We’ve been home educating our girls for six months now and I must say I’ve been genuinely surprised by the amount of interest and encouragement I’ve received, both online and in real life. Yes I get a few negative comments and blank stares from time to time when people realise my kids don’t actually attend a school, but overall people have seemed intrigued and inspired by our flexible learning lifestyle.
As people have slowly found out that we’re home educating I have naturally received a lot of questions in regard to homeschooling in Guernsey and have discovered two things:
- There are way more people on Guernsey interested in home educating than I first thought, and
- That some people have a very limited view of what home educating actually is, how it can be done and why you would do it in the first place.
I therefore thought I would collate the main questions and misconceptions I come across here, because perhaps it’ll give you some much needed answers too.
1. Do people actually do that on Guernsey?
Why yes they do! We’re not the first family and we certainly won’t be the last. In fact the numbers are growing every year as more families choose to educate their children outside of the traditional school system.
2. Why would you do that when there are so many good schools on island?
Simply put, because we want to. What you have to realise is that although education may be compulsory, schooling is not and for many families like ours, home educating is simply a lifestyle choice. There is no questioning the fact that the schools in our area are indeed very good, but home educating isn’t just for those families who can’t access good schools.
3. What do you do?
I’ve come to learn that when people ask this question what they’re actually trying to do is get a visual on what home educating looks like for us in our home environment. As minimalist homeschoolers we do not have a dedicated homeschool room and simply use our main living areas to learn in. Our dining table is used for arts, crafts and nature journaling as we store all of our craft materials in a cabinet near by and it will eventually become the place where we do our “Table Time” work, also known as reading, writing and maths. Lots of toys and books are stored in the lounge and this is where we do some of my favourite learning. It’s the place where we gather together for morning book baskets and random story times, it’s also the place where we play games and work out puzzles. There are of course lots of outings and groups, but this is what we do at present in our homeschool environment.
4. What do you have to do?
Well according to the education law here in Guernsey we simply have to provide “an efficient, full-time education suitable to the child’s age, ability and aptitude” how we put this into practice is very much our choice. There are no set timetables, curriculums or subjects that we have to follow and we actually have great freedom in choosing what we learn and when. We personally do not follow the national curriculum and are very much led by our girls interests and abilities.
5. How many hours do you have to do?
We do not need to log a certain amount of hours per week and for us it would actually be kind of hard to gauge how many hours we do because for us family life is very much the curriculum right now. We do no formal lessons at this stage, no reading, no writing, no maths, and we’re not restricted to our home during school hours on a Monday to Friday. It’s all very flexible. I personally choose to do school 4 days a week from Monday-Thursday with Friday being for library visits and social groups. I anticipate that when we start introducing reading, writing and maths to Blossom from around age 6 that her main Table Time school work will be around 30 minutes a day, 4 days per week. Most tell me that even into the High School years work is often done within 2 hours a day, meaning that many kids do school in the mornings and have afternoons free for extra curricular activities, crafts and hobbies.
6. Who assesses you?
Here in Guernsey (as in England) no one actually assesses us. We simply informed the Education Department of our intention to home educate and an education officer now visits us at home every 6 months or so to see how we’re getting on and to offer support. This is not actually a mandatory visit, but one we welcome. We simply sit on the sofa, sip tea and show off some of Blossom’s recent work.
7. Aren’t you worried about socialisation?
Ooh the big one! This question comes up a lot and seems to stem from the misconception that homeschooled kids are sat at home all day every day pathetically trying to recreate the school classroom on their own. As I mentioned before life is the curriculum which makes the world their classroom and their class mates their community. My girls have regular play dates with friends, weekly outings with grandparents, attend girl guiding groups and holiday clubs, take part in church groups and participate in a weekly home ed co-op group. So no, I’m not worried about socialisation. If anything I love that home educating allows them more time to mix with children and adults of varying ages.
Perhaps you have more specific questions in regard to how we educate our girls at home, what methods and resources we use, what we prioritise or avoid. Feel free to leave these questions in the comments and I will do my best to answer them in a future blog post.