Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Spotlight on Homeschooling Series: Ann

This week's spotlight is really interesting to me, because Ann is a mama in the UK. I was very curious to hear her responses, and how homeschooling is handled in England!

1. How old is/are your kid(s)?

5 years (born in September 05) and 10 months (you know that one! hehe)

2. How long have you been homeschooling?

Since birth really. Though my oldest was 2 when I decided we would home educate.

3. What made you choose to homeschool?

We chose to home educate for a variety of reasons. I started thinking about it when most of my sons friends were starting preschool. Most of his friends are a year older than him and in this country they call it 'free for three' - which means, the term after your child turns three, they can go to nursery for free (up to 15 hours a week). I think they are actually changing that - starting at 2 and for more hours. This is to prepare them to school - apparently.

Well Duncan is lucky in that he is born in September so he would be 5 (just) when he started school (Hamish not so lucky - as he would only be four!)...but that is one reason we decided to home ed ...the start age is far TOO young. Which leads to a whole other group of reasons why we choose to home ed...I also did not want to send him to preschool. I saw how they treated children and it just did not fit in with my own parental practices. School would be just the same.

4. Is there a particular style you use (e.g. Montessori, spiritual, etc) and why?

We are pretty 'autonomous'. In America you call this 'unschooling'. This is because I think children know best what they 'need' to learn. I want learning to always be fun for my children. I believe they are naturally curious - and like most things I do - I let them be child led and am stood by to help nurture them/guide/help them on their path.

5. Do you believe you will homeschool for your child(ren)'s entire academic life, or do you plan on using public, private or charter schools at some point?

I will home educate them unless they ask to go to school.

6. How do you respond to claims that homeschooling children leads to socialization issues and doesn't prepare children for the 'real world'?

I always get asked this when my son is running off and playing with other children - so I don't get it! I personally think home educated children are more well rounded when it comes to socialisation. At least more 'realistic' and 'practical'?... My son is not stuck in a class with 30 other children the same age as himself (blind leading the blind?) or restricted to a strict time-table that has been made up for them. In a typical day he socialises just fine with many different children AND adults of all ages...just as you or I do! As tempting as it might be...we don't actually lock our children in a loft/basement all day long! hehe

7. What is your biggest worry about homeschooling?

I guess my biggest worry is that he won't be able to get a good job?...(as we unschool it all)...but then I think I would be worried about that regardless! So many people are coming out of university these days with a degree and no job for it!

8. Briefly, what are your state's (or in this case, country's) guidelines for homeschooling families?

There are no guidelines here in the UK. Home ed is legal. Anyone can do it. You don't have to tell anyone - you don't have to follow a curriculum and your child does not have to get tested. The only 'rule' is, if your child is ALREADY in school - and you take them out - then you have to inform the LEA (local education authority). This is just so they know (perhaps they also want to know why you took them out - was the school bad, etc...as that would reflect on their reports of the school). They may want to stop by your house and see how you are getting on - but they are in no way in control of the situation and what you choose to do/how you choose to home ed. You don't have to let them in either (they can be a bit like leaches if you do!).

I have to say - I am always amazed to hear the laws in the US regarding home ed because I always thought of America as 'the land of the free' and I get the impression that if I were to live there, I would feel far from 'free' (especially compared to the UK). Of course there was - and probably always will be - some recent stunts of crap flown about (like claims that they need to do more checks on children that are being home educated because it could be used as a cover for abuse - load of crap!) where they try to pass laws that make such things legal requirements ...but they have so far always got knocked down fast and furious.

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