Children: Demina aged 11 & May May aged 8 & Baby aged brand new
Why I Decided To Deregister My Children From Primary School and Embark On Our New Home Education Journey & Lifestyle
We have been home educating for 2 years now, since September 2018. The children had just finished Year 3 and Year 1 in primary school. The past 18 months I had been observing a lot, I was very active in the school and present; attending all school trips and events as a parent volunteer.
I had a good sense of the interactions between the parents and teachers so I was very in tune. At some point I started to get a feeling couldn’t put finger on, but the teachers felt very distant and never had time. It seemed like they just wanted the children gone and out of the school grounds ASAP. On many occasions I had tried to discuss things with them and felt like I was rushing to get my words out.
There were little things that always made me feel uneasy, i.e. the children would come home and tell me how they couldn’t go to the toilets during the lesson and had to wait until break. The school encouraged them to use outdoor toilets at lunchtime. However, these were badly kept and smelt awful. The girls often just held their pee until they got home – and this was supposed to be quite a good school. I felt so many things just weren’t right…
Both children were doing exceptional in school and flourishing academically. However, classwork was too easy. Knowing my children’s capabilities, I often requested more advanced and challenging work. The teachers always acknowledged their capabilities but when I asked ‘what’s next?’, they had nothing. I met with the headteacher and asked if we could move them up a year and do more appropriate work. The headteacher responded by saying that they don’t do that and that they encourage them to stay in their class with their age-mates, so they can learn from each other. I felt like they were openly capping their growth not willing to push them towards reaching their full potential.
I started trying to come to terms with why they were even in school if this was the general consensus?
Home education became more apparent, to allow them to thrive and explore their growth, to not be moulded or confined by limitations other people had set for them. I knew there was SO much more to them than simple academics. Leaving them in that system and having to do years of fixing and unlearning at a later date, made no sense.
Leah Salmon Conference
In 2017, after my husband and I attended a biannual Leah Salmon conference, our mind was made up. The event was aimed at the black community and focussed on teaching our own. It was designed for parents who were already home educating and those who were considering it but wanted more information, us.
We listened to speakers, people who work in education, parents who were homeschooling etc. I left feeling so inspired and spent a year planning and preparing for leaving in September.
Another thing that made it all make sense to me, was travel. I always wanted to be able to travel with the children, show them different experiences and lifestyles. Children SHOULD be able to travel during term time, travelling is educational and expansive to their minds. Not only that, but they get to spend time with their family overseas and these things are important to me.
Our Experience So Far
So far we have all had a positive experience, though not at all what I planned out or expected. When I started out, I didn’t know the difference between homeschooling and home educating, and while I didn’t want to replicate a school setup, I did so inadvertently. I soon learned new concepts, such as ‘unschooling’ and ‘self-directed learning’. This was all new territory and hearing, “my children don’t do maths” or, “my children don’t have to read every day”, was very scary to me. Thinking different, was scary, as we have always known one way to school.
Fare of the Free Child, a podcast by Akilah S. Richards, was instrumental in helping me unlearn and relearn how to best serve our children. I couldn’t recommend it more! To this day it still helps me in a huge way.
My daughters still do Maths and English, but in a more natural way. They enjoy writing about books they’ve read and entering writing competitions. They love reading already, so they learn new words naturally. I create an active learning environment as opposed to ordering them to sit down and do this. We tried that, they were bored.
How I Know This Approach Is Working
Now I see light in their eyes, they are driven and doing things how they want to, naturally. They are still required to do certain things I set out, the approach is just a lot different now. I frequently buy selections of books in different topics, such as world history, computer science, English language books etc. These books are written in an interactive child friendly way, allowing them to go through them by themselves, take relevant and interesting information out and share back with me. They tend to retain more information this way as they were naturally drawn to it rather than retaining information that they are told to, that doesn’t necessarily interest them.
The Day-To-Day & Activities
I have always taken a very social approach – meeting new people all the time, being part of a community and various groups.
I have also set up co-operative, Abule, where (prior to Covid-19) we would have meet-ups and the children could foster regular friendships. They are doing so many things they did not do at school. Learning new skills and entering competitions, BMX biking competitions, poetry competitions, art competitions – yup, they enjoy competitions!
I also purchase a Primary School Science curriculum and started a science group. I would be teaching them anyway so I thought why not set up a group that other children could attend and make it interesting and fun.
Now that the Arts Award is upon us, we will be doing lots of art projects, pottery, clay works, mosaics and other things that interest them.
We’ve also attended the Royal Albert Hall opera and other music events and theatre plays – which although had school children in attendance, their old school wasn’t there. This kind of made me wonder who these types of things are targeted towards and how great it is having the freedom to attend these events they wouldn’t have had access to.
Recently, I gave birth and we welcomed our youngest member to the family. The whole pregnancy was a learning experience for everybody and the girls played a huge part. They were constantly doing their research, finding out what pregnancy entails, reading pregnancy week-by-week books, checking in with me, aware of the development of my body and baby.
If I could call it something, I would call it ‘Learning- Living’ – cooking, life decisions, finances… the children are a part of everything we do and these are life skills they are gaining day by day.
Would I Recommend Home Education? Of Course!
I definitely recommend homeschooling! Don’t wait until things go bad at school and even if things are good at school, there are so many benefits to educating them at home. And if you have not yet sent your child to school, and they are approaching compulsory schooling age, even better!
Homeschooling is not just for “privileged people”. It is very possible if you reprioritize. If it is something you want to do, you find a way. I have personally given up my career, so I get that part of the struggle. I had a 12 year long, government career which I had worked my way up in management and had plans of moving further up. But my mind started to open up to more things and I realised it wouldn’t be possible to juggle the two. 5 years prior, I had started a small business and had been running it at a market. I grew it, not knowing that one day I would go from my flexible very well paid job to this business now contributing towards our household and supporting my family.
Your Children Will Only Be This Age, Once
Work isn’t going anywhere but your children are only going to be this age once. The school years are short in the grand scheme of things. I am ever grateful to be able to do this, it is an investment, time well spent and something I will never regret.
If you are thinking about it I would definitely encourage it. No, it isn’t easy and people always say things like, “how do you do it, I don’t have the patience, my children don’t listen’ etc. Well, it is a journey. You will adapt as will they. And many people don’t realise that sometimes they don’t listen because they don’t see you that much! You are at work while they are at school and it is a transactional type of relationship but when you start to build a different dynamic in your household, every changes, and everything can change if you want it to and have that desire.
If you want to read more stories like Anette’s, check out our page ‘Black Homeschool Success Stories‘