With schools bursting at the seams and children being faced with test after test, it’s easy to see why so many parents are deciding to educate their children at home. For some, their child/ren have been bombarded by relentless bullies, others have special needs which are not being adequately catered for. Some choose not to send their children to school from the outset. Whatever the reasons, numbers of children being educated at home are growing.
Most parents I meet or talk to online are unhappy with the current school system. There’s too much homework, too many tests or the children just aren’t able to be children. The mention of educating your child at home though is often met with a reaction of fear.
“I couldn’t do that.”
“I’m not clever enough.”
“I need a break from my children!”
“Is it even legal?”
Yes, I’ve had all of these comments and more said to me. No, I’m not brave, I’m just raising my children. Yes, it is legal. I still get a break from the children, albeit not as often, but I have girls nights out, date nights with my husband, and time in the evenings once the children are in bed. Sometimes I even go grocery shopping. All. By. Myself!
I’m not the cleverest person in the world, but I know how my children learn, I know their interests and most importantly I care. The love and care I give my children means they can learn feeling secure and confident. I want what is best for them as a person, their emotional, physical and mental well beings are my priority. If these are well catered for their willingness to learn will excel. Why does a child ask so may questions? Because they want to learn. It’s built into them. Test after test doesn’t help them learn, if anything, it’s likely to put them off.
I was one of a few families approached recently by the BBC’s The One Show for a piece about home education, although we didn’t feature this time. It seems like home education is attracting a bit of media attention, with many people saying we (as home educators) need monitoring or that all children should be in school. There is a fear that home educated children are invisible and at risk of all sorts of abuse. We’re not locked in our home never to see another living soul again. We’re in the supermarkets, at the museum and in the park. In fact you’ve probably met a few of us. We still see neighbours and friends, and we still go to the doctors when we’re ill. Just as those with children under school age do, but we don’t worry that these children are invisible. Why when our children turn 5 do we suddenly become a risk?
When I was at school we were often told to “swim against the tide” or choose our own path. But when you actually do something that’s not the norm it’s met by shock, horror and outcry. As a teenager I was a Goth, short black spiky hair, long dark coat, and Dr Martin boots. I stood out because I was different and I was picked on for it. We don’t like what isn’t normal.
Learning is normal, learning is encouraged, learning is fun. Learning isn’t Monday to Friday 9-3, it happens all the time. When children are happy they want to learn. For my children and so many others, they weren’t happy at school. Being home educated has given them a thirst for life and an enjoyment of learning. Isn’t that what is important?