I am the grandparent of home educated children ages 7, 6, 4 & 2. To be honest, when my daughter said 10 months ago that she was taking the two older children out of school & that the third child wouldn’t be going to school the following September because my daughter would be home educating them, I did have my reservations.
My reservations were not because I thought traditional schooling was the way children should be taught, far from it, I disagree with a lot that happens within our school system. No, my reservations were more ‘how do you teach four children of different ages at home?’ ‘What happens if my daughter is ill?’ ‘How would she find things without ever getting a break from them, time to breath, or do housework, grocery shopping etc etc?’
It soon became apparent that as most mothers do, my daughter new best. My grandchildren have blossomed, they are on the whole so very much happier. They get on with each other better, yes they still have their moments, but then they wouldn’t be children if they didn’t, would they?
The vast array of things that they are learning in fun, often in a completely hands on way amazes me. All things that matter, that will in some way be used throughout life. Ok so learning how to make a raw egg bounce may not be a vital life skill, but learning about chemical reactions and how one thing, the vinegar in this case, can alter the molecular structure of another, the eggshell for instance, is very important. (I’m sure there are a whole host of every day reasons why knowing this is important!) My grandchildren also learned that if you drop an egg with a soft shell it will make just as much mess as one with a hard shell!
To learn about the Tudors by visiting a Tudor house and building one of your own, even if in miniature is far more fun than talking about it in a classroom.
The children know, at least in part, what berries are safe to eat and which are poisonous, what to do if you get stung by a stinging nettle, how to ease a sore throat using plants & weeds from the garden.
They have built a pond, learning why putting goldfish in it will lesson the amount of mosquitoes next year. Learned the cycle of plant & animal life, first hand. As they watched a butterfly lay her eggs on a leaf, saw those eggs turn into caterpillars, watched some of those caterpillars chrysalis themselves & later emerge as butterflies, looking just as their mother did. They planted seeds & watched them grow into seed producing plants.
They have had tours of supermarkets, going behind the scenes to learn how food gets from ‘farm to fork’. Grown their own vegetables, finding ways to stop slugs from eating them, built a hedgehog house and welcomed a hedgehog as the ultimate slug hunter.
They have performed experiments, baked, & cooked learning English, maths & science along the way. They have had to work out codes & spellings to be able to go on the PC. They have used maths whilst doing the weekly grocery shop to work out which is the best bargain, and that it isn’t always the thing that is ‘on offer’.
Over this past 10 months I have seen all four of my grandchildren become more confident, find it easier to talk to and mix with people of all ages, from children the same ages as them, to much older children & adults at home ed clubs. I have seen them use their individual strengths & weaknesses to solve problems alone & together.
I have also watched as my daughter has discovered more about herself as well as her children. As she has learned what works best for each child as the individuals that they are.
Learning isn’t about sitting behind a desk watching the teacher at the front of the class, it’s about working together, or alone, getting stuck in, muddy, dirty, or sitting back & watching, listening, working things out.
For me as the mother & grandmother of a home educating family, this last 10 months has been fantastic. Not only have I seen all the changes & heard of all the adventures in learning, I have had the immense privilege of being a part of this home educating journey.