I’ve been a little quiet over the last week or so – mostly due to tiredness and that feeling of being overwhelmed. I’ve probably taken on a bit too much work blog-wise. It always seems a good idea to accept a campaign but then, inevitably, all the deadlines hit at the same time!.
The excess of work plus the children all falling ill with chicken pox over a three week period meant that our planned holiday last week wasn’t quite as relaxing as we had hoped, it was of course enjoyable but we had a few sleepless nights with a very poorly Mr H.
Another thing adding to those feeling of being overwhelmed was coming to a firm and final decision about Mr D’s education come September. Over the Easter period it was national offer day for primary school places. Like many parents, Damian and I received details of the school that Mr D had been allocated.
It was a bit of a strange day if truth be told and when I logged in to see that we had been successful in being offered a place at the school we had applied to I had mixed feelings. I’d avoided any real conversation about schooling and had pushed it to one side – a decision for another day. However that other day soon arrived.
As the deadline approached for letting the local authority know if we would be accepting the place I had a major ‘wobble’. The ‘home ed wobble’ is, I understand a common thing! I’ve spent so long reading and researching and learning about home ed and how it could work for us and talking about it with Damian that I thought I was clear in my final decision and Damian was bemused by my sudden reticence. After all it had been me that first brought this idea to the table as we talked about schooling and the such. It turns out my husband is rather wise and after a lot of reassurance, soul searching and discussion Damian and I agreed that, for Mr D, and the five of us as a family right now, the right choice is to home educate.
The ‘home ed’ wobble is not uncommon I am told and of course it is only right that you doubt whether you’re making the right decisions. I was worried that my decision was being clouded by my own reluctance to want to have to engage in the school run, having to change the way we do things and change the rhythm of our days together. I was beginning to wonder if the evidence I was finding as my arguments to home educate were more to give an excuse to not change things – is it that idea of change that I’m reluctant about? I’m confident that it’s not – of course life changes day to day and I’ve adjusted to life with three children with (relative!) ease. Our weeks change as the children’s needs have changed and of course they will continue to change in the future.
I think my reticence was about other people’s perceptions. I am not usually one to care much about what people think. I can’t get overly concerned about how other people approach parenting but I know that something like home education is really on the outer limits of ‘normality’. I am sure that family and friends have nodded politely as I’ve enthused about cloth nappies, babywearing etc. Some will have been surprised I stood firm at not using nurseries – especially as we had more children. I am sure some friends thought that the whole home ed thing was just an idea, but one we would never really run with. I’ve found myself so often out of sync with the general flow of things so I don’t know why this one bothered me.
We are not anti-school – they serve a purpose and for some children and families they are absolutely the best approach. We do however have concerns and misgivings about the narrowing of the school curriculum and the push for academic work which, in our opinion, happens at too young an age. The seemingly relentless focus on testing will, inevitably, lead to a ‘teaching to the test’ type mentality. I know that I was certainly taught to answer exams rather than to apply knowledge. We want to ensure the children are equipped with the skills to question and understand things, to learn how to research their own answers and of course to follow their own natural curiosities. That is not to say that some schools don’t do that; it’s just we want to try it our way instead.
Of course, our decision to home educate (or to go to school) is not a permanent one; we will see how things are going and if at any time it’s no longer the right thing for the children or the wider family, then we will re-evaluate. For now, we are confident that this is the correct decision for Mr D and us.
I am planning to do a video to answer questions that people might have around home education – I want to aim to dispel some myths about it. I plan to film it sometime over the next week or so and if there’s anything you want to ask me, be it about how we personally plan to approach it, what our days look like or the ‘socialisation’ question then please do leave me a comment or drop me a message on facebook, twitter or Instagram.
We are excited to take the next steps in our adventures together and with it I plan to change the way my blog is laid out. I plan to continue to share our activities and various days out. I also plan to do a monthly post on our home ed activities (starting at the end of September). I will also be sharing my thoughts on the resources and approaches that we are finding useful.
I hope you join us for our journey – we are so excited.