One of the most enjoyable aspects of home education is the freedom to teach absolutely anything which one wishes. I happen to believe that all children need a broad and balanced education, whether they will later be artists, musicians, university lecturers or road sweepers. Because I have mentioned the importance of this so often, the idea has grown in some people's minds that I am preoccupied with academic education to the exclusion of all else and that perhaps I had planned my daughter's life upon a certain path which would culminate in her going to university. Nothing could be further from the truth.
It is true that I wanted my daughter to have a bunch of decent IGCSEs; I think that all children need them. This is what I regard as the basics, the bread and butter of education. However, in addition to things like physics and chemistry, she also spent an enormous amount of time on the arts. I could not know what direction her life was likely to take and so I thought that she needed to experience a wide range of things so that she could make up her own mind about what she liked and wished to pursue further. To this end, I made sure that she learnt three musical instruments, and took examinations in acting, among other things. I also taught her to draw, paint in water colours and oils; that sort of thing.
One of the curious things about teaching your own child is that you soon find out that anybody can teach anything at all, even if they know nothing about it. For instance, I cannot play a single note on the guitar, but this did not stop my daughter getting Grade 5 at classical guitar. I do not act, but was easily able to teach her up to Grade 6 (Bronze Medal) in the LAMDA exams. She studied ballet for eight years and it is a matter of regret now that I did not teach her that as well; it was the only subject for which she had an external teacher. All this was supplemented by frequent trips to the opera, ballet, theatre and art galleries.
I have observed that many home educating parents in this country seem to focus upon the arts and apparently neglect academic subjects. The natural consequence is that many of these children seemingly take to creative things rather than the more academic. I worry about this a little. My own daughter had the opportunity to take any direction. If she had not studied both mathematics and physics as well as music and art, then she would not really have been able to make an informed choice about the future direction of her life. This would have been unfair on her; effectively making the decision for her. Children who are raised only with creative and artistic options, without the systematic study of things like history and science, are being short changed and their path in life effectively decided for them. I cannot think this a good thing and it is one of the things about home education in this country which makes me a little uneasy. My own daughter could very well have chosen to study art or music rather than the philosophy, politics and economics which she will actually be studying at university. Unless she had had a wide experience of all sorts of things, her choice would have been restricted.