OUR EDUCATIONAL PHILOSOPHY(Prepared for Bournemouth LEA - 10/1/03 - Re: Rosie Nicole Sellers)
Reasons for choosing to home educate
We chose to home educate largely because Rosie is very bright. We have always known this and always known that there was a big chance that she would end up being ‘bored’ and under challenged at school. This is not the fault of any particular school, but the fault of the education system in general - overcrowded classrooms and not enough teaching staff to be able to give the children individual attention when they need it. We made the decision to home educate before Rosie reached compulsory school age and were doing well. Then, Rosie attended school for approximately one month during October 2002. This was because we caved in to pressure from relatives who felt that Rosie couldn’t possibly be getting a satisfactory education at home. As we suspected, Rosie was classed as ‘high ability’ in her assessment. I asked whether she could be given extra work to reflect this ability (bearing in mind that Rosie had spent several days previously simply tracing her name over and over again despite the fact that I had informed the teacher that she could write independently), and was told that they would get round to it ‘eventually’. This was not a satisfactory state as Rosie was becoming increasingly bored and frustrated and was in fact losing the desire to learn rapidly.
The obvious answer was to send Rosie to a private school where the class sizes would be smaller and she would get individual attention and work suitable to her ability. However, financially we are simply not in a position to do this. We therefore made the decision, that we would return to home education as it had worked well before and we saw no reason why it could not continue to work well.
Other reasons we have for choosing to home educate are:
- We are a non-religious family. We feel that the religious education taught in schools is inappropriate and excluding Rosie from RE lessons and assemblies is not the answer as this would single her out as being ‘different’. We feel that Rosie should be able to make her own mind up about Religion when she is old enough to understand it fully and not be force-fed it at a young age where she is just going to blindly accept everything that is said to her.
- At home Rosie has the time to work more thoroughly on projects. Unfortunately, schools have to work to a rigid timescale which does not allow this luxury. Rosie is very particular about finishing things once she has started. She also has the time to work on interests which perhaps are not covered at school.
- On a social level we feel that home education allows Rosie to socialise in a far more ‘natural’ way than the un-natural, age-segregated environment of a school. Home education allows Rosie to mix with people of all ages, from all walks of life and this, we feel, is far better preparation for adult life where, almost without exception, a person will never find him/herself in a situation where they have to spend the vast majority of their day shut in a building with people of the same age.
How we home educate
The beauty of home education is that it allows Rosie to learn what she needs to know from a wide variety of sources. The education we provide for her currently includes:
- Attendance at a Kumon Education Centre for (paid for) tuition in Maths (she may also eventually attend English lessons at the same place).
- Educational cd roms for the computer. Rosie is currently using Learning Land (which covers English Language, Maths and Natural Science) and Webland which covers History, English, Maths, General Science, Music and Art.
- Workbooks - we are using Letts and Schofield and Sims workbooks, both of which support the National Curriculum.
- BBC TV ‘Schools’ programmes, such as Words and Pictures, Numbertime and Cats Eyes (Primary Science).
- Music lessons with her dad who is an experienced musician (piano), although if Rosie decides to play a different instrument we will of course send her to a specialist teacher for this.
- ‘PE’ in the form of playing on the apparatus at the local playground, long walks and swimming at a local leisure centre. In the spring/summer we are planning to sign her up for the ‘Swimming Academy’ at Stokewood Road swimming pool as we feel that it is most important (particularly living in a seaside resort) that she learns to swim properly at an early age.
- Attendance, weekly, at the local home education group where various activities (usually art and craft) take place. Recent activities have included - tie-dying, plaster-cast model making, puppet making and collage.
- Thematic work - every so often we pick a particular theme and study it in depth using library books, TV programmes, internet resources etc. Recent themes have included Ponds, The seaside and Bees.
- Reading - we are currently using the ‘I Can Read with Ladybird’ series to teach Rosie how to read. We also use flashcards and read to her every day.
Home Education Timetable
We do not use a timetable as we feel, in a home education situation, that it is unrealistic and unworkable. Rosie is learning, in one form or another, from the time she gets up to the time she goes to bed. Almost any situation can be turned into a meaningful learning experience from the nutritional value of her breakfast cereal to the study of the clouds when out on a nature walk.
Rosie’s current progress
We are happy to supply the LEA with examples of Rosie’s work if required. This would have to be in the form of photocopies for various reasons a) We do not want her original work to become lost in the post b) some of her artwork is very ‘big’ and un-postable c) some of her writing is in hardback writing books and the postage costs would be huge.
Rosie’s progress in various subjects is as follows:
- Can count, recognise and write numbers to 20
- Can perform simple picture/number addition sums
- Can tell the time by the hour and half hour
- Understands the signs for ‘more than’ and ‘less than’ and uses them in the correct place
- Recognises and can draw many different shapes
- Sorts and matches with ease
- Recognises 1p, 2p, 5p and 10p coins and can add up various amounts.
- Writes independently (ie does not ‘trace’ letters) and legibly
- Knows the alphabet and recognises and can write both upper case and lower case letters
- Can read and write 3 letter CVC words easily
- Speaks clearly and confidently
- Since science for us is not divided up into physics/biology/chemistry, but studied as a whole, it is difficult to say what stage Rosie is currently at. However, she has a good understanding of weather conditions for example why it rains and how snow is formed etc. She also has a good understanding of seasonal changes, plant growth etc. We have covered animal lifecycles (including human).
- Rosie has gained a good knowledge of ‘people from past times’, by using her Webland cd rom. She also knows a lot about dinosaurs as this is her current fascination! She enjoys (and is very good at) singing and drama and artistically she has produced some really amazing drawings and paintings, she particularly seems to enjoy collage. We have just obtained a potters wheel and are going to attempt to make some clay pots.
- Socially, Rosie enjoys attending the home education meetings and has many friends there. She is socially very competent and is confident talking to people of all ages. We are hoping to enrol her for Rainbows very soon.
Rosie has a full and rich day being home educated. The one-to-one attention she gets allows her to work very much at her own pace which is most important as a ‘bright’ child as she becomes bored very quickly if not given work to suit her ability.
She is sociable, happy, contented and flourishing in this environment, which was sadly not the case when she attended school for a short period.
It is possible that when she is older Rosie may choose to attend school (for example when she reaches Secondary level), and certainly if she really wanted to go then we would be happy with this as she would have reached an age where she was capable of making an informed choice about her education herself. At the moment though, bearing in mind that she has experienced both home education and school, she is a lot happier and is achieving far more in a home education setting and we intend to continue providing her with an education in this way for the foreseeable future.