Written by Hazel Davis

Lifestyle

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

Hazel Davis and her fella are home-educating their kids. This week, she’s taking lessons outside.

Illustration by Louise Boulter.

The sun’s out and I have remembered one of the absolute top bonuses of home-educating.

The tent at the end of our garden that we use for gigs (yeah, shut up) and painting in has been festering a bit lately due to freezing cold weather and no time. But in the last few days, spring has been a-sprunging and we’ve moved our life back out into the garden.

The girls have been watering plants nearly every day, logs have been chopped and stacked (and counted along the way) and in the kitchen window the tomatoes are in progress.

Now I love the British weather probably more than the average (I am perfectly happy trudging through the woods in the pissing rain), but everything, including home-edding, is so much easier when the sun is shining.

“Let’s go outside and name the flowers” is an easier sell when you don’t have to pull on a full waterproof outfit. Waiting at a bus stop is a doddle when it’s not wazzocking down. Making friends in the park is so much easier when you can spend hours tigging each other.

Likewise, “Come and read this book in the sunshine” is a much nicer prospect than, “You’ll sit at that table and read that book; I don’t care if you’re freezing, I can’t be arsed to light the fire.”

“I love being outside. When I wasn’t sitting under a strip light with a headache, I spent my childhood playing on the beach – granted, mostly picking up used condoms and typhus – lighting fires and soaking up the sun.”

When the sun’s shining there are endless possibilities. Science experiments (OK, food colouring in cups) can go outside. You can pack rucksacks and take long walks round reservoirs pointing out geological phenomena (well, the children’s dad can, Mummy’s on deadline).

And being outside is one of the main motivators for us. When I think back to my own schooldays, all I can remember is being cooped up under a hot strip light with a headache. I’m not saying that’s always the case these days BUT the idea that if the weather’s nice we can migrate outside for a bit or go for a paddle in a stream while also reading aloud from Swallows and Amazons is pretty cool.

I love being outside. When I wasn’t sitting under a strip light with a headache, I spent my childhood playing on the beach – granted, mostly picking up used condoms and typhus – lighting fires and soaking up the sun. I want the same for my children (minus, of course, the heatstroke and condoms). I go to extraordinary lengths as an adult to have picnics in the winter, much to my friends’ exasperation.

I want my children to be able to run around when they’re feeling cooped up; I want them to sit on the grass and read a book; I want them to learn how to carve their name in a tree* (That’s going to come sooner than I anticipated. The five-year-old said, threateningly, the other day, “YOU SAID when I was six I could have a penknife.” At the time it seemed like years away. Shit).

I don’t want learning to be inside and enjoyment to be outside. I want them to be one and the same. I want their biology lessons to include real plants and the donkey that lives at the back of us, I want their sculptures on display in the garden and I want the spring air in their lungs.

*It’s our tree. Get over it.

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

@hazedavis

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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".