Talking about education and TV

For my second conversation on the Big Breakfast show at Premier Christian radio we chatted about home education and school and TV.

My hope for these conversations is that I can chat with another parent about our own choices and experiences with perhaps a little debate but no judgement. Parenthood looks so different for all of us and I personally love hearing other’s experiences. (In case you missed my first conversation about routines and labelling you can catch up with that here.)

This time, I chatted with Frances who home educates her children and doesn’t own a TV. We intend to send our boys to school and we own, and watch a fair bit, of TV so it was a fun discussion. Here’s the link if you want to have a listen.

EDUCATION

I am open to the idea of home educating my kids if for any reason they don’t handle mainstream education however at present there are a lot more reasons I would choose not to. I’ll just summarise those below but do have a listen if you want to hear me chat them through with someone who has a different opinion.

  1. Preparing my kids for the working world – I think going into a class where people are all of a mixed ability is a really helpful way to learn about what work might be like in the future. I want my kids to work hard and do their best but I also want to teach them that it’s ok not to be top at everything. I think this would be hard in a home school environment where they are going to be the best at everything since they’re not with others.
  2. The social side of school – one of the parts of the discussion I found really interesting was around social time. I think socialising with a large group of children, and adults, independently of me will be really good for my kids. I hadn’t realised how much of a home school community there was and how much socialising happens so I don’t think that it’s that kids at school get more social time, in fact maybe they even get less, but I’ve realised that I’m keen on giving them the opportunity to build social relationships completely independently of me.
  3. Money/time – in reality we couldn’t actually afford to homeschool as we need me to bring in some kind of income each month. (Ultimately this is probably the top reason!) Whilst our kids are school age it’s unlikely we’ll be able to afford for me not to work. However, I also do want to work. It may sound selfish but I honestly don’t think I could spend all day everyday with my kids. I think it’s healthy for us to be apart.

I may have discussed other reasons in the conversation (if I’d written this sooner then perhaps I’d remember!) but it was an interesting thing to chat through and I loved hearing someone else’s experience. I hadn’t realised beforehand how even in the homeschooling community there is so much difference. My experience had been with chatting to people who focussed more on creative and free-learning and not doing reading or writing for a few years but Frances has created a more structured environment.

Would you homeschool? Why/why not?

TV

I find TV/screentime such an interesting conversation. Personally I love the TV. I think it can provide great opportunities for conversation with each other as a family and also with God. We’ve found that Big brother has explored lots of emotions and processed some big things through some of the things he watches. He’s also learned a lot through some of the more educational things he watches.

We are really keen in our house not to use TV as a way to get time away from our kids but to find ways to watch and explore it together so we try not to let Big brother veg for ages in front of it without giving us some kind of conversation back! (This doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen though! Some days I just don’t have the energy.)

It’s also a really helpful way to help an incredibly energetic kid to calm down and one of the only ways I’ve found to get Big bro to stop and actually sit down. And, sometimes he just needs that.

We don’t have any set rules when it comes to TV but we put in boundaries each time he watches. For example, we generally watch just one episode of something at a time and he knows to turn it off after that or ask for another if he wants one. We’ve made that such a clear expectation that generally he’s pretty ok if the answer is no. Although obviously three and sometimes no is harder to handle! We also love watching films together as family and this has often become our activity during Little brother’s nap time.

I think when it comes to TV we’ve just chosen to be kind to ourselves and keep chatting about it. Some days (particularly those early newborn + toddler days!) the TV is on a lot and that’s ok. Some days we don’t watch any TV and that’s good too.

What do you think about TV/screentime? What does it look like in your house?

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