This feels a bit scary, as I’ve never written a blog post before, ever!! I thought this first one should be a bit about our family, who we are and why we’ve decided to Home Ed. I hope it’s not too long and I haven’t waffled!!!
I’m Laura and married to Stu, we are mummy and daddy to Lottie (5.5) and Amelia (3). Me and Stu are both Primary school teachers and met at work 15 years ago. Stu teaches 10 and 11 year olds and up until February I taught Early Years (3-5 year olds.)
On the whole our girls get on brilliantly together, they love imaginative play, making up all kinds of strange lands and going on wild adventures! Like all siblings they do have their moments, Lottie being the bossy big sister, leading the play and telling Amelia what to do and Amelia knowing her big sister well enough to know exactly which buttons to press to annoy her.
Lottie is like a little scientist and loves to ask questions (lots and lots!!!) about the world around her. She loves to investigate and find things out, getting totally absorbed in what she’s doing! She is what I’d call an all or nothing kind of person, with not much in between! She’s either so happy, she’s bouncing up and down, squealing with joy or the complete opposite! She loves being outside, exploring the natural world and is very active!
Amelia currently attends a school Nursery for 5 afternoons a week and really enjoys it. It is her chance to just be Amelia and not Lottie’s little sister. She’s due to start full time school in September, but we haven’t fully made a decision yet about what we’re going to do. I guess we’ll cross that bridge nearer the time. Amelia is a quietly confident, independent little girl who loves art and craft! She is always painting and making weird and wonderful structures with cardboard boxes. She is currently enjoying letters and words and always asking me what words say and attempting to write letters. She adores her big sister and when Lottie isn’t around spends quite a bit of time asking when Lottie will be back!
Our Home Ed Journey So Far…
Lottie previously attended a school Nursery for 3 hours a day and then a year in Reception, full time. She really enjoyed Nursery and quite enjoyed Reception, liking the freedom and the play based element to her learning, but had showed signs of not wanting to do any ‘adult-led’ activities on adult terms. So when she got to Year 1 (last September) which was very much adult led, with little time or space to play, she did not like it! Her teacher soon called a meeting to discuss Lottie and her issues at school, which included her not being able to sit still, not being able to concentrate or listen to adults, not being able to follow instructions, getting upset and crying because she didn’t understand or want to do the work that was set.
This rang alarm bells for us, despite the fact that we always knew that Lottie was a bit different from the norm, but I guess we never fully realised how much. We have no objections to our child being different from the norm, Lottie is Lottie! A unique and individual character, but it saddened me to hear how much she was struggling at school and not enjoying the majority of her time. I had already been reading a blog from a Home Ed Aussie mummy, who I stumbled upon on Pinterest, as I was interested in a teaching approach known as Reggio Emilia (maybe more on that in another post) and was reading about it for my school work, rather than home, but it did get me thinking…
At the time I was working 3 days a week at a local Primary school, but was really interested in Flexi Schooling. After a lot of time spent researching and talking with the Head Teacher and Governors at Lottie’s school it was agreed that I would Home Ed her for two days a week and she would go to school for three. It was great, in that it gave me a flavour for what Home Ed would be like for our family and made me wonder whether this was something we could do full time. One of the downsides of Flexi-Schooling was that I did feel that I was restricted because of school and the things they wanted me to do with Lottie. I had to make sure Lottie did some writing at home (which was and still is a big thing for her!) She had school reading scheme books to read, phonics and spellings to do and a weekly homework task. I also felt conscious about covering the same sort of Maths that was happening in school that week, so that Lottie wouldn’t struggle or be behind when she did go into school. I also kept a learning journal, which included photos, observational notes and work completed by Lottie that I shared with her teacher every half term.
Now all of the above did seem like a chore to me, but I’m not knocking Lottie’s school for this. I don’t think there are many Head Teachers out there who would even consider Flexi-schooling as an option. She was still on the school register, she was marked down as an authorised absence each week (which does affect a school’s attendance record.) She had to slot into what her class were doing when she was back at school, she would still be part of the school’s monitoring and tracking systems, she would still need to be seen to be making progress and reaching targets! This is unfortunately the way that schools work now, (because of the pressures and demands made by the government on schools and teachers – but don’t get me started on that one!!!)
Having shared Lottie’s Learning Journal for the second time with her teacher, she was very open and honest and said that she thought what I was doing with Lottie at home and what Lottie was learning at home was far greater than anything Lottie was able to achieve at school. She asked whether I had considered taking Lottie out of school to Home Ed her on a full time basis. So… with all that in mind I finished work at the end of February to spend more time with my family as well as having the option of taking Lottie out of school. Despite being given this opportunity it still took me quite some weeks to make that final decision.
It felt scary, the thought of taking my daughter out of school and away from what she (and I) had known, scary that I would be ultimately responsible for her education, scary – despite being a teacher with 15 years experience, who had been responsible for many children’s education! The whole school system that had been my entire career, was a system that just wasn’t working for Lottie!
I did a lot of long, hard thinking about the reasons for and against just going for it and taking Lottie out of school and in doing that, I realised that the reasons for doing it, far outweighed the reasons for not! Some things were far more important than others, like having a bit of time for just me and Amelia, the worry of whether Lottie and I would be spending too much time together, would we be able to make some time when we weren’t together and would we drive each other mad? There were also silly, practical, boring things like getting housework and food shopping done, but when you look at it written down in black and white, in the grand scheme of things they were definitely not more important than our daughter’s happiness!
So, we went for it! This has been our very first week of full time Home Ed for Lottie. Despite a 24 hour sickness bug at the beginning of the week, we’ve had a great time! I still have lots and lots of questions about Home Ed and what sort of approach is best for us, but I guess we’re all on this learning journey together! We’re truly happy with our decision to Home Ed and know in our hearts that this is the start of a new and exciting way of learning and living!
Thanks for reading!