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home ed concern

(31 Posts)
impossibletofindaNN Wed 19-Mar-14 08:34:36

I am concerned about a friend home educating her children. I think home education is better than school if it is done. My df does not seem to be doing anything of the sort. The children are infant school age and cannot read, write or do basic maths to any extent. The reason for this is because 'that is what school does', she doesn't want to teach them anything as then it would be like school. She has said that is she just leaves them to it eventually they will just know how to do all that stuff. The children have no interest in anything other than watching the tv and she is more than happy to let them do that. I was wondering if anyone could suggest what to do in this situation, or if I should just leave her to it.

I8haggis4T Wed 19-Mar-14 12:23:46

It doesn't sound good, but time is on their side at the moment. I knew a lady down the road from me who had an unanounced visit from the local education officer a few years after moving into the area. She had home educated her four children (until they asked to go to a local secondary) very thoroughly and had kept a very good record of everything she had done with them and so could prove without a shadow of a doubt that she was meeting their educational needs. It was unclear why she got this visit (small town snooping comes to mind!), but she handled it very well and thought positively about the situation and the care the authority had taken to safeguard her children's educational needs - even although it had taken them years to twig that they were not in the state system. Maybe by making a passing comment to your df about this case may just plant the seed that she needs to be doing things differently. Otherwise, later on you may face the awful dilema of feeling obliged to do something more official for the sake of the children, although then risk losing a friend. Best of luck.

throckenholt Wed 19-Mar-14 12:34:31

This is what is known as "autonomous education" - ie they will find what they need and want to know when it is appropriate. It is very much an act of faith and not something you can really assess until the person is grown up (when it is maybe too late). As the adult in that situation you ought to be enabling them to explore - not sure watching tv all the time (particularly if it is kids programs) does that.

Not my approach personally.

How old are the children - the urge to want to read and write etc often doesn't come naturally until later primary age if left to their own devices. Doesn't mean they are learning lots of other stuff in other ways.

Maybe have an open minded chat about it with your friend - say you have read a little bit about autonomous education (which you think is her approach) and ask her how it actually works. Might stimulate her to be a bit more proactive in opening their eyes to the world around them.

Middleagedmotheroftwo Wed 19-Mar-14 12:37:30

Depending on how old the children are, it may be OK still. Children in many other countries don't starts school until they are 6 or 7.

However, IMO, I'd keep out if it unless you want to dob her in. You're either going to lose the battle, or your friendship (and probably both).

morethanpotatoprints Wed 19-Mar-14 12:45:47

Hello OP.

Yes it sounds like your friend id following an autonomous approach.
This is fine by the sounds of it and the children will soon start finding subjects they are interested in.
One day they will learn to read and write, when it becomes important to them, until then they will learn from play.
To put your mind at rest, she is doing nothing wrong at all in terms of the law.

morethanpotatoprints Wed 19-Mar-14 12:50:43


Just for the record, you are under no obligation to meet with any official due to H.ed
The LA can ask for details but you are under no obligation to have any contact at all. They have no jurisdiction to turn up at your home, and you are within your rights to send them packing.
This lady was very accommodating to them, under these circumstances.

I8haggis4T Wed 19-Mar-14 12:57:11

Ah, I didn't know that. Although it may be a difference in Scots and English law, I don't know. But then again she probably did the right thing then in terms of not raising any unwanted attention.

I8haggis4T Wed 19-Mar-14 12:59:46

btw she did a wonderful job with her home education, a really lovely lady, and her children had no issues when they made the decision to join the state system.

morethanpotatoprints Wed 19-Mar-14 13:13:26


I'm so daft sometimes. grin A name like haggis and I missed the Scots connection. grin

You are totally right, the law is different in Scotland, I'm not sure in what respect, but have heard of this.

I'll get my coat. smile

I8haggis4T Wed 19-Mar-14 13:35:25


No worries;)

impossibletofindaNN Wed 19-Mar-14 15:20:23

Thank you everyone for the helpful replies. I guess I will just have to share her faith that one day they will just 'get it'
I have a lot of faith in home ed which is why I didn't want to dob her in. Equally I didn't want to lose a friend but saying she should do more

morethanpotatoprints its the lack of play makes me confused about the situation. They will more than happily sit in front of the tv all day and df is happy to facilitate that.

I8haggis4T Wed 19-Mar-14 15:48:53

I am not advocating (or otherwise) children watching TV, but I remember putting my DD infront of the telly for 20 mins to get her lunch ready before nursery (as I was frightened in case I spilt my hot scottish broth all over her as she was very quick to get under my feet). I knew she was watching a children's programme but did not really pay attention to it. It was a few weeks later that the nursery staff asked who was deaf in my family as DD was teaching the other children sign language. When I got home with her I asked where she had learned it and she said from the telly. I never did pluck up the courage to admit that to the nursery. grin

throckenholt Wed 19-Mar-14 16:42:13

I think preschool kids can learn a lot from tv aimed at their age group - I am not so sure that is the case for pre-teen and teenage.

If you want to help your friend - then show a genuine interest in what they do and how they are learning - and in talking to you about it she may realise there are some gaps in their approach or different things she could try.

HE will evolve over time for any family - so what they do now will not necessarily be what they do next year or in 5 years time.

ommmward Wed 19-Mar-14 18:23:50

I have known children who looked like they were just watching kids TV, for months, even years at a time. Doing other stuff too, but a LOT of TV.

And then the TV shows they knew so well became the foundation for the most astonishing imaginative stuff - making up complex song lyrics, making animations, drawing pictures, writing stories.

Key things (IMO) are:
- have closed captions on, so the child can pick up reading at the same time
- make sure the child has access to the internet so they can play games related to those shows
- read books related to those shows to the children, even Dora the Explorer <weeps>
- have toys related to the shows, because they can become the basis for imaginative play
- provide the magazines related to the shows, for the children to use as they want.

These are the sorts of things you might be able to suggest in a friendly and non-threatening way to the friend "I heard of a woman who always put closed captions on, to help her children learn to read"; "here's a Tellytubbies book I picked up for you in Age Concern - I should think your daughter might like it since she loves tellytubbies".

And one more thing - google Caitlin Moran. This was pretty much how she and her siblings spent their childhoods, and look how they turned out (one of her sisters wrote "raised by wolves" with her; I think a brother is maybe a screenwriter too?)

impossibletofindaNN Wed 19-Mar-14 18:32:49

The closed captions sounds like a brilliant idea.

bebanjo Wed 19-Mar-14 18:35:30

I was reported to the lea when DD was 5 and I told them I had no intention of teaching DD to read ect.
We have had 2 visits and have had great reports from lea.
As a PP said, many country's do not start reading tell children are 7, so why would anyone think that was bad?
DD started reading in Jan, after she turned 7.

morethanpotatoprints Wed 19-Mar-14 22:19:51

My dd learned to read and write from an early age and went to school.
She started to enjoy both when she was about 9, because they meant something to her, she saw the importance and knew why she was doing them both. Between the ages of 4 and 8 both were begrudgingly done so she believes as some sort of punishment.
Why put them through this?

ThreeTomatoes Fri 21-Mar-14 08:07:46

I can't believe you were on the verge of thinking of reporting your friend?! shock How do you even know what her kids are doing all day anyway? Sounds like prejudice to me.

See here for more information about unschooling - googling will bring up lots of other websites too.

Re reading - dd has always been a talented reader who learnt to read without really being taught, her teachers told me. School have done their damndest to put her off reading in the past couple of years (years 5 & 6) - having to fill in a reading record with detailed comments about what she's reading about, comprehension exercises if she doesn't , etc , she said herself over school hols that she kept wanting to read and would then groan and think 'but I'd need to write in my reading record...' Luckily she's so keen on reading that she grit her teeth and bore it, but she can't wait to be free to read whenever she wants, just for fun, when we start HEing in September.

Jaynebxl Fri 21-Mar-14 08:13:06

It's a myth that children in other countries don't start school til 6 or 7. They may not start the more formal primary school til then but the huge majority will be in a maternelle / kindergarten setting which is very focussed on learning. They wouldn't be sitting around at home watching tv hoping that education will just happen.

impossibletofindaNN Fri 21-Mar-14 09:41:58

I was not on the verge or reporting my friend. I didn't and still don't want to report her as that would not help the situation. I posted so I could get some advice on what, if anything I should do in this situation. Thankfully left with some helpful advice. Just because I'll not be reporting her, doesn't mean somebody else won't. Which is why I wanted tips on what I could do to help.
I see them at least three times a week, which is enough time to notice what they do. My friend freely admits that she won't do anything school like, or let them do anything school like.

impossibletofindaNN Fri 21-Mar-14 09:42:13

verge of*

Saracen Fri 21-Mar-14 09:49:27

Education does "just happen" though, Jayne.

Once you have met enough older children who were home educated autonomously, you begin to relax about this and see that learning happens all the time, in many ways. I don't just mean that they learn through watching TV (though they do) but that there are ample opportunities to learn in other ways throughout the day. These kids won't literally be glued to the TV 24/7. They may watch a good deal more telly than you'd prefer, but of course they have far more time to spare than they would at school because the learning they are doing is so much more efficient.

They'll be going out places (presumably their mum must take them with her when she goes to the bank and the supermarket). They'll chat about all sorts of things while eating lunch and washing up. When their siblings are watching a programme they don't like, they'll wander off and find something else to do. I expect there are toys and books in the house. The OP knows the family reasonably well, or thinks she does, so the kids are being exposed to her and to other adults.

The scenario you may be imagining, with telly-addicted zombies reaching adulthood having done nothing useful throughout their childhood, is really quite far-fetched.

ThreeTomatoes Fri 21-Mar-14 10:03:11

Thanks for clarifying, I'm glad I got the wrong end of the stick. I think it was the fact that you felt the need to state "which is why I didn't want to dob her in" - something that wouldn't even occur to me to state!

Seeing them a few times a week does not mean you know what they do. For example, the kids are probably more likely to be watching telly while you're there so that your friend can socialise with you, than at other times. FWIW if I was HEing my kids and "all" they did was watch telly I too would be a tad concerned and would be planning things to do that might spark their interest, but given that you're not the concerned mother, I'm giving the family the benefit of the doubt here!

Do read up about unschooling - you might be picking up the wrong idea about what your friend means when she says she doesn't intend to do anything 'school-like'.

Here's a few links that I've personally found inspiring:

Whose goal is it anyway? From the Life Learning magazine, which has a few brilliant articles all of which I'd want to link to! But i think this one is most appropriate to this thread.

Alternatives to school - lots of stuff to read there.

How to build a successful life without a Four Year Degree from the Huffington Post.

And last but not least, Quotes from John Holt smile

impossibletofindaNN Fri 21-Mar-14 10:12:52

Sorry for the misunderstanding I put that because another poster mentioned about reporting her. I've met loads of home ed children and adults as well as my dp who was home schooled. I've just never seen or heard of this ' education just happening' approach to it. Thank you for the links.

Jaynebxl Fri 21-Mar-14 21:51:45

I wasn't saying it doesn't Saracen, just that it doesn't if they're just plonked in front of the tv. And my main point was to dispell the myth of children not going to school til later in other countries.

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