Home schooling is becoming a popular alternative to state and private schools as parents are choosing to take responsibility for their child’s individual educational needs. One mum who believes in the positive benefits of home education is Coral Golding.
As summer draws to a close and we start to look to the traditional new school year, we caught up with Coral to talk more about how she tailors little Ava’s education to her likes and interests and how it has a positive impact on her learning.
All images by @coral_pearl_
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For anyone who doesn’t fully understand home schooling in the UK, please give us a brief explanation of what this entails. Do you teach Ava yourself or do you hire a private tutor?
Everybody’s experience of home schooling is completely different, but that's one of the things that I love about it. Ava attends weekly classes for Maths and Literacy and then we practice and expand on those in between. There are certain skills that I can't teach her - for example, piano and martial arts. But we learn a lot of life skills together and do a lot of creativity from home. I think when you start it's just a case of finding what works for you and your family (there has been a lot of trial and error with certain groups) and then you just get into the swing of things. I think as Ava gets older though (if she doesn’t go to school) we will look at getting tutors for specific subjects.
When Ava approached school age, did you go and visit any schools or was it always your decision to home school her?
Yes we did go and visit some schools and Ava was attending a Montessori nursery at the time, but after speaking to the teacher that she would have been in a class with, it just didn't feel right to me at the time that she would be spending more of her life with somebody that I didn't know that much about or know her real beliefs and that she would be influencing Ava more than I would as her mother.
Do you have a rigid timetable that you follow on a specific day of the week or do you try to introduce different things on different days?
We have a pretty flexible timetable at home as one of the fun parts about home schooling is the spontenaeity and amount of variety we are able to have in our lives. Ava does have set activities on certain days as I do feel that some routine is important, but around those classes we try to have a lot of free time so that depending on how we all feel we can choose how we spend our time.
Can you talk us through a typical school day? What do you personally feel are the benefits of home schooling?
I wake up most mornings around 5am and have a morning practice of exercise and meditation so that I feel calm and have had some time to myself before the girls wake up… This means I am a lot more patient throughout the day! Then we tend to have pretty slow mornings with breakfast, free play and creativity so that we dont feel rushed. Our earliest weekday activity is 10am so there isnt a sense of urgency in the mornings and it's a gentle start for the girls. Some groups and activities that Ava does are Maths, literacy, piano lessons, Forest School, swimming, Aikido and she also attends a Saturday morning theatre school. Ava’s interests tend to lead what we spend our time learning about and I feel that this is a huge benefit of home schooling as humans tend to remember information that they are generally interested in.
Does it fully meet your expectations and in hindsight are there any negative aspects that you didn’t foresee?
Home schooling definitely has its challenges and life can sometimes feel like a balancing act, especially having two children both at different ages with different needs. We are really lucky to have my mum very close by who is a massive help - she often will take Ava to activities while I am with Sufi or vice versa. It can also be a struggle finding time for yourself (spending all day every day with young children can definitely sometimes take its toll!) But that is why I try to wake up early so that I’ve had some mental space at the start of my day.
Can you anticipate a time when Ava may go into mainstream state or private school?
At the moment we are taking it year by year… Ava seems to be very happy at the moment. But if this changed or she asked if she could go to school it would be something we would be open to for sure. I love the fact that in a lot of Scandinavian countries children don’t start school until they are 7 - this makes so much sense to me. But who knows where our lives will take us from here - I just feel very grateful for getting to spend this time in her life alongside her, but I am also very aware that this may not be forever.
It’s amazing that Ava and Sufi get to grow up alongside each other every day of their lives. Will you home school Sufi when she comes of age?
I think we would definitely wait a few years until Sufi is at least 7 for her to start school as this is something that has worked so well with Ava, but it also completely depends on how she feels about the situation too… I would love for Sufi to have the same experiences that Ava has had, but she may want to do things a different way and we would of course always respect that.
What’s one of your favourite lessons you do together?
Watching Ava learn to play the piano has been so beautiful to watch, so that's probably my favourite of her activities. With regards to ‘lessons’ I just love her coming to run errands with me or having days out and seeing what we can learn about on the way - whether that is interaction and asking questions, to people when we are out or paying for things in shops, or reading directions. The life lessons she learns on a daily basis are just improving her understanding of our world and her confidence within it and that is just so so important in my eyes and also very lovely to witness.
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