London, Education and Homeschooling

This report details the discussion that Jess Muller, LYAC’s Ward 14 councillor, had at the Covent Garden Market with Taryn, Ainsley, Jacob and Hayden, four homeschoolers. The conversation ranged from their thoughts on London, the education system, how they spend their free time, and what they think about homeschooling. I came along as a notetaker.

Who Should Read This?

  • Anyone who has preconceived notions about homeschooling
  • Anyone who is curious about alternate education
  • Londoners who want to hear the perspectives of more youth in our city

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Things To Do in London

The conversation started with Jess asking where and how people spend their time. Playing video games, going to the movies, writing, hiking, reading, drawing, climbing trees, and biking, and going on the computer were all mentioned as ways of spending free time.  Taryn and Jacob pointed out that they sometimes use the computer for online courses as well. Jess then asked what they would like to see more of in their neighbourhoods. The two main thing mentioned was having more centres to hang out, particularly outdoors. Hockey rinks, bike paths, playgrounds next to libraries, and soccer fields were all given as suggestions. All four participants said that when they had to commute by themselves, they usually biked.

What is Homeschooling Actually Like?

While the discussion started off fairly general, homeschooling quickly became a big part of the conversation. All four said that schooled kids think that homeschoolers are lucky, and that they just get to watch TV all day and not do any work, which is not the case. When asked about how they homeschool, they all said that they learned more by topic than by subject: Ainsley said that her mom regularly teaches her and that she loves reading and drawing, Taryn said that she tends to get obsessed with different subjects, the current one being life in the 60s and racial equality in that era, while Jacob and Hayden said they spend a lot of time doing online courses and learning about math and coding.

They also emphasized that they like learning at their own pace, which is sometimes much faster or more in-depth than their schooled peers, and that homeschooling has given them a lot of opportunities. Taryn, Jacob and Hayden talked about a creative problem solving competition in the States that they went to and taking flight lessons. Jacob and Hayden also said that there were going to Ecuador for a family vacation soon, and that they planned to practice their Spanish there. Ainsley talked about the book she was writing. They all said that homeschooling let them focus on their passions, and that they were happy with their education.

Perceptions of School and Homeschooling

When comparing school to homeschooling, the group explored both the upsides and downsides of traditional education. Ainsley, Jacob and Hayden had all past experiences in the school system, while Taryn had only ever been homeschooled. Ainsley said that she would consider going to high school after her time in school. She felt she progressed further in the school system, and that she had to learn quicker, as there was pressure to learn at quick pace. Taryn said that she felt like she was behind in certain subjects like math, but that she had more skills than people her age in other areas, particularly with social skills. All three said that they liked that they got to see their friends a lot and have more social time. However, they said school also got boring, there was bullying, and they didn’t like being forced to learn certain things. They also said that they felt they were better able to talk to adults than their friends who were in school.

When the conversation was drawn to outside ideas about homeschoolers, each of the four said that they had to deal with a lot of misconceptions about homeschooling, and that they wished people would think it’s less weird. Ainsley said that more people know about it now, but that she still feels embarrassed going out in the day and having to deal with people’s comments.  They all said they wished people would stop making assumptions about homeschooling and imagine them as normal people.