This month has seen us take our first tentative steps on our personal home ed journey. I wanted to home educate my daughter from the very beginning, I just never had the courage to go against the norm. I feel like a home-ed fraud though as Beg is very likely returning to school at the start of the next academic year. As per usual I’m not quite either here or there.
Way back when Beg was still a toddler pointing at everything and waving at everyone she passed I knew I wanted to home educate her. We had such a strong connection and I could see her learning all the time. Her brain whirring constantly and effortlessly due to a primal need to find out about her life and environment. It was amazing, it was fun and it was a journey I wanted to take alongside her.
The time came when our education system said she should begin attending some kind of formal learning. In the UK this is age 4 but now there is also ‘rising 3’s’. I agonised over the decision of which nursery to send her to. It never once felt right in my gut. I am a stay at home mum so I did not need childcare, I was happy and she was too and we were enjoying being together. People were always amazed at how articulate and sociable she was. I just wondered what the point of nursery was. Still, I felt the pressure to send her but at the beginning I resisted. I was asked by everyone and anyone why she wasn’t in nursery as often as a newlywed couple are asked when babies are on the way. This only made me feel I was doing something wrong by not sending her. “You know it’s free, right?”
I started to feel like she would be joining a reception class group as the only child who didn’t know anyone else and that maybe I was doing her a disservice in this way. I signed her into the nursery that fed into the same primary school I went to, to join in the last half term. She did hand print butterflies and enjoyed playing with their toys but on the flip side she complained of other children following her into the toilet and she didn’t enjoy the hustle and bustle of a busy classroom. I dropped her off with the friendly lady who had worked there since I attended the school and went away for 2 hours to pretend I had other things to do than mother my own child. Always the first parent at pick up I would wait anxiously with my stomach in knots outside the door and try to catch a peek through the poster covered window of what her new busy nursery class was like. None of it ever really sat right with me. She was just too little.
First Day of School
Rich felt the same way I did, but we did our best to be normal. We both took her to school on her first day. I thought she would be OK as it was the next classroom along from the nursery and she had been fine going in there. I was so wrong. She cried, a lot. The teacher literally pried her out of my arms and she screamed. She cuddled the teacher who instructed us to quickly leave. In her experience, she said, that was the easiest way for children who were upset to settle in on their first day. I left my daughter crying on that strangers lap and turned my back and walked away from her. I have never, in my whole life, done anything that felt so wrong and followed through. Every step my whole being told me to go back and get her. But I didn’t. I can still feel the bile rising from my stomach when I think about it. They called me an hour later and told me she was fine. She wasn’t fine, she may have been at that snapshot of time but for many reasons things at that school were not OK and we changed schools 6 weeks later.
Thankfully her new school was a completely different experience. We met the head teacher who talked enthusiastically to Beg. She introduced us to her new class teacher and gradually the knots in my stomach began to undo at every school pick up. I got chatting to some of the other school mums at the school gates which was nice and Beg excelled in her school work, the bright little being that she is. Still my original idea of home education would pop up, with even more conviction after school holidays. Going back after the 6 week summer break was always the hardest. Rich and I would discuss it over and again and ultimately he would convince me that she was doing so well in school. Which she was, however, her being happy at school was another thing. She still complained most days about the volume level of 60+ kids on the yard at break times, avoiding going into the middle of the yard for fear of being run down. She talked about boyfriends (aged 6) and competing for awards like star of the week ‘have I been good enough though mummy?’ She regularly came out of school with a headache and every school trip the coach travelling made her feel sick. If there was a school trip I would have to drive extra slowly on the way home and plan a quiet, restful evening so she could re-coup.
There is a new school opening on our estate this coming September. There are not yet enough children living here to fill classes so there will be mixed year groups (that’s what I call proper socialisation!) Rich and I agreed it would be an ideal trial period from Mar – Sep for home education. I have had a wobbly first two weeks, and I have wondered if I have made the right decision. I question my motives (individual approach, freedom to learn about things she is interested in etc.) and if nothing else I think it is a healthy transition between the two schools.
We went to say goodbye to her class and she got a bit sad and said she would miss her friends. I asked her if she liked home school and she said no, I asked her if she would like to go back to school and she said definitely not. So it’s a mixed bag so far for both of us at two weeks in and although it looks likely that she will be re-starting school in the next academic year, we are going to have lots of fun in the meantime. We have already re-connected so much and I am fully relishing being the one to see the spark in her eye when she gets an idea.
Big loves to my friends (and mum) who have been so excited for us and supportive about our decision. Means the world. xxx