“You’re never to young (or old!) to learn”. That’s my basic philosophy. That and “Learning is a Life Long Venture”. From the moment a baby is born, they are learning all about the world they now live in; every time you speak to your baby they learn a new sound, they learn to recognise your voice, they hear different tones, the rhythm…Every time they open their eyes they see light or dark, shapes, colours, movement. Every touch is learning textures, soft, rough, smooth, hard, wet, dry, cold, warm…Why should we not encourage that learning to continue and introduce your baby to as many new things as possible. Between birth and 8 yrs old your child is like a sponge for retaining new information, as we get older we need to work much harder to hold onto what we learn, but it’s not impossible.
Everyday I introduce something new to our daughter, it may be a big thing or a small thing; my phone, tv, a spoon, a sponge, the shower, gel, a taste, rain, paint, computers, bags, boxes, a game, a song, a new book/story. Lizzie has her own mini library, has a library card as I mentioned in the previous post, and also has her very own creative work station in the lounge and a whole wall to put up all her creations, big and small 🙂 She might only be coming on 6 months old, but we have explored art and crafts quite a lot already. She has played with various material from paper and card of different colours, glitter, glue, stickers, tea, feathers, paint, pens, ribbon, salt dough, sequins, leaves, twigs and more! Not only is this a sensory experience for babies and children alike, but really good for introducing colours and shapes and motor skill development too! We also attend the Creation Station every Friday for Baby Discovery Classes – These are great, it allows your baby to socialise with other babies, allows parents to have a natter and get out of the house and the classes are 45 minutes long, have 2 sensory bag exploration times (beginning and end)
songs at the beginning and end and in the middle is a crafting session. The first time we went we made a goldfish bowl and Lizzie slept like a rock after haha! Last week she was recovering from a horrible stomach bug that had her fever up over 39 degrees, but we will be back tomorrow and expect a full write up and some more information about The Creation Station!
So anyway, basically what I’m trying to say here is, there will be no beginning and end to home-education in our family, as Lizzie will always be learning, there doesn’t have to be. However, there are many ways in which Home Education or Home Schooling is practiced and every individual has their own ideas, objectives and philosophies. Some people change mid-way after trying something that doesn’t work for them or their child and through trial and error achieve a lot of great things.
There are home edder who follow the curriculum, there are those who don’t, there are those who have lots of structure and those who have none at all. The one thing that all home-edders agree on is that they are afforded a lot of flexibility in how they chose to educate their child and THIS is what is important to me.
For a long time I have watched a number of my friends struggle with schools and their children, from bullying, to poor education, strict school policies with regards absence and even LUNCH foods, school nurse problems, administration problems, too much homework, not enough homework, expensive school trips, uniforms, items being stolen. They all add up and really do make you wonder, but the main issue for me wanting to home educate my daughter is down to the quality of education received, the overcrowded classes, limited resources, expectations and constraints on learning, the lack of fun and also having some element of control over who my child socialises with.
This may seem controlling to many parents, but do you really want to know your child is copying vulgar language, bullying other kids, doing drugs, verbally abusive to teachers and a whole lot more besides, because they copied it from other kids and/or because their friends did it, it’s acceptable or to feel like one of the crowd? I know I don’t. I want my child to be respectful of people’s feelings and property, I want her to explore who she is without the pressure of outside influences, whether that’s peer pressure or media pressure.
Here in Nottingham and around the UK, there are hundreds of families that chose to educate their children from home and for a whole variety of reasons; school failed their child through education, special needs, bullying, they were home-educated themselves, they don’t believe in the national curriculum being able to provide enough of an education…the list goes on, but these are some of the main ones I’ve seen crop up again and again. People who don’t home-educate often wonder about the social side of education and to be honest, if they really stopped and thought about it, do you think schools ARE the best place to socialise? There is approximately 15 minutes playtime break and about 1 hour for lunch. From 9-3/4 o’clock, 1hr and 15 minutes a day socialisation is not really that much at all. Otherwise, besides structured class activities, children are told off for talking in class. Your child learns more social skills from their family, being outside/inside playing with friends AFTER school and from attending after school activities such as Scouts, Dance, Drama, etc These are all activities home-education families partake in, often more than the average family and in groups, so that the children can make friends and enjoy practical activities which involve a specialised element of learning – Physical Education (dance, rugby, hockey, gymnastics, tennis, etc), but also clubs like Horse Riding, Scouts, Archery, Arts & Craft days and more. Often there are group organised trips to educational facilities or days out like Museums, Zoo’s, Soft Play, Parks, Nature Reserves, Castles, Tours and more. The community is vast and discounts are often available at such places for a certain number of attendees and home educators may also qualify at some attractions for another discount. So trust me when I say thathome-edders have the socialisation aspect well and truly covered 🙂
Another point that many question is “What about exams?” Well, provided you follow the national curriculum and set your child up to sit formal examinations, there is no reason for your child not to sit his/her formal exams like a child would at school. Sometimes schools will offer help and support in the area, sometimes colleges, but you can privately pay to sit exams through the LEA (Local Education Authority) for about £100 per exam. However, exams are not a requirement and though some places of employment place a disproportionate amount of credit in formal examination results (remember some people really struggle under exam conditions and perform very poorly), it’s not an accurate representation of a persons intelligent or capacity to perform the job role to a high standard and other merits SHOULD be considered and often are when explained in a covering letter when applying for such positions.
Time and time again the biggest fear for people is “not knowing where to start”, “how to de-register a child who is already in school” and “coping with the LA and Truancy Officers”.
Let me just quickly quote the law on home-education, a must know for all home-educators as apparently schools and LA’s will try anything to keep your kids in school. Health Visitors are also known to be very pushy about sending your child to nursery at the right time, so it’s handy to have this to whip out to reinforce that you’re well aware of the law and your rights as a parent.
Section 7 of the Education Act 1996 applies to England and Wales:
7: Duty of parents to secure education of children of compulsory school age
The parent of every child of compulsory school age shall cause him to receive efficient full-time education suitable —
a: to his age, ability and aptitude, and
b: to any special educational needs he may have,
either by regular attendance at school or otherwise.
This is my very rough outline plan for educating Lizzie at home – Until she is 2-3yrs we will do a lot of messy, unstructured learning play and outdoor activities from water fun, to crafts, art, games, role play, baking and cooking, music, reading to her then when she is around 3 we will start introducing letter and number formation by writing and using play dough, counting, measuring, reading aloud, phonics, spelling and basic sentence structure. We will go to soft play, swimming, music & dance, gymnastics, continue with the creation station and anything else that might take our fancy. We will keep up what she enjoys and discard others. She will have her own section of garden to tend, we will do nature trails and pond dipping and a whole host of science, and engineering experiments with household items and construction materials.
Resource wise, some resources are free, some require a donation, some you need to pay for outright, but there are bargains to be had everywhere if you know where to look.
Ebay, The Works, Wilkinsons, Supermarkets, Second Hand Selling Sites, Other Home-Edders.
British Heart Foundation offer resources for a donation.
James Dyson Foundation have some FREE resources.
Attenborough Nature Reserve has FREE Nature based resources.
Change 4 Life has FREE Games and Physical Exercise Resources.
Sparklebox online has a plethora of FREE printable resources.
Twinkl has packs and printable resources for teaching.