It’s always interesting to hear how parents take very different approaches to their children’s education and learning, especially when both school and home education occur within the same family.
I spoke to one parent recently who told me how this worked for them. This is what she told me:
“My children are all very different and had very different responses to school. So I was glad to find out about home education and offer them the choice to learn in another way.
My oldest child originally went to school at four and enjoyed it; except that she thought it was for only one day and didn’t want to go again after that! So I came to home education rather tentatively and without understanding a lot about it.
By the time my second child was seven he was inquisitive about school and went to try it and loved it. It worked for him and he never looked back. About this time my eldest returned to school as I still didn’t feel confident about home educating and personal circumstances at that time made it difficult.
Although my son was thriving in school it clearly did not suit my eldest and she became very poorly trying to cope with it. There was no specific reason for this; it was just how she was. She’d done her first year of GCSEs by the time her ill health became so severe she came out again and only went back in to do her exams the following year.
By this time I had a younger child who did reception at school but then decided she wanted to be home educated.
I researched home education further, what it was and how it worked and connected with organisations who offer support. I realised the children could learn from their interests and learning desires and this worked much better as an approach than trying to do ‘school at home’ which is how I’d tackled it before.
Now my youngest is nine and my older children have learned and developed in their own individual ways; my son in school till A Levels and my eldest at home, I have developed my confidence in their ability to learn for themselves. This grew from watching and listening to them and observing them learning for themselves. I encouraged them to be interested and took an interest in their interests myself. It took a while for me to trust in this self-learning process as I’ve been very conditioned, like many of us, to believe that learning has to be systematic and prescriptive like schools do it. This was clearly not the case.
I observed that they actually took a very scientific approach to their own learning about the world, observing, hypothesising and trying things out. The more demonstration I saw of their ability to learn, the more I am convinced that given the opportunity and support, children will educate themselves in what they need to do, when they need to do it. It was in this way my youngest taught herself to read – mostly from computer use.
The home educating community we belong to are of enormous support and offer all kinds of social and learning activities we get involved with.
I see my role now as facilitating, supporting and encouraging. And quite often keeping out of the way!
Home educating has taught me a lot about children, their learning and how it happens – that it doesn’t always have to be intensely organised. School was fine for my son – having said that he principally enjoyed the company of his friends and teachers, rather than the work and structure, but that approach did work for him.
For the other two, especially the youngest who has hardly been to school, this very different approach is just as successful.”