I’m sitting in Starbucks. My daughter is sitting next to me, reading Dan Browns ‘Digital Fortress’ . I’m replying to a comment on my Home School post, and hearing a couple of ladies next to me talk about home schooling, and it’s so exciting. Their children sound very young, and they’ve realised that they are already learning – with or without school. And that there are more ways of raising children than school, or home school that looks like school.
For us, it’s quiet. It’s not endless rounds of groups and people. It’s not sitting with books studying for hours. When my children first deregistered from school – we deschooled. We simply did what we wanted. We spent hours on Minecraft and even went to the Minecraft Convention in London. I played with them. I wanted to see and encourage what interested them. I didn’t impose any time limits. I’d tried that in the past. I didn’t impose bedtimes. I stopped making them eat things that they didn’t want. I stopped limiting. If they wanted chocolate and cake – they could have it. Can you imagine what this looks like? And how a lot of people would view it? But we talked. About eating, about food and health and nutrition, about choices. And it wasn’t and still isn’t all perfect, and idillic. It’s life. Done diffently. My son chose to do GCSEs. He got through them in less than a year, mostly by studying by himself. His own motivation, and then a lot of encouragement and help as the exams approached. He did well and is now studying A levels at college. He passed his driving test and he has a car. He’s looking at going to University next year. He’s quiet, capable, funny, kind, sociable, and has an opinion on everything. He grew out of his Minecraft phase. I didn’t need to limit and nag. He still plays. He plays many games. And sometimes they can engage him for days and weeks. It really isn’t a problem. I find the same thing can happen to me.
My daughter loves to bake. Both my children eat well. Not through force. Through choice. They’re not perfect. We enjoy chocolate, cake and sweets. But not all the time. If there are no limits to what you can have, why binge? Yes, sometimes we still do. Because we can. But not often.
Both children can cook and look after themselves. They keep their rooms clean and tidy. Teenagers! Clean and tidy! Again – not perfect. I didn’t learn to be tidy until my late 30s. And then it was gradual. I began to understand that I couldn’t expect my children to keep things tidy and put things away if I didn’t. And that we had far too much stuff in the house, which meant that we didn’t even have a home for everything. So I began decluttering. This began before the children stopped school. I talked to the children about decluttering and why I was doing it, and began to get them involved in sorting through their toys, games and books. Again, I didn’t force them to get rid of anything, but as they did make space in their rooms, it seemed to get easier for them to let go of things. They began to think about what they needed and wanted – what really wasn’t useful – what they were keeping because it was a gift, or they’d spent money on it, or whatever other reason made them believe that they couldn’t get rid of it. The charity shop, friends, local toddler groups did well from their sorting. And some of it they sold on ebay. And some I actually gave them money for getting rid of. Because I was learning – there are not as many rights and wrongs as we think there are. There is no one way of doing life.