A SIX-year-old girl has proved that staying at home to learn does not mean you are shy and retiring.

Home-educated Isabella Harris-Johnstone has won four trophies in speech and drama competitions this year alone.

She was awarded first place in the speech and drama festivals in Mid Somerset, Bristol and Longwell Green, and last week she beat 49 other children to win again in Taunton.

Isabella, of Hilperton Road, Trowbridge, competes in the verse speaking section, which involves standing up in front of a large audience and an adjudicator and reciting a poem.

Isabella said: “I enjoy learning the poems and performing them.”

Her mother Sarah Harris said: “She just enjoys performing and she is quite confident with talking in public.”

Mrs Harris teaches Isabella and her five-year-old sister Aurelia at home with the help of her own mother too.

They do structured learning in the morning, mainly concentrating on reading, writing and arithmetic and then in the afternoon the girls take part in their many and varied activites, including dance, swimming, horseriding and trampolining.

Mrs Harris, a former primary school teacher, said that being home educated means her daughters mix with many different age groups when they go to their sports classes and take part in their hobbies.

She said: “If you are home educated it means you often socialise with adults, toddlers and other members of the general public so it’s a huge range of people you meet every week.

“If you are at school you might only socialise with other children of the same age, which possibly isn’t great.

“Personally I believe that going to school at four years old and staying from 9-3pm is too young, especially for boys who can find it quite difficult.

“If you look at the European Union and the United States, they only start school at six or seven and by the time they reach 11 they are ahead of our children.”

Isabella’s other interests include reading at home, especially the Dinosaur Cove series, and playing with her new poodle puppy Saba.

More information on home educating is at www.home-education.org.uk