Hippity Hop

“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.” —Douglas Adams

Joining in with Four Pesky Hobbit’s 5th Birthday Blog hop.  I was blogging 5 years ago but in a more ad hoc way and on Blogger which I hate, so sadly those posts are gone.  This blog though will be 5 years old in Sep.

Where were we home ed wise 5 years ago?  Well Jack was 8 and Sam 4.  Sam wouldn’t have been school age though.  At home I was recognising that my boys have a need for structure and giving up my dream of lovely free range education.  Although we were still rather up and down with it.  Jack was working through Galore Park.  I did things like book of the week with Sam and a bit of reading practice.  I’d have preferred no structure but I needed Jack to see him doing something.

In the wider world things were changing locally as the older end of the local group became more organised with tutorials and what has eventually led to an amazing set up with a home ed run exam centre.  It did leave the younger families rather cut adrift in a way I don’t think the group has really recovered from.  What it did though was help the growth of the newly forming at the time Portsmouth Group on the other side of the harbour.

Here we are at their back to school picnic that September.  With someone who may look familiar.  We were making friendships that have stood the test of time.

Bubbles at the NBTS picnic sack race at the nbts picnic

Nationally everyone was recovering from the nightmare that was the whole Badman affair.  I don’t think any of us home educating at the time will ever forgive or forget.  It shows up even now how quickly home eders leap up at the slightest suggestion of any infringements on our freedom.

What has changed in the last 5 years.  Well Jack went to school 2 1/2 years ago which was obviously a huge change.  With hindsight I can see the cracks 5 years back.  Socially Jack needed something different to what I could provide home ed wise.  Perhaps a different parent or in a different place could have made it work.  Jack is a social being who enjoys being surrounded by the same people all day every day.  To be honest he is just too ‘normal’ for home ed.

It was one of those things that was hugely traumatic at the time.  I’d like to say I took it all in my stride but I’d be lying.  There were tears and massive feelings of failure.  When he actually made the final decision I was okay and practical side kicked in.  In retrospect it was the best thing for him.  Academically he has ended up top of top set of everything academic despite not covering NC at all, which silenced a few doubters.  I could no doubt provide a better academic education, but he really does need the social side.

Jack going to school has also been the best thing for Sam.  Who does suit HE!  I am now not having to balance competing needs.  We spend a lot of time socialising, more than I ever thought we would, but in ways that suit Sam.  He has a big friendship base and our problem is time to fit everyone in.

When Jack went to school I made the decision to abandon all structure with Sam.  He’d always had to fit around Jack, now was the opportunity for him to have an education that suited him.  I persevered for pretty much the full academic year but in the end have to accept we are a family who needs structure.  Jack needed a lot but control over it, textbooks with work for the week allocated but left to self to do it.  Sam on the other hand is really not textbook/workbook child but does need me there playing games, making stuff and generally setting the rhythm of the day.

It is easy to see how the boys have changed in the last 5 years.  They’ve grown taller, more independent through taking their own steps and blossomed.  Sam is less quirkey than he was definitely.  I can see a time he could fit into school if he wanted to and I will be okay with that.  I can now see a life after home ed on the horizon.

For me?  I’ve grown into my own skin.  I read Katie’s blog earlier about her need to deschool and was thinking in some ways my experience was the opposite.   I started looking into HE 11 years ago.  Blogs and forums gave me the image of home ed as a lovely ideal, families happily following their children’s interests, children spending days outside with magnifying glasses, like minded families meeting in church halls for crafts, socialisation would never be an issue.

It wasn’t my experience though, my kids seem to be woefully lacking in natural curiosity.   They don’t really play.  They don’t seem to get ‘in to stuff’.  Socialisation we found that those lovely welcoming mixed age groups were hard to find after our initial year or so when the group was all I could have wished.  We live in an area with huge numbers of home educators but it is still easy for people to get lost in the wash.   As groups got bigger they started segregating by age and we found ourselves cut adrift as Jack’s friends were all younger siblings so able to tag on to the older group.  Younger groups started to materialise but it’s no fun being the oldest all the time.

I went through years of self doubt.  It must be me doing it wrong!  I’ve chopped, changed, spent sleepless nights.  In many ways I don’t feel a natural home eder.  We have rules and boundaries, I’m not religious but not in the slightest way ‘alternative’ in anything else.  I’ve felt judged by the home ed community, particularly when Jack went to school or when I have, heaven forbid, occasionally raised my voice.  It has also brought out my judgey side and I don’t like that, it is a personality flaw that I try to control but children running riot in cafes while I struggle through with a hot drink or throwing stones at others while parents completely ignore them does instinctively make me tug up my judgey pants.  I won’t start on people who book and then either don’t pay or show up for trips or who consistently show up 1/2 way through a trip or activity as I will start to rant.

In the last 5 years I’ve grown to accept that I am best avoiding too large a home ed gathering. I still organise lots but very much focus on what suits us, I know my limits and have strict guidelines.  Very rare anyone is late for me now or doesn’t pay, I’ve trained them well :).  I am best online so I work through forums trying to offer support and advice where I can.  I am not ashamed to say that there have been times where home ed is hard.     Most importantly I now happily accept my children are who they are and are constantly changing and I educate each in the way I feel suits them best at the moment.  I don’t worry about the future, what will be will be.  You know what, I think actually I am pretty good at this home ed lark.

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7 thoughts on “Hippity Hop”

  1. You are not alone, this speaks volumes to me. It’s good to know that there are other families who have a foot in the school camp too 😉 I don’t think I fully fit into the home-ed world but then again, I certainly don’t fit into the school playground world!!!

    1. I was very lucky in that after the first week Jack took himself to and from school so I have largely managed to avoid the school playground. Seriously I know what you mean. We opted not to go to parents evening this year as little the teachers can tell us that we don’t know and we just get cross when they tell me he has already met his target for the year 1/2 a term in like it is a good thing. The question marks when I suggest harder targets. Other parents though feel I’m odd.

  2. A lovely honest post Sarah. I think very fair play to mention the hassles and frustrations that trip organising can bring. You do a lot for the community and I’m sure many of us are grateful x

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