4 weeks in and it's not working!

(18 Posts)
InYourDreams Wed 21-Sep-16 20:01:36

I'm not sure if this is normal for most new home edders or not? We are 4 weeks into our home ed and it's just not working.
Ds (10) is newly diagnosed with asd. He likes structure, has been in a mainstream school but was starting to suffer bullying and was approx one year behind where he should be academically. We decided to deregister as he just won't cope with a mainstream secondary school. He has too many problems and high anxiety so I thought why prolong it of I know I was going to do it next year anyway.
My dd has done one year at school. She suffered some anxiety and school refusal. We didn't think we would be able to get her into school every day with her knowing my ds was at home so we decided to home ed them both.
Although everyone recommends deschooling, we have some kind of timetable as my son needs a routine. He likes to know what he's doing during the day. I am flexible though and if it's not working we try something else.
At 4 weeks in he is refusing to write at all, refusing to read anything. Has a meltdown if I ask him to do anything that he recognises as learning.
My dd (5) has turned into a completely different child. She's bossy, moody, rude to people, so angry, has completely stopped listening, doesn't care if she is disciplined and loses a treat etc. Also will not attempt to try any work.
Both are arguing constantly.
We go walking at least one full afternoon a week, we have joined other home edders out and about at the park etc, gone swimming, map reading, bug hunts, loads of bike riding, cooking, baking and we try and make it as fun as possible.
We're running out of ideas and inspiration.
I would struggle just to let them do what they want as it would be tv and Xbox all day. I have family visit my house every day and I feel under pressure to look like we are actually doing something and I know the dreaded la will be contacting us soon and I have no real evidence of work.
Is this normal?

ommmward Wed 21-Sep-16 20:50:49

Oh dear! This totally sounds like deschooling to me!

I would step away from the academics.

Reading: Closed captions on whenever anyone is watching TV or DVD.

Take time to find your rhythm. I know people who swear by getting out of the house every morning, have picnic where they end up (home Ed groups, museum park, swimming), head home afternoon, then unlimited screen time till supper.

I know people who do ten mins of academics, then the rest is open.

Just take your time. You've pulled the rug out from under them. If the "you have to go to school" thing was ab adult conspiracy, how much of the other top down stuff is too?

Might well be worth doing some careful thinking about family dynamics - you may need to find a slightly different dynamic. I know people who have loved "how to listen so kids will talk..." Or NVC books, or "raising our children, raising ourselves". Definitely read "paths are made by walking".

Spend time just holding a loving space for them - this is a huge transition, and they are going to be flailing around for a while yet.

And find out what makes them tick. My children have learned SO MUCH through computer games; it's really not a waste of time!

1tsonlyme Wed 21-Sep-16 21:17:38

I know the feeling, mine would rather not do school work, but with the Lea visit looming we need to have something on paper to show. I have had some success with my ASD 11 year old using the computer, he likes to do Khan Academy, Read Theory on the computer as he can earn rewards on those. He also does educational games on the computer. All I ask is that he does a worksheet to keep in his file.
I have days like this some time when it happens, we do what you do bake, park, swimming etc to take the pressure off. We also only work afternoons so he can do something he wants first, which is easily stopped by dinner time, then it's computer time and learning time (tried not to say school work as it makes him panic)
I needed to sit mine down and explain you do some work or you will need to go back to school, because the home school man will make you go if you are not doing any work.
I wouldn't have family visit every day personally I keep it to weekend as you need to get in to a routine.
I would only do simple easy things with your 5 year old. I don't know what she knows but stick with simple things counting, writing numbers even colouring numbers you have printed, the same with letters, read them a story keep it simple till you have got her interest.
With your son I would take him back to do some easy things but write a check list with what he is doing so he can have it in front of him and check things off as he does them.
I don't mind telling you its bloody hard work some days we don't do any thing and they do play on the play station or I go out on my own and do some shopping just to get a break and think, but I am lucky I have adult children who can supervise them at home. This is my fourth year of home schooling and the reward is hearing them say we had a good day to day didn't we mum, I leaned how to multiply today.
I hope I have been some help.

ommmward Wed 21-Sep-16 21:31:33

Remember you don't have to have a visit from the LA at all! You can provide evidence in writing. It is also completely fine to say "we're having a settling in period and finding our rhythm, and will be in touch with more concrete information about our provision in January".

It's totally worth doing a LOT of fun trips to zoos and science centres etc etc. No need to dress it up as education. Just get season tickets and enjoy going regularly ☺

Hidingtonothing Wed 21-Sep-16 22:12:03

Honestly OP at 4 weeks in I would be doing nothing 'academic' with them at all. The idea of deschooling is to give everyone (including you!) time to breath out and make the (frankly massive) mental adjustment between school and home ed. I get that DS needs some structure but you can have a routine or a plan for the day that doesn't involve any actual 'work'. You will find a rhythm but IMO it needs to come naturally and, although it's lovely you're trying to do fun stuff with them I think maybe it all still feels a bit pressured. My advice would be to just let them 'be' for a while, it's pretty standard to take 6 months or more to settle into a style of learning and find your feet. I doubt the LA will expect anything else at this stage but, at most, you could send an idea of the educational philosophy you think you'll be following when they do make contact. Have a look at the Education Otherwise website for some examples and general advice about how to deal with the LA. I don't think you need to be worrying about providing samples of work at this stage though and it's totally normal that your DC need a little time for everything to settle down, it's a massive change of pace for you all. Your aim for now should be happy, relaxed kids because when they don't feel pressured their natural desire to learn will come through and you will find a way of learning that works for them. You're not failing them by not starting straight away, they will be much more receptive to learning when they've had chance to de-stress and that's when you can start to reintroduce some proper work. Have you joined the local HE groups on fb etc? You'll find masses of support on there from people who've been exactly where you are now and will be able to guide you through flowers

InYourDreams Wed 21-Sep-16 22:24:59

Thank you both. I think I just need reassurance that we are alright if we don't sit down everyday and do some formal kind of learning.
Yes I think we do need time. We will concentrate on just fun I think for a while, see how that settle down and see how my son copes with no so much structure.

InYourDreams Wed 21-Sep-16 22:32:01

Hidingtonothing thanks. I really appreciate the advice. smile

Hidingtonothing Thu 22-Sep-16 00:01:27

It's funny how long the 'freedom' element takes to sink in but when you suddenly realise there are no rules and you can do this whatever way feels right to you it gets a lot easier! One way to ease into it when you all feel ready is to pick up on something they express an interest in or ask questions about and make a project out of it. You can tailor it to their abilities, so your DS could do some research on the computer and then you could all do some sort of field trip or fact finding expedition and then DS could write something about what you've found and DD could maybe do a drawing or collage to go with it. It's amazing how much they learn from doing something simple like this and it can often lead on to something else so the flow of their work becomes quite natural. My DD is 7, we HE'd from the beginning so she's never been to school but we've managed to cover pretty much every subject this way. She reads like an adult, her handwriting has taken a bit more effort because she prefers to write on a keyboard but the work she produces is years ahead in terms of language and composition. We learn at her pace and I'm guided by her interests but it works, it's amazing how many different areas you can cover in one project. We did a nature project recently and I realised afterwards we'd covered science, maths, English and art just in one piece of work. It's a much more natural way of learning I think but it's normal to worry along the way because you haven't got the same tests and targets as you would if they were at school so it's harder to measure their progress but 99% of the time I have no doubt it was the right choice for my DD, I hope it will work out as well for you and your DC. Message me anytime if I can help with anything or you just want someone to chat to flowers

BertrandRussell Thu 22-Sep-16 00:06:35

"I know the feeling, mine would rather not do school work, but with the Lea visit looming we need to have something on paper to show"

You don't, you know!

junebirthdaygirl Thu 22-Sep-16 00:07:54

Could your ds get an online tutor so would feel he is still on the computer but learning? Could he follow a complete online maths programme?
Everything is learning for a 5 year old.

Saracen Thu 22-Sep-16 09:47:36

I agree with others that you need to allow more time for deschooling, without requiring any academic work from your children at this point. Meanwhile just focus on the family dynamics and keeping everyone happy. Learning will happen in due course.

Deschooling isn't incompatible with having lots of structure if that is what your son needs. You could ask the kids for help to create a rough schedule. Ask everyone what they need and want to do in the day. It might look like this, for example:
8am breakfast and walk dog
9-10am reading or computer time
10-11 building time: Lego/craft, junk modelling
11-12 exercise
12-1 out and about doing errands: shopping, bank, laundrette
1pm lunch
1:30-3 pm jobs around house
3-4:30 chilling out with TV or computer or audiobooks
4:30-5:30 visit from grandma
and so on.

Among families who believe in letting children control their own learning, some feel it is best to allow unlimited access to TV and computers, while others limit those and perhaps chivvy their children to do something outdoors every day.

You do NOT have to have a visit from the LA. You do not have to do formal work or show any evidence of the children's learning. If you want any help with corresponding with them, just ask!

littlepinkmouseofsugar Thu 22-Sep-16 10:05:56

Could the daily family visits be reduced or postponed to weekends, as it may be both you and the children are feeling like they are checking up on you and you feel under pressure at what is a time of transition for you all still?

I find re arguments and squabbles that setting children up with 2 separate activities in 2 separate areas of the house helps... and I flit between them so they feel like they have my attention and can do whatever they are doing in pace without scrutiny/judgement etc from their sibling.

FWIW we've just started HE my eldest and she actually functions better with structure having been at school since nursery, so we do things in approx 30 mins slots in the morning then she is free in the afternoon to do as she pleases which means she continues doing something from the morning or a spin off of her own making if she's keen or else goes off and does her own thing/plays.

Also we made a massive list of what she's like to learn, do more of, do etc which we are slowly working through, so having things she's chosen to do helps as well. We are working towards themed topics that cover the curriculum but are more interesting for both of us e.g. plan a visit to the Nat History museum to see an exhibition she thinks sounds interesting, then working on science/art/writing projects related to that.

Re reading - what about literacy on a tangent - e.g. learning to touch type? There is a typing tutor (free) on the BBC. My DC has been doing 30 mins of that a day and has now pretty much covered all the keys and so hopes to type up things herself now albeit slowly...

InYourDreams Thu 22-Sep-16 13:09:55

Some great ideas! I like the idea of touch typing and online tutoring. I agree Saracen, a rough schedule with their imput is a good start.

I'm going to let them tell me if they want to do something. After hearing from you all I really need to back off. I'm hoping then we can find our own rhythm. I knew it wouldn't be easy but I'm feeling better about everything now.

Thank you! Im sure I will be calling for all your help again soon. smile

BiddyPop Thu 22-Sep-16 13:33:58

Maybe even use talking over the dinner table about things they are interested in as a way to build the list of curriculum topics for you - and also a way to get them debating and expressing themselves as it continues on beyond just your initial "idea gathering" phase - they can go research an issue and chat about it.

Baking has a lot of numeracy in it with weighing and measuring, and literacy in reading recipes. (There are a few recipes in DD's reading books this and last year - she's never actually made one but is talking about trying one from this week).

Gardening has a lot of science, maths, possibly literacy too involved - how do things grow, needing different ingredients (soil, water, light, heat), how many plants to grow, what do instructions say about how far apart, lets measure that, how does water move differently when we pour it from high up or low down or leave it standing still, will we grow our own peas to eat.....

The same with craft projects - things like make a piñata for Halloween which takes a few weeks including lots of drying time.

There are also lots of different homeschool resources online that I've found over the years (DD is MS still but with ADHD/ASD and I have contemplated it in the past, and have done various modules with her to stave off the "I'm Bored!!"-ness).

www.giftedkids.ie/kids.html
homeschooling.about.com/od/curriculum/u/teaching.htm
www.enchantedlearning.com/themes/
www.schoolexpress.com/fwsindex.php
www.dltk-holidays.com/easter/index.html
Activity Village is not bad either

They are just ones I had saved in my favourites, and used to start off bouncing around the web to find different things. There are lots there with themed sheets - like I know a few places would have writing, maths, and other factual learning sheets on a theme so the idea was obviously that you'd spend a week doing, say, penguins - maths sheets using penguin characters, word mining and story sheets using words related to penguins, colouring sheets and craft ideas on penguins, fact sheets and then quizzes for later on penguins, their lives and habitats etc.....then next week, move on to something else.

It certainly seemed like it would all take a fair amount of work to get organized, but there's lots that is "schooling" and learning without being formal about it. You just have to think about it yourself and decide how to structure it in your own head, and then you can justify it to the world and its' wife as you are comfortable you know what you're at!

BiddyPop Thu 22-Sep-16 13:37:21

Oh, and if you are planning outings, get DS to look up timetables and plan routes for you, and DD to add up how much tickets will cost for 1 person or all 3 of you.....quite apart from learning about dinosaurs when you get to the Natural History Museum or whatever.

It's not always about doing set "classes" but spotting the opportunities in everyday activities, and just building those into "your school plan" grin

cheesychip Sun 25-Sep-16 22:41:25

My homeschooled child is led by routine. I've adapted everyday life into boxes for him - we do life skills (cafes, museums, walks, cooking, etc etc ) and nature fun (as above) and shape, space and measure - construction, marble runs, minecraft etc etc. It was deschooling but in a format that worked for him and his needs. No need to write stuff down - who's going to read it?

duvet Mon 26-Sep-16 10:52:15

Some really useful ideas here. I hope things improve for you soon Improveyourdreams. What about ensuring what they watch is educational. There are a lot of interesting documentaries on BBC iplayer that my children although one of them especially wouldn't perhaps choose to watch, she enjoys it once it's on.
I'm following this thread with interest - I'm not homeschooling yet but I'm considering it for DD2 who has dyslexia (auditory processing) & is due to start high school next year. Feeling very nervous about the decision, especially as most people seem to start from primary school.
Let us know how it goes.

SianiMoomin Wed 28-Sep-16 20:39:10

You don't have to have a visit from the LA. I'm an EHE advisor for my local authority and I would advise you to communicate politely with them if at all possible and you can always send them written evidence instead. You don't have to do that even, but I think it's always worth it to be honest. I wouldn't expect to see anything on paper either - especially after 4 weeks! I only make initial contact after 3 months and lots say they need more time to get into the swing of things. I love seeing photos of home Ed families getting out and about, pictures they've drawn, etc. A 5 year old should be learning through play anyway and I wouldn't advise anything formal at that age. Games and crafts that use fine motor skills ready for mark making with a pencil are always good. Even a little diary with what you've done that day is more than evidence enough. However I also know that all LA's seem to have a different approach which is why many people are suspicious. If you want some help, why not ask your LA EHE officer for advice? If you don't get a good feeling from them, don't meet them. If they're friendly and helpful, it might make you less anxious and they might have some good ideas you can use?

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