Jenny Eaves is a mummy of two small, delightfully energetic boys – five and two – and blogs at Monkey and Mouse. Based in Scotland, she started Monkey and Mouse in February 2015 as a way to share her daily adventures and family play ideas with others. She loves writing about travelling and days out, enjoying the countryside and many places of interest, both in the UK and abroad. Jenny gives us an interesting insight into what can be a controversial aspect of education.
How did you make the decision to home educate?
When my eldest was a year old I had begun to have thoughts about schooling and whether it would be right for our family. I met a local home education group when he was 18 months old and decided there and then that home education would be the way forward for us.
How have you prepared your child to be ready for home
We technically already home educate from a young age. Our children learn how to speak, learn their colours and numbers from us and of course they then begin exploring the world around them, learning as they go. So we’re not really preparing anything, we’re simply continuing to aid our son in his own exploration and learning.
How do you encourage your children to socialise with their peers?
This is always the big question for anyone who doesn’t know how the home educated world works. When really it should be the other way round! Who doesn’t remember a teacher telling them in class that they’re ‘not here to socialise’! Or maybe that was just me being a chatterbox?! We attend different home educated groups every week, meet with local friends who are home educated or playing with kids on the street when everyone else has finished school or at weekends. Our five year old will also be joining a few clubs in the evenings too, but he’s still deciding which ones he would like to do.
At the moment our five year old has always preferred to play his own
games, keeping away from other kids play. However, very recently I have noticed him going off to join in with other children’s games and playing happily with them, which makes me very proud at how far he’s come.
What support networks do you have in place?
We have lots of home educated friends in the local area, including one of our five year olds best friends. We are also a part of several home education Facebook groups, which are great for any questions we have and meeting new people.
Are there any websites or information sources that you would recommend for other home educating parents?
In Scotland there is Schoolhouse, which has a lot of information about Scottish Home Education (certain things are slightly different to English Home Education). If you simply Google home education in your area or search for home education groups on Facebook you will find someone nearby who can point you in the direction you need.
How have you planned the learning areas you will be focusing on?
We aren’t planning any area, instead we will focus on our five year olds interests and go from there. For example one day he might want to read about the planets (English and Science) and we will take a day trip to the Glasgow Science Centre to visit the planetarium (English, Science, Maths), we might make Saturn collages (Art and Science) and in the evening go outside to look for planets and identify constellations (Science). Of course the next day he might simply want to be Rocky from Paw Patrol, but that’s ok as children need to be able to just play too.
Will you be following the Scottish Curriculum for Excellence?
No, we intend to mostly take the unschooling path (which is when you let your child learn with no set programme and with as much freedom as you can give).
What do you feel are the benefits of home education?
It’s the smallest ‘class’ size as you’re going to get! Our eldest will only need to compete for attention with his brother, not with a whole class of children. If there are any problems then he can get help straight away and he will not be pushed on to learn something when he’s not ready or be kept back when he’s ahead.
He is free to enjoy learning and has the freedom to learn using what interests him, whether it be space, horses or wizardry. It’s surprising how easily all the different topics can be brought into a day’s fun.
There’s so much freedom to enjoy life without restrictions of school, childhood is short and it’s great to be able to learn through play for as long as they want
How will you help your children to differentiate between
‘education time’ and ‘home time’?
There won’t be a definition, learning should be fun, if my son enjoys learning he will want to do it whenever he feels like or he may not even realise it’s learning!
What kind of resources have you stocked up on to support
your child’s learning at home?
I have made sure we have a fully stocked art cupboard and baking cupboard for any projects we need. I also like to have lots of items for exploration such as magnets, maps, magnifying glasses, bug catchers and torches. We have a variety of educational ‘toys’ including the Robot Mouse, Gears, Gears, Gears Set and Subscope from Learning Resources. Our other vital piece of equipment is a library card, which opens up a huge world of learning.
What advice would you give other parents thinking about home educating?
Follow your gut instinct, if you think your child would benefit from home education then go for it.