'We wanted to give our children a faith-based education'

The Hutchinson family
Parents Kirsty and Simon Hutchinson explain how they integrate their religious beliefs into their home education routine.
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Kirsty Hutchinson and her husband Simon are parents to Hannah, 20, Thomas, 18, Matthew, 17, Rachel, 15, Timothy, 13, Martha, 12, Nathan, 10, John, eight, and Rebekah, six. Their Christian beliefs form a key part of their home education regime, as Kirsty explains.

'We wanted time to do things as a family'

'None of our children have ever been to school. The reasons we began home educating are varied, but one of the factors was that we wanted to give them a Christian education that would cater for any particular gifts or interests. I wanted to be able to teach each child at a level and speed that suited them, and to give extra support where needed, but still have time as a family to do things together.
'A typical day begins with a devotional time, including a Bible story and singing. 
While organising breakfast, clearing away and washing up, I listen to the children's memory work (a method of thinking about history and using it in the present). They work through their subjects at their own pace, although we have scheduled morning, lunch and afternoon breaks – and the children come outside to run off energy if I'm hanging washing.

'We choose our own curriculum'

'Home educating means we can choose our curriculum, keeping what works and discarding what doesn't, and focusing on what we see as important. For example, we don't teach our children sex education at a young age. We do discuss and mention other religions, though.

'In the 15 years that I've been home educating, theories for learning to read have come and gone, but we've always used the Ladybird Key Words reading scheme. The children really respond to it and each one loves reading. Many of the textbooks we use are from Christian providers like A Beka Books, but we also pick up useful books from second-hand bookshops.

'We choose how to use our time each day, For example, I read aloud every day from a variety of books: historical books, biographies of missionaries, poetry and stories. We usually try to read the Little House on the Prarie series through in a year. While I read, the little ones might nap, listen or colour. The older ones often have some craft out; the girls are great knitters and crocheters.
 Sometimes we go visiting as a family. 

'We don't currently belong to any home education groups, as it's difficult to find the time. But we do meet up with other families, both home schooled and in public education. We take it one step at a time, assessing as we go along to see if it still works and how the children are doing.

'I know what they're learning, and I'm learning myself'

'Through home education, our children have found their own paths. Hannah, who's 20, now works as a teaching assistant. Thomas is in the Forces. Matthew is seeking employment or training. Rachel has a part-time job in a florist's and hopes to study floristry at college.


'Home schooling is a huge commitment of both time and money, but I have great relationships with my children. I know what they're learning and struggling with, and I'm learning myself, too.'

Martha says: 'I enjoy the freedom being home taught gives me. Once my lessons are done my time is my own, and I can work at my own pace.'

John says: 'I like being free to play with my siblings outside and going out together to visit and do stuff.'

Rachel says: 'it's given me the chance to take time to think about what I want to do when my education is finished, and to try out some ideas.'