Rewind to 2002, I was walking away from my secondary school for the last time. I should have been full of hope, promise and excitement for things to come and yet I felt none of that. I felt fear, uncertainty, I felt lost.
School had failed to prepare me for the real world and I had no idea where I was going or what I was going to do with my life. Unfortunately that feeling continued and I went from job to job hoping to find my calling somewhere. I’ll never forget my school experience though, not smart enough to know everything, not naughty enough to require assistance, just somewhere in the middle, struggling. Bullied, made to feel inadequate by my teachers and my peers. I just never fitted in and that feeling continued into my work.
The day I became a mother I finally felt like this was what I was meant to do, but because of the things drilled into me at school I still feel a void for where a career should have gone and I still inadvertently find myself looking at jobs that might fill that void. Funny though, I’ll read the job description and that tiny voice in my head tells me ‘you couldn’t do that’ – just like it did in school.
Our education system has changed an awful lot since I went to school, five year olds now have mounds of homework, encroaching into all-important family time, children of all ages are regularly tested, purely for the purpose of seeing how the school is performing – it has nothing to do with the actual pupil. Mounds of pressure is being placed on the shoulders of young children and for what? To go through school and possibly higher education to find that there aren’t any jobs at the end of it, or that they are over qualified, or that they are like me, leaving school without the right tools to equip them in the real world. I’m not saying this is the case for everyone, but our education system is on its knees and beyond ridiculous in my opinion. Thousands of teachers are leaving and yet more and more pupils are being taken into already bursting schools at such young ages and are forced to learn things that the government deems necessary through way of the National Curriculum.
I think we need to take a leaf out of Finland’s book. Children don’t start school until the age of seven, they learn through play, they aren’t given homework or tests until well into their teens and their school day is shorter. And yet, their education system is one of the best in the world.
I feel sorry for the children of today. They don’t get to be children any more. My son should have started school this September aged four years and three months. Just writing that makes me feel sick and angry. He’s just a baby.
I do not want that for my children. I want them to be able to find their passion and follow it, I want them to learn through play, the way a child should learn. I want them to have a childhood. I want them to grow up happy, whatever that means for them. I do not want them to be sitting at 30 years old and have this void I have.
To put a finer point on it, I do not trust the education system in this country with my child and I do not think it has my child’s best interests in mind. Mentally, physically or spiritually.
Home education for us doesn’t mean sitting in front of desks in my front room. I recognise that learning happens everyday, in everything they do and it’s a wonder to watch. For as long as they want to, I will facilitate their learning in any way I can. I’m not their teacher because I am learning alongside them. They will learn HOW to teach themselves, which I feel is one of the best things about home education.
For now they don’t even realise they are learning, we make castles out of the sofa, we go dinosaur hunting in the woods, I set up the tuff tray with fun gooey things and small world play. My nights are taken up with researching our next topic or organising meet ups with local HE families. I like to set little play corners up, or set challenges for the next day.
I want to instil a sense of wonder about our world and the feeling that the world really is their oyster and they can go anywhere or do anything they choose. I want them to know that life isn’t about ticking the right box or fitting in.
People have and will continue to judge me for my choice but I think there just isn’t enough known about home education and so this stigma is created. It’s like any decision you will ever make; someone will have an opinion on it and will want to voice their opinion no matter what!
This has changed my whole outlook on life. I feel liberated. I am so looking forward to the years to come watching my boys grow and learn and find their passion and help them to follow it. Years filled with traveling the world (on a budget) and forging friendships, strengthening our family bond and growing together.
Life is what you make it. I plan to make it an amazing adventure.
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My world revolves around my two boys, they are the loves of my life. My other loves are animals, cars and dancing the night away!! In my life before children I was in security and feel like I’m still in that profession having to break these two up constantly. I struggle with confidence and my weight, I wish I could love myself more but hey, there’s still time to learn!
Image credit: Jodie Hayward