Note from Naomi: Todays post is a guest post from the lovely Tanya from Happy Handley. She is a 32 mum of 4 who has been married to her husband for just over 10 years. She started blogging in January 2015. If you like what she has written here, then you will love her blog. Check it out here.
I am Tanya, I am married to Steve and we have 4 children, three girls aged 8, 5 and 3 and one boy aged 7. We live on the Dorset/Wiltshire border amongst beautiful countryside. We have been home educating since January 2015, when we took the older two out of school. Our younger two have never been to school although our 5 year did go to pre-school for a while.
Home educating is something I have always wanted to do I thought you had to do “school at home”.
When the older two were struggling at school for different reasons I researched home education. I joined Facebook groups and scoured the internet. I spoke to many people online and asked lots of questions. I discussed it with my husband and extended family and we planned to take the children out at the end of the spring term as I was mid-way through a course. However after a particularly difficult Friday for the children we decided to take them out and give home education a go. Every so often I get little niggles, wondering if we’re doing “enough” but then I look at how much happier my children are, I see how far they’ve come and how much they’ve learned and I know we did the right thing.
When we first took them out of school we “deschooled” which simply means we just took time to get school out of systems. We took the strict structure out of our lives and went to meet-ups; cooked together; played; explored; and got to really know each other.
I learned so much about my children in the first few months of them being out of school.
I found out that my eldest had a passion for history and that my son excelled at mental arithmetic. After seeing how much they were learning through everyday life we became an “unschooling” family, meaning that we have no structured learning, we don’t follow the national curriculum. We learn through everyday life, through going to the shops, the library, and museums. We learn outside and inside, we learn all day long and often into the night too! We love spending time outdoors, gardening, growing fruit and vegetables, looking after our animals, climbing trees and building dens. The children all have unlimited screen time and I was surprised at how well they manage their time, even the smallest. They don’t spend all day everyday glued to the PC or TV. They play educational apps such as Reading Eggs, they play Minecraft, they run shops on Roblox, they enjoy science videos on YouTube and watch films about nature. They also turn the screens off when they have finished and play with toys, bake cakes, do colouring and crafts, they love riding their bikes and trampolining too.
We are a much happier family since we started home educating. I have found that the children get on so much better, before they’d get home from school tired, grouchy and snap at each other. As neither of them were particularly happy at school either they would take out their frustrations on each other and on us. However now they are happier and more relaxed they get on so well, they help each other with problems, teach each other, read together, play together and cuddle more. There are obviously times when they have spats as they are siblings, but those times are fewer and they recover from them much quicker. We also sleep better, we have more time outside getting fresh air and exercising, and we are able to wake up when we are ready and don’t have to be rudely awaken by alarm clocks during a really great dream!
We have all made so many new friends of all ages, and we socialise in a much more natural way. We are able to push our social comfort zones when we go somewhere new and meet new people. I love mixing with such a wide variety of people but having common ground with each of them because of how we educate our children.
For me the best thing about home education is how much time we have, if the children are really involved in an activity they can see it through to the end. We have to talk about what interests them, scares them, excites them and what makes them happy. I have time to watch them grow.
I want my children to grow up to be happy, headstrong, independent adults and I feel that home education is the best way for us to achieve this.
For anyone that is thinking about home educating their children I would say “Go for it!”. Life is short, and there is no harm in trying. Enjoy the time you have with your children, relax, have fun, laugh and the learning will come naturally.
I keep a blog to record what we’ve been up to, I also share on social media such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. It’s nice for friends and family near and far to see what we do and learn about our lifestyle choices.