“We can best help children learn, not by deciding what we think they should learn and thinking of ingenious ways to teach it to them, but by making the world, as far as we can, accessible to them, paying serious attention to what they do, answering their questions — if they have any — and helping them explore the things they are most interested in.” John Holt
Today’s Homeschool Chat brings you Liane Collins , a mother of a two year old boy, from England. When I first approached Liane, she was a bit surprised that I asked her to participate because of the age of her son. As for me, one of the main reasons I messaged her about the series was because of the age of her son. It reminded me of my own start of home educating my eldest daughter. I knew from she was a newborn that me and my husband will home educate her. I have been blessed to live in a city with a huge homeschooling community, that welcomes parents of young children and babies, in homeschool meet ups. In fact, one of my first “official” homeschooling meeting was when my eldest was 6 months old, in a baby carrier. I think its extremely important for parents, who know that they want to home educate their child from the beginning, to have that opportunity and be welcomed by their homeschooling community, regardless of how old their child is.
Without a further ado, here is my interview with the lovely Liane, who can also be found on Instagram @devon_monti_mum.
1)Tell us a bit about your family and your child/ children
My small family unit consists of myself, my husband and our 2 year old son Oliver. .We enjoy the outdoors, having fun and making memories together. Myself and our son have a heart condition called Long QT Syndrome, which is linked to sudden cardiac arrest, so we really like to make every day count as much as we possibly can. Our son is such a gentle soul, of course we get occasional hitting, slapping in moments where he is emotionally overwhelmed, but generally he is sensitive, caring, loving and so unbelievably affectionate. He is also cheeky, has a wicked sense of humour, a flare for risk and passion for exploring and being outside. Our family ‘bubble’ may be small, but it’s perfect for us.
2)What was your main reason for choosing to home educate your children ?
We are choosing to home educate because we don’t believe in the mainstream school system. We feel it is outdated and no longer supports a child’s individual needs. We are also choosing to home educate because we want our son to have freedom to learn what HE chooses, rather than what is forced upon him by a governing body. Freedom is ultimately the biggest reason we are choosing to home educate. As I’ve said, we want him to learn topics and subjects that he is interested in, but also the freedom to just be him. Be able to move around when he wants, be able to eat when he wants, be able to go to the bathroom when he wants without having to ask permission. Some people say ‘but they need to learn all of this for real life’, but I argue that’s a lie. What if our children become athletes? They will need to be moving more than sitting. I cannot think of one job where you get in trouble if you leave your seat (maybe a pilot but as long as he has a co-pilot or autopilot we’re safe), where you have to wait to be told when you can eat (everyone has a snack draw at their desk at work surely) and where you have to raise your hand to ask permission to go to the toilet (if you do, please leave your job immediately). We also want family freedom. The ‘penalty fines’ for removing kids out of school during holidays is absolutely ridiculous! I will not be dictated to by some government person when I can take my family on holiday, nor will I be fined because of it. School’s simply do not have the facilities or funding to teach each child as they need to in order to get the most out of each child. Not all kids can learn sat down with a textbook or PowerPoint presentation. This is not the fault of teachers, it is the system. A system raising children not to question, to do as they are told and to learn that one day some ‘superior adult’ will tell them what they can and cannot do e.g. When they can take annual leave, when they can have a pay rise etc. I want to raise Oliver to question everything and challenge the status quo. He may end up working for someone and be told when he can have annual leave, but he equally may end up working for himself and I want him to know that he can be successful in life without being told what to do. However, having said all of the above, if he ever said to me “Mummy I want to go to school” I would absolutely let him go around schools, find one he likes and try it. He may love it and stay but equally he will always have the option for home education. A school is not the same as education. Education happens in a building called a school. Education also happens at home, in the woods, at the beach, in the work place, looking out the window. Education happens everywhere. School is just another place where you can receive an education if you choose to. We are simply choosing the woods, beach, moors and our home for Oliver to receive his education.
3)What does a “typical” home school day look like for your family ?
At the moment, a lot of play, as our little boy is technically ‘pre-school’ age. We fill our days with play, experiences and time in nature. Whether that is a walk in the woods, a trip to the beach, a train ride, a trip to the zoo or trip to the local Trampoline park. I intend to keep our relaxed routine for quite sometime. Right now I find learning happens in the moment and in the environment he is surrounded by. For example, we were out for a walk in the evening and he noticed the moon, we then talked about the moon and the stars. Another example would be trains, Oliver can identify a diesel train, steam train, freight train and high speed train just because he’s watched them pass through stations or been on them. This has just come from his questions or acknowledgements which me and my husband try to answer and to help feed that inquisitiveness right now.
4 )What type of a home educator are you ( structured , semi structured , unschooling , classical , Charlotte Mason , Steiner , Montessori etc ) ?
I will be picking and choosing really. Predominantly I’d say we will be unschooling. The appeal to me is the practical side of learning, getting hands on and taking excursions to see places. For example, if my son wants to learn about Stonehenge we will go there, rather than read from a text book. I will also be tuning into Montessori and Charlotte Mason for elements of our home school as well.
5)What do you love the most about home schooling ?
The ability to not rush. No 9 am school run, 3 pm pick up. No home work to dictate how we spend our evenings. No uniform to wash. Just the ability to be who we are, as we are, in our family. It really does come down to the freedom it gives us. Even now, there are no child minder runs anymore or nursery runs and there are days we don’t get dressed till 10 am! We can simply be. Again, I hear “but they need to learn to get ready so they won’t be late for work” 🙄🤦♀️ “He is two Susan! I’m sure somewhere in the next 16 years he will learn to dress himself, put on a tie and get to a place on time, but it doesn’t have to be whilst he is age 2”. I truly feel we have lost touch to our children that are right in front of us, we always want the next thing don’t we? From birth we want them to crawl, then we want them to eat, walk, talk, read, write, take SATs, pass SATs, get A’s blah, blah, blah. What are we doing? Oh my gosh your two year old isn’t holding a pencil yet (shock), that doesn’t mean he won’t get in to Oxford University. Oh my gosh your 7 year old struggles to tie his shoe laces (shock), that doesn’t mean he won’t become an Olympic runner. We need to stop thinking that our child’s achievements right now dictate their success 16,18,20 years down the line. It’s simply ridiculous. Our children are incredible right now. They are doing all they should be doing right now.
6) Do you do morning time/ symposium / circle time ?
I have recently started to read about the ‘miracle morning’ and I have started to adapt this into our routine. Every morning now myself and my son have breakfast and we do a 10 minute yoga session. I then read for 5 minutes too.I like mornings to be as stress free as they can be if possible.
7)What is your favourite subject to teach and what is your least one ?
This is a question I need to predict as I don’t see that I teach much right now. I’d say my favourite subject will be art and my least favourite possibly history because I’m aware that isn’t my strongest subject. I am terrible at remembering dates, it takes me more than a minute to recall my wedding anniversary date!
8)What do you find challenging when it comes to home schooling your children ?
I am sure I will find challenging the demand to find work/groups that meets his needs and interests. Possibly, also the self doubts that I know that will creep in my head about if I’m good enough, have I made the right choice etc. But I will overcome these, lots of research on my part and a supportive family will get me by.
9)How do you find time for yourself/ self care etc ?
My husband and I are a good team. I can tell him when I’m burning out and need help and he will step in to let me shower in peace or take Oliver out for an hour so I can read a book or do some cleaning.
10)What are some of your favourite homeschooling related books?
I enjoy reading John Holts work and have more books in my amazon basket to read this year.
11)How do you deal with unsupportive family , relatives and friends ?
No one has openly told me they have issues with our choice to home educate. I am sure if it does come to light that I have people in my ‘circle’ that don’t approve I will try to educate them on my choice, but ultimately I won’t push anything on anyone. If they are uncomfortable with my choice, it isn’t my problem, it’s their’s which they need to work through.
12)Where do you see your home schooling journey in 5 years’ time ?
Hopefully having fun and making lots of memories. I hope my son still chooses home education. I hope I have been strong enough to push past any doubts I may have had.
13)What advice would you give to anyone who wants to start home educating their children ? Believe in yourself. Be brave enough to go against the ‘norm’. Educate yourself, that is my biggest advice. Open your mind to see the current education system for what it truly is. Realise that you don’t have to be a teacher to teach and just take it one day at a time. There are no rules in home education, that’s the best part.
14)Imagine your children 20 years into the future , what do you want them to say about their homeschool experience ?
That he felt free. Free to learn what he wanted. Free to learn what he wanted for however long he wanted. That a curriculum or person didn’t dictate to him what he could and couldn’t learn. That he has learned to question everything around him. Ultimately, I want him to have enjoyed learning and love learning so he carries on learning and growing during adulthood.