The road less traveled

Year 4 & 5, we started flexischooling my son in Math. The schedule suited us amazingly because we sent him to a new school near London which was outside of our council’s district.

Math mornings meant time with daddy from 7 am – 8:30 am, breakfast, practice, and then we hopped in the car for our 30-minute journey… 4 x a day. Exhausting but completely worth it. At the end of the year, my then 10-year-old sat the American AP Statistics exam– during Covid. Initially, we had lots of admin and tension with the school because if the child comes in after a certain time they have to use a code for an absence vs the flexischooling code that was available to them, but we made it work.

Home Educating during Covid was great for us really – we fumbled initially – first using the Good & Beautiful curriculum which we liked but it was not ‘interactive’ enough… my son got bored & lonely. I didn’t want to be a ‘teacher’. Then we found outschool and my son loved the singing, cooking, dance, art & history classes etc. The live element was fantastic.

The next September- some kids went back to school but my son home educated and revised for the 11+ exam which was really needed. I was very impressed with the skills he gained prepping for the exam.

The next two years were spent at a private Top 10 in England Boys school. The experience was terrible with school-backed endless taunting and very physical boys. Luckily my son’s interest in martial arts bloomed and that protected him, but we knew that the school curriculum in England was not appropriate for us. We liked to do things our own way… as Americans, GCSEs were useless for American unis and we didn’t think they were necessary. My son took another AP Exam – AB BC Calculus and then we unenrolled him for Year 9. Despite the status, despite the work to get into the school. It didn’t mesh with our values nor our approach.

This year (9), my son has taken many interesting classes mainly on outschool. He also has private tutors and because he was home educated, we joined the World Caribbean World Cruise for 2 months where other kids were home educating. My son found a work experience (internship) while on the ship and our time together exploring South America was totally worth it.

We are now back in England and I (his mother) am a bit ill with stage 4 cancer. Home Educating allows my son to spend time with all of us as a family. We feel strongly about project/experience-based applied education and that is our approach. Instead of English lit taught to the exam, my son has been reading classics such as 10,000 leagues under the sea. For some classes, He creates business plans, presentations, videos, and examines Titanic poetry from different perspectives. He takes Law School for Teens and Daily Mindfulness. He takes GCSE Business & Travel & Tourism on Seneca – all while working with private tutors for A level Further Math, Physics & Chemistry. He plays the ukulele. We go to tradeshows for fun. And my son is busy working on a real-world Data Science project for a South African company. We couldn’t be happier.

But now we need options- my Dad in Florida just died & Mom is alone. A levels won’t happen until at least next year and we like to keep doors open- so we signed our son up to take GCSE Higher Math Exam just so he’d be eligible for some college in England for other A levels should that be something he wants to sit. We may actually need him back in a school as I do not know how long I’ll be here and long medical appointments may mean we are tied down to a hospital and to a schedule and that my mobility is totally impaired- we wouldn’t want my son to feel trapped.

So I’m here on Streams. I am hoping to find other people like us who forge their own path forward and refuse to follow an outdated preset system, especially one that AI is already upending. I am also looking for help dealing with the system here in England because at least we have determined that having to get a GPA from the American School System is even more cumbersome than getting A levels- and yet, we want to hold on to flexibility. Our greatest sadness is that we did not have a home ed community that we felt we could belong to here in England but maybe now there is a chance. Thanks.

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