I’m aware that at the moment most people reading this blog are friends, or friends of friends or at the very least not that far removed from us. But as one of the questions on the post below was regarding Education for D and S and I realise to someone happening upon this blog who doesn’t know us and hasn’t arrived here via a link with the Home Ed community I thought I’d write a little about Home Education and what will soon be Van Education :).
We have been Home Educating D and S from the very beginning, as most parents do when their children are tiny but we took the decision when D was 2 and S was a baby that we would continue to do so and not use pre-school or school but educate our children at home. This is perfectly legal and anyone can do it. The duty to ensure your children receive an education appropriate to their age, aptitude and ability has always rested with the parents, it’s just that most of us in this country chose to delegate it to schools. For most parents, and most children this arrangement works perfectly and everyone is happy, educated and content with the arrangement. For reasons which have altered over the 8 years we have been Home Educating our arrangement of not using school works for us and we are happy, educated and content with it.
Our style of Home Ed has evolved over the years to specifically suit the four individuals in our family. It’s a regularly tweaked lifestyle which aims to meet the needs of all. We do not follow a curriculum, use work books or focus on any specific subjects. We don’t seperate out literacy, numeracy, science, history, art from each other, we simply believe all of the above fall into the catch all category of Life and Living and that any skills which are required, relevant or necessary will be picked up as we go along. Our philosophy is that if you try hard enough you can do anything and if you approach life with passion, curiosity and positivity your reward will be an interesting an fulfilling experience.
This means that knowledge acquisition is self driven and autonomous, often practical life skills or answers to questions that have simply arisen due to visiting someplace, a conversation in the car, a TV show or news item, sparked by a story from a favourite author or shared by a friend. Both D and S have passions and things they are personally interested in and we find ways to help them quench their thirst for information and skills in these areas – S loves animals, wildlife and nature so along with hatching chickens, ducks and quails eggs and helping to raise them and look after them she also attends a monthly group at our local RSPB reserve, has done Keeper for a Day sessions at local zoos, has DS games where she gets to play vet / look after the animals, has a shelf on her book case full of stories about animals, encyclopedias about animals, dvds of nature documentaries etc. We visit zoos, wildlife centres, nature reserves, animal sanctuaries and encourage her to talk to pet owners, animal trainers, zookeepers, wildlife handlers etc.
D is interested in archaeology so attends the local branch meetings of the Young Archaeology Club monthly, has visited museums, had loan boxes of geological samples and learnt about rocks and fossils, watched and listened to adaptations of Stig of the Dump, visited various caves around the UK, attended history workshops at various museums. He is into bushcraft, survival and woodworking so we have done Forest School, greenwood working lessons, furnished him with a penknife, lots of wood and Ray Mears books and dvds and done a bushcraft weekend where we built our own shelter to sleep in. He loves film making and animation so we have bought him equipment to make his own films and taken him to events on filmmaking, museums of animation and watched endless ‘making of’ films on dvd extras.
Both children are interested in food so we do lots of cooking, not just baking but proper, knowing all about the ingredients, growing them ourselves if we can and learning about what processes they undergo type cooking. We also shop together, they know that food doesn’t come from Tescos but from the ground, the trees, the animals, via processing plants and factories, with food miles attached. We are hoping to take this a step further with our WW adventure both in learning even more about where our food comes from and cutting out several of those middle men and food miles but also learning about self sufficiency, whether we can hunt and gather and grow to feed ourselves.
The whole Wondering Wanderers idea has been a good example of how our brand of Home Education works really. It was a plan born of conversation, exchanging ideas, hopes and dreams and hatching plans for our ideal lives. Everyone in the family had a voice, a valid contribution to offer. Everyone had concerns and compromises to make and everyone had an equal vote in which way we go about this. We all have things we want to achieve from it, new skills we want to learn, we’ll make plenty of it up as we go along, enjoy not just the end result but the whole journey and process and thrive on the challenges and changes along the way.