Need reassurance about school - its not all bad, is it?!

(154 Posts)
mamalost Thu 24-Jan-13 23:01:46

I was planning on HE-ing DD for at least reception (she is due to start in Sept) but it is not going to work out at the moment. In the last few months I have spent A. LOT. of time reading about home educating etc and I really believe in it even though we can't practically make it happen at the moment... I have sent in an application for reception and now am feeling like a massive failure and like I am going to damage my children by sending them to school. Please - tell me its not all horrible children on the playground, nasty teachers, strict rules and pointless lining up? I am so worried about DD starting school, I feel ill just thinking about it and its months away. sad

yellowsun Sat 26-Jan-13 09:39:50

Can you get her some preschool hours prior to September to ease the transition for both of you?

solidfoundation Sat 26-Jan-13 09:47:10

My nephews and niece really love infant school and hate it when there's a holiday. You DC will too, but don't expect them to come home full of it as they will be very tired initially and not want to discuss it. If you show a positive attitude towards it, they will too.

Bunbaker Sat 26-Jan-13 10:07:43

"over-testing of children throughout school career,"

Do you mean high school as well? If your children never get used to any kind of testing how will they cope with GCSEs, A levels and university degrees, especially as the exam system is going to change back to the style of exams I used to sit in the 1970s?

The KS2 SATS were very low key at DD's primary school. I admit that year 6 turned into a bit of a SATS factory for 5 months. At high school DD gets lots of tests and milestones and I think that the SATS preparation has helped. I don't agree with SATS testing BTW.

Teacherwith2kids has some sensible advice, and I get the impression that you are wanting to home educate for your own benefit rather than your daughter's. The person I know who tried "home educating" took her daughter out of school simply because she didn't like getting out of bed early every morning. School isn't just a place of learning though. Children learn social skills and how to behave appropriately with other people, they learn how to make friends and how to deal with other children that maybe aren't as nice as they should be.

mamalost Sat 26-Jan-13 10:27:27

Seeker, its nothing in particular with Reception... more that that is the start of school life. If I'm not sure about 'school life' then I should commit to HE, is my thought process.

teacher, my childminder go to a childminder 3 days a week at the moment because I work, so they are not afraid of being away from me, I don't think. Obviously it is a much smaller setting than nursery/ preschool though. Why did you decide not to continue HE-ing, out of curiosity?

Bunbaker Sat 26-Jan-13 10:30:30

Another point about home educating is that you will be with your children 24/7. How will you deal with doctors/dentist/hospital appointments? Will you not want some child free time?

seeker Sat 26-Jan-13 10:32:50

Ok- apply the same approach to school. What are your specific concerns?

mamalost Sat 26-Jan-13 10:36:48

Bunbaker I guess I don't know how important it is to prepare 6/7 year olds and 11 year olds for exams that they will take when they are 15/16. There is a massive amount of growing up and developing that they do before that. I think that much teaching has become 'teaching to test' and I think that is to the loss of real learning. I very much disagree about wanting to HE for my benefit. I would much rather someone else do it! I am frankly terrified of the implications for my and DH's life if we decide to HE. HE is a whole lifestyle choice instead of just a way of 'doing' education. In HE groups children also learn the things that they can learn from socialising at school - except with much more adult input.

teacher do you know if you can refuse SAT testing for your children or are they compulsory?

piprabbit Sat 26-Jan-13 10:39:15

My DS started reception in September. I was worried about him as he has some 'interesting' behaviours at home, was a little immature for his age and really, really struggles to cope with transitions.

All I can say is that school has been wonderful for him. He has absolutely blossomed and is thriving in a way I didn't dare hope would happen. His teacher and TA are stars. And he is much easier to cope with at home too (which is a lovely bonus).

mamalost Sat 26-Jan-13 10:46:00

seeker specific concerns: bullying, too much time away from home (which should be the primary influence in a child's life, not an institution), things not being challenging enough, or being too challenging, bad influences, the general politics of school, not enough time to play, teach-led learning and some of the other things that I have mentioned up thread.

Bunbaker you are absolutely right and this is why I'm trying to make the decision carefully. I work part-time and will have to either find a childminder who will consider 2 days with a week with an older child and toddler, or keep them at the current childminder who is amazing, but DD will be the oldest (by 2 years - not ideal) or perhaps consider a (live-out) nanny or au-pair try to re-organise my work into the evening, which, after being with DCs all day I might not quite be up to! confused

Feenie Sat 26-Jan-13 10:52:01

mamalost, assessment in Y2 has been teacher assessment only for around 8 years now, so is the same as in any other year. It does have to include one test (along with all the other evidence with assesses the whole child), but ime Y2 children don't know they are doing them. Most schools present them as special booklets, it's all very low key, and the activities are exactly the same as their everyday work.

Can't say the same about Y6 tests, but that's a long way off. And even then, a good school will provide a broad and balanced curriculum throughout Y6 (even if the tests by then are very formal - can't be helped sad).

mamalost Sat 26-Jan-13 10:55:05

Weird question - but how much are people's children interested in still 'learning' things outside of school hours? I would want to introduce my DCs to lots of other things that they might not learn about in school... will they still be interested or tired of 'learning' by the end of the week?

piprabbit Sat 26-Jan-13 11:00:20

I don't think children compartmentalise life into 'learning' and 'not learning' - for them every experience is a chance to learn something new. So you can carry on providing your child with new experiences outside of school hours and they will learn from those experiences. IME children don't get tired of learning - why would they when it is all so exciting?

Bunbaker Sat 26-Jan-13 11:03:05

"I guess I don't know how important it is to prepare 6/7 year olds and 11 year olds for exams that they will take when they are 15/16. There is a massive amount of growing up and developing that they do before that. I think that much teaching has become 'teaching to test' and I think that is to the loss of real learning."

Those are valid points. In my experience. The children only get "taught to test" in year 6, they don't for the KS2 SATS which are very low key. However, they do get tested all the time at high school. My point was more about what happens at high school not primary.

Feenie Sat 26-Jan-13 11:09:15

Think you mean Y2 SATs, Bunbaker - which are teacher asssessment now anyway. smile

In many schools, children aren't taught to the test even in Y6.

seeker Sat 26-Jan-13 11:10:26

Well, they are still at home far more than they are at school- so home influence still is the most important one, particularly in the early years. Teacher led learning is also not a particular feature of early years- and isn't necessarily a bad thing anyway. Bullying happens, but can happen anywhere, and it's important to remember that you get a skewed view of this on a forum like this- most people don't post if they haven't got a problem. And it's often a reason for HE- so once again, a disproportionate view there. Not sure about the challenging/not challenging enough- but that's something you can address with the teacher if it arises.

And please don't worry about year 2 SATs- that's ages away. And they are incredibly low key.

ShipwreckedAndComatose Sat 26-Jan-13 11:14:28

I love the fact that my kids are learning from specialists in school and also from all the other kids there. The things they come back talking about amazes me.

I also love the fact that we can compliment this with trips to places that tie in with their learning and also expand the things that interest them at home.

There isn't a separation between learning at home and at school. if your dd goes to school she will get the best of all of her experiences. It's neither one or the other but a blending of all.

I don't see school as a failure, I see it as essential, personally.

mamalost Sat 26-Jan-13 11:22:05

Bunbaker - yes, I would want DCs to do GCSEs and A levels so some testing experience is not necessarily bad, but from the 15 year olds I know, I don't like the amount of work that goes into the exam and not just learning IFSWIM.

Hmm, thanks for your thoughts and experience everyone - it is very helpful.

Bunbaker Sat 26-Jan-13 11:22:52

"Think you mean Y2 SATs, Bunbaker - which are teacher asssessment now anyway."

Yes, that's what I meant smile

Bunbaker Sat 26-Jan-13 11:24:58

Unfortunately it is the system. 15 year olds need to learn to pass an exam unless they just want to stack shelves in Asda for a living. We were taught specifically "to the exam" back in the 1970s, nothing has changed there.

mamalost Sat 26-Jan-13 11:27:52

I guess that's why I'm thinking about HE - because we have to accept certain things because 'its the system'. I'm just wondering how far I want to accept 'the system'.

seeker Sat 26-Jan-13 11:30:29

So which bits of "the system" don't you want to accept?

I'm sorry if I seem to be harassing you but I do think you need to be clear about what you don' like- and be sure it actually happens grin before you make any decisions.

Bunbaker Sat 26-Jan-13 11:32:14

"I'm just wondering how far I want to accept 'the system'."

I don't think it is a great idea to opt out of the exam system for 15 year olds. without GCSEs or similar their career prospects are very limited.
Primary education is a different matter though.

cory Sat 26-Jan-13 11:34:19

mamalost Fri 25-Jan-13 23:04:00

"I think because I had originally thought of home educating and I mostly hear and heard stories of how amazing it is you begin to worry that school is not a positive place."

Don't forget that people who HE often feel criticised by people around them so they are the ones who feel they need to argue their case and explain how amazing it is. When you do the same as your parents did before you and as your friend down the road, you don't usually feel the need to justify your decision, however good you feel about it.

"also the herd-mentality of a group of children without many adults involved,"

don't underestimate the herd mentality of a child who spends most of his/her time in a closed family unit without different influences

one reason I am happy that dd goes to school is that I realise how uncritically I admired my own (lovely) parents and everything they did or stood for- and how difficult that made it for me to develop opinions of my own as a young adult

I realise that dd and I could easily develop the kind of relationship where she takes all my opinions on board without realising that they are not necessarily the only option

it does her good to see that there are other families out there and other professional adults who have totally different ideas and totally different priorities

"Weird question - but how much are people's children interested in still 'learning' things outside of school hours? I would want to introduce my DCs to lots of other things that they might not learn about in school... will they still be interested or tired of 'learning' by the end of the week? "

As long as you don't teach them to see learning as an unnatural scheduled activity that takes place at certain times- then definitely. Even if you send your child to school, that is still a small part out of their week, and there will be masses of time for walks in the park, trips to the woods, museums and libraries, theatres and concerts, holidays abroad if you can afford them, DVDS that you can talk about. Most junior/secondary school children I know do leisure activities outside of school, and as they get up to secondary school they do a lot of informal learning by simply going out with their mates.

piprabbit Sat 26-Jan-13 11:35:21

There are knock on effects to opting out of exams at 15/16 yo. Will your DD also be opting out of Further Education? At what stage would you envisage her opting back into the system in order to be able to find a job? So many jobs require qualifications of various sorts.

All four of mine are having a great time at school. At the end of the holidays they are always pleased to be going back. School can be a really positive experience.

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