It was interesting to read the comments section underneath a recent interview with Charlotte Church in which she explained that she home schools her children. “So they’re basically privately educated then,” stated one angry observer, keen to then elaborate upon what he viewed as her political hypocrisy. It didn’t seem that way to me.
It seems very clear in this piece that Church has taken the decision to home school, with the support of her partner, so that her children can develop the skills and interests from which she feels they will most benefit…and in a way from which they feel they will most benefit. It can be difficult for those of us who have never known anything other than the structured Monday to Friday school week and term times, complete with bells signifying set break and lunch times, to imagine that there can possibly be another way to learn. But of course, there is. Children (and we!) are learning all the time. Whether that’s in a classroom setting being taught the necessary skills to pass GCSE maths, whether it’s browsing on-line news, or whether it’s learning how to weigh out the ingredients to bake a cake…it’s all learning.
Aren’t we all just trying to do the best for our children?
The government stipulates that all young people of school age must receive an apt education. How, where and when that happens, is entirely up to you. In this Guardian article, it’s clear that more and more parents are opting to home educate their children. So what are the advantages, as well as the potential pitfalls, of withdrawing your children from the state education system?
You might argue that as there are no government inspections for home educators, there’s no “tick box teaching”, that is to say that everything is meaningful: no lessons spent making sure the right pieces of paper are in the right place in the right books with the right coloured pens ticking the right boxes for Mr or Ms Ofsted’s benefit. On the other hand, you might argue that a lack of professional input might mean your child will lack the push they need from a person qualified in academic subjects and how to teach them. Another frequently heard argument is that home schooled children will lack social skills due to a lack of daily interaction with their peers. That’s often countered with the suggestion that home schooled children get to see more of the real world on a daily basis than those who spend their days in classrooms, learning from books and PowerPoint presentations.
How we choose to educate our children is a very personal decision, and one not taken lightly. However, paying thousands of pounds per term for education in a private school, and paying for private tutors to visit your home to provide one-to-one support as and when it is needed seem to be two very different things – and neither of those choices deserve criticism. Aren’t we all just trying to do the best for our children?
Keep on with the books and the music, Charlotte! If your children grow up to have half your perseverance and integrity, you won’t have gone far wrong.
If you’d like to learn more about home schooling, this link will take you to a “beginner’s guide”.
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