I love the freedoms that Home Education brings – I love that it means I can book trips away with the children without worrying about dealing with school, I can make the most of the good weather (if it ever arrives!) and I get to experience things with the children too. I’ve learnt a lot about different learning styles and different teaching methods and I’ve made a whole heap of new friends.
However, home education isn’t without its politics. I thought I’d avoid the ‘school gate’ politics but as wonderful as the home education community is, there’s also an undercurrent online of some things that are often best unsaid if you don’t want a wave of negative responses.
There are lots of groups on facebook to support home educators, ranging from groups for specific subjects, groups that share prompts for studying, groups to support curriculums and groups for general chatter and support for home educators. Whatever you’re looking for, there will be a group to support you.
However, I’ve noticed in recent months that when people ask for help in setting a routine for their home educated child or for recommendations of curriculums, it can be shouted down and seen as doing ‘the wrong thing’. People advocate for free play and structureless days. That’s great, if it works for your and your family, but for many it does not, and the moment structure is mentioned you can read cries of but they’re only young, they don’t need structure and so on.
Some children crave a structure to their learning and actually, it helps all concerned. I know that D and E would happily play for a few hours, but would soon seek me out for something to do if they were left to free play day in and day out. They both thrive on the structured things we do, be it their maths work that works through a curriculum at a pace suitable to them – they can see what each lesson is going to achieve and what ‘work’ they need to do. They are adoring the Sassafras Science work we are doing and working through this in a structured way a couple of times a week is paying dividends for us. They enjoy and in fact crave the routine of knowing where we are going day to day and, for us, free and completely unstructured days just would not work. I know that children learn through play, and it’s often through play I see them putting into practice the things we have been learnings about. But a home education set up without any structure simply would not work for us.
And we are not alone.
Many of our friends operate in similar ways. I am not advocating for a timetable at home complete with scheduled breaks, but I do think that many home educating families happily follow structured programmes, and in doing so, see the benefits of this.
If you’re a new home educator or someone who is thinking about making the leap into home education then the national groups can often make it feel like a scary space to ask for help in what structured programmes you can follow; I’ve seen friends seek advice in groups that are for those taking a structured or semi-structured approach get flamed when they simply ask for recommendations on certain types of curriculum. It’s almost like ‘structure’ is a dirty word sometimes.
The beauty of home education is that it is tailored to you and your child(ren). If structure works for you then run with it. I’m not ashamed to say we follow two or three programmes in our home education. We don’t follow them exactly, and we dive in in more depth to the bits that excite the children the most, but structure is not a bad thing.
How does your home education operate?