This week has been busy in Home Education land. In the recent few months we've been away from school, although I've tried to push the written work ethic to my three, I recognise the different and similar wishes in each of them - in that, workbooks are not the only way of learning. Having tried to push workbooks time and again, I am realising that it's me that feels pressure to get them writing things down and although my eldest is happy to cover some work in the written sense, much of the time, all of mine are reading, playing, chatting and researching ... or out and about with their mum! I tried recently to enroll them in a language class and my eldest words were, 'Mum, you just don't get it yet. We learn in a different way now.' So I cancelled the class - for now - and paid attention to her words.
This week's adventures have included strolling with the woofer in the woods and at our local Heath, where there is plenty of opportunity to play at the park there, too. This week there were a load of scouts learning to canoe, which was fun to observe. My three were happy to comment and my two eldest were keen to advise they preferred kayaking to canoeing.
We loved going to AirHop in Guildford with other HE families and for the first time I noticed my children all felt bold enough to include themselves in play with others, properly. They all enjoyed Dodge Ball and bouncing and dancing (my youngest) 'to make sure you avoid the balls being thrown!' She contorted herself into different shapes as the music played and the balls flew in her direction!
My eldest was leaping off a trampoline into a foam pit and was chatting to a lovely boy, a budding dancer. After that hour of fun, we were saying our farewells and I got chatting to this young man's mum. It was lovely to know she was still fairly new to home ed, but had been considering it for a long time for her boy. As we chatted, the children bundled around in the car, giggling and making up games. It's amazing how a 'hello' and a positive attitude and open heart can pave the way for friendship.
Later in the week, we enjoyed an amazing tour round the Royal Navy Submarine Museum. The gentleman leading the evening was superbly knowledgeable and the children were all engaged. It was great to have hubby there with us, too and we enjoyed looking inside the first ever WWI submarine. It was quite incredible and we can't wait to go back! My son is still unkeen to sit in a class environment, but the moment we were out and about, the level of connection he made with all that the information he was being given, was great to see. My eldest also made a friendship connection and as the evening ended, I asked her if she'd like to make the effort to stay in touch with her., so we joined her family and politely asked if it would be ok to arrange a play date and her parent agreed. It was a lovely moment to see my eldest's face light up, realising that she can still make friends outside of the school gates and forge friendships away from the classroom.
Yesterday, we enjoyed an amazing trip to Marwell Zoo - a place we've not been for a few years, but all the memories of them all being so tiny reappeared in my mind as I strolled round with them and the group of HE children. They all enjoyed the train and were enamoured by the leopards, cheetahs, penguins, zebras, flamingoes, rhinos and meerkats giraffes amongst many others. What I noticed most is that now they are that bit older, the journey round was slower, so they could look at the animals, read about them and ask questions as we wandered along. They were engaged and happy and the play areas that have been created were a welcome space to let off steam and challenge their climbing and teamwork skills!
Friendship and socialisation seems to be the one big myth about home education. Your children can be as social as they want to be. There are so many groups and there is so much support, that you can't really go wrong. There are sports groups, activities, general social get-togethers, events, you make connections quickly, as you're all in the same boat, so the option for play dates is there almost immediately. We are looking forward to meeting our new friends from the AirHop gathering again in a couple of weeks. It is massively important, the socialisation bit. However, it's really nonsense to say that children who are not in school miss out on the social aspect. That's the fear of the person speaking those concerns. They don't miss out, but they do have a choice about the friendships they make.
As I sit here today, planning the week ahead and listening to my children giggling downstairs, I am content to know we are truly on the path that is right for them, whatever lies ahead and we will continue to make more connections along this journey. You see, we have the freedom to do that now, properly and it's a gift. Really, it is and if you are a parent considering this option for your children; yes, think about it carefully and consider all the pros and cons. Then discuss it with your children and involve them in the process and at the end of the day, if it feels right for you, then it probably is.