Months of discussion and deliberation. Attempting to anticipate every possible outcome, problem or pitfall. Mountains of research, scouring through every article, relevant Facebook page, home educating book and opinion ever expressed on the subject out there.
Finally, the day arrived to hand in those all important de-registration letters to the school reception. Then……done! Over in seconds. Without any of the expected and dreaded shock or surprise from the office staff, the life changing decision that had taken such all encompassing consideration to reach had been executed in a matter of moments.
A mixture of fear, relief and excitement washed over us, followed by panic then elation then back to relief and so on. We had done it! We had started our home educating journey, and now the wheels were turning there was no turning back.
We were finally stepping out of the mainstream and directly into the unknown.
Life has changed, in a HUGE, genuinely unrecognisable way.
No longer are our mornings filled with the rush and frenzy of leaving the house at 8.20am on the dot. No longer are our evenings consisting of a seemingly fast forwarded version of dinner, homework, baths and getting to bed in time to refresh little minds enough to deal with the next manic and ever repeating day ahead. And then, there’s that part in the middle, you know, that most important part, the reason why we live the way we do, when they’re gone, out there experiencing whatever the classroom/system/particular teacher decides to throw at them that day. We as parents are no longer their influence for this 6ish hour portion of the day, not around to meet their ever unique and changing needs, the system is expected to cater for all, in classrooms which commonly exceed 30 of these amazing and diverse little beings. These are the experts, the teachers, the facilitators of learning for all, these are the superiors who can offer our children the ‘best’ education. We, who have known our child since birth, who have watched and supported their rapid growth and development through their early years, understood what makes them tick, what makes them squirm, what makes them thrive, are no longer considered the appropriate people to deliver learning opportunities to our precious, precious people.
I have to put my hands up and admit that generally, previous to our chance awakening, we didn’t question this ethos, like, at all! I can honestly say I really didn’t and I’m not proud of this fact. We knew next to nothing about home education and knew of no one who had been home educated or who was currently home educating. This made it entirely unfamiliar territory, we really had never stepped outside the box to consider.
Yes, we certainly had our ups and downs with the school system, for one example, the feeling of immense relief when, at the beginning of the year, we realise that this teacher ‘gets’ our child, on some level, understands their own unique eccentricities and even can potentially relate to them in some way. Then, the much less desirable scenario, the moment when we realise that the new teacher does not ‘get’ our child at all and beyond that seems to have taken a clear dislike to them. We have experienced both, and the lottery of chance we were inadvertently entered into each year would fill me with unashamed fear. We stayed on this rollercoaster until, one day something opened our minds and slowly began to give us a glimpse of this entirely different and completely liberated, bespoke form of education.
I feel there is a strong and ever present general consensus that school is ‘right’ and ‘best’ and the ONLY place children should be educated. I was part of this belief at one time. Its a kind of conditioning that we are silently accustomed to and, myself included, don’t question. I don’t deny that school provides some learning opportunities, I’m sure there are children who are suited to this way of learning and a few can even thrive in this environment. But the fact that, in our experience, home ed is rarely put on the table as an option, an alternative even, now feels quite shocking.
I recognise that things are thankfully changing as awareness is growing and home educating is showing a defined rise year by year in the UK. But still, we witnessed many shocked faces and “really???!” responses from friends and family when they first learnt of our decision. At times we really felt like radicals! They were not necessarily disapproving, but just throughly surprised that we were diverting from the norm. This definitely added to the initial stomach flipping fear and excitement, however, never swayed us from the path we had unexpectedly chosen.
Now, here we are 9 months into our new journey and feeling so positive in our choice, this has been the most constructive decision we have ever made for our family, for our children.