What Do You Need to Home Educate Your Children?
We can sum up very quickly what people need to teach their own children. First of all, they have to like them, enjoy their company, their physical presence, their energy, foolishness and passion. They have to enjoy all their talk and questions, and enjoy equally trying to answer those questions. They have to think of their children as friends, indeed very close friends, have to feel happier when they are near and miss them when they are away. They have to trust them as people, respect their fragile dignity, treat them with courtesy, take them seriously. They have to feel in their own hearts some of their children’s wonder, curiosity and excitement about the world. And they have to have enough confidence in themselves, scepticism about experts and willingness to be different to most people, to take on themselves the responsibility for their children’s learning. But that is about all the parents need.
I came across this quote a few days ago, and it struck a chord. In the short time we have been home educating, I’ve heard many, many times people saying that they couldn’t do it because ….. xyz. Usually, the xyz is some perceived lack of ability on the part of the parents. Many people assume that to properly home educate your child, you need to be a qualified and experienced teacher. This is not the case at all. In fact, as a qualified and experienced teacher, I would say that this can be a distinct disadvantage because it tends to limit your vision about home education, at least to begin with.
You don’t need to know everything in order to educate your child. You can learn alongside them if necessary. And really, home education is about teaching the child to think, to explore, how to find answers, not giving them the answers, telling them what to think. The skills that we need young people to have as they go out into the world include the ability to research, the knowledge of how to go about finding the answers. An ability to search effectively on the internet, as well as the ability to research from books are important skills and much of what we do at home helps develop these skills.
Formal, sit down, open books and write kind of learning forms far less of our time than I ever thought it would. I thought our maths would at least be formal, written work but in fact, that’s not turning out to be the case. We use Mathletics and Khan Academy for “formal” maths, but we do a lot of maths by incorporating it into everything we do. I took my lead from my son on this one, when I realised he was doing this automatically. He loves to play with numbers and takes every opportunity, so I built on that.
So, what do you need to educate your child? Enthusiasm. A desire to learn and to help your child learn. And courage to make the leap.