Sunday 2 September 2018

Reflections on 1 Year of Home Education

It's hard to believe our first year of home education is over. On the one hand, looking back over the blog, we can see how many different things we have done, on the other hand it feels as though time has rushed passed so quickly!

We have enjoyed home education, albeit in an increasingly hostile political environment, and look forward to home educating two children from tomorrow.

Solomon's progress
On the practical level of his reading, writing, and arithmetic, Solomon is undoubtedly progressing well. Although his handwriting isn't astronomically different between the beginning and the end of his first year, he now happily writes much more, more fluently, and without needing as much help with spelling. 

Home Education Diaries
He is now starting his key stage 2 maths workbooks, and loves to read a wide variety of books to himself (especially Beast Quest, Dirty Bertie, Horrid Henry, and 13 Storey Treehouse). The only problem with his reading is that because it's so good, we probably don't read with him as much as we should.

We've enjoyed the project based approach to home education. It gives the week structure, but without being too rigid. Every project inevitably spawns ideas for new projects, so there's always a growing list of projects and topics we want to explore. We'll continue with this approach for the next year. 

Negative views of home education
Whilst we are happy with our home education decisions, it seems as though society increasingly isn't. I'm not sure if it's because we are now home educating that we are more aware of the criticisms of it (i.e., frequency illusion), or if there is a rise in criticisms in response to the rise of home education. Either way it feels as though there are increased calls to clamp down on the current freedom to home educate. 

Hostility to home education is evidenced by the Home Education Bill of the Labour peer Lord Soley and the home education policy of the Liberal Democrats. Lord Soley's bill, currently making its way through the houses of parliament, calls for local authorities to monitor children receiving elective home education, and the Liberal Democrats, a supposedly liberal party, have an increasingly illiberal home education policy:
"9.1.3 We would therefore require that children who are being educated outside a registered school be visited biannually by a representative of the LA to ensure that appropriate education was being given and that such children are being educated in line with the national curriculum entitlement set out above, with a focus on those who have minimal contact with agencies and are at risk of falling through the system."
It is depressing how quickly politicians are willing to intrude into family life, and dictate what and how parents teach their children. Millions of children are currently being failed by underfunded schools which are unfit for the purpose of educating children in a changing world, and yet the state continues to try and impose its failing model on parents who are trying to do the best for their children. 

Education is more than the creation of conformist consumerist cogs, and it is concerning how quickly our freedoms are being thrown away and we move towards a situation where our children belong to the state rather than their family. As an economic socialist what I find particularly depressing is the fact that I will have to rely on the Tories to defend our human rights.

Nonetheless, for now, we will continue to embrace the freedoms we have and argue against those attempts to take them away. 

Our growing class
It's not only the end of our first year of home education, but also the end of home educating just one child. From Monday the blog will become 'Educating Solomon and Monica' as our four year old is now officially of school age.

As a summer child, the idea of putting Monica into a school is even more farcical than it would have been for Solomon. She is a child who seems more likely to be bothered by peer-pressure, and if there is one thing that we've picked up from parents who do have their kids in school, is how quickly the children descend into cliques and some become ostracised. Whilst 'socialization' is increasingly promoted as an important part of school (because the education arguments so often fail), school socialization seems to have more in common with Lord of the Flies than the ideal promoted in the press. 

Monica can already read and write, and is looking forward to starting her official home education. For us there will be the challenge of balancing Solomon's and Monica's interests, and as Monica has already mentioned she wants to do projects on Frozen and 'talking horses' we know we will have to be very selective with her choices!

So , all in all, despite the politicians' best efforts, we've had a good year, and look forward to the next year ahead.

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