Our journey into home ed began when we finally accepted that our daughter’s primary school did not have the resources to effectively support our dyslexic daughter with her learning. At the time, S was coming to the end of year 4 and we had invested a lot of time and energy into building a good relationship with the school and we had good connections with other families. We also lived close to the school and for the most part enjoyed being part of the school community.
Home ed had never been something we had considered but watching our daughter’s self-esteem plummet we knew something needed to change despite the best efforts of her teachers at school. After praying about it, we suggested to her that home ed may be worth a go and speaking for myself I was pretty relieved when she flatly refused this option! However, a few months later, after a big meltdown over schoolwork, S decided that home ed was what we should do and somehow, I managed to say “Ok – let’s give it a go”, feeling a lot more terrified than I was letting on!
So with 2 other daughters still in school, S and I began to deschool…….. I can only describe those first few months as utterly scary! S soon missed her friends, I lost a lot of sleep and prayed desperate prayers! Thankfully we had some home ed friends to cheer us on as S and I negotiated this new world. It wasn’t easy but soon the sparkle came back to S’s eyes and as she relaxed, so I relaxed, and we began to find pleasure in not doing very much except reading stories cuddled up on the sofa and a weekly forest school session. I began to realise how much I valued this time with her and when my father, a retired secondary school headteacher, commented on how S was a completely different child, I knew that this home ed thing was worth persevering with.
We are now into our third year of home ed with S and last year we took S’s sisters out of school as we realised that this is how we want to do life as a family. We haven’t looked back. That’s not to say that the journey from school to home school has been without its challenges – but we are so utterly thankful that we made the leap! Thank you dyslexia!
For us the benefits have far outweighed the challenges.
Missing friends – this was hard for all 3 daughters initially. But as we still live close to school, we have a regular play date day during the week for school friends.
My school community – I would regularly meet up with school mum friends during the week and if I’m honest, it was hard having close to no availability for a café catch up or to be on hand to help someone out. This was hard to let go of at the start but good friends find a way to meet up and I am thankful for those who have stuck with me. Evenings at the pub are just as good!
Being different – living up the road from school but no longer being part of it can be weird! I still tend to avoid going out of the house when it’s pick-up time at school!
Lack of confidence – it is only in the last 6 months that we have really found our rhythm in home ed and feel confident in what we want it to be and why. In the beginning when you’re not at all sure what you’re doing, what others are doing or what on earth this is supposed to look like – that’s hard enough. But to try and articulate any of this to those who are watching you very closely as you swim against the tide, can take nerves of steel!
Time with my children – I can honestly say that I love getting to spend all of this time with my girls. The time may not always be lovely(!) but I love how our relationship has deepened. I love knowing how they have spent their days, what they have struggled with, what they have delighted in.
Time to talk – we do a lot of talking!! About everything! And when issues arise, they can be talked about there and then – there is always time to talk something through.
Stronger relationships – this links to the points above but without a doubt we are closer as a family because of the time we get to spend together. It has been a joy to see the girls’ ability to play with each other increase with time and to know that they view each other as friends as well as sisters.
Reduced anxiety – in our case, the school environment and the education system contributed to our daughters’ anxiety both emotionally and academically – and this despite it being a good school with very hardworking and caring professionals. Our daughters now believe that they can rather than they can’t, my youngest no longer feels she has to pretend she understands, constructive criticism is now perfectly normal and safe and my girls are able to explore who they are and what their strengths are in a much safer environment for them.
Freedom – freedom can be overwhemling!! But with time, we have been able to relax into the freedom that home ed affords us to educate our children according to our priorities and values as a family, to order our days, weeks and terms to suit us, to nurture individual interests – I could go on and on….. And no more school runs!!! Oh the joy!
We still have our highs and lows, we still wobble every now and then and of course there are the bad days! But, as I remind myself, there were bad days in school too… The difference is that now, I can bundle us all out of the house, play in the park, go for a walk, come back and watch a film cuddled up on the sofa.
Yes, home ed is so very right for us for now – and we’re making the very most of this ‘for now’!