We’ve just started home educating our three children. I’m full of worry, afraid. But also so very, very happy.
But making this decision was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
I didn’t feel pushed into this because of any particular, specific reason. The childrens’ school was a lovely one. And according to the traditional ways of measuring, they seemed to be getting on very well.
But for many years I felt something was wrong, something that could be made better. Around school, and the topic of school, the children were always slightly dejected, unenquiring, wary. The weekdays felt wrong to me: An hour of chivvying tired kids to get ready. The day at school with its rules, boredom and petty injustices. Then weary, grumpy kids back home commencing the homework battle, along with the merry go round of after school clubs. I felt this couldn’t be all a young child’s life was. But I didn’t know how to articulate this. To myself, let alone anybody else.
A catalyst was the eldest’s (age 10 and 8) most recent parents evening.
I remember the first parents evening I attended. I was full of anticipation to hear how my child had been getting on in school, age 4 and away from me with strangers for thirty hours a week. I felt deflated and disappointed at what I was told. I cant remember exact details, but it was just so dry. Impersonal, and uninspiring. This theme continued throughout the years. Pieces of paper with checklists of dull, incomprehensible targets that we parents had to sign. Occasionally we met a special teacher, who talked about our children in a way we could engage with. But this was rare.
At the most recent parents evening I remember looking at the reams of writing in all their school books. Some parents might have been pleased to see this, but I just found it stifling and depressing. Plus our seven year old son’s teacher telling us and him that he “just had to do his homework, like she had to do her marking”. And when he was at secondary school he would have an hour a night.
What is all this writing, all this regurgitating of uninteresting information, all these checklists of learning objectives for small children all for? No-one is ever able to tell me.
I don’t blame the school or the teachers. Educating a large number of children, all complete individuals, to government targets, with ever decreasing resources, seems like an impossible task to me. And a completely different proposition to educating my own three children myself.
I saw the the TED Talks Hackschooling Makes Me Happy and Ken Robinson’s Changing Education Paradigms and How Schools Kill Creativity. I researched further, reading John Taylor Gatto, Sandra Dodd, Ross Mountney, and Pam Lariccia, amongst others. It all made sense to me.
I joined Facebook homeschooling groups, and made contact with some homeschoolers. Then I got cold feet. I was just too afraid. I left the groups and the idea.
But the idea wouldn’t leave me!