There's been a few calls of late for posts about why folks have chosen to HE and I've just discovered today that the 15th September is International Freedom in Education Day and there is to be a Blog Carnival here.
Why have I chosen to HE Rye? Concerns about the learning focus of schools, the increasing violence and bullying in so many schools, the pressure to succeed at increasing number of exams, the competitive onus and so forth. Add in the government's attempt to formulise preschoolers play through EYFS and effectively remove self determinded and imaginative play from the mix - because according to EYFS play is to be "purposeful" and this essentially means play is directed and controlled by adults, add in that children under 5 years of age are being observed, assessed and bascially labelled is rather concerning too.
To be perfectly honest, while these concerns are valid for me, when my circumstances changed so that HE became a real possibility, it wasn't concerns about schools and government policy that attracted me to HE, it was the lifestyle and childhood memories of Lifespan. A lifestyle that I believe, allows Rye the most amount of freedom, within our circumstances/environment. A lifestyle based on togetherness, I do not have this desire to get Rye off to preschool/school as soon as possible so I can get my "life back". This is my life, I am happy and fulfilled being a mother and I believe Rye will benefit from being allowed to detach from me in his own time, rather than it being preordained, as it were, by the date of his 4th or 5th birthday. A lifestyle that allows him to follow his own path and allows me to witness it and, if he needs me to be, to be a part of the path.
Lifespan was the commune next door to my parents' small farm. I spent much of my childhood clambering over the wall that seperated the properties. Lifespan was so completely different to my homelife that it was my sanctuary and simply a wonderful playground for a little girl who was a bit lonely and lived in a very secluded hamlet, the commune was the only "source" of other children to play with nearby. Lifespan was also some kind of free school, I only have childhood memories but from what I remember the children learned when they choosed and learned many different things, crochet, knitting, darning, weaving, making clothes, shoes, cooking/baking, herb lore and many many more things. I remember joining in with the commune kids to put on plays, or pretend play, which the adults actively encourage - none of the "Jacqui will you stop daydreaming" admonishments. To me, Lifespan was a magical place and has been a huge influence on me, especially since having Rye. Rye seems to have awakened the memories I have of that place, of the freedoms I had as a child and given life to an idea of the lifestyle I hope to provide for Rye.
Lifespan was my first experience of a more attached style of parenting, where children were valued and loved and not treated like nuisences - I suppose they existed more as a tribal community and to my child eyes it was idllyic. Lifespan still exists today, a new group of people have taken over the railway terraces and made a life there. I have toyed with making enquiries of joining them, not entirely sure if I would like commune living though, and of course, these new people I know very little about... but anyway I'm getting sidetracked.
Experience of Lifespan, being single and being a pagan are the greatest influences in my decision to HE Rye. Being single means I am now in a position financially where HEing is possible and Rye's dad has very little involvement with his son and (so far) has not questioned the choices I've made for Rye. Being pagan simply means it is an added dimension to Rye's learning experience - being pagan means he will learn about nature, herbal lore, folklore, magic, festivals and the traditions that we will develop as a family that is pagan. Lifespan I suppose first introduced me to the idea of Home Education - although in a slightly different format to most people's experience. Lifespan showed me there is alternatives to the mainstream and my paganism encourages me to live a life that is based around nature, respect and the joy of family.
In short, HE isn't about "education", it's about the totality of life, it's about providing Rye with opportunites to develop, it's about allowing him to experience and allowing him the opportunity to self direct that experience and yes, it's about me being involved and witnessing his journey.