Tag Archives: parenting

Why Did We Choose Homeschooling?


I don’t think I’ve ever written here about how we came to homeschool, so when Savannah kindly offered to interview me for the “Who Homeschools?” feature at Hammock Tracks, it seemed like a good opportunity to tell our story.

How did you end up deciding to teach your children at home? Have they always been homeschooled or did they attend school outside the home, at one point?

Four years ago I’d never heard of home schooling. Then our intense, bright five year-old daughter, C, moved from nursery to full-time private school, and a few issues arose. I enlisted the help of the wonderful parenting coach, Scott Noelle, and it was through Scott that I had my first glimpse into the world of home schooling.

At that stage, however, I didn’t know anyone other than Scott who homeschooled (and he lived 5000 miles away!), and things settled down with our daughter, so we didn’t take the idea any further.

Why our son Left School

Then the following year our younger child, J, started school. We didn’t know at the time that he had sensory processing issues, but after two terms I could see that if J was going to fit in at school, it was going to be at a heavy personal cost to him.

The last straw was when J, who had just turned five, came home in tears because “I’m not going to be allowed to do any of the fun stuff for the rest of the week”. Outside his classroom was a beautiful, sensory, outdoor play area that the children were allowed to use for short periods at a time. On gentle questioning I discovered that because J had refused to come in from the outdoor play area as soon as he was told to, he was going to be punished by being kept inside for the rest of that sunny May week.

That just wasn’t the environment I wanted my little boy spending thirty-four hours a week in.  So we brought him home.  We haven’t looked back.

How our Daughter Followed

By that point our eldest, C, was coping well with school, but after meeting up with a few of our home-educated friends over the summer, she decided to join us at home. She said, “I just want to do one term in year 2 [grade 1], because I like the teacher and I want to be in the nativity play”. 🙂

That whole term I wondered if she would change her mind, but she didn’t. She had a great final term, starred in the Christmas play, and left.  I love that she made the choice to come home and was able to do so on her own terms.

What is your goal in home educating your children?

… to continue reading, head over to Hammock Tracks for the full interview.

Hammock Tracks’ “Who Homeschools?” feature also contains the stories of many other homeschooling families. We’re a diverse and fascinating bunch – one of the many reasons I love this life!


I spent this week at Centerparcs, Longleat Forest, with C, J, my mum and my nephew S (3).  In retrospect I realise I didn’t go into  it with high expectations of my own enjoyment, seeing it more as a holiday for the children and an opportunity for our extended family to spend some time together.  But I am delighted to report that I can have fun outdoors in England in February!

Biking around the forest was surprisingly enjoyable, C and J relishing the independence the car-free environment gave them.  I smiled as I witnessed their pleasure at being responsible for their own bicylces, finding “parking spaces” and securing them with their own mini combination locks.

We spent a large part of each day at the “Sub Tropical Swimming Paradise”, where we hurled ourselves down the Wild Water Rapids in various poses (C commented, “I wonder why they even bother putting up those ‘feet first’ signs?”), saved the planet as underwater superheroes in the lazy river, and launched ourselves at speed down waterslides.

C and I enjoyed spectacular views of the forest as we challenged ourselves on an “aerial adventure” assault course through the tree tops, our adrenalin levels peaking at the “vertical drop” finish, where we jumped off a platform some 30 ft in the air.  Luckily a clever mechanism of ropes attached to our harnesses gently broke our fall at ground level, allowing our wobbly legs to carry us to nearby Starbucks for well-earned hot chocolates.  (J is willing himself to grow 4cm in time for our next visit so that he too can swing from ropes among the pines.)

Another mother-daughter highlight was the evening C and I went to the pool on our own.  The rapids at night are something else – the gushing water illuminated by a dazzling array of lights, twinkling through the clouds of steam as warm water meets cold night air.  Add in the fact that as you enjoy the view your body is sliding and spinning at speed through a series of whirlpools and slides, and it’s a pretty stimulating sensory experience!

I left Longleat with the same combination of pleasantly aching muscles and high spirits as after a skiing holiday, and spent the two hour drive home reflecting on what had contributed most to my enjoyment.  During our days in the forest the children and I were mostly engaged in the same activities (usually me playing alongside them).  I spent more time outside than usual, and I was much more physically active than at home.  Also, although we mostly cooked and ate in our villa, I wasn’t spending large amounts of time organising “stuff” as I do at home as part of running a household.

It’s now a day since we got back, and I’ve identified the birth in me of a new desire (unrelated to my delicious dream last night about Jack Davenport): I want to bring more of the elements I enjoyed at Centerparcs into my everyday life.  At the moment I’m in the “knowing what I don’t want” phase – the “asking” referred to in the Hicks’ “Ask And It Is Given“;  I know I don’t want to be surrounded by so much “stuff”, that I want to have more fun with my children, and I want to spend more time in nature.

I know from experience that having identified my desire, my role in its creation is now over.  My only work now is to be in wellbeing; in wellbeing lies everything I desire, in wellbeing I feel no lack, and in wellbeing anything is possible.  Watch this space!

A Good Attitude

I was struck by some words I recently read in “Guerilla Learning” by Grace Llewelyn and Amy Silver.  Talking about the importance of recognising our children’s interests, the authors tell us:

Recognise your kids.  Pay attention to them.  Acknowledge them.  Know them better than they know themselves.  It feels deep-down good to be really seen by people we love and who love us…

“Sometimes when we pay attention to our older children, they seem to want to shut us out at times.  But more often than not their defensive gestures are a sham, a test: Do you really love me enough to stay interested in me, even when I’m a snotty brat? Is your love unconditional? Older kids very much want to be known.  That desire may co-exist (and seem to conflict) with their being embarrassed by you in the presence of their peers, with anger, with their desire for autonomy.  But it’s pervasive and strong  – and you recognise that in your own life, right? You want your own parents to know you deeply and to accept and love you for exactly who you are even now, as an adult.”

When I first read this, the words registered most in the context of my relationship with my own mother, but today at C’s football practice they came to mind afresh.  As she left the pitch I put an arm round her shoulders and asked if she’d enjoyed the game, only to have the arm shaken off and find myself warned by a growling C, “Don’t embarrass me!”  Llewellyn and Silver’s words in my ears, I made a gracious retreat and followed C at a respectful distance to the end-of-session presentations -where C was the smiling recipient of the “Player Of The Week” trophy, awarded, according to the coaches, to the player demonstrating “the kind of attitude we want to see among our players”.

As we drove home and C’s blood sugar level began to return to normal thanks to the jam sandwiches I’d thrust in her hands, I silently awarded myself the “player’s mum of the week” award.

“How Do You Spend All Day Them?”

Over the last few days, since I started home educating both my children (having had my son at home for nine months already) I’ve been asked several times variations on the questions “How can you spend all day with your children?” and “What about time for you?”  Which I appreciate, as they have helped me find the following answers for myself:

(1) Many women work full or part time outside the home, because they want to, or for financial reasons. They may have the “time away from the children” part of the equation (sometimes more than they would like), but combined with running a home, most probably don’t have a great deal of that “you time” people have been so concerned about on my account.  I’m not saying I’d turn down the chance of an occasional hour with a book in Starbucks or an afternoon browsing the shops on my own, but on balance I consider myself incredibly priviledged to be able to spend so much of my time with the people I love most. (And there are always weekends!)

(2) Spending “all day” with both my children is so much easier than spending the stressed, grumpy time around the edges of school with them.  Despite a wonderfully full schedule (which today included, for example, driving 40 minutes to a group guitar lesson, a trip to an adventure playground, and swimming lessons) we are all so much less tired and grumpy than we were when C was at school.  I can’t really explain why yet, but it’s definitely true.  Perhaps it’s that C and J are getting on so much better (like they used to at the end of the school holidays compared with at the start) or because, without the pressures of school, C is so much less stressed, or some other reason, but the answer to “how can you spend all day with them?” is easy – for most of the day I’m  in “flow“, and when I’m in flow, there’s nowhere I’d rather be, nothing else I’d rather be doing, and no-one I’d rather be doing it with.

C's first eBay auction

Art For Sale

C, a prolific creator of every kind of art, decided yesterday that she was going to “make a picture to sell”.  I don’t think her motivation was financial (she tends to forget to spend birthday and pocket money, which accumulates in piggy banks and purses around her bedroom) but I’m not sure exactly it was, perhaps curiosity – to test the market?  Her father and I exchanged furtive anxious glances and then fixed encouraging smiles on our faces.  “Who would you like to invite to buy it?”, I asked.  C looked around, scanning her environment for purchasers. “The neighbours?” she suggested.  At this even I, committed to letting our children explore and experience the world without imposing the restrictions of my own limiting beliefs and “socialisation”, felt a bit panicky.  And that is how my daughter’s “Beautiful Flower” picture was put up for auction on  eBay.

C's first eBay auction
"Beautiful Flower"
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