Hi, I’m Rachel from Diary of a Home Ed Family. I home educate my three boys, ages 14, 11 and 8.,We live in Worcestershire with Hubby (aka Daddy) and the rug-on-legs that is our labradoodle.
How long have you home educated and why did you decide to take that route?
We started our Home Ed journey at Easter 2012. Although we knew about HE as an option from the beginning, we originally sent our children to a small independent school where I also taught, because we thought it would be better for them socially. By 2012 it was clear that Middle (then age 5) was really struggling: anxious, depressed, and totally turned-in on himself – the ‘socialisation’ we thought school would give him actually worked against us and all but destroyed him. So I worked my notice to the end of term and took all of the boys out. I had had enough of school structure and wanted a better way of learning for all of them than any school system can give.
How would you describe your home ed approach?
Up until this school year our HE style has been very seasonal: some seasons of unschooling (especially around bereavement, moving house etc), some seasons of structure, and (probably most often) seasons of semi-structure. I think we fit as a family most naturally into semi-structure: English and Maths as required by me, and then some projects as dictated by the boys’ current interests.
Also this year in September Eldest started studying for IGCSEs so that has been a huge change. Learning to pass an exam is VERY different to the learning for pleasure that we have done thus far – but we are getting there.
So for our typical week Eldest studies Geography, Biology and Maths for four mornings – usually taking about 2-3 hours a day. Last term the younger two were largely uschooled while I focused on Eldest but this term they have MathsWhizz and something arty of their choice on Mondays, English comprehension and a STEM experiment of their choice on Tuesdays, MathsWhizz and music on Wednesdays, and English (handwriting) and any other project of their choice on Thurs/ Fridays – currently Middle is studying the Human Body and Youngest is learning about the great Fire of London. Once the younger boys’ work is done I am free to help Eldest with wherever he’s at – but happily he needs a lot less input from me now than he did when we started in September.
For the fifth day of each week (alternate Thursdays and Fridays) we all go to one of the two forest schools that we currently join in with. We all benefit from getting out of the house and into the fresh air to have unstructured fun in the woods! Finally all afternoons either involve a Home Ed social group or are free for totally unstructured play of the boys choice.
What was your home ed highlight last week?
The highlight of last week’s Home Ed for me was when we suddenly realised Eldest was ‘further along’ in Maths than we thought and therefore hopefully able to take his Maths IGCSE this year, which meant he can take that instead of Biology (which wasn’t going as well and is now being deferred until winter). We were really feeling the pressure of him not being ready but we’re much happier about the Maths/ Geog potential!
What is your favourite thing about home ed?
My favourite thing about home educating my boys is simply that I get to spend time with them. When they were in school we never seemed to just have fun together – we were always either at school/ work, or preparing for school/ work, or catching up with homework etc… Quality time had to be scheduled in and even then it was far too rare.
I am so thankful that I have a good relationship with all my boys. They are so much fun to be around and the inevitable stresses of life are easily outweighed by all the good stuff we enjoy together!
What do you find most difficult?
The thing I find most difficult is IGCSEs: having to learn for the sake of passing a test as mentioned before. But also the (sometimes) overwhelming feeling of bearing sole responsibility for your child’s future. This is part of all stages of HE really and is the source of most wobbles, but is much more so when it comes to exams. Happily we are getting there. It’s been a steep learning curve but I am hopeful that we are making good progress.
What advice would you give to other home educators?
The advice I would give to other home educators is simply to enjoy! Learning can be so much fun when your kids get to choose! Also get out and enjoy the many groups that are available – and make sure you have days just at home to enjoy together too: we all need time to relax as that’s when creativity is most free to thrive. And if you’re are in the realm of GCSEs like Eldest and me – surround yourself with others who have been there or are going through it with you. They will keep you sane!
Read more about their adventures here…