Well as for brave: Well, I think that anyone who puts their child's care and education in the hands of strangers are far braver than myself and other home educators. I’m not saying they’re wrong to do so, just that it is a braver choice.
As for socialising, my children have friends. Like in adult life they have different groups of friends for the different things they do. This, I feel, is a healthier upbringing. It is reality. There was an occasion once when I was at the play area at the park. A woman came up to my children and asked if they ever missed not going to school, missed making friends - How they would even miss something they'd never had I do not know. The funny thing is that they were in the park playing with some of their fellow home educating friends. My children socialise they're just free from school walls!
And as for how? Well that's just silly. How does anybody teach their kids to talk, walk, play, count and read? It is purely an extension of that. 'How' is also a big question because we as home educators all do it a different way. As my 6 year old says 'we're all different and that's a good thing!'
My house maybe a little more untidy and the dining room may look more like a school room, but that is a small price to pay for the joy that home education brings to all our lives.
We as home educators are ensuring that our children are getting the best out of life: a full and happy childhood along with an education that suits their needs; an education where they are going at their own pace and not being held back or left to feel behind. The education that we as home educators provide, whether autonomous, structured or otherwise, is one that is uniquely designed for each child.
Home education is a way that us as parents are able to choose the best method of education for our child. There is no right or wrong way of doing it. I think, so long as a child is learning, healthy and happy then that is all that anyone needs to know.
I was reading a book to my eldest two yesterday (well we were all taking it in turns to read) about Thomas Edison, when we discovered he was home educated. He came from quite a poor family. They had intended for him to go to school, but he had been poorly and started late at the age of 7. School had decided that he wasn't a bright student, so his mother home educated him. He was inquisitive and struggled studying as he didn't have the attention for it. Once he even burned down his father’s barn, stating 'I just wanted to see what would happen'. (That statement to me sounds similar, but fortunately no arson has been performed by my children).
His mother helped his curiosity by buying him chemistry books where he practiced his experiments in his basement. It was later when he learnt about physics. This freedom of learning surely led to the open-mindedness he needed to be creative and invent some of the amazing inventions he did. For example the famous light bulb! His inventions made him a rich man!
When I first started out home educating I was super structured in everything I did. Planning out lessons every weekend and trying to fit so much into one day. My methods have evolved a bit these days. I have so much more confidence in my children’s ability and their love for learning tells me that they will achieve anything they want to set their minds to.
I suppose these days I am more eclectic in my schooling of the children. I still do structured maths and English lessons. As for geography, history and science, it is more of a case that I guide them and they learn the way they enjoy best first and then do more structured work when they understand more about what they're learning. This is the way we enjoy learning and even if we were completely autonomous my children are the sort that would be asking for workbooks, it's just our way.
With my eldest, aged 8, I allow her to spend much longer on her English, as it is her thing. She loves to write and so I let her. My 6 and 4 year old love art so my house is full of painting drawings and scribbles. I find that the best way to encourage my two little artists, is to open up a new subject by reading a new book and then drawing what we had learnt about. This then often leads to opening up their workbooks and, off their own backs, researching the subject; teaching me new facts and opening doors to wonderful new worlds.
Home education is 'life'. What a wonderful life we are leading!