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It is vital that when we educate our children’s brains we do not neglect to educate their hearts by nurturing their compassionate nature.

~Dalai Lama

Since we started home educating the kidlets in 2000, we took a journey into a world where learning never stops. 
We realised very quickly, that none of us really wanted to continue with the national curriculum, but instead we let the kids lead the way. It was amazing that when given the space, they became more creative, naturally wanted to learn & so did we.

Once we'd all decided that home education was for us, we chose the end of school term at Easter as the perfect time for the girls to finish school. 
Several months before, we had booked flights to New York for the 5 of us to mark the millennium & were due to fly out on the following Sunday. 
What a fantastic start to life without school. We visited New York City, Long Island, Up-state NY, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania  & dipped into Canada - it was a wonderful adventure!  

Fam 5 just outside of Central Park, New York.
April 2000

For years, we have learned together & as each of the kids reached their teens, they began gradually doing their own thing & we've taken a back seat. Some people may see this as us being irresponsible or letting the kids rule the roost, but it's not that - we've just let them follow their natural instincts. 

As kids reach puberty, they need as much sleep as babies - their bodies are working hard to cope with changes, both physical & emotional. Their sleep patterns turn upside down - the last thing they need is an angry parent breathing down their necks, so we've just let our kidlets be. 
There's never been any drama about it, we don't get annoyed when Hugo says he'd prefer to eat his dinner in his bedroom, or changes his mind at the last minute about coming out with us - it doesn't matter. He's not miserable, he's just taking control & both of the girls did exactly the same. When he chooses to be with us, he's the just the same old lovely laddy... 
We have never worried that the kids were not learning while keeping different hours to us, because it's always been obvious that even though we're not all sat around the table doing sums & essays, etc - learning is part of our everyday lives. 

The internet & books have given us all the ability to self educate & our family are no exception.  
We've been asked a few times about how we've managed to "control" what the kids look at on the computer & how do we make sure they are safe... We don't. We know that they have the intelligence to be self-disciplined & have always trusted them in everything they do. Besides we have always talked about stuff, so there's never been any need for secrecy. 

They will no doubt carry on learning throughout their lives & continue to outstrip us with their knowledge, but we will always be grateful to them for everything they have taught us.
If we had not chosen this path - how different would our lives & relationships be? We will never know...

Today a friend commented that our love & respect for each other shines through - we're glad about that, though it's not something we work at. It's just naturally there.  

Autonomous home education has for us been a wonderful experience. 
To be in a position to see your kids develop naturally & then be able to stand back & watch them blossom is an absolute privilege.

Kay & Sime 


Kath said…
How lucky they are to have such fabulous parents. Your youngsters are a credit to you both x
The Smiths said…
Thanks Kath - you say the loveliest things!

Kay :)
Catherine said…
It sounds like you have everything in control and have the kind of life that works for you and your sweet family. It's a wonderful thing when we can all have the freedom to choose how we want to live and how we want to raise our kids. Yup ~ I like it!!

Wishing you a wonderful weekend my friends!
xo Catherine
dreamer said…
If I had my time over again with my kids I would definitely try home schooling them.Apart from my eldest none of them had particularly fulfilling school days,they were often unhappy in different ways and I don't feel they got the maximum benefit from their high school days.I love to learn new stuff continuously and with the internet now it is so easy to head off in any direction that takes your interest, and absorb so much, learn new skills, and discover even more exciting stuff to learn about.I wish my kids still had that quest for knowledge but I feel it was knocked out of them by a system trying to make them conform to targets and agendas instead of letting them be individuals. I admire anyone who puts the time and energy into unschooling :)
The Smiths said…
Thanks Catherine - that's true!

Thanks too Dreamer - we have heard awful stories about some high schools. We are very lucky in that we don't have to follow the national curriculum in the UK at the moment & nor do the kids have to be tested, though we think it may come...

Kay :)
Nic said…
What a fab post! Thanks for sharing such inspiring, confidence infusing words about your path. As you know we are a few years behind you with our children but treading in very similar footsteps :)
The Smiths said…
Thanks Nic - it was actually commenting on your post that triggered our own discussion & led to this one!

Kay :)
Cottage Tails said…
I am soo greatful we took the plunge and home schooled our kids - it has been a great lifestyle and journey.
The kids are now doing correspondence as they want NZ national qualifications. So I'm havign a wonderful year taking a real back seat.
Love Leanne
Anonymous said…
The 5 years that we homeschooled are some of the best years I had with my kids. There is a closeness there that we wouldn't have had if they had been in public school.
sooz said…
Really, you're such cool parents! I hope one day when I have kidlets of my own I do as good a job as you are!
The Smiths said…
Hi Leanne - Thanks for your comment. It's great doing what we do & we feel it's probably one of the best things we have done in our lives!

Mel - That closeness will probably remain for the rest of your lives too!

Sooz - Thank you that's very sweet of you & I'm sure you'll make a fantastic Mum one day!

Kay :)

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