And some of them are repeatedly having to explain and defend home education and the right to do so to people who will not take the time to inform themselves or open their minds. Like this particular Lord for example or indeed this one, who seems to have taken it into her head to fall back on the old “home educated children are locked in their homes day and night” argument.
I am also bored of asking people to take their plates out, scrape off unwanted food, put their shoes on the shelf, pick up their clothes, only put dirty clothes in the washing basket, wash their face and brush their hair and teeth before coming downstairs and saying they are ready to go out, or make sure they have everything they need before they go out to gym/ballet/TKD/drama club.
Let me tell you what doe not bored me. I am not bored of the insatiable curiosity of small girls. I am not bored of answering questions, providing books, finding methods or facilitating discovery.
In one stretch of 12 hours, i had these conversations with my 7 year old. We talked, on the way home from dancing, about the reasons for the words Celsius and Centigrade, what decimalisation means, why a Fahrenheit thermometer had different numbers for the same temperature, why one might count in negatives in Centigrade but still quite large numbers in Fahrenheit and why water still turns to ice at the same temperature even if the way of describing it can change.
In the same drive home we talked about the word cinema, why it was pronounced as it was, what influences had brought us that word, what languages and patterns in history had developed the English language as we know it and what other words we could find ‘cine’ in. And we talked about phonics and what the effect of redesigning our language so it was spelt as it was said would be. And whether it would really help us in the long run?
The next morning, driving to drama club, the same 7 year old asked what caused the wind to blow and discussed the global factors that affect weather at length. We talked about gulf streams and cooling of air, the water cycle and the cyclical nature of weather and the circular effects brought on by change. And that night, flicking over from Brainiac, where all of them had noticed that the swimming pool of custard must be the same as the non-Newtonian fluid we made at science one week, we happened on a programme on BBC4 about the recent ‘extreme weather’ -and quick as a flash, the same 7 year old realised that the streak marked in the sea beside Britain on a thermal map must be the current of water we had spoken about that morning.
The next day, after watching an episode on the periodic table from an adult aimed BBC4 chemistry programme, my 5 year old showed me that her balloon fell to the floor when she dropped it. “So it doesn’t have the light air in it then or it would fly away, but it only comes out of daddy’s mouth, so does it have the really heavy air in it or is it filled with our normal air?” And when i said that she was right, it couldn’t really have that very heavy gas in it that she had seen on the programme, she realised that something else must be making it drop and we talked about gravity and the weight of the balloon skin and what we breathe and how it changes – but not enough to become that really heavy gas she remembered seeing the man fill a balloon with.
And it is for those reasons, when i can see my children being delighted and excited by learning, despite never having a formal lesson in their lives, that i will keep on answering and arguing with people who wish to force me to tick boxes about the education my children are getting. I am so, so, so very bored of answering. But for Amelie and Josie, never mind for Frances and Maddy, i will keep arguing. And those people should know, as they try to squeeze me into a box and hold me there, that the only people limiting the quality of education my children are receiving are the people taking up my precious time by making me fight for their rights.