Making a Life-changing Decision

What’s been said?

Columnist Stacey Solomon, who writes for the Sun’s Fabulous magazine, has written an article about her choice to home educate her 2 boys, Zachary (aged 10) and Leighton (aged 5). The account is a very personal one, describing why she took her boys out of school and what she has done to create an approach home education that works for them as a family. Everyone’s context is different, but some of the core points of her narrative are central to all home educators.

Why does it matter?

Ms Solomon removed her boys from school quite simply because they had lost their love of learning and she witnessed their personalities changing from the bubbly, gregarious boys she knew and loved. Sadly, her older son started to lose his inquisitiveness – a key motivator in all learning. While keen to acknowledge the role of hard-working teachers in the lives of her sons, Ms Solomon also found that the conveyor belt system of state education was simply not the best way to prepare her boys for life. That’s a common factor in the decision of most parents to home educate.

All parents face practical difficulties, too – how to fit the 24/7 presence of children around working hours, what curriculum to use and how to structure learning. But the benefits of the decision shine through the article. Ms Solomon has found ways of dealing with the practicalities by annexing the help of her extended family. She has sourced part-time subject support; tapped into the expertise and passion of her sister, and searched out EHE communities for other aspects of learning. The outcome is the holy grail of successive governments – genuine, effective personalised learning.

Ms Solomon also addresses the myth that home ed children lack social skills, which limits their ability to communicate effectively as they grow up. Home educators know that this is palpable nonsense, but it doesn’t stop the myth from spreading. In fact, the range of different people with whom home ed children come into contact means they are usually very confident communicators who are well able to articulate their views on all kinds of issues.

This is one family’s story and while the context of every family is unique, the core issues are the same. It’s encouraging to read a story in the national press that talks honestly about the implications of the decision to home educate, the best of which is her boys’ renewed love of learning. It’s a decision that has changed their lives irrevocably and one which she is unlikely ever to regret.

What can I do?

Think about the distinctives of your own context. Why did you choose to home educate? How have you arranged your lives within your family to make it work? What have been the advantages for you in home educating? What are your children’s perspectives? Sometimes we get carried away with the rush and tumble of daily life, so it can be good to take stock of what we are doing and why. Talk about the positive aspects of your choice and reaffirm the value of home education with your children. Talk about any problems, too – how you have overcome the past problems and how you might deal with any ongoing ones.