We home educate.
We home educate, but not because we don’t like school just for lots of reasons. The biggest reason was the fact the government came into our little seaside village and told all the kids at the local school they were closing it down. Our eldest son was at the school, at the time we knew nothing about home education or homeschooling as some call it. The government said it was in the children’s interests that they be split up and farmed out into neighbouring towns to be educated. This suited some parents, but not all and our once tight little community of children now are interspersed all over. Of course that was many years ago, my eldest child is almost 20 and the school has long been forgotten.
So, back to us. As life went on I just never sent my younger children to school. Our eldest child came out of school when the school closed down and from then we embarked on a life changing journey.
We did look around at some neighbouring town schools but for lots of reasons we didn’t enter back into the school system. As they say “school goes on”.
Home education in our house continues at various speeds depending on what time of year it is.
Our youngest child lately had mentioned she was wanting to try out school. She is curious what happens and she knows what school is like from when she had watched her favourite TV series. She watched three girls skipping off to school on adventures. Those girls have on their pretty little rucksacks and their hairs braided, smiling and shiney faces. Those children get up to mischief and sit around after school kicking their legs in the air merrily doing homework. Our youngest daughter was hankering after this pretty little happy life. Not that her own life isn’t this way, it’s far from being boring. This week we prepared a makeshift art studio in our laundry room, we made a DIY cold frame and planted out seeds. We made cakes, walked round a lake, built a 10ft hut with pallets and plywood and we did some regular school lessons too. Life is far from dull and while this is happening I am running my little home business in the background where the children are always getting pretty little gifts from our suppliers.
Back to the youngest child, so this desire to go to school was getting more frequent until this week she started to cry about it. I explained that I’d be happy to send her to school but she can’t just go for a couple days to try it out. Laws are such where I live that once you are at school it’s harder to leave. You can leave a school, but it’s too much effort to register and then de register for just some curious kid. She wanted to try school, yet she was torn as her life with her siblings at home is pretty cool.
As an exercise I got two large sheets of paper and divided them into four sections. I labelled two school and two home education then each one positive or negative. I took a sheet and gave one to my daughter, asked her to write in positive and negative views on both schooling and home education. I did the same then told her we would swap sheets and read each other’s views. I told her once the excercise was finished if she still wanted to go to school we would look at it.
What followed really surprised me, I did not expect to read what she had written. In the home education part it was filled with ‘nice’ things about learning with mummy, playing outside, crafts, travelling etc. I noted also her comments on the actual academic lessons part of it was really insignificant. This told me that she enjoys her life and the lessons are not intrusive yet she is still learning and ahead of her peers. She painted the perfect image of homeschool, just what I wanted to achieve.
On the school section of the page she wrote two things. First thing was she wanted to play in the playground and the second thing which is the actual issue is that she wanted a cute packed lunch. Our daughter had been watching these videos on YouTube of a well established mum sharing her helpful tips. This pretty mum with perfect hair is a domestic goddess and has three beautiful, clean well turned out kids. They jump up and down and laugh and best of all this ‘perfect family’ has amazing lunch box ingredients to take to school. The mum makes fruit treats and pretty dishes for her perfect children to feast on every day. Then she walks out the door and bumps into her perfect friends while they all gleefully skip and chatter on the way to school. This image created on YouTube really threw my daughter. Real life isn’t like that, how could I possibly compete with this beautiful, perfect mum when I have grey hairs, I’m chubby, and you get what food is in the fridge to eat every day. I don’t bake fruit treats for three hours in the oven (yes that’s how long it took to dry the fruit in the video). My house isn’t perfect, we have two cats, a dog, 5 rabbits, oh and a bunch of kids. The floor needs sweeping endlessly, there’s always laundry in the machine, the kitchen is never tidy, there’s always a bed needs making or a room needing maintenance. We could never ever compete with this perfect YouTube world, never!
I did humour my daughter after reading her sheet. Just so you don’t think I am all bad, I found a cute lunch box under the sink. I cut her sandwiches into triangles, gave her a couple iced biscuits, a pear and put a little surprise sweet in her lunch. I also bought some little cartons of orange juice from the local shop and put everything together like a school packed lunch.
Last night our youngest daughter expressed to her family she was very happy and did not want to go to school after all.