When we had first decided to home educate I thought it would be useful to follow a curriculum. I wasn’t sure that I would know what to do, what they should be learning, what level I should be aiming for etc.
I felt we needed a curriculum but I didn’t want to buy one and feel tied to it. One of the reasons we took M out of school was because she didn’t find anything interesting so I knew I would need to find subjects and projects to re-engage her. However, I also wanted to make sure she was keeping up with her peers, particularly as she would be competing against them in the 11+ exam (more on that later).
I had a look at a few curriculums online and found one that I could download for free from Core Knowledge. They seemed to be a well respected and serious bunch of people and the content of the curriculum would make you an excellent contestant on QI. However, I did spend a lot of time taking parts out that I was sure neither of my two would be interested in (Mesopotamia for 6 year olds? Really?). I’ve since found out that Gove will be basing his new national curriculum on Core Knowledge: horror.
I did wonder about the relevance of a lot of the history content in particular. Whether this is normal for a 6 year old I don’t know but M doesn’t have any concept of history or time. She commented fairly recently that she knew I didn’t have TV or electricity when I was growing up because she saw it when Peppa Pig visited the museum. Ahem.
I used the word ‘relevance’ earlier but I’m not entirely sure a subject has to be ‘relevant’ for it to have value. After all, D adores learning about space but I can’t see that it has any relevance to her life at all (she’s 4). But then again, I remember learning about the civil war at school and not understanding the point of it at all: why do I need to know this when it has no bearing on my life? It’s only now that I’ve learnt more about history as an adult that I can see the bigger picture.
So I am going to wait a while until her brain is ready and she can see the bigger picture before tackling subjects such as Mesopotamia. I think that rather than using a curriculum we will just be dipping in and using what we fancy, rather than rigidly sticking to it. I can see now that if the sausages aren’t interested in what we’re learning then they’re not taking it in, so then it seems like its a time wasting exercise for all of us.
That’s not to say that we’re going to ditch everything they say no to. I think some things are very important, like learning a language, and maths. So far though, I’ve managed to link these activities to their lives to peak their interest (like learning the word ice-cream in Chinese!). So we’re going to start by making little inroads into history and see how we do – we’ve got a little project on Guy Fawkes coming up. We’ve also started a historical time-line going up the stairs so hopefully M will start to get some perspective on time. How wonderful that I can tailor the girls’ education to suit their needs!
Which leads me on to the afore-mentioned 11+. I am starting to have serious doubts that there would be any value in the girls returning to school. The more I read about home education the more I believe its an enormous privilege to be educating the sausages. I don’t want to hand this privilege over to Gove. Every time I see him in the headlines my heart sinks and then I think ‘phew, he doesn’t affect us anymore’.
P.S. Core Knowledge also publish a book called ‘What Every Year  Child Should Know’. The ‘should’ part gets to me: who says who ‘should’ know what? But I have to admit that there is a little bit of fear that M’s peers WILL know what they SHOULD know and she’ll be left behind. I hope this fear will disappear as my confidence in HE grows. Watch this space.