This week our guest post comes from autonomously home educating mama of two young boys, Little Bear and Teddy Bear, who blogs over at https://bearandted.wordpress.com
I have always loved the ‘teaching’ part of parenting; spending time supporting my first baby as he developed, providing him with opportunities to take his very early discoveries further. So it was with enthusiasm that I picked up the idea of Home Educating, especially since my son seemed very strongly opposed to going to playgroup a couple of times a week, let alone school. I envisaged an idyllic life of lessons in the mornings and outings in the afternoons, being able to keep track of where my children were educationally without having to rely upon a teacher to tell me they were doing okay. I researched Early Years curriculums, bought first stage readers, began spending far too much money on resources that seemed ‘vital’ to learning.
However, as it turned out, my son was strongly opposed to all those things as well. His first year of official Home Education crashed and burned within the first month. I spent the next couple of weeks working through my ‘failure’, wondering whether I should be looking for a school right now, and finally coming up with Plan B: just let it go. Home Educators often mention ‘de-schooling’, which means spending some time letting a child relax and get their school experiences out of their system. I had not realised that this would be relevant to us, as my son had never attended school. But I had.
The original Plan B was to de-school until January, then try again. But when it came to it my husband and I realised our son was thriving and learning with this more relaxed lifestyle, and so we continued.
Our days and weeks can be so different, depending on time of year, weather, what we did yesterday, what we are planning tomorrow… And so I cannot describe the following as ‘an average’ week in our home educating household, it is just how last week looked. So here goes…
Monday morning was a trip to the dentist, and a treat at a coffee shop afterwards. One of the bonuses of not being school is that we don’t have to jostle for the 4 o’clock appointments or arrange to miss some class time for check-ups, nor is there any rush to get back to school afterwards. We can take our time, and take the opportunity to visit the ducks on the way home.
The rest of the week has been relatively free. We have walked up to the park on a couple of mornings, had friends over to play one afternoon and spent the rest of the time chilling at home.
My older son is currently very interested in sharks and sea monsters, so there has been a lot of reading and film-watching on those subjects. He has drawn many different sharks into his project book, researched migration routes, found out which sharks lay eggs and which have live young. He is also painting a huge picture of under the sea, with layers to show the sunlight zone, twilight zone, and midnight zone, and he plans to draw and paint relevant creatures to stick in each zone. I think this is a pretty impressive undertaking for a five year old.
My two year old also loves to paint, and has been experimenting with colour mixing. He creates detailed scribble pictures on big pieces of paper on the easel. They look chaotic, but when I watch him work I can see the care he puts into each line. He is also very interested in coconuts, and spends a bit of time each day exploring two halves of a coconut shell saved from when we found out about them last week.
There has also been a lot of sensory play (play dough, rice, sand, water), a lot of Minecraft and TV, walks to the local shop, playing in the garden, building train tracks and Duplo farms, Lego, knights and dragons, a lot of listening to books, a lot of chat about everything.
Saturdays I work, so the boys spend a day with Daddy. I suspect most of this is spent with iPads, but that’s okay. Our older boy is just discovering how Minecraft works with a second player (Daddy!), and our younger one likes to join in with support. Sundays we usually spend as a family at home, having a meal together and then going out somewhere interesting in the afternoon.
I have learned it is not necessary to teach any Maths, letters, science, or any other subject specifically or directly. We play board games, take on projects and just encourage the boys’ natural interest in life, and so far that is proving very successful. My older son may not be able to read yet, but he is interested in everything and is not resisting the idea of learning. Our ethos is that his enthusiasm for learning is more important than what he actually knows, and we are confident that he will learn what he needs as and when he needs it.