The annual get together is held by the local home schooling support group. They're a friendly bunch, very welcoming and enthusiastic about teaching children at home.
Before we sat down to sandwiches and soft drinks, our daughter and Speckly Woo (three year old granddaughter) joined parents and children for a nature walk, in the company of a local expert. Not only did Speckly Woo return with her pockets stuffed with various leaves and berries, she also had a head full of information that was keen to share with us.
After the picnic, the children played games and the grown ups chatted. Speckly Woo was very much at home with her new friends, ranging in age, from four to twelve. She was quickly taken under the wing of a ten year old girl and played happily until it was time for us all to leave.
The decision to try this route with our granddaughter's education has not been taken lightly. Their parents want the girls to grow and learn in a less formal way that allows them to develop as individuals and, we support them totally in that.
Another view of the Common
We are all prepared for those inevitable questions. On the back of the picnic flyer, three of the more likely ones have been addressed:
Is it legal?
Yes it is - in English law, parents are responsible for providing their children with an education 'in school or otherwise'.
What about socialisation?
Many children who leave school for home education find that their social life and social skills develop better and more naturally than when they spent a large part of each day sitting in a room with 29 other people of the same age. Home educated children mix with a wider variety of ages wherever they go. Many areas have groups where children meet and play, as well as getting together at each other's houses and going on trips together. Home educated children can also join such groups as Scouts, Guides, Brownies, sports clubs, drama clubs, etc.
Dont you have to be a teacher?
No you don't. Teachers need training to educate a large group of children in a particular way. If a child at home asks a question and the parent doesn't know the answer, the parent can show the child not just what the answer is but how to develop the skills need to find it him/herself - using reference material or the internet, for example.
From conversations I've had with some educationalists, there is a private consensus that home schooling is a fine way for children to learn. We'll see how it goes. These are early days but, the signs are very positive. For more information, Education Otherwise, a registered charity, is a good place to start.