I’m going to end this week-long series with some of my favorite resources for parents…and some of @PanKwake’s favorite learning ones.
Honestly, for this temporary ‘homeschooling’ I believe the most important thing that parents need is reassurance. That their children’s whole future is not ruined. That their kids are learning something, even if they refuse to do sit at the table and complete every last worksheet in that online packet, or watch three-hours of BBC programming. In a world where schools are the norm, those are incredibly frightening prospects.
But let me remind you, for well over-half a century, there have been those of us who choose this route. And despite the slanted propaganda, those home educated young people have won local, national, and international prizes in the arts, science, and spelling. Many of them have gone on to college and university, sometimes highly prestigious ones.
Yes, this has been more common in the country of my birth (USA), but home education not as prevalent in the UK. Even then, those GCSEs and A-levels are not the only path to university. My own offspring prove that. Their American diplomas were not recognized in this country, so they took Foundations Degrees. And for adult-learners (those over 25) there are various pathways to university degrees. Some of which are needs based.
Bottom line – those standardized test scores are not the end of the world. And frankly, everyone is in the same boat. So, colleges and universities are going to have to adjust to this new reality.
But I am just a parent. What do I know? I’m loud, obnoxious, and worst of all, American.
Like I said though, my offspring have turned out pretty well:
- Mr. Stability – was homeschooled until the age of ten. He graduated American high school before we moved to the UK. Universities here would not recognize his diploma so he took a year long foundations course. He then completed his degree in History at Goldsmith’s in London while working part-time. Upon graduation, he was offered an executive position with this small company. He worked for them for two-years before deciding to return to the US and fulfil his dream of joining the Navy. He got caught in that same educational quagmire when the Navy refused to recognize his UK university degree. As a result he was not eligible to become an officer, but he has risen quickly through the enlisted ranks.
- Precious – was homeschooled until she was nine. Despite dyslexia that delayed her reading, she went on to excel in school, including honors classes. Like her older brother, her educational and career path has not been the ‘norm.’ She was eighteen when we moved her. It was the middle of the term and we could not find a place for her in a sixth form or college. So she had a ‘gap year.’ She enrolled in the local college the next year and received an NVQ-level 3 in Early Years. She worked in schools as a teaching assistant with ‘special needs’ children for the next five years. She then returned to university and completed a degree in Educational Studies. Followed by a masters in gender at UCL. She now works in administration at Oxford.
- The Artist – was adopted at the age of seven months. He has a genetic disorder called neurofibromatosis that results in learning challenges. The social worker told us that he would never hold a fulltime job or live on his own. He has done both for over a decade. And that artwork – is all his.
- Sunshine – was never ‘officially’ homeschooled. But simply by sittig at the table while his siblings were, he entered school already reading and well-passed his peers. His road with the UK education system was bumpy, too. He had been at the top of his class in the US, enrolled in more Advanced Placement courses at his high school than anyone ever had. When we moved the only place we could find placed him a year behind his peers. And there were not even honors classes on offer. We lost him for a bit there, he fell in with a rough crowd because he was bored. Yes, looking back, I wished we had home educated him. But despite his ‘behaviors’ in secondary school, his GCSE scores allowed him to gain admittance to a highly regarded sixth form college. He did well on his A-levels as well. He then completed a degree in Maths from Manchester. He goofed off for a few months after that, working in a bike shop while getting his ESL certification. Then he was off to China for two and half years, where he taught English and maths. He and his girlfriend came back to the UK where he completed a masters in engineering at Kings College. He was then offered a fully-funded PhD programme at Cambridge – which he is finishing this year.
My point is…
Life is a journey. Sometimes paths aren’t straight. And often these curves, dips, and bends make us stronger people.
But if you don’t believe me, then for fuller understanding of how children can and do learn without ‘schooling’ might I suggest:
Even if you are not interested in ‘homeschooling’ or uncomfortable with the idea of self-directed anything, I highly recommend:
The Four Educative Drives that explains how humans are wired for learning. And…
The Six Optimizing Conditions which focuses on the things that parents can and should provide to provide a optimum learning environment.
I also recommend that you check out Dr Peter Gray’s blog on Psychology Today. Not only is he the founder of ASDE and a highly-respected expert on education, but he has been researching and writing about the effects of school closures on American Children.
There is one vital resource that I want to highlight, not simply for parents of ‘special needs’ children, but all caring adults. That is Dr Ross Greene’s Lives in the Balance website and community. Dr Greene is the author of The Explosive Child and pioneered a parenting approach called Collaborative Problem Solving. His basic premise is…
Kids do well when they can…
I have never strictly followed the Collaborative Problem Solving approach, that premise alone revolutionized how I dealt with @PanKwake’s behaviors. While I linked to his book, most of the information necessary to understand and practice this parenting style are free on the Lives in the Balance site. It is I believe an excellent resource for all parents whether their children are neurodivergent or neurotypical.
And if that is not enough ‘homework’ for you, then my Resources page here has more information on ‘homeschooling.’ Once again, I have exceeded that 750-word ‘norm’ for blog. I better stop before I lose your attention. So, tomorrow, I’ll finish up this series with @PanKwake’s suggested learning resources.