Monday, 7 September 2009

A Mission Statement

When I started today's post, it was going to summarise all the reasons that we will be educating our children away from the school system.

Although our boys are only one and three, we made the decision not to send them to school so long ago now that it seems like we have been a part of the home ed community almost forever, and it almost seems odd to be writing about why the boys will be learning outside of school when I almost feel as though everyone already knows all the benefits of home ed. This isn't the case, of course. Maybe instead it's just a positive sign that, on the whole, we are surrounded by a fantastic support network.

Now that Sprout is going on four, lots of his friends have started, or are going back to, school today, and the question is cropping up more often than it did before: "When's he going to go to school?"

Now, while I will never feel the need to justify to anyone our decision to let them learn out of school (just as I would never expect a parent who sends their children to school to justify that decision to me), I would like to share our reasons for doing so, our vision for our children. Just so that anyone who feels so inclined can understand a bit more about it. And also so anyone who thought there must be another way, but just didn’t know what it was, might find an amazing new world of possibilities for their children.

Now, when I started to write this post last night it summarised every reason they wouldn't be going to school, listed and explained. Reading it back to myself, however, it was incomplete. Actually no, scrub that, it wasn't incomplete, it was just unnecessary. All it was was a list of ways in which schools fail our children, and people already know that, although their lists may be slightly different.

So what I am putting here today, instead, is our Mission Statement.

Now, if this was the world of business, the shorter and snappier the mission statement the better. The Holy Grail of all mission statements is Nike's "Kill Adidas!". If we were to go down this route, our mission statement for our children's education would be "Let them be". The reason being, children are born with an innate desire to learn. Some of the first things are crawling, walking, language, how to feed themselves, but that ability doesn't suddenly wither away once they are some magical age, at which point we must send them to school for information to be thrown at their brains in order for it to go in. No, that desire stays with them, if we let it.

However, "Let them be", while being snappy, concise, and pretty much summing up what we will do, doesn't really share the amazing vision that we have of how we intend our boys' childhood to be. So instead...


Our children will be free to learn what they want, when they want, whether that is building a lego train at 6 in the morning, reading a book while they eat their lunch at half ten, sitting in the garden watching a bee, getting me to tell them the name of every single country on the map, dancing to each other’s ‘compositions’ on the piano, playing football in the park, counting the chocolate sprinkles as they put them on the buns they made, watching a dvd, jumping around at gym class, talking to their grandparents about their childhood, or… well, you get the idea

They will not have their learning restricted by any curriculum, let alone one devised by someone they have never met.

They will not have their socialisation impaired by restrictive age bandings or peer pressure. They will be free to interact with people of all ages as and when they please, whether this is us, their friends, children at their groups and classes, family, neighbours, shopkeepers, people at the bus stop, librarians, musem curators... again, you get my drift.

We will facilitate their learning in whatever direction they want to take, and with all the multitude of resources available to them: at home, books, toys, internet, cds, dvds, musical instruments, the garden, our extended family, our friends; and outside the home, libraries, museums, farms, playgrounds, home ed groups, friend’s houses, parks, woodlands, shops, and, well, life.

Our children will have the freedom to eat when they are hungry, talk to adults without raising their hand, and use the toilet when they need to, unrestricted by a system schedule unconcerned with their individual needs.

We will never allow anyone to attempt to measure or test their learning (if such a thing is even possible), and use those results to compare them with other children, groups of children, or nations of children.

My children will not have their self esteem conditional on arbitrary grades assigned to their learning.

We will love and support our children, whatever they choose to learn and whatever direction they decide to take.

And there you have it, our commitment to our boys. And to anyone that knows me, if you do still ask me, "But what about socialisation?!", I will refer you back to this post with a flea in your ear :)

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