Parents who are drawn to the idea of home educating are sometimes put off by the fear that they would not ‘know enough’. But we discovered that what you know, or don’t know, is not the issue; with the Internet you can soon research and find out – at the same time giving children a valuable lesson in learning!
And this was only one of several surprising things we learned whilst home educating:
1) We discovered that children want to learn. They may not want to go to school or learn in the way schools want them to. But they do want to learn. They want to learn because they want access to the adult world. Kids in classrooms, far removed from the real world outside, learning stuff that has no impact on their lives at that time, can feel school work is pointless. But learning outside school about the rich and varied world around them, observing people doing meaningful jobs, learning the skills and knowledge that helps them achieve, has recognisable appeal to them and maintains that desire to learn.
2) We also realised that understanding of the adult world, equipping children with the skills and knowledge to engage with it, is what education is about.
3) We also observed that they learn more effectively from guidance and support than from ‘teaching’ in the traditional sense; guidance from other adults, often in the form of discussion or demonstration, workshops and field trips, and interaction with people in the ‘real’ world. Endless nagging, teaching or being filled with meaningless academic practice, dulls their motivation.
4) We also learned that school schedules, targets, testing and outcome led structure (i.e. for the sake of long term objectives rather than the pleasure of learning) can get in the way of what is a very natural learning process and growth. The kind of structured approach we’re familiar with through schooling is only necessary for schools – not for education. Learning is a very simple, natural process children are engaged in from the minute they’re born.
5) Most importantly, children need in no way to suffer for an education. It should be instead an uplifting, inspiring and pleasurable experience which goes on throughout life.
6) Neither is school the only place to gain friends or become socially mature. The more natural interaction between a wide range of home educating children and adults socialises children more effectively.
7) The most surprising thing we learned was that, in order to become educated (and we re-learned our definition of that too) a child does not need masses of curricula, work-books, expensive materials or complicated equipment. All they need is a caring, attentive adult and others, who nurture their desire to learn and facilitates opportunities and experiences in which they can do so.
For more on home schooling see my other posts round the Superprof site. Or visit my website.