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 reckons they’re passing the good-at-educating test. Probably.

Illustration by Louise Boulter.

I’ve talked before about how hard it is to measure the effects of home-edding. I guess we’ll only know whether it’s worked out when the children fail all their GCSEs or write a scathing memoir entitled All the Things Our Parents Did Wrong, Including Failing to Buy Us Frozen Dresses.

My instinct tells me that they’re doing OK, but then we’re measuring them against our own personal ideal, which is ‘Can they read and write well?’ I made the five-year-old do an online ‘What’s your reading age?’ test the other day just out of interest. It claimed she had a reading age of seven. But it also claimed that shepherd was spelled shepard. (This is not a humblebrag, it’s a real thing that happened.)

The four-year-old took it too and got a suggested reading age of six, which I doubt very much is in any way accurate. (You’ll also note I didn’t do an online maths test. For me or them…)

“Though our approach may be seen as anti-establishment, I am nonetheless very keen to know what the establishment is up to, so I’ve been buying SATS test books willy-nilly.”

The fact is that something like this can be very hard to assess, and that’s why I hate testing. You’re comparing kids with other kids at the same age when everyone knows that people develop differently at different times (I am hoping my spatial awareness or grasp of physics will kick in by the age of 45).

We know that the girls’ reading and writing is good because that’s what we’re focusing on. Their stories are great, their imaginations run riot and they spell like absolute mo’fos.

But at the same time a friend came to our house the other day and asked them how many planets there were and they looked up blankly and I was thrown into a complete panic at the idea we might be completely neglecting science. Why I Never Got to be a Physicist Because My Mother Was too Busy Making Me Practise Open String Boogie on the Violin, published in 2035 by Penguin.

Though our approach may be seen as anti-establishment, I am nonetheless very keen to know what the establishment is up to, so I’ve been buying SATS test books willy-nilly. I may not agree with them taking place but I want to be confident they COULD pass a test if someone rocked up at the house and sprang one on them.

And in fact I’m a big fan of what I’ve got so far. I have yet to find any errors and I have yet to find fault with the questions (grrr). And the poor children have got used to me saying, “Ooh while you’re here, just quickly answer these three questions for me, could you?”

And we continue to do the spot spelling and maths tests, to the point where now, for fun, the children set us spelling tests (OH SO MUCH FUN to be had in pretending to spell words wrong, in case you were wondering). In fact I came across one the other day where the youngest had written (or tried to write) “Nice job Bob” at the end. We’ll take that.

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".