Thank you to everyone who has taken part in my 'Chai Chats' so far. They are Question and Answer sessions with Home Ed families from across the globe. Grab yourself a cuppa and have a lovely read of today's Chai Chat with Hayley a working mother of 3 young boys and baby number 4 on the way!
When did you decide to HE?
We have always considered home educating to teach our children, but we decided to give school a go first. We moved to the area we live in now specifically because it is the catchment area for the best schools in Scotland. After 4 months of trying school we knew it wasn’t for our son, he wanted to learn more than they were able to teach, he likes to ask more questions than they are willing to answer, and he also just didn’t cope in the environment (he has sensory issues). We said we would give HE a go and see how it went for awhile and would possibly consider school again, however after starting our journey and seeing the change, not only in our son but our whole family we plan to HE all of our children until they are ready to leave home and start their own journeys.
Did you have to give up your job/career to HE?
Yes and no. I am a film director and makeup artist for TV and Film, I was also half way through my Uni course getting my further education teaching qualification and had started teaching makeup at a college. However, a few things happened that made me give the teaching up. I wasn’t enjoying the teaching as much as I’d thought, the students were brilliant, but the system was flawed and constricting, the other staff were very negative about the students and their work and this made it a difficult place to work in. Also, I found out I was pregnant with our fourth child and I suffer very badly with SPD during pregnancy and it was just going to be too much, we then also made the decision to HE and it just made sense to keep doing my self employed work rather than a career that I just wasn’t enjoying, would affect my health and would limit what we could do timewise in HE.
What kind of approach do you take?
We are very much unschoolers. I did try workbooks for the first little bit but found my sons attention wasn’t on it and he wasn’t enjoying it and there were much better ways for him to learn. We spent some of our days at home doing fun activities such as playing board games, playing with play doh and lego, watching movies, playing computer games. Some days we do a lot more learning activities such as watching things on youtube such as “Dr Ouch”, phonics cartoons and programmes about space, we make our own planets and basic science experiments and bake lots. We also read everyday and play educational games on the ipad. Half of the time we do outings, these are amazing to do during the week and during the school term because everywhere is so quiet! We go to museums, science centres, the safari, chocolate factory, swimming, ice skating, trampolining, nature walks, visit castles and much more. We are also planning to incorporate ‘world schooling’ into our HE and leave on our first world schooling adventure very soon, we will spend 4 weeks in France going to a different place every week, we have been learning basic French, eating French foods and learning some of the history in our lead up to the trip and this will continue while we are there, we plan on making it a very fun and educational trip and our first of many!
What is a typical HE day like in your home?
If it is a day in the house it is very go with the flow, see what the kids want to do and offer activities up to them. We have a basic routine in place where everyone tends to get up around 7am and we have breakfast, lunch is at 12/1pm and dinner at around 5pm, bedtime routine starts around 7pm and the kids are sleeping for 8pm, anything else between these times go. If we are out for the day we have a relaxed morning getting ready and aim to leave for 10/11am and aim to return for around 3/4pm. These half day outs suit our family a lot better as there is no stress and no one gets too tired.
Where do the children learn and do they distract each other?
The children learn everywhere, at home, in the garden, out on trips. The great thing about HE is that not only are we giving our school aged son an education but his 3 and 1 year old little brothers also get to experience everything, as well as us! Of course they do distract each other at times but the change we have seen in their relationship, especially my 5 and 3 year old is crazy. They used to argue and annoy each other all the time but now they are like best friends and want to do everything together. We always try and give them time on their own and one to one time as well as do things solely as a family as I think it’s important to encourage their individual interests.
What is your favourite thing about HE?
Going at our own pace! Sometimes this is going slower and other times it’s going faster. We can totally tailor each of the children’s education specifically for them.
Do your children easily socialise and work well with others?
Our children have always been independent and preferred to play on their own than with others, which was one of our reasons for HE. However, when we go out places they like to play with other children and are confident in talking to them and making friends. They also go on play dates with children just the same as when my son was at school.
Have family supported your decision?
We don’t have a lot of family support in general but the family we do have in our lives have been supportive, they just kind of let us do our own thing and can completely see our reasons for HE and think that is a good way of bringing up the kids.
How do you incorporate physical education into your HE day?
With boys as wild as mine who run around all day and use every sofa/bed as a trampoline it’s impossible not to have it in our day! That aside we go on family walks, take them to soft play, swimming, trampolining, they both used to go to gymnastics but found it wasn’t for them, we have also tried football and dance but again it just wasn’t for them. I think just making sure they keep active and offering new opportunities to them and encouraging them in that activity if they seem to take to it.
Do you plan and how far in advance?
Not really! Our world schooling is planned in advanced, but the rest is either planned the night before or that day. Our kids need to know a plan and a routine but are also very flexible, we discuss with them different options and just see what they would like to do, we then will plan the day out before we leave the house. This works for us because both myself and my son have health issues and suffer with pain and fatigue so sometimes wake up and just need a day in the house instead of a busy day out somewhere. I think with such young children being flexible is one of the most important things.
Do you spend a lot of money on resources?
We try not to but do invest in things we find are worth it. For experiments etc. we use whatever is around the house and are often raking through our recycling. We use lots of free apps on the ipad and watch lots of things for free on youtube. What we do spend money on is a good computer, ipads, specific teaching apps – such as learning languages and coding. Trips away cost money but we try to balance it out between free trips and paid trips and take advantage of any deals going.
How do you make time for yourself?
This is probably where I struggle the most, and have my whole life, I am so focused on the kids and my career and my marriage that time on my own is often forgotten, however I am getting a lot better at that. Almost everyday I will take an hour for myself, I used to feel guilty about this and ask my hubby if he could do me a favour and watch the kids so I could do something, then I realised how important it was and stopped asking and started saying I need an hour at this time and it works, he also gets the same. I’ll spend this hour on my social media, reading a book, taking a bath, getting a massage or even just doing my hair and makeup. Also, me and hubby used to spend every night together watching TV or a movie once the kids were in bed but we have realised this was just out of routine and we weren’t actually benefiting from it, now we spend half the week doing this and half the week doing our own things. He will go on the computer and I’ll get to read my book or catch up on things I like to do, it also makes the nights we spent together more fun.
What advice would you give someone just starting out on their HE journey?
Just go with the flow, take the pressure off yourself and your kids, trust that they will learn at their own pace. Try new things, not all children will learn the same way, if something isn’t working out then don’t worry about it just try something else. Also use the weekends and school holidays as days in the house and garden as everywhere is so very busy, take advantage of being able to visit places while the other kids are in school, honestly it is like a whole different world and gives kids a much better experience at places.
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