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.