Zeus the Godcat was in his kitchen making a cup of normal non herbal tea. He was doing that because like all Godcats he was really good at making tea. And Godcats had just discovered the luxury of electric kettles. He made the tea using bags from the Normal Cat Tea Company, he had extorted the tea bags from the Normal Cats.
Neptune the Godcat, Zeus’s friend is sat at the table watching Zeus make tea. He meows with satisfaction. “Those lazy Normal Cats we need to get them producing more tea. If they had less fur then they would need less time off because they wouldn’t then get hairballs.”
“Why do the Normal Cats always leave our stuff in the dust.” Zeus carried the two mugs of tea and put one down in front of Neptune. “They still think we are legends. Instead of delivering the tea direct they leave it at our shrines and expect money to appear in the next days. It’s such pain in the neck.” He sat down on the chair opposite Neptune. “And it’s so annoyingly inefficient.”
“I think we should use our powers. One of us should use the megaphone to speak to them. Shout loudly that if their tea production does not increase then we will shave them all bald in the night.” Neptune blew over the top of his steaming mug.
Zeus. “Sounds like a plan, old cat. Let’s convene the Council of the Godcats and have it decreed.”
The Doubts and Successes
Like all parents I experience doubt.
As a home educator there are moments when I think – what the hell am I doing?
And there are those very odd moments when I want to cry, throw in the towel and hand it all off to the state education system, admittedly those moments are few and far between.
We unschool. In our house that probably means the children do too much art and spend too much time on the computer, playing Five Nights At Freddies or Minecraft or RoadBlocks. However, over the years I've learned to trust them. They do learn and progress. The first time I realised it was when I sat down to "teach" evolution only to have them teach me more than I knew courtesy of Pokemon, Phineas and Ferb, and YouTube. Then there was that moment when my daughter was watching a documentary about James Clerk Maxwell as she'd discovered him through learning about the colour spectrum.
My daughter's time watching TV and playing on the computer is now translating into a talent for art and a desire to make films and animations. She's actually rather good and incredibly knowledgeable.
But… then there are those moments when I want to just have a party, pronounced partae…
Gasbag is nine and he has a variety of issues. If he was at school I would be fighting for a diagnosis. Our only attempts to find out what his issues are have set him back. Instead of trying to help children why do local authorities blame the parents first? Gasbag is constantly moving forward and more importantly he doesn’t know he has an issue.
I was despairing that he would ever learn to read but over the last few weeks I’ve watched him grow physically and mentally.
Do other unschooling parents notice that their children learn much more when they are going through a growth spurt?
Of all my children Gasbag has the most beautiful handwriting. It’s elegant and legible. However, reading has been a fight and a struggle. It has been tiaras, tantrums and destruction at the dining table. As he approaches ten I was beginning to worry would this ever happen? Would I have to give in? We’d tried many methods.
Over the past two weeks he’s gone from not being able to read to sounding out and spelling out words and with help he’s writing well constructed sentences. The first day he wrote a story outline: The Legendary GodCats. With a little help from me he wrote out 964 words (I get into trouble from Gasbag if I say 1000 words) and this week he wrote a prologue.
His extended speech delay has given him an incredible vocabulary because he has had to think like a mini thesaurus to find the word he could say that would fit each situation. And he's become a talented young poet. I now know my gut to stop speech and language therapy was the right decision.
He wrote this about his reading frustration:
The Read Guy by G. Kimlin
Tales from the River Bank
Hide under the blanket
I don't want to
Up the pitch
You know what?
Give me that.
Now I want to.
Teach me the words I want to know
like Fazbear's Family Diner
Purple Guy and Golden Freddie.
Tiaras, tantrums and destruction have become smiles, satisfaction and high-fives.
Party at the Kimlin House right now. Gasbag is doing just grand! And I'm supermum - at least until I finish writing this and one of them brings me crashing down to Earth and takes away my current ability to fly.
Sun is shining.
Sand is warm.
Water is like a mill pond.
Calm, peaceful and fun.
My favourite day of the year is Not Back to School Day. It’s that time when everyone else’s children are back to school and before my children are back at ballet, art club, martial arts etc
With the introduction of social media, home educating families have taken to adding Not Back to School pictures to their Facebook feeds. They are pictures of happy, smiling, relaxed and incredibly busy children.
For the Kimlin family it has become a tradition to head for the beach if the weather is good or we go to a café for a treat if the weather is bad.
In 2016 the weather was amazing. After a dull and dreary summer the sun beat down and we spent the day covered in suntan lotion at the beach.
For us this is a celebration of the year of freedom ahead. It’s almost like Christmas. The children get presents like new stationery, bags, paints etc, and we eat special food.
I know home education should feel like hard work but for us it’s relaxed and it’s fun. Whilst we were at the beach we built a castle whilst discussing the components of a castle and mediaeval sieges. Although naturally after spending hours building the castle it took moments to jump on and destroy.
Sausage then developed a Discuniverse with sand turtles which had castles on their back. They all had nests which they laid eggs in.
Gasbag spent most of the day improving his swimming and he’s come a long way.
For Banana-Bug this was a challenge. It was her first real trip out since her cast had been removed and she felt self conscious with her poor muscle wasted leg. We also had to be more careful with it as it seemed to be more inclined to burn. She enjoyed sitting back and drawing some of her amazing pictures.
We were picked up by Mr Kimlin at five thirty, tired, weary and ready for bed. All in all it was a great day.
Even if you don't home educate you never know when you might need that right for your child. A lot of parents who home educate did not start out thinking they needed it but they took their child out of school because that child didn't fit or was being harmed by the school system.
Home Education is something very dear to my heart. I discovered it was possible when I was bout 8 or 9 because my mum took my brother out of school for a few months. At that point I decided it was something I would do with my children. I didn't hate school but I was often isolated, often miserable and often bored. All three of my children are exactly what I hoped education at home would allow them to be.
It has in the UK (England, Wales and Scotland at least. I confess to being unsure about Northern Ireland/Isle of Man etc) always been the parent's responsibility to educate their children. It's not the states responsibility.
Of course there are bad examples of home education just like there are bad examples of traditionally educated children. By and large though children can thrive at home. A lack of state interference allows children to be treated and educated as individuals.
In the last few years there has been a major shift and home education has become a media and political punching bag. One home educated child in Scotland asked Nicola Sturgeon during the campaign for the Scottish elections, why the SNP talk loudly about protecting minorities whilst themselves picking on a small minority who home educate. She was promised an answer but I understand it didn't materialise.
There hasn't been a single major media case of a home educated child who has been harmed by abuse who hasn't been involved with a variety of agencies before serious harm has happened. They have all been failures by a variety of people and not home education.
By contrast one of the major reasons for home education, up until recently, was a child being harmed, neglected or not catered for at school. More recently there has been a surge in parents home educating from the start through choice but these parents are often ones who were failed by school in a variety of ways.
Even if you don't home educate, don't let that right to protect your child be taken away from you. The NSPCC aren't the only ones who can do studies and have opinions:
With every other abused or maltreated group in society we protect them by increasing their rights. I don't understand why our children scare the SNP so much they are constantly removing important rights from them.
The Kimlin Family