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

And the four include one who has Aspergers/giftedness and another who had developmental delay. Their school treats them as individuals and they are given the level of work that's right for them.

cory Sat 26-Jan-13 11:39:40

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'. "

In the end it won't just be about what you want to accept: it will about what your dd wants out of life. They grow up quicker than you think.

So whichever choices you make, you need to make sure that they are flexible and can be stretched to include a change of plan on her part.

My HE'dding friend has had to accept that one of her sons decided he wanted to attend secondary school. So off he went. The other son potentially wants to go to university, so is sitting exams through the HE system.

On the other hand, I have had to accept that my highly academic daughter wants to concentrate on vocational subjects at college (though still leaving the path open to university), which is not the kind of future I would have mapped out if you'd left it up to my dreams or ideas (though am now very excited about dd's choices).

I think you can achieve the goal of keeping options open either way. But you do need to listen to your children as they grow up.

mamalost Sat 26-Jan-13 11:41:38

Bunbaker and seeker - I would deffo want DCs to do secondary school exams - but I guess the things that I have already mentioned are 'the system' in some ways... both good things and bad things. I'm not sure if I can be more specific than that.

cory well, no problem with DD having herd-mentality of our family - we're definitely always right. wink Yes, those are valid points - perhaps I'm worried about negative influences though? We don't exactly live in leafy, beautiful middle-class suburbia...

MrsDeVere Sat 26-Jan-13 11:43:14

I understand you to a certain extent.
I hated school.
But my 4th of 5th is now in reception and he, like all the others, love school.

I make sure not to project my feelings about 'the system' onto my kids. They have a long time at school, I want them to enjoy it.

I live in inner city london too. It never crossed my mind to check out the ethnicity of the pupils at my chosen school. From the playground I can tell it is very mixed, but then so are my DCs.
I just wanted one close to home and had a decent pastoral care write up in the ofsted.

To answer one of the OP's questions, they were tired to start with in Reception, but now they are all enthusiastic about doing extra activities after school. For example, in school time DD does choir, gymnastics club and flute lessons. Out of school time she does a dance class, orchestra/song-writing and Brownies. She is 8.

MrsDeVere Sat 26-Jan-13 11:44:05

I just read your last post.

I am losing sympathy.

Keep your kids at home. Much safer. That way they won't have to mix with the likes of mine hmm

StripiestSocks Sat 26-Jan-13 11:48:31

OP - you sound a lot like me! I feel very similar, but do not talk openly. People like to believe in school, so any suggestion of HE is not popular. Have you talked to anyone doing HE?

Don't forget that you do not have to do as many hours as they do in school, as much less time is wasted, you count all hours learning, so what you do in evenings or weekends counts, and an activity like e.g. Gardening is learning, in a school they will 'learn about' gardening but not learn any more than a child will learn through doing.

But I understand the fear, I really do.

Feenie Sat 26-Jan-13 11:52:08

and an activity like e.g. Gardening is learning, in a school they will 'learn about' gardening but not learn any more than a child will learn through doing

But in most schools they would be gardening - they would learn through planting something. Many schools also have plots on site, or an allotment. At the very least they would grow a bean plant in a pot!

BooksandaCuppa Sat 26-Jan-13 11:55:07

OP, it's really important to be clear, as others have said, about which of your fears and unfounded and which are more grounded, eg. Yr 2 sats are quite generally nothing to be concerned about. Lining up to go into class is just health and safety common sense as well as good manners. Most of reception and now lots of yr 1is very play based and child-led.

Others of your concerns (children's behaviour/your child not being challenged) might be more valid but, again, are all based on worst-case scenarios.

I speak as someone who would have home educated at the drop of a hat for my August born, AS son, but I decided to work out what my worst fears about schooling were and address just those. For me, they were- staff not fully understanding his specific needs and the unnatural (as I see it) separation of children into narrow age bands based on their birthdays.

So I actively sought out a very small school for him where all the staff knew all the children intimately and where reception children played with year 6s and everyone in between. Of course there were a few niggles over the years; that's life. Nowhere and nothing is perfect. But on the whole he and we couldn't have been happier.

We decided we wanted the same intimate setting and care for secondary. For that, we've had to pay because, frankly, small secondaries tend to be small because no one wants to go there. Again, best decision we ever made.

You have to let your daughter start school with a positive attitude which I'm sure you will, and try not to be watching for the first time you think they've let you or her down - but keep your options open.

I'm sure she'll have a great time!

cory Sat 26-Jan-13 11:55:31

"cory well, no problem with DD having herd-mentality of our family - we're definitely always right. Yes, those are valid points - perhaps I'm worried about negative influences though? We don't exactly live in leafy, beautiful middle-class suburbia... "

This is precisely what I would see as a positive influence: dc having a good look at the values of other families so that if they decide to adopt mine it will be because they have come to a conscious decision that they are good values.

It is true that I am writing from the perspective of having older children (12 and 16) so very aware of the necessity for their values to be their own if they are to have any lasting value.

One problem for me with growing up in a very strong and somewhat inward looking family was that for a long time I had difficulty in telling the difference between values and preferences: I rather felt our predilection for the opera rather than the latest pop music was a moral value on the same lines as our honesty and hard work ethic. There is no doubt that this tribal attitude did get in the way of my moral development. I am glad that dc are more open and can accept that people have different customs without being better or worse.

cory Sat 26-Jan-13 11:58:05

Or to put it another way: if you want to keep sheltering your children from outside influences, how long are you prepared to keep them sheltered? Until their teens? Until they go to uni? And what will happen when they are suddenly thrown into the outside world?

LeeCoakley Sat 26-Jan-13 11:58:17

I've never seen pointless lining up. Can you give me an example?

cory Sat 26-Jan-13 12:01:30

Is lining up to go into class safely any more pointless than queuing in the shops or at the post office?

BooksandaCuppa Sat 26-Jan-13 12:04:45

What Cory said.

Values and preferences are something I sometimes struggle to separate but I do want my son to have different interests and opinions from me. I guess if you don't, then, no, don't send them out into the world at all.

See, the thing is, (and I know you've said you want them to take external exams at 16 etc) but there are many things about the exam system I disagree with (some Gove might improve, some he might make worse) but they're hoops you have to jump through to have half a chance of doing something you want to do for the rest of your life. Almost probably, anyway.

Bunbaker Sat 26-Jan-13 12:07:48

What BooksandaCuppa and cory said.

StripiestSocks Sat 26-Jan-13 12:07:58

Yes, in a school they will plant something, but it is token, due to class size etc. the vast majority of learning in a school is still done inside a classroom, sitting down, listening to a teacher, then doing independent or group work based on what the teacher has told you. the teacher has learning objectives, usually fairly narrow in scope, and the success of the lesson is determined by the kids 'learning' what the teacher determines they should learn, whether that be a skill, a fact, a method, whatever. If you just do gardening, you learn all the skills, facts, methods eventually but the primary focus is the doing.

jojane Sat 26-Jan-13 12:08:21

I feel that school can provide certain things that you wouldn't be able to do at home - playing team games, taking part in school play etc, they get to interact with people from different cultures/religions/different lifestyles to them, learn to share, deal with routine and rules that thy will find in the workplace,
My DS1 is in yr1 and the school have been brilliant in helping with is toilet training issues, suspected aspergers, advanced reading ability, lack of social skills etc etc, they helped push through referrals and got assessments done etc, he is a totally different little joy from wen e started school 18 months ago, he's doing really well. Dd started reception in September and she loves it, all Xmas holidays she kept asking if she could go back to school, yes there's the occasional friendship squabble but there always will be in life,
My DH always suggested the idea of HE so it is something we considered but as a family we do a lot of trips and teach our kids things as they come up so feel we can fill in the gaps of anything not taught at school. In Wales reception is very much teach through play and child led, they have a few sessions where they have to sit and so writing for example but maths is games on the yard, they get to choose what they want to do and are free to roam from the classroom to the outside patio o the creative area etc with member of staff in all the areas (about 5 TAs and a teacher in reception)

StripiestSocks Sat 26-Jan-13 12:11:28

It is an unfair accusation to make to suggest people who wish to educate their children at home do not wish to send their children out into the world or would not be happy for their children t hold different views from them. That is a very cheap shot.

cory Sat 26-Jan-13 12:12:28

StripiestSocks Sat 26-Jan-13 12:07:58
"Yes, in a school they will plant something, but it is token, due to class size etc."

I don't think so. Both dc's infants and junior schools had gardens for the children to work in, as well as regularly planting things in pots.

The Reception class room had a cave/playhouse set up that could become the house of Goldilocks and the Three Bears or a doctor's surgery or anything else required. There were also wet play facilities and a wonderful array of playground toys- and in Reception most of the activities are child led anyway.

StripiestSocks Sat 26-Jan-13 12:16:13

I agree with 'dealing with routine' - undoubtedly school prepares one to be office fodder better than any other system.

cory Sat 26-Jan-13 12:18:08

StripiestSocks Sat 26-Jan-13 12:11:28
2It is an unfair accusation to make to suggest people who wish to educate their children at home do not wish to send their children out into the world or would not be happy for their children t hold different views from them. That is a very cheap shot2

I never said that HE'ers in general do not wish this. My friend who HE's is certainly not like that and I don't think most HE'ers are.

I went entirely on the posts of the OP where she says she wants to keep her children away from other influences, mentions the fact that her home area is not a leafy suburb as a reason, worries about other children being nasty and about bad influences and specifically talks about values.

I never said this is an attitude all HE'ers share.

StripiestSocks Sat 26-Jan-13 12:18:22

They may well have gardens, but do the maths - 30 kids in a class, 25 hours of teaching time. How much real time is there for each child to really engage?

I was a teacher, I know how little can be achieved in a week!

Parenting doesn't stop when they go to school, you can develop your child's curiosity, teach them all sorts and let them lead the learning in a zillion ways at home, before or after school or weekends and holidays.

Don't let your fear of the school system rub off on them. I did find letting go of DS1 to school upsetting personally - not least as he was a "young one", but also as I remembered what my own school experience was like but I really had to swallow this and allow DS to have his OWN experience - now in Year 1 it is a positive experience, the only thing he definitely doesn't like is having to get up in the morning. OK maybe that one has rubbed off from me.

When kids go to school the baby bubble is well and truly burst isn't it? It's like life begins in earnest for our children. Much as we'd love to carry them through every situation they're clever small things and can navigate many of these situations themselves if we let them, and find excitement and joy in the process. If it's a disaster then you sound like you'll be more than geared up to look at alternatives.

cory Sat 26-Jan-13 12:28:56

StripiestSocks Sat 26-Jan-13 12:18:22
"They may well have gardens, but do the maths - 30 kids in a class, 25 hours of teaching time. How much real time is there for each child to really engage?

I was a teacher, I know how little can be achieved in a week! "

This is on the assumption that a child needs 1:1 adult attention to engage in something and that a child who is planting a plant with the 1/25 attention of the teacher but (but together with a friend) cannot possibly find it as enriching an experience as a child who does the same activity with the full attention of an adult. Coming from a large-ish family myself, I don't think it works like that.

When dd or ds came home all excited from school, it was just as often about how they had done all these wonderful things with their friends.

cory Sat 26-Jan-13 12:31:01

The teacher's input was necessary to provide guidance, explanations and some monitoring of behaviour, but the exciting bit was the bit that I and Jamie did, Mummy.

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