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Is this typical?

(16 Posts)
NoSoggyBottoms Wed 14-Nov-12 21:46:38


I have no experience of homeschooling, but know a child who is being home schooled. However, after comments from his mother about his education, to be honest I was a little concerned. But what do I know? I'm aware that there is no one set way of doing home ed - that's the point of it to some degree. But would this be a normal/typical approach to home schooling?

Child is 9 yrs old. He doesn't have any "formal" lessons, worksheets, writing in books etc. He watches videos on Youtube and looks online at websites. He attends physical activities. His mother says that he learns things practically. He also goes to a childminder most days of the week as his mother works, where he is the only child of that age, the other children are pre-school age.

maggi Wed 14-Nov-12 22:02:07

No it's not typical as there is no such thing as typical. There are plenty of families who by all appearances, do very little 'education' as we know it. Their children then go on to college and uni with fresh minds and become great achievers.

NoSoggyBottoms Wed 14-Nov-12 22:10:44

Thanks for your reply maggi. I did struggle on how to word my thread, as I agree that there isn't a normal or typical in home ed.

I just wanted an indication on no written or recorded work being done, but a child learning via Youtube/internet would be considered a suitable home ed....okay, still not the right word, but do you get what I mean?

Or am I just misunderstanding the whole objective of homeschooling? Not to sound flippant, but more "anything goes" attitude?

maggi Wed 14-Nov-12 22:31:09

My family is more topic based. We come across an event or tv program or new toy even and it sparks a whole week or two exploring that. I worm in Maths and English in a structured way but the other subjects appear all by themselves. If I didn't structure those two subjects in, it would appear to everyone that the kids were just playing, watching tv, reading a book, surfing the net and using immense amounts of card (ending up with a heap of selotape and chopped card).

Yet when we went to a talk on WW2, which turned out to be replaced with a talk on the History of Ordanance Survey, I had to keep shushing the kids who broke into conversations about river formations, the maths of triganometry and an arguement over whether metal rulers would expand less than metal rulers with heat and moisture.

Free rein on computer games would not be my choice for the family but there are plenty of stories on here of later sucess.

NoSoggyBottoms Wed 14-Nov-12 22:52:00

Your way of home ed sounds brilliant! I would agree that Maths and English in a sense would need to be structured in....although sometimes they do naturally appear.

I think the word "structure" may have been a better choice of words for what I meant. The home schooling I described earlier does seem very unstructured, and I'm not sure how some aspects of maths and English would be covered. But there again, everyone is different...and I guess one of the reasons why some choose to home school. I'm also wondering how hard it must be to home educate when you are a single mother who works (in the case of the example I originally mentioned).

I also agree with you about having a topic based learning, and trips out to places can involve a whole range of subjects being raised for a considerable length of time.

Its great that your children are obviously so interested and motivated by what you are teaching them smile.

Thanks for sharing

Saracen Thu 15-Nov-12 00:19:18

Hi NoSoggyBottoms!

The approach you describe is not particularly unusual. It could be that the child is being "autonomously educated", meaning that he follows his own interests rather than his parent requiring him to learn specific things in specific ways. This is a recognised form of education. It's how my kids learn.

It can seem implausible that this could work, because it looks so different to school. Anecdotal evidence says that it does work for many children. They aren't likely to learn the same things at the same ages as schoolchildren - why would they? - which can lead those who care about them to feel anxious at times. But that doesn't mean they learn any less than schoolchildren. They have a huge investment in their own learning since it is what they have chosen to do, so there is no difficulty about motivating them.

Even parents who are using this method are sometimes surprised that it works, or that it works well: "But I didn't teach him that. How on earth did he learn to do that?" So it must be even harder to accept if you don't see it in action. However, you might get an inkling of how and why it works if you think back to when your children were toddlers. They probably learned to speak fluently without direct instruction, simply by being around people who talked. They may have learned how animals are born and grow up by seeing their own pets or watching TV documentaries or overhearing conversations. If toddlers can learn in this way, why not older children? Is there something qualitatively different about a nine year old, which means that he now requires explicit teaching in order to learn?

If the child is being brought up in a normal, rich environment - where people try to answer his questions, where he has access to such things as books, the internet, suitable toys, and other people - I wouldn't think that the fact he is with a childminder much of the time is cause for concern. With autonomous education, the child provides the drive to learn and he'll do that in a variety of places. It's very possible that being with the CM enriches his education: he's being exposed regularly to two families, two sets of values/habits/traditions, two sets of toys/books. My older child used to go to childminders while I worked part-time, and she often seemed to reflect on the differences between the households.

The psychologist Peter Gray has some good articles about autonomous home education. Here are a few - about maths and English, as it happens!

ommmward Thu 15-Nov-12 09:44:36

We do autonomous child led home ed, and there is a huge amount of you tubing. Sometimes it just looks like yet another sodding Tom and jerry, and then I look over and some massively convoluted story about t and j is being carefully typed into google translate and then the audio button being pushed so the child is hearing thei story. Or they are translating the story into different languages and listening. Or it's not Tom and jerry at all, it's a video of a puffin taking off, and the child is freeze framing constantly to look at the pattern of wing beats.

I've made myself relax, watch, take an interest when invited, and stop expecting obvious educational product. smile

julienoshoes Thu 15-Nov-12 11:33:06

"I just wanted an indication on no written or recorded work being done, but a child learning via Youtube/internet would be considered a suitable home ed....okay, still not the right word, but do you get what I mean?"

Yup that sounds very much like our home ed...with camps and gatherings of home ed families thrown in. NO formal work at all. NONE .....all the way to FE College or OU courses when they were ready. Just lots of things done the way the children wanted to.
All three at Uni level here....and when you consider that when they were in school they were wallowing in the bottom sets -my son was predicted to get GCSEs grade D "if he tries very very hard" because of his dyslexia...and his sisters difficulties were more complicated.

Damn efficient way of educating if you ask me and Dr Alan Thomas a developmental psychologist, author and a Visiting Fellow at the Institute of Education

julienoshoes Thu 15-Nov-12 11:41:35

oh and thank you NoSoggyBottoms for being the sort of person who comes to find out from people who actually know about home ed, before commenting further....

NoSoggyBottoms Thu 15-Nov-12 14:31:36

Thanks everyone for your are opening my eyes to the world of home ed! smile

I'm going to look at "autonomously educated".

I hope that people on here could understand my shock at some of the things I was told, considering that I have been through the state schools, and the same for my DS.

I didn't come here to have a state/organised education vs home school debate, just wanted to understand more about home ed I only know of one child who is being home schooled, there was very little else to compare it to. So on to MumsNet I came!

I'm glad that you julienoshoes appreciated this too!

Really interesting though, thanks again grin

Saracen Thu 15-Nov-12 16:31:54

I agree with Julie: it's lovely to chat with you!

I realise this autonomous ed idea is very hard to swallow. If you accept what we report about it, you have to conclude that in many cases formal instruction against the child's wishes can actually impede children's learning rather than helping, and you wonder why we would ever send children to school unless they want to go. (Autonomously educated children do sometimes learn formally. The key distinction is that the child is asking for the instruction and receives it on her own terms, so it is meaningful and useful to her. As my 13yo says, "OK Mum, thanks, I get it now" and if I keep talking at her then she repeats this a bit more shortly in a go-away-now sort of way, LOL!)

If you'd like to explore autonomous education further, you might enjoy the books of the pioneering educator John Holt, which you may find in your local library. I would particularly recommend "How Children Learn" and "How Children Fail".

chocolatecrispies Thu 15-Nov-12 21:20:13

We are autonomous educators too! Currently our HE looks like lots of playing on the iPad, swimming, drama, feeding the ducks and making cakes - no worksheets and no curriculum. How Children learn at Home by Alan Thomas is a great read if you are interested in how it works.

Piezilla Thu 15-Nov-12 21:30:34

If you want more information, you could also google "Sandra Dodd". She has a website about autonomous home ed, or unschooling as they call it in the US.

morethanpotatoprints Thu 15-Nov-12 23:15:04

Ah, OP, if you are still around thanks.

It is refreshing to hear somebody who doesn't want to argue or debate.
I am new to H.ed myself and there seems to be many of the afore mentioned and not many like you.
I wondered if H.ed is something you may consider yourself. You are certainly open to the
If you are interested and read some of the threads you will also find as many reasons why people choose this route as the approach to learning they take.

NoSoggyBottoms Fri 16-Nov-12 09:52:12

Thank you again for all your helpful replies and kind words! [flowers] wine biscuit and brew to you all grin xx (I've never used so many smileys in one post!)

Like some of you have correctly recognised, I am not hear to attack or argue...and not really to debate either, just to understand.

The original reason for posting was because I know of a child who is home schooled and I was 'concerned' about his learning. Yes, I could have done my own research about home schooling, but it's so much better to get answers from those who actually have hands-on experience with this.

My 'concern' has now somewhat gone, as I now understand that his learning is no way unusual and unique. I had never heard of an autonomous education until starting this thread, and now realise that this must be what his mother has chosen for him.

I admit that I do still have concerns as this child still has huge misconceptions which do not seem to be picked up by his mother, e.g. he believes that the world is flat, but I guess with the autonomous learning, he will find this out for himself at some point.

Like I said I've said before, excuse me for sounding rude here (it's not meant that way) but autonomous education does seem very hard to understand....but that is only as it is so different to the education which I, others around me and my son has had (or having).

I am not wanting to start a debate, but in reply to morethanpotatoprints I am not personally interested in home schooling as an option for my son. As those of you here can see the benefits of home ed, I too see the benefits of a more formal education. I'm just pleased that we live in a society in which we do have a choice in how to educate our children. What works for one, won't necessarily work for another....the word 'respect' leaps out at me here!

So thank you again. I know where to come if I have anymore questions about home schooling...and thank you for teaching me something new!


NoSoggyBottoms Fri 16-Nov-12 09:53:11

Oops, thanks was also meant to mistake!

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