I always thought that when the girls started to get older, the responsibility of exams and qualifications would be the thing that weighed heaviest on me. When you decide to home educate, there are some very obvious milestones that loom up as possible stumbling blocks (did I mix metaphors there or just park some slightly too close?) such as ‘real subjects’ at senior school level, gcse’s and getting into university. Then there are the learning to read ones and the learning to have friends, having access to sport and people and other adults who can teach you. All these things feel, or at least felt to me, to be huge at the time but as life went on it all seemed to fall into place, mostly when I wasn’t looking. In fact, in the days of old blogging my friends and I had a couple of home ed blog catch phrases. One was ‘and then we had lunch’ signalling a day when loads of stuff happened effortlessly and beautifully and the other was ‘benign neglect’ referring to the state of supportive and caring ignoring of children who would miraculously educate themselves and grow in stature, ability and skill. It makes home educating very easy if you observe that going on often enough.
Having navigated all those tripping up points has given me lots of confidence for the next step. Fran going into school and managing so well has helped and, having got a short way into the history gcse she is still doing with me has helped too. At one of our local groups I’ve started doing poetry study with the kids. It has given me a real boost to feel I have something actually academic to offer for a change and the kids seem to be enjoying it well enough. I can honestly say that I’m enjoying poetry properly for the first time in my life as we explore it together. The other day talk turned to maybe offering some other GCSE’s work to the older kids now and seeing what would appeal to them and what we feel confident in teaching . GCSE’s aren’t essential but it is one way of occupying and stretching the kids who are ready for a deeper level of work. I’m looking forward to doing more of it.
To be honest though, I’m increasingly aware of the small area of life that academic qualifications really are. I’m increasingly conscious that exams and ‘knowledge’ will help prepare them for life but that there are so many other things you need to know, that I could still do with someone properly teaching me, that I would like to equip my girls with before they leave home. Fran is 4 years off adulthood now and it would be nice if she was a little more capable than I was when she leaves home.
My list of must have life skills includes not having to call your Nana to find out how to boil potatoes, knowing how to boil an egg, being able to plan out items in a budget shopping list for one (I have visions of my girls accidentally buying for 7 for a while!), knowing how to assess a wise choice of bank account, understand savings and ISAS and when to move to a new bank account. Then there is being able to iron a shirt and a pair of trousers without getting wibbly lines down the side and work out how much paint a room needs to cover the walls, be patient enough to saw a mitred corner that actually fits, uncork a bottle of wine (yes, really, I couldn’t do this!) and change the washer on a tap. Suddenly, I feel we have rather a lot to fit in to the next few years! When on earth are we going to fit all that in among the back somersaults, tap routines and playing at Pottermore?!??!?
Tell me, what things do you wish you could have a quick crash course class in? What did you not know how to do when you left home? Are there any tasks you still get someone else to do or wish you could really make a proper job of? What will be the one “must know” skill you will make sure your kids leave home with?