A few months ago we made the decision to home school our daughter.
There were what seemed like a ton of factors to consider and I’ll go into the main 5 things I think are most important to consider later but first – the two things that surprised me when making this decision.
The first one was making it because although I know it’s the best thing for my daughter I held so much fear around actually doing it – but I’ll write more on that later.
The second was people’s reactions to our decision to home school.
It’s been a complete mixed bag amongst our close friends and family but amongst our wider circle – well let’s just say it’s become surprisingly clear that home schooling is still not a widely understood or common option where we live.
I remember telling a friend who has a girl of the same age as our daughter that we had made the decision to home school – I was excited, feeling a little tentative but as we took so long exploring and coming to a decision I finally felt settled on it and enlivened by our choice for our girl.
Yet it was met with complete distaste. I literally felt her energy bristle as she asked me ‘whats better’ about home schooling and proceeded to talk down each point that I made, each point that meant something to me and that informed our decision.
I left that conversation feeling completely deflated not only because of her response but also because she hadn’t respected our choice for our child.
That’s something I’ve learnt the hard way over the past year. Not all friends who have children will parent the same way and there will be fall out’s with people who you were friends with before as your child grows and you adapt to their wants and needs.
Everyone parents differently and that’s perfect.
But sometimes people can be a little close minded to how other people do things which makes me feel so somber. It hits hard when you suddenly realise that a friend most likely may not be a friend for much longer because they don’t understand your choices and in today’s climate – well, I had hoped it would be much more open than I have experienced.
But on to happier topics!
making the decision to home school
Our decision to homeschool was a long drawn out process. I literally think it took me about two months to make and it still came as a shocker when I finally knew that it was the right thing for our family.
I’d previously sidelined home schooling as an option because of the work that I do, because I need the time I have to myself to work on and in my business and my business is a part of me, it’s a passion, it’s a calling and it’s something I need to do for myself to feel in integrity, purpose, growth and fulfilment – something we all need to experience our own value and joy.
I’m also an introvert so I need an amount of solitude and quiet time in my life to feel healthy.
So I was daunted by the amount of ‘work’ it might be to under take home schooling (something I now feel much happier about as I’ve discovered the communities and programmes online that are so supportive with the whole shebang!)
But our girl is just 3.5 years old and in two months time we have to make a decision on which school here in the UK to enrol her in.
It would mean her going to school at 4 years old for 5 days a week from 9-3.30pm.
It would mean her being away from her home and family for more time than she is here.
It would mean someone else teaching her, nurturing her, shaping her personality.
And I have different wants for how that goes.
I’ve watched Yvielao and I know that in a large group of people if she doesn’t feel acknowledged she shrinks back into herself, goes her own way and looses the light in her eyes.
I’ve spoken with her about the previous nursery she was at and without any prompting she’s told me that it made her feel sad because she was lonely (in a group of 32 children).
And I’ve asked her how it feels if she thinks about being at school every day of the week to which she always replies ‘sad, I want to learn with you mummy’.
And I listen because her opinion matters to me and I want her to feel as though she has a voice that is heard and matters – especially at this young age.
With the type of work that I do I’m keenly aware of how children are shaped, I’m aware that our lessons at this age can last us a lifetime and hold repercussions in our behaviour, how we connect with other people and how we feel about ourselves affecting how much we love and care for ourselves and enjoy our lives.
I know because I help women unravel it later in life when they discover things standing in the way of their desires for life or business.
And I don’t want that for our girl.
I want her to have autonomy, I want her to feel free to be curious, to enjoy her childhood and not be plunged into a system that counts her as a number to be shaped the same way as every other child present.
I want to see the light in her eyes on a daily basis as she learns about the world, as she experiences her own curiosity, her own creativity and her own abilities as they change and grow.
I want her to grow the confidence we all need to feel as though it’s ok to be ourselves when so much of our society works to shape us in other directions.
And home schooling allows us to have an influence over helping her with those things.
There are other things about the schooling system that I think are flawed, that aren’t up to date with how we live now too, take the system in itself for example – working towards goals of being examined and being found ‘the best’ graded, judged and then entering a system that keeps you in stasis, doing things that we’re not fully passionate about, being kept at a level that belittles how much we’re capable of.
All of this gives me shivers.
I’m fortunate enough to be surrounded by people who do have their own businesses, who are going their own way, who are doing things that they are passionate about and make their lives feel more on purpose. So I can see the other side of the schooling system and it’s benefits on us as individuals far more outway the benefits of going through that system for me.
My main priority is helping Yvie know that she matters, that what she does counts, that she has the power to affect so much in her life and environment and that who she is matters NOW – not when she’s achieved a grade A in her exam papers at 15 years old and can later go on to work in an office somewhere making someone else money and not fulfilling her own dreams.
And that’s why we’ve made the decision to home school.
I once read about a girl who had started her own company at 9 years old (Hanalei Swan). She speaks on stage now and has already gone on to be a speaker and having done a TED talk (at 12) and all of this was because her parents asked her at 9 years old what she wanted to do with her life today – not when she graduates school but TODAY because who she is and what she does and how she affects the world matters TODAY.
And I think that’s a lesson we could all take a little inspiration from.
It’s so easy to feel as though we will be good enough when we’ve achieved X, that we will be happy when we have X amount of money to do what we want, that we will enjoy our lives more when we’ve gone through all of these far off goals that simply delay our joy.
When the truth is that we are each and every one of us more than enough in just being alive, having the ability to make choices, having the ability to affect ourselves and others, having the ability to enjoy our creativity, to know ourselves, to share our selves and our art with others and to be a part of a community affecting this planet for the better.
Life is so much easier to navigate in many ways than it was when I was young – travel is more accessible, working remotely is more accessible and a complete opportunity for anyone willing to try, experiencing the world, knowing ourselves and truly living life – it’s all far more available than it used to be too.
We are all completely abundant in choice and able to create our future and our present reality and that’s something I don’t want to take away from my child by socialising her into feeling that she can only be enough if she achieves certain things.
We are all enough as we are, we’ve just been convinced otherwise and if I can give Yvie the knowledge that she is already and will always be enough then I’ll be proud of my life’s achievements.
Another reason we’ve made the decision to home school.
my biggest tip with making the decision to home school
My biggest tip if you’re on the brink of making the decision yourself would be to know why it is you’re feeling as though home schooling your child will be the better option for your family and really feel into it.
Make a list – write down the pro’s and con’s and go through each one with a fine tooth comb and energetically ask what you feel about these things – our intuition can tell us so much more than our logic can sometimes so its crucial we work with our bodies, hearts and minds on making a decision that can change so much for our and our childrens futures.
It is a tough decision to make but the journey is never as hard as we think it’s going to be and there are some incredible resources out there for you to tap into to make the journey so much easier (more on this in my next post on homeschooling).
And remember that there are options. You don’t have to home school 5 days a week, you don’t have to homeschool within the hours of 9-3pm, you don’t have to home school at home even!
The best way our children learn is through experiencing things – watch them keenly, figure out what they’re more interested in doing, push the boundaries of their curiosity and play by moving activities along with an air of ‘what if’ – it not only peaks their interest but it teaches us so much too.
other points to consider when making your decision
Firstly – ask not only what your child needs but what you need to feel good about what you’re doing with your time. It’s so important that we get space for our own well-being. I’m an introvert so need down time to rest and recharge, to be creative – in order to feel like myself, happy and as though I’m achieving something so ask what it is you need and filter this into your decision.
We decided to use a combination of playgroup / kindergarten and home schooling so that I could still get time to work in or on my business and so that Yvie gets time out of the house playing with other children. It’s a combo that we will be putting into place in the new year after we return from our Bali trip but for now she is at playgroup a few days a week and we spend our afternoon’s either doing activities together or free play.
As I’ve already mentioned – time doesn’t have to be an issue. You don’t have to feel as though your child will fall ‘behind’ if you homeschool 2-3 days a week and work on your business for the rest of the time, after all, behind is just a measure of what everyone else is doing and thats the whole point we home school right? – to allow our children to develop at their own pace.
Where time does matter obviously is when we have to work – it’s a juggle balancing children with work as it is, we don’t want to be juggling homeschooling whilst we are working so perhaps consider how you can draw definite boundaries in your time for all you need to do. If you’d like a little help with balancing that juggle between motherhood and business give this post a read.
Obviously work has to be of importance to us as business owners but that doesn’t mean that either have to suffer if you do feel that you want to do both. It does take discipline and organisation but as with any new routine once you’re in the swing of it it’s never as hard as we imagined it would be.
Most people I speak to raise the social aspect as a huge concern when we talk about home schooling. The truth is that although kids love to play with other kids, they’re not fussy about who it is they’re sociable with. In other words, so long as you, other adults, family, friends create space to play with them – in the way that they love to play, they’ll still be learning and they’ll still be happy little people.
My daughter asks if she will meet other children her age that she can play with and have things in common with when we go away – she wants to know if they’ll be girls, 3 years old and who like the same toys and I always tell her maybe before we go into a conversation about people liking different things, that being ok and that through life we all meet very different people that we can still be great friends with. She always seems happy with that – I’ll fill you in on how it goes when we are living in Bali!
I’ve found that whenever we are out my daughter gravitates towards playing with older children which just goes to show – our children don’t have to be of the same age to play incredibly well together or learn from each other.
There are home schooling groups and clubs as well as flexi schools available for kids to meet other children as well as your children having friends socially in the area / family etc. In other words – your child doesn’t need school in order to learn about society, community and make friends.
YOUR CHILDS PERSONALITY
Your child – like mine – may be more suited to home schooling. But there are children who aren’t and benefit massively from being taught by someone who isn’t Mummy or Daddy.
And on that note I have to say 2 things – firstly – we don’t have to teach our children in the same way our teachers at school taught us – we can guide and lead our children in more creative ways.
And secondly – there is always help available for working through issues within the homeschooling community. For example if I try to show my daughter the ‘pincer’ way of holding a pen or pencil to help her with her colouring she immediately drops it and goes to do something else – it’s taken someone outside of her family to help her with this and the end result is never a closed process.
With my daughter not wanting to try to hold the pencil between her thumb and finger it could be a matter of a few things that are putting her off – her muscles may not be strong enough to hold it that way comfortably, she has a fear around doing it ‘wrong’, she doesn’t like how it feels or can’t control the pencil when she holds it that way. The end result is never a closed process – there are always other factors to take into consideration so if you think that possibly your child will not listen, is strong willed or won’t learn from you – it’s not always true, there are other ways of teaching / learning and there is support out there for you.
TUTORS / HOME SCHOOLING PROGRAMMES
Its so important to know that you’re not alone in things.
When we made the decision to home school I hadn’t realised quite how many online home schooling learning programmes there are available – and each of those that we have tried has a great support forum if you’re coming into contact with any learning issues.
Remember there will always be teething problems too as you both settle into doing things in a new way.
I personally see our home schooling journey right now as an extension of how we already do things. Say for example you play with your child by creating pictures – drawing or painting, you can extend that play by using different materials – glue glitter to leaves after you’ve collected those leaves, cut the leaves down the middle to make them symmetrical before you go glue and glitter, create hedgehog pictures with the rest of the leaves – and before you know it one activity has taken up three hours and covered so many different areas in your childs development: math, sensory, creativity, communication / social development, physical development.
It doesn’t have to be as rigid as we think.
Tutors are available online or in person for additional support if your child needs it and homeschooling programmes and Facebook groups provide fantastic support too.
Again though – write it all down if you’re trying to make a decision to home school or not, mull it over and remember that this decision isn’t one that has to be set in stone – you are able to change your mind after a few months and enrol your child into the school system if it doesn’t work out for you.
Also your decision to home school – or not – doesn’t define you, it just means that you’re carefully considering what is best for you and your family over what we’re told – and that’s pretty dang sexy if you ask me!
If you’re on the same path or journey I would love to hear from you about your experiences, drop me a comment below and don’t be shy – it can be such a scary decision to make but you’re not alone in how you feel.