Single parent home education quandary - help please!

(22 Posts)
snappybadger Sat 26-Jan-13 13:30:28

Please go gentle on me as this is my first post - although I’ve been a long term reader of these boards. I am after some advice/thoughts really as I am just going round and round in circles in my head!

My son is only 2 but for over a year now it has been my intention to home educate him when the time comes. I have read an awful lot on the subject and it all resonates with me and I see massive benefits of home education over mainstream schooling - in particular the ability to start later, have one-on-one interaction and tailoring to fit my son’s personal development/ability.

I have even made contact with my local HE group and we have attended a couple of sessions to keep in touch with them and see what goes on.

However, there is one big thing that is worrying me about this choice and that’s mainly because I am a single mum, with no other children, and I am worried about the intense situation I will be creating with it being just the two of us day in day out (for the most part). I am by nature a pretty insular person and I am quite happy being in the house day after day and with my own company. I would of course make the effort for my son to get him out and about and interacting with society/socialising etc, but I fear that my options are fairly limited by the area we live in.

We are in a largish, but rural town and although there is this one HE group they only meet once a week and there is just not much else to do around here. No museums, not many parks, nature trails, etc, not many groups, sports clubs, etc. I just wish there was a bigger, more active HE community with more options really.

I am worried that my son will grow up without many opportunities for socialising with other children as my friends/family’s children will all be in school during the week. I am self employed and work from home for most days apart from Saturdays - so that also limits the amount of weekend days I’ll have free to socialise with my son and friends children too.

But my options for schools are terrible and moving is not a possibility. My catchment area school and the neighbouring ones are all pretty dire and the better schools are on the other side of town (putting me well out of the catchment area) and oversubscribed. So realistically there is no likelihood of getting a placement at one of them.

We live on the border of two counties and there are some nice village/small town primary schools just over the border which I could apply to, but again I am quite some distance away so not sure how likely we would be of a placement there either.

I am just not sure what to do for the best. I would be happy to start off home educating (especially as out of choice I’d rather he didn’t go to school until 7+ anyway) but then this would only make matters worse if I decided to try and find him a school later on. And I’d worry that he wouldn’t fit in if starting at a later date, having never been to school before.

I just wondered if anyone had been in a similar situation or felt they could offer some thoughts/advice for me?

ivykaty44 Sat 26-Jan-13 13:34:37

would he be able to go to the groups and clubs that are available?

Cubs, athletics, swimming, what clubs do you have local that your dc would be able to go to?

Could you start your own club of some sort which would be a bonus for others as well?

morethanpotatoprints Sat 26-Jan-13 17:57:12

I think that as you are aware of your insular temperament and the need for your son to socialise you are half way there.
I second the suggestion of maybe starting a club or a regular activity that you could offer to your local H.ed group.
I'm sure your LEA is the same as others I know who make all activities and opportunities to belong to clubs available to H.ed dc too.
They would more than likely be quite central to you or if not they usually don't cost much to join.
I think you are doing the right thing doing your research though, many who leave school in a hurry are unable to do this.

PhyllisDoris Sat 26-Jan-13 17:59:23

There must be a local football team, cub pack, swimming squad or something that you could sign him up for???

snappybadger Sat 26-Jan-13 21:46:59

Thank you everyone. Yes there are football clubs, rugby too I think, beavers/cubs, swimming, and gym classes in the town which he could join. I think though that I am worrying that these sort of things won't be enough when perhaps they will be?

I also like the idea of starting up my own club - which is definitely something I could do as I work for myself and have plenty of free time.

Saracen Sun 27-Jan-13 00:19:19

"I would be happy to start off home educating (especially as out of choice I’d rather he didn’t go to school until 7+ anyway) but then this would only make matters worse if I decided to try and find him a school later on. And I’d worry that he wouldn’t fit in if starting at a later date, having never been to school before."

I really think you need to look first at what is manageable for you and best for your child while he is young. Just meet his needs now. Worrying about what might happen when he is six, seven or older is overthinking things. Home education (or school) is not a permanent decision. Changing from one to the other is not as difficult as you imagine.

If a child is grounded and has had a happy time in his early years, he will be well placed to adapt to whatever changes life brings his way. The average seven year old will fit in at school without difficulty, regardless of his background.

...which probably leaves you wondering, what if your child is not average? What if your child needs to move about instead of sitting and listening, or dislikes crowds, or objects to being told what to think about all day? If that is the case, he simply isn't going to enjoy school. Sending him at four doesn't change that; it only gives him an early start to being unhappy at school. Why not spare him for a few years if you can, and let him tackle school with a bit more maturity when he might be better able to tolerate it?

My older daughter is a fairly average, adaptable sociable child. I didn't need to send her to school to make her that way. She first went to school aged nine. It wasn't much of an event. I had no worries about her. I'm not sure the other children even realised she hadn't been to school before.

My younger daughter is not average. Keeping her out of school did not cause that. There are things about other children which she doesn't really understand. She has firm opinions about what she will and won't do. She is now beginning to grasp the concepts of the Reception curriculum, two years later than she would have been presented with it if she were at school. If she started school now, at six, I can't imagine she would fit in or be happy. (I rather doubt school ever will suit her.) But if for some reason it became necessary for her to go now, I would not regret having kept her out of school for the previous 2 1/2 years. She has at least had a happy early childhood. What better gift could I have given her than several years with people she loves, playing, learning at her own rate, and being aware of what she can do rather than what she cannot do?

You and your son may or may not enjoy home education. But don't hesitate to give him whatever you feel he needs at four because you are speculating about what he might need when he's seven. It will be five years before you meet your seven year old. You don't even know what he will be like, or what you or your situation will be like. Cross that bridge when you come to it.

snappybadger Sun 27-Jan-13 22:02:08

Thank you Saracen. Everything in your post makes perfect sense to me! You are spot on that I shouldn't be worrying about the future needs of my son, but simply concentrating on his earliest needs.

I have also done a bit more research into what groups/clubs there are in our town/area and now feel happy that there are plenty of options to keep him occupied and socialising with other children, even if he isn't attending school. I think I was hung up on finding specific home ed activity groups, although I'm not sure why!

soulaavgoulis Thu 21-Jan-16 13:51:13

Well.. here goes 1st time on mums net. .you guys are breaking my heart as much as it is already while I sit here doing symmetry with my 5 year old and my 7 year old shouts out from the other room.."what is a verb and a noun mum", now the thing is she knows and is actually testing me!!! With all the love in the world mum's don't doubt yourselves and realise the amount of extra time the child will get compared with mainstream. Though as a single mum like me you will feel eternally guilty everytime you need to pop out for milk and despise yourself even more if you need to mow a lawn or make a phone call!! It is the toughest thing and most rewarding thing I have ever done above and beyond surviving near death in hospital and riding motorcycles for 20 years. I am totally grey haired and wasn't 5 years ago! But they are thriving. If you can make it a happy experience for you (?) schooling one child would be a happy experience for them too. Love and kind regards, S.

FlatOnTheHill Sat 30-Jan-16 11:05:19

Op send your child to school and let him thrive with others. Being stuck at home all day just the two of you is not healthy. He will grow up not knowing how to behave in social situations. We have a cousin that home eds. The kids are weird and introvert. I think its totally wrong. Its not about the childs needs but the mothers/fathers.

ommmward Sat 30-Jan-16 14:02:01

Ha!! Way to wheel out the stereotypes. Weird and introverted are clearly dreadful things to be. And obviously home educated children rarely get to develop social skills. Or get taken out of the house. Pffft.

Mumstheword21 Sat 30-Jan-16 20:06:21

...or maybe flat, the parents completely have the childrens best interests at heart and home ed BEACUSE "the kids are weird and introverted" and would rather they weren't bullied mercilessly in a school environment (where by the way, this would hardly be abnormal, it's kind of a given that the weird kids get bullied...all the more reason to opt right out of going down that road).

Bloody good parenting I'd say.

How odd that you think home educated kids can't behave in social situations. Assuming you can't be very close to said cousins! More people home ed than any non-home eders could ever realise. The difference between home ed and a school (at primary) isn't the volume of children, it's the ability to sort through the crap rather more quickly and socialise with a far wider range of ages, genders etc...

Stands kids in good stead for the workplace when you think of it...

FlatOnTheHill Sat 30-Jan-16 21:14:49

You don't know my family. Yes the kids are weird. They do not interact or have much confidence in social situations. They dont mix well.
I can imagine home educating a teenager thats likes to be around their peers but is stuck at home all day with a parent is very unhealthy too.
And for those that say I am stereotyping (god i hate that word). I was purely stating a fact that the home ed kids in our family are bloody weird. Its noticed by everyone except the tree hugger of a mother sadly. And thats the sad fact of the matter.

TheTigerIsOut Sat 30-Jan-16 21:31:00

I'm rising my child on my own and have no experience about Home Education, but from the perspective of being a single parent, IMO you should send your child to school because:

- He needs to have a good set of good male role models in his life, particularly after the early years and most importantly, around and during teenage.
- Unless you are very rich, you need to work to support him (and to be able to support yourself once that lone parent related benefits/tax credits come to an end)
- Your sanity. Most of us single parents relish the opportunity to spend time with other adults regularly and to be our own selves apart of "mum"
- You and your child need to have space from each other otherwise it gets a bit too intense and that is not good for either of you.
- you claim to be insular, are you sure you can provide him with plenty and regular opportunities to socialise with other people in the long term? Totally sure? Or you will start staying home if the weather is not right, you are too tired or if DS wants to spend the day in front of the TV?

ommmward Sat 30-Jan-16 21:59:17

In our home ed community, roughly one in four of the parents routinely knocking around, doing communal activities with a gang of kids, taking their children swimming or to other people's houses or to big groups are dads. No lack of male role models.
Agree with working to support the family. People I know find all sorts of creative solutions, although probably often very much too tree huggery for mumsnet.
Space from each other crucially important. In my experience, home educated children get those opportunities through drop in sessions, co-op style gatherings, group classes etc. It goes with age and stage, obviously.

ommmward Sat 30-Jan-16 22:01:18

Oh, and abandoning the child with friends for hours or days at a time when they get to that stage, obviously. Plenty of time for that sort of intensive socialising when you are a smug home educating bastard.

FlatOnTheHill Sat 30-Jan-16 22:04:36

You are spot on

ValerieTheHorse Sun 31-Jan-16 12:57:27

OP, if you are interested in starting your own group I'd recommend looking up APUK (attachment parenting uk) who are currently having a drive on people creating AP groups all over the uk. It's cheap affiliation and you can run it however you fancy. I have a nearly two year old who I plan to home educate and started an AP group with a home educating friend. We have no age limits and have babies through to 8 year olds at the moment. It's not a home ed group specifically but is very open to home edders as its weekdays in school time and for a lot of people home ed is a natural extension of attachment parenting.. We have a lot of fun and with that alongside swimming lessons, forest group, national trust membership and soft play I don't worry that my ds and I are going to be bored or his needs won't be met. I'm not a single parent but my DP works long hours so it's often just me and ds and I'm an introvert naturally. PM me if you want to chat smile

Oh and I was home educated. I'm an introverted weirdo, but I'm true to myself, open minded and never stop learning. I think I'm doing ok.

Babymamamama Sun 31-Jan-16 13:04:35

Can I ask op is you are going to have the time to educate your child if you are working six days per week. And how is your child going to learn play and social interaction skills? Will it all be from you? Please think about the wider benefits of attending school such as making friends of ones own age.

Shutthatdoor Sun 31-Jan-16 13:10:06

Unless you are very rich, you need to work to support him (and to be able to support yourself once that lone parent related benefits/tax credits come to an end

This is a valid point. Don't forget that income support etc will stop once your DC are 5.

ValerieTheHorse Sun 31-Jan-16 13:43:03

And how is your child going to learn play and social interaction skills?

Children do not have to be in school to learn these skills.

Brokenbiscuit Sun 31-Jan-16 14:08:36

OP, my dd has certainly made good friends through extra-curricular activities such as brownies, dancing etc. She also has friends who live in our neighbourhood but go to different schools. However, the quality of those friendships is distinctly different from the quality of her friendships in school, despite the fact that I have tried quite hard to nurture these relationships, and we have the kids round to play etc. She is much closer to her school friends, not least because of the amount of time that they spend together and the wide range of different experiences that they share.

I'm sure that close friendships can be replicated for kids who are HE but I really don't think you can rely on "normal" extra-curricular activities alone to provide these opportunities. Maybe look more into what sort of regular and frequent contact you can get from the HE community.

soulaavgoulis Mon 01-Feb-16 12:21:53

Then clearly the introverted weird ones are just duplicates of the parents.. because my children are everything but introverted and weird. As for the comments beyond my post.. what a lot of rude sweeping narrow minded comments. Weird people make weird children. Introvert people create Introvert children. Not home-Ed

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