This post has been in my drafts folder for days now. Its obviously feeling as sluggish as I am!
John Holt was widely considered to be the most influential expert on the positive benefits of homeschooling and his books are still regarded as the main turn-to texts for those considering home education; trust me, I had to wait an age to get my hands on ‘Teach Your Own’ through our library! We returned it yesterday afternoon. Reading it has helped me consider how to best answer the most frequently asked questions from those who query your plans, or think you’re just plain bonkers! It’s also helped me firm up in my own mind that I’m not completely mad to be seriously considering it.
last week at school there have been some emotional ups and downs amongst more than one family,and concerning people I know and care about. Thankfully we’re not involved at the sharp end, but it has made me question again how well schools are equipped to deal with problems Problems of children who don’t fit neatly into insitutionalised boxes, educationally or socially, and for those who might suffer from bullying or being treated aggressively. And yes, we’re talking about 6 and 7 year olds who attend a small chocolate-box rural village school of about 100 children. So its curious that the first thing, always the first thing, that people say when I talk about taking Boy 1 out of school is ‘but what about the social side of school? Surely he’d miss out?’. Here’s what John Holt has to say about it. When put into context with the past week at school, it makes perfect sense:
If there were no other reason for wanting to keep kids out of school, the social life would be reason enough. In all but a very few of the schools I have taught in, visited, or know anything about, the social life of the children is mean-spirited, competitive, exclusive, status-seeking, snobbish, full of talk about who went to whose birthday party, and who got what Christmas presents and who got how many valentines cards and who is talking to so and so and who is not. Even in the first grade, classes soon divide up into leaders (energetic and – often deservedly – popular kids), their bands of followers, and other outsiders who are pointedly excluded from these groups.
Teach Your Own: The John Holt Book of Homeschooling, John Holt & Pat Farenga
I’ve asked Boy 1 about this in a round about way, usually when he’s been moaning about going to school. I’ve asked ‘but surely you’d miss your friends if you didn’t go to school?’. Astonished, his reply was, ‘of course not. I’d have play dates with them plus I have friends at drama club and Beavers anyway’. True. He’s sociable and so I am. I don’t see it being an huge issue. Interestingly, I met unexpectedly with his Headteacher and it was his first question, too, when explained my concerns and possible intentions. People really do worry about it but really, can socialisation only happen (or even really happen) when you’re in a room of 28 people the exact same age you are? Surely mixing with a range of people and ages is of greater benefit to overall social confidence?
There are no guarantees that we will establish out Reggio School (this week’s forthcoming budget may even axe the freeschools initiative fullstop). And even if we do there are no guarantees that we will open with a class for Boy 1 to attend, as he will be entering Yr4 by then. Homeschooling may be a stop-gap or it may be a forever thing. Its a major decision. So my brain is working overtime on thinking about that and plugging away with the Reggio School project. And being ill with a cold. Again.
Amongst all the heavy duty thinking over this past week, these have made me smile: