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Giving up Home Education

(22 Posts)
AnotherJaffaCake Tue 04-Oct-11 14:11:59

We deregistered DD to home educate her after one term in Reception year, due to various health issues that needed to be resolved and which were making attendance at school difficult. These issues are now partially resolved.

We really wanted to home educate DD and were very enthusiastic about it. She was too, and quickly learned to read and write. However, now she's almost completely lost interest in any learning. All she wants to do is sit and watch tv and complains bitterly if it isn't on. She resists any "teaching" and will do anything to avoid it. We've tried workbooks (some good, some really not good which we ditched), and projects, some of which were successful and others which have been abandoned through lack of interest. We've tried structured and autonomous but have found she has no little or no interest.

Added to the mix is DS who is 28 months old. He is very disruptive, and won't let DD do any work. We can't leave him in another room and DD can't go off to another room (she wouldn't do any work on her own). He shouts, screams, throws stuff at us etc etc. He may/may not have learning difficulties (too early to tell yet). What it has meant for us is that we have had to wait for DS to go to bed for his afternoon nap before we can do any work, which often means DD is by then too tired, or not interested any longer. It has led to arguments between her and me, and between me and DH. DH tried taking two half days a week off work (he's self-employed) to try looking after DS or HEing DD, but that's proving hard to do in the long term.

Anyway, we've struggled on as long as we can and, unable to come up with a long term solution, have decided school is the only option now.

Have I missed an obvious solution here? I should add that DS is due to start nursery two afternoons a week after Christmas, but that would only leave us with one hour each day to HE (after travel time). There's no alternative child care (family too far away), and the home education scene is almost non-existent around here.

I have sadly come to the conclusion that I have a DD who has no interest in anything and, as DH said, doesn't want to learn from Mummy (too close to home perhaps?).

Anyway, sorry for the long post and hope it wasn't too tedious (if you managed to struggle to the end).

stressedHEmum Tue 04-Oct-11 15:46:50

Hi, Jaffa, i'm sorry but I don't really have much advice, I just didn't want to read and run.

Is your DD very young, maybe 5 or 6? I'm not very familiar with the English system and don't know about ages. I think reception is like P1 here? Have you tried just letting it go completely for a little while. I HE all my younger kids and found that the youngest wasn't really interested in anything at all at that age. We tried all sorts of things but nothing caught his attention. He's 8 and still isn't really interested in anything other than gameboy and moshi monsters but he has learned to read and count to a reasonably appropriate level.

I found signing him up to things like Jump Start helped because that meant he was playing on the computer, also Maths Whizz, if you can afford it (we can't anymore), More Starfall and the like.

If your DD likes arty stuff and making things, you could try lapbooking. We did some on things like Itsy-Bisy Spider, Monster trucks, Very hungry Caterpillar, Grumpy Ladybird, Wheels on the Bus etc. It was very hard going because DS4 isn't arty or creative and doesn't like making things very much, but they would really suit a child who does.

With regard to your DS, you could try involving him a bit in stuff. Perhaps doing crafty things or having a box full of "school" things for him: lacing, threading, stacking, matching, sorting that kind of thing, pictures of letters that he can stick stuff on to fill in the shapes, v simple dot-to-dots, lolly stick puppets, writing in shaving foam, scrumpling up tin foil, making string/bubble paintings, potato printing. There are lots of things, but I do know how hard it is to find time to occupy that age group and HE at the same time. I was HEing DS2 at secondary level when DS4 was that age. They both have AS and it was a bit of a nightmare, if I'm honest.

In saying that, I think that there are just some kids who are not suited to HE. I have reaches that conclusion about DS3, who is 14 now. He is not interested in anything, is at least 4 years behind his peers in everything, is the laziest person that I have ever met and knows less now than he did when I took him out of school 5 years ago. I want to send him back now because I am really worried about his future, but I can't because he is so far behind that he wouldn't be able to cope with the work that would be expected of him.

zebidee Tue 04-Oct-11 16:03:08

So so sorry you're struggling sad

How about taking a break from 'trying to work' for a month or so and get out and about with both kids? Visit some free attractions, go for picnics and nature walks (still ok in autumn/winter if you wrap up warm and are waterproof-ed!) swimming, lots of things that get some of the excess energy out, even an hour at the park sometimes helps mine get herself into a more educational/creative mindset.

My 4yo LO gets huuuuuugely frustrated having work put in front of her every day, so we're making more trips out and have joined a forest school to get some interaction with a range of kids (lots of different ages anyway). We also watch dinosaur programs CONSTANTLY at the moment, on a 'home' day she'll watch:

all the Planet Dinosaur eps on iPlayer
then on DVD
Walking with Monsters
Walking with Dinosaurs
Walking with Dinosaurs - Ballad of Big Al

and thus now already knows more about them than me, reels off names and describes the scenes and also tries to draw the different creatures.

Another way of getting sneaky work into the day is BBC magazines, which usually have workbooks in! The Art one is really good, with lots of free stuff on the front and pages of ideas of how to use them. We've also got really into DK ultimate sticker books, I found some at Matalan with reptiles and insects in, she gets to use her matching skills and usually wants me to read the text too.

Hope that's some help.

spanky2 Tue 04-Oct-11 16:09:21

There is a reason people go to uni to train to be a teacher, it's hard to do and you need to be trained. I wouldn't let someone without training give me heart surgery, so the same goes for educating my children. Don't feel bad that you want to send your daughter to school. My ds1 didn't want me to teach him swimming, so I know what you mean.

toddlerama Tue 04-Oct-11 16:14:02

I would wait. 5 is so young to expect self motivation, and even younger to put up with a 2 yr old thwarting the efforts you do make! What works for us is giving DD2 some 'work' to do so we all sit down at the table and do something together. DD1 can work on handwriting whilst DD2 does stickers and everyone has something to be proud of. If I don't occupy DD2 like this, she is so jealous it's unreal and DD1 can't get anything done.

usingapseudonym Tue 04-Oct-11 16:36:32

We've weighed it up and decided that my little one will be going to school despite for years me thinking I would home ed. For her the social aspect is huge - she has started pre school for 2 mornings (I was only going to keep her there if she liked it) and she loves it - she loves all the interaction with the others and is learning tons already away from me.

I am pregnant and have very little energy (health complaint as well) so decided I was unlikely to manage to HS and have a baby/toddler running around. I would say school might not be as bad as you think, but you have already tried it? Do you think it would work now your child is older? Are the health issues still an issue or resolved enough to make attendance ok?

If you were to continue to home school I would stop worrying about "formal" learning for a month or two and do nature walks etc but I would also be very very tempted to find some local support. Home ed is hard to do on your own - there are likely to be groups near you somewhere and if you could meet up once or twice a week with other home schooling families they are likely to be able to offer reassurance, and playmates etc.

The (council but very well equiped) leisure centre near me does special home schooling gym and swim sessions for home eding families - things like that might be worth looking into?

Your local council should have an "education otherwise" officer who also should be able to offer advice at least in terms of contacts of places that are open/offer discounts or home ed groups...

Good luck whatever you decide.

AMumInScotland Tue 04-Oct-11 17:23:50

I don't think its a completely lost cause and totally impossible for you to HE her. But OTOH if it doesn't seem to be suiting her, given the whole set of circumstances, and if you don't have any fundamental issue with schools in general or the school available to you, then its hardly a "failure" if you review your situation and decide that school would be a better option for her at the moment.

I can see why it would be hard for her to feel motivated with her brother disrupting her attempts to work at things - it's pretty demoralising if you can't get to focus on what you're doing, and if mum is only able to give you part of her attention, even if you can understand the reasons (to the extent that small children can understand such things).

So being at school might well make it easier for her to feel focussed and motivated, and that's what you want for her of course.

I don't want to make you feel bad about the situation, as I'm sure you're doing your best to juggle the calls on your time. But realistically, you don't have complete freedom to do things the way that might suit her learning, so a change to her going back to school may well be the best answer for all of you.

AnotherJaffaCake Tue 04-Oct-11 18:25:23

Thanks everyone for your replies.

stressed - thanks for your suggestions of things to do with DS. I have tried several things with him. We've tried sitting him up to table with us and giving him colouring to do - with limited success. We ended up dodging flying crayons! He really doesn't have the dexterity at present to do crafting even on the simplest level. I've bought him a couple of BBC mags for him to do stickers but he can't do them on his own and just gets frustrated unless he has complete attention. I actually feel very guilty for "sidelining" him. DD had 3 years of my undivided attention before DS was born and he hasn't had that, but he would if DD went to school.

We've got a subscription to Education City which DD loves to do but can't manage without me sitting next to her, so I can't leave her to do it by herself.

As to taking a break - we took the "school" summer holidays off and another 2/3 weeks, so we had a really long break with hardly any work. We've been on lots of nature walks. We live near a National Trust property which we practically live at! We go off exploring both during the week and at weekends a lot. We've only recently come back to starting work again (a couple of weeks ago) and found that we've fallen back into the same pattern of DS disrupting things.

It seems to me to be a jealousy thing with him - he hates DD getting more attention than him. Taking just that point, I'd be in favour of DD going to school just so that he gets more attention.

We're going to have a look at a school later this week and, if we like it and there's a place available, we're probably going to take it. It may not be for ever, but I think it is probably the solution for right now.

usingapseudonym Tue 04-Oct-11 22:35:09

Sounds like its the right thing for your family then smile Do try not to be too hard on yourself. You will always know you tried it x

Saracen Wed 05-Oct-11 06:42:38

Hi Jaffa,

It sounds to me as if you did achieve plenty during the time which you think of as a "break"; did that not feel like something you would be happy to do indefinitely? The nature walks, National Trust visits etc describes how my kids learn all the time, as we don't do any adult-led learning. When my older daughter tried school for the first time in Year Five she had no difficulty keeping up with the other kids. If you dislike her spending a lot of time in front of the TV, then you could limit TV while allowing her free access to everything else. My kids aren't allowed TV during the day on weekdays, though in our case that is mainly because I find TV is too distracting and compulsive (I am the sort of person who'd sit watching the test pattern).

However, if your daughter is in general unhappy with the whole environment (apart from any question of academic work) then it sounds like a new solution is needed. It sounds like you have pretty well decided on school so perhaps that is the best thing to try next.

Good luck with school! I hope it works out well for all of you. Children and families are very likely to need different things at different times. It sounds like home ed did at least give your daughter time to get her health improved so may have played a role in helping her. Perhaps school is the right step to take next.

If it turns out that your dd doesn't get on with school, or if she likes it now but it doesn't suit her so well later, then perhaps you might try autonomous home education for a long while. It does seem as though getting your daughter to do sit-down work is the major issue at the moment, especially with her brother about. So maybe a different way would be worth a try.

Anyway, best wishes for the future, whatever it may hold!

ommmward Wed 05-Oct-11 08:32:13

We do no adult-led learning at all. No sit-down learning.

I wouldn't want to have to do workbooks either!

Learning doesn't always - or even usually - result in educational product

AnotherJaffaCake Wed 05-Oct-11 11:29:32

ommmward - I can see that the no sit-down learning works for some, and clearly does work for you and your family. We always planned for the children to go to secondary school so the home education would only have been up to that point. That was the reason why we chose a more formal approach to education.

I have also tried the "hands off" approach, and am this morning. Every toy box has been emptied onto the floor, the house is a complete tip, and I am hoarse from yelling at the children to stop fighting and destroying the furniture. My daughter managed to do a little colouring in and a couple of word puzzles earlier before she got hit on the head by her brother! School is the only way forward as far as I can see, if only just to separate the children and give them some space from each other.

If I could manage to take them both out every day I would, but it just isn't possible. We were out yesterday, part of the day, and will be again tomorrow.

Betelguese Thu 06-Oct-11 10:42:15

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

throckenholt Thu 06-Oct-11 10:45:48

Mine are a bit older (8 and 10) - but they also get a lot from documentries. They particularly liked things like Victorian Farm, and really got into Hugh FW River Cottage.

There really are a lot of things on the tv and online that might grab her attention for a while - make the screen time worthwhile (even if she does go back to school). Especially if they are "her" programs - you can leave her to watch something for half an hour and give DS some one to one - maybe that will help things.

Betelguese Thu 06-Oct-11 10:54:36

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Betelguese Thu 06-Oct-11 11:01:55

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Betelguese Thu 06-Oct-11 11:03:56

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Betelguese Thu 06-Oct-11 11:15:48

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Betelguese Thu 06-Oct-11 12:02:28

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Rivenwithoutabingle Thu 06-Oct-11 12:07:06

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ommmward Fri 07-Oct-11 13:11:47

<waves in a friendly manner at Riven>

4madboys Fri 07-Oct-11 13:20:17

i was going to say what others have said about formal learning not being necessary, esp at a young age.

we home educated our eldest two until they were 9yr and 6yr old, they never did any formal learning at all but settled into school fine and were ahead of their peers, ds2 needed a bit of support with his reading but then it clicked and he was fine.

i really think at primary school age you dont need to do much if any formal learning. do things you like, go out, play TALK to your child, they learn so much just by chatting to you about stuff smile

but if you do send your child to school then dont feel bad,i sent mine due to having two more younger children and theni got post natal psychosis and it was better for them to be at school, they are thriving, they are now 12 and 9 and love it and ds3 is in yr2, he was the first of mine to start at reception, i was wary but he was desperate to go to school with his brothers! and he loves it (he was part time for a long time tho)

have you thought about flexi-schooling? you would need to speak to individual head teachers, some will do it, other will not, we found one that would¬ it may be an option for you?

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