Increasingly via twitter I’m getting contacted about home education. This is good. I’m glad that ppl have somewhere to reach out to. When I was considering it for Big, all those years ago, my online answers came courtesy of the Muddlepuddle, now Early Years, yahoo group. That group put me in touch with a fantastic bunch of ppl, many of whom I’m still in touch with daily, and whose children are my children’s closest friends.
So I’m all for online solutions. But sometimes it’s difficult to fit it all in a tweet. I thought maybe a blogpost (or two) might help instead.
Ppl often ask what their responsibilities are with regard to curriculum or standards. And actually, there aren’t any. That legal definition, of an education suitable to age, ability and aptitude, doesn’t specify a curriculum that needs to be followed, and in fact private schools don’t have to follow the National Curriculum either. I think many home educators do keep an eye on it, as if you have to satisfy informal enquiries from your local authority it’s can be easier if you’ve some idea of what your children might be doing in school and where they stand in relation to it all. But I don’t know anyone who follows it slavishly really, and often there are a variety of pick and mix approaches even within one family.
Of course, faced with days and days of entertaining and educating children ahead of you, lack of curriculum can be rather intimidating. There are, however, a wide variety of approaches out there, just waiting for you to google and find them. If you like reading aloud, you can go the Sonlight way (it’s described as a Christian literature based curriculum. If you aren’t religious it is possible to miss out the very Christian bits, worth checking it out anyway.) There’s also Five in a row – which works around a classic children’s book which you read every day for five days in a row, and then build other activities around the story.
Recently I was contacted by Core Knowledge, a Civitas project, offering me a copy of their Resource book, What your year 1 child needs to know, to review. (buy from amazon ) It’s based on an American resource, which does show to some extent, but adjusted to be compatible with the National Curriculum targets in this country. I found the section on learning to read a bit odd – it doesn’t actually offer a method, instead assuming that the reader will be familiar with the approach. However, there are lots of dedicated resources for learning to read, and if the book was being used by a school using parent it would certainly supplement the school approach well.
What I did like, a lot, were the stories, poems and literary resources that take up a lot of the book. There are lots of familiar classics, with the proper drawings, and it’s a great resource of the type of thing that is good for children around this age. Readalouds and so on, great things for sharing. And the book goes on with resources and activities for history, geography, science, music, maths and visual arts. I’m not sure it would be a complete home education bible as it were for year 1, but it certainly would give the unsure parent something to base their own ideas around, and fill the days when inspiration doesn’t strike.
Of course, it’s a very traditional approach, and if you prefer unschooling, Montessori or waldorf you will want to look elsewhere (if you’re interested in further resources/ information on those areas please stick me a comment in so that I know to wax lyrical at some point in the future 😉 ). But as a starting point for what to consider as base knowledge, it’s pretty comprehensive, and definitely worth the £12 or so that’s being charged for it. I believe that Core Knowledge are going to be offering the chance to win a copy or two, and as soon as I have the full details on that, I’ll update the post and share on twitter.