I never had any intention of sending my son to school at the age of 4. In my eyes that is plain madness – sorry to offend if you are one of those parents or guardians who did or will. I want my children to have a childhood and not a ‘tablehood’ or ‘cramhood’ or ‘assessmenthood’ of D of E rhetoric at such a tender age. I know that many children in countries around Europe don’t start formal education until the age of 6 or 7. We also have a substantial body of evidence in the UK, which demonstrates that formal education at an early age, and also sending summer born children to school too early, is profoundly damaging. Full-time home education was not an option for us, however much we’d love to engage. But the halfway house of flexi-school was an option.
So here we are, flexi-schooling our adorable and curious 5 year old son! We are the in-betweeners; the one’s rejecting full-time muddled up, and seriously fucked up, state education, with its never ending assessment for our nation’s children under the crushing burden of funding cuts. Our educational system is not child-centered.
Our fab journey into flexi-schooling started 8 months ago. Our five year old simply loves home education whilst attending a fabulous small village primary school part-time. As parents, we love being in-betweeners too! It’s not that we just get to dispense with the hell of the school run 3 days each week – and believe me it is bloody hell – we spend over 2 hours on a school day stuck in the car. Instead, it is the full package, which flexi-schooling can bestow upon the child and their family life, that we embrace.
Home education is amazingly efficient. In our case my son has one-to-one tuition with mummy. Literacy and numeracy can be covered much quicker and we can also spend more time on projects that fuel his interests and passions. What is there not to like really!
The spontaneity of home education is an education in itself, which demonstrates that learning is an organic process and it does not need to be highly structured, planned or quantified for a child to benefit. On a rainy home ed day we usually stay home and do stuff indoors, yet on those beautiful sunny days we are free and unencumbered to take learning under the sun to spend time gardening, walking, or visits to the seaside or to activity centres.
I am always amazed at the sheer misconceptions or educational Gove-esk propaganda surrounding flexi-schooling. NO my child is not isolated and nor does he miss out on those days he does not attend school. In fact, he happily and confidentially returns to school to see his friends and teachers and to engage in the activities of that school day. He then skips out of class to engage in the wonders of home ed and extra time with his baby sister. I’d even go so far to say that my son’s flexi-schooling enhances the school environment.
Why? Well, other kids are interacting with and embracing a child who is passionately learning in a different way – learning different topics and engaging in different subjects, experiencing different activities – all of which my little boy enthusiastically shares with his classmates. Due to the one-to-one home tuition, my little one is also ‘up there’ with his numeracy and general knowledge – surely that can only be a good thing for any school. The amount of time we dedicate to child-centered activities and days out also ensures that his language and social skills are advanced. But of course these building blocks of life aren’t new to us; we’ve been doing them since the second he was born. Education doesn’t only happen in schools.