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What does it really take to Home Ed?

(15 Posts)
Rubimou Tue 09-Nov-10 11:50:30

Hello all, I've been lurking on these pages since the summer so thought it was about time I outed myself grinand as I am becoming increasingly obsessed with the idea of Home Educating my children (DS 2.8 and DD 6mo). There are some burning questions I am keen to ask all you experienced HEdders out there...

This will probably be the first of many posts but what I'm keen to know for starters is what you think it really takes to commit to autonomously home educating your children.

To give some back ground I've been a SAHM since DS was born and was a early years/KS1 teacher before that. TBH I dread the thought of going back to teaching and all the enormous energy it takes to plan, monitor and assess learning for 30 children all of which is sub optimal most of the time in terms of their individual needs. So much effort goes into bringing the world into the classroom and making learning vivid and close to real life as possible, but imo it's all a bit of a sham alot of the time. I'm coming round to the undestanding that it makes much more sense to just carry on living life together with my children and see their learning grow from living, which is what has happenend so far in the most amazing way.

BUT, am scared about what this means for me in the long term. I think we can carry on surviving on DH's income, but I don't want to rule out working completely in the future, just not sure what I would do or how to fit in working around homeschooling. Am I giving up my pension, seems a bit of a crazy thing to do in these times. Am also daunted about the responsibility of making such a decision on behalf of my children. What if we start and it's going great but then our financial situtation changes and I have to work, I would feel awful sending the children to school if they were loving HE.

Ooh, I could ramble and ramble, but I had better stop. So I'd be really keen to know do you feel you have sacrificed anything to HE, has it been worth it and how do you know you're really cut out for it?

Thanks for reading

julienoshoes Tue 09-Nov-10 16:31:55

Hi Rubimou
I so wish I'd hd your oppotunity and never sent my children to school! But I didn't know anything about it in those days sadly.

We have home educated them since the day we found out it was a legal viable option.
They were aged 13, 11 and 8.
We home educated til they were ready to go to college/leave home. Youngest is at FE college now, doing very well indeed.

To some extent I did sacrifice my career to home educate them, I have done a variety of part time jobs around home educating, we have needed me to bring in some money as DH had to retire aged 45 on the grounds of ill health, but I have had to be available to do all of the home ed mets and activities, camps and gatherings the children wanted to do, as DH simply can't.
We have done it on a very limited budget.
We rarely buy anything new, have a very old car (ebay) and use charity shops, ebay, car boots and freecycle to obtain any education resources.
We had Sun newspaper holidays and made use of Mega Bus (Birmingham-London=£1) and Travelodge deals (family rooms in sale=£9/night)
We have a very good local HE network and did all sorts of activities such as sailing/canoeing/iceskating/musical theatre/historical reanactment workshops all at cheap educatonal group rates.
Then we prioritised other things that the children were interested in, and I'd say have managed most things.

We have had a wonderful life. Although looking from the outside some would say I have sacrificed money and position, the pay off has totally been worth it!
We have had a ball together, our children are happy confident young people who believe in themselves and have a great relationship with us.
SOOO much dfferent from the experience with my stepson who went through school very stressed and miserable, which made our lives and his hell!

I would totally love to be starting out on our home ed adventures all over again.
Our children all intend to autonomously home educate (including my schooled stepson!) so I think we must have got something right!

Many home educators have worries about their choices at some time.
We can never predict exactly what will happen, we can only deal with the cards we have in our hand at that time.
I have totally accept my responsibility for making the decision to send them to school, which did so much damage to them.

FWIW I think you sound like you would do a brilliant job of home educating. Enjoying being with your children makes you perfect for the job!

Have you loked at some of the websites for home ed?
Muddle Puddle is specifically for families home educating children aged 8 years and under, and contains links to home ed blogs etc, where you can peep at the lives of other HE families, as well as suggestions for things to do.

hope this all helps.
No time to proof read, as I am dashing out to work now, so forgive any spelling mistakes.
Ask away if you have more questions, one of us will be along and answer then for you!

Rubimou Tue 09-Nov-10 20:16:38

Wow Julie, thank you so much for your lengthly post. It is really supportive and encouraging. Don't have time to write more now but just wanted to say thanks for taking the time to explain how you did it in all the nitty gritty detail.It's just what I need to hear!

Saracen Wed 10-Nov-10 06:08:47

From a slightly more pessimistic point of view, I think you've already shot yourself in the foot financially by having children at all! When I look at the lifestyles of friends who work and have children at school, they don't seem to be hugely better off financially than we are. That six hours a day of free childcare represented by school may seem like a big deal to those of us who aren't making use of it, but as childcare goes there are a lot of problems with it. Parents who work 9-5ish jobs and have schoolchildren have to scramble like crazy to sort out before and after school care. Their annual leave isn't enough to cover the school holidays, which are scattered through the year so that life is one long series of childcare challenges. On the other hand they can work part-time, say 10-2 during term-times - such a job is likely to be quite low-paid and without prospects of promotion. If you do have the skills and/or ambition to carve out a good job for yourself which you enjoy and which fits around school very well - by self-employment, for example - you can probably make it fit around HE almost as easily.

Given that you may have landed yourself in with the financial "have-nots" by having kids, you may as well make the most of your life with them!

I'm a bit puzzled by you saying that you'd feel awful if you home educated for a while and then had to send your children to school so you could work. How is that worse than sending them to school when they're four? If you HE them for a few years, they will have had a lovely extra few years with you and would start school confident, happy and mature. Home education doesn't have to be a lifetime commitment, it can just be about what suits the family for the time being.

The responsibility of making a major decision about your children's education on their behalf is daunting. But you should be equally daunted by the prospect of deciding to send them to school.

Never mind, I think I liked Julie's post much better than mine. Being with your kids is a lovely life and letting them have a proper childhood full of freedom and play is very pleasant. For that, I'll risk having to eat dog food be supported by my lovely children in my retirement.

Rubimou Wed 10-Nov-10 17:45:15

You're right Saracen smile I completely agree about the life style that goes with working and child care challenges and I can't bear the thought of the school day being made longer with breakfast clubs and after school clubs, it's miserable. This was what got me thinking about home ed in the first place - I could forsee the absolute stress of me trying to be somewhere all day doing a less than perfect job of educating alot of other people's children, and all the work at home that goes with it, and my children being stressd and tired having a huge long day in order for me to go out and work. I figure we'll all be alot happier if we work together. And I suppose as I was so frustrated about the inadequacy of the school system, I'll get a HUGE amount of job satisfaction (so to speak), from knowing that I'm facilitating the the best possible personalised education for my children.
DS is a quite sensitive type, really can't tolerate large groups of children, and I feel that in school he'll be in red alert mode the whole time observing the other children and being bothered by noise and the fact he can't do an activity for an uninterrupted amount of time. Also I HATE the way children like him who find school situations overarousing and overwhelming learn that in order to cope you need to be obidient and make the teacher your ally. Oh the more I ramble, the more it's clear I've already made my decision, thanks for listening!
I have more questions though
Might start another thread....

SDeuchars Thu 11-Nov-10 07:17:13

@Saracen: my DD is already planning to look after me in my dotage (so I think I've done something right), encouraged by the example of my friend who gave up work at 50 (knowing she could never return) to look after her mother, now 92.

@Rubimou: The other thing about being based at home is that you can raise your children to be involved in household tasks from a very young age - no tussle in your mind about the relative importances of homework and housework. You also save money by not having to travel to work, buy special clothes, eat food and drink out, contribute to whip-rounds (IME, EHE group whip-rounds and outings tend to be very cheap). So, anything you have learned in the last 2.8+ years of being at home about the varying finances of 2 adults working for cash versus one at home and one working for cash, continues.

For example, you have time to plan and cook food from scratch which it is a good thing for DC to get used to, it is cheaper and it is usually healthier. We started all sorts of things I did not do before children - bread-making (inc sour-dough with yeast caught from the air), youghurt making, etc. because I thought it would be good to introduce the DC to it. They now prefer and expect "proper food" - I gave DS a ready meal curry a couple of years ago when I was going out and he was 14 and his verdict was that it was OK but tasted like airline food, LOL.

Also, as they get older, you may be able to work from home. I have worked as a copy-editor and proofreader since soon after DS was born. DD is at university and DS is 16 so I can now do about 25 hours per week. There is a lot of work on school text-books around, so you could offer that as a specialism. Or there may be other things you can do that would help to augment the budget and fit around DC. When they were small, I worked when they were in bed.

crumblequeen Thu 11-Nov-10 16:04:34

rubimou just wanted to let you know I am in the same position as you. Have DS 2.8 and DC2 due in 10 weeks. I have read through a lot of threads here and other blogs/sites and continue to do so. I feel in my heart that DS won't go to school but have not formalised it by telling family/friends yet. I am not planning to think about it much more until next summer when we have all adjusted to life with the new baby.

Where in the country are you? We are North East.

Rubimou Thu 11-Nov-10 18:58:06

SDeuchars I'm already doing alot of what you say! Part of the reason I can't bear the thought of working is, how are we going to eat properly??? I And you've given me even more reasons to add to the cost of going to work. Thanks for thatwink
Copy-editor and proof reader is def something I could do, thanks for that lead too.
crumblequeen it's good to hear from someone in similar position. We will be nowhere near you though; we are in Athens now, but will be moving back to the South West. I completely identify with what you say about feeling in your heart that your son will not go to school but it not being formalised yet. What are the reaons that started you thinking about HE? It sounds like you have the right approach to put it out of your mind for a while and focus on the arrival of your baby - congratulations by the way
Although I have to say that I've tried to do this before but it can be really hard to put the thoughts of HE out of your mind because the fact is you're already doing it. Today my son started doing emergent writing for the first time and came and told me he was writing about his sister, then he sat down and asked me to write lots numbers for him, then he wanted to play writing and posting letters. He 'wrote' in lovely scribble a letter to his baby sister. He wanted to give it to the postman, so tomorrow we're going to the post office (no letter boxes out here!) to post it back home to us. This is the way I want him to keep learning, completely authentically and spontaneously; but as he's already doing it this way I'm beginning to realise that the question that has been whirling round my head so far- namely, should we Home Educate? - is actually not so helpful anymore. Now I'm starting to think, Why should we stop Home Educating?

SDeuchars Thu 11-Nov-10 19:11:22

Absolutely, Rubimou! We didn't stop - we just all became more competent.

BTW, I am in Swindon and would be more than happy to talk to you when you get back to UK.

crumblequeen Fri 12-Nov-10 09:20:04

Rubimou Yes thats a pretty big distance geographically! I have always thought generally that 4 is too young to start school and I think it definitely is in our case. DS is the sort of boy who is likely to be branded one of the "problem" ones. He is incredibly active, cannot sit still, is not great at following instructions but is so bright and I don't think the education system will give him the opportunity to fulfill his potential, because he will not fit into the idea of how everyone should be learning.

I really fear that he will be put off education for life by school and I will end up with a very disillusioned teenager (although of course there are no guarantees I won't anyway!)

Takver Fri 12-Nov-10 09:38:59

Rubimou, just a thought - if you are a teacher, could you tutor outside working hours, or teach adult ed evening classes?

Saracen Fri 12-Nov-10 09:46:02

crumblequeen "I really fear that he will be put off education for life by school and I will end up with a very disillusioned teenager (although of course there are no guarantees I won't anyway!)"

It does seem a lot less likely that you'll end up with a disillusioned teen if you home ed. The fact that the HE teens I meet seem not to have the stereotypical alienation from the rest of society has always seemed striking to me.

Here's one theory which goes some way toward explaining why: drrobertepstein.com/pdf/Epstein-THE_MYTH_OF_THE_TE EN_BRAIN-Scientific_American_Mind-4-07.pdf

Epstein argues that teens are isolated from the rest of our society. This, he says, is the cause of teen subculture and the root of many of their problems. They are infantilised at school and elsewhere and not allowed to take on responsibilities as and when they feel ready. He points out that preindustrialised societies don't consider teens to be a separate species and that troubled years are not inevitable.

crumblequeen Fri 12-Nov-10 14:26:35

Saracen thanks that's interesting. I am already seeing some of that in DS at a young age. His happiest weekends are spent helping to do the recycling, cutting grass, cleaning things at home, hence having some responsibility. He helps me unload dishwasher, do washing etc and can almost use a self-sevice till at supermarket!

He is just so interested in everything and how it works (although sometimes his 2yo enthusiasm is a bit misplaced and frantic but I am sure self-control will comesmile) and I know that aspect would be pushed into submission by school, and he would be too tired to do much else outside school.

Rubimou Mon 15-Nov-10 18:47:21

Takver Yes, tutoring is something I've thought of doing - it's just the further I get from wanting my children to have formal education, the more incapable I think I might become at doing formal teaching myself smile
crumblequeen your DS sounds quite like mine!

chaleyannscott Thu 02-Dec-10 23:19:49

I believe all you need to homeschool is love, patience, time and respect for your child. You need to be able to let go of control and let them learn WHAT they want, WHEN they want, WHERE they want, and HOW they want.

You don't need a degree, money, a huge house, heaps of expensive resources, or even a partner.
I have seen unschoolers who are seriously committed to the lifestyle come up with some very creative ways to achieve this life.

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