Every home educator faces questions not just from friends and family but from the general public too. Unless you spend all day, every day at home when you are out and about with your child someone will say ‘No School today?’ Following the answer to that usually more questions will follow. The three most common questions we have come across in our journey so far are:
What about socialisation?
Do you work through the School holidays?
How will they take their exams?
There have been many other questions (do the children wear a uniform? – yes really!!!) but these have definately cropped up the most. So here is my take on those questions.
I am going to sumise that behind the socialisation question is a perception (fear?) that home educating means that the child/children are sat at the kitchen table from 9-3.30pm doing work and don’t get to see anyone other than immediate family for five days of the week. In most home educating families – certainly ours anyway this is a long way from the reality. We are out each week at ‘home ed’ groups (currently Drama and Gymnastics) mixing with all ages of children and parents/carers alike, usually once a month we have a trip out with our local group to a museum or place of interest. There are often impromptu park/beach trips when the weather is great with local home ed friends. We could be out every day but budget and sanity dictates that at times we do stay home. With that misconception (that home educated children don’t see other people!!) cleared up we can move onto developing social skills, respect and general good manners. Personally I feel more at ease knowing that my children can develop their social graces under my watchful eye and from people I trust to model great examples. Any issues that do crop up at groups are quickly settled since there is such a high adult ratio.
As far as the School holidays go we have a different routine in place. My biggies have friends in our village who do attend School so they love to spend time and socialise with them when they are available. I don’t record what we have done or make formal observations during the holidays but I am firmly of the belief that as much learning occurs during the ‘school holidays’ as it does during ‘term time.’ We still do many of the activities during the holidays as we would during term time such as read books, do art work, play games, visit interesting places.
Finally the exam question. I honestly don’t believe exams are a necessity and it seems there are many different routes into different careers these days. There are lots of examples of home educated children who have gone off to University by taking Access courses and often a good portfolio will do the job of missing exam results. For my own children my advice is to ‘follow your heart and your interests and that anything is possible.’ My eldest daughter has come up with a plan for herself which I shall share with you in due course.