Home Education: Where to start.
We have been at it some ten years now. I feel something of a veteran in some ways. Yet I don’t know many other HE families, especially in my area as when my daughter was little we were quite clueless. This meant we had to find our own way rather trying to replicate someone else's. Here are some things that really helped us.
Having a short list of goals that are totally personal for each person in the home really helps. One of my daughter’s goals is “Change the world”. One of mine is to help her get closer to those goals. Also to remember to drink more water. Big goals and small, written or printed where you can see them everyday. It is inspiring and helps if you wander down a project rabbit hole to focus back to what is important. It is important that kids set their own goals and feel invested in their education. If it seems silly, or pointless to you, let them have their goal. Let them dream too big and too small, you will be the happier for it.
As a family (and as a team) come together and write out your education manifesto. It will change over time and that is normal and healthy too. Declare in ink what “We believe in…” and keep it in the positive. Writing out that things that are most important to you and your family is a unifying and can be a joyous experience. It is life affirming to have a set of ideals to aspire to. If you don’t make it every day (and you won’t) know that having it at all allows for a clearer idea of what you want to achieve. When I am sent silly boxes and forms to fill in I send out manifesto to them instead. (I hate little box forms).
You are on Team Awesome (or whatever your school/family name is. (We are Team Awesome). We understand that we all have different strengths and weaknesses but we have to work together. If someone cooks, they don’t have to do dishes, if you didn't cook, odds are you do! Family meetings allow a calm platform in which everyone can speak freely. It is a great educational tool in and of it’s self, allowing all voices to be heard, helps nip problems in bud, and give flexibility.
Make what you don’t have.
Whenever there is something we want but don’t have (things like a D&D group and book club) rather than lament what wasn't there we made our own. It is hard work and it doesn't always work out but that too is educational. If you want something you might have to be inventive, creative and braver than you usually are.
Universal or House rules
Having a set of rules, created by everyone that everyone adheres to (parents too). Even if you aren't big on rules being able to set boundaries everyone follows is empowering and children to copy. Children mimic what you do, not what you say. So allow yourself to learn, to play and have fun, as well as set boundaries for what is positive and team behaviour. It also breaks from the adult vs child mentality that happens in mainstream schooling.
All of these come from a team focused, family lead mentality allowing us all a voice and opportunities for us to grow. Home education is not about a child or children learning what you think they should learn. It is not you as supreme know-it-all squeezing knowledge into your child. Everyone learns and keeps learning. All the time. My daughter teaches me just as often as I teach her and from trying and exploring together we all keep growing. Children do as you do. If you are curious, and excited by the world, they will copy, and you can't "fake" it because they will know. If you want to teach a child to read, read, alone, with them to them. They will want to read. If you want your kids to engage with something, you have to engage too.
Home education is too important to be taken seriously.