Written by Hazel Davis

Lifestyle

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

Hazel Davis and her fella have decided to home-educate their kids. This week, text books are bought, doodles are correctly labelled and fingers and toes are counted.

Illustration by Louise Boulter.

Illustration by Louise Boulter.

The disadvantage of being a home-educated child whose parents believe that every day is a school day is that you never ever get a break. “Throw me a frickin’ bone, mama!” cries Clem as she looks out the window to see the secondary-school girls next-door-but-one bouncing on their trampoline (though she still calls it a bouncerine*).

No, really, in actual fact we’ve not done much more than stick to some very basic spellings and counting on fingers and toes. The most tiresome development for our little Frida Kahlo is that every picture she draws (about 500 a day) now has to have a correctly spelled label on it. If I was her, I would stick to drawing dogs and avoid things like “me flushing the toilet”, as happened yesterday.

Anyway, we’ve started to devise a work plan. The National Curriculum statutory programmes of study and attainment targets are accessible online. We’re going to work from them and add flourishes of our own/ignore whole swathes when we see fit.

I went to WH Smiths in a fit of excitement and bought a load of primary school textbooks. As Clem appears to have inherited the Davis tendency of not wanting to try anything unless she is already good at it, getting from ‘not being able to read a full sentence’ to ‘being able to read a full sentence’ is a pretty fun journey. And by fun I mean the sort of journey in which you need to stop for a shit every 10 minutes.

Her ‘thing’ is clearly art. She eats, sleeps and breathes drawing. Her first instinct when she sees a pen is to draw a person. They’re detailed, elaborately dressed, moving, walking, talking people. The care she puts into them is immense. She can read and write some basic words but she does them out of duty and really the whole time she’s thinking about how best she can illustrate them.

“While our daughter might be 27 by the time she reads, she’s got the time now to do what floats her boat. She’s only just four, for Christ’s sake; let her days be filled with doodles.”

The huge advantage I can see (and this is well-documented) is that we can take a path like this and amble down it. There’s time to learn to read. We’re confident it will come. Let drawing be the conduit for now. It seems to me this is what teachers would like to do if they only had the time.

One teacher friend who quit the profession entirely recently told me: “A couple of years ago, the school I was working at asked us to write down (anonymously) why we became teachers. The same still applies now as it did then. Among other things, I became a teacher to introduce young people to cultures, ages, ways of life utterly different from their own, and from the present day; to broaden their minds through this and encourage them to be inquisitive, to ask questions which might not have answers – but to love the thrill of the chase in finding out. There is no time for this, sadly. No time for ‘going off on tangents’ because ‘we must get back to the syllabus/lesson plan/scheme of work.’”

I can’t begin to express the sadness I felt when she told me this. I was sad for her and sad for our children (should they ever decide to go back to school). But I was happy too. Happy that, while our daughter might be 27 by the time she reads, she’s got the time now to do what floats her boat. She’s only just four, for Christ’s sake; let her days be filled with doodles.

In other news, we read an excellent book about the rain and I learned that lightning was ice rubbing up against itself. Woah! Did everyone else already know that? (Oh, OK…).

*Advantage of home-schooling #354, they never have to learn the real words for things. Hence trampoline can forever be bouncerine, kissing will always be “fopping” (I don’t know) and pyjamas will always be Jim-Jalmers (after my dear friend Jim Chalmers).

@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".