Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Encouragement to New Home Educators regarding Deschooling

The subject of deschooling keeps coming up in conversation lately, often from those just starting their HE journey who aren't sure if it's the right way to go - I  know I'm only a few months into our own journey, but I'm already a firm convert, so I found my blog post from a couple of months ago where I was trying to work out whether or not we needed to deschool, ("To deschool - or not?"), and it did make me smile. At the time we had only been out of school for a few weeks, and I wrote, "Chances are, by the time 6 months is up, I'll know whether deschooling would have been a good idea". Well, I'm glad it didn't take me six months to work it out - it took less than three! And we are definitely deschooling! I really would recommend it to anyone just taking their child out of school and starting out on their Home Ed journey - it has given each of the boys (at least Eldest and Middle) a chance to rediscover their natural curiosity, regain confidence in themselves as learners, re-engage with their imagination and inventiveness, and just relax - while I have space to think - and think - and think some more about what Home Education means to us... and I have grown in confidence about not only the choice we have made to educate the boys at home but also the way we are proceeding with it. The more we meet with other Home Edders, read HE blogs and just discuss it ourselves, the clearer it all becomes - but it does take time, and time is exactly what deschooling has given us. There really is no race, no pressure, no danger of a child 'falling behind' - because true learning is neither a comparison nor competition. Deschooling has been the biggest gift to us as home educators, and I just wanted to share that with any other new Home Edders who might come across this post, before I wrote about any of the more usual 'diary stuff'...
So to today: well, Tuesday usually means craft club for us - and this morning was no exception.  Frustratingly we were a bit late getting out of the house.  It's a very relaxed group, so getting there slightly late isn't really a problem except that I do like to get there early enough to manoevre my big car into a parking space in the small carpark, and the less cars already there when I arrive, the better!  I did find a parking space when I eventually got there today, but it was an awkward one, and I ended up being blocked in after group finished, which wasn't much fun: trying to find the owner of the other car while loading my own car and trying to keep tabs on my children = stress city :(  Thanks to the ladies who helped us - otherwise I might still be there now!
Anyway, the boys had a veritable craft-fest this morning.  We made 'things that pop, shake and rattle'.  Youngest was the only one who occasionally lost concentration today, but he was quite happy to come back and finish off what he had made.  All three boys made popping cups, then Youngest decorated a shaker instrument and made a rainstick (with quite a bit of help from Mummy to focus on finishing the latter)...

After Eldest had made his popping cup, he found a page in the craft book there, Eco friendly Crafting for Kids, that showed him how to make a kind of catapult-propelled paper aeroplane - it proved so successful that a few of the other children made one too, even though it wasn't necessarily on the plans for this morning!  Then at the end while I was waiting to find out who owned the car that was blocking us in, he used some of the left over cardboard tubes to make a lightsaber and gun - because as Heather the group leader wryly commented, 'you can never have too many of those!' 

Middle as always had a whale of a time, making his popping cup and then just experimenting with various materials, until he had made a sort of ball and another larger ball-and-cup with 'holes in the bottom for the rain to fall through' (!).  It's that freedom to experiment that he particularly loves - and is great for expanding their thinking :)

When we got back we noticed that three of our Butterfly Garden caterpillars had assumed the 'J-position' to begin to pupate!  We kept checking again throughout the day, and by teatime the three that started this morning had already formed the chrysalis skin, another had taken on the J-shape, and the last one was on the paper disk under the lid of their pot.  It's all very exciting :)

photo taken this morning

This afternoon we went to visit some lovely new HE friends who live near us.  That made five boys in total, all marauding to their hearts' content - we all had a great time and stayed longer than we intended to, everyone was having so much fun :)  While we were there, Middle found the book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and brought it to me to read together.  I said that as we had it at home, we could read it later, seeing as Mummy was talking to a friend, so he was quite happy to sit and read it to himself on my lap... and then at home he got it again for his beddtime story, particularly enjoying it because of the stage our own caterpillars are in.  He wanted to take it in turns to read pages - I love hearing the expression he puts into his reading! I guess he's used to Mummy doing all sorts of funny voices, reading expressively etc - and I'm so glad he's adopted that to be utterly un-self-conscious when reading to me :)
So that was our day!  Yet another fab one - and all that fun and learning was taking place while deschooling! (hint hint) :)


  1. The Very Hungry Caterpillar is one of our favourite children's books, although both boys too old for it now, sadly! Your craft session sounds fun (I'm actually trying to set up something similar for our home ed group!) - I'd love to know which book had the catapult aeroplane in it? And thanks for your words about deschooling, they came at just the right time. I am trying to keep things relaxed but still worry that maybe I'm being too relaxed as J is not producing any "work", but by all accounts we should still have another couple of months deschooling to go, if not a bit longer (he is 9 & has Aspergers) And on the upside, we did some kitchen experiments today! He wasn't interested at first but once we started he really enjoyed it (and me too!)
    R x
    PS. I blog at contented.typepad.co.uk - although it's a bit sporadic at the moment!

  2. Thanks Rachel :)
    The Book is called "Eco friendly Crafting with Kids" by Kate Lilley (I'll add link now)
    When we started Home Ed I was told that you just know when you're done deschooling. That frustrated me as it seemed so vague - but I have to say, I can already see progress in the boys starting to be interested to learn - and more importantly I can see progress in myself relaxing about their education! ;)
    PS Found your blog - lovely quilt!!! :) xx