Homeschooling is such a controversial subject and until very recently one that I wasn’t particularly interested in. That is until we decided to pull 11 year old Léna out of secondary school to homeschool her.
I’ve mentioned it a couple of times on social media and soooooo many people have asked me about it so I thought I would share it all in a blog post, rather than replying to everyone individually.
Why are we homeschooling?
The first question is always WHY
Why have we decided to homeschool our daughter, and are we homeschooling both our children?
First of all, a bit of background on us and our situation.
We live in Mauritius and our daughters have been going to international, English-language schools, based on the UK curriculum.
We have two daughters who started new schools in January.
Léna is 11 and started secondary school (Year 7 in the UK / 6th grade in the US / 6ème in France).
Clémence is 5 and started primary school (Year 1 in the UK / Kindergarten in the US / Grande Section in France).
We are happy with Clémence’s school and don’t intend to homeschool her anytime soon. We feel she needs the social interaction, she needs to learn to share, to work in teams and everything that she can get from a primary school environment.
But I am a big fan of “never say never” so who knows if this will always be the case.
Certainly for now I don’t feel ready, and I don’t have the time, to teach early primary education one-on-one to my 5 year old!
Léna, however, is another case.
She is older, more mature, motivated and loves learning. As Ben and I work for ourselves from home she is used to people taking themselves off to their home office to work, with nobody telling them what to do.
Ben and I talk to Léna about all the possibilities the world has to offer her these days. A world where university and a job for life is certainly no longer the only path.
We both run successful businesses where our official education and work experience is only a tiny contributing factor. In fact it’s our own continued learning that have brought us here.
So we are not “school and university are the be all and end all” HOWEVER we both believe in the importance of a good foundation, both in knowledge acquired and the learning itself.
At the moment we don’t feel that there is a school in Mauritius that fits with what we are looking for for Léna.
Well not one that is a reasonable distance away, and we’re not prepared to send her off to school at 6.30am, have her come home at 4.30pm and then get stuck into homework for several hours.
We both firmly believe that life is for living, and the above scenario is not what either of us would call a life.
Léna was happy at her former school, she had good friends there, some of whom she’s known more or less since we arrived in Mauritius over 2 years ago.
But in the end she was the one asking to be homeschooled as, when it comes down to it, she just really wants to learn. And homeschooling enables exactly that.
The beauty of homeschooling is also that we get to mix and match subjects and styles to suit Léna and us.
Which leads me on to the HOW…
How are we homeschooling?
LOADS of people have asked me if I’m now teaching Léna, and I’m delighted to answer with a big, fat NO!
That would be doing her a disservice as I’m not equipped to teach an 11 year old at a secondary school level.
Instead we are using two systems:
Wolsey Hall Oxford: a homeschooling college in the UK which teaches children and adults all over the world using the UK National Curriculum. It’s been going for over 120 years and so far we’re happy with what we’ve seen.
Also if we decide to keep Léna in this set-up she can then study IGCSEs (an exam-only version of GCSEs – official exams taken in the UK aged 16) and A levels (official exams taken in the UK aged 18).
This system offers various subjects and we were able to pick and choose which ones we wanted for Léna. We have gone with English, Maths, Science (later on this will separate out into Biology, Chemistry, Physics), History, Geography and Spanish.
Because we are a bilingual family (Ben is French, I’m British) and because Léna speaks both languages as a mother tongue there was no point in her doing French in the UK system. Which brings me on to our second system…
CNED: this is another homeschooling system that has been around for years. But this one is all in French, for French children and students learning outside of traditional schools. As we want Léna to continue her French education she will be doing French language and literature via the CNED. This means her French will be on a par with other French children her age.
As for our role in all this, we need to help, motivate and guide. But the actual teaching and explaining isn’t done by us (breathes a big sigh of relief!).
However having looked at the subject contents and textbooks I think I’m going to be joining Léna on some of her learning journey – notably for History and trying to revive the Spanish I learnt for my degree 🙂 And I know Ben is keen to join in on the Science lessons too!
What about social interaction?
This is another big question we get asked. Léna is doing several out of school activities – drama, karate, contortion and aerial hoop, and after our winter will go back to swimming too – which sees her mixing with all sorts of different children, and having to answer to other people in authority.
There are also quite a few homeschooling families here and we’ve got a first meet-up with them planned for next week.
It is definitely something we will need to work on, to make sure she doesn’t turn into a hermit, who has a good education but is no good around people!
But we are very aware and Léna is pretty sociable so we’re not too worried about this side of things.
Is homeschooling for you?
If you are considering homeschooling then it’s important to bear a few things in mind. We are doing this with a secondary school aged child who is motivated and loves learning. It would be a whole other ballgame with Clémence, who is younger and needs far more attention and teaching from us.
I’m guessing it would be very different with a child that can’t self-discipline or self-motivate or who doesn’t want to learn.
We are also in a privileged situation where both Ben and I work from home so can be on-hand to answer questions.
And we cover a lot of the subjects between the two of us as well – Ben has a master’s degree in maths and IT and a high level of science too. I have a degree in French and Spanish, taught English as a foreign language and am passionate about history, which I have an A level in and studied during my degree too.
This means that there shouldn’t really be any “slipping through the cracks”.
Should you homeschool?
I suppose it depends what the alternatives are. And how much time or effort you have to invest in your child’s education. If your child is motivated or interested in being homeschooled. And so much more. Questions which only you can answer.
As I previously mentioned this is something that Léna came to us and asked for – she wanted to be at home, to learn, without interruption, and in the end it aligned with what we were looking for her education-wise and curriculum-wise, things we felt we weren’t getting from her current school.
But when it comes down to it only you know whether homeschooling is for you / your child.
I’ve been making tough decisions for Léna for many years – including changing childminders, changing schools and having her skip a year, and I am very comfortable doing this. If you struggle with decisions then do grab my free video guide to decision-making and facing your fears here.
We’re super excited to be going on this new adventure with Léna and I’ll keep you posted on social media with how we get on (I’m “Sophie Le Brozec” pretty much everywhere on social media, do come and say hi).
Good luck if you’re working on a homeschooling decision now!
P.S. Remember to share this blog post if you found it useful or helpful 🙂
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