I thought it might be helpful to write about why we chose to home educate both our children.
It’s been one week since we officially deregistered Mabli from school and made the choice to home educate her along with her big brother. Wilf has now been ‘homeschooled’ for six months although it feels like much longer because we started along this path last March when the world was plunged into lockdown.
If you’ve been following along for a while you will know the reasons we made to chose to home educate Wilf whilst he was attending year three in school. If you are a new reader you can find these posts here and here.
We felt (rightly or wrongly) at the time that as Mabli was in preschool and very much enjoying her time there, then we would be give reception year a good go. The reasoning if I’m honest mainly came from our then thinking that school was the first choice if it worked for her as well as knowing that reception year was mostly learning through play.
Clearly six months down the line on our decision to chose to home educate this now isn’t our thinking so I thought it might be helpful for others to see how we came to this decision.
I imagine that if we had not dipped our toes into this lifestyle at the start of last year we possible may never had considered home ed for either of our children.
Last year we saw Wilf flourish despite the effects of being in lockdown. Once we had quickly worked out that completing the tasks from school didn’t work for us and that instead using our own interests and passions as catalyst for real learning. Quite quickly we were asked if this could be an ongoing situation. Whilst at the time it felt like a momentous decision to be making I now look back and wonder that we didn’t see sooner how right this was for him and our family.
That all being said we still felt that as reception would be a good fit for Mabli, we had the idea that she would at least see out this year if not the next as well before we made a similar decision.
It’s worth noting that she started the school after a long lockdown so we knew that the long week and days would feel a lot. As she wasn’t yet five (when you are legally meant to be registered either at school or home learning) we decided to start doing a flexi week. Anyone who follows me on Instagram will know how hard she found this with long evenings of crying and screaming and emotionally breaking down. We also knew that starting school is pretty tiring for every child and felt we needed to give it a proper go at least for a few months.
Three months into school (Mon-Weds) she finally began to enjoy her time there. I would like to note that we truly loved the school and all the staff and knew they were working so hard to make her feel comfortable. However six weeks later we were placed in yet another lockdown.
The response from the government for the education provisions provided during this lockdown felt a lot more intense (both for teachers and children). Whilst we were very grateful to not be sitting Wilf down to four hours of zoom calls we still felt constrained a little by the expectation on reception year. I wont go into how impossible remote learning must have been for some many families (especially those we were being expected to work as well) because I’m almost certain that most found it pretty harrowing.
Whilst we appreciated the efforts of all the staff (there were some lovely in person sessions) we tended to use our own resources for Mabli’s learning in a similar way that we had with Wilf. We felt this gave us more freedom if the day was sunny to walk to our local park or if the kids woke up and wanted to spend the day baking.
Mabli brought up the fact she didn’t want to return to school and we promised we would sit down as a family and discuss it. One morning both kids headed downstairs and put their point across that they felt they should both be home educated. They were very convincing in their arguments and it was actually really lovely to see how much Wilf wanted to spend this time with her at home too.
Our main concern was that we would simply have no childfree time and secondly that removing Mabli from school would mean she wasn’t as able to meet children of a similar age to her. Whilst we are still very much in lockdown obviously home school groups are not able to run. Thankfully our local forest school is able to run under the same rules as school and so finding her a place there solved both our initial worries. I don’t doubt that once things are ‘back to normal’ that socialisation will be of no problem at all.
Now we are half a year into this journey I truly believe that there is so much more to learning than can be taught in school. I want my kids to be able to focus on the things they are passionate about, at their pace and for as long as they like. I want to be able to have the freedom to spend the entire day outdoors. I want them to never have to hear ‘falling behind’ or ‘up to speed’ or value their self worth on how they are rated in comparison to another child.
I also feel that the way we are taught in schools isn’t a reflection of the way the world now is and the jobs that people are now doing or will be doing when our children are grown. I think that encouraging a curiosity in learning and supporting passions is the real start of setting a child up to flourish and excel.
Home education even in a lockdown situation has already shown us how much freedom it gives us a family. We are often in our PJ’s at 9am. We have no set structure to our day apart from our weekly forest school day and a few online classes Wilf attends (music and languages). The kids will often tell us excitedly what they are planning to do that morning (almost 99% crafts whilst munching through toast).
Whilst we offer up suggestions it is always a two way discussion. Whilst we do have certain rules about screen time and tidying they also have autonomy over their choices with how they spend their day.
I also feel that not spending six hours a day at school frees them up for so much more time to pursue and cultivate interests and skills such as reading or music. Since Wilf deregistered he has progressed so much on piano, something that he choses to sit and practise as well as flying through novels in the space of days!
We are obviously still finding our feet but even at this stage we can see how the positives are many. Once life returns to some state of normality we also very much want to take advantage of travel during term time!
It’s also worth saying that I feel very privileged in so many ways to be able to make a decision like this with my family. Whilst it can be pretty noisy and messy and full on at time it also feels like an incredible gift to witness them grow as people and to help facilitate that.
We couldn’t be happier to chose to home educate and we are so excited for what this year will bring!
You find posts on home school here