Life Learning

Tuesday 16 September 2014

'We just follow their interests and curiosity'

Published 25/03/2014 | 02:30

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Pauline O'Reilly with her children Caragh and Finn whom she is home educating using the unschooling method.
Pauline O'Reilly with her children Caragh and Finn whom she is home educating using the unschooling method.

Galway woman Pauline O'Reilly and her husband Conor O'Donovan have opted to "unschool" their two children Finn (6) and Caragh (3).

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They took the decision after Finn began to dislike his Montessori and told his parents he didn't want to attend school any more.

"I felt with Finn that he really meant it and that he meant any type of school," said Pauline.

"Knowing him I couldn't really see what school would offer him. He had always just had a real curiosity to learn and we decided to just trust that.

"We decided to keep him at home until he was seven, as in a lot of countries children don't start school until seven anyway but we realised very quickly that it was something we would continue," said Pauline.

A trained solicitor, Pauline gave up work to home-educate the children. She must register both children under a home education scheme by the age of six.

"The board is very open to families following different philosophies as long as the children are registered," she explained.

The family do not follow a daily routine but fall more into a weekly one.

"We have things that are scheduled for certain days but if the children really don't want to do it we won't. We just follow their interests and curiosity and provide them with what they need to learn.

"Once a month we meet with other home educators in Galway and we have set up friends clubs and an outdoor play group. Finn plays rugby on Saturday mornings and goes to the Galway Community Circus on Wednesday. A lot of the learning happens like this.

"Finn is fascinated with odd and even numbers and that just happened as he was walking down the road looking at house numbers," added Pauline.

"He was a very early reader and it was fascinating watching how he learned to read himself. I think if all children were left to it they would do the same," she added.

Caragh is also showing a love of words.

"At the moment she's very into sounds and words and she loves to count a lot. It can all be so fluid," explained Pauline.

Irish Independent

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