Seven weeks after The Big Decision, our plan has gained new momentum, we have now sold our bricks and mortar (subject to contract) so providing the sale goes according to plan – which we are confident it will (the law of attraction and all that) – we will be deploying on our new adventure by mid February 2016!
Since going public and sharing our plans through Claire’s initial blog and discussing the future in more detail with close family and friends, we have received loads of love and support which we are massively grateful for. Some of our nearest and dearest have naturally, and quite understandably, raised some questions relating to the little ladies of anarchy (Lois age 6 & Macy age 4) regarding their education and social development. The aim of this blog is to address these questions and concerns by giving you some insight into our extensive research on home education and unschooling methods which should hopefully help you to better understand our decision and our vision for the girls education and social life.
Common questions asked are as follows:
What about the law?
In England and Wales home education is legal under section 7 of the Education Act 1996. Despite what you might think, as we did before our research, there is no legal obligation for you to inform or seek permission from the Local Authority to home school your children. The only process you are legally obliged to complete is the deregistration of your child from the school they attend by writing to the school and requesting that they remove your child from the register. It’s as simple as that!
How are you going to follow the national curriculum?
There is no legal requirement to follow the national curriculum as this only applies to state schools. However, we do intend to use the national curriculum as a guideline to focus on core main stream subjects such as Maths, English and Science but we’ll be approaching these subjects from an holistic educational perspective where possible. We are keen for the girls to explore and express their creative sides whether that be through music, art, dance, languages etc. or just simply being in nature.
Do you have the skills to teach the girls?
You don’t need to be a teacher and have any special qualifications to home educate your child, obviously a degree of common sense would be a massive bonus here (and I’d like to think that Claire and I have a little bit of that between us). A lot of research out there supports that children who are educated by parents at home do just as well as, and in some areas do better than, children who are schooled in mainstream education.
How are you going to teach the girls?
Like many, our children thrive on routine. We will be using a weekly timetable made up of subjects seen in mainstream education, as well as subjects like meditation, nature, first aid and general life skills. Alongside Maths and English theory-based lessons, we will be focussing on interesting projects throughout the year. For example ‘castles’, instead of just talking about castles and looking through books, we will also visit the nearest castle and experience the castle first hand. We believe this is a much more fun and interactive way of learning. Each project subject will then feed into other learning areas, again using castles as an example, this particular project would encompass areas such as geography, history, architecture, politics etc.
What about socialising?
This does appear to be the biggest area of concern for parents and close family/friends who are new to the home education concept. This was a big sticking point for Claire and I when we first started to entertain the notion of travelling with the girls and to be honest it was the biggest reason for delaying our decision to take the plunge. We have now read many case studies on child socialisation and believe that our adventure will be a great opportunity for the girls to experience an extremely diverse range of social interactions. We will be meeting new people on a regular basis, forming new friendships along the way and sharing experiences with people of different nationalities, ages, cultures and beliefs. We are very hopeful that these interactions will massively support the girls social development and help them to understand and identify that the difference in human beings is not something to be feared but something to be embraced and explored whenever an opportunity presents itself.
In 2010 there were 50,000 children being home educated and that figure has now grown over the last 5 years to approximately 80,000 children being educated at home. As this is a growing, pro-active community, there are many local, regional and national events running throughout the year where the home education community come together to run social events, workshops and outdoor activities to meet, share experiences, learn and develop. One example of this is the Home Educators Sea Side Festival. We will encourage our girls whole-heartedly to attend these events (they’re both very socialable so I don’t think we’ll need to twist their arms much) and will incorporate them into our learning timetables on at least a monthly basis.
As a family, we are also very lucky to have lots of friends and family dotted all over the UK. Due to our new way of life on the road, we will have the opportunity to see a lot more of these people and Lois and Macy’s bonds with their current friends/family will be made stronger.
What about your patience?
Don’t get me wrong, we, like many other parents, have seen school (and work) as a break from each other but, on the whole, we are a very close family and get on well. In our current conventional set-up, we have noticed that when the girls are not bored and are occupied with play, learning or a chore the house is very calm and we are less likely to hear the sounds of our children beating each other up!! Whilst on the road, we will have the time to keep the girls busy and interested during our daily lives. We acknowledge that there will still be challenging times (just as there are now)………and what else could I expect living with three women!!
To be honest, it helps us a lot that Lois and Macy are always eager to learn and are always quite willing to listen when being shown something new. Claire and I are also looking forward to receiving education through teaching the girls and are really excited that our new lifestyle will allow us the time to learn new skills and develop new interests too.
I would like to share the following TED Talks video on a presentation delivered by Ken Robinson which has inspired us as parents and I think it fits nicely with the subject of this blog. I hope you enjoy watching it.