Adeola's Story

I am a mum to four (3, 9, 12 and 14) and none of them have ever been to school. I’m often asked how and why we started down this road, but they always seem disappointed when I explain there was simply a feeling of not yet when it came time to pick nurseries. A stronger ‘not yet’ when primary school was mentioned, and an even stronger ‘not needed’ at the thought of secondary school. 

For us home education has been a constantly shifting learning process for the whole family. With each year, our needs move and we all move to meet them. In the beginning I stayed close to the school model. My eldest had a habit of waking with the sun, so we created a rhythm of breakfast followed by ‘schoolwork’. As my Mum was a teacher and I am one of those odd people who truly enjoyed writing essays (and still does), I felt comfortable with structured work for the core subjects which we got out of the way as quickly as possible, so we could spend the rest of our day either outside, exploring things they showed an interest in through projects, or doing crafts. 

Having the big two so close in age and in temperament made life easy, and our days were filled with every Waldorf inspired activity I could find on Pinterest. By the time my third came along the routine was normalised and things continued to flow, though my free hands for helping with creativity were less available! 

We left London and moved to the New Forest and after settling in and meeting people I began to organise. One of the things I loved and still do about Home Ed, is that whatever the interest your child has you can meet it if you get creative. Every museum and educational provider that works with a school is happy to work with the Home Ed community, so I organised everything and anything that sounded like fun, and the strategy that made it all possible was divide and concur. My partner who also works from home has a job that enables us to split the four up whenever we need to. So, whereas I use to have the big two with me at all events and the small ones at home or off doing something fun with Dad, now it’s the middle or younger two with me. 

I’ve always believed that Home Education gives you increased freedom and choice to follow your interests, but for me choice means that I want my children to have the option of going to college at the same age as everyone else, or to Uni or to start their own businesses or anything else they can come up with. To do that we have made sure that their academic education was steady throughout, slowly working out which subjects came easier than others and what they would do for GCSE’s. I wanted the choice to be theirs to make when the time came, not something I had taken on their behalf by taking away their access to pieces of paper which act as currency within the current educational system. I am so relieved now that I did that because as we chose to spread exams over as many years as possible, my eldest took his first two last summer and I was unprepared for how much work we’d need to put in. Yet again, it was as much a learning experience for me as for him. There was so much I didn’t expect to teach… how to take notes, how to revise, but the experience has transformed how he is choosing to learn this year on his second two subjects. 

The other huge learning curve for me was how to balance being a mum of teens thinking about secondary school work, needs and interests, and returning to being a mum of a very active toddler, with a curious and energetic 9 year old! It’s been interesting for sure. When we first moved to the area, there was no Facebook group and only around 30 families that covered the whole New Forest to Poole area. We all quickly knew everyone who had children of roughly the same age, and every organised trip or activity we would all be there. There were only a small number of parents who felt confident organising things, and if you wanted it done, then you got on with it yourself. Now I’m one of three admin for the New Forest Facebook page and we have 600+ families. There is a huge community in Southampton and Bournemouth and it’s growing daily. The pressure is off to organise as there are so many hands helping for every age group, and there are always new people to meet. 

We still wake up, have breakfast and get school work done and out of the way but the people sitting round the table have changed. The eldest is completely self-sufficient. We check in weekly, but he’s got it covered and I can step back in trust of him and his strong sense of self and the self-motivation being home educated has given him. In no mainstream schooled setting can I imagine a 13 year old boy deciding to become a dancer and having the time necessary to as he puts it ‘catch up’ with people who are 10 years ahead of him, but that’s what he’s done in the past year.

My eldest girl is much the same. Only a month past her 12th birthday and it feels like she’s still waiting for the numbers to catch up with her maturity. A writer through and through, I can’t imagine what she would do if she was unable to write for the lion’s share of everyday. She finished her first draft of a book last year and straight away started another. I stand in her doorway watching her work, endlessly grateful for the time and space that Home Education has given her to find her passion and follow it wherever it leads her. 

Having reached this point with the big two, has enabled me to quieten the inevitable doubts that cycle through a few times a year when I feel I’m not doing enough with the younger ones. Their lives are different; less structured for sure, but they also have less one-on-one time with me as I run around from class to class, but that’s part of what I love about our choice… it changes shape to fit us and will keep changing as long as we do. 

I would say we’ve had to make sacrifices financially to do things our way, and as two creative adults we have had to accept that there just isn’t enough time for all the things we’d like to do, but that is balanced by how much we have learnt that was never planned for, by the travelling we have done and by the sheer joy and gift that is watching your children develop and come into their own, unhurried and unmoulded. 

Home Education definitely isn’t an easy choice, but it doesn’t have to be permanent and it will offer more opportunities for development and learning than you could ever imagine. For every family member!

Mother, writer and women circle facilitator, Adeola leads courses in creativity and all aspects of the feminine experience. The written word has been her expression, safe haven and dearest love for as long as she can remember. Be it fiction, poems, essays or musings on life, her pen is almost always attached to paper.  

Follow her on Instagram at @adeola_moonsong and at her blog 

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