Going against the grain – deciding to home educate

IMG_2715A year ago, I would never have believed I would be writing this post.

Home education sort of happened upon us, without us looking for it.

Yes, I once had a conversation with a friend about our vague mutual interest in home education, but then my own firstborn had not even turned one year old and my second child had not even appeared in our lives. And the thought was filed away in the course of having another child, relocating to a different city, learning a new way of life.

But it was a thought which kept being brought back to me. At first, I resisted. No, Lord, this is not for us. Little by little, the drip, drip of snippets of information stirred me to seek, and once I had begun to sought, I was stirred to pray.

And the more I sought, and the more I prayed, the more my heart changed, and the more I felt convinced that home education might just be the right thing for this little family.

It is a deeply divisive issue. I have encountered so many different opinions from so many different quarters. So I want to say at the outset of this journey that I don’t believe that choosing this path makes us better than anyone else, nor that it is the path to perfection, nor that everyone should take this path. We are just a family humbly doing what feels right for us. We are willing to go against the grain and try something different, something daunting. We are willing to home educate for one term, or one year, or on and off, or for the whole of our children’s school years. We are willing to try, we are willing to succeed, and we are willing to be proved wrong. We are willing.

Since deciding not to send Sophie to mainstream school this year, I’ve encountered all sorts of reactions from people around me. There have been many questions, many criticisms… That is hard to handle, especially when it comes from close friends and family. But there have also been many compliments. The very day that we (nervously) formally declined the school place we had been offered, I talked with a stranger, a woman who didn’t home educate her own children, but told me that what I was doing was amazing, and that the home-educated teenagers and children she knew were ‘absolutely incredible’ individuals, so articulate, so bright, so confident. When I was having a wobble, that was a great thing to hear.

The arguments about the benefits of home education are well-rehearsed around the internet, and the main criticisms are easy to counter. (Is it legal? Yes. What about socialising? They socialise with other home-educated children, through groups and activities, and with a wider range of people than they would in a classroom with one or two adults and 29 other children of their own age. Where do you get your curriculum? From life, books, my brain, and the internet.)

So, here we are. It’s September, and we’re a home educating family.

A family with their own children
delighting in learning and living right at home
without “going to school”.

Susan Schaeffer Macaulay, in ‘For the Children’s Sake’, p.9

Surprised, excited, and daunted doesn’t cover it.

(We’re also moving house next week so, you know, things are a little busy around here!)