Telling the children was the beginning of it all. Logan was concerned as to whether, or not, he’d get to see his friends – once that was settled he was happy about the decision. Caitlin was even less concerned, when questioned about how she felt “I’m happy, I will still play with my friends Mumma… I don’t like being at Kindie… I don’t think you are coming back.”
The school were just as supportive as they have been all along, they understood our reasoning, there was no offence taken, they can see our decision is for the children – they have witnessed the emotional behaviours, the separation anxiety, the tiredness, the difficulty, the gaps in development. They can see we have been doing everything we can to make it work for both of them. And they know that we aren’t necessarily gone forever, that we may very well be back in the future.
Our family therapist, the social workers, our wider family and friends network, school friends and even our old network of home education families. Everyone has been told. On the most part people have been supportive. Which is fantastic. It shows not only how open we are with our family and friends about the difficulties we face, but also that the stigmas of home education are slipping somewhat, or at least in our social circles anyhow.
Also, I had a good chat with the Local Authority’s Home Education Officer, she knows us from our interim home-schooling last year. For those who don’t know, you are put in touch with someone in this role because they need to make sure that children are receiving a full time education, as it is compulsory for a child to receive a full time education. However, they cannot tell you how to teach, what curriculum to follow etc. Some home educators have issues with being checked up on, but we’re so used to social services, therapists and other professionals having to get involved that it’s like “hey, well, what’s one more?”.
So I am honest with them, the system failed Logan previously and Caitlin was affected too, it wasn’t working before… we’ve now changed the setting and it could have worked. However, there are too many things in the way, so we need to take a step back. It’s obvious we’ve tried. It’s obvious we’re not doing this for our own selfish reasons, this always has been, and always will be about what is best for the children. And they want to see we’re not just letting the TV babysit them… well, in fact, they don’t have a TV – it’s in my bedroom, there isn’t one downstairs – TV time for them is snuggles and a film not usually more than once per week. But basically, if you keep open with them and satisfy them that they are getting some kind of developmental input, there’s no issue. I have nothing to hide, and I am quite happy to moan to anyone who’ll listen about how rubbish our education system is. So yeah…
We aren’t sure quite how we’re going to be doing things yet – we know there’ll need to be a process of deschooling and recovery from the exhaustion we’ve created in trying to attend school. And then we’ll get more set into what we’re comfortable with. But we need to factor in that right now it’s not all about the academic attainment – it’s very early developmental stuff we need to go over too.
Although things are quite up in the air, my initial thoughts are:
- There’ll need to be a routine in place (of sorts) as neither of them thrive without it
- The routine will need to be basic enough to flex on our bad days, without it feeling like a punishment
- We’ll need to incorporate a lot of Early Years development: motor skills, balance, sensory, social skills (sharing, playing together, handling conflict etc.)
- Outdoor time, time with nature
- Judgement-free socialisation
- Attachment building activities
- Basic reading, writing and maths skills
- Scheduled therapies
The other stuff will come with time, these foundations need to be built, so we’ll do this first. We’re always doing real-world learning, projects to entertain us based upon what’s happening in the world around us anyhow.
For example, Rio ’16 we had a massive map of the world, surrounded by flags, talked about what happens at the Olympics, the values, designed medals and kits for our own imaginary countries, chose a country of the world to support, learned some facts about the country as well as ours and Brazil and then tracked the medal progress during the games. We went on an excursion to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park (not very successful – got all the way there for Caitlin to fall over cut her lip up quite badly on a surface runoff drain and have to come all the way home again) and we even held our own mini Olympics (complete with opening ceremony, torch relay, Olympic flame, races, medals podium, closing ceremony and after party.
I can see us having something like this going throughout the year – calling it our “project”. At the current time our veg patch needs to be started off… so that’ll be our first one. Planning, purchasing, prepping, planting, maintaining and of course picking and eating – the most enjoyable part. From past experience with them I know that this will be something they enjoy, and I know that it’ll help reinforce those thoughts they are now starting to learn about nurture; if you love something, and nurture it, and treat it how you know it needs to be treated, not how you feel, it’ll develop, it’ll grow, it’ll flourish. But, it takes hard work, and time and a lot of commitment. Definitely the right message to be starting off on.
As they need to go through these crucial Early Years stages, I can see a lot of it being very child led, but I do know how much it means to both of them to be able to read so that may need to feature too, we’ve instilled such a passion for books, and I am so grateful that we’ve got that far; the children didn’t have bed time stories, get read to regularly or anything like that before coming to live with us.
That kind of summarises where we are up to with our first weekend.