Years ago, I homeschooled my now adult children. But that was in the USA, where views on government control is very different than the UK. In particular, we lived in Texas with its Lone Star mentality. Basically, government had no right to interfer in a parent’s choice to homeschool. Although occassionally, state officials would investigate some families (usually those that gave homeschooling a bad reputation), parents had all the rights. Quite literally, you could meet them at the door with your shot gun and tell them a part of your anatomy to kiss.
When Emily’s medical condition began to accelerate the long-term plan to home educate her, one of the most daunting differences was the degree to which the local authority had the power to intervene. I admit it: at first I was a bit frightened of their power. What if we did not meet ‘their’ standards? What if they were not fair.
One of the key concepts that I discovered early in my research was the Educational Philosophy. This simple document sets forth:
- your reasons for choosing to home educate your child
- how you plan to accomplish it
- what resources you will utilise
- and how you will measure progress.
Being an American, at first I balked at the idea of spending hours writing down all those things that seemed completely logical to me. But as I began writing our Educational Philosophy, I actually found myself enjoying the process. It gave me the opportunity to clarify in my own mind our homeschooling plans. I examined this adventure from points of view that I had not considered. I thought a great deal about my child as an individual with medical and behavioural issues that would necessitate modifications to the way that I had done things with my older children.
One things that was of particular value in this process was the chance for Emily’s dad and I to engage in positive dialogue about our decision. As the custodial parent, her education falls primarily upon my shoulders in terms of the day-to-day implementation, but as her father he has the right to participate in the decision-making process. The Educational Philosophy was the starting point for that discussion and a wonderful communication tool as well.
Overall, I highly recommend the process, even to my American friends. It has proven an enlightening adventure…and I am pretty darn proud of our Educational Philosophy. For the coming weeks, I will be including large portions of it in this blog. While everyone’s will differ just as children and families do, perhaps you will find the basic format informative as you begin your adventure in home education.