Explaining Home Education to Children

Today a friend and I took four children out for the day. One was T, the other was my friend’s child and the other two were our other friends’ children. All of the children went to school together, until I de-registered T in December 2018.  They have known each other through school since they were 3 years old.

One of the children asked me “Why is T homeschooled?” my reply was staggered, I wanted to say because T wasn’t at all happy, and that school (not just their school but any school!) is not right for him, but I refrained and simply said “Because I am able to home school”, T interrupted “No its because I wanted to be homeschooled” to which the asking child replied “Aw I wish I could be homeschooled, I absolutely hate school”. T and the child then proceeded to have a full-on conversation about school and how bad it is!

I then interrupted and asked the child if there was anything good that he could think of about school, his reply was “Lunchtime, but that’s not enough”. It reminded me of the endless conversations that I would have with T trying to get him to see the positive side of school, asking him to try to learn to enjoy it, when really deep down I knew that him just saying that he hated school was enough, but at the time I felt powerless as I wasn’t in the position to do anything about it! I know ‘hating school’ is a common thing said at some point in most children’s lives and in the past I would have just said “Oh well school is school” without much thought. But now I’m on the other side, I feel like a fraud saying such things as I know there is an alternative, well for us anyway!

I know children are going to be curious about T’s journey but I also do not want T’s schooled friends to feel down about their parents not choosing to home educate, it’s an entirely personal decision and not everyone wants to do it, or would ever want to entertain it, but how do I explain this to an 8 year old?!

Home Educating Fifth Week

Most of this week was spent at Ribby Hall (see previous blog posts!). We stayed in a cute little cottage, visited the swimming pool (and its epic slide) daily, met a variety of animals at the Wild Discovery Centre, had a joint Archery lesson and positively sucked at Squash! (I still love it though – I went to play it again today!)

I also realised that T much prefers being self-sufficient, rather than being told what to do, so looking at ways to facilitate this…

Friday, Saturday & Sunday have been more chilled in terms of activities, however, T did make cupcakes, taught himself how to use the cut / magic wand tool on Photoshop, and we played a few games of hangman, and had a go at painting Chinese lettering. The rest was spent walking our dog at Etherow Park (he missed her so much while we were away!) and visiting family.

We will be spending this week concentrating on The Big Journal Growth Mindset Printouts. These were recommended to me by a lovely home educating mum on Instagram to help T confidence-wise and to help him to have a healthy attitude with regard failure etc (see post Sucking at Squash), so very much looking forward to seeing if he likes them!

Sucking at Squash and Letting Go of Expectations…

We had a lazy morning today, after lounging around until 11am, we finally got ready and headed down to the Health Club to go and play Squash! Those that know me, know that I have very recently started playing squash (I still don’t know the rules of the game, and I still can’t hit the ball every time, but it’s fun so I’m going to carry on!) so I was excited when I realised that there were squash courts at Ribby Hall, and that children were allowed to play! I asked T whether he was up for having and go, and he said yes which was great!

The lady on reception was really nice, supplied us with our equipment and guided us to our court. We started playing (i.e. hitting the ball, missing it and nearly falling over) and I could sense that T was getting really frustrated every time he missed the ball. I started encouraging him, and laughing at myself when I unintentionally missed the ball, but his frustration was growing. He ended up throwing his bat down and sitting on the floor refusing to play – this was 10 minutes into the game! I let him be for a while and started playing wallie (like I did in the 80’s with a tennis ball and racket on my neighbours wall!) this inspired him to join in again, until he missed the ball, which resulted in him getting even more frustrated and sitting down again!

I have to be honest here, I have no idea what to do when I see him struggling like this, part of me wants to tell him to just get on with it (I don’t) and the other part of me feels really sad and responsible for what looks to me like a lack of confidence. Overall I start doubting myself as a parent. Do I need to change how I am? Is it because he’s an only child? Do I not do enough to help him? Do I need to just let him be? These are some of the questions that have been going through my mind today and after some lovely feedback and recommendations from some lovely Mothers on Instagram (you know who you are!) I’ve come to this conclusion…

I had an expectation that T was going to love squash as much as I did when I first played it – for whatever reason he didn’t. It doesn’t mean that I’m a bad parent, nor that he has serious issues that are going to get worse. It just means that I need to let my expectations go. He is who he is, and he figures things out in his own way, in his own time and has done this on many occasions with other activities he regularly partakes in (most recently Archery yesterday – he loved it!). I cannot protect him from everything, including his own feelings about anything at any given time – nor can I expect him to be ‘happy’ and engaged in absolutely everything I introduce him to! All I can do is what I do naturally, and keep positive, remind him that it’s ok to feel the way he does, and encourage him fully when he’s enjoying doing something.

We decided to leave our holiday a night earlier than planned, it was a joint decision as we’d done pretty much all of the activities on offer and it made sense to get ourselves home instead of rushing about for check out in the morning. T was ridiculously helpful, he cleaned the floors, packed the clothes away, and then packed everything in the car (while I was on the loo!) – all without asking, which blew my mind! He was very happy that he’d done all of this without me asking him, which shows to me that he likes to be self sufficient and take responsibility, rather than being given it, so this is what I’m going to praise and encourage. Right now I’m going to try and figure out ways that I can facilitate this ‘self sufficiency’. If you’re reading this and can offer any pearls of wisdom, advice or input, please do leave a comment! 🙂

(Thanks to @homeschoolingqueen, @fitinwiththechaos, @graceoverperfectionacademy, @home_educating_es for your words of wisdom and silencing the guilt queen!)

Home Educating Fourth Week

Fourth Week Home Educating

Struggling for content to write in this post. Not because of an unwillingness to document and share, more so because the week has been very quiet and chilled out (apart from our exciting site visit!)

T’s task chart has been wonderfully helpful, to both him and me. He knows what he is doing each day, and completes each task with no trouble. As said previously these tasks are not massive tasks, just daily things that he needs to do (chosen by him so that I don’t have to keep asking him!) including cleaning teeth (self care),  feeding the animals (caring for others) and 10 minutes maths work out (keeping brain switched on). Once he has done all of his tasks he is free to do as he pleases, and if it’s after 3pm he is allowed some screen time.

The limit on screen time has been imposed after noticing that if he went on a screen (to watch Youtube or play Minecraft) in the morning, he would end up being on the screen for longer. Many will say that this is part of deschooling, however after watching this happen for a few days, I decided to step in and regain control of it. I read somewhere that kids becoming bored often leads to greater creative play, this is so true in T’s case, since moving the screen time until after 3pm, he has engaged in more imaginative play (after his tasks), just like he did in the first week home educating!

There is also something else that I’ve noticed in him (apart from the crazy dancing, singing, shouting random words as described here), he is so much calmer, he is not having any tantrums, and I’ve not seen any tears for AGES. The other night I asked him “Have you noticed that you’ve not had any tantrums – especially at bed time?!” and he smiled and said “Yes, I used to feel so sad about going to school, I didn’t want to go to bed because I’d have to wake up and go again!”

Seeing his little face smiling, reflecting on what was, and looking at what is now, absolutely warmed my heart and gave me even more reassurance that this lifestyle is the right one for him.

We’re off on a little 4 night break tomorrow (taking advantage of term time cheap deals!) so looking forward to what week 5 brings!