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Finding home ed hard and really doubting myself(17 Posts)
Dc1 is coming up to 7, dc2 is 4 and autistic and I have a toddler. I'm feeling quite down about it all. I'm a teacher so very aware of school standards which doesn't help.
Dc1 is inarticulate and evades work, he would play a console all day or watch to. Loves the sport and social side but hard to engage in activities. He is good at maths but evasive with reading and writing and probably quite behind, he was further so when I took him out in yr 1 but it the work attitude that worries me.he cries because he doesn't want to try the simplest task, and soon it will hold him back more and more joining in age appropriate trips etc. If he was developing work skill etc I'd worry less about levels but he is very immature. He's a good child in general, but so work shy. He could read a book if prompted but unless you monitor he will skim the pictures. He has a character where he could literally do nothing at all
Dc2 is just in her own bubble. Holds a pen like a baby and retains nothing. Socially she has no friends and doesn't notice. She could chat to herself all day, literally hours on end. It doesn't seem healthy. Taking her out is getting harder. I worry that HE from the word go will widen her peer gap and she'll never be able to start school. If our circumstances change this is a nightmare. On the flip side putting her in school to flounder seems cruel. I think she'd be massively distressed and our catchment school and LA are both awful, she'd be unsupported. It's a rock and a hard place.
The toddler is lovely and advanced, but obviously requires a lot of time and care which impacts on the others or limits us from some trips.
I think I'm also used to a lot of social contact and work which is part of it all.
Other families seem to fall into two camps, bigger family but some flexible family support or one or two able children. They easily access any trip etc they wish to. They say they are unschoolers etc but then on the flip side their children are supper article/ reading above their age etc! I've seen the things they do and unschooling means supporting fantastic self led work, as opposed to managing sod all!
There will be other families around with children at similar age and stage. See if you can set up (or join in with) a local home ed park meet, now the weather is getting nicer. Or else post on your local facebook home ed group when you will be going swimming, or for a nice walk in the woods or whatever. Put out a call that you are looking for friends for a 7 yo who is into XYZ.
I know children who connect over a console, and then gradually manage to take that friendship into active play.
I know children who aren't ready to play WITH other children, but will parallel play, with support from the parents.
I know children who are absolutely not "ahead" of their schooled peers, but who are progressing at the right stage for them.
For me, it really helps to get us out of the house for several hours, maybe 4 or 5 days a week - needn't be anything complex - park, a playdate, swimming, a local home ed social meet, whatever. Blows away the cobwebs and makes everyone feel better!
(and at 4 years old, I wouldn't expect a child to be doing much penmanship, especially if they aren't yet ready for fine motor control. Get the playdough out, the paints (or finger paints), bake biscuits using cookie cutters, go outside and make mud pies - there are a million fun ways of developing fine motor control without it involving sitting down with a pen!)
Slightly off the topic, but are your children into Woodcraft Folk? just wondering as it particularly might suit your eldest. I volunteer as a leader with an older age group but the Elfins (age 6 to 10) would be the age group for your eldest one. All those types of things depend entirely on the leaders as to how good they are. Beavers if no Woodcraft Folk locally?
Also wondering if your 4 year old has had any SaLT input that was any use? Might you be able to get a bit of input, maybe a one off private specialist session to give you some ideas on the communication front, or get an NHS review by someone else if your NHS therapist was no help before? If you think that a private session might be manageable, this is the website for private SaLT.
I know lots of home educating families who do home ed forest school one day a week - outside, making dens, enough adult supervision to help them navigate social situations successfully, fire lighting, cooking, paddling in streams, dam building, tree climbing etc etc. Might also be a good fit?
((Hugs)) Things ARE really hard for you. With three young children, one of whom has autism, that would be the case whether or not your children were in school. The challenges would be different, that's all.
I haven't been in such a difficult situation as you. I only have two kids, with a big age gap. Though one has special needs, it has always been totally apparent to me that school would be wrong for her, so I don't have to wonder whether she'd be better off there. Neither child has any desire to do academic work which doesn't interest them except when they can see how it will help them to achieve their own goals, but I guess I don't expect that of them and so I don't find it frustrating.
I do see families who are going through similar tough times as yours.
You're right that they aren't much in evidence at the home ed groups, and are hardly seen at all at those structured school-style educational outings. It isn't because such families don't exist. It's because getting their children there is difficult or impossible, or the parents have learned the hard way that the whole family would find the experience so stressful that it isn't worth it. You aren't alone.
Unschoolers don't all have high-achieving academically-inclined children. In fact, many people are driven to autonomous education precisely because their child is particularly resistant to "schoolwork". One challenge when unschooling is that many people who haven't seen it in action find it outrageously radical and neglectful. Unschooling parents with young children who aren't (yet) "successful" by conventional school measures may therefore keep rather quiet about that, even in the presence of other HE parents, for fear of being judged harshly. In the case of teens and young adults it can be seen in retrospect that the autonomous education was successful, and their parents can afford to be more forthcoming about the fact that their child seldom picked up a pencil before the age of twelve. But I suppose you don't have so much opportunity to mix with those families, so you aren't getting that reassurance?
The one thing which has reassured me most is communicating with a range of HE families, especially those whose children are older than mine. I can see how different they all are, and how many ways there are to make home education work. If you can't meet up with such families in person, you can do it here or on your local HE forum. I guess that as a teacher you have spent much longer in the school system than out of it, and it may take quite some time to get past the idea that home education should look like school.
Good luck. Hang in there!
THank you, I've had time to reflect a little on the positives since posting having reflected on the above.
Dc1- is very able and does learn a lot, if not yet in reading. The maths is wow, reading will come. When not pressured to work he is wonderfully kind and pleasant.
Dc2 is autistic, but has next to no behaviour issues. I'm rather proud of her calmness in view of her needs. I need to give credit to that
They are wonderful outdoors, in the forest and are a gang that look after each other.
I know from teaching I can tutor a child to make years of progress in a short time of 1:1!
This time will pass. School would be hard, dc2 would be destroyed and her behaviour would be hell. I'd crack.
It sounds mad, but I recently applied for carers allowance and dla and got it easily. It both confirmed the hardness of it all, the fact I was out of work and needing the benefit and was a bit much. It got me down. I think the ease upset me a bit, that I'm kidding myself a little she doesn't have much need. A bit silly I know... but it all seemed a bit much, and all the interaction with school parents at groups isolated me a little.
In answer to salt- that's a hard thing. Being EHE means dd gets nothing at all, despite rationally knowing that I do a good job as a teacher it's scary having no services at all (her progress has been amazing, non verbal to normal if quirky speech in the first 9months HE)
Both children seem to have really differing needs. Why did you decide to HE your son?
Clearly her progress is fantastic and you may feel that salt is not indicated. But imo she has a right to services. Most paediatric salts are employed by the NHS, not by the education service (private schools may employ their own). If you think you would like at least to meet with a salt, ring the local service (google your county and speech and language therapy) and ask how they provide services to him educated children.
Definitely get out there to the casual meet ups, the more families you meet the more ways of HE you see.
Even without any extra needs the age spread can be hard so give yourself a break!
Also I have 3 HE friends who are x or current (Part Time) teachers & they all say they find it hard to not switch into teacher mode - automatically referencing standards in their head etc
We autonomously HE & my kids aren't geniuses my eldest reads way above her age but writes way below, maths about on par. My middle's mental maths is awesome but his writing is non existent & his reading below ish maybe...
They don't do fancy projects or get deeply into a subject, they play lots of Lego, climb lots of trees & listen to LOTS of books.
Do what works for your family. If you can't find a meet up that suits you then suggest one! Post on your local group "we're going to be playing at x beach/park/castle/place that's easy for you to go on y day - we'd love it if anyone wanted to join in."
Having a wobble is part of HE as far as I can tell
She Ian technically known to all services but it just simply doesn't happen! Every appt they promise an email/ meeting etc. Last time salt was present and it was written In the report.aside from multi displinary meeting she's never met salt! Even in nursery
Dd was desperate to leave school, and is happier and didn't es better at home- even with minimal work
I home ed three children, they're older than yours now but we definitely seemed to do better if we were out quite a lot when they were smaller. I still struggle to get mine to write and this seems very common. They are a lot less resistant to doing English on a computer programme - we are currently using literacy planet. They watch quite a lot of documentaries as well. Six is still really young - it sounds like you're all doing very well.
Could you move closer to better schools for your eldest? Apart from being a dreamer and a bit lazy you haven't said why he doesn't manage at school. A good school could support his learning and help him to progress.
You've got your hands full and I don't see how you can meet all their needs by yourself.
He just wasn't school shaped, begged to leave. Retained friends and happy by has learnt more at home, even if not in all areas. He's very happy at home, and our local school is so so bad. Moving isn't an option on finances
You have a lot on your hands FlippedUpRightSide, so it's no wonder that you feel overwhelmed at times!
But reading through your posts, there is so, SO much to celebrate and be proud of. You say DS1 is happy, has learnt more at home, is a whizz at Maths and able. DD2 has next to no behavioural difficulties, which suggests that you are providing a great environment for her. 4 is still very young! As pp have said - plenty of play activities are excellent for fine motor skills and will develop her penmanship in her own time. Then there's what you say about your DC looking after each other.
OP you sound like you are giving your children a great start. In fact I'm rather in awe of you!
If your son likes maths let him do maths just read to him regularly maybe even put signs up of things round the house, encourage him to draw and maybe incorporate some writing with maths, get him to work out a sum and write it down long hand, your daughter at four is fine if she's not ready for a pencil, finger paints, a salt tray, dot to dots, dipping finger in water and writing on a brick wall etc will all help also sponge letters in the bathtub and fridge magnets are all fun ways to learn words that and lots of reading, as for retaining information at this age children learn best through play, snakes and ladders teaches numbers, science experiments like food colouring in a flowers case so the plant changes colour, baking also teaches science, solids mixing with liquids what happens when mixture heats up etc