Monday, April 02, 2007

So, how did you find out?

Following on from the conversation in comments here, I've been wondering how other people found out about the option to home educate.

I guess for some people, it wasn't so much a 'finding out' as a determination not to send their child to school, whatever the law said. Are such people increasingly rare now? Do most people assume school registration isn't optional?

I first came across the legal right to home educate in Moira Bremner's Enquire Within Upon Everything, published in 1988, in which she said:

Teaching at home

There are three aspects to teaching at home: teaching a child totally at home because you have an objection to schooling, teaching a child at home because illness or absence abroad makes it impossible to attend school, and simply boosting what is done in school by doing a certain amount yourself. The reasons, and the age of the child, will affect what you teach, but there are certain principles which apply to all teaching whatever the age of the child. Those I briefly cover below.

Should parents teach their children?

Many teachers lack confidence and feel threatened by the thought of children being taught by their parents. After all, if any old parent can teach, what price the teacher's training and experience? This is understandable, but it is not only a good idea for parents to teach their children, it is essential. And I speak as a teacher.

The best and easiest time for anyone - child or adult - to learn anything is when they feel like doing it. Yet teachers simply aren't there in the vital early years and even the best teacher with the smallest class cannot notice and stimulate the special interests of every schoolchild every day. And with children, there is more to learning at the right moment than just pleasure. They are marvellous learning machines and a confident child keeps pushing back the frontiers of his or her achievements, step by step, always progressing to the next thing which can just be managed. You can see them doing it physically: walking along the tops of walls as soon as they are sure of level ground. They also do it mentally, unerringly choosing the next activity they are ready to master. If we can follow a child's leads and teach it what it wants to know, the child is learning what it is ready to learn. It doesn't matter a jot whether the activity is 'right' for its age, where learning is concerned what a child wants to learn is right for that child. If it points to words at one year old and asks what they are, it wants to read - so teach it. And if stacking bricks is its great delight, give it bricks to stack. The child is the best judge of what it needs to do.

A child learns more between birth and five than at any other time in its life - and its parents are the main teachers, even when they don't realise it. This doesn't mean that if you are educating your child at home, you sit there waiting for it to take an interest in nuclear physics. Adults have to try out topics and ideas on children and see which ones they latch onto. Only if you play them music will you discover whether they enjoy it. If nothing excites them, and you are educating a child entirely at home, some basic teaching will do no harm at all if it's done the right way.

And she goes on to explain her ideas about 'the right way', which are also very interesting and useful, but would take me all evening to type out!

So after reading this, when my stepson couldn't get on with his designated schoolteacher in 1992 when he was 8, and it looked like all his considerable intelligence and potential was going to be wasted because he was switching off from school, I deregistered him and schooled him for the 11+, which he passed three years later. I thought Tom, Ali and Zara might be ok at school but they weren't in the end, so I deregistered them in 1998 and proceeded to try and school them at home too. It was only after that, because of the UKHE list, that I learned about autonomous learning (although re-reading Moira Bremner above, I actually knew about it all along! That is what she's describing. Such a sensible woman!)

I've only just realised I've actually been home educating for 12 years out of the past 15, albeit with different children, and in very different ways.

So how did you find out about home education?


Blogger Ruth said...

I was at the end of my rope with C in school when he was just 11. I was on a yahoo list for parents of ASD kids and I asked on it what others thought about the situation. Someone called Debs said you can HE you know. No I didn't know. I screamed down 3 story's to dh we can home educated him!!! It was a Friday night. I spent the whole weekend gathering information and on the Monday we took the dereg letter in and never looked back. She threw me a life line Gill. The school didn't tell me ( just kept threatening me with the EWO for him being at home even tho he had a note from the G.P) and he was on anti D's to get him in the place and then on sick for his last 8 weeks. The other 4 came out the next week ( they stampeaded for the door lol) and the boys never went.

7:57 pm, April 02, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

That's not good Ruth :-( I think the school should have told you as soon as you started to have problems.

LOL, 8 people have been here since you posted back, and not told me how they found out!

Charming -_-

Glad you did Ruth :-)

8:55 pm, April 02, 2007  
Blogger Tech said...

I read about it on the BBC dynamo letters page, 2 weeks before the girls were due to start school. They'd been badly damaged by playgroup; major separation anxiety (if you want a label for not wanting to be left with a load of strangers!) and were just not ready. We'd been to a parents induction evening and it horrified me, but I believed that it was something we had to do or else face prison! Did loads of research, joined EO and devoured the SINC book, then free range ed, became radicalised and never looked back ;-)

9:11 pm, April 02, 2007  
Blogger Mister Bee said...

hi Gill, thanks for a very interesting site. I've been reading for a while now but not commented, but faced with such direct invitation, why not?

I first found out about HE when expecting my first baby, and finding out about home birth; home education was the obvious next step. I wish my mum had known it was legal when I was at school, though.

9:15 pm, April 02, 2007  
Blogger Ruth said...

Well they could have said :( I still feel quite emotional when I think about it.

Schools try to avoid mentioning HE tho don't they? It is bad but they do.

9:37 pm, April 02, 2007  
Anonymous Bev said...

Hi Gill, I read your posts often but this is the first time I've been brave enough to comment! I found out thanks to a lovely lady (local EO contact) writing a letter in the local paper entitled 'School is not Compulsary'. At the time it was like a mesage from the gods as I 'knew' my son would never go to school but, up to that point, I had no idea how. Had it not been for her I can only hope that I would have got lucky with a google search. None of the people in 'educational' departments that I had expressed my concerns to had ever mentioned it, although many, maybe all of them know about it.

9:39 pm, April 02, 2007  
Blogger Merry said...

I was going to try and hide Fran so she didn't have to go to school, because she was so not ready but i just thought i had to send her. That was what my parents said to me when i was at school and being bullied, that i had to go or they'd go to jail. Turned out they knew about HE after all though.

Anyway, i was walking through town one day and a little boy ran up to me and pressed an eo flyer into my hand. I looked quickly, gulped, and shoved it into my pocket. 6 months later i showed it to Max and we agreed on a "not till she's 7" policy."

:) to the little boy :)

9:42 pm, April 02, 2007  
Blogger Louise said...

I consider myself very lucky. I say lucky because I knew about it before I had kids.
I used to go to a radical bookshop called Frontline in Manchester. I purchased a magazine called green line and there was an article on home-ed. I was 19 at the time and had no children. Course by the time I was pregnant a year later I had decided no child of mine was going to school as I now knew it was a legal right. My family were shocked when I explained this with my newborn in my arms lol.
I think they just ignore it now after hoping I would grow out of my alternative lifestyle and I haven't!!
Now I try and tell as many people as I can about it so at least people are aware it is an option.

9:43 pm, April 02, 2007  
Anonymous Maria said...

Internet. No way would smarmy lea let me know. My older 2 were let down badly at school. One started senior school with a reading age of 8 and was severely dyslexic - which they said was average!!! The other one had behavioural problems, 'cos the kids had been in care and had suffered abuse and were suffering mentally even though they were safe with me...(so I am their adoptive parent). Anyway, their school's answer to behavioural problems, irrespective of what's caused it, was to stick the kid in detention all day and many times, too. Not a smart move. I didn't know about home edding then and feel so guilty it tears me up inside sometimes. Keeps me awake at night - if I'd known I could have helped them so much by getting them out of that environment, but I do know no way is my youngest going anywhere near a school!! We did try...but junior got bullied loads of time and the schools never believed us. So out she came..and I got SO MUCH hassle from the lea, it was verging on the illegal (it probably was). But now she is way ahead of her siblings at that age, much more independent and assertive, creative, happy. She's an autonomous learner and it just so works for her. She's 2 years ahead in reading,etc. She wakes up smiling EVERY morning. She's happy. I am definiteley doing the right thing in home edding. PS Gill, one day I'll get to move back to Yorkshire. Still can't get the moonphase anywhere on my blog, let alone the side bar!!!! much love M xx

9:53 pm, April 02, 2007  
Anonymous katherine said...

It always takes a direct question to give me the courage to emerge from lurkdom as it would be rude not to answer you!

I found out about HE on the internet when dd was 9 months old.

I used to read the co-sleeping/attachment parenting forum on ukparents and one day I wondered over to the home ed. forum out of curiousity. I followed all the links, borrowed HE books from the library and then started a gentle campaign to convince dh. For a long time he was "50/50", now he can't understand why people send their children to school :)

10:03 pm, April 02, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

Hurray! It's great to get so many answers. Also, very inspiring - makes me want to be 'out there' even more, letting people know it's an option.

I wonder if it's something we should push harder for - more LEA and national government publicity for home ed.

10:20 pm, April 02, 2007  
Blogger Sarah said...

I guess i was lucky as well then ... I think I've always known it was an option - probably from having grown up in a churchy environment where I knew missionaries who educated their own kids - or people who did it for faith reasons. First serious thoughts of doing it ourselves came as a result of just feeling it made more sense as a family, as well as wanting to keep away from the huge local infant school. Didn't go straight to it but that's another story!

10:23 pm, April 02, 2007  
Blogger Julie said...

Somewhere, sometime I must have seen something or TV, the radio or in a newspaper. I really didn't know consciously about home education and our children suffered dreadfully in school.

However when our son told us he didn't want his life anymore-he was 13 at the time, we were desperate to find an alternative.

I typed the words 'Education Otherwise' into the search engine without knowing anything of what it meant. Up came EO's webpage and I read it with such excitment. I ran to dh saying "I've found the answer!! We can home educate" That was a Friday night in January 2001, we gathered information over the weekend and the deregistartion letters went in for all three on the following Monday morning.

We have never looked back. We decided that if we could help them get their self confidence and self belief back they would be able to go out and get whatever they needed. Instead we have watched that and their love of learning and life return. Without doubt this is THE best decision I have ever made in my life and I am passionate that other families should know that this is an option that could save the lives of their children as it literally saved the lives of mine.

10:41 pm, April 02, 2007  
Blogger Allie said...

I knew from many years ago that it existed as an option. As a teenager I knew of someone who was HE - but didn't actually know them. Strange that I never considered I could do it then - I was having a pretty hideous time at school.

We discussed it when P was a baby but didn't take that path until L was old enough for nursery school. Have blogged the story at some point!

11:16 pm, April 02, 2007  
Anonymous lucy B said...

I was one one your "8 that read but didn't respond" - sorry! Had a brief chance to read but not a chance to think and respond before girls intervened ...

I read something in a magazine, which *might* have been Green Parent, just before A was born. It had an article something like "what xxxx did next" (can't remember the boy's name. It was about a home edeucated boy going on to the volunteering/job seeking stage. So that set the scene for knowing it was vaguely legal. But I didn't consider it for us, because 'education' was 5 years away.

Then I had a big eye-opening journey of discovery to do with home birth, vaccinations, etc. And some people I got chatty with on the UK homebirth list (thanks guys) were home educating, So I started researching. And then I started talking to DH and passing on all that I'd researched. I *think* he was a bit: "that's weird, how can we do that?" at the beginning but it's hard to remember as he is so absolutely committed now. We did a brief bit of thinking about alternative schools (I found the 'human scale education' info I'd sent off for yesterday while boxing up stuff) but then as the next couple of years went on and I read more and more, the idea of any kind of school becamse unthinkable. :-)

5:30 am, April 03, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

Oops, I didn't mean to be quite so bolshy there Lucy! You're allowed time to think, of course!

*Puts stopwatch away...* ;-)

7:28 am, April 03, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

So, out of 13 people so far...

5 found out on the internet
5 found out from the printed media
3 found out directly from HErs

And nobody found out from their Local Authority. Interesting.

I hope we get more answers :-)

7:35 am, April 03, 2007  
Anonymous Amanda said...

I often read but don't always comment.

Its 2 years since we started to H.E. DS1 (then 7) was struggling at school, we found he was dyslexic, the school offered 'help' but they were useless and told us to find a private tutor. We did and she told us about H.E. I found out more from the internet.

11:24 am, April 03, 2007  
Blogger Lindsey said...

I watched a documentary on C4 about John Taylor Gatto about 7 yrs ago. I then googled and here I am- my lot have never been to school :)

1:00 pm, April 03, 2007  
Blogger Nic said...

Grr, thought I'd commented here. I've just written about mine at but I always knew about HE from a hothousing to pass exams early pov but never realised anyone could do it until people I knew from parenting forums online mentioned they were doing it.

1:54 pm, April 03, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

Thanks for that Nic - I'd lost your blog address! Glad to have it back :-)

Lindsey - hurray for Gatto!

Hi Amanda - your sounds similar to ours, in a way. We certainly had dyslexia issues.

So that's...

6 found out on the internet
5 found out from the printed media
3 found out directly from HErs
1 from a private tutor and
1 from TV.

LAs: still 0

6:03 pm, April 03, 2007  
Anonymous Jax said...

blogged about it not so long ago. Known about it forever I guess.

9:17 pm, April 03, 2007  
Blogger Daddybean said...

Hmmph, I left one before, but it seems to have got lost ,,,,,,

I've no idea where I found out about HE, it's just one of those things that's been in my head bobbing about for so long. But I didn't know much about it until we started (for reasons I'm not sure about) to consider it when SB was about 2 1/2

11:37 pm, April 03, 2007  
Blogger mamadillo said...

knew about Ruth Lawrence

asked my mum why i couldn't and it was because she didn't think she could teach me :-(

10:59 pm, April 04, 2007  
Anonymous HelenHaricot said...

well, as other half of daddybean!
I didn't want to loose SB to a school with such hug classes. I didn't want her to think of education as a means of passing exams.
i felt the delayed school starting model of scandinavia a good idea, so went for the delay until 7,8. SHe's 6 now, so we will prob delay even longer!
[Helen - used to read and comment a lot, but work a total nightmare and free time limited!]

oh, and I hate word verification - 5 times I have had a go! can't believe not right yet!

1:03 am, April 06, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

"oh, and I hate word verification - 5 times I have had a go! can't believe not right yet!"

Helen I'm sure that word verification thing glitches, because I often get that problem too. I'd take it off, but whenever I try the blog gets flooded with spambot messages :-(

Update on numbers..

6 found out on the internet
5 found out from the printed media
4 found out directly from HErs
1 from a private tutor and
1 from TV
3 can't remember/known forever

LAs: still 0

7:32 am, April 06, 2007  
Blogger shukr said...

Maybe the second time I have visited your site. Have lots of thoughts on what I have read here, but not the words to express them at the moment.

I was doing a teacher training course and was horrified at the attitude of many of my co-trainees. Also, what a waste of time the NC is and what a waste of time the teacher training actually is.

I think it was Debbie who told me it was an option. I joined EO just before or after my first child was born and bought One to One which gave me a vision I liked of home ed, and have thankfully always had the children at home with me.

I started with the idea that it would be until 7, but now I hope to continue until college, (if they choose to attend), unless there is any indication that it will genuinely benefit them before this. You never know how things work out, but I aspire to make myself available to their learning and life needs for as long as it is within my ability, and their interests, to do so.))

5:56 pm, April 09, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

Hi Shukr :-)

Welcome back. I'm hoping you find those words soon! Would welcome your feedback.

Thanks for your reply - we're now on:

6 found out on the internet
5 found out from the printed media
5 found out directly from HErs
1 from a private tutor and
1 from TV
3 can't remember/known forever

LAs: still 0

6:58 pm, April 09, 2007  
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