Archive for April, 2008

My Life- by Sukie


My name is Sukie, I’m 11 years old and I’m home educated. I have two sisters, and a dog called Pickles. She is a dalmatian/labrador/collie cross. In this blog I’m going to tell you about the kind of things I do every day.

I love being home educated because I can learn about things that interest me…like dogs! I have lots of time to play with my friends, relax in my bedroom, have fun and read. I don’t have to be stuck in a classroom all day, we can go to loads of interesting places.

Things I love: Harry Potter, dogs, swimming, bowling, climbing, ice-skating, reading, Pickles (my dog), going to Guides, my family, my friends, my bedroom!

Things I hate: boys (well most of them, anyway), cruelty to animals, my bedroom being messy, meat (I’m vegetarian).

In my opinion the Harry Potter books are the best books in the entire universe ever!!!

Eclectic Home Ed- Eclectic Life!

It seems wrong to start without an introduction, so…

I am Hobbes: home educating mum of three daughters, Sukie, 11; Bobbie, 9; Willow, 7; and wife to Dandy- whose age shall remain undisclosed!

There are a lot of terms bandied about for various Home Education “methods” or styles, but I think the one that sums us up best is probably “eclectic”.

This generally means trying out a little bit of this and that, and seeing how it goes!

It’s fascinating to see the way that each child works, and what excites them. Similarly, when something doesn’t work, we can stop it and try another way.

It’s this ability to adapt an approach to fit your child’s learning style and passions that makes home education so efficient. Well that and the small class numbers!!!

We’re not completely autonomous- I do sometimes try to direct the childrens’ learning, and lately we’ve been doing some project-work with other HE families, so there’s an element of “teacher and pupil” there.

On the other hand, what we do could by no stretch of the imagination be called “structured”!

Some days Sukie will still be in her bedroom reading in her PJs at 11am, while Bobbie and Willow have already made and eaten breakfast, created their own “book”, bounced around on the trampoline, watched a bit of TV and filled in their Tadpole Diaries.

Of course some days have their own routine based around the various groups and clubs we go to. At the moment these include Brownies, Guides, HE groups, projects, climbing and ice-skating.

While the girls love all their various activities, sometimes the days they enjoy most are the ones when we have no time constraints, and if we want to stay at home all day in our pyjamas, reading, talking, cooking and playing games, then we can.

For me, this is the beauty of home education- the freedom it affords us as a family to choose how we spend our time together; and the freedom it allows the children as learners, finding out about the things that interest them and doing things at their own pace.

Why did we choose to Home Ed?

This is the question that I get asked a lot.  Every person that Home Eds does so for very different reasons, I think it is probable that no two families would have exactly the same reasons for Home Eding, but I thought it might be useful to see some of the reasons that we have choosen to take the Home Ed path.

It probably all started with the choice of birth for my son!  Because I wanted a homebirth, and live in an area where I wouldnt have been “allowed” one (well not without a fight, and I dont like conflict so the last thing I wanted to do while pregnant was fight for my right to have a homebirth).  This resulted in us using a fantastic Independent midwife, one of the results of having an independent midwife is that you have your eyes opened to all the available options for birthing / parenting / living life, and you start to question the “normal” route of societies inhabitants.

After the birth of my son we choose to attachment parent, including co-sleeping and long term breastfeeding. We started to read about Home Ed and did some research into it, I started to go to a Home Ed group with my son from a very early age and met other people that were Home Eding.  The more that we read the more that we felt this was right for our son and our family.  I was already very aware that I disagreed with the constant testing in schools and the high pressure enviromnent that works for a few children, but fails for so many others.

My son went to a local nursery for a couple of years (part time) and really didnt like it, in hindsight I wish that we had taken him out a lot earlier.  We then started to HE for real, then our son announces that he wants to go to the local school with his best friend.  Because we have always listened to what he had to say we discussed it with him and agreed that we would try and get him a place.  We were succesful in getting the place at the school (probably coz we put our 2nd choice of school as Home Education - they couldnt not give him a place!)  My husband and I were not happy about him going, but felt that he needed to make the decision, and we could always take him out if it didnt work out. 

The school holds two pre school days when all the children  go along and meet the teachers and the other children. We went to the first one and it was a nightmare - imagine 60 children, with parents and siblings all milling round two small classrooms, Thankfully my son walked out stating “I am never going back there”  we persuaded him to go back for the 2nd day, just because we felt that he should give it a fair try, it was as bad (if not worse) than the first day.  We all agreed that he didnt ever have to go there - hurray - I wrote a letter to the school asking them to remove him from the register and that was it, we started our Home Eding journey for real.

We havent regretted our decision at all, occasionally we (well me mainly) have the odd wobble, but there are so many fantastic HE families around that help and can give advice that the wobbles happen less and less.

So if you are thinking about HE, my recommendation would be to do some research, talk to other HE families (there are loads of us around) and talk to your children.  You need to make the decision that is right for all the family, for us it was to HE and we have never looked back.

Good luck

So how does that work then?

Is a question I get asked a lot….I don’t tend to get the “Is home *wince* schooling even legal” or “What about socialization” very much……..possibly it’s the “Go on then!” glint in my eye that puts people off, but I do get “So, how does that work then?” or words to that effect on a fairly regular basis and it’s not a simple one to answer really. “It just does,” doesn’t seem to cut it and I’m not one for using a few words when an entire soliloquy beckons;  so over the past few days I’ve been thinking a lot about the mechanics of doing this thang called home ed. Conversations over dinner is a biggie for us……anything to avoid eating carrots. I suppose I’m like the random Laban teacher we had at Drama College. Laban was a bit of a random subject, or rather we felt it was so rather than stand up and do “Longing to joy”, which believe me is nowhere near as fun as it sounds, we would get her talking on an interesting subject, she was a very interesting lady, and lo and behold the lesson would just disappear!!! This seems to be my eldest son’s current tactic at meal times, heck even the younger one will chip in periodically with requests for clarification!!! Joking aside it never ceases to amaze me what my kids will retain from a conversation, sometimes, in fact regularly, more than with a guided activity. For example a few days ago I found myself googling impressionists (artists, not the Bobby Davro kind) over breakfast….I had my cereal half eaten and having tried for more than 5 mins to explain impressionist art…. I gave up on crispy cornflakes and reached for the lap top. Van Gogh’s Starry Night – perfect! This was all borne out of a comment that DS1’s collage of planet Earth didn’t look exactly like Earth…….in the sense that it didn’t look like a photograph of it or a detailed painted image. DS1 had decided this by the way, during his depiction of Jupiter through the medium of poster paint. Apparently Jupiter was a lot more Jupiter-esque than Earth was Earth-esque!! So at 8.15 in the morning before I left for work and whilst my other half tidied the kitchen we had a major discussion on impressionist art….with pictures to help from Monet and Van Gogh… well as a couple of Picasso’s to illustrate that it doesn’t have to look like the subject to tell a story. After he had satisfied himself that it was OK for his collage not to be an exact replica of Earth (through the medium of scrap paper and coloured rice) and once my cornflakes were thoroughly soggy he declared “Alright Mummy, I think I get it now!” and disappeared off to play Dr Who…….He “gets” it??? At 6 he “gets” impressionist art and there is now no further need for discussion……. I sat through numerous painfully dull lectures, was forced to do a project on it and a talk for A-level general Studies and it took a visit to the Van Gogh museum to get anywhere near “getting it”!!!!

So to my mind, that’s how it works….. He asks, I answer….To put it in high faluting terms “I facilitate learning opportunities that either spark imaginations and go on to be explored or are saved up for dinner time conversations upon the appearance of unrequested vegetables!” Today it was the Feudal system…..incorporating nuns, child brides and heirs………and it was almost at the end of the casserole before he realized that the “potatoes” he’d been scoffing were indeed artichokes…..however….the carrots remained on the plate!