Seriously considering changing

(5 Posts)
AmINutsTheTruthPlease Sun 15-May-16 23:15:27

Please help! I have so many people on the other side of the fence (or at least I think they are, I haven't actually spoken to any of them about this).

I have four children, 8, 6, 4 and 2. They are at the local Ofsted Outstanding primary school. I'm involved when I have the time and it is a lovely school on the face of it. However, I know that the teachers are very stressed. Most classes have over 30 children with one teacher and one TA. The hall and classrooms are cramped.

Despite all of this, the three older children like it in varying degrees. I just have concerns as well as big picture worries. The eldest is very proficient in most of the subjects they cover. The 6 year old (summer born) tries so hard to please and is also at expected levels in most subjects. I just wonder if he's going to get lost somewhere in the middle of the class as he's neither exceeding or struggling. I wonder if anyone notices the effort he puts in?

I really resented all of the time other people spent with them when they started school but the head was unwilling to consider flexi schooling.

I don't know if I'm being overly sentimental but I just think they spend so little time with all of us doing what they love and so much time at school, preparing for tests (!) which I know is valuable too. But maybe I wouldn't feel like this if they were around all the time!

We have space at home, animals, climbing trees etc. DH works away all week so I have a lovely nanny who comes a couple of times a week - I thought she could look after a couple of the children while I do something age appropriate with the others (I know how lucky I am).

Most of the stress at home is rushing around fitting in with school hours and getting homework done. They are so much nicer at weekends and holidays.

I just can't stop thinking about having them home but would I be doing them any favours?? DH is corporate and very traditional (but has recently switched to a more ethical and veggie lifestyle).

Sorry, rambling away. We've had such a lovely weekend and I don't want them to go to school tomorrow. Plus the fox got my lovely hens so I'm a bit emotional.

Apologies for the mega essay and thanks in advance!

Saracen Mon 16-May-16 06:25:59

You've made a pretty strong case in favour of home ed. Can you explain better the reasons for keeping them at school? I can pick out just a few from your post, but perhaps there are others you haven't mentioned.

You said they "like it in varying degrees". If any of them actually love school, that may be good reason to leave at least one of them there but they'll choose to come out once they see how much fun their siblings have out of school. Even a kid who likes school may like HE even better, but it's hard for them to know that as they don't really know what home ed is like.

Then you said that preparing for tests is valuable. I'd differ with you there. I mean, I agree that there are a few times in life when test-taking skills do matter (driving test for instance), and if they are going on to further education then they matter quite a lot, but I don't think it's a skill which requires years of practice. Many HE kids encounter the first mock exams of their lives just six or eight months before sitting IGCSEs, and they get to grips with it fine. Still, if you disagree with me on that then there's no reason you couldn't give your kids lots of tests at home, and in fact you could improve their skills more effectively than at school because you can give one-to-one attention and discover exactly what each child's obstacles are: do they rush through when they think it's easy, or get too wrapped up when there's a question they can't answer, etc. You'd be in a better position to give them detailed feedback, and to distinguish between poor results caused by not knowing the material and poor results caused by not knowing how to take a test, so they can improve.

Lastly, you mentioned that your partner is very traditional. Home education is much more traditional than school grin. Widespread access to school in its present form has only been around for a bit over a century. Which means it's really just a fad There is a long tradition of home education in this country, particularly among the privileged classes, who used to get tutors and governesses in. This was a popular way to educate boys up until they went to boarding school aged eight or so. Girls were often taught at home for much longer. Home education featured in the upbringing of Beatrix Potter, William Pitt the Younger, Jane Austen, David Lloyd George, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Christopher Robin Milne, and the Queen. More recently, corporate American high-fliers with high ambitions for their kids have latched onto home education as a method which can deliver better academic results. Those who are too busy to do it themselves hire in tutors to educate their children. Grand Tour of Europe, anyone? This one makes me laugh: www.wsj.com/articles/luxury-learning-inside-some-high-end-home-schools-1455807700 Needless to say, this isn't how most of us home educate, but it's interesting.

AmINutsTheTruthPlease Mon 16-May-16 14:49:56

Thank you, thank you Saracen

You make very valid points. I suppose one of the overriding worries is that nothing is actually broken so why try and fix it. What if I take them out and they don't thrive on it. They absolutely wouldn't get back in to that school and there's nothing fundamentally wrong with it. The four year old loves it but then she's only in nursery. The eight year old loves all of the extra curricular stuff they do. I think the six year old would leave in a heartbeat. It seems like such a tough environment for such little people, even if they seem to cope with it.

And they are only little once and they spend so much time away from us. How amazing it must be to go with what grabs them. Are you currently homeschooling?

Just spoke to DH and he's happy to talk about it, which is a start smile

Thank you again

AmINutsTheTruthPlease Wed 18-May-16 15:17:12

Hi again

I have a quick question (haven't stopped thinking about it all and DH has now progressed to talking about setting up a homeschool room in the garage!).

Can I take him out for half a term as a trial run without giving up his place at school? If I take him out completely, there is no way he will get back in as they are up to 33 children. Has anyone you know done this?

Thank you smile

Saracen Wed 18-May-16 20:56:21

Wow, sounds like your husband is a convert!

I'm afraid there is no way to have a trial period of home education without deregistering. And you are right that once out, your son wouldn't get back into his school. The class size would have to drop to 29 before a place became available. Not many schools have such a high turnover as that!

So it does sound like a major decision for you.

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