This Homeschooling Life #3 – There’s life in lots of things

Life outdoors
We’ve chosen to home educate partly because we want our kids to spend their short childhoods outdoors. I have to say, though, that it’s easy to feel convinced about this in the middle of summer and quite another when the world starts getting colder, darker and wetter.

Yet, the children are usually happy to be outside, regardless of the weather, especially Ophelia who hasn’t yet picked up on my aversion to the colder months.

Mostly, I’ve been happy to stick them in their rain suits and chuck them out into the garden while I keep an eye from the kitchen. We found a slide by the side of the road the other day and it’s been a brilliant addition. So they’re often out there sliding, mixing up horrors in their mud kitchen, blowing bubbles and drawing on the patio with chalks.

I’m aware that I need to get out there too, for their sake as well as mine. I’ve lapsed in gardening and shied away from initiating woodland walks. It’s just so easy to become sedentary, holed up indoors at this time of year.

This homeschooling life - life in many things-5 Talitha at her monthly horseriding lesson

I’ve been reading a bit around Charlotte Mason recently (she was a respected thinker on education, in case you’ve not come across her) and the reminder that children should be spending many hours a day outdoors really challenged me. My kids would happily do that.

Would I? I’d probably find it difficult to be fully present, to slow down and really absorb the experience. In short, I think I’d get bored, which makes me think that I should commit to doing this more. I’d also be focused on feeling cold. So, two things need to happen. I need to kit myself out at the charity shop and I need to actually dedicate the time.

Hopefully by the time I write our next home education update, I’ll have more to tell about our outdoor adventures.

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I’ve been enjoying reading Learning Outdoors with the Meek Family. It brings together ideas for “Ed-ventures”, getting out of the house (and the classroom) and learning in the real world, whether that be a lake, a castle or an airport.

Some of the ideas work for Talitha’s age, like painting rocks for the garden or drawing minibeasts you find but many of them are geared toward older children, so I think we’ll get lots out of this in years to come.

Life in stories

Talitha has always gravitated towards books in any room. At times, I’ve felt frustrated that she’d choose to sit with books when we’d made the effort to go out to a group so she could play with other children. I’ve since realised that she does both, that it’s about her pace not what I think she should be doing and that I was the same as a child.

We’ve been borrowing Usborne first readers from the library and she’s been delighted that she can read them. Often she reads a line then looks for what she’s read about in the picture or she’ll ask me questions about what she’s read. It’s a real delight to both of us that she’s understanding what she’s reading.

Even better, we’re just enjoying a life in stories, with me reading more chapter books and short stories and listening to audiobooks while playing. She’s been particularly loving listening to a CD of The Cat in the Hat and Other Dr Seuss Stories. The girls have their own CD player and both of them have learned how to operate it, though Ophelia needs a hand and she’s not quite co-ordinated enough to get the CD in.

We’re also taking the stories further by drawing pictures of something in a book, crafts and foods inspired by a story or acting it out with the Sylvanian family or puppets.

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Following life’s questions
Questions that naturally come up in our day to day have lead us down interesting paths. We’ve been learning lots (reading and playing) around animal categorisation, starting with the question: “Is a whale a fish?”

Questions around numbers lead us into playing simple maths games. We play lots of board games anyway but I recently printed off some monsters from The Measured Mom and we’ve been finding different things to do with them, identifying, ordering, matching to words and connecting them with real life. Here we made play dough monsters and added eyes to work out some simple sums.

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Life’s rhythms

Looking to the season and calendar has inspired a lot of what we’ve done this month, collecting leaves and other objects, cooking and baking Autumn favourites, and drilling pumpkins for Halloween.

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For me, it’s helped to plug in to my four-year-old’s natural excitement over all of life’s little celebrations. I don’t have to make her childhood magical. It already is.

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Life through creating

A highlight of this month was a paper clothes making workshop we attended at the Royal West of England Academy in Bristol run by the team at Let’s Make Art. I didn’t know quite what to expect but we walked away with so many ideas! I was surprised by how into it Talitha got. She wouldn’t let me help with most of it and attended it with such focus.

I’m looking forward to getting some scrap out (we keep a massive chest full of scrap) and playing a bit more with making clothes and costumes at home. It would be good to get her some beautiful materials too, though, so we’ll need a trip to the Children’s Scrapstore soon, I think.

I also want to do more yarn crafts together because Talitha is so intrigued by anyone doing needlework. When a friend brought her knitting to our house yesterday, Talitha ran for her own needlework. She dips in and out of working on her simple frame but it’s surprising how absorbed she is when she’s working on it.

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She’s always making, though, whether it’s drawing (our art supplies are out at child height – for better or worse when Ophelia gets at them!) or Lego, facepainting or Hama beads. It makes me wonder why I’ve only recently rediscovered my own crafting impulse when it seems to be something children naturally want to do.

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We’ve been making our way through this Chihuly Art Kit Activity Book my brother-in-law gave me. It’s full of opportunities to look at the work of artist David Chihuly then attempt activities around his ideas.

So, that’s a bit of what we’ve been up to recently. What about you?

Every month, I’ll give a little update on what we’ve been up to as part of This Homeschooling Life, a new linky I’m hosting with blogger friends Jess, Polly and Laura. I’m sure I’ll have lots more to share next time around. Do read more about it below and if you blog, consider linking up.

This Homeschooling Life is a linky sharing either a week, a day or just a moment from your life as a homeschooling family. We are hoping it will be a great way to discover new blogs and learn how we all do things differently.

The linky will open at 8am on the first Monday of every month and, throughout the rest of the month, the hosts will share your posts on their social media channels.

The Hosts:

Adele who blogs at Circus Queen
Laura who blogs at Side Street Style
FACEBOOK / TWITTER / PINTEREST / INSTAGRAM
Polly who blogs at Enchanted Pixie
FACEBOOK / TWITTER / PINTEREST / INSTAGRAM

The Rules:

1. Link back to one of the hosts. You will find the code for the badge at the bottom or if you prefer you can use a text link.

2. Link up a post from your month, no more than 3.

3. Link directly to a specific post, not your main blog.

4. Follow the hosts on at least one of their social media platforms.

5. Visit and comment on some of the other blogs linking up.

6. If you share on social media then you can use the #thishomeschoolinglife so we can all find each other.

This Homeschooling Life

An InLinkz Link-up




PS: We were sent Learning Outdoors with the Meek Family and given a free place in the Let’s Make Art workshop to review. This post also contains affiliate links which just means I get a few pence if you buy any of the books I’ve linked to, at no added cost to you.


This Homeschooling Life #2 – Finding rhythm

I had a lot of intentions this past month. Lots of plans were going to materialise into pretty pictures for this blog post. In fact, I was going to write a weekly update to keep an eye on what we’ve been up to. I’ve managed one week so far. Looking back, the month doesn’t look like I planned. And that’s absolutely fine.

Between sickness passing from one family member to another and me struggling a bit with low mood (not something I talk much about here), we’ve had to slow right down and reassess. I’ve spent a lot of this month de-cluttering, reorganising, cleaning and re-buying supplies I hadn’t a hope of finding.

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Meanwhile, the girls have spent loads of time playing freely alone and together. It’s exciting seeing what a difference every week makes with Ophelia. They’re doing so much together now: imaginary play, rough housing, mixing stuff in the mud kitchen, turning everything into a game. In fact, Talitha spent the night with my brother and his wife this weekend and Ophelia seemed a little lost without her big sister to play with.

They can play for hours too. One day this week, we hung out at a local park for about four hours. I think Ophelia would have stayed even longer if Talitha and I weren’t ready to go home! That girl just loves being outdoors, running around.

We’re still finding our rhythm. I suspect we have too many days out. I would like for us to have two days when we’re just on our own, primarily because I can’t cope with being out with others all the time but, also, I think being at home or just pottering around on our own locally is good for them too.

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At the moment, we go to a local home ed group, Talitha does ballet, we sometimes go to another group further afield with a wider age group and she has a regular play date. This past week we tried an all-day forest school we’d been wanting to go to for a while. It took us both a while to warm into it but she loved it so much, I think we’ll try it again. Both girls start a private swim lesson together this week and Talitha resumes her once a month horseriding lesson later this month. Ophelia and I are going to a toddler group every other week.

In a sense it doesn’t seem like loads, and there’s easily more I’d be tempted to add if time and money allowed but we need time at home. All three of us do. So I don’t think there’ll ever be a week when we do all that I’ve mentioned above.

We’ve continued to do a few structured activities three times a week (I’ve blogged about what we’re using here) mostly out in the garden. Sometimes we’ve literally just done calendar time and spent the rest of time reading. Some form of art has happened every day, unplanned.

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Talitha’s monthly magazine from Avon Wildlife Trust arrived (she gets so excited spotting her name on the envelope!) so we’ve been reading that and trying to find the answers to the millions of questions each page prompts. I’m seriously getting such an education myself here.

I sometimes find Talitha getting her “daily learning notebook” out on her own and filling it in with her movable calendar, coming to ask questions of anything she’s not sure of. I found one day that she’d also fished a maths book out and done a few pages of addition, drawing objects and writing the answers.

It reminded me of two things. One, it isn’t all down to me. So I needn’t beat myself up when I’m not feeling 100 per cent. It’ll happen. Two, these are things she wants to do. I sometimes feel a little shy of admitting that we’re doing anything structured or formal, feeling (rightly or wrongly) that people don’t expect us to be. That’s funny in a way because one of the reasons we’re home educating is to move at my children’s pace and not worry about external expectations.

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Another cool thing that happened this month… I found all the Autumn things I’d saved from last year, including these great printables from Twinkl. So we put up our display, which both girls love and have been doing the activities again since I laminated them. There were a few Woodland Trust bits we didn’t attempt last year but will this year, like trying to spot nocturnal animals.

We also had a little break in a safari tent in Dartmoor (I’ll be blogging about it this week) and Laurence took Talitha to a Rugby World Cup game. Neither would have been as easily done if she were in school and both were learning adventures so I’m grateful we’ve been able to enjoy them.

Actually, you know what? Looking back on it, that was a pretty good month.

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Every month, I’ll give a little update on what we’ve been up to as part of This Homeschooling Life, a new linky I’m hosting with blogger friends Jess, Polly and Laura. I’m sure I’ll have lots more to share next time around. Do read more about it below and if you blog, consider linking up.

This Homeschooling Life is a linky sharing either a week, a day or just a moment from your life as a homeschooling family. We are hoping it will be a great way to discover new blogs and learn how we all do things differently.

The linky will open at 8am on the first Monday of every month and, throughout the rest of the month, the hosts will share your posts on their social media channels.

The Hosts:

Adele who blogs at Circus Queen
Laura who blogs at Side Street Style
FACEBOOK / TWITTER / PINTEREST / INSTAGRAM
Polly who blogs at Enchanted Pixie
FACEBOOK / TWITTER / PINTEREST / INSTAGRAM

The Rules:

1. Link back to one of the hosts. You will find the code for the badge at the bottom or if you prefer you can use a text link.

2. Link up a post from your month, no more than 3.

3. Link directly to a specific post, not your main blog.

4. Follow the hosts on at least one of their social media platforms.

5. Visit and comment on some of the other blogs linking up.

6. If you share on social media then you can use the #thishomeschoolinglife so we can all find each other.

This Homeschooling Life

An InLinkz Link-up



What did we do all week? – Home learning adventures 1

I came to the end of this week feeling a bit deflated. The house was (is) a mess. The kids were ill in turns so we ended up canceling quite a few of our plans and, for various reasons, Laurence and I have been a bit stressed and grumpy. So, it’s easy to look back and wonder what we did, if anything at all.

Then my friend Roz shared her weekly reflections from her family’s home learning journey and it made me think that I should start keeping track of what we get up to, if even just to remind myself that stuff is happening around here.

It won’t be comprehensive because my brain is pretty much permanently fried but here are few things we’ve been up to in our home learning adventure.

Something that’s hit me again in a big way this week is that so much of parenting and, I guess, educating, is about slowing down. So often life feels frantic. I want to rush through tasks to get to the next thing when, really, my kids need me to give them time to work on something.

For Ophelia, that means letting her try to use the dustpan and brush, cut vegetables and wash dishes. Why is this so hard sometimes? And when did she become able to follow simple instructions and interested in these tasks?

What did we do all week - home education-5

For Talitha, it means letting her write the shopping list or the note for the honesty box when we buy eggs. It means showing her how to tie a bow, over and over and over again. It means stopping to read every sign. It means pausing to observe every bug in our path. It means listening and responding to a hundred questions a day and taking the time to help her find the answers when I have no flipping clue what they are.

It’s easy to be “too busy”, to want to get on with what needs to be done but real life is where learning happens so real life has to slow down.

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We’ve been using a daily learning notebook from Confessions of a Homeschooler and Talitha’s loved the structure of it. She surprised me earlier this week by getting it down from the shelf and correctly filling it all in while I was putting her sister down for a nap. It involves writing down the date, time and practising numbers, letters and shapes, amongst other things. She uses the calendar pictured in my This Homeschooling Life post to help her along.

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Every day, we read The Lord’s prayer. My parents gave us this book which illustrates it beautifully and explains it after. To my surprise, she’s begun saying the prayer along with me. We’ve also started learning “memory verses” together.

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She’s played Reading Eggs and Mathseeds a couple of times this week. We kind of forgot about computer games over the summer holidays, which is just as well because she was finding the level she’d reached difficult and now she’s loving them again.

We’ve made a number line from 0-30, which has been handy for lots of things. This is one of the ideas from Nurturestore’s Fizz Pop Bang that we’re working our way through.

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We’re continuing to use and love the Alphablocks magazines we were sent ages ago. We put them down for a while but now Talitha’s making her way full speed through them. I just haven’t been organised enough to keep all the cool bits and pieces that came with the course, though, (and Ophelia chewed up loads a few months ago!) so we’ve been using milk bottle tops with letters written in permanent ink instead.

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Yesterday we finished our first chapter book. We’ve started and got well in the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe a few times but, while Talitha listens with interest and has sometimes asked us to read it, she didn’t seem to really get it. I mentioned this to a friend who lent us a beautiful little chapter book called My Father’s Dragon. I’ve been amazed both by how well Talitha follows it and by how it’s gripped me too. Now that we’ve come to the end of it, she wants to start again (and so do I).

Let's pick some flowers in the garden. #gardening #flower #mywild #flashesofdelight #childhood #outdoors

A photo posted by Adele Jarrett-Kerr (@adelejk) on

Other than that, we’ve been doing the usual gardening, playing in the mud kitchen, heading out to the park, reading tons of picture books (which Ophelia has just started getting into too), cooking, baking and the odd craft like this superhero from Red Ted Art‘s book. We even managed to meet up with a friend still settling into school.

Even when we were stuck at home, life continued to be busy with Ophelia mastering climbing, adding a bunch of new words and signs to her vocabulary and generally being a bundle of energy.

I guess a lot of cool stuff has happened this week now that I look back on it. When I think about why I’ve been feeling overwhelmed today, it’s clear that I need to sort the house out, especially the playroom. It was well organised earlier this year but has got utterly out of hand now. So that is the priority this weekend. I am so fed up of never knowing where the hole punch is!

Anyway, here’s to managing that this weekend, continuing to slow down and hoping that no one else gets ill next week. What did you get up to this week?


This homeschooling life – The very beginning

Last week, instead of Talitha starting school, we sort of “officially” started our home education journey as a family. We’re calling it “homeschool” for her benefit and we’ve made a fuss of her starting something new since she was asking lots of questions about friends who were going to school and wondering why she wasn’t. Fortunately, she has lots of friends who are home educated, which makes the whole thing a lot simpler.

She’s been excited, every morning asking if she can do her “homeschool” today.

Essentially, I’ve just been doing more of what I was doing with her before (reading, writing, maths, art and crafts) but with a little more routine and focus because this is something she’s craved. It’s very early days but I’m going to try fitting this special time in with whatever else we’re doing day to day.

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A bit more structure (albeit loose and flexible) wasn’t something totally planned since I’m naturally chaotic. However, it became clear over the past year that we both needed a plan for the day and a regular time set aside to work on things she’s interested in. I’ve been overwhelmed with the constant “Where are we going? Who are we seeing? What are we doing?” and she was frustrated that I wouldn’t always know where the glue was when she wanted to make something or that I just didn’t have the time and energy to sit with some writing when Ophelia or I was having a mid-afternoon slump.

I looked into a curriculum because Talitha is already making strides with “formal” early learning, especially reading (honestly led by her) and because it would be good to be able to grab something that was ready since I also work from home and don’t have a huge amount of free time for planning. Yet I couldn’t find anything complete that felt like a natural fit for both of us so, instead we’re using a mixture of online resources for now, making it as playful and sensory as possible and reading and listening to lots of books.

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There isn’t masses to say about the process just one week in, to be honest. I’m mostly still reading lots around education, thinking about it and praying. I had a little wobble on Wednesday, seeing all the “first day” photos on social media and hoping that I’m making the right choice. I’d feel the same if I were sending her to school. This is probably a first child thing.

It’s been helpful getting out to groups to meet with more seasoned home edders who are all taking lots of different approaches and have kids across a broad age range. We even went to our first “Not back to school” party. I’m really looking forward to the year ahead.

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Every month, I’ll give a little update on what we’ve been up to as part of This Homeschooling Life, a new linky I’m hosting with blogger friends Jess, Polly and Laura. I’m sure I’ll have lots more to share next time around. Do read more about it below and if you blog, consider linking up.

This Homeschooling Life

This Homeschooling Life is a linky sharing either a week, a day or just a moment from your life as a homeschooling family. We are hoping it will be a great way to discover new blogs and learn how we all do things differently.

The linky will open at 8am on the first Monday of every month and, throughout the rest of the month, the hosts will share your posts on their social media channels.

The Hosts:

Adele who blogs at Circus Queen 
Laura who blogs at Side Street Style
FACEBOOK / TWITTER / PINTEREST / INSTAGRAM
Polly who blogs at Enchanted Pixie
FACEBOOK / TWITTER / PINTEREST / INSTAGRAM
 

The Rules:

1. Link back to one of the hosts. You will find the code for the badge at the bottom or if you prefer you can use a text link.

2. Link up a post from your month, no more than 3.

3. Link directly to a specific post, not your main blog.

4. Follow the hosts on at least one of their social media platforms.

5. Visit and comment on some of the other blogs linking up.

6. If you share on social media then you can use the #thishomeschoolinglife so we can all find each other.

This Homeschooling Life




Why we want to home educate

Talitha turned four in June. She would have been starting Reception at school this week. She isn’t going to. We didn’t apply for a school place.

We started talking about home educating early in my pregnancy with her. It was something that had appealed to me for a long time. I knew homeschooling families and was not exactly thrilled with my own school experience.

Laurence, on the other hand, had gone to boarding school and looked back on it mostly fondly. So he took a little time to come around to the idea. Once he had, though, that was it. He’s not just supportive of me taking it on. It’s a choice we’ve made for our family together.

I’ve been asked a lot recently about why we want to home educate. Some who ask are just being friendly or polite, others are curious and some are even considering it as something they might like to do.

I know on days where I feel overstretched from not having had enough time on my own (or not organising life enough), I end up wondering whether this is something I really want too. So I thought it made sense to collect some thoughts here. It’s not at all meant to be an argument against anyone else choosing school. This is just where we are these days.

Family togetherness

I don’t want short snatches of time with my kids, the leftovers of the day when we’re either rushing out the door or they’re tired and grumpy. Talitha already returns from a day with her grandparents telling me that she can’t remember anything she’s done. We also don’t want our children to grow up with that drastic degree of separation from each other.

We want to be the ones who enjoy seeing them delight in learning new things and helping them get to wherever they’re going. I think the fact that this is something we want is a good reason in itself. I could write a hundred reasons to home educate but if the prospect of it didn’t excite us, there’d be no point in pursuing it.

We don’t want them to spend more of these short years with strangers in institutions than with their family. I know that home educating parents often call all this time together the best and worst bit of the gig. I’ll take the best with the worst. A year at a time, at least.

Socialisation

Since “socialisation” is one of the first concerns most people raise when home education comes up in conversation, it may come as a surprise that this is actually a major part of why we’re choosing to do this.

Having plugged into the active home ed community here in Bristol this past year, we’ve seen kids of different ages playing and working on things together. A classroom of however many peers all the same age just can’t match this. Older and younger kids have so much to offer and learn from each other.

We also love that we can help facilitate that socialisation. It may be that someone needs more time at home, feeling burned out from too much interaction. A conflict might call for a grown up to help kids to talk through feelings. We can decide as a family whether groups or activities are working for everyone.

And although Talitha’s need to be with other children has shot up madly over the past year (I mostly wake up to the tune of “Where are we going today? Who are we seeing?”), I can see that she still has a strong need to spend a lot of time with us. Of course, this will change as she gets older but, for now, it doesn’t take much to tick the “time with my friends” box.

Quality of learning

We want our children to be able to progress at their own pace, in their own style and to dedicate more time to their passions. A lot of time is wasted in schools.

With lessons pitched at the average ability, a lot of material to cover and big classes, it’s easy to see that a child at home might get a lot more done in a shorter time. They may also get more time to spend on something they’re deeply interested in.

If there’s a struggle then we can quicker pick up on it and work out a way through it together, whether it’s approaching something differently or dropping it for a time, or altogether.

We can also expose them to more of what we hope they’ll learn. For instance, as Christians we want to give our children an education rooted in the Bible and prayer. It’s important to us that they learn lots about the Caribbean since I’m from Trinidad and Tobago and Laurence’s mother is from Jamaica.

Life spent outdoors as much as possible factors in here too as we want our kids to grow up strongly connected to nature, having spent more time running around in woods and fields than sitting at desks.

I’m sure our thoughts and feelings will change over time. Hopefully, I’ll have more reasons to add in the coming years. Or maybe we’ll change our minds about what direction we’re taking. That would be OK too. For now, we’re enjoying the freedom to choose.

Reasons we've decided to home educate


Home educating – Feeling the fear and choosing it anyway

Laurence and I started talking about homeschooling (that was the term we used at the time and we still use both terms now) before Talitha was born. I may not have even been pregnant with her yet. I’m not sure.

I remember I brought it up while we were having a stroll around Clifton Village, where we used to live, and he was pretty scandalised.

I grew up knowing families who homeschooled and disliking school myself. He went to boarding school and, on balance, found the experience positive. Fast forward and our first baby is four next week. She would have been starting school this September, except we didn’t apply.

It was no big conflict for either of us. Laurence is probably even more settled on the idea than I. It’s genuinely a mutual decision and certainly the right one for this year.

We’ve decided to keep ourselves open to whatever may come in the coming years. Home education seems like the route for us, given the information and having done the soul searching (I’ll get into our reasons more in another post or this one will be insanely long), but that doesn’t mean that things can’t change, that the discussion is now closed until they’re eighteen.

In a way, that’s relieved some of the fear I’ve had about stepping into the lesser known. I don’t have to make the choice now for forever and ever, amen. We can just try things and see how we go. School will still be there if ever we need to make a change.

What’s interesting to me is that many of the things I’m worried about probably aren’t what others expect to be on my mind. Academics don’t worry me. Talitha, like most children, is naturally hungry to learn. She’s a sponge for asking and observing how things work. She alarms and delights me on an hourly basis.

And even if she weren’t doing any of that, I’m confident that having a parent help guide her exploration and a wealth of time to pursue her passions beats getting lost in a class of however many children, stuck in a system that may or may not suit or interest her.

I’m also not worried about socialisation, not here in Bristol. We already know so many home educating families and there is more going on than there is time to do it all.

No, the things that concern me have to do with me – not her. I worry about missing out on a career, about putting too much pressure on Laurence to work and about the state of our finances. I already yearn to work more and feel frustrated that I don’t have the time or energy to do it.

But home educating is also something I really want to do so it’s not a case of martyring myself. It’s a much more complicated struggle than that. I feel fear and guilt in equal measure over not working and wanting to work. We put so much pressure on ourselves, don’t we?

And with that, I worry that I don’t have the patience to spend that much time with my children. Part of me feels horrendous admitting that but if another parent said it, I’d tell them that it’s normal. Life with kiddos is tough. So I’ll extend to myself the same grace.

That said, I think it’s also hard only getting snatches of time with your children and if flexischooling were a more readily available option, we might well consider it.

Another thing I feel nervous about is being SO responsible for my children’s social life. Talitha is at an age where she longs to be with other children so much of the time. I’m sociable but shy so I find it draining having to go out and see people every day, especially if it involves meeting new people.

I got really worked up about this the other day but then she went through a series of days where she absolutely didn’t want to go anywhere or see anyone and asked to stay home with me and Ophelia and “make things”. I guess, she needs a balance too. So, I can probably lay off being propelled forward by fear and guilt every time I’m filling in the calendar.

The point is that taking this path, this year at least, gives her the freedom to choose how and when to meet people, to interact on her terms.

Since home educating is something we are doing together, we are learning to take each other’s needs into consideration. Mine don’t just disappear because I made a choice a little less ordinary.


Why We’ve Homeschooled for the Last Six Years – ft Polly of This Enchanted Pixie

On the blog today we’re enjoying the company of a mama I’ve been getting to know over the past few months. Polly, who blogs at This Enchanted Pixie, comes across as genuine, confident and full of life and love, both on her blog and in person. I’m so pleased that she’s sharing her reasons for home educating her daughters, especially since we plan to do the same.

Hello! I’m happy to be here, sharing a little of Adele’s space today! I’m Polly, I’m a thirty something mama to three girls and wife to one bearded man living in North Wales. We homeschool our three daughters and I thought I’d share a little of that with you today.

We have been a homeschooling family for 6 and a half years. After so long, it feels so normal to us, I forget that to others it is entirely foreign. I wonder sometimes why people ask if there is no school today when the girls and I are out in the middle of the day. Mid-way into our eldest’s nursery year, I came across an article about homeschooling, something in it struck home with me and I started to read more and more. I met a homeschooling family who lived around the corner from me and went to my very first home school group.

In the beginning, I felt as though homeschooling meant ‘school at home’. I spent hours researching curriculum’s, came up with complicated time-tables, and got stressed when we couldn’t stick to them. It didn’t take too long for all of that to go out of the window. Now, I’d describe myself as a relaxed homeschooling mama, perhaps not 100% unschoolers but mostly. Unschooling is a type of homeschooling, a lifestyle of learning. It doesn’t involve workbooks and set lessons {unless that is what the child wants}. The focus is on the child learning what it loves.

Mary Griffith, author of ‘The Unschooling Handbook’ defined unschooling as this: “{it} means learning what one wants, when one wants, in the way one wants, for one’s own reasons. Choice and control reside with the learner. She may find outside help in the form of parents, mentors, books or formal lessons, but she is the one making the decisions about how best to proceed. Unschooling is trusting that your children are at least as clever and capable as you are yourself.”

For example, Lola loves history, has done for the past six years since she learnt to read. She’s read every book she can get her hands on, and knows far more than I do on British History {once she seemed shocked that I didn’t know the middle names of every monarch!!}. For us, it means following the girls interests and providing opportunities.

Currently we’re doing a project on the body, taking a trip around the world while reading ‘Around the world in 80 days and studying various ancient civilisations as we work through the history of people. It means trips to museums, afternoons watching documentaries, long discussions while we’re cooking dinner. It means allowing them to lead the way, to know what they need, to trust them.

The one question that always seems to come up when talking about home schooling is the age old socialisation one. I had someone once asked me if the girls minded not having any friends :/ Contrary to what she must have thought, and to the name ‘HOMEschooling’ we don’t spend all day every day at home and never see another soul. We attend several homeschool groups, the girls attend art clubs, history groups, rainbows/brownies/guides and Lola is a volunteer at our local museum. Add into that meet ups with other homeschool families and play-dates and it’s a wonder we are ever home at all!

Socialisation is defined as ‘the adoption of the behaviour patterns of the surrounding culture; “the socialization of children to the norms of their culture”. Frankly, we didn’t want our children to simply learn to conform – we want them to think outside the box, think freely and for themselves. School doesn’t teach children about the real world – this article says it all perfectly.

Homeschooling works great for our family, we are lucky to be able to spend time with the children while they are young. It is not an easy option, being together 24/7 can be hard going – I also run a business from home, my husband is currently re-training and working a part time job and we have no family near by to help out. So life is full on. There is very little ‘time off’ and I have to juggle a zillion things each day.

Yet I wouldn’t change a thing, it is a way of life that I love and is ultimately rewarding. I would highly recommend you watching this video, by Astra Taylor who was herself unschooled, this TED talk by Sir Ken Robinson and read this post by Sandra Dodd.

Connect with Polly by following @pixie_polly on Twitter and liking her Facebook Page. She’s also just launched an eco-friendly bath and body products business called Cariadon, well worth checking out before I buy it all.