Thursday, 24 November 2011

It does not mean I can launder knickers

So yeah, of course I read that. Home education is all about the parents.


Because maybe it escaped someone's thinking, but here's our Section 7 of the Education Act 1996 where we are clearly told it's our job:

7: Duty of parents to secure education of children of compulsory school age
The parent of every child of compulsory school age shall cause him to receive efficient full-time education suitable—
a: to his age, ability and aptitude, and
b: to any special educational needs he may have,
either by regular attendance at school or otherwise.

That is sensible. Who would give over the decision-making to a five-year old? If you let them decide things, they will have you living in a tent with a pet lion. Next they will want to openly thieve packets of chocolate digestives from Tesco, and they will insist grandma eats her mud pies.

Of course parents should make the decisions. What else do you want?

Some days it pisses me off that I have this duty, true. It is hard enough being a responsible adult for myself, let alone the minds of three children, the contents of the fridge, and a clean pair of knickers.

But it's a duty I have, and it's up to me to work out how to discharge it. Should I plunge my hands up to the armpits in the bucket called responsibility? Or try and shovel the whole load off to a school down the road?

Being a bit of a masochist, I chose the former. Anyway, I looked round at the educational options, and reasoned that if I were to do it myself, then life might be tough, but in some ways it might be easier.

I could take the kids to a museum on a Tuesday and to the woods on a Thursday without having to account for myself to any institution. And I wouldn't have Mrs Ming standing between me and my child at 8am, telling me what lunch to pack, what clothes to wear, and what book to read evenings, weekends and holidays.

Easier, and I consider these areas my other responsibilities. I make the decisions. So Yes. It's all about me.

Well, from the moment you take the decision, I guess it's up to each of us. How it happens on the ground - the real, practical, working out and implementing of your decision, day-by-day.

Round here, Shark, Squirrel and Tiger have had quite a few days of their primary education choosing exactly what to do and how to do it. On different days I've either borne the scars, or worn the laurels.

When Tiger chose to trash my entire house, Squirrel painted my Buddha fluorescent orange, and Shark threw a spanner at my head, of course that was a bad day. I had scars. Literally.

But on another day, when Tiger cutely asked 'Can we see a lion?' I've had three kids happily sitting in a bright cold autumn morning, drawing snoozing lions within inches of our noses. Then I could wear my laurels.

These good and bad, swings and roundabouts, failures and successes, they are all part of the practicalities and consequences of decision making; bad days on their own are not the reason why I should expect my duty to be rescinded, nor the sole reason I'd give why I would think my decision good or bad. I'd have so many other factors to think about.

I expect your decision making follows much the same lines. Throughout it all, whether you give your kids a great deal of freedom and choice, or whether you give them not much choice at all, well, that's up to you. But isn't that called parenting? (See? It's still all about us.)

We can ignore the minor inconveniences, trashed front rooms, and the occasional head wound, because those come with the territory of children, regardless of educational model.

But the final responsibility for the overall decision-making on the education, employment, economy, and running of the family? Ours.

Because we are the grown ups.

Chemistry. I decided my children would know about that, too.

Choosing how to do it is only follows the decision.

It has been by very traditional means.

Kitchen cupboards, cooking, experimenting, observing...

...talking, sharing, that sort of thing.

Did anyone seriously think it would automatically mean
taking on my views about petrol bombs and yeast?

1 comment:

Deb said...

Listen, you. What is a chocolate digestive?

Surely it's some kind of cookie or candy or fancy British term for something delicious, but all I can think of is a chocolate laxative cube.