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Light bulb moment, need to be brave, where to start...

(56 Posts)
JuicyShops Thu 08-Aug-13 14:39:58

My DS has been unhappy in a school environment for 3 years and to cut a long story short is under the Mental Health team for a few reasons.

He Detests school. Lighbulb moment came when I realised how happy and unanxious he is now it is the school holidays, then today we had a long and sensible discussion about school. This ended in him desperate to go to secondary school (he has one more year at primary school). I have been so much happier and so has he.

It is an OK school, but I just think he would hate any school!! Any!! He is very bright, but hates work and being under pressure> He has been bullied and his teachers have tried to accommodate his needs but are failing.

My instinct tells me to take him out of school for the final year. I know we can do this. Where do I start and how do I explain it to everyone? Is it worth trying the final year? Loads more questions, I will read the forum later, and sorry for the rambling nature, just snatching a moment!

Also, I have 3 other children, who will all stay in school> Does anyone else have a similar situation?

Caster8 Mon 12-Aug-13 09:47:42

I dont doubt they can still have a fab time ommmward. But perhaps not quite the same? Though I suppose they have left mainstream anyway because it didnt suit them.

julienoshoes. Can I ask a bit of an awkward and rude question. Do these children then become good team players? Many jobs do require this. And becuase, as I have just said to ommmward, the children have left mainstream, are they really willing and indeed able to be team players?

If I was a prospective employer, and the job required it, as a lot of jobs too, I would at least think twice, if I had a child that had been homeschooled for any length of time, in front of me.

Saracen Mon 12-Aug-13 10:19:40

Some kids are natural loners and some are not. I do know some home educated children, and some school children, who will never be what you might call "team players".

But as for opportunities to practice working in teams, it seems to me that these arise far more often outside school than in. Children at school are being directed in their activities and many of their assigned tasks are supposed to be done individually.

I remember when one of my children was on a museum trip with a gang of HE kids, and the museum staff handed each of them a worksheet. You know the sort of thing, where they have to go round to various exhibits to answer all the questions on the sheet. I hate them with a passion, as I find that the kids are so focused on filling in the blanks that they have no opportunity to engage properly with the exhibits, ask questions, and really think. It seems patronising to suggest that the children won't find something to interest them without being told what they should look at. (Sorry to rant.)

Anyway, my dd was getting herself in a bit of a state over this worksheet. It was aimed at slightly older children, but she wanted to join in and feel grown up. She couldn't yet read or write, and she couldn't understand some of the questions. I tried to divert her to look at the exhibits, and assured her that she didn't have to complete the sheet, but she felt it would be rude not to, as the museum staff seemed to expect it. Various older friends of hers kindly took it in turns to tell her what answers to write, and even to write some for her. They swapped answers with all their friends too. They were all in a hurry to get everyone's worksheets finished so they could wander freely through the museum looking at what actually interested them and discussing it with their friends.

No doubt a teacher or a museum staff member would say this was cheating, that the children were missing the point of the exercise, and that my dd had been deprived of the opportunity to learn and be assessed individually by means of the worksheet. Such behaviour wouldn't be allowed at school. But I thought it was wonderful. The children had redefined the task to fit with their own priorities (get the worksheets out of the way so we can look round the museum properly) and had worked as a team to accomplish the task efficiently.

I think as a prospective employer you would think twice if you had a home educated young person in front of you. You would find your preconceptions challenged. Chances are that you would wonder how on earth this teen had come to acquire so much maturity, life experience and confidence in dealing with other people. If you ventured to ask her, she might explain that she'd spent time with a range of people of all ages in different situations and had had the freedom to follow her own lights - just as adults do.

Caster8 Mon 12-Aug-13 10:29:54

ooh. You have kind of put my mind at rest of one aspect and now I can see two more, for prospective employers, if indeed they knew enough about home schooling.

I think the most alarming thing is that I can now see that homeschooling is not just about home schooling for some parents. It is about not fitting in with society norms. Which is not always a bad thing. But from an employers pov, that child has literally been taught not to fit in. So expecting someone to then employ them, particualarly ina large organisation, is somewhat of a big ask. { I do take on board that some kids are naturaly more of a loner[as are some schooled children obviously], and therefore would probably baulk at the idea of a big organistaion in the first place].

I would say, as per your museum example, that yes, sometimes a look round would be as beneficial as filling in sheets. But not always obviously. And not all the time.
Because, partly, if nothing else, it teaches obeying.
Again, going back to an employer pov, would an employer want to employ someone who would say yes sir, no sir, or a "free thinker".

Caster8 Mon 12-Aug-13 10:41:09

I employ btw. But mainly casuals. I am aware of someone around who has been home schooled. But I am afraid that that is a bad example of home schooling, so I think we will leave that particular boy out of this.

morethanpotatoprints Tue 13-Aug-13 00:08:15


Surely anybody can see that a H.ed person won't have necessarily been taught not to fit in, on the contrary the people i have met are very good at fitting in.
My own dd plays in orchestras, choirs, ensembles, groups, bands and she dances. She is part of a societal norm that says some/ many girls like to dance, they have friendships sustained through childhood. Participating and fitting in is important to most children, in this respect it is no different than dc who attend school.

Caster8 Tue 13-Aug-13 07:44:31

Yes, I think in your case, if the activities are listed, and there are at least some group activities, then that would help put an employer's mind at ease.
[You do say "wouldnt have necessarily been taught not to fit in". I think an employer would have to maybe ask some pertinent questions in that regard].
Also, activities is not the same as work. Activities, a child doesnt have to go there every week, can leave part way through. if the leader of the orchestra or dance class upset them one week, then they dont have to go back again, they can move away from the situation without dealing with it at all if they want to. Not the same as going to school on a daily basis, or work on a daily basis, where if you have a rough day, or rough week, you are expected back again the following day.

ommmward Tue 13-Aug-13 10:15:53

Very interesting what you say caster, about how schooling teaches people to obey. Mass schooling from an authoritarian standpoint (which is of course what we have) is a splendid thing if you want to produce a) potential soldiers who will obey orders that might be harmful to them but are in the greater national interest and b) factory workers and other cogs in the industrial machine who will be willing to do repetitive and not very creative jobs for not very much money because they have grown accustomed to doing boring and apparently pointless tasks on someone else's agenda.

There are various subcultures of home educators - those whose children have special needs of some kind (defined really really broadly as a generalisation of the kind of family which ends up home edding in that situation), those whose religious views are completely at odds with those of th mainstream and they want to give their children a different moral foundation (my city has thriving groups of both Christian and Muslim home edders), and the what might be termed the dissidents. Hippies, anarchists, libertarians, über lentil weavers of every hue. And they'd tend to point to what school education achieves in terms of intellectual development and social engineering and say "no thanks".

Saracen Tue 13-Aug-13 10:24:38

"Activities, a child doesnt have to go there every week, can leave part way through. if the leader of the orchestra or dance class upset them one week, then they dont have to go back again, they can move away from the situation without dealing with it at all if they want to."

Well, it depends how much the child wants to do the activity, doesn't it? Quitting a much-loved activity just because someone upsets you one week, without attempting to sort it out, carries its own natural consequences. Having the opportunity to make such mistakes is valuable.

After all, typically people can change jobs. Hanging around too long when things aren't right is just as big a mistake as quitting at the first hurdle. Knowing how to sort problems out, how to tolerate problems when it is worthwhile to do so, and when to move on are all key life skill. Kids don't always make the right choices, adults don't always make the right choices. But we learn and make better decisions next time.

Equally, with activities where 100% attendance is not required, infrequent attendance carries its own consequences. My teenaged daughter knows that if she doesn't turn up to sports practice very often, she won't improve and won't get selected for the county team. Take too much time off drama and she won't get a lead role in the play. With some activities she is very diligent, and with others she prefers to have some time off and go camping instead of doing sports practice and going in for the county team. In just the same way, my self-employed husband does not have to go to work every day. He knows the consequences if he doesn't: less money coming in, a smaller client base, missing out on contacts who might help him land lucrative contracts in future. Sometimes he works seven day weeks and does long days, and other times he chooses not to go in because he would rather go fishing. He'd never let someone down if he had made a commitment to work for them on a particular day, just as my daughter would never fail to turn up for a sports match she agreed to do or a performance in which others are relying on her.

People often justify the school environment with the claim that it is a good preparation for work. But there are key differences between school and work, and I think those differences undermine the whole argument. The absolute compulsion inherent in school is one such difference.

morethanpotatoprints Tue 13-Aug-13 11:51:56

Totally agree there saracen.

My dd loves her hobbies and also has to have discipline in order to be allowed to take part. If she doesn't turn up to rehearsal unless ill there are many of her groups where she wouldn't be allowed to partake in that project or concert etc. You are expected to go if you are having an off day or somebody upset you the previous week.
They also gain a sense of team work the same as schooled children do, and wouldn't want to miss a week so as to let partners/ team/ group, down.
I do think it is important to remember that there are many different reasons people choose to H.ed and that also not everybody does it for the whole of their childs education. You do what is right at the time and what works best for you.
I don't know which category according to ommmward we would put ourselves, but i do think that our dd receives an education more fitting to her needs than school could offer.

Caster8 Tue 13-Aug-13 13:13:36

I think that if a Home Ed young person applied for a job, they would need to be interviewd for longer.
I can think of a few jobs where being Home Ed could be an advantage. But many jobs, the majority, require a lot of obeying.

I would be interested to know from people themselves who have been Home Ed, what jobs they do.

Perhaps a lot of them end up being self employed?

morethanpotatoprints Tue 13-Aug-13 13:50:29

Why do you think a person who has been H.ed would need longer at interview? Also what makes you think that having to obey certain rules, regulations or procedures wouldn't be a skill that they may possess?
I think you could find people who were school educated who don't like following instructions. I have a son like this, he is 18 and went all the way through school. I really don't think there are any character traits I have come across that are synonymous to all H.ed children I have met. Everybody has different perspectives, personality etc, it doesn't mean to say that certain categories of people will all act the same.

Caster8 Tue 13-Aug-13 15:04:59

If it was a job that required teamwork, which most do, even if it is only a team of a very small number, I would ask extra questions, or ask more questions about certain aspects, such as
1. how do you deal with authority. do you deal with confrontations you feel comfortable working in noisy environments/loads of people around
4. do you think you are going to suit this organisation. Do you have some reservations.

I would expect them not to be so good at obeying, on the whole. No. Partly from answers form other posters on here[not particualarly your posts].
And just generally. If you are at home on a school day, with just mum I presume and or a couple of siblings, that is not the same as with x number of teachers, and all other staff.

You say not all Home ed children are the same. I would agree.

morethanpotatoprints Tue 13-Aug-13 15:36:14


I would hope you asked these questions to all the applicants, as there is no evidence to prove that a person who had been H.ed would have any problems in the areas you suggest.
There isn't only school where a person may gain experience in your suggestions.
In fact any group, class, activity, or organisation a H.ed child may attend would certainly benefit them here.
Personally over the past year of H.ed with my dd I have seen her mature into a very confident person in her own right, capable of socialising well with people of all ages and from all walks of life. This is an ability many don't possess until well into their working lives, if at all.
My dd is at home for quite a lot of the day as are many others, but honestly I find they are far more confident when out and about. As for obeying orders, well all I can say is most people I have met so far who H.ed are good here because they attend groups where they need to. Brownies, Scouts, or in cases of private tuition for a particular subject, they are taught to do as they are told and to accept authority, just the same as school children do. There are a few schooled dc we know who are not good when it comes to accepting a particular authority figure as it isn't a teacher, the only authority figure they recognise.

bebanjo Tue 13-Aug-13 19:07:47

So caster, how many teenagers have you interveiwed? I went to normal school and I had a major problem with authority, delt with confrontation badly, did and still do have a problem with nosy inviroments.
So school did me a lot of good didn't it.
School sets out to educate children but it falls short of this for many children in lots of different ways, do you ask at your interviews if they can read and write? Have you seen the fingers of children leaving school unable too, I was one of them.

Caster8 Tue 13-Aug-13 20:15:32

I dont see how your post is of any relevance to what I have written.
You having those problems are not helpful to you are they.

Saracen Tue 13-Aug-13 21:01:19

Well, Caster8, your expectations reflect your background and your assumptions. As you've said, you haven't seen home education up close nor have you met many young people who are/were home educated. Nevertheless, you appear quite unwilling to question whether you may be mistaken. You seem reluctant to accept the firsthand experience of those who know hundreds of young people who have been HE. Under the circumstances, I don't really see how anyone could change your mind. Perhaps one day a job applicant will, if he has the patience and good humour to get past your preconceptions.

I suppose a prospective employer who knows about home education might make some equally offensive generalisations about job applicants who were educated at school. Such an employer might want to know, for example:

1. are you unduly intimidated by or resentful of people in positions of authority, because you are accustomed to being treated without respect?
2. have you managed to find time to discover what interests you outside of the prescribed curriculum?
3. are you able to make productive use of unstructured time in order to identify work which needs to be done, or will you only do what you have been specifically told to do?
4. do you know how to take the initiative and ask relevant questions to understand the task and the priorities of the company, or are you used to having everything spelled out for you?

and so on.

I suppose at the end of the day it is fortunate that you don't need to be convinced of the viability of home education, since you aren't considering it for your own children. Parents who are considering the option will, if they are concerned, be inclined to go and actually meet some of these alleged socially-challenged misfits and see for themselves whether there is any truth to your notions.

morethanpotatoprints Tue 13-Aug-13 21:54:03

I think you make some valid points there Saracen.
When I was teaching FE and Higher Ed, I was amazed at how many young people were unable to think for themselves, ask questions, and expected to be spoon fed.

ommmward Tue 13-Aug-13 22:03:19

In my experience it takes almost every undergraduate at least a year to get over their schooling, and in some cases I'm afraid they don't get over it before they graduate. Inadvertently, we teach young people to be focused on what they need to do to get a good mark, rather than facilitating them as they blossom as independent learners, who happen to get their learning measured in some manner along the way. Anyone with a teaching qualification knows perfectly well that assessment has a negative impact on learning, but our sats and gcses and as levels and a levels mean that many many successful and apparently motivated people arriving at university have latched onto the qualification as the desirable thing not the path towards it. Give me a mature student or a home educated one or an otherwise unconventionally educated one any day of the week, frankly.

Caster8 Tue 13-Aug-13 22:18:07

Saracen, are you saying that some Home ed children have felt intimidated by school and therefore feel resentful of people in authority long after they have left? That is a pretty big problem, especially as they grow up. And sad too. And must be difficult to live with.

Free thinking is good in some jobs. Definitely not in other jobs, including our business. Pretty disastrous in fact, and could cost thousands, hence the need for hefty insurance.

morethanpotatoprints Tue 13-Aug-13 22:24:57


I think most people have felt intimidated at school whether they later choose to be H.ed or continue in the system. I think you have to be very fortunate to receive a schooling that doesn't include some sort of intimidation, bullying and negative patterns.

morethanpotatoprints Tue 13-Aug-13 22:31:02


I think I love you thanks

A lady I know through our H.ed group told me her dd has been accepted into Cheethams music school for 6th form. She has no level 2 qual at all, not even Maths and English. She gained a place because she proved she was different and had worked at her music for many years.
I know she'll go onto a really good Uni too.

ommmward Tue 13-Aug-13 22:37:28

The feeling is mutual, potatoprints (and Saracen too, I've been admiring her posts for ages smile )

bebanjo Tue 13-Aug-13 22:46:20

My point is, you feel the need to ask anyone that has been home ed these questions but not anyone that went to school, many that went to school would have the problems you believe you would find with someone that had been home ed.

stilllearnin Wed 14-Aug-13 14:09:27

Hello Juicyshops, I don't have lots of experience but there are some deeply understanding people on this thread to give you great insight into what might be ahead. But I just wanted to say from my experience - Ive taken my son out of school twice (he is currently home ed). Both times we've just known it was the right decision. I think you may be at the stage where you know it is the right decision. When school life is as hard for someone as you describe it is so consuming, the poor child has no time or energy to sort out how to cope with or feel about anything. Plus it affects the whole family.

Secondly, we went straight into a curriculum based home ed. seemed right at the time but I think this may well change for us. If it was just for a year I wouldn't worry too much about the actual formal education side of it, particularly with a bright child. Maybe take your time and concentrate on the emotional side of things. A really settled and secure child is the basis for anything really.

Lastly, I still have a child in mainstream school and it works really well, because neither child has wanted what the other has - and of course we've offered any kind of education to both of them. They are different children and have decided for now what suits them. (I think you were asking about mixing home and school children in the same family).

Good luck to all of you. Even if it doesn't 'work' it has to be better that you tried something different for him - but I'm really hoping it helps.

ToffeeWhirl Thu 15-Aug-13 10:17:50

Juicy - we were in a very similar situation, as my DS1 (now 13) suffers chronic anxiety and was being bullied in Year 6 at primary school. We took him out and it was absolutely the best thing to do for him, as it was doing him no good at all. It also meant he missed all the pressure of the SATs revision.

His younger brother continued at school, as he was happy there.

DS1 then went to secondary school, but couldn't cope at all and came out after a term. He has been home educated since then and is now considering going to a smaller secondary school next year.

I really admire the experienced home edders on this thread who talk about autonomous home ed, but that is not how we started out. I used the Little Arthur School course on Science and then worked through textbooks in English and Maths. I also kept DS1 practising his handwriting. Apart from that, we did projects together and he followed his own interests, which invariably involve looking after animals or using the computer. He has just taught himself to use some complicated editing software for his YouTube channel, which is a perfect example of how a child who can't concentrate on, for example, Maths textbooks is able to focus perfectly on something that he sees as valuable grin.

DS2 did have a bit of a wobble last year because he didn't always enjoy school at that stage and wanted to be home educated like his brother. I think this is inevitable if one child in the family is home educated. I considered taking him out too, but we worked through it and he is now very happy and settled, with many good friends. It was the right thing for him, just as home ed has been the right thing for DS1.

As for what to tell other people... I just said DS1 was miserable and being bullied and we were taking him out of school. Family were shocked, but telling them that it was only for a year before he went to secondary softened the blow. And by the time he came out of school again, they had become used to the idea of home ed.

Incidentally, my DS1 is now having CBT for his anxieties (he also has OCD) - worth asking CAMHS about for your DS if anxiety is an issue for him.

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