“Why I’ll continue to home educate my child post-lockdown’

Written by Mamie M. Arndt
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  • ‘The school environment was not adequate to support Boo and ‘bubbles’ seemed to be a shambles’

    At current, the whole of the UK is having to home-school their children thanks to a third coronavirus lockdown. Many have shared their frustration about juggling full-time jobs with lessons, e-learning, keeping their kids active, and yet another few months spent indoors socially distancing.

    Many are even posting on social media about the use of the term ‘home-schooling’, arguing that the current state of affairs counts as emergency education, not a conscious and active decision to educate your child from home. As doctor Mary O’Kane says, “This is not ‘homeschooling’. Homeschooling is a conscious decision made by some parents having researched that option. This is emergency education, during a lockdown, while surviving a pandemic! So, let’s lower our expectations of ourselves a little.”

    And yet, for others, it’s only highlighted how much better their children respond in a home school environment.

    Take Hayley Millbank, 36, and her husband Daniel, 41, who’ve made the decision to educate their daughter Boo, seven, permanently. For the couple, lockdown highlighted that school wasn’t providing Boo with the education they’d hoped for. They’ve decided to homeschool her until year six at least and chose to do so following the first lockdown in March 2020.

    Keep scrolling to read the couple’s story.

    Homeschooling after lockdown: why we won’t be sending our daughter back to school

    “Daniel and I had always wanted to home school our daughter, but our circumstances didn’t allow it before now. We both had demanding careers – I run CBD brand Cannadox – and, although we discussed it from time to time,  just didn’t think it was possible. Not only that, but I wasn’t confident in myself and my abilities to give Boo what she needed.”

    “When Covid-19 hit the world in March 2020, I had no choice but to juggle both my business and home educating my daughter at the same time—similar to so many others. The first few weeks were tough, but I think this was only down to the immense pressure I was putting on myself. Once I started to live and share my day-to-day life with Boo, we both got more creative with our approach to learning. I was able to manage my business and be there for my daughter, and it all started to fall into place.”

    “After the first lockdown, Daniel and I discussed whether we should home educate Boo permanently during the summer, but we didn’t make an official decision until Boo had returned to school in September. After being back for a week, we wrote a letter to the school requesting to remove her from the register. We were certain it was the move we wanted to make; I’ve been home educating for five months now and it’s only been a positive experience for me and my family.”

    ‘Bubbles’ seemed to be a shambles

    “Since March 2020, people’s mental health has been severely negatively impacted, and children are not to be excluded. In my opinion, the school environment was not adequate to support Boo, ‘bubbles’ seemed to be a shambles, and children were confused with the abrupt transition from being at home for four months to suddenly being back at school, having to distance from friends.”

    “This wasn’t any fault of the school itself; the teachers are doing their best, but schools, in general, have had a lack of support and are facing great pressure during these times.”

    “By home educating, I could provide one-to-one learning which isn’t confined to a classroom. I can focus on the values and behaviours I believe necessary to be a decent citizen. It means we aren’t restricted to school curriculum; I can help Boo understand English, maths, and science by exposing her to the ways of the world and immersing her in nature, creativity, and current affairs.”

    Home education is about experiencing life 

    “Our reason for choosing to home educate was to do away with ‘structure’ and be better led by Boo. We aren’t restricted by school hours, nor does our learning have to take place in a designated spot. In my opinion, home education is about experiencing life, as and when it happens. That could be at 2pm on a Saturday, or 6pm on a Tuesday.”

    “Boo creates displays depending on her chosen topic of the month. In the kitchen, we cook and craft, having Boo as hands on as possible, using maths to add up ingredients, using equipment, and learning how to do so safely. We prefer to get out as much as possible. Education doesn’t have to be confined to a room, especially when the great outdoors has so much to offer, investigate, and learn from.

    “I found TWINKL, a home educating website that provides you with teaching resources, lesson, and curriculum plans, which Boo went on to tell me the school used for their own resources. I use it as a guide to know what topics would be good for her age group. The resources are fabulous, providing some great ideas and templates. We often adapt what we have been given, and where possible, take it outside.”

    Managing the pressure

    “There is a lot of pressure. I sometimes get stressed, and then I try to remember that I am not her teacher, and this is not school.”

    “Boo had a reluctance to read, which concerned me until I took a different approach. We went to the library, where I let her choose which books she wanted to read. It hadn’t been that she couldn’t read, rather, she just wasn’t enjoying been told what to read and lacked confidence. Now she enjoys reading to me daily.”

    “With regard to resources, learning there were groups like the Home Education Group was such a relief to me, and local Facebook groups like ‘Home Educators In Dorset’ and ‘Bournemouth, Poole and Surrounding Area Home Educators’ have been brilliant. They’ve enabled me to find out more about home education support and meet-ups for educational and play, when it’s allowed.”

    Rooting into the why

    “Lockdown gave me a taster of home educating and gave me the confidence that I do have the time and ability to support Boo’s learning at home. I didn’t want Boo to return to school when they reopened because I noticed a positive shift in her over the summer. After one week back at school, I noticed another change; she was tired, reluctant, and her spirit was gone – which saddened me.”

    “As a mental health advocate, I couldn’t sit and watch this happen to my daughter. It just didn’t feel right to send her back.”

    “Plus, key worker families needed those teachers and the school more than we did at that time.”

    Home education isn’t for everyone

    “I appreciate home education isn’t for everyone and it’ll be different for every family (and child). Sociable children who like structure may well be happier in school. A quiet, focused child with specific interests may be happier at home.”

    “It also depends on where you live, your local schools, your family structure and your job position. I really feel for those at the moment who are back to juggling full-time jobs and home educating their children. It has taken me a long time to feel confident about my style of home education, so I know how daunting it can be, and what the pressure to keep up with their schoolwork feels like.”

    “All I’d advise is enjoying your time with your children. They learn from you and how you act will directly impact them. Now more than ever, it’s important to be looking after our children’s mental health, and trying to mimic the school environment at home is not going to work. Take each day as it comes and just be there for your children during these uncertain times.”

    “At this moment in time, for my family – home educating is right for us all–and school isn’t.”

    So, what do you reckon? Could you ever see yourself homeschooling your children?

    About the author

    Mamie M. Arndt