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Home Schooling: 10 Things We Have Learned

14/08/2014 17:02 | Updated 20 May 2015

home schooling

We have been home schooling for two years. We took Harry, now 10, out of school at the end of Year 3 and Joe, who turned five in January, has never been to school.

1. We're really bad at getting going in the mornings.

How we ever got out of the house by 8.30am I'll never know. We frequently get up early, but between having breakfast, doing a few household chores, a cup of tea (or two... or three) for me, we're lucky to be dressed and ready to go by lunchtime.

2. Days out are easier when everyone else is at school.

Museums are empty. Parks are tranquil. Soft play places are almost tolerable. Plus activities are often cheaper on a weekday. A lot of the home ed families I know take full advantage of this during term-time and then hide like vampires during school hols. (And of course actual holidays are much cheaper during term-time.)

3. During the week, the outside world is a strange, child-free, place.

i

I never noticed this before we home educated, but now, when I'm out and about with my boys, they are often the only children we see and it's sort of eerie, like all the other children have just disappeared...

i
If ever we see any other kids at all, we want to ask what they're doing, if they're home edding too (they never are).

4. Home ed is not like homework.

A few friends have said they have such a horrible battle trying to get their children to do homework that they could never home educate. Well, that was one of my worries too. But it turns out that homework was such a battle because a) the children weren't interested or invested in it, and b) it was something they had to do rather than something they wanted to do. They ask to learn stuff now.

5. Learning stuff you're interested in is easier than learning stuff you're not interested in.

Harry struggled with reading and spelling while he was at school. Since he's been home, both have come on in leaps and bounds because he's reading about Pokémon or Minecraft and wants to spell words like 'obsidian' and 'diamond' and it seems to have had a knock-on effect. I never have to say "sound... it... out..." through gritted teeth anymore.

6. It's impossible to NOT learn.

We are learning all the time. All of us. I mean, we know that, right? Reading, driving, watching TV, shopping... there is information everywhere, we can't avoid it. And yet some people still seem to think - and are keen to tell me - that you can only learn in school. I learned that's not true years after leaving school and it's important to me that my children learn it too. Life is learning. All the time.

7. People are really fixated on testing.

Almost everyone who has ever asked me about home ed has asked about testing and exams. But education is supposed to be about learning, not about testing. I know my boys are learning because they ask me questions, can answer questions I ask them, and frequently proudly point out things they know that they didn't used to know. No testing required.

8. I don't miss the school run. At all.

I work from home. Sometimes people ask me what I miss about working in an office and my answer is nothing at all. It's the same with the school run.

The morning frenzy of getting everything and everyone ready and out of the house before we'd all properly woken up. Watching the clock all day. The weather changing from glorious to thunderous at exactly 3.30pm. Having to get out of the car and miss a song you haven't heard for years on Steve Wright's Oldies. The stilted small talk with other parents you only ever see at school and with whom you have nothing in common apart from a child of a similar age.

9. Spending time with the children is wonderful.

It puzzles me a bit when people say they couldn't spend so much time with their children. I mean, they're you're children - what's so awful about them?

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Of course I don't love every minute with my two. Of course they get on my nerves and we have bad days and shout and cry (me as much as them), but mostly spending every day with them is great.

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We enjoy each other's company, we have fun, we have in-jokes, we have a routine. My original plan for home ed was 'more joy together every day' and so far we are very much on track.

10. Home ed isn't that big of a deal after all.

We agonised over the decision to take Harry out of school - it seemed like such a huge thing to do - everyone goes to school, right? But it didn't take long at all before it felt completely natural. I can honestly say none of us misses school at all. I probably think "Wow, they don't go to school" with about the same regularity as I think "Woo-hoo! I don't have to go to school!" And I'm 43.

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