Support thread for new home educators(591 Posts)
There seem to be a lot of us around at the moment, so I thought it might help us all to have a place where we can swap ideas, chivvy each other along on the bad days and cheer for each other on the good days.
I have two boys, the oldest is 12 and is just starting out in home education. My youngest is 6 and is still at school. Fortunately for me, he has just told me he's missing school and looking forward to going back <phew>.
We have had a good summer, with lots of dog walking, excursions, get-togethers with friends and family and minimal rules on television watching and computers. I have had a lovely time ordering books for our home ed library (failed to reign myself in on this ) and planning what we are going to study .
The plan at the moment is for DS1 to do a bit of Science, Maths and English every morning. He has a tutor for English once a week and we are going to get him a Maths tutor too. We will spend the rest of the time doing projects, reading together, practising handwriting, art, etc etc. Fridays are going to be 'free' days for informal learning, such as excursions.
I have been in touch with the local HE groups and we are planning to meet up with other HE families.
I'm spending some time today organising everything - plans, timetables, files, folders, lapbooks, etc. We have a visit from the LEA next Thursday, which gives me a good deadline to work towards.
I would love to hear how the rest of you newbies are getting on. And words of wisdom from the more experienced home educators are very welcome too!
Just had to reply as I spotted a potential music post, lol.
Do you know that your ds should still be able to access lessons from your LEA, which might be a good idea in the short term as it keeps costs down a bit. DD goes to a local LEA music centre, held at a high school for her singing lessons, as obviously she has no school for them to visit. They also do good rental schemes on instruments, so could be worth an email or call.
So glad his confidence is growing, he sounds like a different lad.
We went to an Opera concert last night, lots of different songs. It was really good and dd was the only child there, so we had a few funny looks. Now she wants to go to all the others advertised, lol.
Oh, that's useful to know, more. Thank you.
I'm so glad your DD enjoyed the opera and wants to go again. You will have to start saving!
Its quite funny really as dh has colleagues who teach at a conservatoire, they get free staff tickets and pass them to us. There are also lots of free concerts there so we're very lucky really.
Unfortunately he doesn't know anybody working on The Lion King so will need to sell a kidney or save up for that, lol.
Hi I posted on here when it was first started but haven't been on for a while sorry! I'm going to have a catch up in a mo! Hope it's going well for everyone.
In the past few months my children (4 +2)have started preschool which is going well and my son (asd) has received a lot more help from professionals (paediatricians SALT etc) which has been great. I have applied for reception places for him but I am almost certain we will not be accepting them. I was confused and my husband wanted to try school so I agreed and thought we would give him the chance but I have just really changed my mind and luckily my husband and even my mother are agreeing with me. School is just too much of a risk. I have heard some bad things about our local primary, it's a fantastic outstanding school that's heavily over subscribed yet I've heard straight from the mouth of any early years second that the new headmasters keen to turn it into an academy and is very difficult. He makes it hard for the council to give funding as he doesn't want a large amount of disabled kids bringing his ratings down. I haven't even met him but I'm pretty convinced he's not to be trusted with my children's education. It's so close to our house and as the area we live is so oversubscribed I can't see us getting a place elsewhere.
I am meeting the educational psychologist at the end of February and I'm going to broach home schooling with her and tell her what I've heard about the local schools. I just hope to god I don't get a negative reply as I'll be gutted.
Anyway sorry for the essay going to have a read through now and see what's been going on :-).
Hi Iris. You do know that it is not up to the educational psychologist to decide how you educate your son, don't you? In my experience, professionals never back home education. They will tow the line and show concern about socialisation etc. We are about to have our six-month meeting with my DS1's psychiatrist, where we will be able to report back on his enormous progress since we took him out of the school system. I'm sure that on a personal level she will agree with us as he has made more progress with us at home than he ever did whilst under the 'pros', but she won't be able to say that out loud. If I were you, I would steel myself for a negative reply, but don't be gutted. It's just the norm. It doesn't mean he/she is right.
It's great that you have the support of your mother and DH. It sounds as if your instincts are ringing very loud bells and I would listen to them, if I were you. You are not making a commitment to home educating your DS long-term, although it may end up that way. You are just making a decision based on his needs right now.
The DS that I home educate has ASD traits, but he mainly has other needs that cause him great difficulties in everyday life (Tourettes, OCD). I wish he had been diagnosed earlier (took us bloody years ) and that we had been able to take him out of school earlier. School wasn't all bad for him and he had some good years with good teachers, but I do so wish I could take away all his bad experiences too. In my experience, it is very hard, once you are in the system, to get out of it again. Your child makes friends, you make friends with other parents, the children get used to the routine (even if they hate it), the teachers tell you he/she is doing well, your family are shocked that you are even thinking of removing him/her and so on. Meanwhile, your child is going through hell. DS is only now telling me stuff that he went through years ago. It's heartbreaking.
If nothing else, you could delay your son's entry to school and then see how home education goes.
Have you made contact with your local home ed group?
more - that's great about the free tickets!
My own son's slow transformation is continuing. The boy who couldn't leave his bedroom this time last year is trying out a climbing class and asking for guitar lessons. This evening he said, "I need to learn a language. I think I'll learn Spanish".
toffee thanks for the reply. I have got on the local yahoo group and joined some Facebook groups. I yes the planning to not send him and see how we get on. I'm just concerned that the educational psychologist is all about support in school, and don't want to waste her time. I do think think I will say anything to anyone until the last minute but make sure we don't apply for a statement.
Do you know if it's easy to carry on getting support if you home ed or will they not be interested anymore? I'm thinking how many people are involved with him and could do without them mithering me all the time to send him to school!
Don't want him to drop off the system though!
So glad your son is happier. You are right in have an instinctive knowledge that this is what we eed to be doing, made only harder by all these professionals who are involved. I know they have no say in the end though.
I've been home-educating my DD 11 for the last 3 years. She recently tried the first half-term at secondary school but it proved too stressful to maintain.
I'm generally coping well in terms of her education, but I do have concerns about how DD will manage more formal learning later, especially the pressure of exams.
DD is probably fairly unusual as she would actually like to go to school, has many friends, enjoys socialising and has no learning difficulties but she is unable to deal with any formal learning environment long-term without becoming incredibly anxious. After 5 years of trying to make school work for her (under the advice of professionals to keep her in school) we decided the price we were all paying as a family was too high.
That should have been the beginning of a much better home-educating journey for us and to some extent we all enjoyed the first two years knowing that we would work on her confidence and try again at secondary level. However now we realise that secondary may never be possible I'm finding it hard to remain positive about home-ed when DD is so frustrated with herself that she's not able to be in school with her friends. Everything we do falls short in her eyes compared to school, yet she knows herself that at the moment school is just not possible for her.
We have done everything we can to keep her in school but as her anxieties extend to working with therapists or attending meetings as well, it had been pretty much left to us as parents to teach her coping skills and how to manage her anxieties (we've read a lot of child CBT books.) We are currently encouraging her to do one 'scary' thing per week however small it is and build on that. The thing is on the surface it doesn't look like too much of a problem - she attends Girl Guides and a drama club, stays over at friends, goes to the cinema and town etc - but as soon as you introduce anything formal with any expectations on her she refuses to take part.
Sorry for the ramble but this is what I worry about most - will she ever be able to handle any pressure? Has anyone had a child with similar difficulties and how did they help them? Or am I worrying unnecessarily and this is just something that will improve as she matures?
Any advice or experiences would be lovely to hear.
Iris1 - re support once you deregister from school: your son is still entitled to support for his ASD from psychologists or therapists through the NHS. The problem is that there often isn't a lot of help out there for children with ASD anyway. It might be a good idea for you to discuss this with someone from the NAS (helpline). Also, the educational psychologist might (if you're lucky) be able to give you guidance on working at home with your son.
more has recently pointed out to me that home-educated children can access music lessons from the LEA .
The education bit is down to you though. That means you have to get your own books, papers, DVDs, etc. We use the library a lot and I get secondhand DVDs and books off ebay or Amazon. There are loads of free resources on the internet, so home education doesn't have to be expensive.
With respect to people 'mithering' (I love that word ) about your son going to school - hopefully, this should stop once they realise you're serious about home ed. Like you, we ended up getting stressed by all the people involved with trying to get DS1 to go to school and stay there. It was such a relief when they all went away, even though they were all there with the best of intentions. DS1 now just sees a psychiatrist to monitor his medication and how he's coping and our LEA home-education co-ordinator because she's lovely and supportive.
Emphatic - secondary school is much more stressful than primary, so your DD shouldn't feel bad about not coping. My son struggled through primary, but secondary was impossible for him. I have heard this story many times.
I completely understand your decision to home educate your DD because the price of trying to make her fit into school was too high for your family. That's exactly how we felt too and life has been a lot happier since we deregistered.
It's a shame your DD feels so frustrated with herself for not being able to fit into school like her friends, rather than seeing home ed as a positive choice. I know my DS took a lot of persuading that he hadn't let us down when he couldn't cope with secondary school. This was because we had always said we couldn't home educate him at that level (I home educated him for two terms at primary). I think I probably had to change how I felt about his education in order for him to forgive himself. Once I had accepted that this was the education that suited him, he learnt to accept it too. He does occasionally struggle when his school friends nag him to come back to school, but he knows that this suits him best.
It sounds to me as if you are handling your DD's anxieties brilliantly. She obviously needs time to learn how to handle her sensitive nature and you are giving her this time. My son has had CBT (didn't work at all last time) and won't go back to it at the moment. However, he is making progress all on his own. He knows that sometimes he needs to push himself, in spite of his anxiety, and he is doing that much more now that the overall stress of going to school has been removed.
I really do believe that he will learn to cope with his difficulties gradually and I believe that your DD will too.
It sounds as if your DD needs to realise that it is not a failing on her part if she doesn't go to school. Maybe she needs to be reminded of all that she achieves in her home education - I don't just mean educationally, but in terms of friendships, personal development, creativity, etc. Perhaps she needs to be reminded too of all the famous people who have been home educated (see here). She's in good company!
Thanks Toffee - I really needed to hear that
I think I did feel like we made a lot of progress home-educating DD for the last two years of primary. She went from refusing to try any out of school activities to regularly attending two clubs, learning to swim when all lessons had failed and generally keeping up with all her friends socially. It was easy to see we were making progress that hadn't been possible when all our efforts had been focussed on school and DD had been stressed-out all the time. It just feels like we're a bit stuck now and what was a positive thing before has turned into something DD sees as second best now.
Thank-you for the link - I tell her all the time that quirky, creative, successful people often don't follow the traditional path. The trouble is, I think for a while at least, she just wants to be like all her friends but we'd need a magic wand for that to happen.
It's great to hear your DS is doing so well.
I have a 19 year old DS who also has autistic traits and I home-educated him for a year when secondary became particularly stressful for him - again going against all professional advice. He's in his first year at university now and seems to be coping well - so I know I just have to keep reminding myself that it can all work out in the end it's just not easy to see it at the time.
If you don't mind sharing I would be really interested in your experience of CBT for your DS as it may be something we will try again if DD is willing to see a therapist.
Emphatic - I have PM'd you about CBT.
Hello Toffee and hello Emphatic.
First of all emphatic I am sorry your dd struggled with secondary, but if its any consolation I can promise you she will be far better off away from the system anyway. I have 2 ds who went through the whole school system and If I had known about H.ed then I wouldn't have hesitated in keeping them away. Your dd will manage secondary as well as she did primary and you have the ability to support her learning all the way to A level if its what is right for your dd. I say this as one who had to do so much in terms of support for ds's right up to and including A level. Although I am a qualified teacher at this level my experience had no bearing on the help I could offer and was completely irrelevant. Please don't worry, I have read so many GCSE and above success stories through H.ed.
Hope things are going well for you. I can't get over the change in your ds, its amazing. You have done a fantastic job. Have you read back your early posts to see how far you have both come?
I am noticing a few sort of improvements I think in dds behaviour and attitude to life in general. She seems a lot more grown up and sensible when I see her with schooled friends, but that may be because 9 year olds do mature a bit. She is far more confident in many more ways and subjects other than just music, lol. She will try new things and answer questions at her activities. She seems confident in her abilities on the whole. Today though we had a step backwards. She believes she is dyslexic couldn't answer her maths problems, threw pencil across the room, had a tizzy and she hated me. On the plus side I was taken aback as hadn't seen this for some time.
Thanks toffee I have decided I will be telling all professionals involved of our plans to HE as soon as the next opportunity arises.
When the educational psychologist comes in will be honest and see what she says. I'm guessing there won't be much she can do but will value any constructive advice.
I haven't been involved with these services for nearly as long as you had but I an totally see why them going away was a relief. I can't wait for them all to go away. They have never helped me at home I've never needed home help anyway, and we won't need help at school as he won't be there.
It's so lovely hearing how far your son has come. You should be so proud of yourself and him.
more - I'm sorry your DD had a tizzy when she was doing Maths today. My son's Maths teacher has been a great help in providing guidance on dealing with his anxieties over Maths. Often, his outbursts occur when I am pushing him too fast, giving him problems that are too difficult for him or keeping the lesson too long so that he loses concentration. At that point, he loses confidence and panics, which sounds like what happened with your DD today. I have now pulled right back and started going back to KS2 Maths in some areas (like fractions) to build up his confidence. (I cover up the KS2 titles on the books though!).
How lovely to hear how well your DD is doing. I'm sure these improvements are not just down to her maturing, but also to her freedom to work on the things she wants to do, like music. It is great that her confidence is spreading to other areas.
It's interesting that you say you would have kept your sons away from school had you had the knowledge of home ed you have now. I feel like that about DS2 going on to secondary. He is bored at primary this year, but he is not miserable. OK, that's not ideal, but it would be a disaster for DS1 if I home educated DS2 as well (he values the peace and quiet of a house without his noisy younger brother), so it's the best situation at the moment. However, the more I experience home ed, the more I feel that it could be an option for DS2 as well. I noticed another home educator saying that she skipped KS3 completely with her DC and went straight from primary stage to GCSE because she realised KS3 was just a 'holding stage'. Her DC then achieved a number of GCSEs without all the pressure and angst of doing them all at once when they were 16. How sensible.
Re: the changes in DS1. Funnily enough, yesterday I reread my diary of his time at secondary school, which ended with him not being able to leave his bedroom. It is upsetting to read, but I'm glad I kept notes because it shows me how far he has come. I haven't reread the earlier parts of this thread, but you are right - I should.
I am always on tenterhooks in case he has a relapse though. I don't know if I'll ever take his progress for granted.
iris - good luck with telling the professionals. DS1's psychiatrist was mainly concerned with his socialisation. Because he suffers from social anxiety, she said it was particularly important for him to practise social skills. I took her point, but was able to give her examples of what we would do to encourage him to mix. I know that DS is actually now becoming more sociable because he is allowed to do it at his own pace, rather than being thrown in to a crazy, noisy school environment every day.
Thanks for saying DS1 and I should be proud. Actually, I just feel bad that we didn't take him out of school earlier, but we didn't know what was wrong for a long time (thanks, CAMHS ) and needed that knowledge to understand how hard school was for him. I would love to rewind and do some things differently.
By the way, do you know this book? It might be of interest to you. It's full of positive stories of parents home educating their ASD children.
Thanks More - some days I feel fairly confident about the prospect of getting DD through GCSEs if she needs me too - others I'm a bit floored by the weight of responsibility!
At the moment we are not slavishly following key stage 3 - more keeping up with maths, English and Spanish. Everything else we do in projects DD is interested in. I think it's more about transferable skills for key stage 4 really as to be honest there is a lot of repetition between levels. Anyway I just have to hope I'm managing it right - but I do find it hard going sometimes.
You sound very together in your approach I may need tips!
Thank you, but I'm not at all together. We only started in September and tbh I panic a lot and still sometimes wonder if we did the right thing. Other days I have no doubt.
I qualified as a FE teacher but didn't last for long. However, it has helped me see what is wrong with the system and I think that can help sometimes. I'm sure as you have older ds you know the whole school years now and which were completely useless in terms of really gaining any knowledge.
We also have 2 much older dss 21 and 18. Its amazing how many people assume dd 9 is from another relationship, or ask if she was planned. lol. love her to bits but wouldn't have planned such a huge gap
If I ever can help I will, but tbh I think you have a lot more experience than I do.
Hi toffee, More and Emphatic also anyone else who may be reading.
Thanks for all the advice toffee I really appreciate it. I am actually reading that book now and really enjoying it, such an eye opener. Have you read it?
Just read back a few pages and so pleased to see your son is out with friends and starting a hobby. I remember how hard you said he found it when you started this thread. Also think it's brilliant he's coming up with what he was to study, it means he will enjoy it and is enjoying learning again. How is the slavery topic going? I agree re color purple it can be a but shocking but it all depends on his maturity level I guess, I read it and other similar novels around 14/15 but I didn't have any problems digesting the information. Did you decide for or against it yet?
Also have you decided about a language? It could be fun to learn together but I don't have much clue on resources to be honest.
more has your daughter decided to learn a language? Being you Germany she has an advantage there Saturday its so much easier to retain the new language the younger you are.
I'm thinking seriously about starting French with my two now in the hope of them being bilingual (or as close as). I think I will try with a few short cartoons and stories in French for now and maybe some sporadic counting to learn number and see how we go. It's such a huge plus of Home educating that I can chooses these things to learn, they wouldn't have much chance learning a language or like your dd doing so well in music if they were in school learning what the government says they should.
I'm feeling super positive about HE now. I've joined a lot of fb groups and the local yahoo groups as well as posting here. Spoke to a few different people and everyone is so nice and supportive. I think one of you said earlier that it all one revelation after another and you're so right. I am so glad I know it's my responsibility and my choice, and knowing I don't have to send my dd of to school next September is the biggest weight off my shoulders you could imagine.
I'm hoping it will all work out and I will HE both children.
emphatic I'm sorry I have no advice but I'm really sorry to hear of your dd's struggles with anxiety. I she sounds like a lovely girl and you're doing great by her.
It sounds like she gets a big company fidence boost when she achieves something new, maybe there is something new she would like to accomplish, maybe music or horse riding? Just a few suggestions, it might help her see all the good in being able to make her own decisions.
Re toffee and HE with your Ds2. I'm sorry to hear you don't get much support and I really understand what you mean about your ds1s attention to one needs. You don't want to rock the boat.
Have you thought about having a discussion with ds2 about him being HE for secondary level but he will have to take a huge responsibility for his own learning? It could be a great opportunity for him but I imagine for it to work with both your children your ds2 would need to work independently and understand the importance of his brothers space and learning. If you think he could manage it then it could have the potential to be a great experience. Your sons may gather a lot more respect for one another by doing it (not saying they have none of course I just imagine it could work quite well if he tried).
Also your ds2 may flourish if he's making a lot of decisions regarding his own education.
I have a lot to learn but I think as time goes on i would love my two to enjoy planning going there education, I would have loved the opportunity myself and think I would have got a lot out of it
Sorry that's the such a long post and I'm rubbish on this touch screen sorry for all the bits that don't make sense, this tab has that predictive text on it does my head in adding words where they don't belong!
Hi Iris - yes, I have read that book (someone lent it to me - their ASD DD is thriving in home education). I will come back later and reply properly to your post, but am just about to do the school run with DS2 (one of the disadvantages of school, but at least I get some exercise ).
Hello Iris and others.
I think language is a fantastic idea, we did start Italian but it was quite difficult finding resources that weren't expensive or an investment. If I knew she'd keep it up though I would pay for a course but she hasn't seemed interested for a while. Perhaps if she chose a curriculum subject we could progress with more appropriate resources. I say we as I would love to learn alongside dd.
My dh read a book on H.ed last night and announced this morning he was setting up a travel agent with dd so she can play Geography. This has made me laugh so much because If I had suggested it he'd have thought me mad. Apparently we have to book holidays with her for specific requirements like places to ski. So she has to find an area suitable, this should be good. Think I'll leave them to it, lol.
Apologies for not getting back earlier, Iris. Thanks for your positive comments about my DS1. It is wonderful to see him so much happier these days - such a relief after what he went through last year. His comfort zone is slowly expanding, although I can only push him so far. For instance, he caught me looking up museums on slavery today and panicked about it, so I had to reassure him that I won't make him go if he's not ready.
The slavery topic has really caught DS's interest. Each day, we are working through a lapbook on the history of slavery in North America, which I bought from CurrClick, then watching an episode of 'Roots'. DS has been infuriated, shocked and upset in equal measure. I haven't watched the series for many years and am still impressed by how powerful it is.
DS hasn't mentioned learning a language again, but I will remind him of what he said at some point and maybe he can play around on some online resources to start with. The BBC have resources for children and adults.
Re: DS2 - there is a big age gap between my two boys, so by the time DS2 is ready for secondary, DS1 will be 18. That means it would be possible to home ed DS1 on his own if DS2 stays at primary, then offer home ed as an option to his brother. However, DH is dead against it. He supports me home edding DS1 because of DS1's SNs and bad experience at school, but DS2 is a different kettle of fish and is doing ok. He thinks I would be depriving DS2 of opportunities by taking him out of school.
I'm so glad that you are feeling positive about home ed now and that you hope to home ed both of them. It's great that you have been in contact with other home educators online and locally. I have found the local home ed group here very supportive, even though we don't go to any of the meetings because of DS's anxieties.
more - your DH's plans made me laugh (though it sounds a great idea). It reminds me of when we first took DS1 out of school in his last year of primary and DH decided to teach him world history from the Romans to the modern day . Needless to say, they didn't get beyond watching some films on the Romans, but at least they had some nice times together.
Am getting on much better with teaching DS fractions at the moment, having reached an impasse. I found a site called visualfractions.com, which does 'what it says on the tin' and teaches fractions using pictures. DS is doing a little each day and finds it more fun and easier than struggling with numbers. I hope that he will have a better understanding by the time he goes back to working with numerical fractions.
Must finish preparing work for tomorrow (had got a bit slack with this, but it makes all the difference to have it laid out, ready), then get to bed. Hope you all have a good day tomorrow.
Hi everyone, haven't been on for a while. Had a bit of a nightmare - DH had a brain tumour. Benign thank heavens, but then complications. Seems to have been fixed now though , so I'm trying to pick up where I left off with normal life last year! Definitely wouldn't have started HEing in September if I'd known what the rest of the year would bring, but at least I've proved to myself just how flexible and adaptable it is!
Right, now to start catching up on this thread! >>rolls up sleeves purposefully<<
So sorry to hear about what you've just been through, TBex . I'm glad DH is on the mend now and life is beginning to get back to normal. It's good that home ed proved both flexible and adaptable during this (extremely) difficult period.
Home educating DS1 is proving very easy at the moment. We have settled into a routine of covering Maths, Science and Handwriting every morning, then doing a project after that. We have been studying slavery in North America for the last couple of weeks. I think we should continue using a topic-based study after this, as there are so many different subjects encompassed in the one topic.
Home education really suits DS1. He is much calmer and happier than before and is beginning to venture out of his comfort zone.
How is your DD1 getting on with home ed? Are her siblings joining her, or have you put that idea on hold for now? And are you still working as a TA at the school?
Thanks Toffee. It sounds like your DS1 is thriving! You must be very happy with his progress.
My DD1 continues to do well, we had a bit of a bumpy patch after Christmas when she struggled to settle back into her work - December was a difficult month so she had a disrupted routine for some weeks - but we're back on track now. It's half term here as of today so I'm arranging lots of meet ups with her friends from school.
My DD2 says she wants to HE but I've told her I want to wait until the summer - I'm just not completely sure it's really what she wants, although I'm starting to think it might be.
DH suggested this week that I HE DD3 for a year rather than start her at school in September and see where we are then, which surprised me! I'm still working as a TA but if all the girls end up being HEd I will quit. School bores me rigid.