Monday, 11 September 2017

Home education is not a magic cure...

Home education is not a magic cure.... I have seen a lot of desperate parents asking in home education groups if home education would be possible and helpful for their children who are having difficulty in school. I am starting to sense the popularity of home education is meaning now it is seen as a fix or option to most issues with school, almost as if it's a magic cure. If school fails, take them out, home education will fix it. 

I can feel passionate home educators hackles rising as it sounds like this post is going to rubbish home education. Don't worry, I am one of those passionate home educators, I love it, I love the family life it has given us, the confidence it has given my sons to follow their dreams, the starting blocks in life that has left my boys with a desire to learn and grow completely self motivated through their lives. I love how it has saved them from losing their curiosity and love of learning, for example my 16 year old teaching himself german and guitar, because he doesn't want to waste his life just playing computer games (his words).

Ok, so why say such a negative thing about home education? Because just getting your kid out of a bad environment or situation in school is not the magic fix. Home education works best when one of both parents are passionately focused and dedicated to the education of their children. This passion and focus is why it succeeds, but it takes huge amounts of effort, time and money... it's not a magic cure. 

The style of education is not the reason home education succeeds or fails, it's the focus that parents put in to their chosen style of educating. For example if you choose unschooling, the most successful example of this are when the parents are really attentive and focused to helping their child with what ever they are focused on learning in their life right at the point of interest. They make opportunities for them, find books, TV shows, activities etc that will build on their child's interest. Also they are pro-active in putting new ideas and thoughts before their kids to see what grabs their interest, whether it's buying a telescope and suggesting they look at stars, providing musical instruments that their children can pick up and start to grow in.... it's not a magic cure.

With a more formal style of learning, for example towards GCSE's the parents will guide their child, encourage them, learn the subjects with them so they can discuss it over the dinner table. Provide materials and opportunities to progress in their chosen areas. This all requires a huge amount of effort and energy, plus a fair amount of crying and sleepless nights to achieve... so again as you can see it's not a magic cure, it's a full time job that takes every ounce of  strength.

I feel the desire to caution parents, just taking your kids out of school is not just the simple answer. Taking them out of school, buying them a curriculum to lead them to GCSE success, is not just the answer. The answer is are you prepared to give their learning your full attention, may be at the cost of your own time, interests and possibly even work? 

I don't want to be a purist, I just want to challenge. Home education can work well even if both parents are working, if one or both has time to still give their attention and enthusiasm to their children when they are not at work, this will take a lot of energy and commitment. 

So in conclusion, any style of home education can work really well, but it's not a magic cure, it does requires absolutely dedication from the parents involved.