Carrying on from our review of Ross Mountney’s new children’s book ‘The Wrong Adventure’, Ross talks to us about the inspiration behind the books and the positive impact she hoped they would have on the children and families who read them. True to style, Ross provides down-to-earth reflection and reassurance to families at all points of their home ed journey.
Please can you begin by telling us about how the Little Harry stories, ‘Who’s Not In School?’ and ‘The Wrong Adventure’ first began? What inspired you? What do you hope the books will bring to the children and families who read them?
I was originally inspired to write these children’s stories by the lack of books featuring home educating children, the lack of stories about which they could say – ‘oh that’s just what we do’. I also realised it was an opportunity, particularly with the first one, to illustrate a typical home school week, especially for those who’ve not experienced it before. I wanted to show Harry as a normal little boy into everything and how his curiosity is just part of the natural, educative desire to learn; although people were rightly horrified by him climbing on the exhibit in the museum! However, in ‘The Wrong Adventure’ I also hoped to show how this natural desire to explore could get him into trouble and give parents something to chat about with their children. I used the exploits of my own little home educators in the story – although somewhat exaggerated as all stories are – as material for the ‘adventures’! It brought back many happy – if messy – times! I’m hoping families can now have stories to read to their children that they can identify with, chat about, and enjoy.
The books certainly do that Ross, I especially liked how the illustrations brought to life the everyday details of a busy home educating family.
Reflecting on your own journey, what would you like to say to families beginning their own home ed journey, or even wondering if home ed could be an option for them?
It’s easy for me to look back on our inspirational journey now that it’s complete and say; ‘it’ll work out okay’. But I know it’s impossible not to worry about doing it. However, I also know that there were often specific ways of thinking – usually warped thinking, that made me worry disproportionately. And once I’d examined those thoughts, I could usually reason myself out of worrying to the point it was debilitating. That’s why I wanted to offer ‘The Home Education Notebook’ for moments parents needed comfort. And something I say to parents is that you face these times whatever route you take with your children. It’s not just home education that causes worry! So if you want to try it, you might as well – it’s inspirational. Take it day to day, keep mindful of what you’re doing and what you’re thinking, connect with others, be selective, and enjoy your days with the children. We never for one moment regretted it – only regretted not abandoning school sooner.
‘Who’s Not In School’ and ‘The Wrong Adventure’ bring to life the curiosity, energy and sense of adventure of younger children. Reflecting on your own experiences as your children grew, how would you say home education changes as our children grow through their teens? What guidance would you offer to families further along their journey, or to those considering this as an option for their teens?
As your home educated children become teens the changes in your journey occur naturally. Home educating gives opportunity for the young people to be part of the decision making about their education as they grow and more importantly why decisions are made. Watching them mature and develop their skills and interests is as inspirational as watching little ones discover creepie-crawlies! Although you have to learn to step back and trust more, your role is ever one of constant encouragement and gentle guidance. There’s a bigger adjustment for teens having been in school switching to HE and all the family will need to take time to explore options and find their way. This is where online connectivity is invaluable for support and guidance. Now our young adults are out in the working world it seems irrelevant how they got there, except perhaps it’s made them much more resourceful – a valuable skill in present times.
Thank you to Ross for taking the time to talk with us, for those of us still in the thick of it, it is so valuable to hear the reflections of families a little further along. I’m looking forward to finding out more about ‘The Home Education Notebook’.