Many of the things that have been fantastic in the past year, the ones that I can think of straight away, are the things that, since leaving school, there have been no more of.
Obviously, the first one has to be no more school run! No more unhappy hour getting them up and ready for school. Waking them up, chivvying them to get dressed, have breakfast, get bags ready, check homework, pack lunch.
No more homework. Was never sure why we required small children to be indoors in a room at school all day, and then gave them another 30 mins of homework a night. I understand purpose of primary school homework to see if they have understood what’s been taught, and no problem if they get it wrong, and to only be ten minutes a night. But somehow it never works out that way. For years tears and fear of failure, until they seemed to just resign themselves & get it done. They learn there’s no other choice.
No more being forced to read dull school reading books every single day. Having to read aloud when it is required of you, and have your reading ability critiqued. In however kind a way it’s done, who wants that? I believe people learn to love reading in spite of school, not because of it.
No more learning things chosen by someone else, that have no meaning to you. For example maybe at some point in their lives my children will want to learn about the Mayan civilisation. But they would like to choose if and when, rather than have to do it when someone else decides. Then they will make it mean something.
Being able to enjoy learning about something without having to write reams about it. There’s plenty of time for this for my children at an older age. When they have chosen the areas they wish to study in, understand about exams and qualifications, and the requirements of work. The point for small children is surely to nurture their enthusiasm by doing, rather than spoiling it with dull questions and writing. Now they learn by just get stuck into things practically, having discussions, watching programmes, using apps and websites, taking workshops, visiting places, and following where their interest takes them. And writing if they want to, but they no longer need to be put off learning something by the thought of having to write about it, to achieve someone else’s learning objectives.
No more massive influence from peers and older kids at school. The pettiness, hierarchies, bullying, shaming and scorn that is the result socially, when 30 children of the same age are forced together in a room all day every day, being told to listen, not talk, and sit still. Then let outside for two short breaks, with lining up and not talking at either end of the breaks. No matter what they were in the middle of, so often things can’t be resolved or played out. Neither of them are now primarily concerned with the ever present strain of ensuring they fit in, and don’t humiliate themselves, as they did at school.
Being able to socialise with who they want, when they want. Realising it’s quality not quantity with friendships, and nuturing and developing those friendships. These friendships from their school days, from their life outside school, and the home ed community, have deepened over the past year, without the pressure and pettiness of the school environment. All three of them see friends several times a weeks, plus skype and facetime socialising most days. It’s been a wonderful to witness Anabel, in particular, blossom socially.
Being able to visit museums, galleries, parks and attractions whenever we like is a joy. Going out with my three is just about my favourite thing to do in the whole world. No schedule. We go where we want, and spend as long as we like there. In additon we get great rates at attractions with all the amazing trips organised by our local home ed community, often with educational workshops too. And no crowds and queues. The places we have been this past year have been incredibly enjoyable.
For me personally, becoming interested in so much more, has been a sort of awakening. Like the world has opened up, full of possibility. And to see it happening to the children too, it goes without saying, has been extremely exciting. They ask questions all the time, like they did when they were younger, and we have some great discussions. Because of the questions we ask, and what we notice and discuss, everything we do, including, or especially, the mundane, has the potential to turn into something interesting.
I’ve got to add at the end of all this, that despite all the above I have no complaint against individual schools. We have encountered wonderful people who work so hard within them. They are doing what is required of them, under pressure from every direction. And I cant imagine, at this moment, another way to mass educate people, within a budget. For me, the system itself is just unworkable. Designed in a time when few people had books in their homes, and authority, rules and discipline were unquestionable. We live in a different time now. We all have so much knowledge at our fingertips. The idea of authority figures deciding what should be learned, trying to teach it to 30+ children at a time, with fewer and fewer resources has to have its days numbered.
There is so much more that’s been fantastic this past year. Too much to list here at this moment in time, although I will keep adding to this post I think.