We are a family of 5, with three boys aged (very nearly) 4, 5 and 6. We live just outside of the Peak District. We have always intended to home educate, and none of the boys have ever been to nursery or school. Now that my youngest is a little older, we plan to spend 2017 exploring the Peak District and getting outdoors as much as possible.
How long have you been home educating for and why did you decide to do it?
Initially we felt that the starting age for nursery/school was far too early and we’ve always maintained that ‘kids should be kids’. They shouldn’t be told they need to learn literacy skills at the age of 4 if it is not something that comes naturally. We wanted our children to enjoy getting outside and exploring their own interests and passions.
As the months passed we found ourselves more and more comfortable with home education and life-learning. While we’re not sitting here saying our boys will never go to school, currently it is not on the horizon. We’re enjoying how much the boys are learning about life and having so much time to spend as a family.
How would you describe your approach/ style of home educating?
We don’t have a particular learning style and generally take an autonomous approach to education. At the moment, my eldest son is crazy about fossils and will wax lyrical about Brachiopods and Crinoids if you give him the chance. My middle boy has spent today learning about the old railways that used to run along the High Peak Trail as he was begging to know more after we stumbled across an old wheel pit on one of our walks.
We do use Julia Donaldson’s ‘Songbirds’ books to help the boys learn to read, but there is no pressure. Sometimes they just want to be read to, other times they will shun the reading books in favour of Beano magazines or Argos catalogues!
What was your home educating highlight last week?
The highlight of the last week was enjoying the freedom of home education, as it is most weeks. We’ve been swimming, spent time with friends, built boats to sail on the lake, built a dam in an overflow on the lake to stop the boats crashing down the waterfall, visited two different disused quarries while fossil hunting, visited Middleton Top where the boys learned about the railway, followed a map around the area and learned all about how the limestone rock was formed. We’ve cooked dinner together every night, spent time with family, visited the park, cleaned out the hens. The list is endless!
What is your favourite thing about home ed?
Our favourite thing about home education is the gentle rhythm of our days. There’s no stress or rushing around. We have the freedom to visit places throughout the week without feeling crowded or rushed by the sheer volume of other people that you often find on the weekends. My husband works 4 on/4 off so we have lots of time to go away for long weekends to the beach without having to worry about school attendance.
As well as that, the support network in Derby is phenomenal and about 90% of all the people we know (we moved here 4 years ago) are also home educating.
What do you find most difficult about home ed?
The thing I find most difficult is trying to find one on one time with each child. It can be a little stressful trying to sound out words with the youngest saying, ‘ ‘duh’ for ‘dog’ when you’re trying to form the word ‘little’.
What advice would you give to fellow home educators?
The advice I would give would be to not second-guess your decision to home educate. Sometimes you meet another home educating family and their approach is diametrically opposed to yours, leaving you feeling as if perhaps you’re doing it wrong. You’re not. You’re taking the route that suits you best as a family.
Read more about their adventures at butterscotchandcognac.wordpress.com