Our Journey to Home Educating

I’ve been asked the hows, whats and whys of home education since the very beginning, and I’ve never thought to write about it until I was contacted by the lovely Laura at the Learning Through Living Journal, and asked to write something alongside some of my photos…

Anyhow, it got me thinking that I should perhaps open up here about it too. A lot of people wonder, and a lot of people have questions about how it all works, whether the children socialise (or are shut in the house all day ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜œ), whether it’s legal in the UK (it is!) and so on, so maybe this blog will be of use to you, if you’re reading…


How it all came about…

It started as a joke… no, really!

I had read the most wonderful blog, belonging to an American, home educating mother, who, looking back now, I assume was very Montessori/Charlotte Mason led… I wish I could remember which blog it was, but sadly 4 children and a failed barn renovation have fried my brain! Ha!

This lady wrote so warmly of her days with her daughter. Slow mornings. Her daughter helping with the house chores on her own level. Growing their own food. Feeding their chickens. Afternoons of painting, reading, baking. Soaking in these wonderful moments together each and every day…

I specifically remember the reference to education happening 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and not being confined to a classroom.

It’s something that has stuck with me so deeply. And when I read back what I just wrote, I literally read what our days now look like, and it makes me a little teary eyed.

After reading the post, I made the joke to Martin that we should do it.

We were both creative people, I had the privilege of time as I was already a stay at home mum, we both hated missing out on our oldest daughters days when she was in school…

It got the cogs turning…

Out of interest, as I definitely didn’t think it was a ‘thing’ that was done in the UK, I googled… The first page to pop up was an official, government web page about elective home education… WHAT?! I was AMAZED it wasn’t just a done thing, but that there was an entire, dedicated government page dedicated to the topic.

So I read up. You have to make sure you can prove you’re providing your child with an education if they’re not in school, but you don’t have to follow the national curriculum, yada yada… but basically, you can do it!

After discovering it was legal, that was it! I was convinced! Martin’s work means he’s always working in the children’s school holidays and at weekends, so I was even more convinced this was absolutely perfect for us as a family.

This would mean we could spend so much more valuable time together while he wasn’t working. It would mean we could enrich our children’s lives (educations) with so much more than academics. It would mean we could spend their days with them… their childhoods would be carried and nourished by us.

We very, very tentatively walked forward on the path that would become the best and most magical decision of our lives.

First steps…

So, how did we go about it all? What should you do as a first step into home education in the UK?

Well firstly, that differs depending on whether your child is already in school when you decide to home educate or not…

Nola was in school, so we had to de-register her.

We discussed with her head teacher having a trial period for a couple of weeks, and then de-registering. I can’t say that the head teacher was particularly helpful, kind or positive about any of what we were saying, which in itself, when you’re completely new and slightly terrified about going against the ‘norm’, makes it all so much more scary…

If you ever go for it, please approach it with the knowledge that you are 100% entitled to remove your child from school to educate them yourselves, or support them while they learn… There will be SO many people who make you doubt what you’re doing, and that you’re able to… But not only are you able, you’ll be AMAZING at it.

So, what happens next? What do I do Lauren?!

Whatever you want! The world is your oyster (and the oyster is a very interesting topic of study… this is how home education works haha!).

If you’d like more structure still, then we love to get some workbooks for maths, English and science, and sometimes have structure to our mornings. There’s an abundance of information about the UK national curriculum available online, if you’re wanting to follow it…

But what about socialisation?

First steps? Definitely get on Facebook (sorry, social media is sometimes going to be your go to!), and find your local home education groups. We have made so many lifelong friends from the home ed classes and meets, and the variety of experiences available for home educated children are HUGE. Go, search, socialise!

My children, in fact, all of us, have never socialised anywhere near as much as we have since home educating. We get to a point every, single year where we have to rein in the amount of outings and meets we are doing, because we are never at home!

So, while we are on the topic, I’d say one of the only downsides of home education is the burnout from over excitement when it comes to signing up to new activities haha!

A day in our life…

How does our day to day look? What is normal for us?

Our mornings are purposefully slow. We all rise when we rise. I feed the baby, Martin makes me a coffee. We often start with bowls of hot porridge, or three breakfasts if you’re Maya and Ridley…

When I feel suitably caffeinated and fed, when Scout has settled, and the other girls are all full bellied and satisfied, we start the more structured learning part of our day some days… It’s nothing too strenuous. Some days it’s a book project where we read together and answer questions, or do activities based on the book. Some days it’s spellings. We are currently enjoying seeing just how differently Nola and Maya learn, and how we have to adapt to their needs. This being one of the more wonderful parts of home education. Giving them the space and angle they need to absorb what they need. Providing our children with the tools they need with which to absorb their education themselves.

Some days, we pack a picnic, or we forget to pack and picnic, and hurriedly drive to a shop to pick up picnic food, on route to whichever home ed meet we have pencilled in for the day…

Some days it’s a forest school, where the children help make soup on a campfire, and sing songs…

Some days it’s rock climbing…

Some days it’s a park meet that turns into a woodland adventure, that ends in watercolour painting and dream catcher making with woodland finds…

Some days it’s a pottery class…

Some days it’s sports…

Some days it’s dance…

Some days it’s gymnastics…

Some days it’s science…

Some days it’s the library…

Some days it’s circus skills…

Some days it’s drama workshops…

Some days it’s coding…

Some days it’s an aquarium…

Some days it’s a space museum!

Some days it’s a woodland playground…

Some days it’s a cookery workshop…

Some days it’s an arts award…

Some days it’s a book club…

Some days it’s orienteering…

Some days it’s pond dipping…

Honestly, talking yourself into not socialising, and staying in to recuperate is the tricky part…

And how about other things besides structured learning at home?

Well actually, as much as we started our home ed journey as the structured people, we definitely aren’t these days… We are 5 years in, and we have learned something SO valuable that no book, no website and no person can teach… what your individual child needs and thrives from.

We don’t spend hours on end doing structure, and trying to force information down their throats just to satisfy a checklist.

We’ve learned that through following their interests and passions, they absorb SO much more than anything I ever learned in school…

We like to do projects based on their interests, or things we think they’d find interesting, and we rolls with it…

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory project? We read the books, we watched the movies, we did write ups and such, but we also booked a home ed chocolate making workshop! They learned about the entire chocolate making process, including growing, harvesting, transporting, origins and making their own!

Hinduism project? We read, we watched and then we visited a Hindu temple!

We’ve also been on adventures, and learned so many amazing facts along the way… Worldschooling is an AMAZING, hands on, real life experience, way to learn!

My kids learned French IN FRANCE.

About Glaciers and Volcanoes in Iceland…

And about Venetian masks, and how to make and eat their body weight in pizza in Italy ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜œ…

When we aren’t travelling (which we’ve calmed down due to both a new baby and eco reasons), we love to bake, craft and read a ridiculous amount of books…

But no amount is ridiculous when it’s books… obviously.

We are fans of mixing a lot of educational styles together, to create what works for us and our children… there’s definitely Waldorf, Montessori and Charlotte Mason elements in there.

We really LOVE the Exploring Nature with Children curriculum by Raising Little Shoots. It’s a Charlotte Mason inspired, nature curriculum. It’s super laid back, and you can dip in and out of it as you fancy throughout the year. It follows the seasons, and as a family we love the ideas it gives us to learn about nature in depth.

We invite the children to cook meals with us. This is something they love, and they love when it’s their day to take part… We think this is so important for life! Nola is 10 and she could cook a bolognese, chilli, roast dinner, curry and more from scratch, completely unaided now. One of her favourite things to do is find a challenging cake recipe, and bake it, and I love that!

Because we grow our own fruits and vegetables, the children know where food comes from. They see the seeds, they plant them. They know they need water and sunlight to thrive (science). They watch them grow. They help nurture these plants that are going to produce the food that nourishes them. They see how the food develops from the plant. Is it a root? Flower? Fruit? Leaf? Seed? How do these plants cycle?

They know about the hard work farmers put in to provide shops with food that everyone eats and demands, so they don’t sit behind tractors complaining that they’re not getting anywhere fast, because they appreciate that these people are putting in the work so that those who go to shops can eat.

They harvest our homegrown produce, wash it, prepare it and cook it.

They’ve raised chickens from eggs, they’ve seen the life cycle from the very beginning… They’ve raised orphaned lambs with us in our caravan living room…

My goodness, we have filled our days as a family with so much adventure and experience, and I don’t think we could ever look back now…

Do you ever regret it or worry you’ve done the wrong thing?

I say this whole heartedly… NO!

Are there days when things don’t run smoothly? Yes! Just like any other persons day…

Are there days when I feel like I’m not doing enough? Yes! But often it’s very much just me feeling like I’m not doing enough. Sometimes in this bubble, you’ll have months where you kick out SO many adventures, projects, books, structured stuff, meets etc and then sometimes you’ll have months where you just cruise through, not covering much. These are the ebbs and flows of home educating, and not only are they okay, they’re necessary!

You can’t function at high speed, indefinitely. You burn out…

Everyone has phases of passion, energy and interest. This is where we learn the most, and absorb the knowledge thoroughly… The parts in between to recuperate are vital, and this is true for children also.

As a family, we tend to slow right down around early summer, until autumn… this just seems to be our rhythm.

We still continue to do the daily joys… reading, cooking, baking, painting etc, but not so much of the structure or getting here, there and everywhere.

I’m sure there’s so much more that I haven’t talked about, but sometimes the endless possibilities of our days can feel a little overwhelming to contain into one conversation, when you’re trying to convey just now amazing home educating life can be…

I also want to add, because it’s a very important point to make… I am NOT anti-school. My goodness there are some exceptional teachers out there, and there are lots of families who schools are a godsend for. I also recognise how very privileged I am to be in a position to live the life I do… My blog is not here to shame anyone at all.


If you have any further questions, please drop me a comment or message!

L xxx

ย 



Published by