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Staying the Course: Bringing Integrity to Your Home Educating Journey

One of the best things about Home Education is there are as many ways to home educate as there are home educators. A local parent said this to me when I first began home educating our children and it has always stuck with me. The school system adopts one way of educating. It is a way that we are all familiar with and for that reason, is the one that we feel comfortable with even if we have experienced adverse effects for ourselves or have witnessed them for our children. When you home educate then you get to choose what education looks like, how it happens, what is the best approach for your children.

I chose to unschool our four children. As a qualified teacher specialising in Early Years, it was an easy decision for me, although I didn’t know that it was called unschooling when we began. I also didn’t know anyone else who home educated when we started but I was certain about what we were doing and why. This has been one of the key things that has helped us to stay the course over the past 13 years.

Being clear about your reasons why you have chosen to home educate and what the long-term goals are for your children will help you when it comes to making decisions about the education you are providing for your children. The home educating community is thriving in the UK and the options and possibilities can be overwhelming. It is common to over schedule and over commit when families first start out. Knowing what works for your child (or sometimes just knowing what doesn’t work for your child) and knowing what you want your child to gain from their education can help you to make informed decisions about where best to start, and which opportunities to offer to your children. Setting your intentions provides a guideline for you to check against and allows you to focus on the things that are in alignment with your goals.

Unschooling families spend a significant amount of time cultivating family relationships that are responsive to their child’s unique needs, environments that are rich and inviting, and tuning into their child’s interests and natural curiosity. Our goals may be the same as other unschooling families and we may be adopting the same philosophical approach but what that looks like practically will be very different. As I said in the beginning, ‘there are as many ways to home educate as there are home educators.” Don’t be afraid if what you are doing doesn’t look the same as what others are doing. This is a chance to create a unique learning journey for your unique child.

Creating these goals also enables us to stay the course when things get tough. Because there will be moments when you second-guess yourself, or others will share their unwanted opinions with you. Challenges come from all sides when we are doing something that is different to the norm. Being able to focus ourselves back onto our reasons and our goals helps us to recentre and concentrate our energy on why we are doing what we are doing.

Involving partners to share their ideas and collaborating with your child or young person where possible can be an excellent way of creating family cohesion and support systems for you all. Establishing your reasons and articulating these goals will help you to shape the decisions that you make about your child’s education, navigate challenges with clarity and assurance and influence how you provide that education.

It is one of the absolute joys of home educating that you get to decide what education looks like for your child and you get to change your mind and adjust what you are doing as your child or your circumstances change. It actively contributes to creating a meaningful, authentic, and fulfilling learning experience for your child. There is an opportunity for your child to live and learn seamlessly in a way that is cultivated to reflect their own uniqueness.

It is my hope that considering your reasons and composing your goals will enable you to find the joy in home education and navigate the highs and lows for many years to come.   

Heidi Steel is a qualified teacher, and self-directed learning specialist, living with four always unschooled children, for over 16 years, who are happy living and learning as they go. She provides unschooling support, courses and community at LivePlayLearn. Liveplaylearn sets out to encourage those who are unschooling, no matter where you are on your journey. It seeks to provide information and support to help families live a life without school to be confident in your choices, so that you are able to focus more on your fabulous life and less on the fears and worries of walking an alternative path. You can find her at, on Facebook, or join us on Discord.

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