Re-adjusting to life without school
The first few weeks of home-ed can be truly blissful. Free from the constraints of the school system, your time is now your own. Instead of the classroom, you can take a trip to the park and forage for insects or take a bus into town and visit a museum…it doesn’t really matter what you do, as long as it’s fun. You will enjoy this special time together. This is precious. It’s time you would not have had, had your child remained in the school system. During this period which may be weeks or even months your child will probably begin to show an interest in things; take note. This is what will begin to form his own personalised curriculum (I use the word curriculum very lightly here. Please forget formal planning, textbooks, etc.)
In essence, once you leave the system you go through a process of de-schooling. This is psychological process where both parent and child adjust to life without the conditions and routine of the school system. Some have suggested that this should be one month for every year that the child has been in school, but this is totally down to the parent and child. I found that a core aspect of the de-schooling process was understanding that children want to learn and are learning all the time. I had to accept that I had been conditioned to see learning as occurring in a very linear way. I discuss my own de-schooling experiences in Deregistration and the process of deschooling
Resisting the temptation to set up school at home
After the initial euphoria of being out of the school system has passed, you may begin to panic and think, ‘My child isn’t doing enough work! I haven’t seen him look at a book or pick up a pen in weeks.’ I did this. It helps to be very clear on why you removed your child from the system and what you hope to get out of home-ed. Write it down. So, for example, you may have removed your child because you feel that they do not thrive in a very rigid system and want them to have the freedom to follow their own interests. If you then find yourself trying to coerce your resistant child into working on a maths textbook, you’ll know you have gone off course. Writing out your beliefs and desires for your child will not only help you keep on track but it will also form the substance of your educational philosophy( please scroll down the glossary page to find info). Something you will need when dealing with the education authorities.
Meeting other experienced home-ed’rs (at local groups) really helps, especially if they are home-educating for similar reasons as you. Speaking to others can help to reaffirm your own beliefs and keep you grounded, and it’s particularly comforting to hear of success stories. One parent at my local home-ed group explained that they didn’t do any kind of formal teaching with their children for the first 12 or 13 years and yet their eldest son ended up studying maths at Oxford. I would caution you to listen very objectively to others’ views on education, no matter how knowledgeable they appear. You have your own reasons for home-educating and so do they; your child is unique as their child is.
Let them follow their passions
Your child’s passions will be the key to their learning, so it is of the utmost importance that you pay attention to what they show an interest and provide enough resources for them to work with. Resources need not be costly( checkout Life on a budget). A trip on the bus into town will provide ample learning opportunities; they will watch and learn from interactions with people, listening to conversations, taking note of peoples’ behaviours and mannerisms; they will observe vehicles and get an understanding of speed…If we provide them with enough learning opportunities eventuality something will spark their interest. When this happens you simply need to provide more opportunities that relate to that interest. For example, you go out and your child begins to talk about the different patterns on pigeons ( yes, they notice these things) and then on another occasion they take notice of another bird type–Get them a book on birds, and perhaps go out specifically to look at birds. You would have created a small spark that may develop into a deep and burning interest.