Tuesday, 9 February 2016

The Worst Thing about Home Ed

It's not the lack of understanding or support from the general public - though that can get wearing.  It's not the fact that the only time you get a break is when you're asleep, and even that is not guaranteed.  It's not even the financial challenges that are involved when only one partner works but there are still resources and activities for pay for.  No, the worst thing about home education is the glaring awareness that you and you alone are responsible for your child's future.  When your child is in school you can at least console yourself with the thought that your child is in the hands of professional educators, but with HE they are solely in your care: emotionally, physically, socially and educationally.  And because Home Ed is far from a mainstream option, it can sometimes feel like you are carrying out some sort of high-risk experiment on your best-beloved.  At this point in a train of thought The Wobbles are usually not far behind.

That is where I am: so far into the land of wobbling that I feel I have forgotten how to stand straight.  Not with regards to Middle and Youngest - I am more confident than ever in the Home Ed life that we enjoy.  But Eldest, bless him, is another matter entirely.  Regular readers will know that I have been mulling over his growing needs for a while now, from his developing need/ ability to get stuck into more meaty subjects, to the awareness that he is approaching the age when in school he would be gearing up for GCSEs.  I thought we were heading along a certain track but now I've got stuck.  I'm no longer convinced that the GCSE route is the best for him, but that is proving a REALLY difficult idea to let go of.

Almost since the very beginning of our HE journey, we have stuck with the same style, only occasionally veering off to toy with unschooling or varying degrees of structure before returning to what suits us all most.  Mostly we have carried on with the little parent-led bit of literacy & numeracy, leaving the rest free to personal or group interest.  I am starting to suspect that this was because of a subconscious assumption on my part that the boys would end up needing to take Maths & English GCSEs even if they did no other exams, those being the ones that are essential to most jobs.  I am clearly not fully deschooled.

So I had been sort-of progressing along with the GCSE assumption, and Eldest recently had a chat with a lovely friend who was offering to give him some tutoring in English.  When I spoke with her today she said she felt he wasn't really in the best place to be considering starting with a GCSE in English at least, as he sees it as something arduous and feels discouraged by the thought of it before even starting.  And that's before considering his literacy skills (which may be patchy) and exam skills which are non-existent (hence the need for a tutor).  I asked him if he wanted to go ahead with the tutoring and he said yes.  It surprised me that he was positive, but then he said she was the best option.  When I asked what about if he didn't have to do any English he looked like he'd been handed the keys to a sweet shop, so clearly it is not his favourite.  I think I have probably not helped here, as although I have encouraged his love of reading and his self-expression through writing, he know that I think very little of the current education system's presentation of English as a subject... maybe I have inflicted my negative bias upon him!  We could pursue a GCSE course in Geography or Biology which are the most obvious choices, but I don't want to put him off those too.

So now I am basically just questioning if GCSEs really are a good route for him or if I have been succumbing to deep-seated conditioning.  Eldest does have a general idea of preferred future career options, and there are possibilities of pursuing his chosen area that do not include GCSEs, although they would give him a boost.  The question is, can I de-school myself to the point where I am not automatically imposing GCSEs on him, so that we can both look at it again without prejudice?  I don't think he is connected enough to the idea of starting on a path to a future career for that to motivate him yet, and although it's tempting to panic that he might be the sort of character who never connects enough with what he wants to do to really throw himself into getting there, I don't want to push him prematurely.  After all, surely the point of HE is that each individual progresses at a natural rate as they are ready.

Oh I don't know - but I do know that my head is in a bit of a flat spin about it all.  So I am going to do what I always do when attacked by The Wobbles: back right off!  From tomorrow the boys will be entirely unschooling again for a season, which will hopefully give me (and Hubby) time to talk to others who have walked the "GCSEs or alternatives" path before us, and talk to Eldest, and pray, and generally invest in consideration of the stage we are at before coming up with a revised plan.   Unschooling doesn't scare me: I know they'll all still be learning and thriving.  It's just time to get to grips with the way ahead...

14 comments:

  1. Sending virtual hugs. I still frequently have the wobbles, it feels like a permanent state at times! We are currently thinking that Functional Skills will be the way to go for J - although he is very bright I know he would never cope with exams. I just keep telling myself that he still has plenty of time, it's not a race, and hope that everything will work out. Having parents that care and are involved as you are is probably half the battle :-) Rx

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    1. Thanks Rachel :) it's true, it isn't a race, and I do need to not panic. Deep breaths... :)

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  2. My dear Rachel, I so recognise these knicker-twisting dilemmas!! I had them too. And I struggled with the GCSE or not question. But both my two had very strong desires to do Arts subjects so the BTECs suited that route for them. They did maths and english in the college as part of the course. Once they come to fill forms in without GCSEs they've still been interviewed, got into Unis, got jobs. Other friends had kids who did do GCSEs at home - did not stick to the school time frame, spread them over years. Another did GCSEs at over 18 when realised he might want to go to Uni. Others haven't done any exams at all but are still employed. You have to trust - it will become apparent what your kids want to do when they get there - it's bound to. They want to get into that adult world and income don't they! But all mature at different rates. You're right to back off. The shite about HE in the press recently is nothing more than ignorant scaremongering - ignore it, even though it's disheartening, I feel it too and work still to put positive info out there. And fight your conditioning too - (I had trouble doing that too)! But we are all unique, there are all sorts of ways to live lives happily and successfully. Yours will find their way I'm sure. After all - they're not going to want to stay with you forever are they!!!! ;) Blessings. xxx

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    1. Lovely Ross, thanks so much for taking the time to comment and encourage, it really does help hearing from those who have successfully travelled this path before us! Lots of deep, calming breaths...

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  3. I cried a lot! At the stage you are at now. I was completely overwhelmed by the whole process. Having got one child through that stage and the other one nearly through, it doesn't seem half as bad now.

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    1. LOL thanks Sally :) Looking forward to the time when these particular wobbles are in the rear view mirror - though also still determined to enjoy every single minute of this time while we're still in it together, nd not waste it on wobbling ;) x

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  4. I think it's still hard for us parents not to think along the timescale of school once our kids reach their teenage years....alarm bells start ringing and panic sets in 'I must get my child through exams'!! Although Poppy has already achieved some exam success I know Arthur will be entirely different and not take the same route which is scary. As life in general for us has taken a different route I've learnt to let things just take their own course....no longer having cold sweats about not starting Poppy's A level studies as we're not in the best position for this at the moment instead think of a positive home ed gives us...time :) Thankful we do not have to follow a set pattern and force things when it's perhaps not the best time for child or parent xx

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    1. Thanks Jodie, that's exactly right: stewing on this over the last few days has allowed me to appreciate that the worst thing about HE is also one of the best: when we are solely responsible for our children's education we are free from anyone else's timetable, and have all the time we need to figure this out - what a blessing! :)

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  5. I have wobbles too! If you did want to find a course we use the Catherine Mooney English course. It's really creative and the children love it. It's written for home educators. Take a look!

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    1. Thanks Esther - I'll have a look :)

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  6. Hi, mine didn't do any exams at all. He played a lot of musical instruments and did computer programming instead. Having said tough, he didn't want any doors closed because of not having certain things and he didn't want to have to avoid stuff...so I recall we did grind through a Maths GCSE textbook.

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  7. Just wanted to drop a line and tell you how MARVELLOUS your blog is. I was given the link by a lovely lady on FB after I struggled to get any information about educating my children at home from anyone - it was like trying to join the Masons! I'm trying to gather as much info about it as my daughter will be leaving school after primary and not going to high school to do GCSE's. Like everyone else I'm having to get over the idea that without GCSE's my darling child will be doomed...DOOOOMED to a life with no career.

    Your blog is REALLY helping with this process, and I'm reading it from the very first post. Your concerns are all the concerns I have - will they assume every day is playing minecraft in their PJs? What is their absent dad kicks up a fuss? Am I good enough to have my child's future in my own wobby hands?

    Thank you so much for helping me out, even though you didn't know it!

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    1. Ah what a lovely comment - thank you for your lovely words of encouragement! It really helps to hear from others on a similar path, doesn't it? So glad to have been some help & wishing you all the best with your HE journey x

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