Tag Archive | Learning Without School

Kids don’t particularly needs schools to learn!

For some, it’s scary to think about their children learning without schools or ‘proper’ teachers. Especially if that’s all you’re used to.

Getting your head round that idea is a problem for most home educating families when they start out.

They learn just as well on the floor, lying down, wriggling about, having a chat...

They learn just as well on the floor, lying down, wriggling about, having a chat…

Because parents mostly believe that in order to learn kids need the following:

  • qualified teachers
  • to be taught
  • to be in classrooms, sitting still mostly
  • to be told what to do, when to do it and how
  • to follow a curriculum
  • to learn in incremental stages
  • to be tested regularly
  • to learn through academics

But those who’ve been home educating a while are discovering that other ways of learning work just as well without any of this stuff in place. Successful home educated graduates are proof.

For example they’re finding out that, contrary to the points above:

  • Qualified teachers can help children learn – granted. But equally there are plenty of other adults, parents being among them, who can also help children learn by being engaged with them, by answering their questions and encouraging more, by being interested, facilitating experiences and spending the time. Time that teachers don’t have.
  • Anyway, children also learn without teaching, through the incidental activities they do, through conversations, explorations and investigations.
  • Learning can take place anywhere. At any time, doing anything, however wriggly and unstill they are, without ever entering a classroom actually – given the right climate. And many are proving it now.
  • And they don’t always require to be told what to do, when to do it and how, if at all!
  • So therefore a curriculum isn’t always necessary. It’s just a useful tool which you can use or lose, depending on how you want to use it rather than have it use you!
  • Some learning is built on understanding that’s gone before. some learning happens in a kind of non-structured patchwork that’s being proven to be equally successful. It depends which approach suits the child and family’s needs best. Stage- or grade-led learning is not the only approach that works. Or a guarantee of successful education.
  • Testing IS NOT necessary. I repeat; testing is not necessary. It doesn’t advance the learner. It’s just another tool you can use or lose depending on your preference. (There’s a previous post which explains here)
  • And there are all sorts of non-academic ways to learn; conversation, watching films or YouTube clips, experiential, practical and firsthand, trips, trial and error, field study. The more the learning experience ignites all the senses the firmer it will be established!

It takes a while to trust in this process. You have to open your mind, your eyes, and watch and learn how your children really are learning without any of the conventional requirements you might have thought were needed.

But trust this; there are thousands of home educated young people now proving this to be true!

(If you want to know more there’s a long chapter on learning approaches in my book Learning Without School Home Education‘)


Another little word on worry…

People considering home schooling are often stopped by thinking it’s going to be too much of a worry! So I thought I’d repost some ideas here to try and put some of those to rest.

The worry that comes attached to parenting makes life pre-children look like a picnic. Add home schooling into the picture and it doubles.

However, if you think about it, there’s just as much worry attached to schooling isn’t there? There was for me.

The daft thing is; worry is pointless. It doesn’t help anything, it warps reasonable perspective, it wears you down and becomes counter-productive. So you might as well stop it.

The million dollar question is; how?

I’m a worrier and had to work hard at dealing with it so as not to spoil being a mum. Here are some of the ideas I came up with; perhaps they’ll work for you.

–          Look at your concern realistically. Usually worry is nothing more than us imagining the worst scenario. It’s not something that is actually happening. So try and switch your imagination off and focus on the reality now. Or…

–          Imagine instead the best scenario. Imagine how it looks when it’s positive – what you want to happen rather than thinking about the worst case. This is visualisation. It’s very powerful, but it’s ironic that we rarely imagine the best. Visualise what it looks like when everything is working perfectly, your children being angelic!

–          Worrying is nothing more than your thoughts – not events – just negative thinking. The best antidote to this I found was to stop thinking and start doing. Take action to change whatever is bothering you. Or if that’s not possible involve yourself in an activity that takes your mind off the worry and onto something else. This refreshes you, dilutes the worry, brings a new perspective.

–          Another point; worrying is about future events. You’re not there yet and you cannot predict what future is in store anyway – everything always changes. So stop living for the future, start making this moment the best it can be.

–          Obviously we want to do the best we can to secure our children’s future, whether that’s in the way we raise them or the way we educate them. But nothing can be secure really and sometimes we’re so busy doing that we forget that right now is what matters. Love matters. Happiness matters. Interest and fun matter. Putting those in place now is the best way to build a fulfilling, successful future – I don’t think fulfilment and success can happen without them.

–          There is no guarantee you can make for your child’s future except that. By doing that each day, but being aware of the way you are, by being relaxed, attentive, busy and FUN you can show your child how to build a life the same!

–          Worry also occurs when we’re focussing intensely on the smaller picture. Often a blinkered picture – an inaccurate one. Like your child not being able to achieve something that others can like sharing for example. It’s easy to get obsessed about it – this puts pressure on which makes it worse, creates an intensity which communicates itself to the child which prevents them from sharing because they know it’s something you’re worried about …etc…etc. To stop this take your mind’s eye out from the intensity of this small picture to the whole of your child’s life– I bet your child will be as considerate over sharing as anyone else by the time they’re twenty. So be patient – children are all different and are allowed to be. Look at the bigger picture.

–          Keep contact with others to help your perspective. Talk about your concerns – then stop and talk about something else – something positive! Don’t measure your child against your friend’s. If you must, measure instead against the millions and millions of children who started out with these noticeable differences then by adulthood have become insignificant.

–          Look after yourself! Worry is increased by tiredness, frustration, stress, unhappiness. Your needs as a parent are as important as the child’s. Happy parent equals happy child. Some of the things I did to help myself with this were; reading inspirational books, regular exercise, getting outdoors and enjoying nature’s beauty, meeting with others,  avoided too much junk food (food affects your mind), attention to my mental/spiritual wellbeing.

–          If your child sees you doing this you’ll be teaching them how to look after themselves as they grow which is a far better lesson to be teaching them than how to worry!

I’ve suggested other ways of looking after yourself as a mum in my new book ‘Mumhood How to handle it Why it matters’. And there are ideas about dealing with worry if you’re a home educating parent in ‘Learning Without School’. But for a read to give you a giggle and a lift away from it all try ‘A Funny Kind of Education’. All the details are on my book page.

cafe books 005

Just a great big THANK YOU!

This post is really just a massive THANK YOU!

Thank you to all you kind and encouraging people who have sent me such lovely messages about my work, who have written me such warm reviews for my books on Amazon, who have visited and left comments on my blog and Liked my Facebook pagecafe books 005

These lovely efforts of yours do not go unnoticed, even if I don’t get round to responding and I want you to know they are IMMENSELY APPRECIATED!

So THANK YOU. I am so inspired by your support.

And not only does it support me, you support others too because every Like or comment or review spreads the ideas a little further afield, bringing it perhaps to the attention of those who might feel trapped in boundaries they would not otherwise be brave enough to step beyond – as many have told me it supported them!

So THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart! I feel incredibly blessed to be so supported.


School; so wrong for so many

book coverSchool is very right for so many too, although you maybe wouldn’t expect a home educator to say that.

However I readily acknowledge that for some it works extremely well. But I thought I’d repeat this post because of the sudden increased interest in Home Education as parents don’t get places for their children in the schools of their choice. And also as some don’t understand that school doesn’t have the monopoly on learning.

We’ve been sold school for so long as the only way to an education. But, actually, it isn’t and it isn’t good for many children – and that’s just the climate I’m talking about never mind the learning – and some children don’t learn much of value there anyway. They are educated for something else instead; how to survive in a school setting and pass tests. Which is a bit of a waste as once outside the school setting life’s nothing like that, had you noticed?

For example; what if when you went into work you were only allowed to work and mix with people who were the same age as you? What if you had to endure the disruptive, frightening and bullying behaviour of your peers, which bosses could do nothing about, and you had NO POWER to do anything about either? What if your work was considered of no value unless it put the company up league tables? And what if you were told you had to endure it for the next ten years or so – for your own good apparently even though it may make you ill – and you had NO VOICE in the matter whatsoever? No CHOICE at all? How would you feel about working in a culture like that?

Yet this is the culture in which many children find themselves in school. For some kids it’s okay, some are lucky, others it doesn’t seem to bother, or they’re in schools which are more respectful of children. For others it’s hell.

When I worked in schools I saw much that wasn’t doing kids any favours. It was the wrong approach to learning for many. Some failed to thrive in that environment. The emphasis was on scores not on people. It was an unpleasant and threatening atmosphere at times. But no one seemed bothered about the impact on the kids.

After we started to home educate a GP friend of mine said that he was seeing an increasing number of school-stress related illnesses among children, so much so that he did sometimes make the parents aware of the choice to home educate.

And that’s where the crux of the matter lies – in CHOICE!

In our lives outside school we always have choice. We think we don’t but it’s really that some of our choices are far too difficult to contemplate! However, the choice is always there. But choice has its drawbacks; you have to make decisions all the time. You have to take charge.

Children are so disempowered by the choice-less system of schooling that they have no ability to take charge – of anything. Sometimes they don’t even get a chance to in the home. Then parents and employers moan that young people have no common sense, no motivation, no initiative, no ability to make decisions, little understanding of what’s required of them outside school.

Is it any wonder really? When do they ever have the chance to learn to use their initiative, their common sense, to make decisions? And why would they understand about life outside school when school is nothing like it?

Schooling is SO prescriptive now that it takes away all opportunity for children to develop these kinds of essential life skills. But because we are so used to it, because we are threatened with the misinformation that without grades our kids won’t have a successful life and that justifies any means to get them, because it has become so ‘normal’ to subject our kids to this and call it education, little changes for the better.

What we need is less prescription, more people to care. And to understand that school isn’t that ‘normal’ in comparison to a working life outside, and parents to really think about what it’s all for and what it’s doing to their children.

This is what home educators do. Home educating parents are just ‘normal’ parents who have begun to understand that school isn’t the only answer to educating children. And the more there are of them choosing that route the more it will provide proof that other ways work too for those who want them. And maybe even schools can learn from that.

School is so wrong for so many. Thanks to home education we can choose to make a difference.


Towards an educational philosophy

Just letting you know I’ve added a new page today…

I know that many parents worry about formulating an educational philosophy when they start out home educating, not only for themselves but also to explain their ideas to the Local Authority.

So to try and support those of you who need it I’ve added a page with ideas and tips to aid the development of your own. The ideas here are only ideas – not intended as truth or gospel – and may well not be in line with your own thinking. But even that might help you move towards what is!

Hope it’s useful. You can find it here: https://rossmountney.wordpress.com/towards-an-educational-philosophy/

Do please comment and let me know your thoughts on the matter. The more ideas here the more people are helped towards a successful and happy education for their children.