So its that time of year again, everyones been panic buying uniform and searching for school shoes, almost daily I've read peoples woes with the cost of back to school and grimaced at the figuires my friends have quoted (like seriously how does it cost so much?!?!)
The enivatably you get the 'are you ready for back to school?', to which we obviously answer that actually we don't 'do' school, we home ed so we'll just be carrying on with life as normal (in the same way that I wasnt dreading the holidays like some people seem to expect parents too...nope sorry no dread here, just another day).
It's this time of year where people who know we home ed will say 'are you still doing it?', 'another year?', 'still no school?' etc and those that don't know us will ask us how and why we do it (and I can guarantee there will be at least a couple who say we are wrong and question our parenting just because we have chosen this different path). So as I sat thinking about the blog and about what I should write about next (sorry totally neglected it recently) it occured to me that maybe not back to school is the perfect subject.
Dexter is now 6, he has never been to school, he was due to go at 4 (literally just turned 4 as his birthday is the end of July) but as it drew closer we knew that it didnt feel right for him or for us as a family. He didnt get into the school that we had reluctantly chosen, and the one he did get into we seemed to have a lot of communication issues with and then when they send their new school starter 'contract' out it all became too much, I cried...a lot. I rang Marc in floods of tears, Dex sat cuddling me at the dining table and I told him I couldnt do it. I couldnt continue with this whole school thing. I couldn't continue on that path and that we needed to look into other options. At which point he reminded me of our many discussions about Home Education, it was one of those things we thought only other people could do, something we had talked about dreamily whilst totally dismissing it as something we couldnt do. The moment he said it I just knew that was that we needed to do, and instant sense of relief hit that there was another way, but honestly at that point I wasn't even sure if it was legal or what would be required of us and so the research began. I started googling and pulling up articles, reading through websites and legislation, joining facebook groups and talking to people that were already doing it, by the time Marc got home that afternoon I had arranged to meet up with some local home edders...and we never looked back.
Probably the most daunting part of our decision was telling people, I still dont really understand why, but telling people you are going against the grain, doing something totally different to such a large proportion of society is..hard. Most people were fantastic, lots of interested questions and excitemnet for us, others were sceptical, how can you do it and others just flat out said they didnt agree which is sad because I'd never turn and say that to them about their decision to use mainstream schooling. I often wonder why it is acceptable for people to question us yet I'd be shot down for questioning them? All because they are going with the norm and we are going against it.
So anyway, the decision was made, we would give Home Ed a try for a year and see how we went (thats a big thing I like to tell people considering it, no decision needs to be permanent, you can try out home ed or school and see if its for you and if not then switch to the other, you arent trapped into the decision forever). We turned down Dexters school place and set about planning our journey.
We started, I imagine, how many people start, worried about covering everything, worried about making friends, worried about reading and writing, frankly worried that we had lost our minds (after all thats what other people were saying) I started 'lesson' planning, printing off worksheets and making a plan, we spent a couple of weeks trying to follow my master plan, every night I would sit and document what we had done, make notes on things Dex had done or hadn't done, it was exhausting and honestly no one was enjoying it or thriving from it. I quickly realised I was trying to create school at home which was exactly what we didnt want to do.
So we stopped.
We took a deep breathe and re-evaluated the situation.
We met with friends, we talked, we laughed, I watched Dex play, explore and learn through living, letting us relax into it revealed to me exactly what we should be doing. So I threw out the master plan, I stepped away from twinkl and I let Dex lead the way.
He wanted to know about his body, so we read a couple of books, watched a documentary, made a full size drawing of his body and drew in all his organs, we learned about how his food turns into poo (thats a hot topic for 4 year olds incase you were wondering) and we loved it, he proudly told everyone that would listen all the things he had learnt, including giggled whispers about poo. That little project had provided us so much fun and learning opportunities, learning had happened but none of it was forced, none of it felt like work, we had seen the light and we were running towards it.
As time has gone on we have settled very nicely into an unschooling lifestyle, everything we do is child led. Nothing needs to be forced or worried about, he learns things as they become important to him, just as it should be. He still has the most amazing thirst for knowledge, he constantly questions things and needs to know why things are the way they are, hes currently really interested in evolution which is giving us both so many learning oppurtuinities as I learn alongside him things that school never taught me.
Yep I'm sure we are 'behind' school kids in reading but honestly I don't care, when he does it, he will be doing it because he wants to and because he needs to and that in itself will surely develop a much better relationship with it than being forced to do something before he is ready.
So here we are 2 years into our Home Ed journey (bloody hell that went quick) never looking back but always looking forward. We spend our days playing and exploring, vsiting museums, zoos, aquariums, theme parks, parks and forests. We mingle with people from all walks of life, we play with kids of all ages and form friendships and bonds. We go to after school clubs and explore all interests. Everyday is different, everyday is exciting and if we need it to be everyday can be relaxed.
Right now on September 4th (yes Its taken me 11 days to get round to typing this up lol) Dexter says he wants to be a singer and a zookeeper when he is older, he wants to save the animals and make the world better, he loves lego and animals and drawing and he is happy, which lets be honest is all any of us want for our kids now and forever.
If you have any questions about Home Education please feel free to ask, I am happy to help anyway I can with other families looking into this crazy journey.