Today is a new guest post by Sharon at Home Educating the Minions. Thank you for taking part! Over to you…
Where do we start… well I am a mum of 3. My eldest (Minions 1) went all through the school system. My son (The Boy) 14 came out of school a little over a year ago and my youngest 7 (almost 8) has never been to school, and I have no intention of sending her.
I started truly Home Educating when my youngest should have started reception. I say should of as reception is not compulsory school age. So 4 years if I count reception year. 3 years if I don’t. There were so many reasons why I chose Home Education. The main one, seeing the state of the Education system from the inside out. I was one of those… a teacher!
Now now.. no booing.
I loved teaching, or what I like to call, and is more appropriate – educating. I loved the interaction with my student, facilitating their learning, but at the years past being able to educate was being eroded, replaced by teaching, more specifically teaching to test and it was slowly killing me. So when I became pregnant with my youngest Lil’ Lady, it seemed the stars aligned as the school I was teaching at was to become an Academy (something I still disapprove of) and they were asking for voluntary redundancies so I jumped at the chance and decided to use the cash to train to be a childminder so I would have an income whilst I Home Educated.
It wasn’t an easy decision as I was newly divorced (whole other story) and my income was about to become a quarter of what it was. However it was more important for me to be time rich. To be present in my children’s lives and most importantly to be able to facilitate their learning and provide an education. A true education!
So what does our home ed style look like… in all honesty I’ve never really had one. As with anything there is no one way to Home Educate. My style has to adapt and change with my children, and also fit in with work. I work 3 very full days per week. So on those days it takes a little more organising, so I make sure I have work to hand that Lil’ Lady can dip into that does not require much input from me. The Boy is pretty much self sufficient, so we discuss his work every few days and I find out what he needs and provide it so that he can continue with his learning.
When Lil’ Lady was a little younger we were very much play based, but as she’s gotten older we’ve incorporated a little structure to ensure the basics are covered in Maths and English and other subject areas need for us to do more structured work. Once The Boy joined us a little over a year ago I supose we have become semi structured as a good part of the day is spent doing written work as he is studying for his English Language and Maths IGCSE.
This had an effect on Lil’ Lady as she wanted to be like her big brother so she does work at the table with him most days. However she hates work sheets, as do I, so we use a myriad of resources to make learning interesting and meaningful to her.
This means we have no typical week, we fit our work around a regular Home Ed Rock Climbing session. Swimming lessons and then any trips we book through local Home Education groups.
One thing I will not negotiate on is Maths and English study. They each get to choose a language. The Boy has chosen Japanese and Lil’ Lady Spanish. We regularly do Science, and History is a family love. But we tend to find that most subjects over lap. And I think that is another beauty of Home Education as we get to see how everything interconnects and that subjects cannot be studied in isolation. Recently the subjects or race, immigration, politics, geography, history, economics have all been at the forefront of our learning which has lead to us looking at in more detail the media, literature and society as a whole. And yes for both age groups.
However we do tend to stick to term time learning as I work term time. But that does not mean our education stops. We use the half term breaks to travel or to follow interests in a more in depth way.
Now I hear those reading, especially those thinking of taking the route of Home Education – yeah but you were a teacher. It’s easy for you!
Errrm – no!
Home Education is so different to my experience as a teacher. I was way out of my comfort zone. Firstly I taught secondary/high school. I didn’t teach any core subjects. ( it took me 4 attempts to gain my Maths GCSE. ) I had sent Minion 1 and The Boy off to the magical land of school at age 5 and a few years later they were reading and writing fluently.
Lil’ Lady and I had issues. Firstly I went the route of replicating school and how they teach (read my earlier blog posts about reading and phonics). I bought every phonics reading scheme going (which I am now selling. Still in pristine condition.) Only for Lil’ Lady to behave like a rabid dog every time I sat down with her to teach her to read.
In the immortal words of Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman- Big mistake! Huge mistake!
After much research I found that phonics don’t work for every child and that in fact scholars have debated the best way to teach a child to read, and guess what – there are none!
So I took a back seat approach, and just let her listen to me read, and enjoy books. Praise be to the literature god Michael Rosen (yes that Michael Rosen of the Bear Hunt.) Finding his Facebook page and listening to him about the school system and his ideas on teaching children to read were a revelation.
There were also a few issues surrounding Lil’ Lady not believing what I was saying. Questioning my knowledge with me trying not to loose my temper as I screamed at her retreating form (yes screamed) “I used to be a teacher you know” as she walked off mumbling under her breath “I’m asking google!”
When The Boy first de-registered after bouts of serious bullying over his sexuality. He thought he had a free ride.
I think he forgot who is mother was.
So I allowed a month of him getting used to just being again. Watching him shed the cloak of school. Watching the boy emerge and not the jaded teen that school had turned him into. Even now a year and half after de reg he is still telling me snippets of what he had to put up with. How he had to dumb himself down, how he felt trapped and it is heart breaking to listen to.
So after his initial month of wonderland we sat down and we worked out what it was he was interested in. What he would like to learn about. At first he was stumped. You see school takes away autonomy. Takes away the ability to think for one self. He was constantly asking what to do next and it drove me nuts. I had to grit my teeth and paint a smile on my face as I’d say “what do you think?” “What has to be done next?” “Where will you find that?” How will you find that?” It took a lot of patience to give him the encouragement and support he needed. Patience with my own children does not come naturally to me. I have certain expectations, especially surrounding using initiative- a by-product of my own upbringing. So it took me a while to get my head around the institutionalised way he would behave. Now this wasn’t something I saw on a daily basis. You’d think I would but because school takes your child away from you for a large part of the day/week/ year there are some things you miss.
What I would say is you know your own children. You know them best. Use your knowledge as a starting point. Build on it slowly. As I said earlier and then digressed, most think “oh you were a teacher, it’s easier for you.”
If you’ve ever watched the Simpson’s. There’s an episode where Miss Crab-apple looses the teacher answer book and virtually has a breakdown… being a teacher was like that. You were only ever a step ahead of the children. It’s the same for Home Education, what you don’t know you can learn to pass on to others. And what you don’t know there are so many support groups out there that you can reach out and someone else will know who are willing to share their knowledge with you.
A big thank you for allowing me to guest post here. You can find me over in my little hobbit hole of the world on my blog homeeducatingtheminions.wordpress.com or instagram.com/home_educating_the_minions_