Support Groups

A local home educators' support group is a great discovery. I found ours by subscribing to Education Otherwise and their regular newsletters, which contain not only useful debate, offers and information but also contact details for home educator groups in your local area. We have to travel to nearby Stafford, but there is a good, varied programme of activities to plug into. Today we had a choice between pond dipping and making miniature boats and coracles to sail on the lakes and streams of a nearby wildlife centre, or taking part in a topical lesson in democracy and politics. As the boys (or maybe it was me) seemed in need of fresh air and exercise this morning (too much bickering in the house!), we decided to do both. We had a good run round the woods of the nature centre and a peaceful picnic before driving a little further to join others for a short lesson in British politics and a mock election. It was good to see perhaps fifteen home educated kids - of varying ages from 3 to 14 or so - all accessing this activity at their own level. One of my boys produced a beautiful diagram of our democracy, the other rather a scribble, but understanding was certainly acquired by all, even our youngest confidently answered a question at dinnertime. Our two elder boys, after some initial reluctance, threw themselves with enthusiasm into the mock election, thinking up a party and policies to stand for and an unashamedly corrupt means of encouraging votes - "We'll give you £10,000 ... but we should tell you, it is fake!" I was encouraged to see the confidence with which they both stood and shared their ideas - complete with jingle and dance from our middle son - confidence I haven't seen them exhibit for a while. So ought I to worry about our eldest son's reluctance to go along with prescribed writing activities, or can I just trust that as long as we are feeding his imagination and not 'forcing' his participation, he will come to these things himself given time? I confess it is my own limited imagination which tends to favour the beautiful diagram which is, at the end of the day, just a copy of a model given. Just how much freedom should the boys be given, and how much 'work' ought I to be forcing? How often and how easily our answers are shaped mostly by our own learning styles and educational background, rather than by our child's learning style and by a true quest for knowledge and understanding. Does the neat presentable diagram for the scrapbook really matter that much? Such are the daily dilemmas of a home educating parent.