We took our children out of school at the ages of 10,6,6. It was not a rash decision; it was one we had explored, nearly done when we had moved house three years before, and then an intense nine months of really getting ready to exit. At this point I was a school governor (I had hoped if you became part of the system you would be able to influence some change in the system) and my kids were in year 5 and year 2 in our local primary school. We were part of a wonderful community of amazing families and making the choice to step out of school was a big one…. And it felt so right. Yet despite the emotional preparation I don’t think I was really prepared for the sense of being in free fall…
I actually at the time read a great book called Jump Fall Fly and it described the authors’ journey to becoming a home educator as a bit like leaping out of a plane and realising you have no parachute. This description resonated with me in those early months.
So there I was – in free fall and realising I did not know how to fly…. With no chute and no way back I somewhat helplessly tried grab onto anything I could in an attempt to find my wings…. (grab a resource, grab onto any home edder I met and bombard them with questions, read endless blogs, and, websites on “how to do it”). With hindsight, I now feel sorry for the home edders I met who were endlessly grilled by my desire to gain knowledge. It must have been exhausting for them! At this stage I did not know that we had to find what worked for us, as a family and with the kids learning styles. I did not know it was okay to take time to breathe and decompress.
After about six months of panic I started to enjoy the ‘free fall’, summer came and with it a sense of freedom and no rules. We spent a whole year deschooling – this was much needed particularly by my son who had had five years in school. We slowly worked out a rhythm that worked for us, we eventually found other home edders who we connected with and built a community.
It took me a year to feel I could fly, to fly with confidence; once you realise you have wings it is amazing – all the freedom of flying is there. That is not to say there aren’t the bumpy days where the panicky feelings of ‘what are we doing?’ ‘Is this just some terrible social experiment on our kids and we are messing them up forever’. Sometimes these bumpy days catch me off guard, other times I know certain people I meet can trigger the feeling of instability. Reminding myself of the ‘why we do it’ restores the confidence we have that we made the right choice. The freedom also comes as you realise you are not alone, you know how to enable your kids learning, you know are able to find the right resources to support the journey and… the best bit… is having the privilege watching your kids grow in confidence, creativity and reignite their innate curiosity.