After a few weeks I came back to it. Reading more, and following the Facebook groups.
I felt certain I wanted the children to learn what they wanted to learn, rather than the National Curriculum. To learn at their own pace, and in ways that suited their abilities and passions. To read what they want, when they want. To make art when they want. I wanted them to learn about the real world in the real world, to explore, research and create what they wanted, when they wanted. To be able to move, talk, eat, go outside, and use the bathroom when they wanted. Basic human rights the rest of us enjoy y’know?
We live in a different world now, to the one two hundred years ago, when mass compulsory education was created. There are many resources out there to be made use of. There are websites, apps, social media, documentaries, films, and programmes. Online courses, home ed groups and classes, distance learning, ‘moocs’ (massive online open courses, by top universities and colleges). Museums, exhibitions, community events, discovery centres, nature reserves, libraries, farms, factories, and parks. Others are only too glad to share what they’ve found. Of course these resources are there for those at school, but the learning mindset is often different. School children have been taught that learning is a boring chore. Chosen by someone else for you. To be done in school hours, with homework on top. They are also tired, having used up their energies learning and memorising this stuff that generally means little to them. So learning in ‘free’ time is not something to be embraced.
The first, huge step to making the decision, was talking to the children. If they were happy at school then I would leave it at that. Anabel (10) was immediately receptive to the idea, while Andrew (8) became agitated and said he “didn’t want to talk about anything to do with school”. However, as we chatted on, he became animated and interested in the idea. They both said they would like to do it.
The next step was to ‘play’ at homeschooling’ for a couple of weeks. I needed some time with the kids knowing about it, thinking about it, and doing it a little bit. We had just over a couple of weeks in the Easter holidays. It couldn’t be a realistic trial of homeschooling, as in all of our minds this was ‘holiday’ time from school. But it was just some time to explore the idea together.
By the end of the Easter holidays we had made up our minds, told our close family, and had the deregistration letter to hand in the first day back, giving a week’s notice.