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What do small children have to learn? Home ed

(27 Posts)
jabed Sun 10-Jul-11 10:49:58

A while ago I raised the idea that we ( my DW) might home ed our DS. DS is young - he will be just five in September ( Late August born) when he will have to go into year 1 at school.

I have already had one poor experience with school . I have looked for another and have found a small prep which might be suitable.
However, I just feel looking at DS that it is just wrong . He is too young.
What the hell can he really learn? Thinking back to my own childhood ( which was probably far more pleasant that todays) I only remember bad things about my early school years. Full of bullying. I doubt things are better now , especially after what I saw in his last school class.

I also have considerable doubts and objections to all this testing and so called measuring progess etc. that is done so much now.

Therefore DW and I are wondering if it might be better to keep him and home ed until he can attend formal school at 7 .
He can already read and write and do substantial amounts of basic math and arithmatic ahead of what his peers in school seem to have learned anyway.

So what do children learn between 5 - 7? What do we have to put on the curriculum for him? At 7 I can see a need for school but between 5 and 7 - what do they do?


jabed Sun 10-Jul-11 10:51:11

PS should we just get a private tutor in part time? Is there such a thing?

themildmanneredjanitor Sun 10-Jul-11 10:55:07

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

jabed Sun 10-Jul-11 11:06:00

They learn how to bully and be bullied ( get along with peers)

They learn how to throw tantrums to get their own way because other kids do that to get their way ( how to share)

They learn how to get pushed around by others especially when the majority of the class are mearly a year older than they are ( how to take turns)

They learn how to be mouthy and arrogant and ill mannered ( how tio speak up in front of a group)

The only thing I can agree with is that DS will learn how school works . But I think he has already figured that from the time he spent there before I took him out.


I am not seeing this through my own eyes. I seeing this through the experience we had in his school up to Easter. Never again - at least not until I can find a school.

Is there a curriculum for the kind of geography history and RE that is required?

Much of the reason this has struck home recently is that I am currently teaching a home educated girl in one of my A level classes ( she is on a scholarship) and she is head and shoulders above any of the others ( and they all have the benefit of private school education ) and just light years ahead of any state school children I have met.

themildmanneredjanitor Sun 10-Jul-11 11:12:38

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

themildmanneredjanitor Sun 10-Jul-11 11:13:39

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

jabed Sun 10-Jul-11 11:17:02

Yes I thought you would take exception to my comments. But no more than I took exception to yours.

I came to the home ed forum for advice about those things I asked
a) what children learn between 5 - 7 at school. What the curriculum required is.

You told me how much you thought I should be sending my DS to school - not how to educate him at home.

No further offence intended.

PirateDinosaur Sun 10-Jul-11 11:38:59

If you want to know what the formal national curriculum in a state school is then you can find that out from the Department for Education website. If you are going to home educate you don't, as I'm sure you know, need to to that curriculum, or indeed any formal curriculum.

If you want to know what you asked -- what 5-7 year olds should learn in school -- then there are lots of posters here with experience. But after the way you treated tmmj who tried to help you, (and far from telling you how much she thought that you should be sending your DS to school said specifically that "the right school" or home education can both be very positive experiences and it depended on the child) it's unlikely that you'll get any of the benefit of much of that experience.

If you feel that your experience with your son's bad school has taught you everything that there is to know about all schools, then why ask? You don't believe what you are told, and more or less told tmmj that she was lying.

And if you actually just want to know how to arrive at a home education curriculum/approach for a 5-7 year old, without reference to schools, then why ask about what 5-7 year olds learn in school and then get abusive when someone answers the question?

jabed Sun 10-Jul-11 11:50:27

Thank you for the information. It seems that because I was very angry and offended by someone telling me that I should send my DS to school I am to be not helped here. Thats OK . I understand.

Some people are lucky enough to live in areas with schools where there is a choice or they have good schools. I have neither. I have established that .

So I would like to home school or maybe get a tutor in until my DS is 7 in years not mental / academic/ language/ intelligence and abilities. Thats all.

I can see many problems for him. He is articulate and seemingly very bringht and can do maths and English already to KS2 standards . That was never intended it was just how we have been playing it since he was small. I do fear for him in school. Whilst he seems very mature and you can easily think ou are taking to a 7 or 8 year old , he is still a very small boy of less than 5. That is why I would like to protect him for a while

As I said I do not agree with or like the idea of testing , testing testing that goes with schools. I would like him to be pressure free for a while. I would like him to grow at his own pace.

Thank you.

NotJustKangaskhan Sun 10-Jul-11 12:02:39

No curriculum is required, but I'm happy to give recommendations if you want. You don't have to follow the National Curriculum as a home educating parent, you just need to be able to show that you are providing a full-time education that meets the child's age, ability, aptitude and takes into account of any special educational needs. This is very broad - full-time varies by LA but is typically 21 hands-on hours per weeks plus non-hands on stuff like outside groups/nature time outside, no need for keeping a time chart, just show you're doing enough to fill that time.

In that age group, the Elective Home Education officers like to see a structured programme for literacy and maths, but outside of that they are happy if other topics are touched upon in far less formal matters (For example, my history/geography programme for Y1 with my eldest was focused on family - so family history to show his connection to history and a family map to show where all his far flung relatives are. This alongside reading aloud history or history inspired books was considered very good). Feel free to go outside the normal topics and design your own 'family curriculum'. I can give you more details on mine if you like, and there plenty of examples of them in a good google search.

monkoray Sun 10-Jul-11 12:59:26

Jabed, have you joined Education Otherwise
They have forums that can help, they also have fact sheet on getting started with home education, and you might find a local group of home ed parents. My Dh and I are currently researching it for our DS so i am in a similar situation to you, wondering what they need to learn at the beginning.

julienoshoes Sun 10-Jul-11 13:45:43

It doesn't matter a fig what "the Elective Home Education officers like to see"

The choice of how to provide a home based education is entirely the parents. It depends on what suits the child. Some families choose to have a structured style of education, some are happier with an informal, child interest, often known as autonomous approach.

Accordintg to the Government Guidlines on Home Ed for LAs

the parent is not required to provide any particular type of education and is under no obligation to:
have premises equipped to any particular standard
have any specific qualifications
cover the same syllabus as any school
adopt the National Curriculum
make detailed plans in advance
observe school hours, days or terms
have a fixed time-table
give formal lessons
reproduce school type peer group socialisation
match school, age-specific standards
produce examples of ‘work’ for inspection
seek permission to educate 'otherwise'
take the initiative in informing the authority
have regular contact with the authority
meet with the authority

The choice of how to provide the information about the home based education, should the LA decide to make enquiries, is also entirely the parents.
Some families choose to have home visits and some families, like mine, choose never to allow the LA anywhere near their children, if the children or the parents don't wish it.
Instead we sent in an Educational Philosophy and a brief written report, which the LA were happy with.

OP I'd suggest you have a look at some of the threads we have on here for newbies to HE, such as the Books on HE/Websites on HE and How to find local home educators.

I like MuddlePuddle a website for early years HE. There should be a link there to the Early Years HE email support list.

I especially like Joyfully Rejoycing for an explanation of how Autonomous Home Based Education ('Unschooling' in ther USA) works.

and there is a book One to One a Practical Guide to Learning at Home Aged 0-11 which would be one way of answering your original question.

SDeuchars Sun 10-Jul-11 14:14:06

Thanks, Julie - you just saved me typing a long post starting in the same manner!

OP, you are in a slightly different position from me because your 5yo has been to school. Mine (now 17 and 19) never started at school. However, you may find our experience useful. We did not bother with a curriculum. We did activities and followed our own interests. IMHO, as long as at least one of you is available to be with your DS and facilitate his learning, you do not need a tutor. We did lots of reading (me to them or them to themselves - it is not necessary for a child to "prove" that they can read by reading aloud, unless they want to), lots of craft work, cookery, music, games of all sorts, drama and sports. We covered some history, MFL, geography, ICT, etc. but not as "subjects" - all of these things came up naturally in our daily life and so we did them in a mixture as we needed them.

All the other things mentioned by themildmanneredjanitor are also picked up by small children who are around adults and other children behaving in a civilised fashion. Board games and normal conversation, for example, teach turn taking; family meals and playing with siblings or cousins teach sharing and getting along with people. As a home-educated 5-7yo, he may or may not learn how to speak in front of a group - it depends on what other things you do (church, Beavers, drama, etc. may give that opportunity) but he will retain his confidence so is unlikely to find speaking to a group harder at an older age that if he were in school. The only thing you can be sure he won't learn is how school works. Personally, I don't see that as an issue. If you decide to put him into school at a later age, he can learn that then, when he needs it. If not, then he won't need it.

Where in the country are you? I'd recommend going along to a local home ed group to meet parents doing it. Also, there'll be about 1500 home educators near Bury St Edmunds in two weeks, at HESFes ( - perhaps you could join us (day tickets also available) and see what we are about?

NotJustKangaskhan Sun 10-Jul-11 15:12:13

Yes, many parents choose not to have any direct dealings with Elective Home Education officers. In answering what is required, I thought it best to specify who is requiring it and what they typically think. It will be the Elective Home Educator who assesses the educational philosophies, yearly reports, and/or visits (or whatever the agreed form of evidence is). Most like to see structure, a thought out curriculum with subjects, and their guidelines and advice will based on those and their knowledge of the surrounding area (ours likes to suggest places for educational visits). It's just the mindset of the LA. However, by law, they thankfully have to keep biases to themselves and be happy as long as there is evidence of any type of education so feel free to explore the wide variety of home education styles there are out there and mix and match as youf eel best for your family. You also don't have to join any home education organization or groups - some people find them very useful, others find them grating (much like Elective Home Education Officers wink).

If you want him to enter school at 7, look at what the school he will be entering will expect of him at that level. If you feel he is already at that level, then look into ways to maintain his current level, look into exploring his other areas of interest and see if their are non-academic areas he may need to work on or he feels he wants to improve (such as emotional skills, social skills, mental skills like memory and focus).

julienoshoes Sun 10-Jul-11 15:19:43

Yay come to HesFes and talk to us!
LOTS of learning there for a child of that age group!

Sorry if I sounded grumpy, it's just that we have finally seen off an unscrupulous LA who have been harrassing and bullying a family for more than three years, making all sorts of demands about what proof of education and progress the family should provide..........all of which were completely Ultra Vires....beyond the law.
The LA in question finally dropped the case last week.

SDeuchars Sun 10-Jul-11 15:42:24

Sorry, NotJustKangaskhan, I don't want to be argumentative but ...
I thought it best to specify who is requiring it and what they typically think. It will be the Elective Home [Education Officer] who assesses

The thing is that no-one is charged with carrying out such an assessment. It is always the parent's duty to ensure a child receives an education (Education Act 1996, s7). Unless there is reason to think that the parent is failing in that duty (Education Act 1996, s437), the LA need do nothing.

they thankfully have to keep biases to themselves and be happy as long as there is evidence of any type of education

They also need no evidence - s437 is worded negatively (if it appears that no education is being provided).

You also don't have to join any home education organization or groups

I agree. Most local groups do not require you to be in an organization in order to go along and chat to other EHE parents,

If you feel he is already at that level, then look into ways to maintain his current level

I'd be very worried if a 7yo had merely "maintained the level" (whatever that means) that he was at at 5yo. In EHE, those terms are rather meaningless as there is no agreed level or set of knowledge that a 7yo should have. I agree, however, that someone intending putting a child into school at 7 should probably find out what the school will expect and try to tick off those expectations in the six months or so before starting at the school.

non-academic areas he may need to work on or he feels he wants to improve (such as emotional skills, social skills, mental skills like memory and focus).

I'm boggling somewhat at the idea of a 5yo who specifically wants to improve those things. I also think it would be very difficult for a 5-7yo not to improve in those areas. If I were the OP, I'd want to spend the next 18 months educating my child to his ability and aptitude rather than thinking about what a school would want. Given what the OP says, I'd be quite surprised if school would be a much better fit in two years - they may well decide to continue in EHE.

jabed Sun 10-Jul-11 16:33:45

Thank you for the information. I will continue to look into the related issues. I am especially grateful for that information on what is NOT required julienoshoes.

One reason ( the only really) DS was in school at all this year was that the LA misled us ( DW and self) on the legal requirements. We were given the impression he had to start sdchool last September ( when he was barely 4).
It was not a good move. I removed him Easter and was going to send him to a prep. Had we not put him in school last September I may not feel as I do now.

DW and I were not up to our metel on this. We are both qualified teachers. I am a practising teacher which makes this far worse. I work in senior school. Its been 30 years since I had to go into a primary school ( and then not infants and on for a short time). DW is the same but she is at home and is well placed to educate DS the way we would like to see him educated. Maybe that is the key?

He is young and always will be. He is less than a week older than the oldest child in the class year group below him. Thats a real concern for me and DW

Things have changed in school in 30 years - and not for the better. I know this may sound strange but in some ( many) ways I would like to see my DS have a schooling like that my DW and I got as small children . It was without pressure. It was largely happy . There was little worry about difficult pupils and discipline. There was no testing and pressure.

I dont want my DS pinned with a " gifted" label! I dont want him hot housed! Neither do I want him held back because of discipline issues and other problems in school. I want him to have a normal childhoodas far as possible.

I am not unhappy with the prep we have partly settled on but it does seem that school days are long and much of it is about babysitting for those who need it ( homes where parents work) and this is billed as extra curricular acrivities and clubs and all sorts of things. The same is true in state schools though.

All I want for DS is for him to be a five year old little boy growing up at his own pace both intellectually ( where he is well ahead) and emotionally
(where he is not so mature). I dont want him pushed into "socialising". I dont want him learning behaviours he can do without because he copies what he sees - which all kids do.
I want him to be a stable mature adult one day. That seems to be getting ignored in the push for milestones, targets and such like in school. Sorry to go on so.

The one thing that daunts me is dealing with the LEA. Hence sending DS to a school was a attractive option.
But really a couple of years at home being happy and learning at his own pace is what I would like ideally.
We live in a rural village and so whereever he goes it has to be away and it will be a long day. I havent brought my DS into the world for others to have more time with him that I do. I am very aware of the old Jesuit saying - give me a child until he is 7 and I will show you the man. Well I want him until he is 7 and that will be the man.

jabed Sun 10-Jul-11 16:35:19

If I were the OP, I'd want to spend the next 18 months educating my child to his ability and aptitude rather than thinking about what a school would want.

That about sums it up .

NotJustKangaskhan Sun 10-Jul-11 16:36:37

julie In many areas, one seems to have to be well versed in the law to dare to home educate! Thankfully, I'm an area with an EHEO who thinks everything is maaaarvellous (was quite preparing for a fight after an anti-HE GP sent our details on) and sticks to the letter of the law. It's very sad that so many don't, I would suggest they need more guidelines but they seem ignore what they've gotten already! I'm in the odd situation where my LA is great, but my local HE group is horrid (very cliquish and bullying being ignored) and all the great HE events are always too far away for us to travel.

SD The OP asked what was required and that she wanted her son to return to school at 7. She may change her mind, but I'd rather give advice on what she says which would involve looking at the school and their levels.

Most people do give in some form of evidence, typically an Educational Philosophy report. If evidence is given, the EHEO carries out the assessment. They like to request evidence as it makes it easier for them to tick off their list and finding evidence of lack is far harder than reading an emailed report (and children not being in education happens a lot more often than a lot of people think, particularly at the secondary level).

I disagree that all children automatically progress in those non-academic areas, even with the right surrounding (hence why we have teenagers and adults who throw tantrums like children and find social interactions really difficult). My six year old has made it clear that he wants to improve in these areas. For example, he is well aware that he has a temper. He specifically states that he hates when he gets angry and out of control. So, I arranged materials first to understand emotions, why certain things make him mad and why the same event will have the people involved feeling differently. Now we are going through a book that is specifically aimed at children who need help coping skills for dealing with anger. Also, some of those areas will be well noticed by the parents, but not the child - my six year old needs help with his attention and focus and helping him to improve these now will make academics later easier and there are many games and activities to help with this. I personally don't see the point in shovelling academics at an early age where there is so much more to a person that is easier to guide earlier rather than later.

SDeuchars Sun 10-Jul-11 17:15:08

^ finding evidence of lack is far harder than reading an emailed report^

Personally, I think that the people who drafted the 1996 Act (following the 1940 Act) intended that it should be hard. Children do not die from "lack of education" and there are no agreed and easily identifiable criteria for what an education is.

children not being in education happens a lot more often than a lot of people think

??? I genuinely do not know what this means. I also do not know how an EHEO "assessing" educational philosophies can address this issue.

I disagree that all children automatically progress in those non-academic areas, even with the right surrounding (hence why we have teenagers and adults who throw tantrums like children and find social interactions really difficult).

I guess I'd be inclined to think that (all other things being equal) they had not been in the right surroundings.

I totally agree with not getting worked up about academics at an early age. My DD needed much more input on social interaction and, like the OP, my main aim in EHE was to ensure that she became a stable mature adult.

NotJustKangaskhan Sun 10-Jul-11 18:24:17

In most LA's, the EHEOs are also responsible for checking on 'missing' children (those known to authorities but are no longer on anyone's 'book' so to speak - typically those once in school but no longer) to see if they are in education elsewhere. There is currently a rise in children not in education -- some schools have been caught actively telling parents to just keep the kids home, claiming to the LAs the parents are now home educating (some may, but not most in those found), rather than push through truancy issues in order to improve schools ratings, others children have been pulled at secondary level, believed to have moved, then later being found out that they've been sent to work prior to legal age (most heartbreaking one recently was children making clothes in a relatives garage), and obviously the rarer worse cases. The EHEOs prefer evidence, any evidence, to be sent in so that they can tick off a family so they can spend energy and effort on those that need help because while lack of education may not kill them, it can be very damaging. That's is what they are meant to do anyway, as we both know many LAs spend far too much energy on harassing HEing families and too little caring for missing children or preventing school children from going missing.

I guess I'd be inclined to think that (all other things being equal) they had not been in the right surroundings.

I agree with that many like that were not in right surroundings, I also think it is very difficult for all other things to be equal. Children come with their own personalities and their own reactions to their environments. I believe most would benefit from more active input on these skills rather than the current advice of just waiting for them to grow out it or that just being in a group of others will teach XYZ. Early input on these skills makes them easier to use in later life and give a better chance at stable maturity. This has been shown for children with a range of different conditions, as well as children with what are considered 'normal to grow out of' tendencies like unmanaged anger, negativity, anxiety, and so on. Those taught the skills at a young age are shown to better able to handle things well than those taught in teens (when they are typically managed due to crisis) or not at all.

Saracen Mon 11-Jul-11 00:52:52

"The one thing that daunts me is dealing with the LEA."

You sound very clear and determined that home education is the right way forward for your son right now, and confident that you and your dw can make a good job of it. It also appears that you are not easily intimidated. You know that you can come here or join home ed email lists to get details about the law and suggestions on how to deal with the local authority.

That being the case, you have little to fear from the LA. The law is on your side.

I think you said you're in England, is that right? If so, you could have a read of the government's statutory guidance to LAs, if you want to be reassured:

I suggest that if and when the LA makes contact, you ask them to keep everything in writing. Then you can easily come here or to another home ed email list if you have any questions about what the LA is asking of you and whether you have to comply. If they need to be "reminded" of the law, people will be glad to help you draft an assertive letter which should get them off your case.

This is only a guess based on your posts, but it seems to me that you are one of those people they won't pick on, not for long anyway! Some LAs do pick on some home educators fairly outrageously. They tend to go after those who, unlike you, aren't connected with the rest of the home ed community and don't match their stereotype of a capable home educating parent. I say this by way of reassurance so you can relax.

However, I don't mean to encourage an "I'm all right, Jack" mentality. Though you personally may not get much grief from your LA, at some point in the future perhaps you may be willing and able to support other families in your area who are getting misled or pushed around. This could start with drawing attention to any inaccuracies or prejudices in the information the LA sends you. It's the LA which should be daunted at the prospect of dealing with you grin

SDeuchars Mon 11-Jul-11 08:05:35

Well said, Saracen! [applause emoticon]

It's a bit early for wine so have a brew.

Saracen Mon 11-Jul-11 08:50:38

Aw thanks SDeuchars blush

I'm of two minds whether I'm being too pushy, trying to recruit jabed to take on the LA before he has even started home education.

But he is obviously a man who has strong opinions and will take no nonsense. Can't afford to let such a gem slope off and home educate in peace!

julienoshoes Mon 11-Jul-11 12:05:44

Sorry NotJustKangaskhan but I feel I have got to come back to this:

most like to see structure, a thought out curriculum with subjects, and their guidelines and advice will based on those

and say doesn't matter a fig what the bloody LAs want!
It is only ever the parents' responsibility to decide, ........... and fine if a family chooses structure, but nobody should ever feel that they have to make their home education fit what some close minded LA bod thinks.

I meet and hear from so mant families who are made afraid by the LA coming to visit, feeling that they have to make their children do things the parenst have been told the LA want to see.angry

If a EHE 'advisor' can't see there are very many ways to home educate, including a child interest led, often with no structure whatsoever, then they shouldn't be in the bloody job!

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