My two boys are aged 8 and 10 years and they have never been to school. When my husband and I chose to have children we always assumed they would go to school, but only because, like so many others, we didn’t realise that school wasn’t compulsory. It was only when I was being told that my then 2 1/2 year old eldest boy ‘should’ start going to play group by himself because he had to get used to the idea of going to school (2.5 years down the line!) that I started to question the system. It was also at this time that SATs were constantly in the news and school appeared to be more about the children passing tests to appease some league table figures than providing a fun, nourishing environment.
My eldest son, at the age of two preferred to be at home playing with his new brother, why should I prevent that relationship from blossoming by seperating them for hours at a time? So I went to the library (we had no computer or internet at the time) and soon discovered that within English law it is the eduation of a child that is compulsory from the age of 5 and not school, and that this education can take place ‘in school or otherwise’….we are the ‘otherwise’.
As in all aspects of life, there are many paths to home education and as many different reasons and ways of doing it. All are valid as every child is different and has different needs and different ways of learning. Our children have chosen the autonomous, self-didactic route where I am a facilitator of information rather than a teacher. We do not sit down and do regular, formal ‘work’ (no we do not have to follow the national curriculum and no, I do not have to be a qualified teacher), and yet they can both read, write, do amazing mental arithmetic, have engineering skills way beyond my scope of comprehension, an extensive knowledge of history and are bright, happy, confident children. All of this has arisen simply through carrying on the life we were living before the magical designated age of 5. We chat (alot!!), play games, watch TV, read stories, go on the computer, visit friends, have trips to museums, parks and other places of interest, go for walks, bike rides, bowling….and all the time they are learning, absorbing, living.
No, they are not socially isolated, there are numerous organised Home Educators’ clubs and activities on offer, all arranged by local home educators, and we used these a lot when my children were younger. However, I have found as they have got older that they prefer to see friends individually rather than en masse, but then, for us, that is what home education is all about, individual choice. Our children know they have the choice between home education or school, they have friends from both areas and know the options….so far they continue to choose home education.
Home education is not for everyone and I would never say it is better than school, simply different. It is another path that is there to be explored should you choose to take it!
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