Home Ed Q&A with Raisingtheummah

I decided to home educate my child when he was 2.5yrs old. I was currently working as a pre-school room leader for a busy nursery, trying my best to deliver high quality care and education to other people’s children. Something tugged at my heart, making me feel as though I wanted to offer all I could to MY child. I questioned myself why I spent so many hours of my day raising other people’s children, whilst letting another person raise my own so that I could work? I also wanted my son to learn his religion and be confident in his Muslim identity, how would he do this when he was spending the majority of his day in an environment which was not supporting his religion development? I then decided to leave work and raise my son at home, teaching and nurturing him myself. I enjoyed it so much and saw it working out successfully, Alhamdulilah. He is almost five years old now and will be entering the legal age for compulsory education soon, I have made the intention to continue home-education for as long as I possibly can in shaa’ Allah. 

I have so far been using guidance from my formal childcare and early years education training, alongside using the U.K Early Years Foundation Stage framework to guide our home-education journey. However, I am not overly fond of the National Curriculum and will not be sticking to it strongly when my son begins formal education at age five. I aim to take an approach based on teaching him via real life experiences eg geography will be taught mainly via trips/outings, hands-on learning, and observations of the real world; rather than a textbook. I want to plan his education around his unique interests and abilities, by observing what he naturally gravitates towards himself and then enhancing the learning opportunity with further guidance, therefore we may not be learning all of the mainstream topics they teach in mainstream school. However, I do aim to keep Literacy Maths and Science as key subjects to study.

I do often get asked about “socialisation” and I begin my answer by asking them a question back –“what is socialisation?”. Socialisation involves mixing with others within society and learning to behave in an acceptable manner which supports that society. It baffles me how people wonder if home-educated children are able to achieve this? Children who attend school, spend the majority of the day surrounded by the brick walls of a classroom. Home-ed children are outside of the four walls of that structured world and inside the real world. They spend much of the day interacting with people of different ages, ethnicities, cultures, professions. They attend different environments; such as the cafĂ©, doctor’s surgery, park, museums, soft-play centres, supermarket etc etc on more occasions than children sitting in a classroom. These real-world situations and experiences teach our children how to interact with a variety of people, in a variety of places and situations. How can people honestly wonder if a home-educated child would develop social skills? Most likely because they underestimate the amount of experiences and opportunities our children encounter and have the misconception that our children sit alone all day at home with nobody to talk to and nowhere to go. My own son attends home-ed meetups, activity groups, and I teach early-years children from within my home; which becomes a big sociable “learning via play” group.

I do a progress check every three months, to assess my son’s current skills and abilities, I then plan some next-steps I would like to support him with achieving over the next three months. Each week I will plan activities based on his current interests, with the learning objective focusing on the three-monthly next-steps. For instance, if in his progress check I have observed he can count confidently and easily in 1s, I may plan his next-step to be counting in 2s and to help him achieve this over the
next three months I will plan an activity weekly which will help him to learn this new skill. I will look at his current interests, for instance he may be enjoying toy trains, in which case I would plan an activity where he has to add two carriages to his train at a time, counting 2,4,6,8,10 as he does it.

I do not spend a lot on learning resources at all, I try to utilise my environment and be resourceful as much as possible, this is one of the things I like most about Nicola at @theworldistheirclassroom, I admire her creative resourcefulness. Just imagine how many letters, numbers and words you
encounter on a trip to the shops. Car number plates, food packets, road signs – use these to your advantage, point out the letters you see (they have now become a literacy resource). When cutting up fruit for a snack, mention “I am cutting it in half, it was one whole, now it is two halfs” (that snack has now doubled up as a maths resource). Ask your child to help you cook dinner and point out to them the condition of the food “can you pour the runny liquid water into the pan, now add the hard, solid rice” (science resource identifying solids and liquids) etc etc etc. Occasionally I will by some resources, particularly construction toys. 

My advice to somebody just starting home-ed is to be flexible and adaptable. As life changes, your schedule, routine and methods may need to change also. Do not think too far ahead in to the future, take it stage by stage and do not overwhelm yourself. Get support from the experienced home-ed community and never be shy to ask for help, the home-ed community is successful because we all
support each other.

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