Having a wobble; reassurance needed please!

(12 Posts)
Lookslikerain Wed 31-Aug-16 22:18:51

I've just read some of the discussion on the guest post about home education, and it's got me thinking about our situation and if were doing enough with DS. I think I'm needing a little reassurance that I'm not just making a total mess of it all and potentially ruining the rest of his life. <dramatic> wink

Our bachground. He is only 6 and a half, and in no way suited to mainstream school, he has autism with the worst attention span, especially on things he isn't interested in. The idea of sending him to school fills both DH and I with terror. He wouldn't learn anything, wouldn't fit in socially. It just wouldn't work. So with all that in mind, we are very much unschoolers, directed by him and his interests as it's the only way to teach him. We don't do any kind of formal sit-down with workbooks stuff.

But after reading some of the views on that thread, I'm wondering if maybe I'm just not doing enough with him, that he's not learning enough. But making him sit at a table to "learn" would be a disaster. He's really into letters, the alphabet, words, spelling right now. He asks us to spell endless words, spells words out with letter tiles himself, plays/watches alphablocks. I was feeling positive about all this, "great, he's learning to read". But now I'm thinking he should be doing numbery stuff too. And writing, even though I know he can't hold a pen properly yet.

Argh! I know HE is the right thing for him, I'm just having a massive wobble and crisis of confidence, especially as he has autism. Are we doing enough with him? This week, for example, we've been to the supermarket, been to a couple of different parks, watched a film, made soup together, played out in the garden with the water hose, been to his sports class, caught some Pokemon. We've talked about loads of different things, discussed the plot of Wreck it Ralph as we watched it, I've answered loads of his questions on everything from why clouds rain to why ladybirds aren't birds. It just all seems like normal, everyday stuff and not educational enough. I'm usually pretty good at seeing the educational side to what we do day to day, but can't seem to find it this week.

Does this all sound awful? Are we on the right track? Reassurance please?

itsstillgood Thu 01-Sep-16 07:18:24

Deep breath, it sounds like you are doing fine!
I am not an unschooling but we didn't do sit down at the table workbook stuff at that age.
I don't really think you need to do more but if you need to feel you are I recommend writing a journal or blog to reassure yourself how much you are doing.
If I felt we were missing stuff out (journal will probably show that you aren't.I would collect some resources that I thought would appeal and go in for something strewing.

itsstillgood Thu 01-Sep-16 07:20:31

Stupid autocorrect has made a mess of that! Hopefully you get the points though.

Msqueen33 Thu 01-Sep-16 07:27:08

There's a lot of home ed groups online and Facebook etc if you're worried. My dd is the same age and has autism. She hates doing things she has no interest in and her attention span is short. Thankfully she copes in school with 1:1 otherwise we'd look to HE. I think I could struggle as my three year old also has autism. Sounds like things are going well though.

Waitingfordolly Thu 01-Sep-16 07:33:16

I just came over to the HE board to see if anyone had started a support thread as I am also feeling a bit upset by the comments on the other thread. I felt my DD had no choice to leave school because of bullying and poor mental health, whilst at the same time thinking that home ed offered a lot to her in terms of getting her motivated and interested in things, but it has been hard in some ways and the other thread has thrown me a bit.

My DD is a teenager so we are following more structured work much of the time to get her GCSEs, though we also have time to follow up on random things she's interested in. It's difficult for me to comment on what you're doing as I didn't home ed at that age, hopefully some more knowledgeable people will help you with that, but I just wanted to say you're not the only person left feeling like that by that thread.

duvet Thu 01-Sep-16 08:12:11

Ditto, reading the comments on that thread put doubts in my head too about HE and I've not even started yet. HE does throw up it's challenges but nothing that cant be overcome - I hope (like the finances) - that's my mantra for reassurance anyway, oh and coming on here!

Lookslikerain Thu 01-Sep-16 09:39:25

Thanks all for your replies. I'm feeling a bit better and more positive again this morning. Yes, that thread made me doubt myself a bit and I didn't even reach the end of it!

We've just spent 20 minutes at the kitchen table, playing with letters, reading books, spelling words. He stayed for the whole time but he was itching to get away. I had to keep it really light, like a game, and we bounced about from activity to activity with his butterfly attention span! As soon as the timer ran out he did a runner! grin Not a failure but hard work if I were to try and replicate that everyday. It was useful as I realise he can spell more words than I thought he could, so that's good.

Like all home edders, we are absolutely not anti-school. We now just realise that not all kids are school shaped, and that it isn't the best way for every child to be educated. My DD is 4 and goes to school next year. She can't wait, and will love it and will most probably thrive there. My DS however is a different matter. He loved his nursery and they were fantastic with him but he needed a school with the same small class sizes, more teachers to pupils and a higher level of support. That just doesn't exist round here. He knows what school is and has never expressed any interest in going. He's happy and learning that's what I need to keep at the front of my mind! smile

And on that note, I think we'll leave the kitchen table in the kitchen and go out for the rest of the morning!

Waitingfordolly Thu 01-Sep-16 10:24:44

That all sounds great! My dad taught my brother to read through writing words in the condensation on the windows (before double glazing!)

My DD is doing a bit of science and then we're off for PE (swimming and tennis in the sun!)

BarbarianMum Fri 02-Sep-16 18:02:30

I'm not really a fan of autonomous education in its purest sense but at 6.5 even I think that sounds fine. Do you have long-term goals educationally for your son - to learn to read, to enjoy learning, to be able to manipulate numbers to 100 - that sort of thing? If not do you think they might help? Then if you were moving towards them (at whatever rate) you'd know you were heading in the right direction.

Saracen Fri 02-Sep-16 21:59:49

Hi Lookslikerain,

I'm sure you've already read around the subject of unschooling. You might like to revisit some of the books, articles, websites or people that influenced you to try this approach, and see whether their words still ring true for you. This may help you reconnect with your confidence.

I've just happened upon this excellent recent roundup of the subject, which cites many of my favourite books.

Lookslikerain Fri 09-Sep-16 21:10:28

I thought I'd pop back and update. Thanks for all the replies. We've had a good week, and I'm feeling positive again. We've been to the science centre, done a lot of spelling out loud, watched a lot of domino runs, I've answered more questions, so all good stuff. He loves dominos, making domino runs and watching videos of them on YouTube. He starting to make more elaborate runs, and using cars or toys that fire something to start them off. That's been a lot of fun to do and watch this week! DS also dug out a book on everyday science experiments so we did a few of them too. He really enjoys that so I'll see if he'd like to do a few of them each week.

BarbarianMum yes, I do have a few things jotted down but no real time frame for completing them. Just basic stuff but it was good to review them. I don't think I'd actually looked at them since I'd written them over a year ago! blush

Saracen thanks a great link. I've done as you suggested and reread some bits and pieces. I've also looked over the journal I started keeping a year ago. I'd fallen out of the habit of writing things up in it so I've started that again too.

DS and I were asking each other to spell words earlier today. It was just a game that he started but I noticed that when he was spelling words he knew, he'd use upper case (B-O-O-K). But for words he didn't know how to spell, he'd have a go but do it lower case and phonetically. It made me think he is slowly getting the hang of letters and spelling. I was quite pleased. smile

The only area I am concerned about at the moment is socially. I can see that when his little sister goes to school in a years time, he'll be lost without her during the day. She gets him, and they do play so well together. I think he might struggle when she makes friends and he isn't included. He doesn't have any friends of his own, though it's never been something that has bothered him. So I'll see what I can find that might interest him and give a few opportunities for making friends, if he wants to.

indijomo Fri 16-Sep-16 13:19:10

Hi, My son (now 15) came out of secondary school 2 months after he started, disengaged and suicidal. At first we unschooled and joined a home ed group that he didn't want to go to for ages. My son is impossible to teach at home and only wants to do what he wants when he wants to do it. I started him doing private maths at the age of 12 and English at the age of 13 with the same tutor who is excellent. He took his GCSE maths this year (a year early) and passed with a C. I think you will find that things start to fall into place. We left the HE group we started in and I set up a teen group with another mum whch has been very successful, just a social group we do no lessons and only social activities outside of the group, they love it.

You will find if you have exclusively HE'd your child that they will be keen to learn and will soak everything up like a sponge, they will also find the things that interest them and you can facilitate that, when they are on the PC they will do their own research. When it comes time to get maths and English then you can either do that at home oif your child wants to learn that way or go to a tutor. I think those two are pretty important but you have loads of time, no need to panic, just encourage your son and buy/borrow/make him things to support his interests.

Other than that my son has developed an x-box community and watches heaps of youtube, not my choice but he has learnt a lot and is pretty informed. I am a lone parent with no support network, I have just got him into a studio school, after 4 years at home as I need to work and he needs a life as we are pretty isolated where we live. He did one day a week at an agricultural college last year for 14-16 yrs and got his level 1 small animal management, you will find there are lots of things he can do when when he gets older and by then you will be an expert.

Join some Facebook HE groups, you can get a lot of support there too. Every HE group has it's own dynamics, or you can set one up, I think it is important for them to make friends and also for the parents to support each other. Good luck, it sounds as if you have made the right decision for your son.

At first I felt as if I had stepped off the ledge and was free falling and for those of us who's kids have come out of school there is no net, just one big void, so I have learnt a LOT. Just relax and trust your child he will do all the learning he needs to, just find him some mates and for yourself also. Jo x

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