My first child was 4 years of age. I had reserved a space for him in the local primary school. But I had a niggle about putting him in a class of 30 children. How on earth was this sweet gentle child going to survive?! It felt wrong that since his birth we were inseparable and now it was expected that I put him into school. I shared my thoughts with a friend at playgroup and she simply said, “ Well, why don’t you home educate him?” . I had no idea what she was talking about. Cue lots of googling, research, chats with other home educators. Almost instantly I knew it fitted with how I wanted to parent my child. It simply felt like an extension of what we had been doing since his birth. Two comments really resonated with me and cemented this decision;
- Since birth your child has figured out how to feed, crawl, walk etc, why now is it assumed that they lose their ability to learn to read, write etc?! Why indeed?!
- It’s a rollercoaster, it’s not linear as it is in school. Their learning will be in spurts, similar to their milestones to date.
It was decided, we would home educate. Two very different children later, we made the same choice for them, even though they probably would have been ‘able’ to survive the system. Home educating is a big commitment, but it is one which is massively fulfilling and allows me to be the facilitator of my children’s learning and to pace it to suit their needs and interests. It is a lifestyle choice and one which allows families to really live their lives to the full and get to know each other deeply.
I’ve been home educated my whole life, I’ve never been in a school environment. I’ve never been forced to be home educated, my parents have also given me the option of going to school, I’ve just never been interested in going. I like being home educated because I get to pursue my own interests more than I would at school. It’s also more focused on me than it would be at school, for one I’m not been taught by someone who doesn’t know me and I’m not being taught in a massive group either.
My mum puts a lot of work into teaching us in a way that suits us and also having good resources to teach with or us to learn from by ourselves. Being home educated has and is teaching me how to be independent and I also learn about myself: what I like, what I don’t like and how best I learn. I don’t think I’d learn that at school.
I wouldn’t like to go to school, especially not secondary school. I know kids who’ve been taken out of school because of bad bullying. I think all this is because they’ve been put into a fake environment where people are constantly being measured up against each other which causes great stress and people to either become big-headed or low on self-esteem. And I can’t see how that helps kids become successful in the real world. You are also forced to do things that aren’t relevant to you.
I know the government and adults worry about home educated kids not being socialised properly. They also worry about home educated kids not having a good education and us just being in the house doing nothing. Firstly, I socialise like any normal person does, going out and doing things. When I was younger I used to do a lot of activities: sports, art, drama, Rainbows, dance class and now I’ve tried a lot things, I just do the ones I like the best. Also home educators meet up regularly. That’s how I socialise. Secondly, it’d be impossible for me and my brothers to do nothing all day because my mum makes sure we do productive things and people are constantly watching us, so if we did nothing all day it wouldn’t go unnoticed.
Me and my brothers have grown up with people (adults and kids) fishing into our private lives: asking us where we live when we’re walking the dog, I’ve been asked maths questions, what we do with our time and so on… When people find out you’re home educated they immediately assume you do nothing and you have to prove you’re getting a good education. It gets tiring and gives my mum a lot of stress, but we’ve got used to it. So the government really shouldn’t worry about checking up on us because we get tested virtually every time we go out.
I don’t want this law about monitoring home educators to go through because I don’t want be watched and judged anymore than we already are. I also don’t see why home educators have to constantly justify and prove ourselves to people who should really mind their own business. School kids don’t have to prove that they get a good education and are quizzed every time they go somewhere new, so why should home educated kids? It’s because we do things differently and people don’t like what’s different, but that doesn’t justify people poking their nose into my life. We already get that enough. I don’t want the government knowing private things about me: what books I read, what subjects I’m good at and the ones I struggle with, how I like to spend my time. My parents know that, like all parents do and should. I don’t want a stranger reading about me and judging my life; it’s personal and not supposed to be seen by the government.
All three of our children attended school. Our eldest son struggled from an early age in the school role. After a very hard time fighting for support and help for him for a total of five years the situation continued to get worse. We tried so very hard to keep the children in school. Constant meetings with the head teacher and the department of education, Even the police. However despite our best efforts we still received no support for our son, the bullying continued inside and outside of school, we felt that our safest and best course of action was to withdraw him from school.
We have now been home educating him for about two years. Once we started our journey together , our younger two stayed in school. Unfortunately bullying continued and affected them both. In the end we decided that the only way forward was to withdraw them also. They have been home educated for 18 months now.
The school system failed them in more ways than one. Since we have left, the children are happy. They are more confident and they actually want to learn! We are so happy to see the changes in our children, academically, emotionally, mentally and physically. We can only say that we wish we had withdrawn the children sooner.
Making the decision to Home Educate our daughter was very much a leap into the unknown for us. As the end of her pre-school year approached, we became more certain that for her, being at school all day, five days a week, just wasn’t necessary at that age.
The welcome and support offered by other familes, to whom we were strangers, was invaluable and gave us confidence in our ideas. It turned out to be a great decision. What was intended to be a year became four years, with our younger daughter joining us too.
It is not an easy path to follow, but in truth the most difficulty arose as a result of other people not understanding what we were doing. Initially we felt that we had to explain ourselves to everyone. In time that faded and we soon found a structure and style of learning that suited our family. The actual educating part was incredibly satisfying and enabled us to develop a really deep understanding of our children.
It has also been a real benefit to us all now that our children are in state schools. We maintain a ‘home ed’ approach to study and our daughters are all consistently top performers in their year groups. They refer often to their home education and credit their school success to their ‘home ed’ routes.
For us home educating was and still is a lifestyle choice. Everything is an opportunity to learn and everything can be learnt in different ways. It is the ultimate bespoke education. I miss it very much.
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