Cor blimey I was impressed with myself, home educating a 3/4 year old. It's easy to come off as an insufferable know it all when you discover home education. NP (that's the old nickname, she's chosen a new one and will be Diana henceforth) is 9 now and we've been through a whole bunch of stuff since those earnest early days. How about a look back now from the other side of early years HE?
1) I'm really not talking about your kid.
If I bang on about square pegs, institutions, etc it's mainly because my kid was a pain in the backside about attending school, or I had a personality clash with a teacher who was my polar opposite. School might have been shit for us. It might not be for you. Everyone's got their own reasons for what they do.
2) I'm really not saying that you, personally, are a shit teacher.
I know you work hard and have skills beyond my understanding. Good for you. Let's move on.
3) It isn't all fluffy clouds, rainbows and self direction.
Sometimes it's arguments, tired people and raised eyebrows all round. Sometimes it's really shit and then you have to have a word with yourself.
4) Flexibility is the ultimate goal
You do structured home education with a colour coded time table and it's wonderful for a day. Then the 4 year old has a strop about cutting out pictures that start with the letter "s" and won't do her Jolly Phonics. So you unschool and strew and hang out at parks for hours with lovely people and it's all great. Then you panic, install a curriculum and blow it all to hell....Unschooling part two commences...and decommences....and then you "incentivise" learning...and it goes well and then you have curriculum and workbooks and they're half done or not done or thrown at the wall and then all of a sudden she can read and write and do maths and all the other things and you wonder what the f*cking hell was the thing that did it.
(my money is on *all of it*)
5) Socialising is probably the main thing we did for 4 years.
For hours at a time. I'm not kidding you. It was great. And exhausting. Can we go home now and do workbooks? No? OK then.
6) Burnout is inevitable
We are not superhuman. The smug lists of activities and facebook boasts are our way of making ourselves feel better for being shit human beings for half the week and feeding them ham sandwiches for 3 days running cos we've all got flu and cba.