Reasons not to HE?(16 Posts)
I am fairly convinced of the philosophical argument for HE but I have some quite serious questions about the practicality of it for our particular family. Some of my concerns are:
1) I work 3 days a week and I need (and want) to continue to do so, although I might be able to reduce my days to 2 days. Once my children can't go to local activities that are for 0-5s with their childminder then I don't think that they will be able to continue with her. How will I get childcare for those 2 days? I don't know of any HE-ing childminders. I really do not want to get a nanny, my experience with that route has not been good so far. Plus I would like them to mix other with children.
2) I do not have many friends locally as it is, and neither do my children. I am concerned that if I always have to choose to join in with groups or activities and travel to these also, I might be further isolated from my physical and local community.
3) My DH is a teacher and I work part-time and many of the activities and groups that I know about are around £5 per child per session. If we did 2/3 sessions a week of something or other then that would be roughly £1000-£1500 per year. That excludes costs for travelling etc. I am concerned that that is quite a bit extra.
4) I am worried that I will not be able to facilitate their learning well enough. I am worried that they will be exposed to more choices at school.
5) I know that for sports and music etc they can join after school things but will they always be left out or on their own? If the kids that go to these clubs are also doing sport/drama/music at school won't they will much better than my DCs?
Sorry for the long post - I am just feeling quite overwhelmed and concerned that this is quite a massive thing to be doing and I want to be really sure that I know what I'm doing! Any thoughts/idea much appreciated!
I can give input on number 3 and number 5 from the point of view of a parent who has four children in the school system.
3) There will be equivalent extra costs associated with schooling: school trips that are part of the curriculum, 'voluntary' contributions for this and that, after-school clubs etc. I don't think number 3 holds any water as an argument not to home educate.
5) Most external sports and music clubs will have a mixture of children from several different schools, so a home educated child will be no more left out than one who attends a different school. I'm not sure that the children attending school would be 'ahead', either. Most of the sport they do as part of the curriculum is general PE rather than intensive coaching in one particular sport. They don't learn to play an instrument as part of the curriculum and no music theory until Y7.
Hope this helps you with your decision making.
A childminder wouldn't have to educate your children. HE children don't have to follow school hours so you could catch up at the weekend or in the evening if there was something you wanted to get done. If you can find a childminder that is happy to have school age children then maybe talk it over with them.
What choices do you think they will be exposed to at school but not at home?
If you are working 2/3 days a week then will you want to go to groups on all of your days off? £5 sounds a lot (unless you're in London?), I've never paid more than £3 to go to a HE group.
I've made some lovely friends through the HE community It's getting much easier to find people now, have a look on Facebook if you're on there, there are groups for most counties/big cities.
I hope that helps you a bit. Remember, any decision you make is not permanent. We're in the process of not applying for primary school but if it doesn't work out then it will be simple enough to register DD1 for school. We won't know until we try whether HE is going to be the right thing for us, but as things stand at the moment it's looking like the best option- it may change in the future though.
1 - the childminder doesn't have to do HE, just mind them, but I see what you mean about the activities - if she would be going to 0-5 things with smaller charges then she isn't home to mind older ones. You may need to look more widely for one with more flexibility.
2 - if you were out and about regularly in your local community during the day, you'd maybe make friends? Or at least acqauintances. Popping into the local shop / park / whatever on the same day each week you'd likely see familiar faces.
3 - I think you have to decide, whether you go for school or HE, how may other paid activities are realistic - if you can only afford one thing at £5 then stick to that and look for free things to do
4 - school will give them different choices, but not necessarily more or better ones. HE can be about spotting and grabbing opportunities as and when you see them. They might be an occasional one-off rather than a weekly slot, but you will have the freedom to go for them (on the days you don't work at least...)
5 - as others have said, what they get in school for sport and music will not make them "ahead" in more intensive after-school groups. And there will be other children there who are not at the same school , or in different classes ad don't really know each other.
But, having said all that, the practicalities of HE will be different from the practicalities of school, and you will be looking for "novel" soutions which will need to be hunted down and explained to people in ways that a more "standard" school / after-school club / childminder set of solutions to being a working parent wouldn't be. There's a balance therefore between whether you think the benefits to your family of HEing are good enough or that the issues you want to avoid with school are bad enough to make it worth chasing. You haven't said anything about what the schools are like in your area or whether you have specific worries - you have to weigh things up for yourself, but personally I'd be thinking that the simpler (school) solution has its own advantages whatever theoretical/philosophical reasons you have for considering HE.
Thanks for all the replies. I think amuminscotland sort of hits on something quite key - and that is that it will take a lot of juggling around and quite a bit more effort etc. I think that I would be happy to do this if I was really quite concerned about DCs not managing in school but I'm not sure if this will be the case. We are in London but our local school is a single class entry so although yes, it's 30 pupils per year, it is still a relatively small school. It seems like it is a popular school too and that parents are very actively involved in it. It is a very community based sort if school. I don't have any specific concerns about my children that led me to HE, more a general concern that schools are too pressurised, concerns about bullying, concerns about children 'losing their sparkle' or changing or being disinterested in learning etc. My DCs are, like most young children, curious and inquisitive and delightful and I guess I'm afraid that they would lose that. I also think that children grow up too quickly and that when children are with 29 peers who are all getting the some cultural message then being together sort of exaggerates that. I guess in some ways I want to protect them from that but also to give them opportunities to learn through playing etc.
Just reading that over again and I think that I answered my own questions in some ways! Yes, I think that it will be a juggle and it will be a whole lot more time consuming and effort consuming but I think that my concerns outweigh my need for a easier life!
Just a note on childminders. I am one who home eds her ds(12) and I just take him with me to the toddler groups.
He either facilitates the little one's play (his choice, I don't use him as an assistant, he really enjoys it) or does his own thing in a corner (art, maths puzzzles, reading, talking to the mums). One group did get really funny about me taking a big kid, quoting "insurance" at me until I promised he'd sit on the sidelines (which happens to be what most of the parent's did; there was hardly interaction with the kids going on) so I didn't go there again.
It would be a little harder with a primary school child who would have less understanding that the group was not for them. But some groups (eg SureStart) will accept bigger children if they don't constantly knock the babies over. A good childminder will make a plan to ensure everyone she/he looks after has a good experience each day.
Did you know that childminders have to use the EYFS curriculum (its law) and that the same EYFS is used in school in year R. Us childminders already are HOME EDUCATORS.
I would love the challenge of another HE child. But I don't live near you.
I would also like to address no5.
My dd used to attend school until this academic year. She is involved with several music activities and dances 3 times a week. Now although when she started these groups she was at school, only one group had one girl she went to school with. Also we have no problem with her starting new groups as a H.ed dc. Also apart from the one year at primary with free instrument lesson music is not widely available at school anyway.
Our dd is still able to access facilities offered by our LEA even now no longer at school.
Finally, most children I know who play instruments are taught at local music centres or have private tuition.
I hope this helps.
Just out of interest what is the reason for you deciding to H.ed, I agree it is a big step and not for everybody. However, we have found it very liberating and so far so good.
Hi morethan, thanks for your post. It is mostly my decision and I'm in the process of convincing my DH! ;) (Who is a secondary school teacher)
It started out as a concern that children here start school really young and have a really long day. (I grew up in South Africa and we only start school at 6 yo and its not such a long day.) These reasons have been added to with the following:
a) I think that school is too pressurised and not so much about learning as getting through exams and being taught the things that they 'need' to learn to answer the questions. e.g. I hate the idea of SATs for 10 year olds.
b) I think that school can often squash a child's personality because of herd mentality
c) I think that children grow up too quickly and that this often can go unchecked because of peer-influence at school that is not balanced with meaningful discussion with adults or older children.
d) I want my children to be able to do other activities apart from going to school but I can't see how there will be time for this if they are only finishing school around 3/3:30. When is there time for extra-curricular things and also family time?
e) I am horrified that primary school children have homework from aged 3 or 4 years old.
f) I think that most schools are probably OK for children who are average... but not great at pushing brighter students and not great at supporting weaker students.
g) I want my children to be inquisitive and curious and I know so many children who have lost this. I don't think that school is always to blame but I know that my 3 yo can often still and concentrate on something for longer than many older school children that I know.
h) I love the idea of the freedom to do what we want when we want. Although this is slightly hindered due to the fact that I will still work 2 days a week and my DH is a teacher so no fab family holidays in school time... but still, I like the idea that we are not tied to one place where 'learning' happens.
I think that's all! Even though I can see all these great things about HE I am still very nervous and unconfident in my ability to do it and I'm worried that I'm making a 'weird' choice for my children! The added issue of the juggle with work etc only adds to the 'this is the massive effort' choice for education for my DCs.
Would love to hear your thoughts! How old are your DCs?
My D'C' are now 18 and 20. I HEed all the way through. I worked (and was the main breadwinner as XP did not work and then became X) throughout our time HEing. I'm going to give you a potted bio so you can get an idea of how it worked for us - your situation won't be the same but I hope you'll get a better idea of how it works and the additional choices that HEing afforded us. It's long but it might be helpful.
When they were very small (until DD was 7 and DS 5), I childminded 2 days per week and also worked PT (but from home, 2.5 days per week, in an IT job). The IT job I did when they were asleep (very late and very early in the day!). I helped run a toddler group one morning a week and DD was very proud (at 6 or 7) to be a childminder and a helper at the toddler group, LOL. We also attended a general, 'social' HE group that cost about £3 per family (per fortnight, possibly).
At that time, we were in SW London. DD attended Girls' Brigade and a dance class weekly - we'd have paid for those even if she'd been at school. They both went to LA sports classes (e.g. swimming lessons) which we'd have paid for even if they'd been in school. We also went to monthly Saturday morning kids' music concerts at the Festival Hall and various other stuff which we'd probably not have done if she'd been in school, because we wouldn't have had the time or energy. IME, in the summer, many HE groups move to free venues - such as parks - which cuts the cost.
When we moved to Wiltshire (when DD was 7 and DS 5), I worked in the PT IT job, was self-employed as a copyeditor and also started to work a few hours a week for the OU.
We got involved in the local HE scene: pottery in someone's house (about £3 per family per session for materials and firing), social meetings in church halls (about £3 per family per session) to cover the hire cost, swimming and ice-skating (cost of the activity to the LA). None of that was as expensive as school (uniform, lunches, trips etc.). It was also far less wear and tear on the nerves - no shouting to get a child on the spectrum out every morning!
We also did summer sports schools, weekly gymnastics and other clubs that we'd have paid on top of school anyway (if we'd had the energy).
When DD was 11, she wanted to learn an instrument and we went to the local Saturday morning music centre (which was very good value for money) plus paid for individual instrument lessons for both DC. Music-related activities was probably our main ongoing cost. I'm not sure we'd have done it if they were in school (because of other calls on our time and money).
DD spent two years at 12-13 doing 6-month exchanges with German-speaking girls. That had associated expenses but it got her a place at university on a Law with German Law course.
I also started an HE competitive LEGO robotics team, which is now in its 8th year (now without me!). The ongoing cost to the parents was minimal - we met weekly in my house at no charge and two families donated the equipment so it cost about £150 pa divided between the team (variable numbers up to 10) plus about £12 per child for team shirts. We had 25-30 young people through that team over the seven years I was coach and we had trips to international competitions in NL and Tokyo (which cost, but we treated it as family holidays).
I wouldn't expect anyone else's HE to look like that (!) but it was not pressured - we had plenty of time to simply chill and the DC learned things that they have kept up to a good standard (such as the music). All the other activities became an integral part of the DC's education and sparked off other learning. For example, we learnt a bit of Japanese before going to Tokyo. We did not follow the school exams model, so we had no need to drop all the life-enhancing activities to make sure we had revision time. For me, the best bit about HE is that the DC have learned that they can do anything they put their minds to and they are not afraid to join in with things. I'm unconvinced that they would have the quiet maturity they now have if they had been through the system - other adults who see my DS in the college where he started A-levels in September say he seems very mature in comparison with his classmates.
I also wouldn't exclude nannies. There may even be someone with their own he child who wants to work a couple of days
SDeuchars, thank you for that post. I get so much out of hearing the specifics of all the very different HEing journeys people have, even as you say no one else's will look just like that. I can imagine how some of it would fit around all the quirks in our lives.
Maybe you need a better school?
My primary was very much of the 'let kids be kids' philosophy (which is slightly biting back on me now that Dd wants more academic stretch - but that's another thread. KS1 was very gentle, no homework, sparkle fully in place, lots of life lessons & self guided learning, with the benefit of great school materials to use.
Until Y1, there was only about 1 hour of whole class learning of the 'sit on your bum face the front' variety. The rest was a quasi-Montessori trotting around a lovely imaginative open plan class room and garden, with the kids choosing their own activities from a wide variety set up each day.
Parents were invited every Friday morning to join in.
In a way, it was more child driven than I could deliver at home - because they had the critical mass of children that made it worth setting up a lot of options every day. For example, today coming in I saw:
- a sandpit with dinosaurs
- a letter tracing game
- magnetic letter and a magnet board
- a catalogue & glue & scissors to do 'Santa letters'
- gruffallo puppets & puppet theatre
- letter lacing games
- some kind of construction set
As well as usual trikes, bikes, books, costumes, paints , junk modelling , pc games etc.
Conversely, with all the love I feel at KS1, I'm seriously considering pulling out my Y4 Dd1, who has grown up quite academic, and wants to dive deeper with harder Maths, more reading etc - which I think I would be very well placed to facilitate for her.
I definitely wouldn't exclude a nanny. It sounds like you've had a bad experience with one but that doesn't mean it couldn't work for you with the right person. Up until recently when we moved away I was working as a nanny for a family whose children attended school while I home educated my own child. He would come to work with me and we would do loads of activities learning through play, outings, social meetups etc then I would do anything specific to him over the weekend. It worked very well because myself and the family I worked for had a similar parenting ethos.
With regards to the cost side of things, you don't need to join in with anything and everything. Where we used to live there was probably some kind of HE meetup or activity every day. If we'd have gone to everything, not only would it have cost a fortune but the kids would have been overwhelmed and exhausted by the end of it!
I think you wouldn't be normal if you didn't question your ability and if H.ed was the right decision.
FWIW reading your reasons makes a clear philosophy and your points are all valid, not that they would have to be.
As far as convincing your dh it may be a little harder with him being a teacher.
What worked for me in the end was reading Doing it their way. (Please somebody tell us the author). It was reading the theory and how it works in practice together, and your dh may appreciate the grounded in theory parts.
I also did loads of research and kept telling him snippets, until I wore him down and he agreed to think about it.
Our dd is nearly 9 and we have good and bad days, but as she has already attended school and had no problems there, I suppose this can be understood.
Everybody is different and situations vary, but for me it was like a light going on. I think you will know if it is for you. Good luck
Thanks everyone! SDeuchars thanks for the example day/week. That is really helpful. And really helpful to see how things progressed as they got older. I think somewhere else you mentioned that its not a binary choice - to school or not school. I have been driving myself crazy because its primary school application time and if DD wants to get a place in our local school then I must apply now (its a CofE and popular) but I already recycled the application form (when I was feeling more confident obviously!!)
I am planning on DD going to Rainbows when she gets to 5 yo too. I think I will do similar things re: music, drama group, sports things that you have mentioned. Thanks to everyone who wrote about how these work in practice and that its not that everyone else knows each other and DD will be the odd one out.
Tarenath I'm not ruling it out entirely, but I sometimes work from home or have meetings in my home and I couldn't do this when we had a nanny. Also if I or my DH was ill and needed to be at home then we felt like we had to creep around a bit..! But something like what you did with your DS sounds great!
Thank you morethan, its quite helpful someone saying that its OK to question the decision because I guess I feel that as soon as we doubt a decision it means that maybe that decision is wrong in some way! DH is sort of there but he just worries about the extra effort and organisation required. He also wants me to be able to keep working (which I enjoy) and to not have to give that up to HE. (Which I appreciate but I think that we just need to be a bit more creative about it and it might still work.) I think that either a) talking to my current childminder about how she feels about having older children, or b) finding a HE-childminder or c) getting a nanny might have to be what we do so that I can still work 2 days. DH is also going to ask at school if he can do a 4 day week, but we're not feeling too confident about this one as he doesn't know any other part-time teachers in his school!
Anyway, what I'm trying to remember at the moment is that DD is still too young to start school at 4.5 in Sept 2013. So whatever happens after that we will take year by year. But at least for reception I think that its too early... I can't make a decision now for 3 or 4 years time, I think we will just make the decision year by year. That feels a lot less daunting! If its working we can keep going and if its really not then we can address that then.
Thank you everyone for helping me to think out loud and giving me insights into how it works for you and your families. It is really helpful to us newbies to get advice and experience from those further down the road to us.
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