Home Educating: What Do I Know About it?
I first encountered home education at the ripe old age of 10, but back then, at least for my family, it wasn't known as home education, it was simply not going to school; we lived in a very remote part of Africa and there was no school to go to and I loved it!
There were always masses of books to read, principally because whenever my father had to make a work trip back to the capital, a 660 km round trip along basic but beautiful roads, we would accompany him in order to catch up with friends and stock up on vital supplies that weren't available in the nearest town to where we lived. Those vital supplies included books.
I was always so excited going into the one international bookshop in the city; I knew there were more fabulous adventures ahead of me in the pages of the unread books I was about to buy.
I would leave the shop with armfuls of books, my parents never put any limit on how many I could buy, and as a young child I can remember my father saying "if you learn only one thing from each book you read, it's money well spent". Wise words.
Decades later I would find myself repeating history with my own sons, both in terms of home educating them and repeating the book buying habits and wise words of my father.
Home education for me as a child, was a fabulous time of reading and writing at my own pace and endless drawing of anything that took my fancy. Maths at that age was basic and problems were easily set by our mother. Science however was a whole different ball game; neither of our parents were scientists, but we managed.
Don't Try This At Home
My brother and I had hours of fun experimenting with his chemistry kit, making potions and growing crystals. But nothing amused us quite so much as dropping molten wax on top of water in a test tube. We would leave it to harden before heating the base of the test tube with the little alcohol spirit burner, and watching as the pressure from the heating water built up sufficiently to fire the now warm and malleable blob of wax across the room, smacking against the walls and ceiling with a satisfying thud. Marvellous fun, and best of all the mess was in my brother's room, so he got the telling off!
Monkeys & Ants
Environmental studies, biology and geography were also exciting and easily accessible; we lived outside, the wildlife were monkeys in the trees and birds in the garden.
My pets were chameleons and ants. I was fascinated with the trails of ants and would leave morsels of food in their path waiting for them to find it and watching them as they worked together to lift huge crumbs and carry them back to their nests.
Watching the chameleons changing colour as I moved them from plant to plant was mesmerising, their tails would curl around whatever support they found themselves clinging to as the inquisitive little human gently experimented with them.
The lizards were also great fun to study. We would dribble small puddles of cocoa cola onto the ground and watch as the lizards were drawn in by the scent of the sweet liquid. I was fascinated by their tongues and could watch them for hours.
History Repeats Itself
When my kids were at school and school was proving to be a dissatisfying experience both for them and for me, I decided to research home schooling in the UK and realised that not only was it feasible, there is actually a lot of resources out there, including from local authorities, to support home edding families.
So we took the plunge, removed both boys from school and set off on our home schooling adventures. And..we loved every moment of it.
We had the freedom to learn what we wanted, when we wanted and then after the learning, to spend the rest of the day outside, meeting other home schooling families and having adventures that still make us smile today when we look back. It was a precious time for our family.
If You're Worrying, Stop, Enjoy The Home Schooling Experience
What's my point in telling you about my childhood and parenting journey? My point is simple, if you have found yourself flung into the role of home educator and you're daunted, or scared or overwhelmed, I would like to tell you to relax, relax and trust that your child is borne to learn and the moment you become a parent you take on the role of educator and you're very good at it, otherwise your children would not have learnt to walk and talk and eat and drink and play sociably and ask questions and develop all the other sophisticated skills that they have acquired.
Reach Out & Connect
Whilst home schooling is incredibly rewarding, it is also hard work and it can take time to adapt to the altered routine of your days, so having some organisations to refer to will help you.
We found Education Otherwise to be a great resource when we were home educating and although we didn't use them, Home Education UK also has fabulous resources available, including a forum, where you can talk to other home schooling families.
Connections are important; don’t be isolated in your journey, reach out to other home schooling families, it can be super helpful to be able to talk to other new, and more experienced, home educating families, especially if you're struggling with any aspect of home ed life.
But most of all, remember to enjoy the adventure; it’s a very precious time for you and most especially for your very lucky children.
We'll be posting some easy to do at home science experiments over the next few weeks, so be sure to follow us here and over on our insta account @curiousminds_uk