“Home education for us wasn’t something we had even thought about initially…”

Laura, London

Home Ed Parent to Children aged 5, 8 and 13

“Home education for us wasn’t something we had even thought about initially but became more of a transition over time.

 I myself grew up in mainstream education and experienced both the positive and negative sides of it so I was always open to the idea of learning and exploring how other countries around the world learn.

The whole experience of school and what I really remember was never really so much on the educational content I was being exposed to but more the experiences, the feelings and emotional connections and relationships that you have whilst at school. Socialisation was the biggest factor and how you grow and develop as an individual and find your place in the world, that to me is what you can really take away from the school environment depending on your character and the influence your family has in helping you find yourself.

I mean, if you were to ask yourself about what your favourite things about school are what would it be for you?
What do you remember the most and what was your best experience in the school environment?

Now you have thought about that, is it the educational content that you learnt or the memories that you created with people that you mostly took away with you?

Once you have children of your own you want to give them things you did not have and start with wondering about their education and finding a good school to teach them alongside you nurturing them to be well rounded human beings, and frankly, you hope for the best.

It started off great!

Our initial entry into the schooling system was after my first daughter was born. She attended nursery quite young, from around 2, and loved it. It was a great, very nature led environment and they were very hands-on and I liked that it was a small group so they could still have a very one-on-one learning experience. We found this was also continued up until around Year 2/Year 3 of primary education. Then things started to change, the creativity started to vanish. Years of exploring through play and building that individuality and character started to be stripped away and was being replaced with a more restricted way of learning. The main issue with this is that it was a very one-sided way of teaching, crippled by an outdated curriculum that just doesn’t take into account the individual capability, levels, or the way different children learn or process information.

Every child is different

Now many years later and having three girls I can see how truly different they all are from each other, let alone their peers. They all have different characteristics and interests and the way they process information. My younger two children are more interested in technology, games and the new online learning environment and my oldest still likes you to explain and break down the information so it’s more tangible. There are so many different ways of learning. Some can read lots of materials and work fine and others need a really practical, hands-on sensory type environment to help them understand and learn to process that information much more easily. We know this by looking at the different types of cognitive theories. 

This is where I find the system becomes very broken and outdated. And then when we go on to explore the actual content they are learning about, it does not help set them up to navigate the current world around them at all.

Changing the narrative

Knowing all history is important but how much more can we learn about Past Wars, Nazi’s and Slavery? I mean where is the inspiration, the enlightenment? And we wonder why we have such a high number of mental health and depression cases rising in children.

It was those types of questions that led me to research what kind of educational content did I really want my younger children learning and what would really assist them and nurture them as children and soon to be young adults to learn in a way in which not only benefit them in the current world and help them navigate real-life situations but also help them to help others. We are also a very multicultural family and wanted to ensure our children learnt their heritage and what it is to be a person of colour, we wanted them to explore their identity and be proud of who they are and have a positive representation not just this narrative of slavery and oppression that is often taught as the only educational tool to our people; which is quite sadly an insult to the many great people that existed before that time and that were responsible for the many basic essentials we have today.

My inspiration for taking an alternative route

Looking at places like Finland who like to follow a more Montessori way of teaching, and push back any real formal education to later years. Seeing this very nature led and natural method inspired me to open my children’s learning potential up. They would have a more child-led, hands-on, collaborative learning experience, open to exploring so much more about the world around us. Especially following these uncertain times, things like how to grow food, how to manage money and save etc. Things that are only now being introduced into schools. I wanted them playing with children of all ages, ethnicities and religions and more importantly learning to love themselves first. As once you have that confidence to be you and love you this really shines into everything else you do and are passionate about.

We are now 5 years into our Home Educational journey and are loving every moment, the time we can spend together, how they are growing and following their interests and exploring topics that just simply would not be available in mainstream education. They love learning outdoors, exploring nature and wildlife. We visit Museums, Zoo’s have regular Nature walks and even hike taking on the 46 AOBN sites across the UK.

The world really is our oyster when it comes to learning and the more we embrace that the more wholesome a people we can become :)”

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