Hazel Davis and her fella are home-educating their kids. In her final column, she weighs up the pros and cons.
Ages ago, a well-meaning friend told us that she believed we should home-educate our children for the good of society. To create brilliant free-thinking individuals who could go on to be prime ministers and activists. We smiled politely and thought, “Jeez. Not sure we want that. What we mainly want to do is avoid having to do that whole school gate thing.”
It was a nice thing for her to say, but now and again I think about it and wonder why we’re actually doing this. Who’s it actually for? I certainly think about this when I hear about amazing projects my friends’ kids are doing at school or when I hear about enduring friendships struck up in reception class. Or when I hear they’re learning Nepalese nursery rhymes.
But I also think about it when I get an email from a friend raging because her kid’s being bullied at school and she can’t do anything about it. Or another friend whose child is having his PE lesson docked because he failed to fill in an online multiple choice quiz about a book. Or another friend whose teacher routinely puts spelling mistakes in her children’s books.
Yes, there are disadvantages to this choice. There are things we’ll inevitably miss. There will probably be massive gaps in our children’s knowledge that they will hate us for forever.
“I can take my five-year-old out to late-night gigs and concerts because a) school of life and b) breakfast when we like, mate. We let the girls stay up until 10pm playing their violins the other night because what harm could it do?”
Managing social encounters is an effort. They do have friends but we’ve had to orchestrate it. They haven’t come running home from school with a new pal we know nothing about. We know ALL about their friendships (so far) and that’s a bit of a shame.
Also, there’s no let-up. They don’t often go out and give us a few hours’ peace (it’s usually them being dropped off somewhere). I also have a lot of interviews on my Dictaphone with fighting/singing children in the background.
But the advantages more than outweigh these. We theoretically never have to get up in the morning. There’s no rush-hour tussle. There are no lost uniforms (no, wait, scrap that, they’re ALWAYS losing their gym class outfit), no last-minute homework dashes, no “Sorry have to get back to do the school run” and no “Shit, I can’t do any work because it’s the holidays.”
But more importantly I can take my five-year-old out to late-night gigs and concerts because a) school of life and b) breakfast when we like, mate. We let the girls stay up until 10pm playing their violins the other night because what harm could it do? We’re having a week-long family holiday in EARLY JUNE. Bite us.
I get to hang out with my kids in the mornings and I don’t have to rush back from work to find them exhausted or crying over their homework. Or I can come home late, miss their bedtimes but make up for it in the morning.
And then there’s the swearing. We can use the expression “dicking around” and “You’re being a massive bellend” and not worry about being called into school.
We can teach sex ed in the way that we want to (via the medium of Grease).
We can debunk stereotypes we feel need debunking.
We can use story examples that don’t involve girls being princesses and boys being footballers (that one’s thanks to another friend’s kid’s regressive school).
And we can teach our girls that, as the only pupils in the school, they can achieve anything they want to, in any subject they like.
Read all of Hazel’s adventures in home-edding here.4020 Views
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".