Friday, October 09, 2009

Why Home Educators Don't Want Registration

Home educator, Rosemary explains some of the most intimate reasons extremely vividly:

"Why don’t home educator’s want registration?

Home educators liken local authorities to the mother-in-laws from hell!

When babies are born, parents have to learn how to parent. Every baby is different. Some babies hardly ever cry, others cry all the time. Parents have to learn when crying signals hunger, a messy nappy, pain, or loneliness and they have to reconcile the baby’s needs with their own beliefs about parenting. For instance, do you leave the baby to cry it out, or do you pick the baby up? These are things parents have to work out for themselves, and sometimes they find that what they thought would work, doesn’t, and they change their ideas. Other times, they find that what worked for the first baby doesn’t for the second. Sometimes the outer circumstances of their lives have a large influence on the sort of parenting a baby receives -- a stay-at-home parent versus a working one, one parent or two. As a society, we trust parents to work these things out, and we believe that so long as the children are loved and their basic needs are cared for, then there is no need to interfere. We trust parents to ask for help when necessary -- for instance, visiting the doctor when the baby gets sick.

Now add a mother-in-law into the mix. One who was never convinced you were good enough to marry her child. One who has her own firm ideas on how children should be cared for and with enough time on her hands to come and tell you how you should be doing it. One who thinks this is being supportive.

You can imagine how irritating this would be to a parent who is confident about their choices. On the other hand, a parent who is not finding baby care easy and is still sorting out what works may lose confidence in themselves and their ability to cope. This parent may end up doing things mother-in-law’s way, and keep doing them that way even if they’re unsatisfactory simply because the parent doesn’t have faith in themselves. Short term, this can damage the bond between parent and child. Long term, parents with no confidence in their parenting choices tend to be inconsistent and wishy-washy.

When a parent withdraws a child from school to begin home education, it’s like having a new baby. The parent has ideas about what the child should be learning and what form the learning will take. These ideas may differ depending on whether the parent has has had time to read some books on home educating and/or talked with people who are already home educating. Some children are very convenient and home education works like clockwork from the start. Others have developmental difficulties or emotional traumas to deal with. Some just plain refuse to sit at the kitchen table doing workbooks. At this point, parents often need to re-adjust their ideas, and take time to sort out what works for their children and their family circumstances. This can take several months, or longer.

The local authority is the mother-in-law of home educating families. While some local authority advisors are genuinely supportive and help parents to have confidence in their abilities to home educate, many more are like the mother-in-law described above. They have not read any of the literature or research studies on home education or how children learn. They have no picture of education other than the school model; they may have a fixed idea of what children need to learn and when. They may not really believe home education is a viable option or that the parent is qualified to educate their child. Some are not even cognizant of the laws relating to home education; others ignore those laws, thinking they know better. At best, these local authority officers are an irritation, at worst they can and do create very stressful situations and bully and undermine the confidence of parents.

Parents do have questions. When my children were babies, I would canvas everyone I knew about how they handled whatever my problem was with my baby. Sooner or later someone would give me an idea, or I would use a combination of ideas that I judged would work, or I would dream up something new. I was not obliged to follow my mother-in-law’s or anyone else’s advice. I could come up with a solution that worked for me. I did the same thing when starting home education. I talked to other parents who were experienced in home educating, I read some books, and together with my children, worked out a solution that the whole family is happy with.

Current laws allow the family the autonomy necessary to create a successful home educating environment, one suitable to the child’s age, ability and aptitude and any special educational needs he/she might have. Local authorities have the power to intervene if it appears this is not happening, and parents have a right to argue their case in court.

Proposals in the Badman Review of Home Education will give local authorities the power to act like the mother-in-law from hell. The mother-in-law who has the power to say “do it my way, or else”. The mother-in-law who has your spouse saying, “we’d better do it her way and keep her happy”. The mother-in-law who undermines your authority with your children. The mother-in-law you have to dress your children up for and coach them in how to behave hoping that they pass muster. The mother-in-law there’s no escape from except emigration.

Except these mother-in-laws will be total strangers. And you may have several ‘mother-in-laws’ while home educating, all with different prejudices. What was acceptable to one may not be to the next.

The Badman proposals are intended to keep the local authorities (mother-in-laws) happy. The proposals will not be beneficial for children, parents, or quality of family life. "


Maire said...


'The Badman proposals are intended to keep the local authorities (mother-in-laws) happy.' These people are like whingy spoilt children who won't do their homework but want someone else to do it for them.

Jules said...

Oh that is a superb way of putting it - thank you!