Tuesday, 5 January 2021

The End of Home Ed


For the last 6 years I feel like I’ve become a champion for home education. I feel I have shown that home ed is and can be the right decision for thousands of children up and down the country.

I hope somewhere that I’ve shown that it is more than a lifestyle choice like many assume and that it’s actually more a parenting choice; a choice that suits the child’s individuality.

When I first started Home Education I have to admit that I wasn’t keen on doing it. As a primary teacher I’ve seen home educated children enter my class and need some extensive support. I instantly, and wrongly, assumed it was poor education. The only thing that made me feel better about doing it was knowing my own ability as a teacher, the resources I knew how to get and use and that I would follow appropriate guidelines and curriculum.

Ignorantly I wouldn’t be “one of those parents".

Home Education opened my eyes to the idea of child led learning. The concepts of extra curricular learning that go beyond standard curriculum set up. It showed me that children can learn by living and learning an experience first hand rather than from a whiteboard and textbook. We spent time in environments like Fruit and Vegetable shops to discover healthy living, visited drinks manufacturers to see how everything is made and experienced first-hand animal care at vets; all experiences that wouldn’t have happened in classroom environments.

That’s just a few of the many things we’ve done over the years that I know Will would never had received in state school.

However, the magic of Home Ed ended the older William got.

William was always going to stop being home educated when either of two things happened: 1. He reached Secondary School age and/or, 2. He got the right Special Educational Needs support.

I was a primary school teacher. I’m not afraid to say that I don’t have the confidence in tutoring my child through those years. Yet, equally the idea of Will going back to school would only happen IF he had the right support in place to suit his various needs.

In primary education it is easy to home educate due to the style of work that is available.

You find that spending time exploring, creating and crafting is a wonderful thing for children under the age of 10. They’re young enough to have fun and learn along the way. Although there are still elements of fun when they’re older the shift in how they learn and what they learn changes the experience.

We could adapt the other subjects like Geography or Science to be both fun and age appropriate but literacy and numeracy have to cover more complex sub topics. In addition to this we find the amount of work needed is higher than primary; something Will pretty much refuses to accept.

He would rather do an activity sheet where he fills in the blanks than write a paragraph.

I don’t have that experience to make harder sub topics fun either. I also don’t have the experience to teach him whilst balancing his additional needs at the same time.

William struggles massively in a variety of ways due to his additional needs and I have exhausted every resource , every idea and every outlet to help him. He is struggling, he isn’t finding it fun and he really needs the correct help.

He is also incredibly aware of his abilities and when he starts to struggle, like any child his age, he digs his heels in and refuses to put his best effort into his work.

Most days it is a balance between appropriate age work, adapting for his additional needs and catching Will on a good day. Some days it’s a win and some days, not so much.

The truth is that I can’t carry on doing it anymore.

The biggest downside of home education happens: it isn’t a battle of wills between teacher and student but rather parent vs child.

I just can’t carry on the battle.

I’m not experienced enough and it isn’t best for him. He needs the support and setting that I can no longer provide.

I’ve also fallen massively out of love with home ed because of it. That constant juggle is hard on us all. We have far more clashes than we have fun. The majority of the time we are just trying to complete an activity rather than enjoying the learning.  

In 2019, when we got Will’s diagnoses through, the Paediatrician said "Home educating William was the best thing you could do" he added “We gave him a tailor made education in a 1:1 set up which a school wouldn't have been able to do for a long time. The gap in getting William the help he would need would subsequently have been made larger in a school setting; something that home education corrected”

It took us 5 years to get his diagnosis. 6 years of home education and 6 years of helping Will get exactly the education he needs. However, now is the time to pass that job onto someone else, someone who can take his journey to the next stage.

We’ve applied for an EHCP which will be a battle to get. I hope that when it happens we can further his education the right way and with the right support he needs and deserves. In the meantime we’ll carry on teaching him until we can achieve but the end is near.


Rebecca Beesley said...

Well done on what you have achieved. I'm a massive fan of home education and it was something we were thrown into when mainstream school couldn't cope with my son's additional needs and yet he was turned down for an EHCP. Once we took him out of school, I applied again myself - this time providing all the relevant info (his previous school had forgotten to send the appendices which were the bulk of the evidence) and we got him an EHCP. We continued home ed for 3 years and when he was ready to go back, he thrived in the right school. So important to do what's right for each child at each time/stage of their lives and it sounds like that is what you are doing.

Hugsz said...

Awesome post as usual and great job with your role in your son's education. It's indeed a tough spot dealing with academics from home. As a dad with four kids I'm always on the hunt for ideas. I also blog about my dad journey with tips and tricks on www.curiousbillgentlebull.com and it's indeed a great community to be a part of. Keep up the good work.