Home Ed Q&A with Nancy

Thank you for taking part, it was lovely to hear how you unschool the boys! x

When and why did you decide to Home Educate?

We decided to home educate 4.5 years ago when my eldest son was half way through year 3 (so about 8), then six months later my middle son joined at the end of year 1.  My eldest son was struggling with school, he was beginning to lose his confidence and self esteem.  He’d come home very angry and upset, it was a very emotional and upsetting time for all of us.  We’ve had to do a lot of healing since then.  The school model of learning just didn’t work for him, he wasn’t ready for formal learning when it started in year one and from that point on he found it hard.  He has learning differences that the school system just can’t cater for effectively.  Despite being bright, articulate and interested in the world he just wasn't thriving in school.
What kind of approach do you take?
As soon as the boys came out of school we started to follow the principles of unschooling, I read a lot of John Holt and Sandra Dodd and various other books, YouTube videos, websites and blogs – I did lots of reading and research.  In fact as soon as a friend told me about unschooling I knew it was for us, it sounded perfect for our family, I just had to wrap my head around it and deschool myself.
In the last few years we’ve become more and more radical in our approach and the unschooling principles have extended into all areas of our lives.  Unschooling isn’t just a form of education it’s our lifestyle and we’ve evolved as a family.  We really live Together and feel like a very strong unit where everyone has a voice and is respected equally.

Where do the children do most of their work? and do they distract each other?
Ha, well…. They live, they don’t do ‘work’ in a sense of school work.  They may do projects from time to time when something really inspires them.  My middle son recently decided he wanted to design and print a T shirt with some glow in the dark ink, he discovered the ink while we were walking the dog and chatting about thermochromism.  We sat down at a café and started googling, found a company that supplied all kinds of amazing ink products and then he decided he wanted to print his own T shirt.  Good old YouTube gave me a great tutorial on making a homemade screen printed t shirt so off we went.  ‘Work’ consists of them following their interests and becoming inspired, it involves conversations, research, visiting places of interest, having fun and doing what they love. Our goal is for them to find their own passions in life and follow their own path.
What is your favourite thing about Home Education?

Gosh there are so many!  One is the interaction with children of all ages as well as parents.  It feels much more natural and great preparation for life.  My kids will very happily sit with other parents discussing their interests and having lively conversations.  The younger kids benefit from having older ones to aspire to and learn from and the older kids benefit from helping the younger ones out and learn to be caring.  Being in a classroom with 30 other children of the same age and 1 adult whom you don’t really get the time to talk to doesn't give the same opportunities for learning to communicate and socialise.  I've yet to experience any bullying in the home ed community.
What subjects do you teach and do you stick to a timetable? 
I don’t teach any subjects, my children learn all kinds of things themselves without me interfering.  I answer questions, provide resources, play games with them, take them out to places, read things out to them if they ask me to (well my 10 and 12 year olds can read but my 5 year old still needs help), explain things, debate things and introduce them to new things that they may or may not find interesting.

What do you find most difficult and why?

Finding enough time in each day.  There's always something I don’t get round to doing, or someone I don’t find enough time to be with.  Dividing my time up between my children, my husband, the house and the dog is permanent juggling act.
How do you react to people asking about socialisation, do your children easily socialise and work well with others?

Oh that old chestnut!  I usually try and hide the eye rolls 😉  The hardest part about socialising where we live is finding enough time to just be at home without rushing about to one thing or the next.  My kids are very sociable when they want to be, they are also very good at entertaining themselves and being either in their own company or with us as a family.  No worries on that front.
Have family supported your decision?

Yes at first, then there were some raised eyebrows and concern over our approach.  I’ve had no trouble dealing with it though, they’re our children and no one else has any say in how we bring them up.  We don’t have close family nearby which is either fortunate or unfortunate depending on how you look at it!
How do you incorporate Physical Education into your Home Ed days?

We’re very active and always have been.  We go swimming with them regularly, there’s a weekly home ed football kickabout they attend, fortnightly trampolining, my husband runs a home ed basketball session, home ed ice skating sessions, my eldest does a lot of skateboarding.  There’s loads on offer.
Do you plan and how  far in advance?

Only day trips, play dates and occasional group sessions they want to attend. Usually a month ahead with a few things spilling over in to the next month.
What's a typical Home Ed day like?

There isn’t really a typical home ed day in our house.

Do you spend a lot of money on resources?

Hard to say really, the eldest two each have their own pc, little one has a notebook and they all have a tablet.  I currently pay for private guitar lessons, skateboarding lessons… then various trips and days out.  We’re fortunate in having enough funds to do those things, I know a lot of home ed families who manage on a very tight budget.

How do you make time for yourself?

My husband helps me make time for myself, we run our own business so he organises his time so that I can go to the gym three times a week.  He’s also great at taking over with the kids at the weekends and giving me some time to be alone.  Sometimes just a proper supermarket shop (rather than online), alone with my headphones in, feels like a treat.

What advice would you give to someone just starting their Home Ed journey?

Deschool deschool deschool…. Give yourselves time to relax and shed all the anxieties and pressure that went with school life.  Give your kids time to recover and heal if they need to.  The learning journey is forever, they will go on and on learning so don’t feel pressured in to meeting other people’s expectations.  Mental health and happiness are the best priority, not academic achievements.  Enjoy being together. xxx

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