Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Before home education

There are so many reasons why we decided to home educate our children in the end but the starting point was reading The Continuum Concept by Jean Leidloff.  Jean spent time in the South American jungle living with Stone Age Indians (who were relatively untouched by the outside world.)  There she experienced how this tribe stayed attached to their babies but also let their infants gain the skills to be active members of the tribe as they grew.  Her experience turned her Western preconceptions of how we should treat our children on their head and gave her a radically different view of what human nature really is.

It was a life changing book that echoed how I felt about being a Mum and how I wanted to treat any children I had and so when my ds was born I carried him in a sling, breastfed him, he slept in bed with my dh and I, he started solids when he could pick food up himself and we taught him to use garden tools, kitchen utensils safely from the moment he was interested.  We never had a stair gate and he learnt to climb the stairs before he could walk.  [At this point I would advise that if you decide to let your children learn to climb up and down stairs themselves you don't watch because I reckon that took about 5 years off your life because they always look like they are going to fall!!!!!!]  He never cut himself with sharp knifes and he was a proficient hedge trimmer at age 2.

Watching him learn all these things with little effort made my dh and I wonder whether there is a need for a formal education or whether children, as natural learners, can master education in the same way as all the things ds had learnt and mastered before the age of 3.  There are theories out there that suggest that boys really don't fare well in formal education because they are designed to be moving - preferably climbing trees, chopping things down, building things and generally living  physically - and schooling just cannot accommodate that as is needed.  Maybe that is why there are so many diagnoses of ADHD, ADD and dyslexia?!?!?  Maybe some children's brains are not ready to 'learn' stuff and so baulks against being filled with educational stuff before it is ready.  Watch Ken Robinson's short video here about ADHD - very interesting thoughts.  If you want a longer video that says even more about ADHD and education generally then this is a fab Ken Robinson video.

Anyway my dh and I decided that below the age of 7 was too young to go into formal education for ds and so our home education adventure started.  Children younger than 7 need to be physical and using their imaginations and any activity that stops that from happening has the potential of affecting their brain development.

Anyway 12 years on I definitely wouldn't go back and change the decisions we made then.  I am one of the lucky few who made the decision to home educate before putting my children in school.  There are loads of home-educating families out there who wish they had done what I did but put their children in school and then feared taking them out.  When eventually taking them out they regret that it took them so long to do so.

Anyway my son still loves climbing trees, being physical but also has his own youtube channel here where he uploads his minecraft videos.  I am here purely as a facilitator for anything he needs which isn't a hard task as he is a pretty self-reliant boy and my dd has followed suit.  I can totally see how idle parenting mean happy children and that is not something that can ever be achieved the way that our schooling system currently works.  As a home-educating Mum there are days when as a threesome my ds, dd and I don't have anything planned and the day just unfolds and it is a wonder to see where the mood takes us either together or separately.  And those days when I leave my children alone, are magical because they have the space to discover who they are and as a bonus they often discover they like making me bacon (ds's speciality) and egg (dd's speciality) for lunch so life's pretty good!!!

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