Friday, 22 May 2009

Autonomy as they get older

As our children get older, I’m very happy with the way our family’s autonomous approach to home ed continues to work for us. I think that there are probably plenty of people who can quite easily understand a happy five year old doing finger-painting and playing with Lego, but who doubt that older children (like ours) can go on learning through their own choice of activities. Well, for our family, so far, this is working really well.

In some ways, nothing has really changed in the way we home ed now and how we did things five years ago. We haven’t felt the need to introduce any compulsion into the children’s activities and we still have a pretty busy lifestyle of groups and so on. In other ways, things have changed a lot as the children get older. There’s more independent activities for both of them – P in particular. The children’s social lives change as they get older. People need different kinds of support - financial is pretty important!

Some things are constant – conversation, books, outings. Some things change – interests (of course), and resources needed and used. Probably the greatest joy for me is the sense of freedom that endures. I love it that my twelve year old can get up at ten and read the paper while chatting with me, before pottering off to a day of things she has chosen and often organised for herself. That does seem rather wonderful when I compare it to the option of getting on the bus to senior school at 8am every morning. Equally wonderful is the freedom for someone to pursue something with a passion. L went to a story writing workshop on spooky stories this week and got up the following morning to finish his story. That took a couple of hours (off and on) and he was able to do it in his pjs.

Of course, every day is not a joyful journey of educational discovery because life has bumps. We get tired. Dani and I have to juggle work, home ed, looking after the house and pursuing our own interests. That doesn’t always happen well and we muck up from time to time. But I’d far rather be juggling like this than packing the kids off each morning and working 9-5. I love the little moments that we snatch when I can just hear everyone thinking happily away to themselves. I love coming home from work to be greeted by excited people telling me all about their varied days.

I have no idea if we will still be doing this, in this way, in another five years. I imagine that things will change as the children hit their mid-teens – in many ways. But, as long as we’re all happy and making choices that suit us, then I’ll be chuffed. If the govt. wants to propose anything that will curtail our choices then they can’t expect us to roll over. This is too precious.


Gill said...

Too precious indeed. Thanks for that Allie - a great read. (PS: you were logged in as Dani again!)

Allie said...

Oh, god, I keep doing that!


mamacrow said...

I can't imagine anyone NOT being able to see all the education going on tho, for want of a better phrase.

Even by 'schoolesque' standards - look at the amount and qualty and sheer varity of what they are producing - writing, blogs, all that crafty stuff -
then just a list of all the festivals and places you go, not to mention a list of the groups they both atend, books and other media they read, and discusion topics you all persue.

A pretty impressive curriculum if you ask me.

Allie said...

Thanks, Mamacrow, but our reluctance to portray what we do in terms of curriculum could certainly pose problems if someone were sent to our house looking for such a thing.

On the one hand, I'm trying to be quite relaxed about this review thingy. I'm hoping that the costs and hassle involved in major change might put them off. But, on the other, I am very aware of how they'd like us all tidied up.

Also, knowing that we could probably sell what we do to satisfy some 'inspector' doesn't really offer much comfort. What about the friends with non-reading nine year olds, or more private (less social) lifestyles? No, there are perils for us all in any change that gives them more power to 'inspect'.