So I’ve explained why we’re home educating, but the main reason for this blog is to keep a loose track of what we’ve been out seeing and exploring, an informal journal.
When a child has been in a formal education setting, and they are not planning on immediately returning, it is often advised that they go through a process referred to as deschooling. Deschooling is recommended for about a month for every year the child has been in school. You treat it like a school holiday, do not attempt to implement any formal work, and be as lax as possible about how your child spends their time. Let them get television and computer games out of their system if that is what they choose. (I struggle with that one, and have insisted she turn the computer off plenty of times). Don’t follow a timetable, a curriculum, live like it’s the weekend. The idea is that recreating a school setting at home is not considered to be the most successful method of homeschooling, that the parents as educators need a chance to see what their child can learn without forced teaching. Often children that leave school have been bullied or have very low self-esteem so they really need a time to recover, but if this is not the case it is still really beneficial. I think after this period, most parents choose to follow an unschooling type of living, rather than lots of formal structure. What I’ve learned, (after lots and lots of reading on all the different ‘methods’) is that I’m not prepared to label what we do or adhere to any rules to match a particular style. I’m learning on the job, and I may change my mind often. It’s just probably not going to look much like school.
So in our three months of not schooling, and mostly unplanned learning, I think we’ve covered enough ground to keep going how we are for now. Some days it feels like we haven’t achieved anything, but then I remember that we are deschooling, so it doesn’t matter, and when I have started to jot down what we’ve actually covered in this period I completely get it. She has learned a lot. We’ve had opportunities for days out she never would have had otherwise. We’ve been to Center Parcs, forest school, museum groups, a ballet, various home-ed meet ups, parks, beaches, picnics, drama lessons, we’ve done science experiments, an ocean project, learned about electricity, myths and fairy tales, maths games, crafts. There has been a lot of time she’s been obsessed with the computer but she has taught herself a lot of skills such as saving and editing images, using different google search options, and getting really proficient on the keyboard. (pretty impressive considering nearly all the key labels have worn away). She’s keeping a journal. I constantly remind myself that she is only six. Some countries don’t start formal schooling until they are seven, and she already has the basics. She’s wasted a lot of play time in school and I want her to get that back. We’ve met a wide range of really interesting home-ed families I’m really excited to get to know more over the next few years. I love that there are all sorts of different reasons that people are home educating, with different belief systems and ways of doing things, yet everyone gets on well, perhaps because they are a minority, but mostly because they have the same end goal in mind.
So here is a week in pictures. Last Friday we went to a key stage 1 home-ed session on the Titanic, at the Maritime museum. We got into town really early and walked around St Georges hall, and spent half an hour in Central library, then we headed to the museum session on the Albert Docks. After we had lunch with some other families, walked round the titanic exhibition and had a quick play on the very windy pier. After Skylar and I went to the Tate for a walk round, and to see the new exhibition in the family room. It was a lot of cardboard boxes and plastic tubes. What kid doesn’t love cardboard boxes and plastic tubes?
On Monday, we went to an unschool meet in Hoylake, the first half in a community hall, the second half on the beach outside. Tiggy had her first taste of sand. Quite literally of course.
On Tuesday we went to the park to feed the ducks, and to see the Girl Guiding exhibition in the parks visitors centre, which was an interesting history lesson for Skylar who had her second time at Rainbows on Monday. It was raining and we watched a bird pulling worms out of the soil for a good 20 minutes, Skylar thought it was hilarious and along with buying duck food from the visitors center instead of giving them bread that makes them ill, and discussing what they usually eat, and what the squirrels eat, and the mice and foxes and even the park rangers, I thought it was a much more interesting lesson than colouring in a life cycles worksheet.
On Wednesday we went to the local community shop, a few of Skylar’s old classmates were in there because of the school strikes so she caught up with them. We were out for the evening till late on a family visit. On Thursday we had the library and then Woodcraft in the evening, and today she has done some arts and crafts and worked on her journal before heading off to her dad’s for the weekend.
So we are coming to the end of deschooling, but as you can see we have covered many traditional topics in our day to day lives in one week. Literacy, art, biology, history, physics, PE… and not a single moment was wasted taking registration or standing in single file.