I'm seriously considering home educating my ten year old son.(16 Posts)
I qualified as a primary school teacher 8 years ago but for a number of reasons didn't teach in school for very long as instead I returned to being a self employed artist and now teach art privately.
My twenty year old daughter did really well at state school...3 A stars at A level no less....!...but was a completely different kettle of fish than my son. He's going into year 6 in September but already incredibly anxious about secondary school. In fact completely dreading it. He is happy to finish primary school so I'm considering home schooling from year seven onwards.
I would love to hear from anyone who has had a similar experience.
The biggest challenge might be unlearning everything you thought you learned as a teacher about how children learn... being one-on-one is a completely different kettle of fish. I'd look at Alan Thomas and Harriet PAttison "How Children Learn at Home" as a first step.
My ds tried secondary school but it didn't work and we took him out in his first year as he was showing so much stress (bad behaviour - I shudder at the memory). He was instantly a changed child and has remained that way a year later. Our relationship has blossomed and he is maturing nicely and heading towards exams.
We didn't do any 'work' for 4 months (NB. others recommend a longer destress period for his age) but we did look at lots of resources to find what would work, what subjects/topics to do, times of day to work, what groups were around etc. We set a date to begin and went for it.
We mix formal work in the morn (aprox 1-2 hours) with clubs, trips and tv documentaries in the afternoons. We are very flexible and go with the flow. If you studied the EYFS or birth to 5, then you will know about providing resources and extending what the child choses to do. That is what life is now like. But we also dip into English and Maths sylabuses since my ds wants a career which requires uni.
On our hol last week, he was fascinated at an aquarium to see Pollack which is used in cheap fish fingers. He also went on about the fish and chips we ate on the pier, as he is very food orientated (I think he has hollow legs). On the beach he found a fossil fish vertebrae.
So this week we will look at how to cook fish in batter and crumb, and the dangers of deep fat frying, and whether fish is healthy eating. We will look at the main fish varieties that we eat in this country, their appearance, lifecycle, habits, how we fish them and sustainibilty issues. Then move onto the skeleton of a fish, form and function of its fins/locomation and spine, and finally move onto the human skeleton, looking at similarities and differences to fish.
That is my plan. I put it to him and watch his facial expressions and adjust the planned content. Then as we actually do it this week, he will show interest in some aspect or other of it and we will speed off in a different direction. I might find a documentary this week that is useful or I may stumble into one in a months time at which point I will ask him to watch it. He will than start a conversation whilst watching the programme full of the knowledge we have already worked on and I can use that to judge how much he has learned.
It is ongoing, building upon what we have covered and mostly one to one tuition. He is learning so much more than at school. He may have had many subjects on his timetable with names like 'religious instruction' or 'dance' but he was not learning much in those lessons. By using a cross curricular style we can include those subjects where appropriate and they are just part of the whole experience.
He is also dyslexic and would not write for toffee. Now he freely makes notes and even uses writing in his 'play'.
It's a wonderful life.....
I'm also a qualified primary school teacher, though in recent years I've taught music at home and in school instead.
I took my younger daughter out first, at age 8, and then my elder daughter a year later, at age 12. The secondary aspect terrified me as I only had primary experience but it was fine.
Unlearning "being a teacher" was hard at first! We started off pretty structured. 6 years on our home ed life is so relaxed it's unrecogniseable from the early days! However, I found you just learn and adjust as you go along. Trial and error will teach you what works for you. Every parent and child is different so I'd say just do it and run with it. See where it leads you. See what way of structuring your days suits you best. There are structured groups and autonomous groups and plenty more of us who fall somewhere in between (as we've ended up doing).
We've done GCSEs but know lots of people who have used other means. DD1 is now 17 and about to go into her 2nd A level year at college. She had a set of qualifications at 16 that looked much like a good private school might send you out with, though I would argue that she has a mix of subjects that looks a bit different and has definitely made her stand outvwhen applying to college. On the other hand, one of DD2's friends is starting an art and design course at college in September aimed at 16 year olds. She's only 14 and got in on the strength of her portfolio (I've seen some of her work, it's amazing). They bypassed all the usual GCSE requirements and admitted her with just a quick test to check her literacy and numeracy. So secondary education is very doable at home and there are many, many ways of doing it.
I think you have nothing to lose by giving it a try. Children move schools all the time so if he ends up going back in in Year 8 or Year 10 you've lost nothing.
How do you make them do the work? Silly, silly question, but did you initially find it hard to motivate them?
Juicy, not a silly question at all . Depends on how you want to do things, but for us (more structured end of the HE), having a routine of getting things done and having the fun bits at the end works well for us. It can be more difficult at the beginning, and when we take breaks there tends to be a few days after of going slow, but once in the routine, my kids tend to push for it more than I am. For older kids that work more independently, some like work boxes/work folders that can be set up to allow them to do work, again fun things at the end or some more free activities available once they've finished.
DD2 was pretty motivated to work quite early on. She'd come from school where there was an expectation to work and that possibly helped. I also gave her the stuff for the day first thing and said when it was done she could do as she pleased. She was normally finished by 10am then We also did "trip day" each Friday, going on what she would have termed a "school trip". That was a motivator to work hard the rest of the week.
DD1 was much harder. She was at, I suspect, a trickier age (12 as opposed to 8) and had got into very bad habits through school. She'd cottoned on to the fact that at school, if you finished your work you were given more, harder work! So she'd got into the habit of working as slowly as possible. The first 6 months she was home ed, I could give the exact same work to her and DD2, and DD2 despite being over 3 years younger would finish in half an hour whilst DD1 would still be drawing it out into the early evening!
I used much cajoling and a good few threats to return her to school. I'm not sure this is the best way to do it, by the way! But it was frustrating after DD2 was so easy to work with.
By the time we started the second year at age 13 DD1 was unrecognisable in her work habits. She was keen to stay home ed, so I thought we should attempt a couple of GCSEs and see if we could cope. Suddenly she had a reason to be motivated too and she worked very hard totally of her own accord. Her A level tutors at college have said she's one of the most self motivated students they have.
How can you home educate for secondary? They have different teachers for each subject who specialise in those subjects and have degrees in them. How can you teach it all? <genuine question> as i was wondering about this myself. Do you just work through the syllabus?
LEM - Home educated children are not required to follow the national curriculum, so it depends on the family and what works for you. There are a lot of specialist made programmes out there that a family can follow, a few get tutors or have family/friends for some areas or do groups for areas, some have a more independent study approach. And some just work through a syllabus, a local one or otherwise. Many other options other than trying to teach it all.
So, using maths as an example, we follow the CIMT MEP programme which goes from reception to A-levels, used in classrooms globally and has a good track record, and it has a lesson plan for teachers than a home educating parent could adapt and can even learn alongside a student if desired. It's free off of their website (though I buy their workbooks to reduce printing stress, and secondary has their own textbooks).
LEM you've been sold a myth . There's nothing particularly magical about secondary over primary . Anyone with a good textbook, access to the internet or a library and in possession of half a brain can do it. DD1 managed to get As and A*s in GCSEs of subjects I'd never even done at school.
You don't really teach much at that level. You encourage, support, find out together, work things out together if they get stuck. It's more of a journey of discovery than anything you'll see in the classroom. It's the reason why the home ed children I know (a good few) are, contrary to popular belief, more independent and self motivated than any schooled child I've ever met.
And if you get really stuck, you can always post on mumsnet! There was a really tricky (to us!) GCSE maths question on reciprocals the other week that DD2 just couldn't get and DD1 (good at problem solving) was at work. I posted on here and had a dozen brilliant explanations within 10 minutes! I don't abuse mumsnet in this way too often but the expertise on here is amazing! Mind you, I often help out with music theory questions on here so what goes around comes around!
Thank you everyone for these very helpful contributions
I'll keep you posted! I have to admit to feeling a bit scared of being so unconventional. (Social compliance is a strong pull isn't it!?)
I do always like your posts your experience of the secondary years is really comforting for those of us who are sure we will be H.ed then too.
What strikes me now about secondary schools is unless you are extremely lucky it is hit and miss if your dc reach their full potential. I can't say that either ds1 or 2 really achieved their best. Also, as it is the years that are said to shape their personality I think far too much emphasis is put on fitting in with peers, following the crowd, the influences sometimes detract from the personality of the child iyswim.
again musicposy, mine is just y5 age and I'm sure I'll be posting lots of questions in the following years.
Tricot39 there is a home education fair in London - think the next one is on Sept 14th. Not sure where but it can't be hard to find out. If you are on Facebook you could join the Home Education in London page to find out about meet ups etc.
thanks! what good timing! will head over there to have a look.
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