Home Ed Q&A with Zoe from Free Range Kids UK

Chai Chat answers from Free Range Kids UK - thank you so much for taking part x

When and why did you decide to Home Educate?

We decided to Home Educate our son about 2 months before Easter. We weren’t happy with how things were going at school and the added pressure on the school of the new SATS at age 7 wasn’t helping the situation. We looked into our options and ended up deciding to de-register from school and Home Educate. If we had known that Home Ed was a choice earlier, we would have done it earlier; our younger son will be Home Educated from the beginning.

What kind of approach do you take?

We take a semi-structured approach. We like to be child led so we have a asset of planned things to get done, where we mainly use a Waldorf approach to learning; but we also allow time to learn what he wants too.

Where do they learn?

We learn everywhere, but at home we have a folding desk in a small learning corner next to our living room window, and because our boys share a bedroom we have a spare room we use as a play/learning room. Our dining room table gets used a lot too, especially for crafts and experiments. In the summer we take our learning out our garden on a nice day. 
We have an 8-year-old and a 1-year-old, so there are obviously times where our 1-year-old can be really distracting, but we’ve learned to plan to do things that require quiet and concentration at times our 1-year-old is napping or playing happy. As our younger child gets older I will set out age-appropriate activities for him to get involved. 

What I your favourite thing about Home Education?

Being able to provide a tailored education for your children suited to their individual needs.

What subjects do you teach and do you stick to a timetable?

Here’s a post I shared containing everything we’ve planned for this year https://www.freerangekidsuk.co.uk/single-post/2017/09/16/Our-Home-Education-plan-for-this-year
We do have a timetable but it’s flexible so we can move things around to make time to meet up with Home Ed friends or go on a day out or to a local event. We are not planning on completely stopping through school holidays either. We do most of our learning in the morning anyway so we’re just flexible so we can get involved in activities that take place in holidays and meet up with friends who go to school.

What is the hardest thing about Home Ed?

It takes a lot of time and effort to figure out the ways of learning that work for everybody in the home and you are completely taking on the responsibility for your children’s education so you need to make sure that they are getting an education and you can support them financially (not necessarily with lots of money but with budgeting), their will obviously be bad days just like in school so you have to push through them yourself without letting it nock your confidence; but it’s definitely worth it when you look over your time as a whole.

What about socialisation?

People always assume that home educated children won’t socialise, but that hasn’t been the case for us at all, our son is naturally sociable and always has been but we found school was knocking his confidence a bit, and that confidence is now back. We encourage the children to have both friends that go to school and other Home Ed friends so we make the effort to arrange meet ups with people and there are always groups and play schemes to get involved with to socialise throughout the year. Cain now has a wider age range of friends and although he doesn’t see as many children everyday as he did in school, he now sees more of a variety of children and builds stronger relationships with them. This year he’s really enjoyed having sleepovers too.

Have family been supportive?

We’ve been really lucky as all of our close family members support our decision and have done from the start, but we made the final decision between ourselves before telling anybody anyway. We have had rude remarks off some people but it’s usually from people that haven’t seen what we do at all, or have any knowledge of Home Education so it doesn’t really bother us. Our son likes it when people ask about it.

How do you incorporate physical education into your Home Ed?

We have a trampoline in our garden, go to the local park and out on bikes and scooters often and have done dance routine videos etc. on rainy days. They’re allowed to join sports groups too.

Do you plan in advance?

We briefly outline a year upfront and then make up weekly plans as we go along using it.

What's a typical day like?

Everyday can be different but we try to get anything planned done in the mornings so we have the rest of the day for fun activities.

Do you spend a lot of money on resources?

 No, as we use Waldorf inspired methods for learning, we have bought a small chalk board, chalk pens, beeswax crayons and a main lesson book, which we use for all our formal learning. Then we simply stock up on paper, pens, craft etc. and Amazon is great for cheap learning accessories such as flash cards, wooden maths sets and activity books. We don’t buy many books for our learning but we use loads from our local library and we’ve even found learning bargains second hand. We don’t really use worksheets, which saves on printing.

How do you make time for yourself?

 By having a bedtime for the children. We keep them up late if we have exciting plans but on a normal day we send them both to bed at a reasonable time. They may not have to get up to go to school the next day, but we still need time for ourselves to relax ready for the next day. We have grandparents babysit sometimes too.

What advice would you give to others thinking or about to start Home Ed?

If you’ve taken a child out of school spend plenty of time unschooling, where you can learn to adjust as a family and figure out what works best for you. Also try not to recreate school in your home because you all have to live their comfortably too and try to avoid comparing yourselves to other Home Ed families because what works for some families may not work for all and it doesn’t mean your way is wrong just because it’s different. Most importantly though relax and trust your
child’s ability to learn.

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