There aren’t many whole days that I could describe as ‘glorious’, but they come as moments, sometimes hours if we’re lucky. They’re the moments our kids are rolling around laughing and making up funny rhymes or working together on building a den. With my oldest child, it’s now seeing and hearing her prioritise her studies because she loves what she’s learning and wants to develop. It’s seeing her set a goal of reading 50 books in a year and then diligently and joyfully achieve her own goal, or hearing her enthusiastically relay the lesson she’s just had as part of her online course.
It’s watching the kids work together to make smoothies for breakfast, with no rush to be anywhere else, hearing them all recite a long passage we’ve been working on together. ‘Glorious’ is the freedom we feel exploring a museum or zoo together (but watching with sadness as the party of school children are shunted from place to place without time to dive deeply into anything).
I remember reading aloud to us all, snuggled together in front of the fire, with blankets, the children begging for ‘just one more chapter’. It’s watching the younger children play and play and play and never run out of steam or enthusiasm. I’ve watched them huddle together to watch our cat give birth and spend many hours just cuddling kittens. We’ve had long Autumn walks in the woods with hot chocolate in a flask and days at the beach without the crowds. My boys spent most of last winter shooting a football, practicing their goalie skills. I wouldn’t have planned the wet winter months for that, but it was what they were in to. We’ve grown the ability to all lounge together on the sofas reading silently for an hour (my favourite time of every day!) and our youngest child chooses to complete an English language lesson in his workbook during this time. Every morning over breakfast, he can’t wait to flip the page and see the ‘word of the day’, reading about it with genuine enthusiasm and using it in conversation weeks later. Our boys all love playing card and board games and we play around the lounge coffee table or outside in the garden on a sunny day. I’m sure much of their mental maths and reading skills have been learned through these games. In my mind’s eye, I can see them returning from forest school; walking up the track with sticks in hand, covered in mud and chanting with their friends. That is the glory and freedom of home education.
My happiest memories are the everyday memories of childhood, but when you home educate you have so many more hours to make those memories, without rushing and shepherding them to the next thing. If they need to sleep, they can sleep. You can start your day cuddling in bed together with tea and stories and no rush to move on. Bedtimes can be unhurried with peace knowing that they are tired in the way they should be – their bodies have moved and jiggled when they needed to and are as ready for sleep as their minds.
Of course, it’s not all glorious…
I remember reading the advice to just get used to your house being messy, and totally not embracing that idea! I’ve never enjoyed the chaotic environment that our home can become, but I’ve learned that there are times when it’s ok to leave it, and also how to create rhythms of clearing up. I’ve also grown in patience and tolerance for being around the children all the time. I’m a highly sensitive introvert and find it hard to be in a noisy place for long, but I’ve learned ways of coping and managing this. Parents of school children often comment that they’d find it hard to be with their children all day, but the life of home education is very different. I remember my children coming home from school frazzled and irritable and a bit wild, but that rollercoaster is rare when they’re not schooled. My parenting greatly developed when I realised that patience is a choice. My capacity for being around children is much bigger than many people’s and that’s not because I was born that way; it’s a skill that has grown because I’ve followed a path I’m passionate about.
Written by Rachel and uploaded by Streams.