This September marks the third and final time that one of my children reaches school age. Eli, at 4.5 years of age, would have been starting reception this week if we’d chosen to engage with mainstream education. As we didn’t, I am now officially home educating all three of my offspring and we marked this today with a trip to the Eden Project to catch the ‘Earth Story’ exhibition on it’s last day.
As with each of the others, this is almost a non-event, we’ll simply continue as we are. I will continue to provide educational opportunities and guidance that is age and ability appropriate for them and a number on a bit of paper doesn’t make much difference to that.
Yesterday, for example, after some Mum-dictated music practice, Isaac spent a long time devising codes and writing in them, practising handwriting, spelling and a whole host of other skills (without even realising it). Elijah practised his pen control with some requested alphabet worksheets and colouring before playing with Lego for hours. And Sophia took it upon herself to work through some KS2 grammar before doing some sewing and then composing acrostic poems. We also played world twister (geography) and went on a blackberry hunt where, for reasons unknown to me, they demanded to be quizzed with mental arithmetic questions. It was nearly all child-led, challenged them and was pretty productive.
Today, as I say, we went to Eden where the focus was on the devastating effects of climate change on both British and global wildlife and on championing visitors to be part of the solution. It provoked a lot of conversations and anger from all three but overall felt positive when we were able to see examples of the work that conservation groups and dedicated people are doing to fight for our planet.
Over the last few years, as a member of the local home educating community and within my role at The Outdoors Group, I’ve seen a significant increase in the numbers of people choosing to home educate. I’ve written plenty before about why that might be. Whether it’s a case of schools not having the funding to support children with additional needs, disagreeing with the national curriculum or just that you want more freedom as a family to live and learn in your own way, the reasons are many and varied.
I won’t repeat myself in that respect but I will say that if it’s something you are considering but find overwhelming, it’s honestly not as scary or full on as you think it will be! There is a lot of support out there and the home education community in Devon is absolutely thriving. To summarise what I’ve said before, you don’t have to be able to teach to home educate your child (ren), you just need to be able to facilitate learning, to be able to go at their pace and to trust them enough to follow their interests and curiosity. I’ve learnt so much myself over the last decade (fun fact of the day: did you know that the term ‘plankton’ refers to any living creature that floats within the ocean currents, so jellyfish are technically plankton? I didn’t until earlier today!)
So whether your kids are going back to school this week or not, I wish them a very happy, healthy and adventurous academic year! I’ll leave you with these photos of when we visited the Deer Park at Dartington Estate recently and the kids got to hand feed these absolutely beautiful creatures! (Another great trip organised by a home educating parent)
If you have any questions you’ve always wanted to ask about home education, comment below or on my facebook post and I’ll do my best to answer them!