There’s a blog post that has been rattling around in my mind for some time now, but I am not sure I have the clarity of thought to make it coherent. I’ve had many thoughts on my children’s education, be that how can I encourage their early learning, activities we can do and even trying to look to identify their learning styles.
I’ve been thinking about my approach for a while now, but as I came across a tweet last night it sort of made me think I should probably try to make attempts to record where my thoughts are up to. If nothing more than it will be a record for me to reflect on in the future, but also I hope it might serve to help others having the same internal discussions.
I’ve made no secret of my ambivalence to nursery for Daniel. Not that I think nurseries are a bad place, but more that I am not convinced they are a necessity. I can’t help but wonder how, where and when did we get to the point where the default position was nursery education at aged three? If nursery education is so important and amazing, then why do we constantly hear that children’s attainment on leaving Primary Education is terrible? (note I am not saying that nurseries cause bad attainment, more that I don’t think it improves attainment). There are talks about increasing the numbers of hours (from 15 – 20) per week, expanding the free hours so that even more two year olds become eligible for free hours. Is this all because young children really benefit from that time in a nursery environment? I am not so sure. I think it is more that successive Governments are more concerned with getting women into work and swelling the coffers of the Exchequer. Maybe I am a cynic and it really is about improving children’s outcomes.
Daniel is eligible for the funded early years education from January 2016 and I suppose we should be starting to identify nurseries for him to potentially attend. But if I’m honest, it just isn’t on the horizon for me. I don’t believe that nursery can offer Daniel more than I can at the moment. And the more I read and experience, the less convinced I am that the education system can provide more for Daniel (and Emma) that a home education environment can.
There was an article published in the Telegraph over the weekend (which I picked up via twitter) which talks about how children in UK schools need ‘happiness lessons’. I really struggle with this. Why are children in Primary school so in need of emotional well-being and support?
The article states:
Earlier studies have suggested that child development in Britain is languishing behind most western countries, with standards of literacy, numeracy and physical skills far behind those of almost every western country.
Researchers from University College London’s Institute of Health Equity said the figures suggest many children in Britain are left damaged by early years in which they did not get enough time cuddling, chatting or reading with their parents.
There are so many studies and reports that repeatedly tell us just how important those Early Years are. Having that relaxed time to just ‘be’ is so important (at least in my opinion). Don’t get me wrong there are days when Daniel is bloody hard work, days when I have had to walk away into a different room as I have been so frustrated, cross and angry with him. Evenings when I have felt terribly guilty at how I have spoken to him, or thoughts on how I could have handled a situation differently.
But despite all this, what I hope he knows is that, despite these days the other days are full of fun and activities without the pressure to meet early learning goals and targets. We learn at his pace and as Emma is showing her own appetite for learning we are encompassing that too. And I know that all too soon it is Emma I will be needing to walk away from, and having those same guilt ridden reflections.
Our days are free and easy, some days popping to the shops, other days making things, reading, cooking etc. Despite this laissez-faire approach, Daniel and Emma are learning. Daniel has demonstrated an understanding of size to me recently. He hasn’t been taught this, but he has just learnt it from our chats, reading and general day to day experience.
Daniel’s peers will all soon be moving into funded early education and then from there into school. I feel almost lost. I feel an enormous pressure about fitting in. Why wouldn’t we take advantage of FREE early education and care? Why wouldn’t our children go to school? I think most often people don’t know the alternatives and how amazing they actually are.
Damian and I haven’t really discussed Daniel and Emma’s education, other than voicing our concerns about the current education system, and so we haven’t explored how a home education system might work for us. And in truth we are a long way off needing to make those decisions.
In the meantime I’m meeting other parent’s that are taking, or thinking about taking, a home education route and reading lots of books and web pages about different approaches and thinking about how things could work for us.
On the one hand I feel a pressure to submit to the ‘normal’ routes, but then I think about my fears of pushing Daniel and Emma into the education system. An education system that is obsessed with targets, and tests. An Education system that is seeing teachers under increasing pressure. An Education system that I am not convinced about.