Interview with a home ed student: Amber Kirk-Ford

1979131_10202151362158725_1811235672_oI’ve known Amber online for a few years now and she’s just wonderful. So when I realised she was being home educated online, I had to ask her some questions!

How long have you been home educated?

My primary school was in special measures, the teachers weren’t very nice people and I developed anxiety about going there, so I was home educated for just over four years from Year 3 until the start of secondary school. Secondary school was much better. Most of the teachers were really nice, I was getting good grades and I made some lovely friends, but I had to leave halfway through Year 9. I didn’t want to be traditionally home educated again because I was coming up to exam time, so I enrolled at InterHigh. InterHigh is an online secondary school which you do from home – so technically I go to school as InterHigh is classed as a school – but I’m also home schooled. It’s the best of both worlds, and I’ve been there for exactly one year today.

What reaction do you get from people when you tell them you’re home educated?

When I was first home educated, a lot of people didn’t really understand. They either thought I was trapped inside doing school work all day and not allowed outside, or they thought I just sat in front of the TV all the time. Neither was true – it was unstructured but I taught myself a lot of things and we went on day trips a lot – sometimes with other kids. Even though it’s only a few years later, home education seems to be more well-known now, and most people seem to understand it and be okay with it, although there’s always the question ‘How can you have friends?’

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What does an average home ed day look like?

At 8:40am my alarm goes off and I read a book for a while or scroll through my Twitter feed until 9am when I roll out of bed, grab my laptop and any textbooks I’ll need for the lesson, and then I log into school along with hundreds of other students around the world. I click ‘Go to class’ on my timetable and then I’m in a virtual classroom. I suppose it looks a bit like a chatroom except it has a space where a lesson powerpoint can be loaded, a ‘whiteboard’ space where we can draw or make notes, a public text box where we can publicly speak to our friends or the teacher, a private text box where we speak privately, and a microphone function. It’s all in real-time, so while I’m sat on my bed with a laptop, my teacher is halfway across the country at a desk speaking into the microphone, and my fellow classmates are scattered all around the world doing exactly the same thing.

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People always seem to worry that home ed kids can’t be “socialised” so… how’s your social life?

Home education is more relaxed so my social life is better than it was when I went to regular school, actually. I go out with my friends a lot, I see family, I go into town between classes, we go on day-trips, holidays… but of course being sociable isn’t just in person. I’m constantly talking to my online friends on Twitter or Facebook, too.

Another thing people worry about is that home ed doesn’t prepare children for “the real world” which people seem to define as things like getting a job, sticking to the rules, dealing with authority/bullies, etc. What do you think about that?

Considering I have a job in the field I want to work in when I’m older already and I’m only fifteen, I’d say home ed definitely prepares us for the real world. It’s made me know my own mind a lot more, and I’m more confident now. I feel like it’s made me more mature and focused because in my previous regular school, kids would be throwing chairs around, listening to music and generally being distracting. With home education I can just focus on what I’m doing with no distractions.

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What do you feel are the most positive aspects of home ed?

There is more free-time to do what I enjoy doing – my mind isn’t growing numb from being stuck in school all day. I feel like I learn better being home-educated because there aren’t people tipping up desks and shouting across the room – I just get on with my work. Me being a typical teenager, I love that I get to sleep in later than I did when I went to my old school…

Are there any negatives?

One of the biggest negatives of home ed is coming across people who are ill-informed. For example, some questions I’ve been asked are: “Aren’t you breaking the law?” “How do you learn to interact with other people?” “Do you have any friends?” “Do you watch TV all day instead of working?” We’re not breathing the law, we interact with people the same way as everyone else does, yes we have friends, and some of us watch TV a lot but even then we’re still learning from what we’re watching!

Any home ed misconceptions you’d like to clear up?

We do actually meet people, believe it or not. We’re not stuck inside doing school work all day and night, working our fingers to the bone! We shouldn’t be pitied either. Home education is a great opportunity.

Do you have any advice for someone thinking about home education?

If you’re a parent thinking about home educating your child, try to remember that – in the UK, at least – there are no set rules on home education structure. You can do it however you want to, with a structured timetable and textbooks or by letting your child do what interests them. It really doesn’t matter what other people think.

If you’re a child/teen who’s about to become home educated, try and go into it with an open mind. If you think it’s going to be terrible and boring, it probably will be. Make it fun, or at least bearable! πŸ™‚

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6 responses to “Interview with a home ed student: Amber Kirk-Ford

  1. Great interview – I already knew you’re online schooled, Amber, but it was really interesting to find out more about it. I left school at the end of year 9 and have been home educated for nearly two years and I totally agree about learning better this way – plus being home eded means that I actually find the subjects I do interesting to learn about (although having said that, I’m revising for my GCSEs at the moment and it’s VERY boring!). I did an online geography course last year and it was great, and it is very cool to be in the same class as people living all over the world.

    -Maya (The Book Nook)

      • Sure! I’ve been reading Happy Home Ed for a few months now and I think it’s such a great blog πŸ˜‰

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