It’s orgo-planning time of year again, that moment when some home educators (and I number myself reluctantly among them) find themselves accidentally aligning with the academic year and thinking about what people in the house might ‘learn this year’.
In fairness, I haven’t done this for quite a while. We bumbled along without plans for a bit and then last year I was a) pregnant and having tough time about that and not really thinking and b) didn’t know if Fran would go to school again which threw me out a bit. But a conversation recently with another home educator had me thinking about that. I’ve rather outgrown the “we’re structured/not structured/ I teach/we never teach/my children would never/I would never” conversations but it isn’t a bad thing to look at what you do and what works from time to time.
Our “normals” as we call them, are 6 years old now and I can’t say we’ve ever regretted them. They give us a pleasing ability to have some order to the days at home without being overly restricting. But they need tweaking at times and they do have the ability to turn into the bulk of what we do, which I never intended. And we have a new element to our life now; in order not to turn into a gibbering stay at home wreak, I’m now working 2-3 days a week. Max brings a very different element to our HE but neither of us feel very comfortable without cohesion of some sort. There are just so many children, styles, needs, interests and abilities in the house, plus a busy lifestyle, not to make the most of the time that we have.
The good thing now is that the children can partake in this to a greater extent. They have things they are interested in as well as an understanding of balance (and I think that is something the HE doubters under-estimate, that a child with control over their education might understand the need to have skills and knowledge in areas that don’t fascinate them) and so we can work together on plans and ideas. Fran at least is ready to be stretched more, try some GCSE’s, can work at a text book quite ably and tell me what she gets or what she doesn’t grasp. None of them are turned off learning or choosing to do nothing and they all have a vested interest in acquiring skills and knowledge and even in doing that in an ordered way that benefit them.
I’ve got a quietish day or two so I’m planning to give planning a little more thought – between us, Max, the girls and I have come up with a sort of ‘reverse-homework diary’, similar to our tick boxes sheets we used at the beginning of the year. Each of them has a weekly planner and we’re going to start off with me listing some sets of ‘normals’ that I’d like them to do each day, so that Max knows what they should be doing on my work days. The rest of the day slot can be used to record anything extra, anything to ask about, anything they think of they’d like to know more about. It may or may not work.
There is, obviously, more to this than the obvious. I’m feeling paranoid. After having last year ruined by badman, Balls and Brown, I’m conscious that to anyone who assumes home educators are a disaster zone, we probably look like a car-crash in slow motion at the moment. If I was fearful that someone would see SAHM with a business as a target, then I was even more worried that any new LA inspector might see HE mum with 4 kids and a baby as a huge nightmare. You cannot imagine how much I feel like a “she can’t be coping and she’s got those poor lonely daughters locked away so that they can’t die too” clichÃ©. Nothing, in my opinion, is further from the truth, but there is more than an element of wanting to have hoops all ready to present if I get asked to prove I jump through them.
While I was talking about it all to Fran the other night, I happened upon the conversation I had had about the “style” of Home Ed we offer up and that led to a conversation about all the questions that HE parents get asked by non-HE parents and even the ones that come up between HEers.
“I didn’t realised that parents had things they always get asked too; whenever I say I’m home educated to another kid who goes to school, they always ask me what 2×6 is!!!”
Who knew? 😆