Three home educated sons of one of our trustees were invited by their local authority to visit its graphics department to help create and produce a home education resource webpage for their local council area.
This turned out to be an interesting and fun experience. The boys enjoyed learning how individual computer screens could be connected to give double on-screen workspace for one document. Helping with punctuation and flow, they seemed in their element.
The graphics staff were patient when the boys were comparing and choosing colours for icons. Keen that none of the resources they had gathered for the site were missed out, the boys reminded their mum and the education officer that one had been forgotten.
The boys said it was a good decision to take up the invitation, because they experienced what it felt like to have constructive input to a local authority webpage, and they gained respect for the work involved.
They also appreciate the council’s commitment to building new and respectful relationships with Home Educators.
‘Home educators aren’t affected by lockdown,’ and ‘you do this already, you’ll be fine.’
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard these statements in the past few weeks. The answer is, as I explained on Radio Scotland last week, we are all in this together. Home education, as people regularly need reminded, does not look like hours spent at home ‘at the kitchen table’.
The only thing that makes this easier for us is that we are used to spending the majority of our time with our children, and many of us don’t need childcare, though many home educators work, fitting it in while children are at activities, or using grandparents, both of which are now largely unavailable.
So how has this affected us as a home educating family? My daughter has lost all her activities overnight; brownies, musical theatre, several sports clubs and music sessions a week. We have lost access to the community in which the bulk of our learning takes place – castles, museums, shops, parks, sports centres to name but a few.
My job, working as a childminder from home, stopped overnight too. We have both lost face-to-face contact with friends. We, like everyone else, are settling into a temporary new normal. So, what does our new normal look like?
After a couple of weeks floating along and seeing what happened, which wasn’t a lot and included a lot of arguing, we have both written to-do lists for the week, which we wouldn’t normally do, in an attempt to stir us both into action.
We are suddenly spending much more time together — my SVQ course has fallen by the wayside — and we have signed up to several new online learning programmes, which means far more screen time than normal. It is not all bad though — we have been able to catch up with friends overseas who we usually struggle to speak to due to conflicting schedules and time zones.
We are both falling into our natural pattern of getting up late and staying up late. We have completed several projects we haven’t had time to get on to, our garden is tidy, and the dog is well walked.
Lockdown by Millie, aged 8
H ome workout O. W.L.’s (lots of Harry Potter reading and activities) M aking my own fun E asy days
E very day D oing Night Zoo Keeper and Prodigy
I n my pyjamas all day N o one cares
L azy days apart from walking Rocky O n Facetime with friends C rafts and cakes K neading pizza dough D uolingo and French on Skype with friends O n the trampoline W orking on Pawprint badges N o usual activities, but it’s not all bad
In December 2019, Ally MacDonald (HES convener) and I attended Adoption UK in Scotland’s annual conference, which had the theme of ‘Thinking Differently About Education’. We were there at the invitation of AUK in Scotland to deliver a workshop for delegates – including adoption and fostering professionals, education professionals, and parents – on home education.
There was a great deal of interest in home education among the delegates, many of whom admitted that they knew very little about its practice or the law around home education in Scotland. Many told us that they see home education as a viable option for their children or the children that they work with but wouldn’t even know where to start or how to advise adopting or fostering parents.
It is noteworthy that these parents and professionals have in their care some of the most vulnerable children in Scotland, many of whom have additional support needs, and that it was because of these issues that they recognised home education’s value as an approach that can give a child the opportunity to receive a personalised, one-to-one education that can help them, in their particular circumstances, to reach their full potential.
After the workshop, we fielded dozens of questions about home education, and were approached by both social workers and education professionals about the possibility of providing further training in their workplaces and/or information resources for their colleagues both in their own departments and associated departments with which they work. We are now following up on some of those approaches. It is clear to us that while there is an obvious lack of knowledge, understanding, and training, that lack is acknowledged by many professionals, who want to become better informed about home education.
Part of HES’s raison d’etre is to support these state and third sector organisations to become better informed about home education, to be able to support home educating families better (when they want or need it), and to remove some of the prejudice that some services and professionals have shown towards home educators.
With a better understanding of home education, of why parents and carers choose to home educate, and of how we go about home educating our children, we think relationships between services / professionals and home educating families can become more positive and more fruitful for all involved.