'Why do they all have to learn the same?': Telford mum gives son 'world education'
A Telford mum who "worldschools" her son has laughed off claims he will make no friends, and lifted the lid on their exciting adventures together.
Lea Beven, from Broseley, decided that regular schooling would not help her seven-year-old son Harrison become his best, so she teaches him at home and takes him around the world to experience different cultures.
Among their thrilling escapades they have been to see the Pompeii skeletons, windmills and clogs in Amsterdam and ridden gondolas in Venice.
But Harrison's slightly unusual education has raised eyebrows.
Lea said: "I'm often asked how I socialise my son. He's not a dog. We have many friends all over the world, we have family, we are out more than half of the week meeting other home-ed friends, sightseeing or doing our hobbies in clubs and events.
"We find sometimes we get all peopled out, and have to spend a few days chilling out at home watching Netflix. Socialising is not a problem - but it can be upsetting to get told a few times a week that our kids would make more friends at school. That's just not true."
Thanks to Lea's flexibility in work in the property world, they are able to travel regularly. And recently they had a VW campervan done up, and have been to many of Europe's most Insta-worthy locations.
Lea said: "We do lots of research before we go, so he picks what we do. He's involved with the budgeting - he will even busk to do a specific day trip if we can't afford it.
"Generally we fund UK travel by pet sitting and we have passes to get into lots of attractions, like the Arts Pass. His interests include metal detecting and the history connected with things we find, Shakespeare, castles, volcanoes, and he loves music - particularly his Djembe drum.
"We love fossil hunting and have tools to go excavating. We volunteer doing community projects and currently are doing a food waste project in our town. We don't follow any set lesson plans because we can attach things like maths/geography/reading values to the things he enjoys. We all learn easier if the topic is something we love. I have a little book worm on my hands, he can easily go through 25 books or more a week, thank goodness for charity shops."
She added: "There are an increasing number of families who are home educating because the system is either failing our children, or it really doesn't present the values that we want for our kids. From age four, five days a week at school is exhausting. And by the time we pick up our kids, mostly they are too exhausted to function and that often leads to meltdowns.
"Our kids are taught to sit down and listen instead of get up and explore. If they have a hundred questions to ask, they will be lucky to get one answered, so eventually they can stop asking questions, because there is no point. We tried school for a year, and I watched my son go from a lively character with 50 questions an hour, to a tired and angry child who was losing his spark.
Within a month of pulling him out, he was back to himself and remains so. We are all different, we can't all be moulded into the same pattern. If you want to explore the idea of worldschooling, there are facebook groups you can join - and there are annual events, communities worldwide from Spain to Mexico, Australia to Zambia.
"Why do they all have to learn the same? Why do they all have to sit down and listen?
"I'm allowing my son to be his true self, to explore the subjects he loves, and the world he wants to see."
Harrison does go to flexi-schooling during the half-term holidays, and Lea is confident learning this way is giving his development a boost already.
"Map reading and public transport use is something my son can almost do with his eyes closed! He's just turned 7!"
LIVE UPDATES: Two 'danger to life' flood warnings in Shropshire as 400 tons of water a second approaches Shrewsbury