As a family, we have made a pretty monumental decision; we have taken H out of school and intend to educate him at home.
This is not a decision that we came to quickly or easily. We’ve been considering home education for quite a while now, but never quite believed we could do it. I’ve always said that I wouldn’t have the patience to teach H at home; we usually both end up in tears when he has to do his homework! However, when your child is so unhappy that it’s making him anxious, which, in turn, leads to him feeling constantly nauseous, you begin to consider all the options, no matter how out there they may seem at first.
H has been struggling at school for a good while. It seems to have gone downhill since starting junior school in year 3. He’s finding it hard to concentrate and started asking to go to the toilet several times a day just to get a few minutes to clear his head. He finds change tricky and hasn’t coped well with some (seemingly insignificant to others) things that have changed in terms of the structure of the day and rules. He’s also had some issues with some other things too, as well as finding it tricky having a little sister on the autism spectrum.
In all fairness to the school, they’ve been wonderful. We’ve been very open with them and in return they’ve made provision for H to help him cope better, such as allowing him time out whenever he needs and access to the school counsellor, amongst other things. Our decision to home educate is not a reflection on them at all; it’s a very good school.
But school is just not right for H.
H has always been a very bright, intelligent boy. He was a very early talker and has always been curious about things. He’s had various obsessions over the years, including The Titanic, sharks, Minecraft, dinosaurs, trains, planes and probably some more I can’t remember. I know these are the sorts of things children are often interested in, but there’s interested, and then there’s H!
He loves to learn, but he’s just not academic. He’s more hands-on, and likes to research his subjects through books and the internet, or watching TV programmes over and over and over again. We came to realise that the school environment just wasn’t really helping him, and the weight of expectation was beginning to bear down on him. With SATs looming next year, and then transition to senior school (of which there isn’t a great choice open to us), we began to seriously consider the option of home ed.
I began to research, and learnt that we have a pretty good collection of home ed groups in our area. I was adamant that if we took the home ed route, we would not be shackled to the kitchen table, doing ‘lessons’ from nine until three each day. What would be the point of that? He may as well stay at school. No, I wanted us to get out and meet people – other people who, like us, feel that school is not the right place for their children to grow and develop, and who want to take a more flexible route to providing a good all-round education in a way that their children will not just respond to, but thrive in.
And then, over the last few months, H has been withdrawn, sullen, anxious and angry. He hasn’t been my H. And when he began to ask to be home schooled, we began discussing it even more. Could we? I work from home, so I can be available. I’ll just have to fit my work in around it. I’m well educated, and I enjoy learning too. Maybe, just maybe, we could actually pull this off?
So, we all sat down and wrote a list of pros and cons. There weren’t a whole lot of cons.
And it was decided.
And so, here we are, on the verge of what feels like our greatest adventure yet! We have so, so much to learn, even before we start the learning! But knowing that we can do it all at our own pace, in our own way feels so liberating. H is compiling a list of things he wants to study (World War 2 is top of the list for ‘History’ at the moment) and I’m compiling a list of websites, blogs and resources to help us on our way.
H said that he’s feeling all the emotions: sad to be leaving his friends, excited and a bit sick with nerves, but mostly happy and, he said, relieved.
He’s smiling more already.