Tag Archives: reasons to homeschool

Home education; freedom of the soul.

We know only too well the sorry spectacle of the teacher who, in the ordinary schoolroom must pour certain cut and dried facts into the heads of the scholars. In order to succeed in this barren task, she finds it necessary to discipline her pupils into immobility and to force their attention. Prizes and punishments are every ready and efficient aids to the master who must force into a given attitude of mind and body those who condemned to be his listeners.”

The Montessori Method, Dr Maria Montessori 1912

This paragraph follows an explanation of slavery. Montessori saw clearly that the school system in which a special bench that forced a child’s upright posture so they could sit all day and be talked at by a teacher, and go home saved from scoliosis, was all wrong. Of course, the doctor notices that children who are allowed to move around and find their own ways of learning are not in danger of twisted backs in the first place.

She finds the system of punishment and reward petty (red marks, detention and stickers are not designed for moral growth but merely conformity) and points out that without heroism – that is the will to do what is good because it is good – then corruption and cowardice are the results.

I think a brief look at our politicians clutching their Oxbridge degrees in one hand and what amounts to an allergy to telling the truth on the other, has to be a prime example of what Montessori warned us.

All parents have a right and duty to the education of our children, and we most definitely need to ensure they learn right from wrong. The tyranny of relativism was a mere yapping puppy in Montessori’s day. The Enlightenment had already brought some darkness in that area but it hadn’t grown to the proportions our poor children are faced with today.

Education is more than leading the child out. The child must grow and mature and as each child does this in his own way we can’t force understanding on them all at a certain age. Their age is mostly immaterial to their growth, maturity and ability to learn.

As Catholics we have a theology of the person that is deep and well considered. We know that the Sacraments give grace and so we get our children baptised but we also know that while the missing grace of Original Sin is mended by the graces that come with baptism, there is still the scar – the concupiscence – that we must all deal with. We tend to bend towards sin. But spend any length of time with children and you’ll notice that while they might need good guidance, boundaries and sensible discipline, they do have a strong sense of justice, if not mercy. Young children, particularly those under 7 or 8 – the age of reason, need close adult supervision to help form their conscience and curb tendencies to cruelty or meanness. We teach them to share, be gentle with others, and how to listen and basic safety.

Without this early formation children often lack social skills, basic kindness and even language. A classroom with at most two adults to thirty 4 year olds is not the place to do this basic learning; and that’s before you factor in the bizarre targets of the National Curriculum!

There is a cultural view that targets, exams and state provision are the be all and end all of education. I’ve even heard of parents who refuse to work with their OWN children when they can’t get the school placement they want, because they insist the state should provide.

Then there are parents who brag about how their child got A*s or whatever, in exams, but seem to have missed that their child is miserable, angry, incapable in social settings and lacking basic morals.

It’s well past time to change all this. When we consider that Montessori (and Mason) were writing over 100 years ago we look pretty dumb that we still haven’t set about changing things so that our children get a genuine education.

I was so wrapped up in the school model of education when I first began home education that when my children began to read books as Charlotte Mason would have them do, I got restless thinking that just sitting there reading wasn’t “doing” anything. How could I possibly know that my daughter was learning anything while she sat with a cup of tea in one hand and Notes From the Underground in the other?

But then I think it was C.S.Lewis who said that his best education came from being left to read the books in his uncle’s library. It took me a while to realise that when the children were “just reading” that they were learning. They expanded their reading and vocabulary. For Iona it helped her writing fluency and did more to stop her reversing letters and built up her general knowledge better than all those worksheets put together.

Home education; is there another method that genuinely works?

I know this isn’t true across the board in home ed circles. I am quite sure there are the cliques of home ed parents competing over Primula’s grade or some such thing. Thankfully, I haven’t been at the receiving end of that.

When I have a worry about how one of my children is learning or even a new discovery that works well, I can ask and share it with other mums who home educate and we’ll throw out ideas or straight forward reassurance.

So home ed mums are saints then? Sadly not, we’re all just human like everyone else. What I think helps us as a group is our education system is so different from the school system, and that’s because, as a group, we don’t have a system. There is no box we have to fit into or fail. There are no tests, no competitions or standards written and ticked. We have our children and they are all so very different, learn differently, have different needs and skills, that there isn’t a box to push them into.

There’s also a very high proportion of children with  “special needs” ranging from simply developing a little slower than average through dyslexia to autism and physical illnesses of various types. And there’s also the gifted children who usually have an area of learning where they outstrip others, but might be less gifted in other areas.

The nature of home education tends to mean that a lot of parents (not all) have an inherent respect for children, where they don’t need reminding of Charlotte Mason’s maxim that children are persons. We spend a lot of time together as families and we learn to adapt around babies, tantrums, learning approaches and mums needing a cuppa and a chat.

We work as a community with all it’s diversity and colour. Some of us have been doing it for years and others are just starting out.

I haven’t been told how brave I am for quite a while but new families often face this sort of back handed compliment. But I don’t think those of us who home educate are brave. I do see parents taking the first steps with trepidation and some fear, and I suppose it does take some courage, but when I see schooled children I think it’s their parents who are brave.

Since “official” kinds of education were invented by the ancient Greeks, Spartans and Rome children didn’t go to school until they were at least 7 to 8 years old and often went even later. It was understood that the foundational part of a child’s education was in a rounded upbringing with social skills and practical skills before the academic side was handled.

Within family and community children learned and grew before attending a more institutionalised system.

This was the system from ancient times until the end of the nineteenth century and it worked well.  Figures show that literacy levels in both Britain and America were as high as 95% before the Education Acts brought about mass schooling. Now they are nearer 60%.

I was told recently by someone who knows that many parents who find their 4 or 5 year old can’t get a school placement refuse to do any work with their own child because they have decided it’s the job of the state! That’s a shocking sign of how upturned our culture’s thinking is!

I think we actually need more families to avoid schools. The standards of education are having serious knock on effects among adults and our culture as a whole as we see not only the rise in illiteracy, ignorance and lack of ethical thought, but the sinking of science and medicine. There are studies and even pieces of research that are being published in what once were respected journals that surely would never have seen the light of day 100 years ago, simply because they are so badly designed and written.

Ken Robinson, John Holt, John Taylor Gatto and others including Dr Temple Grandin had spoken over and over about the state of education and they are being ignored. It’s up to us, as parents, to listen and be willing to bypass the shoddy standards and search for the best education we can offer our children. The more I look, the more I am convinced that home education is becoming the only answer, or one answer among very few others indeed.

While the mainstream media like ITV are asking whether home education can make the grade – surely they should be asking why school education is failing so very many children.

*sigh* Another reason to homeschool

On the front page of the Catholic Herald I discover that the school I pulled my daughter out of-for a 15number of reasons- had invited Ms Claire Short MP anti-Life politician who consistently voted against anything that might save the life of a baby- to some kind of prize giving event. Apparently ‘Ms’ Short was an old pupil there.

After Fr Guy Nichols of the Oratory-a very good and holy priest-and some parents protested, the invitation was withdrawn. Ms Short is very cross believing the withdrawal is ‘rude’.

It is just so sad that when there are so many Catholic women out there trying to follow the teachings of Christ and His Church, that this Catholic School couldn’t find one for it’s prize night.

Deciding to Homeschool pt II

When Charlotte Mason wrote her series of books she was not really intending that children would be homeschooled for all their acedemic lives. She wrote, it seems to me, to encourage parents and teachers to work in mutual support to prepare children to be ready to learn and to then expose them to a rigorous Christ centred education. Ah those were the days!

These days most homeschool families choose to keep their children out until their college or university years.  Each decision is tough. I know a family in the process of preparing their oldest child to sit the 11+ with a view he might go to either a grammar school (if they can find one) or more likely private school. But that is expensive and they are living on one wage.

As a parent I want my children to grow up with a moral framework and a set of skills for life. By homeschooling I can ensure they are taught the Faith properly-avoiding Icons and other bizarre pseudo-Catholic-barely-Christian programmes.  They are taught to want to learn, to listen and be respectful of others. There’s plenty of time for activities such as cooking, gardening, art and music.

If you decide to go ahead-what happens?

Continue reading

I love THIS on socialisation from Totus Tuus. I’ve been meaning to post it for a while. I was reminded when I went out with the children yesterday and got involved in a conversation about Maths lessons in school. A father was recounting how his 7 yr old daughter brings home so much homework every night and a lot of it is maths. He complained that he did not understand it.

We were in Sally’s Shop and the lady behind the counter (not Sally) said she knew the problem and many schools were now running evening classes for parents so they could assist in homework. He admitted he had been to one and had not understood it.

The lady then recounted how her daughter and son in law had attended one of these lectures and her daughter had been baffled. Fortunately it seemed her son in law understood Maths and so when their little girl came home with complicated work he had shown her how to do it. She had gone to school the next day with all her answers correct-but the teacher has marked them all wrong because she was not using the system set out by the school!

What with this and now the Govt wants to teach our 5yr olds about drinking —another good reason to homeschool I think.