Written evidence submitted by a member of the public


I have home educated my [age] year old son from age [age][personal information].  We do a whole family discovery style of education where we are all finding out new things, all choosing what we’d like to find out, when we want to, whether we want to go outside to the beach to do a rivers focus and build mountains and rivers using the names we’ve looked up on Pinterest for ‘Geography’ and so on.  We get all the sensory needs met through the digging, paddling in the river, getting fresh air, seeing other people/children, having our snacks by the sea, reading associated books in our pop up tent.  It is a fulfilling, happy, stress free, real experience that we all love.


Some days my son needs longer times of shut off time.  He seems unable to join in, he needs a break, so I make few requests, trust that he is learning (as John Holt books explain so well) and I wait for the following day where I see him respond to topics, cooking, you tube clips, art projects, history using stone age resources to -enact stories with (and study guides I’ve bought such as ‘Discover & Learn’). Even unstructured time my son is looking up Number blocks on his iPad, science based topics, doing role play conversations with his brother with their toys, ‘experimenting’ with ideas he’s seen such as how sour is a lemon and can you try it?!  He may also sit and cut card and paper,use the stapler to make a dinosaur figure, all very creative things once given the space to explore and not simply have ‘topics’ and ‘information’ fed to him, even though he is often interested in this. 


I have been able to use various educational approaches that suit his style of learning.  Steiner style approaches to reading/writing, sensory strategies such as writing and drawing big in wet sand at the beach, many positive stress free experiences of ‘playing’ with writing and drawing in very short bursts without being forced.  My sons often want to research topic interests in the evening, so we stay up later and get up later in the morning.  We may start making jewellery for various people we know in the evening, chatting about the costs, colours people like, etc.  They spend time with their granny who plans lots of sensory fun activities such as freezing water balloons and chipping away at them with tools, mixing and smelling various spices for cooking, target games in the garden.


We can link up with others on a 1:1 basis and as a family so we have the support my children need.  Groups are challenging.  We can go to parks at weekends, meet with others, enjoy play times.  We have arranged positive animal experiences such as meeting at the beach and throwing a ball for a dog in an organised predictable way via a friend, which has helped my sons who are nervous of dogs that run up to them.  My sons love Kyacking, basketball at parks, rock climbing, swimming, surfing, watching skaters do their stunts, etc. Throughout our days when at home my sons can access all the sensory things they need, from sucking ice cubes, pulling games, trampoline play, cold water activities to having big hugs and love.  Our friendly cat joins in all our activities at home which provides comfort and laughter.


Covid 19 policies have affected us in terms of us staying away from towns, cafes, supermarkets that we usually used during the week with our books/iPad programmes such as Mathseeds/Reading Eggs.  Seeing people wearing masks - my sons described as ‘robbers’!  I do not want my boys to become anxious about being around others, I do not want them to see me in a mask, I do not want them to see all the signs about ‘social distancing’ and hear the messages about ‘keeping safe’ that you get even at Macdonalds if you sit in the cafe.  I do not want to visit the zoo any more where we have to follow footprints and one way systems.  I do not want to go to the Maritime Museum we had an annual pass for for the same reasons.  I have bought us all water proof trousers so we spend much more time out in nature now instead.  We cancelled our annual holiday to a caravan park as we could not use the swimming pool, cafes, usual facilities in the town for topics we enjoyed - Living Coasts has closed and my sons would be too upset about that.


If I had known about home education I would have done it from day one.  My sons have made incredible progress, others who know us comment on it, and on days where the world may feel overwhelming for my sons they can rest in the safety of their home, do things in their own pace, celebrate their own achievements without comparing to others.  As a family we love this way of life.


October 2020