It’s 14.56pm on a Monday and normally about now I would start thinking about the fact that I have to pick up the kids. Except today they are already here. It’s not half-term (well, it is for some, but ours was last week); I have decided to home educate my children. I gave my friend the deregistration letter to hand in this morning to the head teacher. I feel scared, daunted, anxious, overwhelmed. But also excited, brave, proud, happy.
I could cry to be honest. I barely slept last night with so many thoughts rushing in and out. Mainly: “I have to sleep! I cannot handle my first day home edding with no sleep!” But then I just chilled the eff out and eventually I went to sleep.
So why have I made this decision? There are two parts to it really. First off, my eldest, who is 6 1/2, isn’t thriving in school. He was doing OK, but ‘under target’ and regularly saying he didn’t want to go. My youngest, 4 1/2, loves school but her anxious, people pleasing tendencies (hello, mini me!) are getting worse whilst there. And as an adult that is like that, I want her to realise that craving approval from people ain’t the best way.
Secondly, a friend of mine has been doing home education for a few years and I have watched from afar with great admiration and interest. I have read books, blogs, attended social groups recently and let the kids try their hand at new activities that are on offer in the world of HE: rock climbing for kids, hands on science club for youngsters, amongst other things.. In short I agree with the principles of HE: that kids can have a great education outside of school. Arguably, a better one.
There are lots of different ways to educate your kids outside of the classroom: from unschooling to structured learning. I can’t say what our style will be yet as this is day one. But I have a feeling we will do a mix, some structured learning (particularly for Bea who loves a workbook) and lots of self-directed, ‘real-life learning’ which can be anything from going to the grocer’s and working out what we can buy with the money we have, to getting our hands dirty building dens as we did this morning. Every night we will get the kids to read to us and then read something to them; we do this anyway and will continue to, but at their own pace and without the stress of worrying if we are keeping up with other kids.
Socially we will be attending loads of groups and having lots of kids round – school friends included. Socialisation is very high on the agenda.
My husband’s office is a long commute away, so he tries to work from home one day a week. On those days, with no dog to consider, we will take off, mostly on the train we hope – to museums, galleries, the beach!
With no expensive flights we can make the most of my in laws’ house in Spain – we are already planning a trip and will do a project on Spain whilst we are there. The flights will be a quarter of the price that they are in holiday time.
We are looking at it like this: it will be a one year thing, and then we will reassess. We are lucky to have a village school on our doorstep that will have room to let us back in. However, if we all love it, we keep going. But if we don’t try we will never know.
One thing that will be tough is fitting in my work, so yes you may notice a dip in post productivity, as you will have done recently (ha! This is why!). But I hope to write regularly about HE – and at times, like now, when they are playing upstairs, I will jump on my Mac and rattle off a post! Cooking wise, I want to get them more involved and most posts are just our dinner anyway, a quick snap taken before we sit down to eat.
I fully expect it will be very hard at times. I’m not daft! But I love being with my kids, even if they do drive me mad. I love days out. I love packing up sandwiches and a flask and taking off with the dog. I love watching them learn.
I also think I have a LOT to learn myself as I missed a load of high school due to truanting and just not paying attention. You see, school didn’t suit me. I was bullied at the very start which made me into a tough girl that I didn’t actually want to be. I disliked authority and working on subjects that I didn’t like. This all combined to produce a sulky teenager who refused to play ball. My poor parents! I scraped through with quite good GCSEs (despite no revision and massive gaps in knowledge) and then with terrible A Levels at a local college (they wouldn’t let me stay on at school!) I managed to get into uni through clearing, and got a good degree. I achieved this because I am fairly bright: it was despite of school, not because of it.
Some kids thrive at school – good luck to them. But mine (particularly Arthur) find it stressful and dislike being inside sat at a desk for so long. It’s not the teachers’ fault.
You only go round this life once. You only get one chance to raise your kids. I want mine to be happy and love learning. So that’s why we have chosen to try home education.
I hope you will support me in this choice for our family.
And now I will scream: AAAARRRGGGHHHH! Wine, anyone??!