I don’t remember who bought up our children’s education first. It certainly wasn’t before we started our family, but it was a very relaxed and natural conversation shortly after our eldest daughter was born. Once we had that first discussion, we found many more little reasons in the weeks that followed which filled out the homeschool narrative for us. Homeschooling felt like a good fit for our family life and our children.
Now that we’re into our third month of writing about living and learning together, some readers are curious about how we made the decision to home educate our children and when we knew it was the right choice for us. So, this is for you.
Firstly, let me say that I consider it a privilege to be able to homeschool my children. It’s not for everyone. The education system is supported by some wonderful teachers and provides a lifeline to many children and families. This is a lifestyle choice for us.
Encourage joy in life-long learning
We are emphatic about encouraging a life-long love of learning in our children. We want them to experience passion for their subjects and to enable them to follow their interests. Learning shouldn’t stop when you become an adult or when you achieve your mandatory qualifications.
We have a relaxed, interest-led approach to learning in our home and our daughters thrive on this. They have the time to explore their interests and we create a learning environment that facilitates and encourages them individually. We have the capacity to shape the education of our three children according to their individual learning styles and current interests.
If there is anything that my husband and I believe our children must learn, then we incorporate it into these interests or our daily life. Finding joy in learning within the rhythms of life is the main contributing factor to our decision to homeschool.
Enjoy more time together as a family
We learn more about each other and our family relationships every day. Children change so quickly. We’ve seen that in just five years and we know that this time of our lives will pass. We are living intentionally and home education allows us to spend more time together now to grow and build relationships, traditions and memories.
We also have a large extended family. We are more readily available to spend time with them too. If we drive a hundred miles to my childhood home, we can choose to make it a long weekend; learn to knit with Nana, spend time planting in her garden, meet new members of the family, play and cook and visit, together.
My husband’s job includes periods of remote working and sporadic work breaks; one week here, three weeks there. We’ve averaged two months off work a year for three years now. We know this is a fortunate position to be in, and wanted to be able to take advantage of this flexibility to explore our country and travel the world.
The UK school system doesn’t enable this. Term time leave is discouraged, and parents can be fined for poor pupil attendance, or taking holiday time without express permission. This is just a contributing factor for us. On its own, it may not be enough to persuade us to learn at home, but it certainly is an advantage we are aware of and benefit from.
We are based in the UK. Here is what the law in our country has to say about your legal obligations when home educating a child:
As parents, you - not the state - are responsible for ensuring that your child, if he or she is of compulsory school age, is properly educated. (a) to his age, ability and aptitude, and (b) to any special educational needs he may have,
There are no specific rules around curriculum choices or time spent on education each week. The end goal is stated as follows;
The education should aim at enabling the child, when grown-up, to function as an independent citizen in the UK - and furthermore, beyond the community in which he or she was brought up, if that is the choice made in later life by the child.
There’s a lot more covered in the Department for Educations Elective Home Education Guidance for those who want to see details.
We are fortunate to be able to support our family on a single income. I have been at home with young children and babies for five years now, I enjoy it and financially we can sustain this for the coming years.
Having a dedicated parent in the home is our personal experience of homeschooling. There are ways to support homeschooling and working if that is your reality; I know of families who juggle night shifts, part-time jobs or working from home. I include this because I know that the financial impact was a major consideration when we first looked at home educating our children.
I am the main point of contact for my children for most of the day. I am primarily responsible for keeping up with our children’s interests and creating a resource-rich learning environment to guide them.
I do not do this alone.
Our home education choices are rooted in life learning. Weekday office hours need not apply. My husband can and does facilitate learning too, sprinkled about our daily life and more intentionally whenever interest leads us there. It is a commitment we have made together and one that we strive for as a team. It is an important part of why home education works so well for us as a family.
It all feels rather hypothetical and distant when you begin having conversations about educating your children before they’ve even eaten solid food. So when did we know we were one hundred percent committed to this lifestyle?
I would say the first official step was letting the registration for schools date pass, very quietly. The second was on the first day of the school term when our eldest daughter would have started her traditional education. Instead, we woke up with a smile on our faces and we took our children to the beach. We built dams and looked for treasure, we talked about the tides and she took pictures of all the beautiful things she found. We hope to be able to do the same this coming September; our own “first day of school” tradition.
Although the decision itself was an easy one for us, we have discussed our motivations at length and we do intend to review how home education is working for our family regularly. That said, we love our experience so far and don’t foresee a change in our intentions any time soon. We are flexible because we know that success will depend on our ability to adapt to life in five, ten and fifteen years.
For now it really is that simple. We will adapt with our children, with their desires and life goals. We will spend our time as a family building relationships that set us up for adult lives apart. Home education is part of the rhythm of our family life; we live and learn together every day.
If you have enjoyed this post, you may also like 31 Ways We Homeschool Our Children Without a Curriculum.