This is a long one so grab yourself a drink 😉
When my eldest was born in 2006, we were very interested in the prospect of home schooling her but then before we knew it, we’d got caught up in the system and she started school in 2011.
We were lucky as she was in a small village school with 100 children in beautiful surroundings. Her Reception Teacher was AMAZING, she was the epitome of who you’d want to be guiding your child and we had 100% confidence that Megan was in safe hands. During Reception year, Megan thrived and made great progress with her teacher’s support and guidance.
During the Summer holidays, Kenzie was born which made it a fun summer before heading back to school for another fun year
However, when we went back for Year 1, things were drastically different at the school. The Head Teacher, who was a waste of space for the school and shouldn’t have been in that role anyway, returned to school after being suspended (it was nothing to do with the children thankfully) and before we knew it, all the good Teachers had left. By the end of Year 1 nearly half the children had left to go to other schools and we had decided to do the same as Megan was no longer enjoying school with the Teachers that were still at the school.
So for Year 2, Megan went to the school where Kenzie went to nursery as we were really happy with that school. Again she thrived under the guidance of a good Teacher and was enjoying the experience, making new friends and enjoying school again.
Year 3 wasn’t quite as good as she had a different Teacher who was seeing out her last year before retirement which was evident with how she showed up for the kids. I remember having a conversation with her to keep an eye on Megan as the previous night we had had a massive scare with Kenzie when she hit her head, started fitting and stopped breathing. Everything turned out ok but Megan had seen it all and we weren’t sure how she would process the event so I wanted her Teacher to keep an eye on her in case she acted out. When I picked up Megan that afternoon, I asked her Teacher how she’d been and she wasn’t interested, I had to remind her of the conversation we’d had that morning!
When it came to Year 4, things started great at first with the arrival of my youngest daughter Ripley in September 2015 but then school life went downhill quickly for lots of reasons. A new Head Teacher came in who was not very popular with parents, children or staff. I could go on for hours with what this man did and the lies he told but I won’t go there! We were told that Megan was doing great in class with no issues. We knew this wasn’t quite right as we were having massive issues with reading which the school were not being supportive about.
We started looking at our options and were thinking of where else we could go but realised that all schools have the same issues and when doing some research I found a post about home schooling and it was like a massive lightbulb went off in my head and I just instinctively knew this was the right direction to take (call it gut feeling but I knew it was the right decision). I mentioned it to Megan who I expected to outright dismiss it saying she was happy at school so I was really surprised when she said it sounded a great option! So I did some more research to get all our questions answered and we decided to go for it. Our aim was to try it for a year to see how we go as we could always return to school in the future.
It was a great time to try as Kenzie was due to start school as well so September 2016 started with home schooling for Year 5 and Reception as well as looking after 1 year old Ripley.
Reception for Kenzie was easy as its all play based anyway so not to challenging. Whereas Megan, we soon realised that she had a LOT of gaps in her knowledge and on looking through her exercise books that had come home at the end of her last year at school, it soon became apparent that she had been left to her own devices with text books as all you could see was “Independent Learning”! she hadn’t been taught some basic maths which should have been done over the last 2 years so we had to start from scratch and cover basics.
What was really frustrating was that we hadn’t realised the amount of anxiety Megan had about school, it was only when she was out of that environment that we saw massive changes in her wellbeing and it made me feel so guilty that I didn’t realise what was going on – she seemed happy, she was doing well with her work, her teachers had no concerns. But we realised that she had a fear of failure and getting something wrong, she put so much pressure on herself to get everything right, one small mistake was a big deal to her.
It took a long time but she’s relaxing (there’s still some perfection issues going on and I don’t think they will change unfortunately but we will try).
Kenzie is thriving with home schooling as she hasn’t had any bad habits or anxiety built up for learning. She asks some random but awesome questions, she wants to learn and she will literally jump in the air with excitement if you ask her to come do some maths!!!
Ripley doesn’t know life without home schooling as she was only 1 years old when we started so she only remembers being at home so she loves nothing more than learning with her sisters and she would be due to start Reception herself in September 2020.
What home schooling looks like for us
Home schooling is different for every family and like everything, you have to make the right decision for you.
For us, this means we are semi-structured so we don’t replicate school at home. We have a mix between sit down work and every day learning for life skills and this is a great balance for us.
There are lots of activities we do with other home educated children including martial arts, gymnastics, science workshops, group maths sessions, group geography sessions on a regular basis. There’s also various ad hoc workshops we can attend.
We use workbooks, online programmes, worksheets, BBC Bitesize, cooking, baking, kitchen science experiments and every day life for learning so no two days in the week are the same
Weeks are normally very busy between regular activities and sit down work so it’s a massive juggling act but we try our best – most of the time we’re ok but we do have days where everything goes tits up and just doesn’t work out so we reset, and try again. Tomorrow is another day!
One of the good things about home schooling is that we can choose what GCSE subjects to do and when we sit them so the girls do the subjects they need to get on to whatever courses / or jobs they want to do – it really is a tailored approach to what they need to succeed. Megan was due to sit her first iGCSE in May 2020 but like all exams, it was cancelled thanks to Covid-19!
One thing I want to make very clear is that what we do is right for us, other home schooled families work differently and whether your kids go to school or not, you do what is right for your family! There is no judgement here, no right or wrong way to live, everyone is trying their best and doing a great job
Woah, that was a long story but feel free to ask any questions 🙂