Friday 11 November 2016

Starting Home Education when your child has never been to School

This is part of my series on starting home education. 

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

I actually plan to split this post into two:

  • starting home education when your child has never been to school
  • leaving school and starting home education
From personal experience of both scenarios, they are very different and should be treated separately.

This post is about the child who has never been to school. 

For the child who hasn't been to school, reaching formal school age is just a continuation of what has happened before. Often new home educators are keen to start formal education very young but, as far as I am aware, there seems to be little evidence that this is beneficial. This doesn't mean that structures can't be put in place.
  • Morning Time. Starting the day with God's Word, singing and memory work is a routine which can be put in place from very young. Children can learn to memorise short Bible verses and nursery rhymes from about two. When the children were little, we added picture books to this. Starting with picture books for the youngest, and working up to books for older children, seems to keep attention of wriggly little ones for longer. We  started reading aloud from when the children were babies and haven't regretted this especially with our most active children.  It is always worth choosing high quality picture books. The Five in a Row lists are worth considering as are the lists from Branch Out World. Authors that we particularly enjoyed were Shirley Hughes, Lynley Dodd (Hairy Maclary), Julia Donaldson, Allan Alhberg and Mick Inkpen. I have a list of 70+ picture books here
  • Spending time outside. 
  • Playing while talking with an adult
  • More reading aloud.
  • Making friends with other home educators. This is important for both mother and children. There are home educators to be found all over the UK and there is both a Christian yahoo group (Deut6v7) and facebook group.
It is very easy to add to this some phonics and maths. Much of our early maths was informal and involved weighing ingredients, working out numbers of people at meals and number of pieces of cutlery. 

Hands on science is also popular and easy to manage with kitchen ingredients. I recommend the Usborne Big Book of Science things to make and do.

When the children were school aged, we found books about starting home education. I know of two: My Mommy, my teacher by Johanna Bluedorn which seems to be out of print and Who's Not in School by Ross Mountney. The latter is currently in print. We also made a book of our own for one of the children with our own photos and words explaining why we home educate and what this means.

At this age our children particularly enjoyed the Five in a Row curriculum which allowed us to extend our enjoyment of high quality picture books. Branch Out World produces similar UK based materials. 

Trips are always popular. We found that this was particularly the case where they could be linked to a picture book that we had read. 

Rites of passage
Children sometimes miss certain rites of passage. One of our children felt rather left out because there was no school uniform. A trip to the local supermarket remedied this and led to a happy child. Several years on, the uniform has been dropped but I mention this as this topic often comes up in groups. 

We take beginning of school photos and try to do something special to mark the beginning of term. A picnic and enjoying an almost empty playground is appreciated.

Starting home education in this way is an easing into a learning lifestyle. 

Legally, there is no need to inform the local authority that you are home educating although there is a duty to provide an education that is suitable for the child's age, aptitude and ability. 

Have you home educated your child from the beginning? How did you find the initial stages?

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  1. Dunno if I've said before but starting home ed at the beginning is like paddling into the sea, a little bit at a time, laughing at the waves, playing in the sand. Taking a child (esp over 11) out of school is like jumping off a cliff. You may end up in the same part of the sea, over time but it is sooo much harder to jump off that cliff than it is to drift into the sea. In my experience!

    1. I completely agree and love the analogy. It has been so much easier having children who have never been to school than taking a child out and feeling that I had to provide a whole, complete curriculum from day 1. No one asks you what you are doing with your 4 year old for DT!