Dear Mr. EHE Person,
Thank you for your letter dated ’last week’ concerning the Elective Home Education of my daughter Astra Milne, d.o.b. ‘six years ago’.
I do not see a need for a visit at this time. As you will see from the enclosed details, Astra and I are very busy and as you may remember, you visited us at our home 6 months ago, on 19/7/2011. I am happy, however, to reassure you that Astra’s education continues apace!
Our Educational Philosophy is very simple and is essentially, ‘All of life is learning, and happy children will learn all they need to learn’. I believe our current approach is known as ‘Autonomous Education’. For our family this essentially means that my husband and I follow Astra’s lead with regard to where her interests lie, and we support her in the avenues she chooses to explore. We believe that children naturally have an innate curiosity, and also a strong desire to learn. This is certainly true in Astra’s case – she has an insatiable curiosity and we talk constantly. She is always keen to learn more about those things which interest her. Our main job is to nurture those qualities, capitalise on them if you will, and by no means do anything that would quash them. We provide a rich environment full of learning opportunities, so that a broad education is available – and we provide whatever resources we can to support Astra in pursuing her interests.
Providing a rich environment means that we live in a house filled with resources, toys, craft materials, art supplies, books, board games, musical instruments, dressing up clothes. The walls are covered in educational posters, art that Astra has created, certificates she has earned in various activities, timelines, maps. Astra has her own computer and two bookcases filled with her own books. She has turned part of one room into her ‘Lifetime Museum’, complete with signs and exhibits of her bug collection, small skeletons she has found, precious stones, fossils and shells.
We go to many organised activities, we visit museums and sites of interest. We talk endlessly, we research the answers to the many questions Astra has. She is interested in almost everything, so no stone is left unturned in her quest for knowledge. She has not been interested in learning to read until just recently, but has now asked me to help her learn and so of course I am doing that. It is hard work for her but she is making great progress. She enjoys writing much more than reading and so we currently spend more time writing. In contrast, she has been keen on numbers for some time, and has taught herself a lot of the simple addition and subtraction sums using the digits from 1 to 10. She likes the patterns made in the times tables poster I put up, and so I have started to introduce the 2 times table.
All this is to say that although we are educating autonomously, and following Astra’s lead, this does not mean that I sit back and wait for her to ask for help. It is more a case of putting many opportunities in her path, being alert to what she enjoys and then facilitating her learning. The things I ‘put in her path’ are a mixture of things which I think she might enjoy, and things which I think she might benefit from learning.
It is perhaps worth pointing out that I make no attempt day to day to break down our life into distinct subject areas. Most things we do span several subjects, as that is just how life is. In terms of progress, I measure this by looking at Astra. Is she progressing, is she growing and moving forwards? Provided she is, then I know we are on the right track.
I have enclosed some information about a typical week for us. I have also described a typical day (today!) so as to give a little more detail. You will understand, however, that every day is different, and whilst we may spend a lot of time learning to read on one day, on another we may spend the entire day making a papier mache lighthouse. One of the wonderful things about home education is that it is not 6 hours a day, five days a week, but every hour of the waking day, seven days a week.
I hope I have provided all the information you need. It is hard to categorise Astra’s education in the way you have done so in your form, but reading through it certainly I was in no doubt that we are adequately addresing each area.