A mum is permanently home schooling her children to avoid the Sunday blues.
While most parents were only too glad when schools re-opened, a study found that the number of parents choosing to teach their children from home had in fact risen by 34% in England over the last two years and 45% in parts of the South-West.
Caroline Widdows, 44, from Chew Magna, Somerset, now teaches Daisy, 13, and Toby, 11, at home full-time.
Daisy returned to school for one day in September 2020 before going back to home-schooling, with little brother Toby joining her in the following year when he finished primary school.
Caroline, who works part time for the National Trust as well as running an online furniture company, said: “We always liked the idea of home educating for many reasons.
“I had a particular interest in more child led learning and giving time to interests and subjects that would lead to possible careers rather than learning a small amount about everything like school tends to.
“We really enjoy spending time with Toby & Daisy and lived for school holidays and weekends.
“Sunday evenings were always so depressing and the end of the summer holidays always felt really sad – almost like another chapter of childhood crossed off.
“We felt home educating would potentially slow down the pace of life and childhood!”
Her decision comes as a survey by the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ACDS) revealed that the number of parents choosing to home-school their children has increased by 34% in England over the last two years.
In Bath and North East Somerset, where the Widdow family live, home-schooling has risen by 45% over the same period.
Daisy said: “I find it interesting that I can still do the things I want to do and be home educated as well.
“I like taking responsibility for my own learning and going at a pace that suits me.”
Toby said: “I love that every day is different. Sometimes we really get into a subject and spend ages on it.
“We arrange trips to learn more about our favourite things which can make things even more interesting and easier to understand.
“My friends think it’s cool that I do this and always ask me about it. I’m learning the same things they are but a lot faster as there’s only the two of us!”
Caroline said: “It really was a mutual decision – we looked into home education lots over lockdown and found so many people felt the same.
“We sought advice from people that we knew were already doing it too. It was working for so many and we knew we could make it work too.
“We found some amazing resources online. It was a little bit of trial and error at the start, but we’ve now found the perfect way of teaching the core subjects whilst exploring new ones too.
“We were really impressed by the quality of resources that were at our disposal during lockdown and we knew that if we managed their days sensibly then they could get a great a deal from them, alongside our own interventions as ‘teachers’.
“We’re confident that as they grow older and their learning becomes more advanced, so will our abilities as guides on that journey. I am also sure that the resources that are available will continue to improve.
A typical home-schooling day starts with Daisy and Toby exercising together followed by three learning blocks spread over the day.
Currently focusing on KS3 Maths and English, they are aiming to take their exams early before moving onto other GCSE subjects.
The pair are heavily involved in extra-curricular activities, such as football and drama club, and enjoy museum trips with their parents.
Caroline said: “We knew the social side wouldn’t be a problem as they are both sociable and have never had a problem with that. They have firm friendships now that are based on shared interests and passions rather than just sharing a classroom.
“We are so glad we decided to do this; we get to share so many experiences with each other that we wouldn’t have if they were at school five days a week!
“Some days are harder than others with certain subjects, but we always manage to find the fun in everything, and always end up having a laugh together. That’s a big part of why it works for us.
“We’ve seen such a change in the kids – they are genuinely never in bad moods. They get on really well with each other, and are learning everything they need to learn in order to become bright, well adjusted, happy and sociable adults. They just happen to be doing most of that learning from home.
“One comment that really resonates with me was from Daisy when she started home learning – ‘I go to bed happy and I wake up happy nowadays’ and as a parent, you can’t ask for more than that!”
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