I'm a home-educating mama of five children – girls aged 2, 11, and 17 and boys aged 7 and 15. We live in Devon and have been travelling along the home-education journey for the past 10 years. I can’t imagine our life worked around the structure of a school day now. Our days have been truly transformed and I always say that home-education is a lifestyle choice, not purely an educational one. We have met some amazing families that we never would have crossed paths with if it had not been for our decision to home-ed. Strong friendships have been formed and my entire outlook on life and parenting have been changed.
I am always more than happy to talk to people with an interest in home-education or those just beginning the adventure. I remember clearly those initial few months that appeared so daunting and I remember having a million questions I wished to ask but didn't want to bother a stranger with. The feeling of taking a huge leap into full responsibility for my children’s education was massive. Even though I knew as a parent the responsibility was mine already, it just seemed so much greater not having ‘professionals’ involved in the teaching. What if I couldn't teach my child how to read? What if I didn't know how to teach handwriting in the right way? How on earth can I teach numeracy when I struggled to get my head around much of it when I was in school?
All of these fears seem so daft now, but 10 years ago they were very real. I was sat at the kitchen table, armed with a timetable, all neatly printed out with traditional school subjects split into lessons. My then two school-aged children were sat opposite me with pen and paper in hand and facial expressions of anticipation, wondering what mama was going to have in store for them. I didn't know there was another way other than the traditional school at home route and thought that was the only way children could learn.
Oh how that perception changed – and very quickly!
Just recently I was reminded of my feelings back then by a question I received from a new home-educating mama. She asked “Ok, I have followed the de-registration procedure. I have taken my child out of school and we are going to home-educate. But, what on earth do I do now? What do I teach him? Where do I start?!” I could understand that mama feeling a little out of her depth and overwhelmed and it made me think back to how I first felt all that time ago. I had never known anyone that had been home-educated, I didn't know that it was a legal option and I didn't really think for one minute that I, with my limited educational background and qualifications, would be in the position to ever be able to offer an educational experience of high worth to my own children. Now I know only too well that the school model of education is not perfect, it has many flaws, and that any parent with a love for their child and the willingness to offer time and resources can be a good home-ed parent, and provide a far more than adequate education for their child.
You don’t have to be wealthy in financial terms, you don’t have to be highly educated, you don’t have to be a teacher and nor do you need to seek the services of specialist tutors.
The home-education community is vast and ever-growing. People are joining in daily from all walks of life and backgrounds. Rich and poor, large families and small, single parent families through to happily married ones, those highly qualified with a string of letters after their name and those that didn't manage to gain a single GCSE. It doesn't matter. We all have one thing in common and that is the welfare and happiness of our children. I am mightily proud to be a part of it and if I can help and encourage others along the way then I am happy to do so.
I hope that those about to embark on their journey enjoy it as much as we have here in the Pollard household and if you ever need a reassuring word or a supportive ear, please do get in touch.