Dismayed at Dd's plan to homeschool

(29 Posts)
hamble123 Thu 23-Jan-14 09:24:58

Hi - this is my first post on Mumsnet, but I am apprehensive about my daughter's plan to homeschool my grandchild (who will be 4 this year).

My daughter is a single parent and due to a nasty break-up with her partner, had to leave her job. To to my dismay she now quite happily lives on benefits (although her 'ex' is always turning up as he resigned from his job and he too now lives on benefits and has never paid a penny to support his child, yet seems to find enough money to chain-smoke and smokes weed).

She is a free spirit who likes to go to festivals and is into 'alternative living'. For some unknown reason she has a major distrust of anyone in authority (eg. medical and healthcare profession, education etc.). She had a homebirth and hates 'big pharma' and it alarms me that my gdd has never been vaccinated. My daughter has never allowed any health visitors to see my gdd either and tells them that she 'doesn't require their services'.

My daughter has no intention of sending her child to school and plans to homeschool and says that about 3 hours of instruction a day will be sufficient. She knows that if you don't register a child for school then she won't be monitored by the authorities. She has no money for resources and I'm concerned that it's all going to be art projects and little else (she doesn't see the need for subjects she doesn't like herself eg. science and she doesn't like maths).

Ironically my daughter enjoyed school herself, she has a degree and had lots of vaccinations when she went trekking around Asia during her Gap Year. I don't know how she can home school if she will be expected to be a jobseeker when her little one is of school age?

When I search online for homeschooling the comments and reports are always positive - surely it isn't all roses? (I do know some American homeschoolers but the parents are religious, motivated and quite strict with very compliant children).

How can I ensure that my grandchild won't fall through the cracks without antagonising my daughter?

columngollum Thu 23-Jan-14 09:26:19

Is your name David Cameron?

Norudeshitrequired Thu 23-Jan-14 09:31:48

You can't do anything without antagonising your daughter. Your granddaughter is your daughters child and she is free to do as she pleases in her parenting role (as long as it's legal and not abusive). Your daughter does not have to send her child to school and is free to home educate but she will have to provide your granddaughter with an appropriate education. What is deemed an appropriate education is open to interpretation, but if you are concerned then you can contact the local education dept once the home ed programme has started and raise your concerns with them.
You cannot force your daughter to vaccinate her child either as she is free to make those decisions as her parent.
It must be tough as a grandparent but I'm sure that your daughter has the best interests of her child at heart even if you don't agree with the decisions.
Your daughter probably doesn't see education as the same level of importance as you do as despite having a degree she isn't working and doesn't seem to be bothered about pursuing a high flying well paid career.

Chocovore Thu 23-Jan-14 09:31:57

I don't know what you can do about it in all reality but I do understand your concerns and worries. Hopefully someone on here can be more helpful.

Would she HE as part of a group? I know several people who do this so at least if a particular subject isn't our daughter's forte, your GD would be receiving an education from another parent covering this area.

UriGeller Thu 23-Jan-14 09:33:14

I'm sure she will have looked into the pros and cons of home education for her daughter. I have been doing the same for my son who is three.

I guess you're wondering how she will be able to HE when she's required to work by the government but i think other people manage it.

I think you need to carry on smiling and nodding and supporting your daughter. You brought her up and gave her the drive to get her degree and to have a liberated mind. As she is well educated, you really have to have some faith in her ability to HE her own daughter.

The vaccinations thing, I'm with you on that one but thats a different story. Its probably for the best that she won't be going to school if she's unvaccinated.

Meita Thu 23-Jan-14 09:41:24

I guess you can't make your daughter send your granddaughter to school. You can argue your position but it is her decision at the end of the day.

So actually you can decide between nagging her and keeping on arguing, perhaps in the process antagonising her even further into her decision. You might end up being lumped with the 'authorities' she so deeply distrusts, and you might end up not being in touch with her much. So if you do argue your side, do it carefully, try to find even, level-headed arguments rather than polar opposite positions, IYSWIM.

Or you could decide to support your daughter. As in, reading up on homeschooling, what are the difficulties/risks associated with it and how they can be counteracted, perhaps providing her with some resources she lacks the funds to acquire for herself?

But I wouldn't worry much about her not teaching maths and science, at this age… Very few kids in Europe will have formal teaching in these subjects before they're much older, and it is questionable how young children learn better, for instance about biology - by mucking about in the dirt and planting seeds and watering them and watching something grow, or by sitting in a classroom listening to a teacher and doing worksheets…
And reception age kids will, as I gather, usually be getting LESS than three hours formal instruction per day. So before you go lecturing your daughter what is best for your granddaughter, maybe get informed about facts, rather than going on your suppositions and assumptions?

jomidmum Thu 23-Jan-14 09:52:49

We home educate and some of our extended family really don't think it's the right thing. But as parents we choose to bring up our children in our own individual way.
We just ignore their opinion! Don't let it cause a problem between you, it's probably not worth it smile

3bunnies Thu 23-Jan-14 09:53:06

The stats I saw indicated that in early school years you need very little time to replicate the teaching hours in school - they are in school about 25 hours per week - in a class of 30 that is less than an hour per child per week. In reception 2/5 hours a day need to be free play anyway. It is not hard for an educated person with resources in the library to give a child the education they need in the early years. Once they can read they can research their own interests more.

I personally have chosen to send my dc to school because I am lazy and like my peace but I don't think that he is wrong and although my dc are nearly up to date with vaccination I have sympathy with those who don't. I don't think that anything your dd is doing is wrong on it's own, as long as she is going to be educating her and not popping her in front of cbeebies all day because she can't be bothered to get out of bed to take her to school. I guess it is the motivation behind it and whether your dd is likely to be able to cover the important subjects that I would look at. Maybe you could offer to pay for a maths tutor when she is a bit older for example.

You will probably have more influence on your gd life by gently supporting your daughter than by challenging her. Her dd may want to go to school later anyway. Children do start school very young in this country. Your dd may also find it is hard to he once she needs to find a job as a single person her benefits will be cut if she isn't available for work once her child is of school age.

mummytime Thu 23-Jan-14 09:57:09

Four hours is more than plenty (at least until GCSE) in the experience of most Homeschoolers I know (and their children have gone on to Uni etc.). Science at this age could be growing some cress. My DCs loved growing crystals too. As a Doctor of Science I would rather small children were taught to be curious and look carefully, as the ideal preparation to Science - and Art could be the ideal preparation for this.

I suggest you read some of the literature on Home Education, and ask questions about how she is going to do it and why.

BTW there are home educators who work, even full-time. It is a juggling act, but can be done.

tiredbutnotweary Thu 23-Jan-14 10:17:10

I would think the best way would be to help and support as much as you are able. If you keep the channels open and try and support your daughter with her endeavours then you get to keep in contact and that is a prerequisite for influencing her in the long term (if and only if it seems that this decision isn't working).

Therefore you need to have an open mind, not only because HE can be very successful, but also because your daughter is likely to see through offers of help if they are linked to advice to change course at this early stage when, no doubt, she is full of excitement at this new adventure.

Would you be willing / are you able to help with resources and instruction in the subjects your daughter is less keen on? This needn't be expensive, for example 10 sided die, initially with dots, eventually with numbers, can be used as a fun way to learn to count, add and take away. I've bought 5 such dice and they cost £2

You can print off the new national curriculum info that provides guidance on what children should be taught by the end of each year.

There is a mass of free on-line resources. However, could you offer to get your daughter a subscription to Reading Chest? Even better, Phonics International provide an extremely cheap but comprehensive phonics programme to teach reading in the same way it is taught in schools.

Perhaps if you say these are the things I'd love to help with & then give her the option to choose which she would find most helpful she will feel the opposite of antagonised & let you in, allowing you get to be involved and see how you GD develops over time?

PastSellByDate Thu 23-Jan-14 10:23:43

Hello Hamble123

I can understand your concerns - especially about vaccinations.

I think it is a very complicated situation. Although she's clearly made a personal choice for an alternative lifestyle she's also making that choice for her DD (your grand-daughter). It also strikes me that she's slightly frightened about what 'people in authority' may think of her care of her DD.

So perhaps the way to handle this is to discuss what your DD wants in an ideal world. Does she need the freedom and flexibility to travel about? Is that going to work with a small child in tow? Could you help? Could your grand-daughter stay with you during the school year? What do her friends do who have children?

I think if the conversation is about exploring options and isn't judgmental, but lets your DD decide, that may be a great help.

I'm not clear whether your DD is a traveller or a gypsy now or not - but there are support groups to help people like this access health services: e.g. http://www.gypsy-traveller.org/your-family/health/contacts/

My cousin decided to home school his girls. The live in the US and our sleepy home town is no longer so sleepy, but has gangs, shootings and lots of drugs sadly. He wanted to protect his girls and his wife decided to go part-time so she could seriously help support their learning. My Aunt (the girls grandmother) was a school teacher and was appalled at their decision -but my cousin's daughers have turned out great, they've both gone to the State University early and done well. They've got a wide network of friends and the eldest just married last summer. (A lovely young dentist - so their Grandmother was very pleased!) So it can turn out alright.

However, don't kid yourself - homeschooling does involve some government oversight. Link about homeschooling here: https://www.gov.uk/home-education & if you type in your post-code it will put you on to your specific council's guidance on homeschooling.

Mumnset also has a homeschooling discussion page - so it may help to ask some questions (or any future questions) there: www.mumsnet.com/Talk/home_ed

Finally - your DD is going to have to think seriously about what homeschooling she can support at senior school level. It's one thing to teach how to read and simple addition, but it's quite another to discuss physics and support experiments.

ilikenoodles Thu 23-Jan-14 11:17:07

It's totally understandable that your concerned.

I went through a similar thing with my mother who had a child around the same time I had my eldest son. She also calls herself a "free spirit" and lives on benefits. She would not get her son vaccinated and he was not registered with a GP or health visitor (she moves house/town every year or so, so is adept at staying off the radar). She abslutely hates anyone in authority too. I get that everyone has the right to choose how to raise their child and on the surface it just looks like a stand against authority or whatever. it actually turned out that she is paranoid to the exteme (possibly due long use of weed) - this made her run from doctors/schools/social services. She thinks everyone hates her, she believed she had aids, she developed agoraphobia as well. I would be concerned that your daughter avoids all possible contact with members of authority/care because she is scared of being judged... I have no idea. I do know that at 28 I've just had my pre-school jabs.

I hope everything turns out ok. x

ISeeYouShiverWithAntici Thu 23-Jan-14 11:25:14

Do you think that you didn't raise your child to be capable of being a good and responsible parent who will care appropriately for her own child? Don't worry. I am sure you did a good job yourself as a parent and raised your daughter to be able to take care of her own child.

If you have any specific concerns or see that your grandchild is not being taken care of to the point of neglect, then certainly you should raise them with your daughter and if she won't listen, then you could take it further if it is in the best interests of your grandchild. If the price you pay for that is that your daughter hates you, then you will have to be ok with paying that price in order to ensure that your grandchild is appropriately treated.

1:1 tuition for 3 hours a day sounds reasonable for a small child. The key being 1:1 - far more intensive than a class of 30.

As to benefits, well, the system allows for and understands the difficulties a single parent can face and so should you. Have you considered helping your daughter with childcare if she is able to get a job?

And finally, be a loving and non - judgemental presence in your daughter's life. That is how you can best ensure your granddaughter doesn't fall through any cracks. That and trusting that your own child has grown up to be a decent person who will do her best in her way for her child.

ReallyTired Thu 23-Jan-14 11:35:28

What a difficult situation for you. I think you are throughly justified in being worried. Most home educators do not isolate themselves from the rest of society to that extent. I think that extreme isolaton that your daugher is subjecting her four year old to is a cause for concern.

However its really hard as a mother to know what to do. If you contact social services then its quite likely that your daugher will break off all contact forever. If your concerns are completely justified then your granddaughter might be put up for adoption and you could lose contact with both your daugher and granddaughter.

As a parent we all have to grow up. Free living when you are a single, childless student is one thing, but children need stable responsible parents.

ilikenoodles Thu 23-Jan-14 12:08:39

Totally agree REALLYTIRED X

pointythings Thu 23-Jan-14 12:12:04

I agree that the self-imposed isolation is far more of a worry than the home ed itself - that can be done easily on 3 hours a day and there are a lot of groups out there to ensure that your GDD gets enough social interaction and can form friendships.

It doesn't sound as if your DD wants to follow that path though, and with everything else you are saying - specifically the refusal to engage with healthcare services - you have reason to be concerned. Do you trust your DD to take your GDD to A&E if anything is seriously wrong? If not then you really do need to keep an eye out and report to SS if you think it is needed. That last is a drastic step though, and not to be taken lightly.

The best thing you can do is be there - that way you can at least keep an eye on what is going on. Offer support if you can, respect your DD's parenting choices, intervene if you think your GDD is in danger.

Good luck.

AngelaDaviesHair Thu 23-Jan-14 12:17:31

This:
The best thing you can do is be there-that way you can at least keep an eye on what is going on. Offer support if you can, respect your DD's parenting choices, intervene if you think your GDD is in danger.

And this:
be a loving and non-judgemental presence in your daughter's life. That is how you can best ensure your granddaughter doesn't fall through any cracks.

Would your daughter be receptive to you helping with home schooling? Trips out, supplying materials and work books, even doing one or two lessons?

That way, you are supporting her choices, counteracting the isolation and benefiting your granddaughter. In your place if I could afford it I would offer to pay for e.g. music lessons as well.

And, you or may not be right to disapprove of your daughter's decisions and the general set-up, don't let it show.

ohdofeckorf Thu 23-Jan-14 14:45:17

I see your concerns OP. Your Dd sounds well educated and I'm sure she has her reasons for home education.

Home educating doesn't have to be forever. She may decide it would be best if her Dd went to school a few months down the line or she may do a sterling job by focusing on her Dd's strengths to help her succeed in a career which she is truly ambitious about, you can learn just as much (if not more) in everyday life as you can at school.

I would support her, it's her choice at the end of the day.....have you even asked her why she wants to home school?

Thurlow Thu 23-Jan-14 14:52:19

I think you're right to be worried. We had relatives who considered home educating and it became an issue within the family, but more because of the reasons for it.

While I personally wouldn't home educate, if the parents believe that their child will thrive better in a HE environment than in a traditional classroom then that makes perfect sense.

However - and this was the case with our relatives - I think there are a small minority of HE's who are doing it because they don't want their child to be apart from them, or disagree with schooling in particular, or something similar - as in, it isn't a rounded decision made in the child's best interests.

If I were you I would probably try and find out why your daughter has made these decision, but gently. And really at the end of the day, all you can do is keep seeing your daughter and grandaughter and supporting them.

Onesie Thu 23-Jan-14 16:43:36

There are lots of different types of homeschooling. It's been great for my friends kids. My friends kids do 2 hours of work a day, have maths and language sessions, swimming with other homeschoolers plus a teacher, will sit their GCSE's. I don't think this is always the case but mostly homeschooling seems to work.

Stop judging or you will lose both your daughter and your grand daughter.

Fuzzymum1 Thu 23-Jan-14 16:56:09

In the early years three hours a day is way more than a child in school gets. An unbelievable amount of time is taken up getting coats off, doing the register, washing hands for fruit and milk time, getting coats back on for playtime, taking coats off again, washing hands ready for lunch and getting coats on, taking coats off again etc - An hour of one to one would probably equate to most of a school day's worth of teaching as you don't have the issues of queuing for the toilet, kids talking on the carpet, everyone having a turn to share their idea etc.

HavantGuard Thu 23-Jan-14 17:03:11

Why not surprise your DD. Be enthusiastic about the idea and offer to get involved with showing your granddaughter some things/taking her on some educational days out so your DD has 'some time for herself.'

You can always read up on how maths is now taught to reception children. The basics can be covered in all sorts of ways, even through baking (how many cupcakes are there? Count out smarties to put one on each) or travel (how many stops on the bus journey.)

What is intended now won't necessarily come to pass. It's very likely that your granddaughter will end up in school and little ones catch up fast. The last thing you want is to set up homeschooling as a challenge for your DD by suggesting you don't think she can do it/it's too alternative. Praise her and tell her how it's very popular nowadays and you read an article about it in The Telegraph wink

MillyMollyMama Thu 23-Jan-14 17:31:20

I agree with ReallyTired and ilikenoodles. This is not entirely a home education question. It is about a mother who is not engaging with anyone who has a caring or teaching role in society. No doubt she would not engage with the police either. It is a way of life but is it fair on her child? She sounds like an indoctrinated hippy who should have moved on. Her own education has nothing to do with it. Sounds like drug induced issues to me. Sorry! Have seen it before though.

So OP, if I am wrong, I am glad. All you can do is support your Granddaughter and make sure she gets as many opportunities as possible to learn. There will come a time when your granddaughter may actually want to join in and be like other children. Even getting jabs at the age of 28! Looking at the posters here,OP, is your daughter really going to provide everything that they do? I suspect you think not, so just try and help out.

IamGluezilla Thu 23-Jan-14 20:35:57

I agree with keeping on-side with your daughters choice, whatever happens that is paramount.

The drug-induced paranoia was also a thought for me, and one I'd be trying to get more information about.

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