"Although I speak from my own experience, I feel that no one has the right to impose his or her beliefs on another person. I will not propose to you that my way is best. The decision is up to you. If you find some point which may be suitable for you, then you can carry out experiments for yourself. If you find that it is off no use, then you can discard it." Dalai Lama...

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

why we home educate

I sat down to write about why we home educate but I can't seem to find the right words to explain our story (could be put down to PMT ,my brain goes to mush!!!) I will try to give you an overview.

In the end the actual decision to take Emily out only took a matter of days but before that it had been around a year and a half of talking about it and reading books, (first time putting in links hope they work!!!) Free Range Education by Terri Dowty, Educating your child at home by Jane Lowe and Alan Thomas were two that had a real impact for different reasons .Free Range education has lots of examples of real life home educators and I think I can say that it was this one that convinced me the most that we could do it.

We are two very average people ,neither of us left school with many qualifications, we went on to do quite well in our chosen professions and had no need to think about the education system at all until Emily came along.

School never really suited Emily.....

.After the nursery year at a very highly rated, high achieving school we knew that wasn't for us and took her out. We enrolled her in a lovely village school with only 70 children in the whole school .The ethos of the school was totally different, the children didn't wear uniforms and there was much more emphasis on the children being individuals.The head was a sensitive and principled man who wanted the best for the children. We thought we had struck gold.

Over the reception and year 1 Emily gained confidence and really started to bloom. It was at this time she was diagnosed with dyspraxia but she managed quite well in the more relaxed play orientated early years.

Year 2 with more emphasis on academic activities got progressively harder for her. She is very sensitive and it wasn't just the academic side it was the embarassment of having to put her hand up for the toilet,seeing others being told off and worrying in case she did something wrong and got the same treatment, panicking because she couldn't do the work and the teacher never had time to sit with her (alot of this did not come out until she had left school) her behaviour at home became worse and worse she was so angry and obviously stressed . At this time we began to seriously consider taking her out but held back because of my lack of confidence in my ability to provide her with an adequate education ,my health being so poor was also a major stumbling block.

Then in year three it became blatantly obvious that something needed to change .She was struggling on all levels and we couldn't allow the school system to damage our daughter anymore.She became ill with a bug that was doing the rounds and she was off for two weeks , during that time I had a conversation with a friend who home educates her two children and I was so upset I couldn't make a decision and she said just go with whats in your heart and that really helped me to shift my thinking and stop worrying about what I couldn't give her and focus on what I could give her.We never sent her back.

I still get emotional when I think of that time , the look on Emily's face when we told her she would never have to go back to school was priceless,the immense sense of relief that we were off the treadmill of school life and the excitement of the time ahead and to be honest the fear of the unknown......

So here we are nine months on and a lot of reading and researching later I feel comfortable with what we are doing . The changes that have happened so far have been helped along the way by the many wonderful blogs out there.They are so varied and there are so many different approaches , I have found ones that I can identify with and have read a lot of archive material that has been written in each and found answers to so many of the questions I have had that they have helped me to sort out what will work best for us .

As much as I wish we had done this earlier and saved Emily from the distress that she went through I do believe things happen for a reason and that the time was right for us to take her out and that looking on the bright side one of the benefits is that at least she has had a taste of school and now we all know without a doubt that it is not for us !!!!

In the coming months we are going to find out how far along the unschooling road we want to go . If our experience so far is anything to go by it will be quite liberating to be making decisions based on what works best for us as a family and not what society expects.

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