|Stroking goats: One of many highlights of home education.|
Freedom. I love being able to choose what we teach, unrestricted by the national curriculum, but governed by what we think is best for our children. I enjoy taking days out to the zoo or afternoons at the museum when we feel like it, or when it fits in with what we are doing. Each day we go for a walk, and I watch the children collecting leaves, or running up the steep hills where we live, or climbing through brambles to look for a good spot for a den, or learning to propel themselves on the swings in the playground. The fact that I can do this daily is a highlight.
Happy Learning. Watching a child be enthusiastic about what you are teaching is great fun. Of course there are plenty of times where they just slog through stuff that needs be mastered (though that's okay too - they still find this satisfying), but there are also regular moments when they are unashamedly excited about what they have to do. This varies - sometimes it is art or science; for my 7 year old, it is maths, for my 5 year old it is cooking. At the moment, my 11 year old is loving Greek, which I am thrilled about.
Sibling Friendships. There are times when they don't get on, but they are great company for each other most days. They enjoy our walks more because they can play some elaborate make-believe adventure together; they take pleasure in a younger sibling reading a book that they have always loved for the first time; they argue, but make up quickly; they learn to repent and to forgive.
Community. Though I can feel isolated at times as a home educator, many other times I draw strength from others who are in the same boat, who know first hand the struggles, and who offer wise words when times are tough. Trips out with friends are fun for me as well as for the children, and there are many opportunities for us to meet up with other families for activities or trips out, or for our home education group.
Conversation. Chances to chat throughout the day are very precious. Though there are times when I would love a moment of quiet, the fact that I am the first to know when a child has been moved by a book so much they almost cried, or when they have just thought of another terrible pun. I love it when they hear the news on the radio and we have a long discussion about conflict in Syria or politics in Westminster. I enjoy snuggles on the sofa or random chats on the bus.
Bible. The key reason that we chose to home educate at all is so that we could have a Christ centred approach to education. Rarely do I feel that we come even close to what I would like this to look like, but, nonetheless, our children open their Bibles a number of times a day, and we often have the privilege of seeing them grasp a truth for the first time, or listening to them pray about what they have read. When I am weary, this is immensely uplifting.
Books. I love to read, and sharing this pleasure with our children has been an absolute delight. I remember reading The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe to my eldest for the first time, and seeing just how gripped he was by the story when he heard it; what fun to see your children fall in love with stories that shaped your childhood. We've also discovered new books together, and had lots of fun reading them and chatting about them together.
This is not a list of the greatest benefits of home education for the children - there is much more that I could write about that - just a brief reflection on some of the best bits for me, personally: the things that make me smile when I've wanted to cry all day, or which cheer me up when I am otherwise discouraged, or which give me the boost to keep going when I'm wondering why I'm attempting to teach my children each day.