Family education, education without school

Their names are Jeïdy, Kyéta, Shanty, Mélusine or even Cerberus. They are between 7 to 14 years old and have not yet attended school. Their parents chose to do their education in the family, in addition to the so -called classical system of education. In France, if the education of children from 3 to 16 years of age is compulsory, parents can choose not to send them to school.

However, this freedom of choice is questioned. Since August 2021, the right not to send your child to school requires a request for permission, and is no longer a simple one. “family education statement”. In addition, admission procedures are tightened: legal guardians of children must prove their presence or even have a baccalaureate-level diploma. You need a reason “valid” –From the point of view of the institution– to drop out of school. As a result, the French State, from the start of the school year in 2022, may refuse requests from families.

Who are these families who choose education other than schools? How do they view education, teaching and its challenges? How to build sociability in their children without toys? How do parents organize themselves and speed up their days? How did they react to the change in the rules imposed on them by the state? Over the past few months, as a documentary photographer, I have met these families, on French territory, to try to answer these questions.

Camille Nivollet / Divergence / Hors Format

Dona, 37, and her daughter Mélusine, 7, will live in the greenhouse behind the yurt to work out on the homework book. Cerbère, 9, Mélusine’s older brother, has already started work. The three lived in a yurt in the Nièvre department for almost four years. Dona raised her two children in their father’s joint custody. In general, they are from Monday to Friday with their mother and from Friday night to Sunday night with their father. Since they live in a yurt, Dona does the housework located in the back. They can live there next winter.

Melusine and Cerben do geometry exercises.  Remarkably, the family gave themselves the rule of doing one page of exercises per week for the month of April.  Dona’s children are on the “unschooling” approach, which in French means “non-schooling”.  This concept consists of allowing children to discover and learn in a way that is not focused and self-focused.  some run.  “No schooling” does not require formal knowledge.

Camille Nivollet / Divergence / Hors Format

Mélusine and Cerbère did geometry exercises. Remarkably, the family made it a rule to do a page of exercises each week for the month of April. Dona’s children are on the “unschooling” method, which in French means “non-schooling”. This concept is about allowing children to discover and learn indirectly and at their own pace. “Not going to school” does not impose formal knowledge.

Melusine and Cerben work in the greenhouse.  The children have not yet gone;  school.  They attend cultural workshops every Wednesday (except for school holidays).  Cerbère learned bass and drums.  Mélusine learned about pottery and musical awakening.  Coming from a family of farmers, Dona was the first special teacher in about ten years.  He was interested in pedagogy.  For him, “every family is a small educational laboratory”.  Since he installed the yurt, he has gradually adapted.  slowly release and sheep.

Camille Nivollet / Divergence / Hors Format

Mélusine and Cerbère work in the greenhouse. The children did not go to school. They attend cultural workshops every Wednesday (except for school holidays). Cerbère learned bass and drums. Mélusine was introduced to pottery and musical awakening. Coming from a family of farmers, Dona was first a special teacher for about ten years. He was interested in pedagogy. For her, “Every family is a small pedagogical laboratory”. Since settling in the yurt, he has gradually begun to raise some sheep.

In the yurt, Dona learned some ukulele music ideas;  of his daughter Mélusine.  Dona is a chorister in a town choir.  The father of two is also passionate about music and playing in a marching band.

Camille Nivollet / Divergence / Hors Format

In the yurt, Dona taught some ukulele music ideas to her daughter Mélusine. Dona is a chorister in a town choir. The father of two children is also passionate about music and plays in a marching band.

One of Cerberus's toys, left in a bush near the yurt.

Camille Nivollet / Divergence / Hors Format

One of Cerberus’s toys, left in the bush near the yurt.

Shanty, 8, hugs her baby.  His family travels and lives on the bus.  A chicken coop is equipped in the back of the bus for six chickens.  I met;  this family, which also has three dogs, is near the Beauchastel dam, in the Drôme.  He lived there for a few weeks.

Camille Nivollet / Divergence / Hors Format

Shanty, 8, hugs her baby. His family travels and lives on the bus. A chicken coop was placed in the back of the bus for six chickens. I met this family, who also had three dogs, near the Beauchastel dam, in the Drôme. He lived there for a few weeks.

Vanessa, 40, and Jimmy, 43, three children, travel almost always.  They bought this bus four years ago with plans to make it a food truck.  In the past, they lived in a truck.

Camille Nivollet / Divergence / Hors Format

Vanessa, 40, and Jimmy, 43, three children, travel almost constantly. They bought this bus four years ago with plans to make it a food truck. In the past, they lived in a truck.

Jeïdy, 12, Kyéta, 14 and Shanty, 8. They never went;  school, and none of them wanted it.  Like Mélusine and Cerbère, the three of them are in “unschooling” their step, whether they are ready or if they want to.  I like to bake.  Kyéta draws and learns magic tricks.

Camille Nivollet / Divergence / Hors Format

Jeïdy, 12, Kyéta, 14 and Shanty, 8. They haven’t been to school yet, and none of them want to. Like Mélusine and Cerbère, they are all three in the “unschooling” approach, parents allowing them to learn at their own pace, whether they are ready or if they want to. Jeïdy loves to cook. Kyéta draws and learns tricks.

The scene from the bus, Feb. 18, 2022 at;  Beauchastel.

Camille Nivollet / Divergence / Hors Format

The view from the bus, February 18, 2022 in Beauchastel.

Shanty and Jeïdy are in the same room upstairs on the bus.  Kyéta, the eldest, had just set up her room in the caravan.  side from the bus.  With the help of his mother Vanessa, 40, Jeïdy did some French exercises.  He has to take a school exam next May to check his accomplishments.  Parents who choose to educate their children on their own are subject to the control of town hall and national education.

Camille Nivollet / Divergence / Hors Format

Shanty and Jeïdy are in the same room upstairs on the bus. Kyéta, the eldest, had recently set up her caravan room next to the bus. With the help of his mother Vanessa, 40, Jeïdy did some French exercises. He has to take a school exam next May to check his accomplishments. Parents who choose to educate their children themselves are under the control of the town hall and the National Education.

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