Having backed off a couple of weeks ago to process my own realisation that I have had an enormous 'SHOULD' underpinning our Home Ed, I think I am getting there. I realised that from the beginning of our Home Ed journey almost four years ago I had been subconsciously assuming that we would end up taking iGCSEs from home, starting with Eldest (and trying not to think about Middle who has alwys been less inclined to go along with structured learning). I think this assumption was based on the fact that a good friend who home educates has gone that route and her journey had always inspired me and reflected my own philosophy. More than that though, I think I fundamentally failed to deschool myself to the point of letting go of exam results as a necessary part of life. I mean, I knew it was perfectly possible to have a successful life and career without GCSEs, but those who managed it were not common to my limited knowledge, and it was certainly far outside my own experience. So - it has since become apparent - my hidden assumption was that we would enjoy many years of educational freedom, followed by a couple of years of more tedious exam-driven studies, then my fabulous offspring would be launched into happy and fulfilling adult lives.
Yes I know: foolish assumptions. But once I realised this wobble-inducing thinking was going on inside me I deliberately chose to step back and lay it down. That was step one. I was helped enormously by experienced folk such as Ross Mountney who not only took the time to reassure me here, but also wrote a whole jolly blog post for me (and my fellow wobbling parents of teens)! I know the HE community can have its moments, but really: the support and cheering on of those who have gone before is invaluable and inexpressibly reassuring.
Anyway, since that wobble and crash of identifying and then rejecting a flawed assumption in our HE foundations, things have calmed considerably. For about a week I talked incessantly to anyone who would listen (mostly fabulous fellow HEors) about my thoughts, old and new. This was part of the laying down process. We are now neither committed to follow or NOT follow the GCSE route, and we are more committed to letting Eldest have more choice in the decision. So we have chatted a little about his options, talked about the direction that he feels he would like to go in, and looked at influencing factors that he hadn't considered, such as potential income, taxes, cost of further education etc, as well as finding a career that is enjoyable and satisfying. Proper grown-up stuff. We haven't pushed it though, because it is quite new to him and he's not ready to make those kind of decisions.
A friend posted a link to an advert to a course on the emotional needs of adopted children that I happened to click on. Eldest is not adopted, and as an advert it was a very shallow piece of writing. However I read the phrase, "for good emotional health you need to meet your child where they are at, not where you think they shoud be". That is not verbatim as sadly I can't find the link to be able to reference it, but that was the gist, and really it was such confirmation in my head that I had been operating under an illusion that now Eldest was a teen he should be thinking about career and should be read for exams etc. Oh man, those shoulds can breed if you don't spot them! Having stepped back I was able to see that I was putting that on him unnecessarily. And as lovely Ross commented to me in her advice, there is no need to see his teenage home ed as any different to the rest of our home ed to date.
So we are enjoying our 'backed-off' state. We are gently introducing grown-up concepts but I am not pushing him to be ready to make decisions that he does not feel ready to make. We have talked about exams and non-exam options, and he has investigated a few jobs that he finds appealing, but it is all very low-key, with no prejudice from me - at least, none that is spoken out loud. I still catch myself mentally defaulting to GCSEs as a preferred route, but every time I do so, I remind myself of the other successful routes that may be taken.
Life has suddenly got very busy, with another (!) house move on the horizon, and I finally got round to writing a book that I had been planning, and these things have been a distraction from the big GCSE issue. I'm tempted to feel guilty about that, but then I remembered all the times that the boys have hit a level or concept in Maths or English that was beyond them, and we have just allowed them to back off and do something else while their subconscious processes the new concepts being introduced, so when they come back to it later they are suddenly ready to take on what was impossible before. I figure if it works for the children (and it does work, every time), surely it will work for me too. So I just popped in to write an update for anyone who wondered how we were doing (thank you for wondering). Over the next few weeks I may be writing fiction, or finding a house & packing boxes, or chatting about my lovely teen's opportunities, and I may not be blogging as much. But as we will make progress and I will be back some time soon to fill you in :)