Yesterday we realised that our first anniversary of home education had passed us by, by a couple of days. A whole year since we de-registered the girls from school and we haven’t looked back.
If you’re new here and would like to know why we embarked upon home education, read this post.
Handing that letter into school felt like a real weight off all of us. Even though we really didn’t know what we were going to do next. We didn’t know any other home educators, we didn’t know if there were any groups we could attend… really we didn’t know the first thing about home education.
Being a qualified teacher, I figured that if anyone could muddle through it would be me. As soon as we decided to home educate we knew I would take on the education side of things whilst Andy would focus on our business. Naively, I thought that I’d be able to spend some evenings working as well, but that hasn’t really happened!
My initial thoughts on home education were that we’d try to stick to the topics the girls would have been covering in school. I thought I’d keep an eye on National Curriculum expectations for their ages. I assumed we’d do a reduced timetable with shorter lessons, but that we’d still be covering the same subjects as in school.
If In Doubt, Read!
It doesn’t matter what is happening in my life, I read to make sense of it. It’s my go to coping mechanism and home education was no different. The day we made the decision to de-register the girls, I bought kindle versions of Ross Mountney’s A Funny Kind of Education and John Holt & Pat Farenga’s Teach Your Own.
Both books completely transformed my ideas about home education and made me realise that we didn’t need to re-create school at home. This is why I use the term “home education” rather than “home school”. Gone were most of my ideas about planning in the way that I did when teaching, and I realised a need for us all to deschool.
Deschooling, a term invented by Ivan Illich, is the shift from a traditional, government-influenced institution of schooling to a less-restricted method of learning that focuses on being educated by one’s natural curiosities. – Wikipedia
Then we decided that we’d start home education “properly” some time in mid-September. That would give us the usual six weeks of summer holidays, plus extra two weeks. I’d booked a home education visit to The National Space Centre for around this time, so it felt like a good time to start.
The Best Laid Plans…
Now I look back over the past year, I realise that nothing ever went the way we thought it would. But that really is the beauty of home education. It’s fluid, ever-changing, adaptive. It takes account of our interests, of individual needs and the needs of our family as a whole.
Over the course of the year I’ve mostly told people that we’re just going with the flow. We kind of are, but I’ve had moments of trying to plan lessons and whole topics of work.
Over December, I spent weeks planning a Harry Potter curriculum for January (which I still need to write about). I thought we needed more structure, but I realise now that was my need, not my daughters’. I planned potions lessons, Herbology, Charms and more. The playroom was decorated in a Harry Potter theme. I also planned our weeks almost down to the minute.
Do you know what I learned from that? Yes, the girls loved the idea of going to Hogwarts initially, but that excitement soon wore off. They got fed up of a stricter timetable and I was exhausted from trying to plan too much. I learned that sometimes I think I’m doing what the girls need, but actually I’m meeting my own needs. Then I get frustrated because of the effort I’ve put into something, which really isn’t fair as it wasn’t something anyone else asked for!
Planning is definitely a hang up I have from my teaching days, and it’s something I’m slowly learning to let go of. At least in terms of home education, because I will always love my planner and a good list! I’m slowly starting to find ways to loosely plan out things we can do, rather than detailed weekly plans. It’s definitely a work in progress though!
Read Part Two of ‘Our First Year of Home Education’ here.