Home Ed Q&A with a second generation Home Educator!

Today I am interviewing a second generation Home Educator from here in the UK so grab a cuppa and have a read!

When and why did you decide to Home Educate?

I’ve been home educating my four children since the beginning so, with my oldest
now secondary-school age, we’ve been on this route for over seven years. I was
also home educated all the way through my own education and that was definitely
an positive influence in our decision. I enjoyed the freestyle, fairly child-led,
education which my pioneering parents gave me and my eight younger siblings.
My husband and I love the flexibility and freedom that home education gives our
family and the way we can nourish our Christian faith and values naturally. It feels
simply like an extension to parenting.

What kind of approach do you take?

My approach to home education has been an evolving journey. I started with a
structured, classical education when my oldest was about four. It suited us, and my
two boys were still napping so I had plenty of one-to-one time with her.
Roll on a few years with the arrival of my youngest and you find our house
constantly noisy with much less structured-working time available. I’m still following
a classical education approach but it is through the lens of the Charlotte Mason
principles of education. I guess you could say my outlook has relaxed as I grow in
confidence. I believe there is a huge overlap between the two educational
philosophies, and they are working well for us so far.
Narration, that is the telling-back of what the children have been learning and
assimilating, is the biggest recent addition and, to be honest, we’re still working
the Charlotte Mason principles into the way we approach learning. I have a pick and mix
mentality and adapt what we do to each child.

Where do the children do most of their work? and do they distract each other?

We work at the dining room table in our open-plan living room, we work sitting on the
sofa, even in the garden when the weather is warm, anywhere that aids
concentration and gets the set tasks done!
The children do distract each other, some times more than others! It’s good for
them to learn to cope with distraction but if it becomes an issue then I split them
up a bit. Divide and conquer! One child can play with the four year-old while
another does one-to-one work with me before switching over. My eleven year-old
is able to do much of her work independently now so she’ll find a relatively quiet
corner and call me if help is needed.

What is your favourite thing about Home Education?

Oh, that’s a difficult question to answer as there are so many things to love about
it! The freedom for each child to be themselves is probably top of my list. There is
no moulding to a particular system, very few academic and peer pressures. I feel
homeschooling is giving my children the chance to have a childhood free of an
institutional and dependant mindset.

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

The basics like English and maths are obvious and I’ve chosen programs according
to the ability of each child. Using ‘living books’ is the key way that I approach
things like history and the sciences, read-aloud books that bring the subjects to life
in an engaging way; we often follow up with supplementary work via the Internet.
Art study is quite informal but I aim to have an artist each term with copies of their
work up on display. The children have enjoyed looking at Banksy’s work recently so
I guess you could say that we’re keeping the topic up to date!
My older daughter is dipping her toe into Latin and German. I don’t have any
working knowledge of languages, so I’m learning alongside her. (Or at least trying
to keep up with her!)
Then we have topics we do with other home educators. One friend has been
going through the basics sounds of Arabic and it’s alphabet with the children. We
do art together. All the children do formal swimming lessons with a large group of
home educated children.
My mother-in-law and her partner are retired music teachers and we spend the
best part of a day each week with them teaching the children at least one
instrument each.
I don’t have a time table with set schedule or subjects, however I do use
Ambleside Online’s curriculum guide to plot out many of the book we use for the
A spiral notebook for each child has been a really useful tool for listing daily tasks. I
first came across this idea on Sarah Mackenzie’s website (Read Aloud Revival) and I
use them as a reminder during the day to help us stay focused. They are also a
handy record of our work.

What do you find most difficult and why?

Being with the children all day, all week is the biggest challenge for me in this
season of life. When my sergeant-mummy voice kicks in, I know I need to think
about backing off and find some margin in the day to lower the pressure so that
I’m more likely to smile rather than frown! I’m learning how to avoid stress-levels
hitting high too often by choosing to take time out intentionally.
When I run on empty, I don’t have anything to give the children. Often letting go
of the to-do list, grabbing a read-aloud book, sitting on the sofa and starting to
read will help realign a cranky mummy and her cranky children. If I wait until I have
a hot drink in my hand, then it just might never happen! (Plus, it gets spilt while the
children jostle to see the pictures.)

How do you react to people asking about socialisation, do your children easily
socialise and work well with others?

Oh yes, the socialisation question! That’s in the top two or three questions asked
home educators, isn’t it?! I don’t mind being asked as it’s a genuine concern of
people who have only known an institutional method of education; it’s good to
help as many as possible to think outside that box.
At its core, of course, the ‘socialisation’ question has a misguided idea that only at
school will children mix with a sufficiently wide variety of people which, in turn,
prepares them to being a fully-adjusted member of society. I believe that school is
an unnatural environment that doesn’t reflect the real society that young adults
discover when they reach adulthood.
I do not think that it is a long-term benefit to my children to spend the majority of
their days mixing with only teachers, and children all born within twelve months of
themselves. I cannot see it is the ideal way to help them adjust to life as adults.
My children have a wide-range of friends, they mix comfortably with children and
adults of all ages, beliefs, abilities and backgrounds. Not being in school means
they have not learnt the skills needed to survive in the institutional classroom
setting but they simply don’t need that for the real life they are living already. They
have such a socially diverse and full life.

Have family supported your decision?

I’m a second-generation home educator so obviously, my own extended family are
used to this homeschool idea. Even though some relatives may privately disagree
with the concept, no one has ever voiced anything negative.
It’s a totally new style of education to my husband’s side of our family, however,
and it’s puzzling to some as to why we would want to continue into the secondary
years. Any reservations though have been kept to themselves.
The fact that I was home educated all the way through seems to have the magic
effect of quietening most queries people have.

How do you incorporate Physical Education into your Home Ed days?

Well, neither my husband nor I are sporty. Watching Wimbledon, the World Cup,
and the occasional bit of rugby on the TV is about as far as we stretch so
encouraging our children into organised sports doesn’t come naturally.
Apart from the weekly swimming lessons, they have opportunities to try things that
that interest them like rock climbing, sailing, parkour and the occasional horse ride.
We walk to the library and local shops, organise regular park playdates with
friends, go on nature walks in the local woods, have daily time on the garden
trampoline and swings which all keep the children active and well. We follow their
interests regarding official PE activities, budget allowing, and we’re happy with that
as long as they have plenty of time and space in which to run energy off.

Do you plan and how far in advance?

I do plan. More so now than I did in the past as I’ve learnt it helps me eliminate
much of the decision fatigue that haunted me for so many years. It also helps me
to stay focused during the year. I’ve been using the free curriculum on Ambleside
Online as our backbone for the last couple of years.
I planned for the whole school year this year but, when time has been particularly
short, I’ll just do a term. With AO, each year is planned out online so I use that as
the master plan, adding extra material that I’d like them to cover while chopping
things that either won’t work or will overload.
Do I stick to it though? That is the big question! Sometimes, but never perfectly. At
the end of the day, homeschool planning is just a guess as to where we want to
head and what we hope to cover over the year. I now rarely feel guilty if we change
direction or skip things from time to time.

What's a typical Home Ed day like?

Oh, I’d like to have a clean and tidy answer for this as I do love the idea of a set
routine. But every day is different and the flow of the day depends on my
fluctuating energy levels and weak self-discipline (I have a tendency to flit from one
thing to another all day).
Basically though we have three days which are for socialising and outsourced
lessons and two that I reserve for actual sit-down-and-work-days. This balance is
helping me not to feel overwhelmed as often as I used to.
Outsourced days have minimal work set by me. However, I have learnt over the
years that music practice has to be done every day for any progress to be made so
that is slotted in first thing in the morning or on our return home. Hard things first,
One day a week is spent in music lessons and I take a bag of books to work
through one-on-one with whichever child is available.
Another day has time set aside for playdates and this can include meet-ups in the
great outdoors or having friends over for lunch. We mothers have tagged on a
poetry teatime or art study with yummy biscuits or a joint learning session. The
messier and yummier the activity is, the more popular it is with the children! I may
or may not sneak in set formal work on those days before friends come over - it all
depends on how energetic I’m feeling.
The other two days we spend based at home with less distractions. My ideal is to
do more formal learning in the morning as we all feel more energetic followed by a
more relaxed afternoon.
We have a few anchors in our days which shape the day giving it some structure.
These include a getting up routine (Morning 5), down time after lunch to give us all
a break from each other (Quiet Time), and a tidy-up time before dinner (The Daddy

Do you spend a lot of money on resources?

I try not to! We have tended to approach homeschooling in a minimalistic way.
But, as a bit of a bookworm, books are my definite weakness, and there is always a
long list of books to acquire that we simply can’t access through the local library
We rarely spend more than a few hundred pounds on curriculum, resources and
activities over any given academic year. I have loved the idea of boxed curriculum
but our budget has never stretched to that so it was only an dream that we’ve not
felt the lack of.
I’ve a feeling that we may have to increase the budget somewhat as we head
toward the later secondary-school years and exams become a more regular
occurrence. With the arrival of the internet, there really are huge amounts of highquality
educational resources available for free.

I hope you have enjoyed reading today's Home Ed Q&A, if you would like to follow this family's Home Ed journey then join them over on Instagram @pippanic @exitsupermum


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