There are certain parts of my children’s academic education that I think are very important and are simply not properly covered by the National curriculum if they are covered at all. I want them to learn critical thinking. We have approached this with visual perceptual skills to start with and then thinking skills and analogies. From there we will look at Logic, fallacies and ordered thought processing.
In Maths, as much as I grouch about the shocking cost of Math U See, it is very ordered and sensible in it’s approach so the children grasp concepts well before building on them with the next ones. It’s a different and more logical approach than what the NC offers.
In science they don’t get as much hands on work as I would like (and they used to get) but from what I gather, they still get to do more genuine finding out type work than is available in schools.
But there’s more than just the academic side:
Socialisation: Yes, the S word. Like most home educators who have been doing this for more than a week I have noticed my children have good social skills; better than I would have expected. Sibling relationships are so much better than I could have hoped for and the children have learned to have patience for youngsters, gentleness with babies and respect for children and adults who are “different”. That’s if they even notice. In our home ed group we have children who look different because of a rare genetic disorder (It is Ectodermal Dysplasias Awareness Month) and a mother (me) who uses a wheelchair and sometimes twitches and jerks about a bit, or gets breathless and can’t speak. The kids don’t care. They all take it as part of life.
It makes me laugh when I hear people say that home educators are shielding our children from “real life”. We are giving them way more real life than they would ever get in school. They see mums pregnant and see the baby soon after birth, they see disability, different ages and all kinds of life in the community.
Quiet time: We live in a busy, loud and rushy-abouty culture. Children need quiet times. They need time to simply be, to read or sit and think. Adults need this too of course, but children especially. The constant full-on activity and noise levels at school are horrible, even for kids who aren’t sound sensitive. (The number of stories I’ve read and seen and even know personally or children on drugs – usually Ritalin – just in term time should raise a whole bagload of concerns)
When Avila was still very sick, she used to need to go and lie down quietly. Sometimes I’d continue a lesson while one of the other mums would take her off somewhere quiet and read her a story.
Child centred learning; Instead of imposing a pre-packaged system on my children, I am able to tailor their learning to their needs. Ronan gets a more Classical approach and Avila a kind of Charlotte Mason cum Montessori approach while Heleyna gets Montessori with the slow and repetitious approach that she needs while she battles her dyslexia.
I know, from experience, that if Heleyna was in school now, she would be failing. Her short term memory is very bad (a common thing in dyslexia) and so we need to repeat and work slowly through things quite a bit. She needs plenty of hands on work and plenty of break times to get through. Even a good SENCO would struggle with that when s/he had so many children with SEN to deal with. I had 8 SEN children in one class when I was working and their needs were so different it was impossible to offer them what they needed. One of those children really needed one to one all day every day and he was lucky to get 10 minutes a week with me alone.
Reading books: Perhaps because four of my children have some level of dyslexia, but also because I think good literature is good for the soul, the mind and life in general, I want my children to read. I want them to read whole books from beginning to end and I want them to enjoy reading. Charlotte Mason put forward the method of narration where the child would discuss what s/he had read. This can be made formal or better yet, an informal chat where the children, having loved what they have read will automatically want to tell you all about it.
The other side of this coin is I get to help them choose the books they will read. This means I can get them to stretch themselves with a book or two which isn’t as easy as they might otherwise choose to read. It also means I can avoid letting them poison themselves with nasties. As it happens bad books haven’t been an issue with us so far. There’s a lot of good stuff out there, some of it old and some of it new, and more of it coming onto the market; so there’s no time for rubbish books thankfully.
Home Ed meet ups: As is the nature of things, home ed groups vary. But the one we attend these days is just a lovely group.
There’s a whole LOAD of reasons I don’t want my children to go to school. I try not to be too anti-school, but so many parents tell me so many things and I remember well the ridiculous targets and boxes to tick even in Reception classes.
One other thing that has been bugging me is the medical papers I’ve been reading recently. I am astonished by the appallingly bad standard of much that gets published. I can’t help wondering if this is the standard Journals think is acceptable, what kind of education have these people had? I went to a working class comp and frankly, I could write better articles than some of the ones I’ve seen. I certainly want my children to have a better education than that.
I love the flexibility of home education. I love that the children are not interrupted by bells and moving to new classrooms when they are settled and interested in their work. I love that they have friends of different ages.
The other thing I’ve noticed and love is that the home ed children play together and there is no gender separation. Boys and girls are happy together and respectful of one another. On a side note, but one that I think pertains to Home Ed, I’ve seen and heard the argument against girls as altar servers, saying it puts boys off serving. At our church boys and girls, men and women, serve together without a problem, and my boys have never said they don’t want to serve with the girls. If any son of mine did say that I would have to have a little chat about respect. But I don’t think (I certainly hope) that this won’t be an issue as it’s simply not an issue with the home ed children we know.
My time with them: I hadn’t appreciated this until quite recently. But the fact that I am around them all the time means they can tell me stuff, ask me stuff and we can just cuddle up and talk together. The importance of this becomes more evident as they get older.
These are just some of the reasons to home ed. There are so many more.