Idealism and home schooling are natural bedfellows. I draw my inspiration from a variety of sources including quotations which I feel express the heart of what education should be about. "Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire" (WB Yeats) is one of my favourites.
That is not to say that this and other aspirations are impossible to achieve in a school setting, but my own varied teaching experiences have led me to want to cherry-pick the best ideas from each. These, my husband and I have been attempting to couple with Christian family values to provide a confidence-building, moral framework with many creative learning opportunities where each relationship and individual can flourish.
With all this in mind, I have been home schooling Finlay, 10, and Isla, 8, for four years. My only regret is that I didn't start sooner. The children are great friends, and it has been a delight to watch and share in their development.
Pinning down a suitable curriculum was our first challenge. There was much to choose from. UK home-schoolers don't have to adhere to any particular curriculum, so we were free to play to our strengths and could easily address the individual interests of both children. The "curriculum in a box" sounded tempting, but we found these to be restrictive and have since found a number of excellent suppliers from which to build our own curriculum. Blackwells (Edinburgh), Mercurius and Sonlight are but three.
Before long, boxes began to appear. Novels, games, tissue paper and paints soon started to adorn sofas and tables. Felt was examined, jotters organised into piles, and there were various whoops of delight as, one by one, new treasures were discovered. Finlay and Isla tried their best not to start on the new year's curriculum in the middle of the holidays. But why not? It was a fire waiting to be lit.
Getting started was fun. We revelled in our new-found freedom. School had felt rigid and overbearing, a giant oak instructing us from on high. Now we could do what we wanted and, like the slender reed, bend with the wind. Our adventure had begun.
This is the first of a new monthly column on home education. Flora Dunnett is a trained primary, Rudolf Steiner and TEFL teacher. She home-schools her two children in the Borders.