Monday, 2 July 2018

Back to a Tailor made Education

It has now been a little over a month since James has started school.
I have always believed that every child is an individual. Everything about them can make them unique and their education isn’t any different.

As a class teacher we had to assess each child and within that separate them into groups according to their ability. It works the majority of the time; you end up with 3 or 4 small groups within the class and work is set to that ability. It sounds so seemingly perfect but the truth is that many children don’t fit the groups you produce. These children may show that they have a greater understanding than children in Group B but are quite far behind some of their peers in Group A. You, as a teacher, just have to be continually aware of each and every child and adjust where possible. Yet, as mentioned above, every child is unique and it isn’t always possible to suit THEIR exact needs.

With this in mind, the ideal situation is to look at every child and see exactly what they need. Being a Home Ed parent this is something that really needs to be considered. You have twice the amount of responsibility; you have to consider what is best for each of your children both educationally and emotionally.
William started his Home Ed journey because he really struggled in the school environment. He started off top of his class and ended his year at the bottom. In the words of his teacher and school “William has made none or very little progress throughout the entire year”. As a teacher at the time I, of course, held responsibility to the school. Something like this shouldn’t happen to any child but I was obviously going to be more passionate when it happened to one of mine.

William’s personality by the start of the second term had changed. He was highly emotional, upset, angry and aggressive. Every day was a battle to get him to school. I say this because I do need to really push home the fact that it was EVERY day; it wasn’t just a couple of bad days and we were going to the extreme reaction, William had changed.
Bullying, school environment, teacher absences, under staffed support and a, unknown at the time, additional need, meant school wasn’t for him.

The first term of home education was an eye opening revelation to a real tailor made and unique education. William was happy again. He became our loving, caring, bright and educationally interested child again.
James came to school age and, again, we had to look at him individually. He had real speech and language difficulties where he would slur, stutter and could only be “translated” by people who knew him the best. He seemed highly emotional and prone to wanting to run, hide and cry when things were difficult or overwhelming and finally, he was still physically behind in his motor skills, pencil manipulation and still having the need to wear nappies during the day.

Without official documentation and statements, school placement seemed difficult so the logical step was to Home Ed him too. I had experience with some of his difficulties as a teacher and knew that I could help him. It was, for me at least, only a matter of time to place him in school when he was ready.
Over the last 2 years he has made some real progress and although he may, in some areas, be behind some peers I knew that he was ready to be reintegrated to a school environment. James is a very different child to William; he is very keen to be round people, thrives so much more under a stricter routine and is a “happy, I’m up for it” child.

Since he has started we have had some difficulties but with that he, as expected, has adapted and thoroughly jumped in with enjoyment and enthusiasm.
We still had, however, Hannah’s children at home being educated after they took the massive move up from Cornwall to Kent. Their aim was to always go straight back into a school setting but we needed to wait for places to become available and preferably in the same school as James.

So now we have gone from two Home Ed children, to four children, then three, two and now just one. With the mix of children, abilities and ages some of the lessons were “off the mark” on what I thought they would achieve. Trying to create a targeted and tailor made education at home was pretty much the classic school days grouping and sometimes I got it right and others, wrong.
Last week we had finally moved all children, bar William, into school. In my opinion William isn’t and won’t be for a while ready for school. His needs really need to be catered for and without further investigation into what they are, working independently at home is the best option.

I was so worried about him and how he was going to respond to being “alone” again. You could see that the week running up to one of the children starting school that he was struggling with them going; so much so that we had quite a few “meltdowns” in the final week.
As always, I seem to under estimate my son. What looked and seemed like him struggling with losing people around him was clearly just his way of trying to process what was going on.

Yet, just like the first time we took him out of school William has changed back to being a happy, cheeky, fun-loving and educationally hungry child.
For me, both as a parent and teacher, I can finally really get back to doing a tailor made education again and see what flourishes and growth will come next.


Plutonium Sox said...

I'm glad James is getting on well back at school and that William is coping ok with being on his own again. Mine actually relish some time on their own because they get very little one on one time, which can be quite difficult for all of us.

Unknown said...

This was really interesting to read. I am really not a fan of formal education as I think it all too often fails the individual. My son is about to start year 1 and I am really nervous about it. I would love to hop educate but with a three year old at home and another on the way, I just don't feel able to at the moment. Its good to hear that James transitioned into school so well after a home ed environment.

Rosemary said...

Really interesting to read.
We educate all three of ours at home. Sometimes it can be tricky to find outings that interest and stimulate all of them. They don't really do many lessons together at all, since their abilities are so different.
So far none of mine have shown any interest in going into full time school, though they all relish a bit of one-to-one time when their siblings are out.