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Why {how} we home educate – Part 2

February 20, 2009

The best advice I had when embarking on our home schooling adventure was ‘have a learning year’…not for the children; for me! It has been so important to us to get used to the change in life style and pace, get used to being around each other 24/7 and figure out what we as a family are best suited to when it comes to educating our children.

As I mentioned in my last post so many home educators do so for many different reasons and the same goes for the method in which people approach it. The legal situation in the UK with regard to home education can be summarised in the phrase: Education is compulsory, schooling is not; so how you interpret that is your decision!

Over the past year we have met many home educating families and read about many from all over the globe; some have a very structured approach; a school room, desks, strict schedule etc. The other extreme and school of thought is more fluid and ‘child led’; learn as you go, everything is educational, play, create, express etc. I think at the moment we sit somewhere in the middle; our primary goal is to win our children’s hearts and point them to Jesus, secondary is to cultivate in them a love for learning, reading and discovering, inspire them with an ability to ask questions, research and plot their own learning journey whilst being encouraged by those around them.

My natural inclination is to lean towards structure; routine makes the world go round in my book…well it helps me! At the same time I love the natural way that children learn and I have loved the days when I’ve just ‘let it go’ and watched my home become a hive of industry and adventure. We have not used a curriculum as yet but know families who find this essential to their learning; there are many out there and lots of help for those who need help in finding one. One thing I have invested in is this MP3; Victoria Botkin is a seasoned and very inspiring home educating Mother of 7 amazing children – she takes a very natural approach but creates a culture of education and learning in her home; something I aspire to greatly.

Our ‘home made’ curriculum so far has been made up of these basic elements (in no particular order):

  • Numeracy
  • Literacy (handwriting, journaling, letter writing, phonics etc.)
  • Reading LOTS; both to Mummy and Mummy reading aloud
  • Devotion, Bible study and memorisation of scripture
  • Art, art lots of art!
  • Project work; usually two running at a time; e.g at the moment we’re doing a history project (The Romans) and a science project (The human body) – the projects include content from a variety of ‘subjects’.
  • Music appreciation (listening to classical music while we learn and learning to recognise it)
  • Trips to places of interest related to our projects (or not), nature walks, library etc.
  • Lessons in habit and character (from the Bible)

Through our general daily lives together the children cook with me, shop with me, blog with me (!), we walk, we visit people; we look, we love, we learn.

I have baskets of books and small games (dice etc.) around the house that the children can dip into whenever they want, I keep as many resources as possible at their reachable level. They write, draw and create from the moment they get out of bed till they happily fall asleep at the end of the day.

NO TV is aloud through the day unless I have a planned educational programme (which hasn’t happened much so far). We start our day with a good breakfast and usually have our devotional time round the table. We take regular breaks and if the weather is good they go outside.

Early on in our journey we joined a UK organisation called ‘Education Otherwise‘, as well as having a very informative website to assist with legal questions etc. they have ‘groups’ around the country who meet together to go on trips, run workshops etc. We really enjoy being a part of this and have met some wonderful and fascinating families.

I am recently more and more inspired by the vast experience and writings of the 18th century ‘founder of home education’ Charlotte Mason. I am slowly working my way through her ‘works’ (6 volumes!) but have come across a few condensed versions that I have found helpful. Charlotte Mason was a big thinker who had a very high view of children; her thoughts and workings in education were revolutionary in her time and have much to say about how we educate our children today; whether in the home or in school. I still have much to read and research but hope to begin to implement more of Charlottes ‘methods’ into our home school day. I have found this site and this site very helpful in my growing curiosity; pop over there if you’re interested in reading more!

Home educating for me has become a natural part of our life so when people ask how I ‘fit it all in’ or ‘how do you do it with a 7 month old baby on tow’ it’s quite difficult to answer as I just do! Micah fits into our rhythm of life quite beautifully; more often than not he’s asleep when we start our school day but when he wakes and needs feeding we move over to the sofa and have our reading time while he feeds and snuggles with the rest of us. As confidence and security strengthens in you for motherhood and specific decisions you’ve made take their place, the rest just fits in. I’m sure each phase of Micah’s development will require us to shape things a little differently and if God willing other little ones come along we will reshape things again! If we are cultivating in our children a love for learning and a home thriving with learning opportunities then a precious new addition to the family can only enhance the adventure!

It’s a wonderful life!

..still to come (in part 3); the ‘S’ word (socialisation) – what do we actually mean by this and is it really important or simply a product of culture?


“The most common and the monstrous defect in the education of the day is that children fail to acquire the habit of reading. Knowledge is conveyed to them by lessons and talk, but the studious habit of using books as a means of interest and delight is not acquired. This habit should be begun early; so soon as the child can read at all, he should read for himself, and to himself, history, legends, fairy tales, and other suitable matter. He should be trained from the first to think that one reading of any lesson is enough to enable him to narrate what he has read, and will thus get the habit of slow, careful reading, intelligent even when it is silent, because he reads with an eye to the full meaning of every clause.”
Charlotte Mason
2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 22, 2009 2:18 pm

    Great series, with lots of food for thought, Leah.Thank youLynn

  2. February 24, 2009 6:40 am

    Leah, just wanted to let you know I have added another link in my post about lent.

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