It has taken two years of planning to be finally at the point where we are now self-sufficient regarding home education.
Over the past two years, there has been a mixture of emotions from excitement, fear, self-doubt but most of all, a real sense of belief that home educating the boys is the way forward to prepare them for an ever-changing world.
Despite all the preparation, when the first day finally arrived it was quite surreal in the sense of “Wow we are finally here,” I hope we have done the right thing.
This was further reinforced when I said goodbye to my daughter on her first day back at middle school after the summer holidays. Saying goodbye and have a fun day too one child, while the other two were waiting to start their first day of alternative education felt strange, to say the least.
Our daughter was naturally offered the choice of home education, and unlike the boys, had no interest whatsoever in option. She has been amazing throughout her school life, has been 100% motivated in her studies and is excelling both as a student, as a daughter and as a person.
Home education is of course not for all children. Families choose home educate for lots of reasons. Ours was quite simply the decision of better preparing them for life after school.
The first week mainly involved setting up the boy’s desks, playing a few games, chatting in general about the journey ahead and going on walks.
It isn’t the intention to bombard the boys with lots of curriculum subjects, as it is important to go through the suggested de-schooling period as recommended by many home educators.
We are targeting November to start applying a more focused structure to maths and English. However, we will be touching on both subjects casually until then.
Children learn by playing and doing rather than constantly having their heads stuck inside a book.
Playing and doing will be a huge part of their home education, of course, there will be a need for “book study”, we will when possible make sure this can be done in various locations and obviously in the great outdoors when the good old English weather allows.
The first week is over, and it seemed to pass by in the blink of an eye both considering the expected surreal feelings at the start of the week, the boys had a good start to their new life in home educating.
In week two we did no curriculum subjects whatsoever, it was purely getting out and about in the local countryside and appreciating what is around us.
We are very lucky where we live to have part of the Yorkshire Dales on our doorstep.
We received a letter from the Local authority this week introducing themselves and trying to arrange a home visit to complete the “elective home education” interview and paperwork.
This seems to strike fear into a lot of home education parents for several reasons, however legally you are within your rights to decline a visit.
I will be writing an article regarding this in due course.
From our point of view, we did not see the need for a home visit for the Local Authority as we have previous experience of home educating when the boys used to be flexi-schooled (one day a week) when they attended junior school.
I spoke to the LA explaining this, which they fully understood and wished as success moving forward.
There were very friendly about this and not pushy in the slightest. I offered to do a presentation for the Department regarding home educating from a parent and child perspective; this may well occur sometime next year.
One of the big advantages of home education is the flexibility and choice of sport.
The boys do a range of activities on an evening and weekend such as kickboxing, football, cricket, fitness classes and the activities club on a Wednesday which I do for the boys and friends.
Since we have started home educating, they have joined the local tennis and golf club.
These are two sports they want to explore, and we feel from a social point of view is an opportunity to meet people of all ages and learn sports etiquette.
With the above and other activities we will be doing as part of home educating such as hiking, cycling, trampolining and gym work; they will receive a broad and fun choice of sports, which will allow them to undertake both individual and team activities.
From a learning point of view, even at this early stage, I have noticed that the boys have different learning styles.
I will have to be very conscious of moving forward as the whole purpose of home educating is to allow them to find their unique ways of learning so they can develop naturally in a fun and relaxed environment.
Now that I am directly involved with their education, it has reinforced the fact that not being in a large class can only be hugely beneficial in the sense of focused and individual learning.
This was a fun week for several reasons, we had a fun approach to Maths and English, had a couple of trips to the Dales, the boys played tennis, and we began our journey on one of our subjects called “Giving Back”.
For the maths lesson, they were introduced to Microsoft Publisher so they could design a cover for their folder.
We did some practical maths where the boys had to calculate the number of bricks required on the front elevation of a house. They then had to calculate the total of bricks needed for the inclusion of doors and windows.
This was an excellent example of real life maths where the formula for working out areas et cetera can be seen in real terms.
The boys were then asked to write a 500 story, which had to include the 15 random words put on the whiteboard, the story could be about anything they choose as long as it contained keywords.
As new members of the local tennis club we had an induction from the chairman, after that ourselves and the chairman had a game of doubles taking turns in swapping partners.
Being able to have access to tennis court during the day means that they can often have a court to themselves without interruption.
I would say the highlight of the week was the boys helping out at a Macmillan coffee morning fundraising event at the local rugby club which was organised by friends of ours.
I think it is important that children understand about community events are taking place and that they should also be a part of the community when possible.
They spent four hours helping to gather cups and plates from tables, lots of washing-up and helping to pack away at the end of the coffee morning.
They had a full morning helping out and were able to see first-hand the kindness of people who give up their spare time to support good causes like Macmillan’s.
End of our first month.
The first month of our educational journey is complete.
It’s very early days. However, it has been a fun start, and I can already see lots of reasons why we decided on home education.
The most important thing is that the boys have had fun and can see the potential and flexibility of learning in a different environment which is suited to their passions and style of learning.
A wet and windy start to the week, so we decided to focus on financial literacy by playing “cash flow for kids” which is a board game designed to teach children the basics of business.
The aim of the game is quite simple, whoever is the first to have more passive income than liabilities wins the game.
We cover subjects called “around the home” and “DIY” as we feel it is essential for them to pick up everyday hands-on skills. One task this week was to assemble a new bed. We had a lot of fun, and unlike most grown men, they read the instructions!
What is an accountant? One of the boys asked randomly while we were completing the bed assembly.
This lead to a two-hour conversation with them about our business, how it was structured, why we need accountants and bookkeepers, followed by random discussions about entrepreneurship, degrees and credit ratings.
The content of the conversation was not the point; it was the fact that we could break off from what we were doing and spend as much time as we liked chatting about something.
Their curiosity sparked without worrying about getting behind on a subject or the bell ringing to indicate that allocated time for a topic was over.
A discipline the boys will need to learn is self-study, whether it be from books, visual or online learning. There are some fantastic online video courses around; we spent time researching three courses each so they can focus on them when they have free study time, or I am not available.
To finish the week the boys played tennis where they received an impromptu lesson from one of the members.
While complete beginners, I have seen a significant improvement in their game over the last few weeks.
This week the boys carried out some practical maths exercises in the form of calculating areas from construction drawings.
I feel this is a practical way to introduce them to areas, volumes and perimeters.
It is my aim for the boys to do as much practical maths as possible to support their preparation for IGCSE mathematics.
The highlight of the week was meeting other homeschoolers.
We met them at the Bowes Museum at Barnard Castle; they had a great time there while casually learning the history of the museum.
The day finished with the boys going to a local farm belonging to a home educating family. They had a fantastic time hanging out and going on the quad bike.
Today was enjoyable for the boys, they connected well with the other homeschooling kids, after all, getting to ride a quad bike during school time must be fun for most children!
Week seven demonstrated the full flexibility and freedom of home education.
We spent four days at Grinton Lodge in Swaledale, North Yorkshire, which is a local youth hostel.
Being at Grinton Lodge enabled the boys to be semi-self-sufficient, plan their activities for the day and also to meet people of different ages. Socialisation is to play a big part of home educating, and we feel it is necessary and beneficial for the boys to meet people of various ages rather than spending all day with peers of their same age group.
The week was filled with activities such as board games, reading, recreation games, walking, mountain biking and torch walks (in their onesies!)
We had a fantastic few days which the boys loved. They cannot wait until the spending another few days away in the coming months.
To finish off the week we went to an archery class organised by one of the Home Ed parents.
There are some very active parents from the Facebook groups who organise meet-ups in various locations, making socialising much easier.
Week 8 and 9
Although homeschooling hours are very flexible, we decided that we should follow the curriculum school holidays purely to allow the boys to have time with their regular friends.
However, for the October half term, we extended it by a few days as we were coming to the end of the eight-week de-schooling period (I will be writing a post regarding deschooling)
Over weeks eight and nine they did their usual activities such as golf, walking and tennis as well as testing out new English software.
They also went to a meet up at ROF59 in Darlington which involves trampolining and climbing.
As mentioned in a previous post, parents arrange a lot of home education meetups, so it is vital that we play our part in providing activities for other Home-Ed children.
We are exploring options to arrange a get-together at Adrenalin, which is outdoor activities focused.
The boys volunteered to raise money for a local charity trust. They were invited to have their photograph taken with the town mayor and another volunteer to raise awareness of the pop-up gallery event taking part in December.
The role of the boys is to collect children’s books and sell them at the event; they will be in full charge of setting up the stalls, deciding on a price for the books and collecting money.
We feel it is essential for kids to get involved in community projects and to help others.