The Pick’n’Mix Approach to Location Independent Home Education – One-Size Does NOT Fit All


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Here at Location Independent Parents, we stress that there is no ‘best’ way to educate all children; there is no magic formula of curriculum material + free play + project work + educational outing + socialisation = best education ever!

There is no one-size fits all approach, and we will never recommend one to you…

Because the truth is that there are as many ‘best’ ways to educate your child as there are children.  Now, I completely understand that when you start out home-educating your child, this can seem bewildering at best, and downright chaotic at worst.

When my husband and I started to investigate the possibility of home-education, what I really wanted was someone to swoop in and say, ‘This is the way that you’re supposed to do it, and if you follow my example, you’ll have happy, intelligent, independent, free-thinking children!’

Now, I’m not saying that no-one did swoop in to say that – there are an awful lot of people out there that believe that they know best – but what I am saying is that if someone does tell you that, please don’t fall for it.

Only you will know what is best for your child.

You know the way that they learn.  You know the rhythm of their energy flows, their need for variety, their capacity to absorb information.  As a switched on parent, who is engaged with their child’s development, you are best placed to devise an approach that will best suit your child.

And I should add here, coming from my perspective as a mother of 3, you may find (in fact, you’ll probably find!) that what works for one of your kids does not work for the other. Flexibility is one of the greatest gifts that we give ourselves and our children when we choose home-education, so don’t lock yourself into rigidly applying an approach to your entire family, as it may not work.

So what kinds of approach can you take?

The Home School

This is when the rhythms, curricula, ethos of a school are transplanted from a school environment and replicated at home. This can be good for kids who respond well to this kind of structure, who are planning to reintegrate back into an educational system after a period of away time, or who struggle to find focus when the structure is removed entirely, as it is with autonomous education (unschooling).

Autonomous Education

This is the opposite extreme of the home-school where there is no structure whatsoever, and the child is allowed to determine their own route through their education. In this case the parent takes the role of supporter, facilitator and co-learner. It’s a very free-form of education that places emphasis of the importance of free-play and which actively avoids the imposition of structure.

Somewhere In Between

To be honest very few families adopt either of these extremes. In my experience, and maybe you will tell me different, most home-educating families choose something somewhere in between.

The approach that we have chosen to take with our own children has been a combination of curricula for maths, project work for language skills (based on whatever their current passion is), music lessons, foreign language lessons (currently Hungarian) and then a healthy dose of free play.

It’s an approach that works for us on many levels, as we have some structure so both the kids and I gain confidence in their progression, we have some child-led learning so the kids can develop independent study skills, and free play so we can enjoy creativity, spontaneity, serendipity. This is the way that works best for my family, but I will never tell you that it’s the best way for your family.

The best way for your family, will be unique to your children, and the way you will figure it out, will be through trial and error. Have fun exploring what works best – it’s truly a great adventure where the learning for both parent & child never really ends!

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