Tag Archive | learning out of school

Is shopping on the curriculum?

I know I was talking about not buying stuff on the blog last time but with home educating there were always a few essentials we went out for and it put me in mind of this story.

It was a typical home educating day – while back now I admit but as clear in my mind as it ever was. And that was because of the horrible git in the lift!

It was an out-of-the-house day. Very essential. We’d needed a library trip; we were loaded with books. We’d also been looking at buying a couple of books to learn from, which the kids had fallen in love with in the book shop. We needed some groceries anyway and then we’d got a trip to the park planned for outdoor lunch, exercise, a clamber on the apparatus there and observation of anything wild that came up. It always does.

So laden down with our stuff, picnic included, we were in the lift on our way down from the book department. Standing in there was an elderly chap looking down on us from his great height with clear disapproval.

Now quite often when we were out and about we’d get a smile for the kids from people who we came across. A look of interest. Maybe a gentle chat or enquiry. Today it was different. Today it was term time and my children were clearly not in school. Today this chap was clearly not pleased.

He ignored me, looked accusingly at the girls and said ‘Not in school today?’

Before I could answer my eldest pipes up confidently and proudly, hugging her books to her, ‘No we’re home educated.’ I was so pleased to see how she’d grown – she’d never done this before.

Again he directly ignored me and confronted her, with a cross tone and a glaring eye and said; ‘Shopping on the curriculum is it?’

She deflated like a spent balloon and that old oppressed and guilty look she wore in school – eradicated since we’d been home educating – fell back onto her face at his intended put-down.

I’m not usually a violent person but quite frankly I could have smashed his face in!

‘Actually, shopping is very educational,’ I retorted. And the lift doors opened and we parted before there was any time to argue the point further. Not that I probably would have bothered as you know how pointless it is against some people’s narrow minded ignorance.

I was so upset. Mostly because of the attack on my child by this arrogant bully who obviously thought he had some kind of authority and licence.

Happily, most people we came across when out were fairly interested. ( I think I describe some of the comments in ‘A Funny Kind of Education’) But way back then, when home education was still fairly unheard of, people were more suspicious. In fact you could easily feel that you shouldn’t have your kids out in public in term time as if they weren’t fit to be seen; they should be tidied away in school.

If there’s one thing this awful pandemic has done for us it’s brought home schooling to the fore. It’s much more recognised and possibly even understood better by thousands more than way back then. It’s certainly opened people’s eyes and minds to an approach to education that although unfamiliar, is totally workable, successful and a life saver for many children who through no fault of their own do not thrive in school. Not to mention the fact it’s encouraged more parents to question the awful flaws in schooling and the system.

Let’s hope this will be one positive outcome of the pandemic that will remain for good and continue to grow. And those parents who choose to home educate (and I don’t mean do school-at-home as many were forced to do during Lockdown) are supported in that decision. And whatever approach one chooses it is less divisive than it has been as understanding expands.

And actually – shopping is educational as it supports many concepts of the curriculum if you delve into it’s diverse subject matter with an investigative mind; maths, science, environment, origins, language, vocabulary, design… it’s all in there in various forms. So put it on your curriculum, get out as much as you can, try not to actually buy too much stuff and good luck with those you come into contact with!

Lots of investigative learning possible from just a basket of shopping!

How do homeschool kids learn?

Following on from last week’s post I thought it might be helpful to talk about this.

It’s such a huge question. How does anyone learn? How do you learn now you’re a parent?

Discounting any specific academic courses you may be undertaking I think you’ll agree your learning otherwise, (say about your new technology, or looking up how to fix, cook, parent), has little resemblance to the way schools do it – you probably do most of it online and by asking around too. Yet it will be just as effective.

School learning structures are the way they are because the learning there has to be measured – not because they’re the best way to do it!

However, learning doesn’t have to be measured in order to be successful. And for most home educators it isn’t measured – it’s just experienced. Families just encourage, prompt, provide resources and engage with what their learner wants to learn, along with essential skills to do so, and find ways to facilitate it, practically, physically, mentally and most importantly interestingly!

They do it through a multitude of ways; online, out and about, through meetings and sharing learning with others, in the local community, museums, galleries, sports and play centres, libraries, workshops, visits to various sites, nature reserves and places of interest, all so the learning experience is as first hand as possible, along with practice of academic skills and study at times.

But it’s very hard to get your head round those unfamiliar approaches that home educating families take to their learning. So I’ve written a whole chapter about it in my guide to home education; ‘Learning Without School Home Education’ which may help you get to grips with it. (For more details scroll down the ‘My Books’ page above) If you haven’t got a copy and prefer not to buy, you can request that your library do so, then others will be able to access it too.

The chapter looks at both a traditional view and a broader view of how children learn, what they need in order to do so, how they learn without teaching from everyday experiences including play, and then goes on to look at different approaches families use in more detail, the pros and cons, along with some suggestions on how to choose an approach that’s right for you. The chapter also talks about motivation and about children having charge of their own learning which may be a really radical idea for some, but is still doable and effective.

From the book; Learning Without School Home Education

Learning and educating are such a personal experience – although schools tend to generalise it – every learner is different and everyone’s circumstances are different. But despite these diverse and idiosyncratic approaches which families take to their home education the young people all seem to end up in the same place; intelligent, articulate, socially skilled, and mostly with a portfolio of qualifications in line with their school contemporaries.

Don’t be daunted by an unfamiliar approach to learning that’s so different from the traditional. Traditions always need challenging to see if they’re still worth hanging onto, although I guess you know that already or you wouldn’t be challenging the tradition of schooling! By opening your mind about how children learn you will be able to give your youngsters a much more pro-active and enjoyable experience of learning that will set them up for life.