I did a Q&A the other day on Instagram with any home ed questions you might have so wanted to pop them on the blog too. I’ve literally copied them down here straight as they were from IG stories. Do let me know in the comments if you have anymore!
Do we worry about the kids not having a school socialisation?
I know this is a concern lots of people have but even in lockdown I can see how the idea of lack of socialisation is going to be anything but an issue. The kids have a weekly forest school where they see the same group of kids (Wilf and Mabli plus 8 others) and from there (in between restrictions over the past year when allowed) we have done meet ups and playdates and been introduced to other families. I can see when lockdown lifts how many other groups and clubs they will be able to go to and play and work things out in small groups with other kids.
I also think the idea of a large class of 30 isn’t necessary socialising in a ‘meaningful’ way. I’m sure they would have a small group of good friends within this amount however they have already made that just during these past months. As adults we can say ‘I prefer smaller friendship groups’ or ‘I have a few close friends’ and we aren’t told we need to socialise with larger groups.
How do you and Tom balance home ed with working?
We have one child free day when the kids are at forest school where we fit in the work we need to do together without the kids being around or we just juggle it and one has the kids. We are hoping that once we are allowed they can also spend a morning once a week with their granny who was a nursery teacher and amazing at crafts! But this moves me onto another question
Home Ed Questions
Do you consider how privileged it is to be able to offer it to your kids? Not an option for so many!
Yes definitely! I wrote a post about how much it is costing us and I am very aware of our privilege to work flexibly around the kids. However most of the families we have met have at least one parent working full time if not both working condensed hours and splitting days etc but yes it absolutely is a privilege because school is absolutely an essential childcare for the majority.
Do you have a regular daily rhythm or any time specifically for ‘school work?
The kids are defo early risers and they usually are crafting and inventing as soon as they are down eating breakfast. When Wilf does some of his ‘sit down learning’ he will go to another room with Tom so he isn’t distracted by Mabli (he’s doing year 6 maths atm which shows how much half an hour or so a day one on one helps!). He loves the subject and they really enjoy that time together but the rest of their learning they spend together
As a teacher would you welcome any professional tuition in particular subjects?
Absolutely! Wilf has a music tutor because we have no idea how to help facilitate learning the piano. He doesn’t learn grades though (which we love). He’s learning how to compose his own music as well as playing notes correctly reading music etc. There are also lots of classes and clubs we will be able to take them too eventually, at the science museum for example. When they are older if we felt we were unable to help them with something (like a language) we would look into a tutor for anything like that too. However we are generally ‘facilitators of their learning’ rather than sitting down and ‘teaching’. It’s great to be able to say ‘you know I don’t know either but that’s a great question let’s look it up together
How did the school react?
They were SO lovely, with Wilf we deregistered in the summer and it was mainly just a nice email reply wishing us well from the then head teacher and that was that but this time the dept head left the loveliest message and has made it clear if there is space they would both be welcome back at any time. We live locally so have already bumped into teachers and they are really supportive and kind, Mabli’s teaching assistant popped down with a card and when we walk past the school if they are in the playground they wave! It’s a really lovely school and if they were going to one it would be that one. It’s nice we’ve not left in bad terms in anyway and I really respect and appreciate all they do
Do they miss being around children of their own age?
Mabli is around kids her age in forest school (her good friend is 5 like her and there are a couple of 6 years old then some older kids like Wilf). We also know a few families locally who home ed with kids similar ages but also what’s lovely about the process is they play with kids of different ages and they all learn from each other
Are you meant to stick to the Nat Curriculum?
No, the requirements are to provide them with an education but you don’t have to follow the curriculum. We do for certain subjects and not for others. For example we are using similar methods for reading and writing with Mabli. Wilf follows the curriculum in maths and science (as well as additional bits for fun!). With anything else it’s interested led so we might be learning about Greek legends because it came up in the Narnia book we are reading and not for example the history topics his year group might be learning.
Do you guys get on each others nerves?
Yes and then we have to get outside and clear the air! Tom and I have been working together for almost 4 years now so we are pretty used to each other. We had Mabli home with us all this time (apart from pre school last year). We also try and take the kids out separately at least once a week so we aren’t in each others pockets so much, it mostly works ok! This past couple of months have been hardest in the rain and because we were trying to do Mabli’s school lockdown zooms etc which didn’t quite fit with the rhythm in our house
Would you recommend trying mainstream education before deciding on home schooling?
Honestly I think this really depends on the individual. We didn’t have home ed in our heads at all until a year or so ago. We wanted to try Mabli at reception because she loved the preschool and we like the learning through play in reception year. It’s been a journey that I wouldn’t previously have felt drawn to before so in that sense it made sense for us that Wilf went to school for 4 years. However where our thought processes are now we probably wouldn’t have wanted him to stay longer than Key Stage 1. School in many ways is an ‘easier’ choice if it’s also the right fit for the child and family. Equally only you know your child best so if starting school for whatever reason doesn’t feel right go with your gut. Nothing is set on stone and being at home to begin with doesn’t mean they can’t start later on if it feels right too.
Would you set up a small school yourself?
No! haha, but I’m keen to see what might pop up in Bristol. There is an amazing progressive school in Totnes that goes all the way to late teens that a friend’s children go to and I wish there was something like that here. Saying that there are diplomatic educational settings here in Bristol and also in-between Bristol and Bath that sound great. It’s not a commitment we are looking to make atm (because they are 3 days and also because is wouldn’t be a possibility financially) but it’s encouraging to know more options are out there.
Do you worry you are not qualified enough to give them the best education?
This is a great question and I have a lot to share on it. I think the idea of being qualified enough is a big block for lots of people and a few years ago I would have thought I wasn’t but I’m here to tell you you are! Am I qualified to teach a class of 30 (or any amount of children!) the curriculum? Absolutely not. Am I qualified to facilitate my child’s own interests in learning 100% yes
This is also plays into the idea the curriculum and mainstream school is the ‘best education’ I would disagree that is was for all children because everyone is different and no one size fits all. I also think that if I have gone through mainstream education then surely that makes me qualified and if it doesn’t then isn’t that suggesting it’s not the best education? Or not the best for all at least.
I also think that if I have gone through mainstream education then surely that makes me qualified and if it doesn’t then isn’t that suggesting it’s not the best education?
Do you have a feeling for if and when you might like Wilf and Mabli to return to mainstream?
Totally going to play if by ear. I wouldn’t be concerned if they didn’t return but equally would be happy for them if it was their choice. They can still do all the same qualifications whether they go to secondary school or not if they wish.
How do you manage being with the kids all the time. Is it exhausting!
We obviously have the normal ‘cant wait until bedtime to flop on the sofa’ feeling, we are defo only human but we try and get out the house or do calming things like reading a story when it’s feeling a lot. The good thing about home ed is we can take it all at our pace, we are also very fortunate that we are both able to share parenting equally which definitely reduces stress
Also does anyone ‘check up’ on you and the children and how you are doing things ?
I’m not sure how it works if you have never registered with school but yes if you deregister you get a call (and in normal times a visit) from the local authority. You send a little form back about why you chose this form of education and what your plans are. They would then usually ask you to send an annual report with some photos and bits and bobs of your learning that year (not all of it just examples or a written report) we are taking pics all the time anyway so I don’t feel very conscious of a need to record or report. Our contact with the LA has been super supportive and encouraging and welcome a visit when things are up and running again.
That being said you are legally allowed to just submit a yearly report and not welcome them into your home or answer questionnaire. For us though we feel very happy to do so and our experience is that Bristol local authority is very open minded and helpful.
I hope you found those home ed questions and answers helpful!