Lulu groaned. ‘What do you mean, everyone is going to be off from school except for us?’
‘Yeah, but think about how ahead of everyone else you’ll be!’
Yeah. Not an effective persuasion turns out. This conversation was about mainstream schools shutting at the end of the week in the UK – until possibly summer. At first it seemed the kids would have nothing to do. Hence Lu’s groaning when she found out. After all, exams would be cancelled. Postponed.
Schools would be closed – except her and Delph’s school. InterHigh. Indeed, InterHigh sent a slightly gleeful message they would remain open as normal. Internet school and all.
Then Lu’s best friend called and told her that schools in Wales are actually going online too. There will be prepared lessons for them to access. Amalie was clear too – if kids don’t do them, there will be serious repercussions – when everyone comes back to school. Something like this – ‘You didn’t open the Geography file on the 30th of March? Detention!’ I shook my head. These are truly strange times.
There’s going to be a sudden nation of homeschoolers. It makes the hairs on my arms stand up. Not just us homeschooling finally. It reminded me too of when Lulu used to bemoan it. ‘Homeschool kids are just weird,’ she’d complain. ‘They are so geeky and strange.’
‘What’s wrong with that?’ I’d ask her back, genuinely confused. Sounded like my idea of heaven. Damn you, social media.
Anyhow now, because of strict coronavirus measures, looks like almost everyone is going to get a taste of homeschool. Kids who are used to a particular way of working in a classroom environment – are being asked to work in a completely different way. And the teachers too.
Flashback. For the first year on Quest, we boat-schooled the girls without any formal curriculum. Since I’d forgotten to go to teacher-training college (urghh), it was intense. We went through some big highs and lows doing it. Some fantastic moments – and the odd huge family argument. Only once a day.. Ok. Maybe twice.
Of course now, I wish I’d been much more chilled with it all. At the time, I didn’t want them to fall behind though. That rubbish milestone stuff. I can see now with hindsight that when a child moves from one learning environment to another, they need a period of adjustment. A re-alignment. This is called unschooling.
There are rafts of anecdotal data about unschooling. Kids go off, learn to relax, play and explore. The idea is that they find their own interests and come back to learning with a new sense of enthusiasm.
Big leap of faith for parents, no? Still, the reward is big. The learning which children go on to do is often deep-lasting and meaningful. Kids usually want to find everything they can about one thing. It’s a kind of microscopic learning.
Curriculum learning is pretty much the opposite. It’s learning a broad range of everything – in not very much detail. Which one is better? I dont know. Online school too follows curriculum learning. But while they both do it, my girls live a homeschool lifestyle. So in this way I think they’re about half and half.