We have been homeschooling for nearly three years now. LissaLou went to nursery in the UK for 6 months and Ecole Maternelle in Guadeloupe for a year but the others have not attended any school.
People often ask why we homeschool, and I often reply how long have you got? Sometimes a very simple answer is all that is wanted, and I would hate to bore people with too many details! If that’s you, probably best stopping here! However, there are times when people are interested in the journey that brought us here, so this post is just for them!
It began with lots of reading about homeschooling in blogs and books, hearing about it from my sister with many homeschooled friends in the US, and then one of my closest friends choosing to educate her son this way. However, I have to admit that although I thought it sounded like a marvellous idea and completely in line with my philosophy of life (the major influence of children being their parents, the importance of the family as a unit, the too early rush into school for little children, the lack of individual attention and development in classes of 30…) my reaction was, I could never have the patience to do that! I couldn’t spend all day with my children, they would drive me mad!
My other reaction was related to being someone who doesn’t really like standing out from the crowd. In my younger years things like putting God first, being a model student, liking reading, working hard and enjoying classical music all made me something of an oddity in my inner London state school. As I grew, things like being in a mixed culture relationship, going grey early, choosing not to buy a house and being interested in healthy living only added to the mix. Why on earth would I choose to do yet another thing so obviously strange and different as homeschooling?!
Then came our year in Guadeloupe. At the age of 4, LissaLou was at school from 8am till 4.30pm. So long! Thankfully I was able to collect her for the two hour lunch break, otherwise I felt that I hardly saw her. I also felt slightly frustrated that she seemed to spend her days colouring in pictures. Meanwhile, CassCass was either having a wonderful time with her Papa running loose on his father’s piece of land in the countryside, helping him grow fruit and veg, or reading lots with me and playing with JoJo at home.
During our year there, the island ground to a halt with six weeks of strikes. No school, no anything in actual fact. But that’s another story! It was actually really delightful to have LissaLou at home with us, and we were able to do all sorts of interesting things as part of our “school” at home. Thus the seeds were planted, and I realised that not only could I do a reasonable job of teaching my children, I could spend even spend the whole day with them! That is, after all, exactly what I had been doing since they were born!
And so it all began to fall into place as we prepared for our return to the UK. We didn’t know for a long time where we would be returning to, let alone which school we should apply for. Beginning to homeschool therefore didn’t seem such a strange thing given our exceptional circumstances (schools in our borough are hugely over-subscribed and several people told me I probably wouldn’t get them a place quickly anyway!) and it gave us time to try it out and decide if it worked for us. “I’m just taking it year by year” was my favourite phrase then! Three year later, I can say it has definitely been working well for us!