Don’t worry. The title is just to get your attention. I’m not THAT crazy. But this post is about choice. Specifically, the ones surrounding Home-Schooling. My husband and I have now taken our daughter, whom we call the The Moon, out of school as well as our oldest son, Monkey Man, whom we pulled after Christmas last year. And if we are having a big Home Ed day out (Home Education is the more commonly used term in the UK) I pull the little guy, or The Bear, out of preschool for the day as well. It’s all been pretty amazing so far. There are moments of absolute panic but generally they are only moments. As scary as it all was to get to this point, the thing I am struck with the most is how normal it all feels. From an evolutionary point of view there is nothing weird about it. It feels more normal then school ever did for myself or my children. The word Home-School is a little like the word Home-Birth I suppose. Seems like lunacy on first impression then you get an education. It’s all a very normal and healthy part of everyone’s history. School is a newish concept, as is institutionalized births. Thank God we have both of these institutions, schools and hospitals are very necessary, but it’s not the only way.
So, here we are in the middle of this other way. Once here, the choices REALLY begin. How to Home-School is perhaps the biggest minefield I have ever stepped foot in. I thought I had it all figured out. I had hired a specialist dyslexic tutor for The Monkey to come twice a week. He set the assignments and we followed the National Curriculum in a very loose way. Fast forward three months and I’ve fired the tutor, we’re pulled another child from school and are now in a process referred to as De-Schooling. This is when we try to forget about school for a while and follow the interests of our children. The idea is after this period is over we settle into either a structured/semi structured learning style or go for Un-schooling, which is basically De-Schooling full time. And here’s where it gets super complicated… Once you choose one of these paths there are about five billion ways of going about the method you choose. I get stressed out writing about it as I just can’t type as fast as I’m thinking. A chart detailing all the little sub groups from the main super groups would probably be a better method of explanation but that is boring so will resist the urge.
The De-Schooling process for me has meant lots of research. I feel like I’ve been doing it wrong as I’m supposed to be relaxing but reading is a great source of comfort for me when I find myself out of my depth. I have to read it to understand it. Hence the obscene amount of money I have spent on Amazon in the last few weeks. In all of this reading, the most interesting books out there on Home Schooling are the ones on Un-schooling. Fascinating, gripping stuff. Un-Schooling is when you don’t sit your children down to do any formal learning at all. Ever. They learn through play and day to day life. They learn reading, writing and arithmetic as they go. ‘Ha! You say?’ Well let me tell you, holy moly it works. I’ve met a few un-schoolers. It’s all happening. These children and sometimes grown young adults, are learning everything they need to know in their own time. They are not weird, unsocialised, or in any way dim. Arguably, they could be the most well-adjusted of the lot. These children have parents who trust them absolutely to learn what they need too when they need too. Powerful stuff. This way of life leads to as diverse paths as any other form of education from farming to law. I am sold. I love it. Except… I am shit at it. And this is what De-Schooling is about for the parent. Finding out where you fit. My creative process only comes after a bit of structure. I’m struggling to inspire a world of creative flow for my children unless I do my research the day before. I am cutting, pasting and reading when I’m not hanging with them. Did I mention I read a lot? Because I seem to have a natural tendency to lean towards a bit of structure my children end up on more creative tangents then they do when I actively try to Un-School. What’s funny is that my husband is probably seen as the more conventional person in our marriage and me a bit more hippy but this really isn’t turning out to be the case. My husband makes the much better un-schooler. He rocks at this stuff. They make fires, grow vegetables, build sheds and poke at dead animals. He even made Monkey Man a necklace out of a fox tooth for a carcass they found in the woods by our house. Disgusting. I don’t want to do that. Thank God we have him. He brings the un-schooling element to the table in a much more exciting way then I can. I like to gather them and engage them in something they have some say in but ultimately I orchestrate. I like to include maths and literacy in these little projects in a non-obtrusive way. For now. Eventually I see us settling into a little more formal structure in the mornings and then off to do whatever we want for the rest of the day. I will follow this as much as I can but I will be flexible. Days out, field trips and travel are priority. My choice seems to be shaping up to be a semi-structured approach. It’s exciting to see it all start to come into place. The best part of this process is seeing what everyone else out there is doing. That’s the amazing thing about Home Education, everyone has a story. It’s not a boring bunch, that’s for sure. The reasons to Home-School are about as varied as the ways to go about it. The choice has been an overwhelming one and I’m sure I have more to make and that I’ll change my mind a few hundred times but I really dig that there are so many. Certainly this is what it’s supposed to be like. Diversity is key. If everyone took the same path it would get clogged.