As it's the beginning of a new academic term, my thoughts have naturally turned to our own educational arrangements. A couple of friends are facing those big decisions about whether to go mainstream or seek alternatives and our conversations have touched on the home education option. It seems like a good moment to look back at our first term and share some thoughts and observations about the business.
It's probably too much waffling for one post, so I imagine I'll spin it out a bit - by which time I'll hopefully have got back into the swing of blogging a bit more regularly.
The decision to home educate is not made lightly. Even I, who had decided almost from Eli's first month that he would not be entrusted to the state for his upbringing, felt some self-doubt creep in when it came to the end of his short time at the local Steiner kindergarten. I hadn't ever properly taken on board the very obvious fact that almost everyone sends their children to school. It is not only expected, it is largely unquestioned.
It seems that the general consensus is that school, whilst not necessarily the ideal option, is the safest. The practical considerations alone give rise to enough consternation to prevent treading another path - bringing in enough money whilst having children at home; not feeling that one has enough resources of energy to be around ones offspring constantly; not having the requisite support network and so on and so on. I am familiar with these anxieties, it can seem logistically impossible before you even get to the education bit.
I think our real fears kick in when we get to our children's well-being and future prospects. Will our children learn all they need to know from primarily being with one person, perhaps two at the most? Will they need more social contact than we can provide for them? How will they learn to read????
These questions and worries are valid and real. A certain amount of self-confidence and a sizeable rebellious streak are useful when contemplating them. I cannot speak for others or offer any sureties but I can share our experience and add to the growing numbers of people who say that school doesn't have to be the only way.