Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Home Ed Hell

Since returning from France our five year old twins have been waiting for the local council to find them a place at primary school.

So far, four weeks into the school year, they have as yet found nothing and I have been forced to home educate them. A position I am not relishing and find time-consuming and terrifying!

A trip to the local Home Ed group led us to a motley crew of yogurt weavers breast-feeding their toddlers. Chaos reigned during the ensuing three hours as children of all ages from babies to teenagers, and their mothers and fathers, raced around eating sandwiches, making lavender bags or plastic rockets, playing football, reading stories, gossiping and generally connecting with each other amidst the mayhem. I found myself graduating towards the obvious home ed virgins, who, like me, appeared bemused and bewildered.

After canvasing several mothers, the general consensus amongst the hard-core home educators revealed that most didn't heap much importance on sitting down and trying to teach their offspring. A revelation that shocked me. They seemed to think their kids would learn through osmosis, and at the same time citing that many European schools don't begin schooling until six or seven years old. Yet having recently returned from France, where the legal age for school education is six, I knew that despite the six-year-old start most every 2.5-3 year old child in the country went to Ecole Maternelle, similar to pre-school and aimed at teaching children children the basic structure of a school day, which included numbers, letters, cooking, reading and all the other myriad of classes a child must learn. I wondered is it the same in Sweden and Northern Europe?

At the end of the home ed meet-up I finally spoke to someone who did teach her kids and who introduced me to ABC Reading Eggs, an Australian company which has created an incredible online learning site which teaches children of all ages to read and recognise letters, words and phonics - it is undisputedly brilliant - and the twins adore it.

My mother-in-law has contacted our local MP in a bid to help us get the children into school - I shall keep you posted on the update.

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