Written by Hazel Davis


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

Hazel Davis and her fella have decided to home-educate their kids. In the first of a brand new column, she explains how it’s a learning process for all involved (and looks at house prices in Finland).

Illustration by Louise Boulter.

Illustration by Louise Boulter.

So we’re actually doing it. We’re freaking well home-schooling, sorry home-educating, our children. Come September when my four-year-old Clem’s friends (well, friend) goes to primary school, she will be sitting at the kitchen table screaming, “BUT I DON’T RUDDY WELL KNOW WHAT T-AND-H-TOGETHER MAKES!” like she did this morning. Well, she didn’t say ruddy. She was definitely thinking something far worse.

Anyway, first things first, I MUST stop apologising for it. Lately I have found myself saying, “We’re not hippies but…” (even though we probably are, a little bit) or “We don’t have an agenda or anything” or “We’re thinking of home-educating.” We’re not thinking about it. We’ve thunk. Deal is done. We’re in it. We haven’t registered her with a primary school and we have told nursery who said they have duly informed the local authority (in a nice way). Our names are probably on a list.

It’s very hard when you decide to do something like this not to own it completely. Every time anyone asks, I get ready for awkward questions. Disappointingly, most people are 100 per cent enthusiastic. Older people seem to say they wish they’d done it and people our age say they wish their work was flexible enough for them to do it. Only one person has said, “ARE YOU KIDDING ME???” and she sent me an email last week saying she had been giving it some serious thought herself (ha).

“She’s already reading and writing very basic words and it’s difficult not to simultaneously think, ‘Well that’s half the battle won, let’s just relax a bit’ and ‘Oh my god. We have to teach her ALL OF THIS SHIT.’”

We’re ready for it. We have a basic timetable planned: one day a week full-on learning ALL THE STUFF with Daddy, the rest of the week knobbing about with her sister, picking up ‘learnings’ as she goes and being shouted at to be quiet because I have a phone interview. We’re both firm believers that you don’t need to worry too much in the early years. In Finland they don’t start formal education till seven so if it all goes tits up we’ll just move there.

Anyway, she’s already reading and writing very basic words and it’s difficult not to simultaneously think, “Well that’s half the battle won, let’s just relax a bit” and “Oh my god. We have to teach her ALL OF THIS SHIT.”

However, once you realise you are solely responsible for your child’s academic education (at least, for now) it can get pretty trippy thinking of all the amazing things you can teach them. This must be what training to be a teacher is like before you have your spirit crushed and the soul trampled on (what was I saying about not having an agenda?).

Everything becomes a lesson. Every word is there to be read, every weather phenomenon to be discussed at length, or at least Daddy is to be asked at length about the weather and how it works (and that’s just when they’ve gone to bed). Song lyrics are to be learned, discussed, spelled and analysed. Real example, even though it sounds completely contrived and a little bit pious: On listening to I Want To Sing That Rock and Roll by Gillian Welch, “Mummy what’s a soul?” “Well, it’s the spiritual part of an animal or human. It’s your consciousness, your essence. Your you.” “Why does she want to ‘lectrify it?” “Well, er, oh look Daddy’s back! Can you spell SOUL?”

Anyway, it’s great.

And we totally went to an open-air production of Hamlet and they both sat mesmerised and halfway through (quite loudly, it has to be said) Clem said, “Hamlet’s DAD IS DEAD,” so that’s GCSE English sorted. Piece of piss, this.


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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".