As most of you are aware, Andy and myself home-educate our two children. We decided to do this even before they were born and, although sometimes difficult, is something we are totally committed to.
The weeks following my diagnosis were difficult anyway, but having the children at home meant that I had to ‘keep everything in’ and act as ‘normally’ as I could. This was a very difficult time and all I wanted to do was shout and scream! In hindsight though, I think it was a good thing that I had to maintain some kind of normality, and it was definitely beneficial for the children to be within the family unit while they learned to cope with ‘Mummy’s cancer’.
On the whole people have been very supportive of our decision to educate the children ourselves. There has also been some negativity and a total lack of understanding from some quarters. The most common phrase I hear is ‘what about socialising?’ I personally do not believe that being forced into a classroom with lots of other children the same age as yourself constitutes socialising! Our children go to two home-ed groups a week, so mix with lots of other children from all walks of life and of different ages. They also go to lots of clubs, such as Cubs, drama, trampolining, and so mix with school children also (who, by the way, think that being home-educated is ‘awesome’!)
People vary in how they home-educate, some follow a curriculum that is similar to a ‘school at home’, while others follow a more autonomous route. We definitely fall into the second category. It really is a truism that children are like sponges and soak up information from the world around them. We do try to do an hour or so a day of Maths and English, but other than that we are fairly flexible. We get plenty of fresh air, go on nature walks, do arts and crafts and the children read a lot. I was very relaxed about when they started to read, as I believe that children should be left to do things in their own time when THEY are ready, rather than when someone else says they should be ready. As it turned out, both Elena and Boots were prolific readers at 5 or 6. This is partly due to an online maths programme called Reading Eggs. This system, and others like it, make learning fun, so they actually chose to spend a lot of time completing it because they enjoyed it so much.
As I previously mentioned, home educating is not always easy, but over all I believe it is worth the small sacrifices you have to make. I do not want the Government to decide what my children should learn and at what age, and I certainly don’t want them being subject to the pressure of continual testing to ascertain if they are at the ‘right stage’. Almost all of the home educated children I have met are confident and happy. I know my own children love being home educated and if they are happy then so are we!