My official journey began when my eldest daughter Miss P was five. She had completed two terms of full time primary education at the sweet little village primary school in our parish. Unofficially our journey began when she was just nine months old and I furthered my study into the Montessori method for children aged 6-12 years. Having already trained to teach Montessori in the nursery years, learning about the primary (or elementary as it is known) enlightened me to a very special and more natural method of educating the child. It was to be an enlightenment that would shape the future education for all of my children.
The parish primary school was lovely and friendly and I do not doubt that it delivered a great education. Certainly the time Miss P spent there she enjoyed tremendously. But what spoilt it for me were the limitations of the National Curriculum which most schools tend to opt to sign in to. There are reasons of course. It is supposed to provide the child with a very 'rounded' education, a little knowledge about many different curriculum areas. What is doesn't take into account and what really mattered to me, were the actual interests of the child. The Montessori method on the other hand, recognises that not all children learn at the same rate and that they all have very different educational needs and interests and we all know that we learn best when something is of interest to us.
So after two terms of my beautiful daughter enduring institutional based education I removed her in order to educate her 'otherwise'.
Removing my child from what is considered 'the norm' and going against the grain of what all my friends were doing was daunting to say the least. Luckily I had developed a thirst for researching home education and had found a few local contacts and activities happening locally, so there was an element of support out there. My family thought I was mad!!!
The first few months were a learning curve as I tried to establish a method and break away from the idea of 'school'. It's a tough habit to break when it's all you've really known, but it is possible. Initially we did 'school' at home. I made an effort to make sure we covered all the topics on the National Curriculum and we worked to the hours of a typical school day. It didn't take me long to realise that you can actually achieve all the work outcomes of a school day in just an hour when you're working on a one to one basis. So we suddenly had vast amounts of wonderful free time to spend playing freely - it's been idyllic!
Everyone who home educates does things differently and even within a single family, what works one year doesn't always work the next. Even the needs of individual children are different. So it's a constant game of trial and error; swap and change.
Back in those early days I didn't know where our journey would take us. I told people it was a short term measure, perhaps just the Primary years, but we've had so much fun that it's continued into the secondary years too! :-)
Miss P will be sitting her first iGCSE exam in a week.............
When people learn that you home educate they look on in pity.....'Oh poor darling, I guess you don't have any friends'. WRONG!! We all have amazing friends. There is a fantastic community of people worldwide that now home educate and the numbers are growing rapidly. It is a very real option. With regards to friends, we have many many friends. Socialising is not a problem at all. Our children go to clubs, visit museums, volunteer in local shops and organisations and much more besides. They mix with people of all ages all of the time. When you think about it, in school children are all grouped according to age. In the outside world that doesn't ever really happen.
We also have a huge amount of fun and enjoy the time that we have together. As we're not following any strick guidelines and have a huge amount of freedom to do what we want, we do just that! Bliss!!