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Do home educated children slot easily back in to school?

(26 Posts)
Oversizedaubergine Wed 17-Dec-14 10:52:25

I'm hoping to start home educating my son in the new year.
I was unsure whether it was the right decision, as I have always thought the socialisation part of school was the most important, so I am looking on it as a temporary measure until his health and self esteem pick up maybe a year or two from now.
Anyone started out on a similar footing and ended up going right through to uni?
Is joining a local group a good idea?

AMumInScotland Wed 17-Dec-14 11:27:44

I suspect it depends on a huge range of factors. But, in general, I'd say his chances of being happy back in school will go up from having had some time out of it to deal with things that are causing him a problem.

Home education in itself doesn't make it hard for children to go back into a school environment, but sometimes the reasons they are out of school in the first place aren't going to just go away, because it really isn't an environment they are ever going to thrive in.

But if you can help him with his current problems, there's no reason he can't settle back in when the time is right.

Oversizedaubergine Wed 17-Dec-14 12:46:08

You have a point there that it may be an environment he can't thrive in, I think this is what I am scared of. Maybe he will grow up never fitting in.

Tinuviel Wed 17-Dec-14 13:06:14

DS1 did not cope with socialising in school for the 2 years he went. He coped fine socialising at out of school activities (beavers, dancing etc). Once we home educated he got on fine with other HE kids. He is now at sixth form, doing well academically and slowly making friends and finding people he has stuff in common with. He also knows who he is and what he needs (plenty of alone time!) and is happy with that. Secondary school would have been a nightmare for him and I am so glad we kept him out.

AMumInScotland Wed 17-Dec-14 13:17:29

School can be a horrible and very artificial environment - not thriving in it doesn't mean that there won't be other environments where he can fit in. Clubs where everyone is focussed on a shared acivity, for instance, can work much better for some people than the random bustle of school. And colleges, universities, and workplaces often have a range of people who have found a niche that they can be happy in, even if they are not comfortable in big groups, or with strangers.

Nigglenaggle Thu 18-Dec-14 07:36:17

God people can be HORRIBLE at school. It's a really artificial environment. The ones making your son's life a misery are probably just hiding their own pain. I don't think not fitting in at school says anything about whether or not you will fit in in whatever you do in later life, but if he doesn't, it won't really matter as long as he's happy will it?

Oversizedaubergine Thu 18-Dec-14 09:25:58

Helping him to be happy again seems like a huge uphill struggle at the moment.

Hakluyt Thu 18-Dec-14 09:28:49

Just because he doesn't fit in at school doesn't mean he won't fit in at other places. Some children are just not "school shaped".

Do you want to tell us some more about him?

Pointlessfan Thu 18-Dec-14 09:29:19

I have taught kids who have been home educated then gone into school to do GCSEs and they've done very well in school. I'm sure you can find plenty of other ways for him to socialise.

Saracen Thu 18-Dec-14 09:41:02

Here's a book which may encourage you: Can't Go, Won't Go: An Alternative Approach to School Refusal by Mike Fortune-Wood.

Whether or not school refusal is part of the problem for you, I imagine that your son has a lot in common with school refusing children. The author of this book observed that many education professionals believe that removing children from school to home educate will cause them to become lonely and more withdrawn, and will do them no favours in the long run. He wanted to discover whether there was any evidence for this widespread belief.

Having surveyed the literature, Fortune-Wood found no credible evidence at all that this was the case. The book also describes his interviews with several dozen families who had taken their school refusing children out of school. Some parents found that all of their children's problems evaporated once school was out of the picture. Others did not. However, they all reported having seen a significant improvement in their children's well-being after they left school. Some children later returned to school, but their parents did not regret having home educated. Their spell of home education was seen as important in their recovery.

Trying home ed for a year or so is not a big risk. The worst that may happen is that you and your son don't like it and he goes back to school. The potential benefits are huge. He could be one of the children whose lives are transformed for the better. What do you have to lose by giving it a go?

Oversizedaubergine Thu 18-Dec-14 13:22:30

School refusal is not really his problem he has older siblings who go every day and he wants to be the same. He has some sensory processing problems which are waiting to be diagnosed, I don't know if any help will be forthcoming. Everything is too bright, or loud, and with coloured lenses and earplugs he is troubled by strong odours. Concentration is difficult for him when he has to cope with lots of things at once and school reckons he has behavioural problems. At home he is fine but I know I am tuned in to watch for signs he is getting distressed.Keeping him home with me seems the right thing to do I'm just worried it means I have given up on him being "normal"

Saracen Thu 18-Dec-14 17:44:34

Go out and meet some home educated kids. Home education doesn't make them abnormal. It's true that some of them are not like average kids, which is often the reason they didn't get on at school. Other HE kids are very typical.

Oversizedaubergine Sat 20-Dec-14 19:21:38

How do I meet other home educated kids?
You know I really meant "normal" as in mainstream, I just feel a little disappointed that people may think he somehow failed at school so has to make do with me, even though I know we will probably work quite well as a team.
Please don't think I'm having a go at home educated kids, I just have a slight fear of the unknown and worry I may go stir crazy if I'm looking at a ten year stretch!

Nigglenaggle Sat 20-Dec-14 19:48:25

Better going with your gut instinct about what's right for you both than carrying on with something you know isn't working because you're worried about what people think...

Oversizedaubergine Sat 20-Dec-14 21:09:25

Yes, you're right.
What if I fail him as badly as the school has!!!
I need to start thinking about Christmas instead.

ommmward Sat 20-Dec-14 21:34:11

Well, then he'd be no worse off, would he?! (And it's supremely unlikely that you'd fail that badly, frankly)

saintlyjimjams Sat 27-Dec-14 09:07:06

How old is is he oversized? I have similar concerns about my youngest (year 5). He also wears coloured lenses, & seems to have some auditory processing problems. He doesn't have behavioural problems at school but is such a different child I think he is struggling (at home he doesn't walk, he hops skips & jumps everywhere, is loud & cheeky & funny. At school he is nearly mute & walks stiff & erect & rarely smiles).

I am convinced this is due to sensory processing problems & being overwhelmed in school. (My eldest is severely autistic so sensory processing issues are not unususl in this house). He doesn't seem unhappy at the moment - but his school is tiny & his class is tiny. I have no idea how he will cope with secondary. I am keeping my fingers crossed that Wey ecadamy gets the go ahead so we at least have that as an option.

AMumInScotland Sat 27-Dec-14 11:48:03

I think you have to look at things in the short term to start with, and not get bogged down in 'what if' for ten years ahead, or you will freeze your brain and not get anywhere!

He is miserable in school, not in a situation where he can make use of the academic or social opportunities that you would hope school was giving him, and you can see that he is a long way from happy.

A spell of being home with you, working towards goals like 'happiness' and 'coping with things a bit better' and 'finding ways to help his concentration' would be an investment in his future potential both for happiness, and for fulfilling his potential academically and in other ways. That might be something that a few months, or a year, or whatever, of focus and care, together with a diagnosis which points you towards support, could be enough to get him past the problems and back to a situation where he could go back into school and be happy there. Or it may be that school is just never going to be a positive environment for him. At this stage, you just can't guess.

I think it's always going to be a disappointment to find that mainstream doesn't fit your child, and to worry where that leaves you. But if you know that you can give him an environment at home where he can thrive, then surely it is better to give him that and work out how to move forwards from there, rather than watch him struggle with something that just isn't working.

You can view it as temporary, and you can have a goal of helping him with the things that make school a struggle. You can give yourself a deadline if that helps it to feel less of a 'no going back' decision. If you find things really haven't improved by the summer, say, and you feel that you are failing him worse than the school was, then he could go back into school. It doesn't have to be 'all or nothing' - a few months out of school isn't going to make it any worse for him than it is now, and could well make it better.

Swanhildapirouetting Sun 04-Jan-15 00:57:47

The first thing I thought when I read your post was how "normal" most of the home educating children I meet with ds2 ARE. They run around in the park and play wonderful games with each other. They attend co-ops and workshops or sports or Forest School. Maybe they are not always as pushy and "celebrity or peer aware" as some of the children in school but they are certainly as independent and motivated. From knowing just one person and following a few internet links I have met many new people and so has Ds2 (who has SPD and Asperger's) It isn't plain sailing because ds2 remains quite easily distracted from academic work (he is 12) and is impatient and at time fails to understand social "rules"; but in the main part the tension has lifted from him - he doesn't worry about homework or fitting in any more or teachers "shouting".

I would go for it and you cannot lose at this stage.

Try reading Lise Pyles Hitchhiking Through Asperger's - very helpful.

Whatever you think home education will be it is never quite as you imagine - you can only try it and find your own version. With a lot of help from other home educating families - to do it alone would be quite an uphill struggle as much for you as for your child. Not everyone home educates because their child has "difficulties" (although some do) - often they choose because they really see home education as a vastly superior model from which to engage with the world.

I am not as eloquent as Ommward and it can be hard when one child is at home and the others at school (I have two at school) but often just thinking about what makes your child happier can be the only way to look at the problem rather than the issue of what is the best way to "educate him"

Swanhildapirouetting Sun 04-Jan-15 01:09:16

Education Otherwise has all the local group links - you don't even have to join EO.

What I did was find my local Yahoo group (I was in London) and join them once I was home educating (before was unfortunately was not possible because of privacy) I then got updates on many many events and regular meetups that were occurring which were open to all (some free some not) The minute I was at a meetup talking to other parents there was a further information stream. Not to speak of all of the "mainstream" drama group/sports/art/music my child now had time to do at the weekend/weekday evenings because he wasn't tired out from school or homework. Home educators tend to be very busy bees so there was less socialising in people's houses and more of an emphasis on getting out and about when you first meet people. Established home educators tended to have their own networks/child swopping arrangements so in my personal experience (with a much older child) coffee mornings were less common than coffee in the park. But still lots of time to chat. And then time at home to try a bit of more formal/traditional "work" if you want to do that.

Oversizedaubergine Fri 16-Jan-15 10:30:02

Oh my goodness, I have been so tied up with everyday life I haven't had time to visit mumsnet. I have to say thankyou to everyone for all your helpful advice. I have taken the decision to home ed and my wee guy seems miles happier already. He is getting a big kick out of our daily nature walks (yes in January!) and has loads of ideas for what he wants to learn so looking fairly positive.
Still having trouble seeing him socialising of his own free will though. I managed to find a local HE group but he doesn't want to meet anyone.I am working on it.He hasn't asked for anyone from school although many children have asked for him.
Also had a massive setback when his swimming teacher left. New teacher seems to annoy him in some way so he has gone from being a confident keen swimmer to crying at the poolside and not going in.
I'm hoping the referral to the community paediatrician comes through soon, I am starting to think he needs more help than I can give him, and as long as I don't really know what his problem is, I don't know how to do it.
I'm off to dream of the day when he might manage a sleepover! (or even half an hour at a friend's house)

ommmward Fri 16-Jan-15 16:26:16

Give him time!

Swanhildapirouetting Fri 16-Jan-15 17:02:23

Ds2 was very anxious when he first started meeting up with people at Home Ed groups - not in the sense of being frightened, just that he hated the unpredictability of the setting - as of course he wasn't quite sure what he was in for on any one occasion. As the meetups became more familiar to him and the people were usually the same it was much much easier for him to look forward to them and genuinely enjoy them. I think the predictability of it is very important to him.

I think other posters who home educated for SN reasons said when they started out they used to make the social side very simple and short and stop whenever they felt it was too much for their child (in a way that you cannot do in school)

Knowing you can stop whenever you like is such a big plus. Or conversely do something more challenging when you are in the mood for it.

Swanhildapirouetting Fri 16-Jan-15 17:08:11

An example I can give you is that ds absolutely refused point blank to go to Home Ed football group because he "wouldn't know anyone and the coach would shout at him" I waited by the pitch and promised him he could stop after 10 mins if he didn't feel happy [he had already done several years in another football setting which he had also loved so I was pretty confident that it was worth pressing the issue] After I hour of session it was deemed "a success". And now it is the highlight of his week. But he did know one person in the session first. So that might be key. One person to break ice. Could be a younger person than him even.

Ds2 at 12 has never been to a sleepover outside school residential. Not all children manage them or need them. It is quite a modern construct.

Swanhildapirouetting Fri 16-Jan-15 17:12:27

Ds2 also "blanked" people from his old school for quite a while after the start of home ed. He is slowly accepting that he is able to be home edded and see the old friends without this meaning he will be sent back to school! For them it is quite difficult to mix the two worlds - to some extent it is a process of de-toxifying which takes longer than we might think.

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