I’m Katie-jo, but my friends call me KJ. I have two gorgeous children (not that I’m biased); a boy, William, who is nine, and a girl, Lila, who is six.
How long have you home educated for and what made you decide to do it?
We have been home educating for nine years! My husband and I got married in second year at university and graduated five months pregnant with Will. He was hoping at the time to be playing rugby for his career and the travel would have left me alone for a large portion of the year; so we felt it would be better to home educate and take the family on the road with him.
Unfortunately, he suffered a very serious injury which meant that he could no longer play at a professional level, so plans changed, and we started working in private schools, but our plan to home educate never wavered. We love it!
Briefly describe your home ed style. Do you have a ‘typical’ week and what does it include if so?
I would say our style is eclectic… and evolving!! The children really enjoy choosing their own activities and my six year old will often say ‘can I make this my home school?’ meaning – ‘am I allowed to do this with you every single day please mummy?’ She loves art and is really into fimo at the moment.
My nine year old likes to have work books. He loves independent learning and gets frustrated if he feels like you are watching him. He rarely asks for help, so when he does it’s tears and frustration that have brought him to me. I’m always amazed at how much he accomplishes on his own. I shouldn’t be. His favourite book when he was four years old was a Haynes manual about steam engines!
We have a ‘no screens after 3pm’ rule in our house (to protect sleep patterns) and also a ‘no screens until something productive has been done and we’ve been for a walk’ rule. It’s super important because both myself and Will struggle with low vitamin D levels in the winter months and getting out and getting some sun light helps to set us up for a productive day. That and Lila is obsessed with nature and insects, so she likes to go and inspect the local park for changes each day. In the winter William will race through his workbooks and show me because he is desperate to join some of his other home ed friends on a minecraft server, but in the summer he frequently chooses to forego screens in favour of playing outdoors.
We attend a few clubs, and these have changed over the years, but they have included art classes, parkour academy, gymnastics, trampolining, swimming, skiing etc… and the co-op we are in allows them to go on a trip most Wednesdays. This week we went to see Fantastic Mr Fox at Milton Keynes theatre. I highly recommend it, it was fab!
What was your highlight of home ed last week?
My home ed highlight last week was William asking me for help with programming his Arduino board. Like I said, it’s rare that he wants help with stuff. He usually likes to figure it out on his own, but with Lila out an art class, we got two hours alone together and he eventually conceded that he would like my help 🙂
That and we hatched some new chicks. One of them was born with a malformed leg and was clearly dying. Lila made her a ‘private nest’ in a tissue box with a wheatie bag and fed her from a syringe. I told her the chick was going to die anyway, but her response was very of factly, ‘she doesn’t need to be thirsty whilst she’s dying mum.’ She even diffused essential oils to help her be less scared (because ‘you’d be scared if you knew you were going to die’). I love that she is learning compassion and emotional intelligence – way more important to me than curriculum ever will be.
What is your favourite thing about home edding your child/ren?
My favourite thing about home ed is how much time we have together. My children are so close. They fight sometimes (all siblings do) but mostly they are best friends (true fact. Lila even made a poster with both of them on and ‘You’re my BFF’ on it). I love watching them grow and plan together. When they are adults they plan to own a farm (with their cousin Ruby) and adopt children to live with them, who they will home educate, obviously.
What do you find most difficult and why?
Second guessing myself. I’m a researcher. I love to research EVERYTHING and make sure that I’m being the best mum there ever was. Unfortunately, I don’t have that capacity. I do believe I am the best mum for my children, and I try to be the best mum I can be, but sometimes the pressure of that can lead me to feel very stressed. Then I have to let go, and remember, that God placed these children with me because He wanted them to be raised by me. All I ever have to be is what I was made to be, and that is enough.
I think the pressure to be ‘perfect’ when you are doing something a little different is immense. If my children went to school, no one would think very much about their faults, but because they are home if they are shy it’s because they are home educated, if they are too boisterous it’s because they are home educated. It’s not true, but it can sometimes feel like that.
I have to remind myself regularly that most people probably aren’t judging me, but even if they are, so what?
What advice would you give to other home educators?
Relax, have fun, and enjoy your children wherever possible. Be gentle with them, nobody learns well from somebody they’re scared of. Relationship is always more important than academic outcomes.