to the city where we felt equally imprisoned after our summer in the country.

But going back to school had as much as a sense of imprisonment of minds as physical confinement. And although progress has inevitably been made since I went to school, I sense the imprisoned minds of today’s children even worse than back then. Everything about learning has been so compartmentalised, measured, trussed up and forced into an ever tighter climate that the kids can be inhibited from learning at all. Certainly learning things that are useful to them for life outside of school!

I felt that sense of doom as strongly as a teacher as I did as a child. And not just for myself, but for all the children who had to be shut back in class when outdoors September would bloom like another summer. Have you noticed when the kids go back it’s always glorious weather?

Then, when our children did their short spell in school, I experienced it again. And wondered; do kids – physically, mentally and emotionally – really have to be so imprisoned for an education?

Home educating taught us that it didn’t.

And it taught our young people that, although there will be times that learning may be boring and needed sticking at to achieve certain goals, the bulk of it is inspirational, it is not imprisoning but liberating and exciting, and has a purpose and a practice that they can take on themselves, for themselves, simply because learning is a way to enhance a life. And no one has to suffer to do it.

Throughout our home educating days I felt blessed that their happy learning lives could continue on through September – and all year round really.

I do acknowledge that many children have happy learning lives in school which is brilliant. But I also know that many don’t; the nature of school does not suit them and they do not thrive and achieve well there. Some don’t even keep well.

Home educating offers a workable, successful and in many cases liberating alternative for those children and an opportunity to learn without school – there are many home educated adults out there now proving that it works.

For education should be liberating, certainly uplifting and inspiring, broadening lives and minds and enhancing them, not imprisoning them.

We found home educating the most liberating learning experience of all.

If you haven’t already; you should seriously consider it. (Browse round this site for stories and tips to help). And eradicate that Going Back feeling for good.

And if you’re already doing so, may you continue to enjoy the experience as much as we did.

Education is for life- not just for schools!

Times tables to be tested – teachers made accountable – another dreadful strategy for schools.

Christmas packed away it’s back to school for many this week. For thousands though it isn’t, as they continue with their home education, continue with their life education, which is after all what education is for.

And it is for reasons like this article displays that they do it; because of incompetent decisions to improve educational standards that do not work. All that improves is educational stress and there’s plenty of that already!

Education is for life, not just for schools, isn’t it?

It’s easy to forget what education is for, especially when you’re immersed in the system where the inherent purpose is grade getting – by any means. Although grades may be valuable in expanding choices and chances, they are not the only purpose of it.

The purpose of education is personal development. And to equip people to lead productive and fulfilling lives that encourage independence, responsibility and a contribution to society as an active member. I wonder how many school children know that’s what education is for?

When you’re home educating, it’s good to keep reminding yourself of that overall purpose. Keep it as a priority. Remembering that personal growth is developed through personal experiences, personal connections and practical activities as many physical as academic. And exposure to everyday lives, observation of how people live and pay for their everyday lives and building the skills needed to do it for yourself one day, finding out what you’re good at on the way.

Times tables are only one very small part of that – possibly!

It’s hard to get that kind of everyday exposure in the system, driven as it is by politics more than personal.

If you’re one of the many parents becoming disillusioned with what your child’s going to confront when they go back to school you might like to reconsider home education. there’s plenty on this site to start you off among my blogs and books.

And if you’re one of those inspirational parents who’ve now decided to give the system the push may this be a little reminder to stay with your priorities and educate for the personal good of your child rather than the political.

Nicky Morgan’s focus suddenly on times tables is just about the political more than the personal. It has nothing to do with what will educational benefit a child. It’s about popularity and winning votes.

Home educators can educate for the good of a child’s life, rather than for politics, which is sadly the fate of many in schools!