Pretty much everyone now has an opinion on home education. They have been able to see the good and the not so great aspects of our education system and how teachers shape the thoughts and behavior of the children they teach. For some lock down learning was a daily torture, others discovered a side of themselves and their children they had longed to engage with. When our youngest daughter decided that she'd like to be home educated ( in 2016 after moving house and started a new school), we were startled- it had never crossed our minds and the prospect was terrifying to say the least.
We were really lucky that our local HE community was thriving and supportive. Clubs, meets and activities galore, we rapidly became aware that everyone does it differently and the range of philosophies behind it was huge. Cue the first piece of advice that saved our sanity
1) De -school. Take the time to rinse the school system out of your system.
At first I was so hell bent on delivering wide and varied learning opportunities that I forgot we weren't in school anymore and it was awful for all of us. Once we stopped, played, met people and began to settle a natural flow appeared and formed the basis of our journey.
Over the coming years the routine would change depending on the activities but the flow didn't. During the period of de schooling we discovered that we both worked well in the mornings but by afternoon we were itching to get out and about, My daughter had hatred of comprehension tasks but could read and watch Shakespeare all day, the list goes on. All of this information underpinned how we went about things during our day and ultimately led to a smoother path.
In searching for this smooth, machine like running order, the second sanity saving snippet appeared.
2) Who is your child? Really.. who are they?
Really looking at her, communicating, understanding and accepting how her brain worked and how she liked to do things was a gamechanger. As a mainstream teacher I had always imposed a prescribed curriculum on the children I taught, I knew their learning styles and provided activities accordingly- but this was different. It was about releasing control and trusting that she wanted to learn and she would learn the way she wanted to.
Letting go of control was tough, it didn't come easily but in the long run was the best thing to do. It made life so much easier, the learning was more fluid and there was less resistance to things that were new or different. There have been rough patches, lord knows plenty of mistakes, but we come back to this question and it puts us back on the path.
3) Its not all roses and picnics!
When our first HE wobble occurred we thought 'that is it she's going back to school we cant do this'. It was awful, the anxiety, the second guessing, it felt like it had all fallen apart in the space of a morning. Reaching out to other home edders really helped, everyone goes through it and there are so many different ways to overcome them and move forward. Connecting with people is so important and can make the difference between achieving goals and having them slip through your fingers.
4) Finding your tribe....
The community is large and diverse, even if you are indoors the online community connects us all globally. For me this has had the biggest impact, socially, emotionally and philosophically finding people who got it, got us a family and didn't judge us when we did something different has been priceless.
5) The only constant is change
The pandemic upended everything for everyone. Here in the UK all our HE groups stopped or moved online. As the year moved on and it be came apparent no one was going anywhere, my daughter came to us as asked to go back to her original school ( the one before we moved). She said she had loved HE but she couldn't do the online lessons, she hated it and she missed playing with her HE friends and the friends from her 1st school. So with heavy hearts we re enrolled her, she has thrived and is meeting the challenges mainstream presents head on. Many questioned her choice to return to school and ours in supporting her, but for her at this point she made the right call. We maintain strong links with the HE community and have kept the door open for her to return if she wants to.
Our purpose for HE had always been to re-ignite her love of learning, we achieved this and got way more than we had expected too. It was not without the bumps in the road but it was most definitely worth it.