We always knew we would home educate our son. Before he was even a flutter in my stomach, I knew I didn’t want to send him in to mainstream education. After years of battling, and on the brink of needing legal support, my daughter’s biological mother has finally relented and agreed that home education could also be an option for our 11-year-old, too. And so here we are: a family of four embarking on a fully-home-ed journey together, all of us learning which steps to take as we are taking them. One of the many benefits of home education is that there is no national curriculum, and we can tailor what they learn to suit their personal interests, and our priorities as a family. So here are the five things I will be making sure my home educated children are going to learn.
Of course! I write for a body positive magazine, so of course body positivity is going to be instilled in my children from a very early age. This is particular important for my daughter, who is 11 years old and lives half of her life in a home where her eating is monitored quite heavily. We have been placing particular emphasis to both children on the ideas that ‘thin’ does not equal ‘kind’ and that it is okay to look exactly how you want to look. Other lessons crop up at least weekly, and luckily I am in a position where I am able to answer many quandaries thanks to this fantastic magazine.
The children are at different stages in their lives. My son is four, and independence to him is teaching him to tidy away his things and brush his teeth with guidance, not assistance. For my daughter, lessons include us waiting in the car while she goes in to the shop with a short list and a budget, and allowing her to arrange meet-ups with the friends she had when she was in mainstream education.
When I began jotting down ideas for home education, teaching both children about appropriate communication was so important to me that I have essentially made it a ‘school subject’. My daughter engages in pen pal correspondence with a couple of other home educated girls her age, teaching her letter-writing and of course having her learn about home ed from girls her own age. We have also put emphasis on her learning to be open and honest with her feelings, and learning to communicate her emotions in an appropriate way that makes both parties feel comfortable. Of course, my son being four years old means most of his communication education at the moment revolves around learning to do as he is told!!!
Our first lesson in individuality was a trip to the Crazy Colours website and a couple of bottles of hair dye! Semi-permanent colour is not damaging to hair; instead, it provides a conditioning treatment as well as the change of colour. It is important to me for my children to learn that they are in control of their own bodies, and as long as their decisions are safe and legal they have the right to express themselves however they see fit.
We want to look at family trees, heritage, lineage and, arguably the most important element, the idea that it takes more than blood to make you a family. My husband and I each have extensive families full of ‘steps’ and ‘halves’ dotted all over the place, and now our children are having the same experiences, too. We want to learn about how to operate within a family, how to be a good family member and that everybody’s family looks different. This infographic by Slater and Gordon is an awesome representation of how diverse the notion of ‘family’ has become in the UK, and as a historian I am also interested in exploring historical trends for families and looking at the decline of the nuclear family. But that is probably just me being a geek.
What life lessons do you feel are vital for your children, and how do you instill them?