Mabel didn’t start school this week. She’s not starting next week either, or the week after that. As my Facebook timeline fills up with cute little uniformed four year olds, all off on a new adventure on their first day of school; life here continues pretty much as usual.
Because we have chosen a different path, we’ve chosen learning through life, more time together, the freedom to go where we want to go when we want to, and to learn what we want to learn. We’ve chosen home education.
I’ve written before about how Preschool didn’t suit Mabel and from that experience, she decided that school wasn’t for her either. I’ve personally long had my doubts about whether school at four years old is necessary for all children, so Carl and I began to discuss the idea of home educating. We had reservations of course, I haven’t made it a secret that at times I’ve struggled with having three children at home 24/7, but it’s true that the most rewarding path isn’t always the easiest one.
In the end it came down to the fact that we just couldn’t find a good enough reason to send her to school right now. Everything that she would learn in reception she could learn at home, mostly through everyday life. We could tailor her education exactly to her; she would never have to sit bored through a lesson that was far too easy for her, or have an entire lesson go completely over her head. We aren’t tied to a curriculum and we don’t have to worry about standardised tests, so we can relax into exploring the world around us and let learning happen naturally.
In Finland, where the children start school at age 6 and even then there is still a huge emphasis on learning through play, they have an old saying…
“Those things you learn without joy you will forget easily”
And when you look at it like that, if Mabel wasn’t going to be completely happy at school, then it would defeat the point of sending her anyway.
When it comes to socialisation, we will of course be taking as many opportunities as we can to make friends of all ages. Mabel loves meeting new people and always makes a new friend whenever she goes to the park. Luckily for us, Portsmouth has a thriving home education community that we are excited about getting involved in.
Eventually they’ll be a time when she’ll crave more independence and want to have some time away from us, but it’s not yet. Whether that’s something small like a dance class or Brownies, or whether she decides she wants to go to school, we’re happy to wait until she’s ready, follow her lead and let her get there in her own time.
No, Mabel isn’t starting school this September, but she is still learning, still growing up, still having new adventures and still making us incredibly proud.
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