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AS and home ed, could I be doing this differently?

(6 Posts)
onlyoneboot Mon 16-Nov-15 11:59:04


This year has been a total whirlwind with my DDs, 12 and 15, falling apart at school and being diagnosed with AS. They had been asking to be home schooled on and off for years so when it all started to go very wrong at school I knew this was where we were heading. In the heat of it all I decided rather than cut ties completely I would push for funding for online schooling and that was agreed.

But, here we are and while we are getting through the online assignments it feels like a bit of a miserable learning experience as I'm having to cajole, encourage and insist every step of the way. It's exhausting and not very fun.

I can't decide if this is a good lesson in resilience, because doing nothing is not an option, and we should just keep going. We really are doing the bare bones and it does mean they have the foundation to sit exams. Or should I be doing it very differently. I need inspiration, ideas??!

Are these years just years to 'get through'?? That seems such a half life! They are super smart, creative girls who are happy enough with their lack of friends and they won't do any activities so we're on our own and I daydream of building our own 'curriculum' but I'm not sure what's best for them.

Anyone have any teenage home ed tales to motivate me? They don't really have goals at the moment to work towards though DD1 is a very talented artist and DD2 writes beautifully.

Thanks flowers

ommmward Tue 17-Nov-15 14:17:08

I didn't want to leave your message unanswered.

Sounds to me like school-shaped learning was not a good fit for your girls, and you've replaced it with school-shaped learning out of a school environment. So there are other things you can do.

Think about the two girls separately.

12 year old - give her at least a month per year she spent in school to "deschool". Do nothing that looks like adult-imposed formal learning. Give her time and space to develop her writing. Take her to the library. Maybe find an adult creative writing group for her to join in with if she wants. Take her to the zoo. See if you can find any other 10-14 year old aspergirls for her to hang out with. Encourage minecraft, imaginative play. Take her to an old folks' home once a week to meet the elderly people; volunteer with her at a home ed group for much younger kids (she could lead a craft activity or read to the little ones or something). This can last for a full 2 years, exploring her interests and skills. After that, she might feel ready to leap into an InterHigh stylee 9-GCSE's-in-two-years type formal learning thing, or she may actually want to pursue a more vocational route and pick up minimal paper qualifications using tutors or InterHigh or your support or whatever.

15 year old - trickier because she's already half way through GCSEs. But is she enjoying getting the qualifications? She hasn't had her chance to deschool yet, either. You could do the same as for the 12 year old, but helping her blossom in her art. Maybe she'd like to sign up for art classes at the local FE college or something, or through the WEA if they exist in your area. Or just explore lots of art - galleries, online exhibitions. Learn everything she can. And then look at getting the paper qualifications later on. At some point she'll need a handful of GCSEs, whatever she wants to go on to do, and I reckon she's probably old enough for you to have the conversation with her explicitly about what balance of academic and free style she wants to pursue at the moment.

In any case, you all need to look up the pdf of The Teenage Liberation Handbook: How to Quit School and Get A Life.

Enjoy the journey!!!

MrsMolesworth Tue 17-Nov-15 14:29:50

I don't home ed, but I have taught home-edded teens before, including some who have ASD, and my son has ASD. Hope you get some posters more qualified than me, to give you specific advice, but I'd suggest:

They're no longer in the school system, so don't need to waste time moving between lessons, waiting while other people settle down etc. You can 'buy' a lot of time from this and I'd work out how much and suggest they come up with projects of their own that they love and want to pursue. Make time most days to do this.

Discuss with them the good points and values of more mainstream education, and how it would be good to incorporate these into their home schooling. Mainstream education doesn't exactly prepare you for the world, but it does prepare your options. It is good and important to have a competent grasp of a broad range of subjects up to GCSE level, because you never quite know when secondary knowledge will come in handy. E.g. I didn't study modern languages at uni but have used them in over 50% of the jobs I've had since leaving uni. They are too young and inexperienced to know what they will need to know later, or what may be a deal breaker to an employer later in life.

Also (currently tackling this issue with ASD DS2) it is very useful for them to learn the intrinsic value in doing things that aren't 100% up their street, as there may be other benefits. If they close off too far, they are denying themselves opportunities. Right now they need cushioning time away from the intense social life that comes with school. but long term, ASD people need friends too. Not as many as NTs perhaps, but loneliness is an issue. The more they learn skills in tolerating topics that don't immediately grab them, the more they learn to look for what could be interesting, the more they are likely to be able to transfer that skill socially. E.g. making small talk with people who are interested in different things from them, etc.

onlyoneboot Wed 18-Nov-15 10:49:07

Thanks so much for your replies, helpful to think about.

DD2 is a tough nut to crack, all ommmward's suggestions sound lovely but she is selectively mute so we are a long, long way from her joining groups. She's very stubborn, doesn't like people in general at the moment, and I don't know how much of this is damage done by school or just personality/age. She's also intensely private so won't show her writing to anyone. She is however very funny, likes singing, and gets on well with DD1 and plays Minecraft with DS. She has people she chats to online, which is some form of social communication at least.

DD1 is gaining confidence but she isn't ready to join new classes yet. I hope she will decide to go to a FE college eventually, we have some very close by.

We do talk a lot about education and I'm trying to raise the positives. DS (also ASD) is still in school so it's difficult balancing it all. I think you're right MrsMolesworth that they need to learn that doing things they aren't 100% into may have benefits, I just need to go very gently. That's why I'm pushing the online study, it might be school-shaped but it's challenging them a bit, even if it doesn't lead to exams, especially considering we're in Scotland and the course work is GCSE so it's a bit different.

Ideally, I'd like to go back in time and do things entirely differently and I think what we need to do is move house because they won't even go to the local shop in case they see people from school. Tricky with DS still in school. Thinking out loud now smile but helpful to put into words.

Saracen Thu 19-Nov-15 11:22:08

The only thing I'd add to others' excellent posts is that you have all the time in the world. In the school system it never feels that way. "HURRY UP or you will be LEFT BEHIND forever. Miss out on the key maths concept and everyone else will go on without you and it gets harder and harder to catch up. If you felt like the odd one out before, that will only get worse if you don't get with the programme now. Fail to make friends at the start of secondary school and everyone else will form friendship groups which don't include you. It is almost time for exams, which you must sit next year. Blow this opportunity and your life is down the pan."

Try to put all that behind you. Home education is entirely different. There are things you will want your daughters to learn eventually, which will be key to their happiness and independence. But there is no deadline. What they don't learn this year, in terms of academics or social confidence or life skills, they can learn next year or the year after, or even when they are 25. Go for a relaxed approach.

You only need to treat the current situation as a crisis if your girls are very unhappy, or if their ways of coping are causing problems for the rest of the family. Take a deep breath and slow down. You are out of the whirlwind now. You may need to take positive action at some point in order to help them get where they want to go, but there is no urgency about that. You've done the urgent thing, which was to get them out of school. Now relax and help them do whatever they need to do to be happy in this moment. As time passes and they recover from their difficult time at school, you'll figure out what they need, and when (and whether) they need a little nudge.

onlyoneboot Thu 19-Nov-15 13:33:12

Thank you Saracen wise words. After I posted this on Monday I spoke to our LEA ed support who told me to relax and take it a step at a time, we've been through some very traumatic months. I think I was feeling the pressure of the online study being paid for and therefore we had to stick to it but she reassured me. It's hard to switch off from school with DS still there too. He's having a tricky time and I've kept him home today but he has nice friends and I need to work with the school to support him there. Oh, it's complicated but we have, as a family, slowed right down. I need to not rush our recovery time though.

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