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HE vs school for social side of life?

(6 Posts)
baddyfreckleface Fri 28-Nov-14 15:05:53

I am sold on the idea that dd (5.7) will get a more suitable and interesting education at home. What is holding me back from de registering her is the social side of things. At school she has a small friendship group but they are very close. Obviously they see each other 5 times a week.
If she doesn't attend school I will try really hard to sign her up for a couple of classes a week where I leave her. I would look for pretty laid back groups that would be more about socialising with peers than regimented learning of skills etc.

But no matter how I try I won't be able to replicate the friendships she has now with peers that she sees almost every day.

How have experienced HE parents found this change? It makes me sad that dd would miss out on her friends in the yard every day etc, but it also worries me that she is already becoming less confident and open to learning.
It's such a scary decision and I am struggling with the right decision for her.

Saracen Fri 28-Nov-14 20:46:13

It's hard, isn't it? If your daughter is thrilled with her friends and you don't think she'll get that with home education, I can see why you'd hesitate to take her out of school... especially if it is you and not she who is dissatisfied with her education.

Are there many home educated kids where you live, do you know? In my area, there is scope for kids to see specific HE friends maybe three times a week just by going along to home ed groups, even where parents don't bother to arrange playdates. With playdates, my older daughter used to see her closest friend for an average of about 2.5 entire days a week. That's 2.5 full days of nonstop playing, not just the breaktimes and brief conversations snatched in class before being brought back "on task" by a teacher. That wasn't effortless though: I was forever driving back and forth! I jokingly grumble to her that she is only allowed to make friends with kids in our neighbourhood, but she constantly disobeys me about that and gives me the Bambi eyes about taking her to see far-flung friends.

It's worth considering that a small close friendship group which is together five days a week is wonderful right now but can be a mixed blessing in the long term. No doubt you've heard the parents of older children (often girls) mention the pain when one of the other kids in that group decides it's time for one of them to get pushed out. There your daughter is, in the same room with those kids day after day while they give her the cold shoulder. Or maybe she's one of the perpetrators, colluding in excluding somebody else because she knows if she doesn't go along with it, the others could turn on her. At school, unlike most other social settings, there is no escape when things go pear-shaped. Interactions are in a public spotlight.

By contrast, when my dd's former best friend began saying unpleasant things about her behind her back, she was able to avoid her most of the time and fairly easily shifted her attention over to other friends. The betrayal still hurt, but she had more options in addressing it. Just think, wouldn't it be rather horrible if your partner's affections were transferred from you onto your best friend and you had to carry on sharing a house with both of them? That's how it is when kids at school fall out with close friends. We expect them to just be brave and move on, but that's hard when they are stuck in the same place.

A wide friendship circle, with different kids seen in different settings, can be very healthy. That isn't just because it can avoid the potential problem I described above. It's also because it allows children to experience a whole variety of different roles. My younger child, for example, goes to a couple of HE groups in which she's the oldest. She loves to be the competent and helpful one for a change, the leader, the admired and sought-after. In other settings she is one of the youngest, and she in turn is the one who is nurtured and helped. Then there's my 15yo daughter, who may play sports with and seek careers advice from adults on Sunday, go shopping with teenaged girls Monday, spend the day in solitude on Tuesday, and go round to play Minecraft with a ten year old boy Wednesday. That isn't much seen at school; I remember when I was at school it was frowned on even to have a friend in the year below, let alone a boy - not that there would even be much opportunity to develop such a friendship in such a strictly age-segregated environment.

It would be hard to take your daughter away from her friends if she is happy at school. On the other hand, you can't predict how rich her social life outside of school may be. It's a gamble, just like moving house. Not much help, am I?

lilyfire Fri 28-Nov-14 23:12:20

I guess the social side depends a bit on where you live and how many home ed activities there are nearish you. My boys usually go to a home ed activity four days a week - sometimes five. At these they will usually see some of the same children (including their closest friends) and other different ones. I really like this mixture of being able to see their close friends often, but hanging out with other children who they see once a week or less. I hope it makes them more open to new people.

I agree with Saracen, there have been times when they have fallen out with close friends and it's much less traumatic than it would be at school, because there are other people to be with and more choice. They do have a much wider age range of friends - my 6 year old is particularly keen on hanging around the teenage girls - and they all have friends who are girls, as well as boys, which I think would be less likely if they were at school.
It's a definite disadvantage that they don't have any friends who are very close to us - two lots of friends about 1 mile away are the nearest. I guess if they were at school they would have more of these.

I like that not going to school makes socialising easier in some ways - we do sleepovers during the week and they can hang out together until quite late in the evening if there's no panic to get up the next morning.
I've met lots of nice home ed parents as well - so definitely improved my social life.

I found the decision as to whether to home ed so difficult - probably the hardest bit so far about home ed (and we've been doing it for 6 years).
I guess if I were you I'd find out about home ed groups locally and meet them and talk to local parents about what is around - so you can build up a picture as to how it would work.

baddyfreckleface Sat 29-Nov-14 20:04:15

Thank you both for your brilliant replies. So helpful.

She is my oldest and I feel a bit clue less at times when it comes to older kids as we haven't got there yet!

I am trying to find out about HE groups around us. We are in an area where HE is popular, I just haven't come across anyone that does it yet and am finding the websites hard to get on. I am making progress though

It's a very hard decision for us, and I know that we will get a lot of negative reactions from family and friends and so I want to be completely comfortable with the decision before we make it. It will be questioned and I want to have the answers. Dd is in a good school, it's the education system in general that I have a problem with, not the school. (Although her current class isn't ideal).

I suppose it's the fact that I will be completely responsible for her social life that I am finding pretty daunting as socialising doesn't come easy for me, especially with new people.

ommmward Sat 29-Nov-14 22:35:14

It's worth getting yourself onto facebook. In our area, all the HE activities get negotiated via facebook nowadays (like, setting things up and making contact with other families and advertising what's on)

baddyfreckleface Sat 29-Nov-14 23:03:47

Thanks ommmward. I have tried but they wouldn't let me on! They were very nice and suggested I join a yahoo group first as I am not yet home educating. I can't see to get a message to anyone there but think I have found a playgroup which is meant to be a 'stepping stone' for people thinking of home educating. So me and dd2 will be there next week while dd1 is at school.

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