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Those parents who decide to go to school at home

Ⓒ AFP/Archives – FRED DUFOUR – | The number of home-schooled children has almost doubled between 2008 (13,500) and 2015 (almost 25,000)

Friday, 3 pm While millions of students are in class, about twenty children play in a Parisian square. For them, school is when they want and “at home”, a choice that can often be explained by disappointment or distrust of the institution.

Forty families meet each weekend in this garden in the center of Paris, where children play in groups and parents talk. Their common point: they practice home schooling.

A choice that appeals to disappointed parents of the school, suspicious of the institution, constrained by the illness or handicap of their child, or for confessional reasons.

They have this freedom: in France, education is compulsory, not school. Only a tiny minority of French children of school age are concerned today (0.3%) by this mode of education. But the number of home-schooled children has almost doubled between 2008 (13,500) and 2015 (nearly 25,000).

The deschooling is done sometimes during the year, because the child is “in suffering”. Virginie says that her 5-year-old son, enrolled in kindergarten, had “nightmares”, could not stand the fights in the playground, and became aggressive herself.

“We had a lot of thought, we thought that he did not need to be in the community if it was too difficult for him,” she says. Out of school for a few months, the change is “miraculous”, welcomes this mother, convinced that “many children are not happy at school”.

Ⓒ AFP/Archives – OLIVIER LABAN-MATTEI – | Only a tiny minority of French children of school age are now home-schooled (0.3%)

Sometimes children do not set foot before adolescence.

Jean-Paul Boulet had the bitter experience of school failure with his two sons, for different reasons: “one was early and bored in class”, “the other did not follow in class”. When he had his daughter, he told himself with his wife that she would not “go through that”.

After looking at alternative Montessori type schools, which they consider “too expensive”, it is an advertisement in their region (Eastern Pyrenees) that decided them to do the lessons at home.

– “We learn with life” –

When the girl was at primary level, they spent less than two hours a day to work, and added to the lessons of “extracurricular activities in shambles” (sports, artistic activities, cultural outings ..).

Once in college, they used correspondence courses. “I was working on projects, my wife from remote accounting, we were both very available,” he concedes. A prerequisite for choosing this mode of education.

Her daughter has now returned to high school, with pleasure, “because she felt like it,” he says. “She knew she could decide to stop if she did not like it.”

Every year an inspector verifies that the common knowledge base is acquired. If some parents impose working hours on their children, much like school, others take advantage of everyday activities to educate them. “You learn with life, but it’s not work: for example we do math by cooking a cake,” says Hortense, 12.

She considers a “chance” of not going to school: “we are not stressed and we have a choice in our activities”. “She will pass the tray if she wants,” says his mother.

Ⓒ AFP/Archives – PHILIPPE DESMAZES – | Parents opt for home schooling because they are disappointed with school, suspicious of the institution or coerced by their child’s illness or disability

It is also the “system” that is rejected by these families, with cultural background often high, and in search of a different educational philosophy. “I think it’s difficult today to be motivated by school,” says Caroline Pinet, mother of eight home-schooled children, who had studied to become a teacher, and is married to … a teacher.

“Formatting, competitive spirit … I did not see the point of putting my child in school,” says Manon, who has only attended the school benches five days in the school. his life. Pianist, she explains having done what she wanted and hopes that it will be the same for her son of 5 years.

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