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February 20, 2014

Parents Share Homeschooling Stories

Ed. note: The Home Service, a homeschool support organization in the United Kingdom that provides help and advice for those homeschooling or considering doing so, asked two of its members to reflect on their homeschool journeys and the benefits it has brought to their families. Please enjoy these reflections from two British parents.

There is life after home education!

By Jo Storie

The Home Service asked me to write a piece to reflect on my time as a home-educating Mum, but I’m sure there are many pieces written of that ilk, and I asked instead if I could write about some of the unexpected consequences of home educating my own children—so here we go.

Home educating our own children gave us a flexibility to go to children’s camps in Latvia outside of normal English school times. This led eventually to us moving out here to Latvia, not to do children’s camps, but simply to live here. It’s a long story and perhaps I will go into that somewhere else, or you can just read my blog to find out. Home educating also allowed us the flexibility to move countries, even though we were close to exam times. We first left the UK to go to Denmark ten years ago (well, it is half way to Latvia—where we wanted to be!). Home education gave us the flexibility to teach and learn what we wanted, when we wanted. All this flexibility was useful, but one thing it also taught me was how to be a researcher. I would research all sorts of topics for my children. I would also research all sorts of topics for the information I needed to move countries, buy what we needed, attempt new projects—you name it, I researched it. Nowadays my husband and I manage three allotment plots, 33 acres of land, three alpacas and 42 chickens, and all the information we have needed we have either asked around for or done the research ourselves on the internet.

Other valuable skills I learned with my children were how to learn online, how to use the available resources, and how to structure my time. All useful skills when it came to following through on a word from God about becoming a doctor. Not a medical doctor, but a PhD doctor. I started out with The Open University, and it seemed so natural to be downloading and uploading assignments and structuring essays, despite the fact it was 25 years since I had completed my degree at a land-based university. I completed my Master’s degree online last year with the University of the Highlands and Islands (Scotland) in Managing Sustainable Rural Development, and now I am in my first year of doctoral studies where I shall be studying participatory development in rural development (simply put, including people in their own development). So still researching, still doing much online, still with a quest for knowledge—all built on the skills learnt from teaching my own children for five years.

When I set out to teach my children, I didn’t really anticipate where it would lead. I didn’t realise the flexibility needed to home educate would mean we were a family flexible to take leaps of faith to change countries. I didn’t realise all that research would give me the skills to become an academic researcher after so many years away from formal education. And lastly I didn’t realise how all that time spent helping the children to structure their writing and presenting work would one day be useful to me in academic circles. When I was asked to do this article I was in the middle of attending an academic conference in Florence, Italy, where I gave a presentation and talked about my research on wild boar management in Latvia, including how it was transformed over the years from the Soviet system to the system they have now and how it lacked communication between the parties who needed to be talking to each other, the authorities and the farmers. A long way from the essays I used to give my children, but built little by little from that starting point!

One Dad’s Memories

By Steve Carroll

One of the greatest joys of being a dad is letting the inner child out! I have three children, now aged 17, 15 and 11 years old, and as I look back I have fond memories of the rituals we established.

When the children were very young, they would be in the bath by the time I got home and so I had to grab the chance to play before they went to bed. I would slowly slip my hand around the door, and then a nose, or take off my glasses and make them peer around the door too! The children would shriek and then shout out suggestions for the next thing to magically appear. It usually ended with howls of laughter!

Another similar game was the “getting changed song” which involved me taking off the wrong part of my suit to replace it with an equally wrong part of my casual wear.

Short in time but huge in relationship terms; we still laugh about it today.

Other special times are found in traditions. One of our favourite things to do on a weekend afternoon is to drive out to a local village armed with a pound each to visit the old fashioned sweet shop, where it takes ages to decide what to have as the jars are stacked floor to ceiling! After much deliberation, we walk down the lane to the park to play whilst munching through our bag of goodies.

The feel good factor never fails.

Jo Storie and Steve Carroll reside in the United Kingdom and are part of the Home Service.

 Other Resources

Learn more by visiting HSLDA’s United Kingdom page.