Thinking about home educating?
Whether you start from the word go, or whether you are taking your child out of school, it could be the best decision you ever make. However, it is not a forever decision, take the stress out of it by looking at it as a decision for now.
It is important to realise that home education is different for every family, and indeed for each child within a family. What works for one, may not work for another.
We started after a term at pre-school because it was clear our child was thriving at home but not ready for school… it was only going to be for a year… we haven’t looked back!!
For us, L was very interested in Peter and Jane books and easily learned to read using those, along with lots of story books together when she was very little. Peter and Jane didn’t appeal to R, so we found different books for her, Red Nose readers with a bit of humour in them, or books about chameleons. R needed more in the way of phonics and sounding out, whereas L was a whole word reader. R still gets annoyed at how much of the English language doesn’t follow the supposed rules! She loved Alphablocks on CBeebies and also available on YouTube.
If you are thinking of home educating from before your child is ‘school’ age then in the UK you don’t have to let anyone know. Just don’t apply for a school place. (do check in Scotland and Wales as rules have been changing). Then just because they might have started school but didn’t, it doesn’t mean that things have to change from how it has been as a toddler, we didn’t suddenly start ‘schooling’, we carried on living as we had with a 3 and 1 yr old, then a 4 and 2 yr old, 5 and 3 yr old, just talking about things that they showed an interest in, trips out, trying a bit of writing or reading as they wanted to, reading lots of books with them. You don’t suddenly need lessons, a curriculum etc.
We joined our local home ed group, chatted with others, joined in with activities and all of us learned loads as we went along.
Of course it changes as they get older, but it still doesn’t have to change into lessons and schooling (unless that is something that works for you and your children) just the content changed for us, it is still living and learning. Instead of fairy cake making, which we did (and still do) when they were little, we moved onto whole meals, plus budgeting and meal planning, shopping lists, and doing the on-line shop. We did reading recipes and measuring things out and adjusting for different numbers of people. Amazing how much this covers if you want to look for ‘academic’ things…. addition, subtraction, multiplication, measuring, weighing, converting, fractions, percentages and more, and it is real life, they can see the point of it. It isn’t something made up to be educational.
We always discuss everything, so they always have a say and choice in what we do and most of the time they are very much leading their own learning.
The biggest thing when starting home education is not to panic!
They will learn, it is pretty difficult not to.
Chat, go for walks, have fun, talk to other home educators. You don’t have to be in a rush – take your time. Education is not a race.
If you are relaxed then your children will be too.
Look up things that you’re interested in, put interesting documentaries on, watch interesting YouTube videos
Some great short science videos. (Do watch out for age appropriate ones though, some are more for teenagers.)
I’ve found it best not to make watching these things a compulsory exercise in education, just enjoy it yourself, invite your children to join you, set an example of being interested. They will join you if they are interested, otherwise you can tell them snippets that you found interesting and they may then watch it themselves later, or it might lead to something else.
If they ask random questions, take the time to look up the answer. Then and there if at all possible. The answer means so much more if found at the time of interest. (what did we do before Google?)
Regular library visits are very useful, it made us feel more part of the community, the staff know my children, we can order books in that we need, we can choose all sorts of books we might not otherwise have had access to. It is all free!! Pick up lots of books, and let them do the same, leave them around and pick some up yourself to have a look through.
If you have forgotten the joy of learning, or never had it – discover the joys of learning for yourself.
Historical Fiction is a good start – especially with discussions about evidence and how much is fiction, how much based on fact.
Let them play
Imaginative play is so valuable, it is the way that children make sense of the world, and too many children are losing the art of this. We have encouraged playmobil, lego, etc, it is all great for hours lost in adventures. Build camps round the house, pirate ships made from big boxes, shops, cafes, sometimes a big box can set off a game that lasts for days. How lovely that our kids can have that time to immerse themselves in other worlds – what better practise for future creative writing could there be?
See also: Taking a child out of school