Written by Hazel Davis


Hey! Teachers! I’ll leave my kids at home

Hazel Davis and her fella are home-educating their kids. This week, she had a bit of a wobble.

Illustration by Louise Boulter.

OK, so I suddenly got The Fear. Having spent the last year or so feeling bullish and buoyant about the home-ed journey, I’ve been wondering if it’s the right thing at all.

Anyone with a five-year-old will tell you they are absolute sponges, and as I sat at the kitchen table with my kids the other day, telling them about Greek gods, they looked so attentive and engaged, parroting the facts back at me that I thought, “Fuck. The world is their oyster. Who are we to be the ones to tell them stuff?”

Similarly, as I drifted off to sleep listening to a sciencey podcast, it crossed my mind that really I know absolutely fuck all about science and should probably leave it to an expert to teach my kids.

I have had this niggling fear for the last couple of weeks. It was easier when they were less engaged, in a way, because we could be more chaotic in our approach and we could do bits and bobs here and there. Now the eyes are wider and the brains feel larger, it’s our job to fill them with useful stuff.

But some recent events have made me muse on what teaching actually is.

A friend came to stay last weekend to teach another friend and me how to take photos properly. We expected him to rock up and tell us how to change our aperture and shutter speed. Instead he spent a fair proportion of the time talking us through what motivates us to take pictures and how we look at the world.

We both learned a hell of a lot about ourselves (and about how to take nice pictures) in the process. And I learned a fair bit about teaching. We could have learned the nuts and bolts from anyone or from a book but he really unlocked a whole other way of seeing things and that’s my job as teacher to my children.

As I write this, I am en route to Cambridge University to talk to students about becoming writers. I initially thought, “What gives me the right to do that?” until someone pointed out that I have made a successful career as a freelance writer and I can talk enthusiastically about my journey there, so what’s not to qualify me?

My partner and I are both fully functioning adults (well kind of) with grown-up jobs. We can both read and write and (to a point) add up and we manage a household budget (albeit creatively). So why the hell aren’t we well-placed to be the ones shaping our children?

More importantly, we both have a passion for learning. If we want to find out about something, we read about it (him) or we go out and find out about it (i.e. ask someone to show me). These are the things we can teach our kids. Moreover, we can do it at our own pace and in our own house and we can do it with our slippers on. So for now the fear has subsided. But ask me again when they’re eight.

Read all of Hazel’s adventures in home-edding here.


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Written by Hazel Davis

Hazel Davis is a freelance writer from West Yorkshire. She has two tiny children but the majority of her hours are taken up with thinking about Alec Baldwin singing sea shanties and the time someone once called her "moreishly interesting".