By Libby Salmon, aged 10 years old
Lots of students are waiting for half term, however for me things are different – we spread our holidays throughout the year and take breaks whenever we want to. This is because I am home educated. It is challenging to say exactly how many other children in the UK are home educated, however local authority statistics suggest that it is about 21,000, although there may be others who are unknown to them.
I have chosen to be home educated – my older brother has been to school and decided he preferred to be at home; however my other siblings and I have always chosen to be home educated rather than to go to school. Different people work in different ways, however for us being home educated is quite fun as we spread the workload different, so children in school might do more in a day, however we keep going through the holidays as well, which means over the course of a year we probably do the same amount of work or even more.
When we take holidays it is usually in term-time because it is cheaper and quieter then. Most of our holidays are part of our home education anyway, often in groups with other families. We do things like historical re-enactment, Christmas camp (in a youth hostel with lots of other home educators, taking part in craft activities, nature walks, cooking, games, day trips and even our own Christmas day with presents and special food) and trips to Center Parcs for swimming and fun when it’s affordable (which is usually early January; one year it was quite magical when we were swimming in the heated outdoor pool and it started snowing!).
We also take field trips quite regularly, so that we can learn through hands-on experience. For example, this term we are focussing on the history of Britain and are doing lots of outings to historical sites. We started with prehistoric Britain and visited the Natural History Museum to learn about mammoths, our local museum to see what this area was like during the ice age and Cresswell Crags to see caves. When we get to Roman Britain there’s plenty to go and visit so that will keep us busy!
Another good thing about being home educated is that you are able to spend more time on extra things such as baking, musical instruments and composing pieces of music, as well as normal subjects that you learn in school. We do basics like maths, english and science, and after that we can choose what we do, so long as it’s educational or can be justified to our mum as being worthwhile. This might include watching videos in French, going on the trampoline, making up experiments, playing boards games and pretty much anything else you can think of!
People often ask about socialisation since we’re at home all day. There is actually a whole network of home educating families so we go to classes organised by other families and sometimes we hire a tutor for a group meeting. Some weeks we are out so much that being at home all day feels like a luxury!
I’m still in the same year as I would be in school and for maths and english I use the same kind of textbooks and workbooks as I would in school. My mum says this is so that I could easily go into school if I wanted to or needed to. For science we mostly do hands-on things and we have our own history project folder where we write descriptions and keep souvenirs.
If you asked a hundred home educating families how they home educate I expect they would all answer differently. This is how I am home educated, and I like it.