We're planning to home school our two youngest, Tansy and Leo, for a trial period of a year, with the get out clause of jumping back into school if any of us emerges from the year with lasting scars...
Why the change? We've already moved from a state primary school four years ago when Freddie and Lily were nine and six, to a Rudolf Steiner School which everyone melted into as if they had never been anywhere else. This is not the post where I will be discussing the merits of Steiner schools. Suffice to say that we have learnt alot about child development and how they learn in a heart centred, non pressured, nature orientated environment, and we have no criticism. Bar the fact that apart from the lovely Hereford and Stroud schools (and shortly Exeter) they are not free. As in they are fee paying. Hmm. (Anyone work out one of the reasons we have been living in yurts and caravans and wooden cabins for the last, uh four years?). And they take up lots of time .Kids only become full time at steiner schools when they are ten....which for parents with more than one child means a bewildering array of different pick up times and lots of driving.
But really, the point is that, as we are living in the woods and starting to have plans to buy goats, chickens, and start all sorts of exciting new projects, isn't it better for them just to be at home and learn here? Because really, that's where kids have always been....until the Industrial Revolution pushed everyone down mines and into mills, and there was a sudden urgent need for mass child care and a compliant work force. Enter compulsory education. That's why schools as we know them were invented folks. And they still do the same thing, create a compliant worker (consumer) and provide mass child care so we can earn (buy) more.
We were very very lucky that the Steiner School did only one of those things, ie provide child care, but still....How many times have I torn my kids away from some wonderful imaginative game to hurry and dress for school? How many times have I curtailed a story, or a meal or a walk in the woods or a trip to the beach or a visit with friends...because the kids have to get to bed to get up early for school? When Freddie was small, and at state school, I even remember dragging him in from the garden where he was drawing and labelling the vegetables in his notebook yes, you guessed it, to go to school. Where he screamed to stay with me and fell asleep on the carpet after lunch. Insanity.
There's the worry of course that I won't be up to it. That I can't teach my kids to read and write. Don't I need to be qualified? And when I sit myself down and examine that, I realise that my kids have learned to walk, talk, dress themselves, eat cleanly, prepare food, knit, sew, saw firewood, weave, ride bikes, swim, sing, dance, play, care for animals, garden....with ME. Or their dads.
Tansy could probably teach herself to write, she's already got her own notebook where she copies the label off the tahini jar!
I have things I want to do, too many creative projects fizzing away, and I am concerned about my available time being eroded, but, who knows, I may even end up with more time than before .I have bouts of patience and gentleness and great storms of impatience and annoyance..How will it go? I 'll let you know.
How about you? What's your experience of schools, for your kids..or even for you?