Our formal educational philosophy…
In order that you better understand how we are fulfilling our duty to provide each of our children an efficient full-time education suitable to their ages, abilities and aptitudes we are here providing details of our educational philosophy.
We follow an autonomous or natural learning method; a child centred style of education with learning through life experiences and building on our own unique perspective of religious Faith and Seventh-Day Adventist Christian worldview.
It is a core assumption of autonomous education that children will acquire the skills they need to take advantage of their environment and pursue their own aspirations. As such literacy and numeracy are not forced components of a curriculum, but are outcomes within the process acquired in numerous ways, both formal and informal, depending on the child’s questions and developing educational priorities.
We provide them a large range of life experiences and educational tools, toys, games, books, videos, DVDs, computer programmes, Satellite TV, both SKY discovery and Christian channels, Museum educational loans boxes, as well as craft, home-economics and science materials.
Life experiences include but are not confined to weekly Church attendance, visits to Libraries, Museums, visitor attractions such as wildlife parks, model train fairs, social meetings with other Home Educating families and our own extended family. The children are also well known in our local small town as polite and talkative children, and they still keep in contact with some of their old school friends.
Our approach is to provide as many different life experiences and help them to socialise with as wide an age range as possible to give them a realistic flavour of the world outside of home.
We are a large family, by UK standards, and see that as a bonus in that they learn how to relate to and care for each others needs. With a strong family background of Dyslexia we are aware of different rates of development that occur in children.
We believe learning should follow the children’s questions. The child is an active learner with their own unique set of interests, concerns, questions and problems that they are actively addressing at any moment. The role of education is to support this.
Autonomous education does not divide life up into ‘education’ and ‘not education’. Hence we do not divide the day into school-like structures, timetables and subjects. They are constantly learning from awakening till their bedtimes at around 7pm. Their subjects are covered as part of the project or interest at hand so Maths would come into measurements to make a plan or map of the village, or adding prices on a shopping list which they write themselves. They do also have periods when they ask for their work books and do numeracy and literacy in a more formal setting. They are learning constantly by a mixture of work and constructive play.
Our Christian outlook on life means that we encourage them to learn about and respect other people of all Nationalities and Faiths. Being different is regarded as a positive attribute in our household. We also focus on good behaviour; why it is important to be socially respectful of others needs. It is our hope over time to expose them to a wide range of experiences within our own Faith and show them the scriptural and historical reasons for our own worldview, but at the same time we believe the great decisions of life are from their hearts and not ours.
By not restricting them to a set way of doing things we are equipping our children with a strong set of skills for life that will help them in whatever fields they wish to go on to later. Our children already have very strong wills and can communicate well with adults and other children both who are familiar and not so familiar to them.
We believe that monitoring of progress and evaluation are not neutral tools, but effect the process they attempt to analyse or describe. We have found from watching our children under stress situations that testing or recording age-related progress directly affects the learning itself. Hence we are not in favour of testing and monitoring their development as a means to pigeon hole where they should be by a particular age. In our view children learn best when they are not pressured, when they are stimulated but not forced in any way.
All three of our school age children had experienced stress that affected their learning within their first few days to two years of schooling. Naomi had at one time stress related incontinence that needed medical attention. Rebekah was very tired from school and suffered very frequent anger outbursts and tantrums before and after school which on advice from our Health Visitor needed controlling using â€˜Time Out’. And Timothea was resisting going to school completely after only six weeks. We did not regard the school to be at fault rather the system which we feel places pressure too soon on young developing minds.
To summarise we are following a non-structured approach to Home Education and aim that our children should develop constructive thinking minds and a healthy Christ centred approach to life.
The above is our current thinking on home education and is subject to change as we experience and see the children’s need for changes. We will adapt our educational philosophy as this happens.
We are continuously learning ourselves from others experience of home education and have drawn on the following information sources as part of this process:
- Education Otherwise â€“ both the newsletter / magazine / their books and also their various online newsgroups
- Adventist Home Educator Handbook ( www.adventisthomeducator.org ) and their online newsletter
- Local Home Education online newsgroups
- Books such as Free Range Education by Terri Dowty
- Government websites on Education and Local Advice