Seriously thinking about Home Ed

(40 Posts)
wongy Sun 24-Jan-16 16:30:38

My ds age 9 has Aspergers Syndrome, although he sort of copes at school over the last fews years he has found school stressful, especialy at the beginning of each school new year with the new teacher and surroundings etc. Teachers struggle to get him to stay concentrated and do his work, he then distracts other children and has to go into time out to finish his work or becasue he has got into trouble, I have meetings over the years with the Head and teachers, they all seem to want to help (lip service i think) but then he seems to get ingnored. His teacher now, is young and in a class of 30 children and Im told they have alot of characterss in the class(teachers words), hes just not coping and has asked me if he can be home schooled.
My husband and I are self employed, the 2 of us work together and my Ds comes to work with us in the hols.he has is own Tv and pc there. So it got me thinking maybe Home Ed could work. We can be flexible at work to a degree. So we can do the outdoor stuff too. He struggles with friendship and says he wont miss his class mates. He goes to drama and I would plan for him to have music lessons. Interested if anyone is in a smilar situation.

ommmward Sun 24-Jan-16 19:08:38

There are lots of children in our home ed community who are on the autistic spectrum. It's worth seeking them out in your area e.g. For Minecraft get togethers. I'd say he's more likely to learn the skills to hang out cheerfully with like minded people while home educated than he was in school, if you can get plugged into the right part of your local home ed network. Remember to give him about a month of recovery time for every year spent in school before you start doing anything explicitly educational. Give him time to find his self confidence and self motivation again. In the meantime, play, fun trips, play, fun activities, play, play, play.

QueenStreaky Mon 25-Jan-16 10:20:55

Very, very similar to our situation when I deregistered my son at the same age. This was his second school - both made vague promises they failed to keep, he was branded as naughty and not given any relevant support, and was miserable and melting down almost daily. He has autism (AS) and ADHD.

Home ed saved his mental health as he was deteriorating rapidly and even our GP recommended we consider it. It gave us space to help him developmentally as well as academically, and he thrived. Although our local HE community wasn't huge at that time, there was easily enough opportunities for social get togethers and group learning. He also continued with mainstream activities as well (like your son, he did drama and a few other things). Because he was able to do things at a pace he was comfortable with, he grew confident and independent and his symptoms became less obvious because he was significantaly less stressed.

He is 17 now, in college doing AS levels, and very happy. That wouldn't have been possible if we hadn't home educated. Give it a go - I'm sure you won't regret it.

StuffEverywhere Mon 25-Jan-16 10:29:33

School environment works better for emotionally intelligent children who are happy to fit in, make sensible compromises, and enjoy being part of the group. They buy into the system, and all the rules that go with it, and that's why the system works for them.

From parent's point of view home ed is hard work, and a lot of parents simply can't afford it / organise it. But if you can, and if your child will benefit from it, why not?

Lucaslovesfelicity Tue 26-Jan-16 23:44:16

Goodness me, I could have written this post! My DS is the same age, has Aspergers and I am going through exactly the same situation at school. I just don't know what to do for the best. I think the fact he has asked you about HE is a positive, as my DS is not overly interested in this idea at the moment. Good luck with your decision smile

QueenStreaky Wed 27-Jan-16 08:01:32

My ds wasn't interested either, but when we got to crisis point I knew I had to act but I needed him on board if it was going to work. I made a game of it, by typing out pros and cons for HE (but without mentioning HE, iyswim - I just said I had a possible solution), and folded them up individually into a big bowl, tombola style. Then we took turns reading them out and made piles of good things and bad things (a visual representation) so he could see that the pros far outweighed the cons.

It didn't quite go as I'd planned, as halfway through the game he twigged that it was HE and started bouncing around the room in excitement, then asked if he could phone Grandma to tell her the good news wink.

wongy Wed 27-Jan-16 17:25:45

Thanks for all the replies, im scared nervous and anxious about it, but i think its more to do with telling school.
but on reflection of what you have all said, i think ill give it ago. The head has said to me in the past, that school doesnt suit all children. I think he'll learn so much more from us and family. Hes very much a visual learner and has even said that himself. he quite often comments about the teachers going over the same stuff. Hes so funny what he notices. Other children just accept it and he questions it. But that autism for you.
So we go ......

QueenStreaky Wed 27-Jan-16 17:52:15

Good for you grin.

Lucaslovesfelicity Wed 27-Jan-16 20:52:22

Glad I have read this thread because it is definitely a route we will be exploring further. My DS has calmed down a little after the transition into Y4 but I know there is no way he will be able to function in a mainstream secondary school. I have no doubt now that HE is the way forward fo him. Thanks for all your advice and I hope you getting sorted too Wongy smile

wongy Thu 28-Jan-16 14:09:32

Ill keep you posted Lucaslovesfelicity. I think Im more nervous about telling school tbh......

fuzzpig Thu 28-Jan-16 17:47:09

Doesn't matter what the school think wink

We took our DCs out nearly a year ago (where did the time go? Oh yeah... it flew by because it was so much fun grin) and it was undoubtedly the best thing we could ever have done for their mental health. They (DD 8 and DS 6) are not diagnosed but I suspect they are both on the autistic spectrum (I was diagnosed myself last year). DD was under CAMHS for a while but was discharged because they could see how much difference home ed was making. She no longer has panic attacks and violent meltdowns, she no longer has any of the behaviours that made me think she might also have OCD (as, again, I do!). DS was discharged from SALT within 3 months of coming out of school - he quite literally found his voice.

Anyway, DS' head teacher called me within half an hour to ask me to have a meeting... I said I'd get back to her. But didn't, as I knew (thanks to the lovely MNers on this very board! smile) I didn't have to. TBH all the school have to do is fulfill their legal duty by informing the LEA. Never heard a peep from DD's school.

AlwaysDancing1234 Mon 01-Feb-16 12:59:21

It's so good to read everyone's experiences here.
DS age 8 has (as yet undiagnosed) Sensory Processing Disorder and anxieties. He copes ok at school although fire alarm freaks him out totally and other things too many to list.
School say there's nothing wrong and even refused to get Ed Psych which was suggested by CAMHS as they said nothing to see at school, he's a normal child.
CAMHS can see it's mostly school related issues but school just won't have it.
Long (horrible) discussion with head today where she basically said its all mine and DH fault and DS is just attention seeking (even though he often goes quietly to his room to cut after school until we go find him).
Sorry for long ramble/hijacking thread OP.
I think we've been left with no option other than to Home Ed but I thought it would be a lot more difficult to take him out. Thanks to you guys I now have the confidence to do it!!

AlwaysDancing1234 Mon 01-Feb-16 13:00:21

to CRY not cut thank god

wongy Tue 02-Feb-16 20:26:43

AlwaysDancing1234 Its great to know that you are not on your own sometimes. School werent wonderful with DS until he got a diagnosis. His teacher was very unsupportive and told me at one time that he needed a firm hand. When he got a diagnosis, she just said, oh that explains alot of things... . Its awful they are blaming you.
Is sounds like Home Ed could be your answer... I hope you get sorted .

AlwaysDancing1234 Wed 03-Feb-16 00:10:58

Thank you wongy
We did it, he's not going back to that school. He was so much happier yesterday. School being very difficult but that's what I expected.

Saracen Wed 03-Feb-16 08:12:05

Oh AlwaysDancing1234, it's great that your son already feels happier. I'm sure the school's reaction is confirming your view that they don't get it and never would.

Good luck and don't hesitate to come here to chat / offload or whatever you need!!

AlwaysDancing1234 Wed 03-Feb-16 13:57:35

Thank you Saracen we are slowly adjusting to our new version of normal.

DS being a bit difficult this morning when I asked him to do some work.

We sat together and wrote some "HomeSchool" rules that we both have to follow and will have a proper timetable (he needs to know what's happening clearly ).

It's going to take awhile to adjust but anything has got to be better than seeing the pain and anxiety on his face at the start of each school week.

ommmward Wed 03-Feb-16 15:44:35

I'm going to shout at you for a moment: LET HIM RECOVER FROM SCHOOL BEFORE YOU START IMPOSING ANY KIND OF EDUCATIONAL STRUCTURE ON HIM!!!! rule of thumb is one month for every year he spent in school. Spend that time doing fun things, going to the park or supermarket, answering his questions, going to the zoo or local museums, beginning to find your feet socially in your local home ed community. After That you can put timetables and formal work expectations on him if you want, or you may have begun to observe how much he learns just by being in the world and asking questions (one of mine very recently - in the middle of a completely non-academic activity - suddenly started asking what happens if you do 5 minus 6. So we improvised a number line and learned about negative numbers. It won't be forgotten, and it was completely understood because it was the child who wanted to understand the concept and was asking questions to enable them to grasp what was going on. In school, they'd have had years of number lines being drilled into them by this point, but we just pulled that tool out at the moment when the child needed it. Call it "just in time" education 😊

fuzzpig Wed 03-Feb-16 16:32:02

I agree with om smile

TBH when my DD came out of school, I spent a while terrified I'd done the wrong thing (in her case, she did actually like some aspects of school). The anxiety, the panic, the anger, the violence got WORSE for a while.

But you know what, it was essential for that to happen. Looking back on it I can see it was basically like detoxing. All the bad stuff she'd been bottling up at school was finally allowed to spill out, and oh boy did it spill out. But it was a good thing, in the end. She is an utterly different child now. She was able to battle through it because she wasn't forced into a place where she felt so unsafe.

I admit we did do a little work - like some other children particularly those on the spectrum, my DCs freaked out a bit at the idea of it not looking ANYTHING like school - they had enjoyed a lot of the learning they'd done at school. Some of my friends have found the same, others have children so utterly traumatised by school that any structure at all is out of the question years later (due to PTSD). I still had the deschooling process in the front of my mind though (thanks in large part to posters on this thread who talked me through it all) and on the days they wanted to 'just' play, I learned to let them (not without a few clashes - DD was definitely finding her voice which had been so heavily silenced at school). We kept it flexible and crucially I became able to accept when something wasn't working (I have AS myself; spontaneity does not come easily to me and honestly I am learning as much as they are in many ways). It was difficult because DD had left a couple of good friends behind and so we made the effort to see them, but she got really upset when they kept saying she had to go back to school etc.

I love the idea of 'just in time' education, we have really been embracing that. We are not unschooling, I'd describe us as semi-semi-structured (or demisemistructured if you're musical) grin but I love how easy it is to follow their interests rather than deciding myself, or using a curriculum to decide what they should learn. They have become so much more curious since they left school, it's wonderful.

A few examples:

We did a project on blood because DS pointed at his veins and asked what those blue things were. They really enjoyed that; DD chose 'phagocytosis' as one of her favourite words for her group writing class the other day (at the time it had also helped her out of her fear of germs - we found a video taken through a microscope of the process actually happening!).

The other week they were talking about those things you use to look out of submarines, so I've got some mirror tiles and we're going to make periscopes with toilet roll tubes, talk about reflection which I guess will involve learning about angles (I bought a protractor anyway in preparation grin).

Due to the weather there's been a lot of wondering about how rain happens and why there are floods (not here, thank goodness, but they saw it on the news) - cue lots of talk about the water cycle, evaporation experiments and talk about the environmental effects of less grass and more paving. Temperature, freezing point etc will also mean negative numbers grin

DH and I do come up with ideas ourselves as we enjoy it (a lot of people have asked me how I manage thinking of things to do... honestly it is a dream come true for me! I'll be taking a group art class soon too) and we take up loads of opportunities from the news (eg doing space because of Principia etc) and I now check the Google Doodle every day in case it's something interesting - but they constantly surprise me with their questions and observations.

I'm learning to step back more and more. For example the other day the DCs were playing outside with the ice shards that had formed in our water butt, and I was listening to them thinking ooh, what question should I ask them to see if they remember what we'd done about the water cycle... while I was silently thinking, they started discussing which bits would melt and then evaporate faster according to where the sun was, that kind of thing. So I was glad I hadn't asked them myself. These are the kind of little conversations that have always happened (thanks to DH especially, he's much better at that kind of chat), but have increased a hundredfold since they came out of school. Learning has become fun again rather than just something they had to do because the teacher told them (and in my DD's case, something they'd no longer discuss with their schoolfriends, as they'd get nothing but scorn in reply). I really think holding back on the structured work helped with that.

Saracen Wed 03-Feb-16 16:50:07

Yes! Fantastic posts from ommmward and fuzzpig. Some kids do really thrive on structure. A timetable to let everyone know what is happening can be compatible with a break from academic work. For instance, the timetable (which the two of you can make together) could include such events as breakfast, downtime reading or drawing or building with Lego, walk dog / go out for fresh air, housework, screen time, board games, listen to music.

QueenStreaky Wed 03-Feb-16 16:58:16

I often wonder how different things might have been for ds if we'd properly unschooled. When we first started HE (and indeed throughout most of it), ds really craved structure and routine, which is typical for his autism and ADHD. So I gave it - we had a timetable and planned activities and set times for 'work', and at first he engaged very well. But in time that lessened (teenage hormones, no doubt) and he never did reach that point of being self-motivated, driven, pursuing his own interests, asking questions. It's hard to know if that's who he is anyway or he would have developed differently if I'd fought against his need for structure and made things more relaxed in the beginning. He might be just made that way.

Mind you, we didn't 'work' solidly - there was a lot of fun and downtime too, and some HE meets. To be fair though we did have to spend a lot of time at home to begin with because he struggled socially at first, and was quite aggressive with other people (the consequence of his school experience, unfortunately), and the local HE meets were too relaxed and unsupervised for him to cope with. There were just so many issues to address that it was difficult to know where to start.

Still, he's where he is now and I'm certain he wouldn't have done so well if he'd stayed in school. Even if it's not the outcome I'd hoped for, it's still better than it could have been.

fuzzpig Wed 03-Feb-16 17:48:39

Exactly, no home ed is perfect for every child just as no school is perfect for every child. I love that it's so much easier in home ed to be tailored to each child and that's got to be even more important when ASD is involved. I still feel like we're finding our feet and we've been going nearly a year now (which I really can't believe!) and I think our style will always be evolving. But no matter what their learning style is or what subjects they end up learning, it's got to be nowhere near as important as the fact their mental health is so much better. smile

QueenStreaky Wed 03-Feb-16 17:54:48

Absolutely! I reckon we've probably done the best we could, under the circumstances, for ds. He's a very confident, happy, sociable 17 year old with a good batch of GCSEs, and I can't put a price on that. Sure there are gaps but he may never have filled them, however he was taught/raised/supported. You just never know what might have been, or what is yet to come - you just have to do the best you can with the tools and environment at your disposal, then wing it wink.

I do love to read other people's experiences of HE, especially people like you fuzzpig who are fairly new to it and still somewhat awestruck at how amazing HE can be, and how much their children are getting from it. We're SO lucky in this country that HE is a legal option, don't you think?

fuzzpig Wed 03-Feb-16 19:02:02

Oh yes I am totally awestruck! grin We've always been very much pro-HE - I used to hang out on this board when DD was a toddler as we strongly considered it from the start. And yet I still just cannot get my head around what a massive improvement there has been in their lives (and mine, actually) and how much they are learning. smile smile

I was thinking the other day, what on earth would we have done if it was illegal like in Germany. I couldn't stand to keep DCs a moment longer when I finally reached the end of my tether with the schools they were suffering in. What would we have done... emigrated?!

QueenStreaky Wed 03-Feb-16 19:10:18

I know, it's a scary thought isn't it?

Ds was having a horrendous time in school (we'd tried two before we dereged), physically restrained, no support to prevent incidents, bullied - even his GP recommended we consider HE for the sake of his mental health. And he had no statement and the school refused to support an application, so we knew there would be no chance of getting one and the help it should bring. It scares me to think how awful his future would have been if we hadn't had this option.

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