Kerrianne Carter Edwards, Home Schooling, Warwickshire Life

PUBLISHED: 23:36 07 February 2010 | UPDATED: 15:02 20 February 2013

Home-schooling?

Home-schooling?

Home or school - where's the best place to educate your children? Catherine Thompson spends a day with Kerrianne Carter Edwards who has been home educating her own children for six years.

Home or school - where's the best place to educate your children? Catherine Thompson spends a day with Kerrianne Carter Edwards who has been home educating her own children for six years.


Words and pictures by Catherine Thompson



Kerrianne has returned home having just dropped 12-year-old son Harrison at Princethorpe College. Husband Richard is happy to see her pouring coffee and putting some homemade biscuits out to eat while their two other children, Dylan, aged eight, and four-year-old Celeste, are busy entertaining themselves in one way or another. For them school is about to start.



Kerrianne has home educated her three children for the last six years.


The atmosphere is very relaxed and informal as, very subtly, their lessons begin. First Kerrianne encourages the children to start weighing conkers, acorns and teasels that they had collected on a nature walk the previous day. She explains that the ethos for her style of educating loosely follows the Steiner Waldorf curriculum and that incorporating seasonal items from the natural environment is one of the recommended principles.


"I like the Steiner philosophy because it is respectful of the child. It is not about wrapping them in cotton wool nor is it about exposing them to unnecessary stress in their early years," she explains.


Dylan looks up from the task in hand and asks: "What weighs more 1kg of nails or 1kg of feathers?"


"The nails of course" I respond not sensing the trap until too late.


They both hoot with delight and Kerrianne smiles sympathetically as the two children then show that, in fact, they weigh the same. Celeste then breaks into French in order to ask her mum if she can have a snack!



But isn't home educating dependant on one or both parents being academically accomplished?



"Not necessarily," says Kerrianne, "but it is an enormous commitment, it is not the easy option. If you are prepared to work at it, it is enormously rewarding. I have one friend who had never learnt a second language so she booked on a French course and stuck at it so she could teach her children."



Kerrianne leaves the children with their weighing while she does some washing up. She explains that the Steiner method encourages informality and that her being a mum as well as a teacher is part of helping the children understand life lessons as well as academic lessons.



Richard arrives back in the kitchen for a well-earned coffee break, having just finished some maintenance work on the roof. He has changed his whole work/life balance to be more available to his children. In his work with a large corporation he would fly all over the world investing in companies. Now he works from home and has significantly scaled back his work commitments. He says it is the "best decision he has ever made"



Kerrianne lands a load of cooking ingredients on the table and now the weighing exercise is evolving into making Irish soda bread for lunch. Dylan and Celeste both know the recipe and need only modest input from their mum. As they are cooking, Kerrianne keeps prompting them with related questions.



"The Steiner method is very much about engaging and stimulating a child's imagination. I make a conscious effort to use a wide-ranging vocabulary; it is about all of us stepping out of comfort zones," she explains



Originally from Sydney, Australia, where she was a successful fashion designer with her own label and a couple of boutiques Kerrianne met and fell in love with Richard, whose job required him to relocate to the UK. Following her heart to she came here to be with him.



But Kerrianne has never fitted the role of typical housewife.


"Even though I have been behind my pinnie for the last twelve years I never lost my interest in design. As my children have become more independent, I have felt the urge to let my 'own goddess' emerge.


"I wanted to reclaim my own feminine identity 'my goddess', almost like finding a glamorous dress at the back of the wardrobe and delighting that it still fits. I wanted to be bedecked in jewellery which was confident, beautiful and a statement. Unable to find jewellery that expressed me properly I started to design it for myself."


Indeed she now has her own design workshop upstairs from where she created and launched her own range of jewellery - Rampaging Goddess.


As the children break for lunch, Kerrianne lets them watch a film for a while, in French, of course! After lunch, Dylan has a much more structured maths lesson while Celeste is happy drawing a masterpiece alongside her brother. In line with the Steiner principle that children should be around seven before they learn to read, Celeste won't have structured lessons for a couple of years yet.


But how does she know she is getting it right?


"Once a year the LEA come and visits for a morning, to assess whether the children are receiving a decent education," she says. And she points to the


Ever-increasing amount of resources now available to support home educators. The internet and the local library both provide invaluable help while, surprisingly, there are at least twenty families home-educating within a 10-mile radius.


This means regular visits between home-education families, ensuing that the children get the necessary social interaction as well as the visiting parent providing additional teaching support. Because the children tend to be a collection of different ages they benefit from interacting with youngsters with a wider range of skills, both social and academic.


Even though tuition ends around two o'clock each day, the children are still studying a map when elder brother Harrison reappears from college. They immediately draw him into an impromptu geography lesson, to which he good-naturedly obliges. It was Harrison's choice to go to college - a decision his parents have whole-heartedly supported saying, that for Harrison, it was "just the right time."


So, carrying soda bread and a picture drawn by Celeste, I leave the family still enthusiastically interacting with each other and, of course, still learning. School might be over for the day, but young minds go on learning all the way to bedtime.


For more information about Kerrianne's jewellery range visit www.rampaginggoddess.com

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