Every child is born to be something; something talented. It is a parents duty to discover, allow and nurture that talent…whatever it may be!
We have four learning days a week, every week. During the morning of a learning day, my 6 year old son and I spend 60 minutes sitting at the table, learning our numbers and letters, times tables and handwriting, sums and spelling. We believe that four hours a week is all that is required to match the actual amount of similar learning that is achieved by an average 6 year old in a classroom setting, during a typical school week.
But this is not the only learning that we do.
One of our main reasons for home educating William was our belief that the school taught, government led, national curriculum was far too rigid in its approach, too assessment based, and too narrow-minded and restrictive in its deliverance, with very little scope for tailoring to individual interests, needs or talents.
So, what we really like most about home educating our son, is that he has the opportunity to go on an amazing learning journey, where he is free to wander in whichever direction he wants to, staying in certain places of interest for however long he chooses, and quickly scrambling over vast expanses of dull terrain that he need never have to think about ever again.
Along with the essential, school type learning that William does, he also keeps an ‘Out And About’ scrapbook/journal, which he writes in regularly. He really enjoys taking photos and drawing pictures to stick into it. He delights in showing it to friends and family, and anybody else who comes to the house.
We love books, and spend about an hour reading library books, information books, magazines, comics, nursery rhymes and jokes everyday – not just on learning days. Sometimes we read on the sofa, sometimes on one of the beds, and sometimes we read in the garden. Occasionally we’ll build a den and read in there. Usually I’ll read a story to William first, then he’ll practice his reading. Then we’ll flick through some pages of an information book, mostly looking at the pictures and reading a few interesting facts. At the moment William likes finding out about dinosaurs, space and big buildings. We tend to end our reading hour by reading and acting out funny nursery rhymes and jokes. William also enjoys me reading a bedtime story to him most nights.
Other activities that we like to do on learning days include playing word games, like hangman, playing card games, board games, doing calculator practice, playing educational computer games and maths practice. We also have lots of building fun, playing with Lego and building blocks.
William also likes to paint really colourful pictures, inside and out in the garden. He also spends time crafting at the table, cutting things up and sticking them all back together in a strange fashion, to make futuristic buildings and alien houses.
We always have a big learning project on the go, which we work on whenever William wants to. William picks the project and we all work on it together. For our first big learning project, we turned Great granny’s dilapidated, old shed into a shop for William. You can read about it here.
As William is enthusiastic about past times, kings and queens, and how children lived ‘in the olden days’, we are currently learning about ‘Victorian Britain’, as an early history topic.
We go to the park most days, play on the swings, the climbing frames and the zipwire. William loves it when we play hide and seek amongst the trees and bushes. And we play football together, even though I’m terrible at it. Sandbach park and library can be very quiet on school days, which can be nice, but sometimes it’s also good to go on saturday mornings, when the market is on. The park is busier then, and there are more children there for William to play with.
Some of our learning is structured, but much of it is not. This mixed approach to home education suits us as a family. We feel that a little bit of routine on a daily basis helps us to focus on the essential aspects of education, like numeracy and literacy.
I’m a big believer in life-long learning, and want to ensure that Williams passions, curiosities and thirst for knowledge do not diminish as the years go by. I never want him to stop asking questions. I hope that by making learning fun, natural and always accessible, William will go through life always wanting to know more: more about topics that interest him, more about how the world around him works, more about everything.
Learning shouldn’t be a closed book, just because you’ve left school with a list of exams you’ve passed.
I strongly believe that it is my responsibility as a parent, and no-one elses, to ensure that my son receives a level of education that I feel he is entitled to. As I felt dissatisfied, disheartened and uninspired with the education which William was recieving at school, I had to act on my gut instinct as a parent, and I had to take my son out of that educational environment. 9 months on, I am really glad that I followed my gut instinct.