Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Pro's and cons of home education.



Before starting the home schooling process, I did a lot of research into the pros and cons. Now having been walking the path myself for a while I've learned a lot and fast.

But for those of you considering home schooling, I thought it might be a good idea to share what I have learned and in some cases discovered to be the pros and cons of home educating. 

Let's start with the pros.

Your life is not dictated by school.

How many times have you heard of families being charged a small fortune for taking their kids on holiday during term time?

Sadly when your kid attends school there are rules and regulations you must follow.

Exceptions are rarely made and unfortunately, the law is on the side of the schools and not the parents. 

It doesn't matter that you can't afford the extortionate rates that are charged during  half terms and summer holidays. 

It doesn't matter if a once in a life time opportunity arises, inconveniently during term time.

And sadly in some cases, it doesn't even matter if a relative gets sick. 

With home schooling this problem is erased. You can go on holiday when you want and if it is during term time, the prices will be a whole lot cheaper too. Meaning you may be able to afford a destination or accommodation that would have been out of your reach during term time.

On top of this, you're not forced to try to grab fun times and experiences with your kids inbetween long school hours and heaps of homework. 

Kids can learn more at home in a few hours than they can in a whole week of school. Leaving more time for family fun and real life experiences. 

There can be more flexibility about bed time, because children can go to bed late any night of the week and not have to worry about having to be up early to prepare for school. 

Parents of teenagers especially find this to be the case and explained that it was usually excessive homework demands on the part of the school that was keeping their children up late and not family activities. Making it impossible for them to change their child's routine and ensure they were getting the sleep they needed. 

With your time table free from school it is amazing how much more you can get done. While other children are stuck in the classroom, home school children can be out doing all kinds of fun activities and learning as they go. In the last week alone, I've seen people posting in home education groups, all kinds of pictures of the fun they been having, in the name of home schooling.

Such as swimming, visiting a fire station with a group of other home educators, which also included an amazing water fight complements of the fire fighters and one of their hoses. Visiting a new attraction in London, where children can try out all kinds of jobs in a mini city. Gardening at a local Eco farm, again with lots of other home schoolers. Rock climbing, kayaking, behind the scenes in a bakery, playing with cute animals on a farm, geocaching in the sun and so much more besides. All of this, while the majority of school children sit in a classroom. 

This was one of the biggest, most amazing discovery I had when beginning the HE process. 

Freedom!

While other kids were bundled on to buses and shoved out the door to head off for a day of incarceration. Where they would be forced to conform to strict rules and to forefil often unrealistic expectations. My kid was free!

He was playing with his dogs, running through green grass, and being what he was meant to be, a child. 

He was living. And what's more he was doing it and still learning far more than he ever did or could, in one day of school.

It didn't take me long to realize that in removing my son from school, I had in actual fact, set him free.

Permission to be an individual.

True self expression is often thwarted by schools. 

Children must dress, act and perform in a  certain way. 

Forget funky hairstyles and quirky colours. Cover up those piercings and remove that jewellery. Shoes must be black and sensible, temporary tattoo's be gone. 

Achieve this grade or that level, and so much more besides. 

But the same is not true of the homeschool child. 

They can wear what they want, dye or cut their hair how they want and don't have to worry about what there school or their classmates think about what's cool or what's not. 

This often means that homeschooled children feel more free to express their true selfs. Resulting in less stress and a whole lot more smiling. 

When Kye was at school he begged and begged for his hair to be cut in a certain way. We relented and let him have his wish. After just one day at school the hairstyle he had been over the moon about was gone. The teacher had picked on him, telling him he looked silly and it was against school rules. Other pupils had picked on him and though others also loved it, the ones who picked on him where more persistent and so he came home, disheartened and tearful, begging for the hair cut he had wanted so badly to be removed. 

Sadly, the cut he had chosen meant that the only option was to shave his hair down to a grade one. Until it grew back he was tormented mercilously. 

It made a once confident boy doubt himself and his own tastes and it wasn't the only time it happened. 

Since being homeschooled, Kye isn't worried what other people think and it's a  trend I see more and more within the homeschool community. 

These children mix with adults and children from all walks of life on a regular bases, without the constant instructions on what's normal and not, dished out by the truck load at school, these kids quickly grow to see everyone as an equal. There is no standardisation. They are free to be whoever they want to be. 

Closet family relationships.

With so much time spent together enjoying life. It's no surprise that families grow closer. 

But it is not time together alone that makes this the case. 

Kids are less stressed and so are parent who HE. No school run, no mad early morning rush or phone calls from the headmistress wanting to complain, beg money or drop a last minute bombshell on you about a cake sale or event to which your child must bring, so many cupcakes or wear some kind of costume. 

No bullying. No homework. 

The result? Happier, healthy kids and parents. Allowing for stronger bonds to be formed and happier, healthier families. 

An education that is tailored to each child's individual needs. 

In school they have a set cariculum and all the kids are expected to learn in the same way. Sadly not all kids fit in with standerdized learning practice or the methods used to determine if a child is where they are supposedly meant to be at their age. 

Kye is a prime example of this. In school, on paper he was behind where he should be. Yet at home, he has proved that he is actually, far more advanced in his learning than the school gave him credit for.

And this is largely due to the fact that Kye has the ability to observe and do, but struggles when asked to record the information he has learned. 

Let me give you an example of what I mean. 

If Kye was to listen to you talk about a subject, such as the solar system and perhaps watch some. Eductional videos or look at some online resources on the topic but then you were to ask him to write about what he learned, he would quickly become bored or distracted and the result would be a very incomplete and sometimes inaccurate piece of work. 

But, if you were to ask Kye the questions yourself and allow him to vocalise his answers, you would end up having a very long and indepth conversation on the subject, in which it would be very obvious that he has taken in and remembered most of what he learned. 

This isn't to say Kye can't write, when the mood takes him he write incredibly well. With the right encouragement, he writes beautifully. He is able to spell words that many children his age and above would struggle with and he can read books like the hunger games without any difficulties at all. 

The key to Kye succeeding academically is attention. He wants to interact and to share. A few simple instructions and some nice words when the work is complete isn't enough and this is the case for a lot of kids. The problem is in schools, the most they can offer, often isn't enough and it results in kids who, just can't be bothered. 

Teachers are doing the best they can, but with a classroom of kids it can be difficult to attend to all of the kids needs. Meaning many kids grow bored and frustrated and like Kye, just give up altogether. 

When you home educate, it's so much easier to engage your children. With no strict curriculum to follow you can adapt and grow alongside your child. Learning their strengths and weaknesses and adapting the learning process to suit. 

The result is amazing. Suddenly kids who were failing in school begin to blossom. Instead of loathing learning, they begin to love it. They start asking questions, researching and exploring subjects of their own free will. They start to smile, laugh and develope a great enthusiasm for sharing with others what they are learning.

And best of all, you learn with them. No longer do you ask the, how was school and what did you learn? Only to get a very bland response. Instead, when someone walks through the door you watch your kid race to tell them all they have been doing and everything they've learned and you smile. 

Because isn't that ultimately what we all want, a happy, healthy child, who is enthusiastic about what they are doing. 

Bug hunts, arts and crafts, exciting day trips, getting soaking wet when you fail to spin the bucket fast enough, collapsing towers and silly games, there are so many things to do and explore with your kids on a daily basis. Things that we often miss out on when we send them to school, and things that sometimes they miss out on all together. 

With homeschool kids experience so much more than they do at school, stuck in classroom and so do we as parents. 

No one child is better than another, no child to far behind or to far a head, because they are not looked at in that manner. Instead they get to be who they are and they learn that we are all different and that to me is one of the very best things about homeschooling. 

Making your child feel that they are special, that they are smart and that they matter. Instead of making them feel stupid, different or weird because they don't fit a set of guildlines, or reach an expected target, or learn in the supposedly right way. 

Children are where they need to be, when things get rough.

Sometimes in life times get tough, perhaps someone passes away or gets sick and your child has worries or concerns because of this. In some cases it may even be something that seems superficial to us but is devastating to them, such as the break up of their favioirite band or the loss of a beloved item. 

Although schools often allow time off for the death of a loved one or sickness, it is not always enough time and you are forced to send your child back to school too soon. When you home educate this is not a problem. 

Your child can remain home with the people that love them and make them feel safe as long as they need. 

One of the more surprising aspects of this arises when a parent announces that they are pregnant. For some children this can be a very worrying and concerning concept. One that many home educators have found to be less so when they home educate. 

One mother told me that her first child really struggled, when she fell pregnant with her second. At the time he attended school and he became very withdrawn and quiet throughout the entirety of her pregnancy. She tried talking to him, but he would say nothing. 

When she fell pregnant with her third child he was much the same, but always fine once the child was born. By the time the fourth child was concieved she had removed her son from school and was home educating. He was a little quiet upon hearing the news, but it very quickly changed. 

Her son became her shadow, following her everywhere, wanting to help her all the time, even attending appointments for scans and checkups with her. For the first time, he was excited about the baby, and very quickly she realised what had been wrong in the past. Her son, a sensitive little boy, had wanted to take care of his mum while she was pregnant and had been worried about her when he was not around, something which he later went on to tell her himself. 

All he had wanted all along was to look after his mum and be there if she needed him, something he couldn't do in school. 

That boy is not alone, a lot of home educators who previously schooled their children have had similar experiences. Not just with pregnancy, but when they have been poorly or a loved one has died, or a couple have broken up. 

When you home educate, you are allowing your children to be there with you through some of the toughest times. Not only allowing you to support them, but them to support you and it's amazing how many kids long to do just that. 

We often think we are doing the best for our kids by protecting them from the tragedies of life, but are we really. Surely in order to become well rounded adults they need to experience both the ups and downs of life and learn how to deal with them. 

When kids are home all the time it can be difficult to hide things from them, but many HE kids, now grown, say that they were often most grateful for HE in the tough times, because it meant they could be home with the ones they loved and not stuck in school worrying if they were okay or what might be happening in their absence. 

Well rested kids. 

We touched on this a little bit earlier, so I will keep it brief, but the fact is kids who are home educated are able to get no only more sleep but more free time than kids who go to school, and I'm sure you don't need me to tell you how important both these things are for health and happiness. 

Some final pro points: 

No homework, no daily battles with a child who doesn't want to go to school, no attendance rating, no worries about sending your kid to school sick because of aforementioned attendance ratings, less risk of bullying (I say less because sadly bullies are everywhere and kids will meet other mean kids when out playing, sometimes and no doubt in other situations too.)

I'm sure there are probably things I have missed and this is by no means an extensive list of HE Pros, but it is those that I have come across or experienced for myself. If you know of anymore please feel free to add them in the comments below. 

Now for the cons.

Limited personal time.

This one stings particularly hard if you have experienced the tranquility of a child free home, between the hours of 9 and 3:30, or whatever time your little nippers made it home. 

Which I have. 

Yep, forget personal space. When you home educate chances are you are going to have to get used to 24/7 parenting all year round, because  unless you have family willing to take your kids off your hands and give you a break, then you are more than likely going to be spending pretty much all your time with your kids.

Work from home, then you best get used to interruptions. Like to go shopping alone, that may prove difficult.

Yes, home educating can get tough at times and you will feel like you need sometime to yourself and that can be hard to find.

You will; however, get used to it and learn to adapt, just as you do when you have a child. There are also childminders who will take older kids during school hours, but bare in mind not all of them will. 

So be prepared because this was one of the biggest cons felt by Home educating parents. 

Financial restraints

When you decide to home educate it often means that one parent has to forego work. This can put a lot of strain on the other parent and on your finances. There are jobs that can be done from home that can help with this, but it is something that has to be considered before deciding to home educate. 

Thankfully the cost of home education do not have to be high, but let's face it, we all have bills to pay and making sure you can pay what you need to is important. It also helps to have a little spare for fun activities and possibly a babysitter, when mum and dad need a well earned break.

For a single parent this can be even more difficult. That said some single parents have found interesting  ways of getting round this, such as sharing the home educating of their child with other home educators. 

For example: 

While you work I'll teach your kid and while I work you teach mine.

Others hirer babysitters or have family member who help out too. 

There is also something called flexi-schooling which means your child only attends school on certain days and is home educated on other. Not all school are open to doing this; however, and it is sadly the choice of the head teacher, but ask around and you may get lucky. 

Being different.

Many people do not understand home education and this leads to some very upsetting confrontations at times with individual who either do not understand or feel threatened by your choice to home educate. 

If you decide to home educate chances are you will come across people who will label you a bad parent, ignorant, and many things besides. 

Sometimes these people can even be members of your own family, or medical professionals. 

This effects some people more than others, but it is important to be strong and learn to either ignore or deal with these people in a calm and controlled way. HE groups are great for this, as they will give you lots of support, tips and advice.

But remember you are not doing anything wrong and that most children thrive in the HE environment far better than they ever did in school. 

Which is why, Home education is growing ever more popular. With an estimated 20,000 - 100,000 children currently being educated at home. I know that seems like a pretty big leap but many home educators remain unknown to local authorities due to having never actually sent their children to school and thus not needing to de-register. 

Local councils all over the country are; however, reporting a huge rise in children being De-registered from schools, with home education being stated as the new chosen method of educating. 

And this is a trend that is growing year by year. 

So, parents who home educate could soon become more commonplace in every community. 

Well that's all from me and again I am sure I have not covered all the cons here, these are just the ones I have discovered and learned for myself. If you are aware of any others please feel free to add them in the comments. 

The only one I will ask you not to put, is lack of socialisation, because that is a myth. Most home educated kids are very well socialised, some might even argue that they have a far more rounded basis of socialisation than those who attend school, but that's a debate for another day. 

Love and hugs
Joss

P.s apologies if this is a little rough in places, my schedule is pretty tight at the moment and I could only give it a quick cursory glance over right now, but because I know people are waiting for this post, I'm going to pop it up now and come back and give it a full edit later.



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