Never say never
When I was growing up I had friends who were Home Ed. I was always envious as they seemed to be having so much fun. They all went on to get good jobs so it clearly never hindered them.
When I had my own children I always loved the idea of Home educating them. But my eldest was quite a handful and also needed speech therapy. His development seemed delayed in some areas also. It was decided he would be best to attend a special pre-school twice a week. This gave us a much needed break and it was also attached to an excellent special school that was very difficult to get into. He stayed here until his 5th birthday. By then he had also joined the local Primary school which his twin sister attended. The SENCO was very good and helped us to get a diagnosis, which was ADHD.
Whilst I really loved the idea of Home educating, school was doing a great job and I really didn’t feel capable of filling all our sons’ needs. By this time I also had another two children. The middle one was also showing signs of developmental delays and other problems, and the youngest was far too advanced for his age so I really had my hands full. School seemed the best option.
Things started going downhill when they all moved to Junior School. Due to us relocating they attended two different ones between them. Some teachers were excellent and did what they could, others really didn’t have a clue or a care it seemed. SENCO was good in one school and awful in the other. Our middle one had by now been diagnosed with Autism and our eldest was still showing signs of ASD but the school didn’t agree and refused to back any referral. Both boys were School Action Plus, but this was completely dropped for the eldest by one school and our middle one rarely got any extra help.
Our eldest went off to Secondary and the problems really started. He basically did what he liked, said what he liked, but got away with it. Staff knew what he was doing but chose to ignore it. They ignored us when we told them we had a firm belief he had a problem with gluten, and even started feeding him gluten filled foods because he said he was hungry and was on the skinny side.
Then our youngest approached his last term at Juniors. I won’t go into details but basically all the term would be spent revolving around a subject we felt not suitable. The easiest way to deal with this was to pull our son out and Home educate him for the last term. We weren’t alone so we had some great days out and learnt learning really could be fun. We worked on his weaker points in Maths and English and the advancement he made showed up when he took his tests just after going to Secondary school.
Our first taste at Home educating went very well, and we loved the freedom. Over the Summer we decided as a family that it would be best for all if our eldest was Home educated. Our middle one was also having a hard time at school and was pleading to be taught at home. We decided to do things gradually and removed the eldest in September with plans to keep the middle one in until December. But this got brought forward to October as daily life at the school was proving way too much for him to cope with and it was clear the school only cared about the funding and not the child themselves. Our youngest had started at the Secondary and we had intended to keep him in school. However the school did not back our decision to Home educate and tried to cause us as much stress and trouble as possible. This included false claims, downright lying and completely twisting anything either we or our children had ever said. Our youngest wanted nothing to do with them, so he was also de registered from the school. Only our daughter remained as she was about to take her GCSEs. Some staff were fine, others made the odd comment and some, who really should have behaved better, chose to completely blank her.
We have now come to the end of our first year, where we have gone from Home Educating one child to three. It is nowhere near as hard as I had ever imagined. In fact, it really isn’t difficult at all. All children naturally want to learn, it is just a case of finding which way they learn best. We have gone for a semi structured approach as this works best for our family. Our eldest has put on weight and even grown in height now we have changed his diet. We now strongly believe that the actions of the staff were seriously damaging his health and the stress they put us all under as a family totally unnecessary. Our middle one is a much happier child and is so much more relaxed now. He can study in comfortable surroundings with those who care about him. Our youngest is also doing very well and despite only being 12 is planning on starting on GCSE work in the coming year. As a family we are closer, and have really enjoyed the time we get to spend together. If they have any problems they can come to us. We don’t tell them we will deal with it next time or try to screw up their heads by telling them that their family don’t care for them and try to encourage them to turn on their own flesh and blood. We are not perfect but working together has much better results than one that has been divided by the thoughts of others. We have many Home educating friends and so our children always have someone to work, chat or chill out with.
Our only regret is that we didn’t have the confidence and courage to do all this years ago.