Whole books have been written regarding the reasons people choose to home educate, and I don’t intend to replicate these here! For us, some of the reasons (and there will be more!) include:
· Spiritual. ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down and when you rise up’. Deuteronomy 6:5-7. How can this be achieved if you are not talking, walking and generally spending a lot of time together with your children? Each day is filled with learning opportunities, and there can be nothing greater than finding out more about the Lord our creator and His marvellous works.
· Teaching is primarily the responsibility of parents. ‘And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord’. Ephesians 6:4 Many factors in modern society seek us to abdicate that responsibility, although this verse does not specifically refer to all forms of education.
· Worldview. What values are promoted in mainstream education? What values are important to us as a family? What values to we wish our children to internalise? Is there a conflict between what we seek to instill as a family, and what is happening in schools?
· Individualisation. Children should be able to progress at the rate that suits them. My husband could not read until he was nine; I was doing GCSE level exams at this age. (We are now working within the same profession). Both of us would have benefitted from a more individual approach. This may be an extreme illustration, but all children would surely benefit from an approach tailored to their strengths and weaknesses, where later on they have a great deal of choice regarding subject matter.
· Socialisation. Other than in education, when are people so streamlined according to age and possibly ability? Diversity may be ‘taught’ in schools, but in practice, the opposite may be encouraged. Home education allows the development of a range of real relationships in a community, which is more in keeping with ‘real life’. Many studies suggest that rather than impeding, home education enhances social development.
· Celebration of childhood. Many countries in Scandinavia do not put children into formal education until older (perhaps 7 or 8) and there is no evidence that this impairs their academic development at all. Home education allows a greater freedom for children to be children, free from constraints, pressures and external standards. The benefits of this may be even more marked for boys.
· Embracing the delight of knowledge. Most three year olds have a thirst for information and a real hunger to learn. Yet I know many six year olds who complain that ‘school is boring’ and seem to have had their desire to learn quenched. Why does this happen? When does this happen? Does it have to happen?
· Lack of peer pressure. Relates to many of the other categories, but a child should be able to learn, grow, explore and develop without fear of not being ‘cool’ or being ‘geeky’ for developing these passions.
· Versatility. Home education allows a range of field trips, which might even include periods of time spent overseas learning different languages and cultures (this is relevant to us as a family, as our professional work has an international flavour). Even simple tasks such as baking can bring in a whole range of educational elements – reading, arithmetic, chemistry, physics, home economics, accounting, maybe even more!
· Simply, we love to be with, and to teach our children. And yet many in society see that as being strange and a poor use of our time.
I’d be interested to know what has motivated others to explore home education for their children. Please share!