My 5 year old said to me the other day as we were driving to one of their "schools".
"We go to a lot of schools, don't we?"
And I said, "Yes we do. Are you happy about that?"
And then my heart proceeded to melt.
And maybe it's time the world could re-think what education and schools could look like. We don't go to school, we go to many schools. We can opt in and out at any time we choose.
This is more powerful than people care to realise.
Our school definition is probably different from yours
We didn't set out to use the term in this way, it's more what my kids started referring to as the activities we do. I suppose it's a model they understand, and so I will go along with it.
And actually, it's a pretty nice term. We are home educators, but really we're just creating or making use of other schools out there. They are just not full-time and traditional schools.
The schools they go to vary, at the moment are:
- Forest School
- Imaginarium (a drop of 'school' for the day)
This is our list, and this will vary from family to family. If something is true in life, our 'education' preferences will never be agreed on at a human scale.
Whilst some of these are only an hour long, some are 3 hours, Imaginarium is a full day. There is a huge variety to accommodate different needs, both for the kids and the parents.
When the sessions are shorter we can add play time to it. This can be during sessions if we have multiple kids, or after. For example, my son does football whilst my girls play at the park right next to it. And sometimes, we'll continue to hang out afterwards.
Who says school has to be the construct of what society has created, and where kids have to go full time and they have no real say in creating the rules? A quick Google and they say, "school is an institution for teaching of children", I say school are the things we choose to do and study. And 'the place' is where we choose it to be. The place is within our ecosystems and communities.
We create our own schools of thought and action. The parents learn as much as the kids. We network with other parents. We learn how others are doing things. We seek to improve and provide better care and opportunities for our children.
We laugh and cry. We fail and we succeed. We see the growth. We create a deeper connection. We see unhappiness, stress and anxiousness as warning signs to pay attention that something isn't quite right. We equally pay close attention to the sparks we witness flicker.
We give our children choices. We encourage them to try things out. We accept that children aren't always able to communicate their needs. So we watch and listen. We respect their choices. We encourage them to communicate what they want. We look for the 'yesses' and respect their decisions when they say 'no'.
Schools can come in many forms and having 'many schools' means we get to choose what suits us best. This may seem insignificant or obvious or hardly ground breaking. You may say, yeah, but so what? How does that really make a difference?
It's pretty massive. The little things matter. Sweat the little things.
"We go to many schools" is decentralizing education.
It is us designing the lives that we need to have. There's a big reason we reject traditional school. We don't believe it works and there's a million reason why that I'm not going to explain in this post.
And we only need to look at the mass rejection of being forced back into the office since COVID, that perhaps it's only a matter of time for us to see that it is inevitable that schooling will go the same way.
If we reject the system, then we have to design our own. And this is exactly what we are doing, by finding one 'little school' at a time. Sometimes attending them, other times creating our own.
What works for us, might not work for you. And that's ok. Heck, what works for one of my kids doesn't work for the other. The key is to accept this and approach life with a solutions focus—to find things that actually work.
When the kids love doing something so much they end up learning quicker and with much more depth. They soak it up in ways that amazes adults around them. I hope one day we won't be so amazed at the capability of our children.
When we say we home educate, people question us, every single time. And they question so many things. Almost everyone questions their ability to socialise. Or how they'll ever learn basic skills. 🙄
However, if we flip it in a way to say "we go to many schools!" then people who aren't in our 'home educating' mindset can start to understand how we do things.
They start to think, "ah, they don't just stay at home."
They get out there. They network. They are active and proactive. They socialise. Wherever they go, familiar faces pop up. They learn about themselves and their boundaries. They aren't relying on institutions to control their lives. They are going out there and seeking out what works for them.
And wow, they get to choose how to design their world.