We haven’t always been a home educating family. Our older two girls went to school for four and two years respectively. Our younger two have never been to school. But boy are we glad we took the risk and made the leap!
We’re four years home edding now and our girls are growing and learning and changing so quickly. Their interests are amazing and the things they love are so diverse. We switch from cooking to bird watching to Star Wars to nature studies to fitness and exercise to the oceans within the course of any given day.
Some days are amazing and easy and we get stuck into learning in a recognisable way, be that together with books, around a screen, deep in conversation or with a knowledgeable friend or acquaintance.
Other days I want to curl up in bed and leave them to it! Some days really are just a slog. I find myself saying the same annoying things over and over. I even wind myself up on those days!
So we put down what we’re doing and we shift: position, topic, location, tone of voice. The shifting breaks the frustration at whatever is not happening and enables us to move on beyond it.
This time of year makes it easier to shift. The sun is often out. The rain is holding off. The beach looks so inviting. So we change it up. We get out of the house. We see friends or go places. Learning becomes more child led, more autonomous.
Our girls are all so very different to each other: the routine driven book worm who loves solitary study and being inside: the nature loving dreamer who spends hours drawing and making up stories, yet barely ever sits down on a chair; the full of energy bursts legend who likes nothing better than being in the fresh air in good company; and the little soul who loves to sing and craves closeness and snuggles in front of the tv.
Their learning styles are similarly completely different. We have one very auditory learner, who picks things up amazingly quickly from audio books, podcasts and read alouds. One of the girls learns easily through pretty much any medium (she is so blessed!). And one is very visual. We haven’t quite yet worked out how our littlest learns most easily, as it is currently so impacted by her mood and trauma behaviours.
Their personalities and learning styles impact on everything that we do each day. If we have a day trip planned, one is bound to moan that she would rather stay home (or in the car) and read. If we stay home, one is asking to go for a walk from the minute we sit down to focus on something.
When I read to them, we have all sorts going on at the same time: there will be drawing, or colouring, or building Lego, or cuddling, or rolling around on the floor!
We are always working compromise and mutual support into our days. If we do that later, we need to do this first. One wants to sit here or do this, so another needs to be patient and wait to do her thing later.
Of late they have begun to work really well as a little team, which makes my heart soar. They have been plotting and scheming and learning new things together.
It’s a beautiful thing, to watch your children grow and develop. It feels like a privilege to see them doing so at their own pace and together as a family.