Home Education “I wish I could do that.”

Back in the dark days of starting out home educating my children the main reaction I got was “Are you a teacher?” and “You wont be able to teach them science,” and of course the good old canard “They wont be socialised.”

I think things have changed over the last 6 years or so. When I meet parents now and admit that I am home educating I often get a really wistful expression of “Oh yes, I wish I could do that.” I realise of course that some people wouldn’t dream of taking on their own children’s education in any way at all; notwithstanding the duty they have to ensure their children actually receive a suitable education. But I am sure many of those mothers who say “I wish I could do that,” really do wish it. They have looked into it and thought about it, but for whatever reason – and it’s usually she has to work- they decide they can’t do it.

But among those wistful mums, I bet the fact they have now met a mother who is doing what they would like to do, might just add a little fuel to the fire of that deep longing and just maybe one or two will make the leap and begin to home educate. Something as countercultural as home education takes a great deal of courage and I think it can only happen when you meet and get to know at least one person who is already doing it.

I am not sure what on earth I would have done if I hadn’t been blessed enough to have met and talked with a couple of home educating families before I pulled my son out of school. My initial experience in the whole thing was a bit of a baptism of fire in some ways, but I met other families and more children and gradually it all came together.

There are still changes and shifting tides in how we do things but I am glad I had that chance to talk of home educators who were willing to answer my questions on what to do and how to do it back in those early days. A lot of the really good advice came from internet friends  many of whom had been in the homeschooling lark over in America or Canada for many years.

The internet has meant that many home educators scattered around the country and around the world can talk and share ideas and support one another.

Last year the British media had lots of articles and news items about home education. There were newspapers, radio interviews and comment boxes full of information. It didn’t matter how silly, inaccurate or negative the news piece might be, the way the internet works now, home educators could put their side of it and answer (over and over) those questions, which were more often statements about how we couldn’t be doing it right; not socialising our children+and even abusing our children.

Those answers were often apparently ignored by those who were bitterly opposed to us, but other people read them and I think more and more people are getting to know they do have a choice and that school isn’t the only option for their children.

There is a growing awareness among people who can think for themselves that the mainstream media isn’t reliable. I laughed out loud when I read Jeremy Paxman’s concern that the upcoming BBC strikes to co-inside with the Conservative Party Conference might compromise the BBC balance and make it seem there’s a bias! Perhaps he is unaware there are whole blogs and blog entries all over the place dedicated to correcting the misinformation put out by the BBC. If they go on strike will anyone notice?

The lack of balance in reporting on home education and the deliberate attempt to portray it as something rather odd, posh people do looks to have backfired as more and more people are looking at their children’s education and realising it isn ‘t right.

The mother who so wistfully said “I wish I could do that” so recently had bought study books for her daughter to do after school. You see after spending 6 hours a day in school she still wasn’t learning enough.

Of course the other great obstacle to many mothers taking on home education is the money. While poorer families can make it work and do, it takes a lot of sacrifices and giving up on much that today’s culture seems to think you “need”. I think it’s the same for those who want to have their children privately educated. They might have more money up front, but I have met a couple of dads who work a lot of extra hours and have given up quite a high standard of living to find the thousands of pounds each year to put two children through private school.

In some ways I think we are back to the Neanderthal parent thing. At what point do adult “wants” give way to what children need? And how, in a culture that says we need all sorts of stuff and more stuff that frankly we don’t need at all, do we discern what is the right thing to do?

Many home educating mothers and a few fathers I bet, are tired of answering the same old questions, of fielding the disapproval and banal remarks. But I think we have to face through all that, because among the defensive ones who really don’t like the fact we have done it, is surely a sense that they should too. If we are gentle and polite in answering questions then maybe we can look back later and see we gave the “permission” that parent needed to break out of the tick box and embark on home education.

12 responses to “Home Education “I wish I could do that.”

  1. That is really good what you wrote you put into words what i was thinking!

  2. Very well said, my friend!! Many times people confuse wants and needs in today’s society. Going after our needs gives one freedom, trying to go after our wants imprisons one’s soul. In all my homeschooling years I have met but only a few well to do hs families. The majority of us hs families are struggling along putting out one financial fire after another, but thankfully the Holy Spirit keeps refilling our water bucket. 🙂


    • It’s a difficult discernment at times. I am always pleased that the HS has buckets of water to pour over our oh-so-frequent financial fires. It is such a narrow tight rope to walk at times!

  3. Wonderful post!! My brain is pretty foggy today, so I won’t say much else… but thanks for “talking” about this… it’s encouraging to be reminded that home educators aren’t “crazy” – in fact, we’re growing in number because what we do works – despite the sacrifices it takes!! 🙂

  4. Great post, Mum6kids, and you’re talking about me. A rich man looking at a needles eye. My daughter is just about to face secondary education. We’ll be paying fees if we can get the school we want, and life will change because that’s where my income will go. But one of the reasons I come here so often is because I love the idea of what you are doing, and of course because you do it so well.

    There is one nagging doubt, and I’m pretty sure it is not just self justification. I can teach: but I am a very strong personality with a fixed world view. I live life at a chaotic 90mph, whether at work or at home. I worry that my daughter needs to be away from that magnetic field. She needs to experience life through the eyes of more mellow people, who can take life slowly and enjoy each moment for what it is, instead of looking with longing at the next one. She needs, in short, not to be with me.

    So at the moment, I’m pushing on with the secondary school applications. But watch this space:-)

  5. Homeschooling isn’t for every one. (I am a bit like kateshrewsday.) I am, shall we say, tightly-wound. I think up until the age of 14 we will be able to homeschool. But, next year, I think my personality mixed with teenage hormones, might just be the year we have to go back to a more traditional school environment!

    Good luck to all on your journeys.

    • Thank you ladies.
      Back when I first found my feet in this HE lark I began to think Home education was for everyone- simply because I thought, if I can do it, ANYONE can.
      But I have since come to understand that simply isn’t the case.

      Some children would not be happy in HE and some parents would go doo-lally-tap if they had to do it.
      When we have a child we are called to be a mother or father and that vocation takes on different ways and means.
      It’s a bit like any vocation; my friend is called to be a priest. He was not called to join an order while another man may be called to be a Benedictine.
      Each calling is slightly different to make the most of each person’s gifts.

      Express mum and Kate may find that as time goes on you are asked to be mother’s in different ways.
      It would be a boring world if we were all s’posed to do it all the same.

      In fact isn’t that why so many of us do HE for a while, or for the whole thing? Because we don’t accept the one-size-fits-all approach?

      Good luck to both of you in the task of being a mother.

  6. Hi Mum6kids,

    I always like what you say and this post is no exception.

    Maybe children just need to be with their parents. Maybe parents just need to be with their children. If people are living life at dramatic speeds I would wonder what they are trying to get away from.

    There are millions of excuses that anyone can use to not home educate. There are millions of reasons that they should.

    • There’s a lot of evidence to say that younger children are damaged through being separated from their mother too young.
      The old fashioned view that children should be with mum until the age of 7 seems vindicated by the researh.

      But a I said above – not every mum (or dad) is called to home educate. Nevertheless we are all called to be the very best parent we can be from the moment that child is conceived until we or they pop off for eternity.
      If we are given all the nudges, shouts and holy 2x4s to home educate and still will not because it isn’t “convenient” then we will get into trouble one way or another and our children will suffer- and that always comes back to bite.

      I think there are a lot of parents out there who could HE and whose children really need them to and who simply don’t take seriously how unhappy and what lack of learning is going on.
      I can think of a few …

      I do think we who are already settled into the culture of HE need to be encouraging but kind.

  7. Mum6kids, thanks for your incredibly generous heart, and for appreciating where we are. Last night we finally worked out that it would be just as expensive to send Mads to a suitable school as it would for me to stay at home completely and home educate. We would both be more relaxed and happy if I did the latter.

    Time to do a lot of reading.

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