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We're trying school again, could not cope with the pressure from family

(16 Posts)
Flightattendant2 Tue 14-Oct-08 05:46:59 some of you know, we dereg'ed in the summer and ds (now 5) has been at home ever since. It's been good - he's learnt stuff he wanted to, has self educated a lot, the only thing is that he's not had many friends round because unfortunately I got ill at the beginning of August and have not had much energy and also didn't want to pass on the infection. So we haven't gone out with other families very much.

We had a phone call from the good school in town the other week to say did we want to stay on their waiting list - they have a one class intake - and I said yes please, and then the other day they rang to say they had a place. So I said we would take it and he is going there after half term.

He is resistant to the idea and of course my being ill hasn't helped but I have mixed feelings about it. On one hand I still hate schools and all they represent, but on the other it would be a relief if he had something to do on the days when I am completely knackered and feeling rotten, as currently he just has to sit around and doesn't get to play with anyone.

(We don't yet know any other HEers round here)
The other big thing is that my family have lost the plot over it all. From the start my mother has refused to even discuss it as she feels I was trying to convince her it was a good idea and not damaging for ds to be home educated - well, yes, under harsh criticism that is surely what any parent would do, defend their decision! but anyway she didn't want to know and has made constant comments about it which I wasn't allowed to negate or argue with. hmm
Dad has tried and still made comments about how worried he is about ds having anyone to play with, but has asked me about good books so he can learn about it and said he knows I want the best for ds. (thanks Dad)
Then last week (before we got the school place offer) my sister rang me for the first time in over a year and completely ranted at me for about 20 minutes about school and how wrong it all was and what a terrible parent I am - without even knowing WHY we left school (the original school was meant to be holding a place till autumn, but changed their minds so we had no choice - plus I had always wanted to HE, hated school and it seemed obvious when we lost the place!)

and I have just felt utterly, utterly unsupported in the whole thing. With so much negativity surrounding it and with no partner on my side, I have felt increasingly like we have no chance of making it work if they are all so against it. I feel like they have not given us a fair chance as i have been so ill all summer and it's been a nightmare - I've taken him out a few times on the train and so on but have not managed half as much as I wanted to do with him, due to feeling terrible.

Now I am stuck between them and ds because he is petrified about going to a new school.

He's going to give it a try and I've said he can stop again after a few weeks if he hates it, but I can't help feeling very upset and angry with my family for making out I am a crap mother and it would be a disaster right from before we even began sad

Sorry to moan. I have to get this out as it's bothering me so much. I guess I might feel less vulnerable to their views and opinions if I was married to someone who felt the same but sadly I'm not and I feel so alone.

Fillyjonk Tue 14-Oct-08 07:23:09

aww flight.

It does rather sound as if you want to HE but are feeling just defeated. Is that right?

OTOH I really don't want to try to talk you into HEing or anything if you actually are quite clear that you want to send him to school, at least as a trial. HEing is NOT for every family or every child IMO and there is no reason why you should do it, or apologise if it doesn't work for you at this time. You have TRIED it, that is pretty impressive!

If you want to do it but are feeling unsupported, is there any chance at all of meeting up with another HEr? Do you have a local yahoo group? If you stuck that post on my local board I am sure you'd get offers of telephone chats, visits, etc, if you wanted them. I wish we were closer to you.

Alternatiely, iirc there is a lone parents HE yahoo group, would that help? I don't know how I woudl HE without the help and support of my partner and extended family.

Email me offlist btw if you ever want to just offload or anything, my ds is about the same age as yours and I have younger ones too, I can't find your email address anywhere but mine is

compo Tue 14-Oct-08 07:32:55

What a sad situation.
Fwiw I think you hae to really make up our mind what you want to do.
If you really want to HE you have to ge involved in groups, meet other HE-ers and really go for it. If the thought of doing all that is not for you then I don't think it is a good idea for ds. Also, hope you don't mind me asking, but do you get ill a lot? As obviously it is going to be harder to HE if you do.
But if you decide to send him to school, or if you have decided, then you have to go for that 100 per cent too. Telling your ds that he can leave if he doesn't like it isn't giving him the message that you are wholeheartedly going for the school thing.
And lastly, this is about you and your ds. You know now that your family is unsupportive, so you have to think about how you feel, what you want for your ds, not what your mum and sister think.
Good luck though, it sounds like you have been through a lot.

AMumInScotland Tue 14-Oct-08 09:17:32

I'm sorry to hear you've been going through such a tough time - I can see that the combination of being ill and having no support from family would make it very difficult to HE. I assume from the way you describe it that you're not going to be back to full strength for a while yet - I think maybe in that case, if getting really involved with other HE families etc is just not realistic, then school may be the better option for a while. Of course in an ideal world your family would support your decision and help out, and HE would be fine, but it doesn't sound like you can rely on them to be any real help to you.

So, I think it wuld be a good idea to give your DS a real go at school and hope that he can settle in - I'd be tempted to say that he has to try it at least for a whole term, to get over the initial bump - if he's thinking every day that he can stop when he wants then he may not give it a proper try.

You might be surprised and find that the school is fine - I know there are aspects of it which are not your ideal, but that doesn't mean he can't get a good education there and enjoy many aspects of it.

Maybe once the pressure is off you, you'll be able to get your own strength back up and look again at HE in a while - I'm guessing you are pushing yourself to do things with him which are tiring you and maybe not helping you to recover properly.

compo Tue 14-Oct-08 09:40:28

good point amuminscotland, maybe you need to put yourself first for a bit and just keep telling ds that school will be fun, keep repeating all the exciting things there are to do etc etc

onwardandupward Tue 14-Oct-08 15:29:50


Well, your options are

1. send him to school

2. persuade your family about the benefits to him of HEing, and get them fully supportive

3. think of a way of going it alone without their support (which might need a real life network of other HEers to spend time with). Perhaps with saying "this is not open to your approval or disapproval. If you want to have a relationship with us, please accept this as our decision as a family". A bit like coming out as gay or something maybe - if this is an important part of your son's life and your life at this time, then it's something that the people who love you need to integrate into their love of you. Protect yourselves.

Is there any way you can allow your upset and anger to just be, but on one side and not identify with them while you and your son make this decision. Sometimes when I'm angry I want to lash out and hurt someone, punish someone, and in your shoes, I could see myself doing a bit of a "right. damn you. I'll send him to school though he doesn't want to go there and then you'll see how upset we both are and then you'll be sorry". Not saying at all that this is what is happening to you, it's a total projection from my own responses to things, but if it rings true for you then do be careful not to hurt yourself and your son in your anger.

Did you read the Lessons from the Leg Break Fairy in the Terri Dowty Free Range Education book? I think it's a must read for any HEing parent who is ill/ depressed/ pregnant/ injured - about how resourceful children are and how much they learn even when their parents aren't takingthem to Legoworld every day.

And I totally disagree with the make-it-be-a-term suggestions. If he tries it and hates it, he'll know within a week or two that it's not right for him at this point in time. He knows what he's getting at home - there are no rose-tinted spectacles there - and if he'd genuinely prefer it, then I'd be trying to find ways of supporting him and you in making home-based education a success for the both of you.

Flightattendant2 Tue 14-Oct-08 20:39:58

Thanks all of you very much indeed.

I'm sorry I haven't come back to the thread but I've had trouble trying to process it all in my mind and didn't know what to say. I've been reading your comments though and it is helping a lot.

Filly Hi smile and thanks for the email addy. I've put you in my address book finally.

Compo - no, I don't often get ill (unless you count being a bit depressed) - it's been just the last few months since I picked up a bug at the hospital and haven't managed to get rid of it quite yet. I'm still not sure if it's gone and am in a fair bit of pain etc, also might need to go in for more treatment if not, so it hasn't been an easy summer. Very frustrating as I wanted to go for it with the HE and have had zero energy.

O&U thanks for the hugz grin
I will look up that story.
I see what you're saying about the angry stuff and doing it out of desperation and 'well see how you like it when we do what you say' type motives but actually to tell the truth, I am relieved in a way that he's going back - it means he is doing something 'proper' that at present I'm finding it extremely difficult to provide for him. I mean he'll be getting stimulus and play with peers and all that stuff (I know, the bad stuff too!) and the way it is with my family i just am at breaking point - i've been ill for three months, trying to stop breastfeeding, ds2 wakes and feeds and cries every single night (he never used to! is now 16mo hmm) and I've been trying to lay floors and decorate the flat. It's been hellish really. So my parents and sister having a go constantly is too much to bear on top of all that. I don't think Ds is going to be very hurt, but he is a bit. He is scared to leave me and I think a lot of that is insecurity because I've been so ill. I don't think it is a hatred of school as such, I think it's a fear of leaving me. I intend to work on it very gently and be kind and soft with him, but I want him to be happy and if he can find a way to enjoy school like he used to (I never ever did - that's the difference, ds knows how to make friends and has a right laugh) then I reckon it'll be the best thing - for now, at least.

Then later maybe I can get back into the swing of teaching at home. Mum said she was amazed how much he has learnt since we began but she can't get over what she perceives as his loneliness.

I'm just not sure. But I wonder if I can actually do this HE thing as a single mum - personally I mean. The resources required exceed my depths at the moment.

Someone send me a husband please grin

AnarchyAunt Tue 14-Oct-08 20:53:28

You have my full sympathy. I spent the summer term HEing DD (5.6) and have now sent her back to 'school' with a bit of a heavy heart.

I'm a single mother with no support whatsoever from DD's father, and although I have a supportive family (brother was HE for 3 years by mum, who is teacher) they work and can't offer much practical day-to-day support. It just all got too much.

I also don't know anyone local who is HE, and tbh I found most of the HE groups a bit... not sure how to put it. They were 'proper families' with cars (I don't drive), resources (I'm on IS), houses big and nice enough to have the group round to (ours is teeny, private rented, freeeeeezing cold, and falling apart), and partners. All of which make it a damn sight easier!

Its so hard to spend day after relentless day doing everything for your child/ren, without the breaks you get from school or a partner. I have not yet found any answers, though I have been known to think a wife is what I need grin

Fillyjonk Tue 14-Oct-08 21:19:37

anarchy, i know what you meam re the description of HErs. Generally I know a pretty wide range of people-black, white, straigh, gay and inbetween. The HErs I know are almost all white, married and mortgaged. It is a bit odd. But then I am white, married and mortgaged, hmm.

Please don't let that put you off though. we're all so bloody far outside the mainstream anyway that to add snobbery into the mix (them not you) is pretty daft, imo. I do think that HErs tend to be hugely interested in everything. I love my HE friends because I know that if I bring up a new enthusiasm they will generally either go "oh how interesting" or else add to my knowlege. That is common ground for all of us. I honestly don't care how much anyone earns (except that I can't abide ostentatiousness, a but of a faux pas in HE circles, that), how tidy their house is, or whether they have a new car or get the bus...

AnarchyAunt Tue 14-Oct-08 21:36:02

I think the problem I found was not so much that they cared that we were broke with no car etc, but more that it didn't figure on their radar at all iyswim.

So things would be planned that cost money, or were totally inaccessible on public transport (or both), so we just didn't go, and then I felt like we never joined in, which didn't help with my feelings of inadequacy and low confidence and so on. In the end I just felt too awkward to carry on with the HE groups/networks. I know it won't have been intentional on their parts, but when they were able to go and do fabulous things with their DC and we basically puddled around at home and did whatever was free in our local area... well, I know there's nothing wrong with either approach but it was hard. We just didn't know anyone in the same situation.

I do think HE as a lone parent brings some very specific challenges to you as an individual, not just about the logistics of it. It often feels like the whole of society is only prepared to tolerate you scrounging off the state staying at home to raise your DC until they are at school - and then you should be out there working and earning a living. Its very hard to hold that conviction that its the Right Thing when you face that added pressure to have them in school, and it does knock your confidence.

I'd love to go back to it, I really would, but just don't have enough in me to do it all, all the time.

compo Wed 15-Oct-08 09:55:31

aw FA it sounds like you have gone through a really hard time
It might be that you're family are really worried about you as you have loads on your plate right now but it comes across as interference?
You need to be kind to yourself and keep your fingers crossed (I'll keep mine too) that ds loves his new school!!

milou2 Wed 15-Oct-08 21:22:27

Hi there, when is your son starting? I see you have told your son that he can stop school again if he hates it. That is just what I said to mine. Part of me really wanted him to be mainstream when he tried school again this September and part of me dreaded the whole thing.

He went back and it was an interesting experience. It was not working for him, even though he had been set on going back, so I deregistered again. It was so much easier the second time!

I felt weird being a mother of a child at school (plus my first son has always been at school), ie not a home educator.....but doing it with the clear knowledge that I would be responsive to his needs, as far as I was able, made it a very home schooly thing to do.

It has been a rollercoaster ride though, before he went back, assessing how it was going while he was back, deregistering again, and funnily enough getting back into the home edding again.

This has been a long post, but sent with friendly wishes from me.

Flightattendant2 Thu 16-Oct-08 07:17:56

Hi Milou, thanks for sharing.
Did your son want to go back initially? Mine starts after half term and is pretty scared. I hate to ignore that as it seems the whole point was not to make him do something he was afraid of. But I know he is not like I was at that age - I was terrified too but I didn't know how to have fun, and when he started reception he waltzed in and was just wonderful from the first day - no tears at all. The tears and resistance increased very slightly on days he was too tired but generally he was happy.
I find it hard to remember if this escalated toward the end of the spring term, or if i just felt he was too exhausted.
He did seem to always enjoy mucking about with his little friends there, but I can't figure out if he really started to dislike school already or if it was just overtiredness and being too little, which was what I tried to tell myself it was at the time (thinking we could try again when he was five).
I just hope he can find a way to let go of me. I agree with you that giving the option of leaving again after a few weeks is good reverse psychology and might just be necessary in fact to get him there at all.

dragontraveller Thu 16-Oct-08 20:46:30

I just wanted to say that home edding really is worth it. The joys you get can not be described, but you need to believe that YOU are making the right choice otherwise it will be hard to make it work.
Good luck.

milou2 Fri 17-Oct-08 20:28:17

Hi FL2, my son was adamant that he was going to go back for year 6, right through the summer holidays. So I swallowed my pride and wrote asking for a place for him.

He was very keen, touchingly so. He was also aware of wanting to be seen to have learnt a lot while at home. The night before day 1 he asked me...'ask me any question', so I asked him one or two, then he told me to ask more difficult ones, and asked whether I was worried that he wouldn't know the answers, of course I was! So I asked him some hard questions like what the sun was made of, things like that.

The head told him before school started that he would have a great time in year 6. If only he could have been truthful and said I really hope you have a great time in year 6. He then made my son agree that the sickness absences had been put on, or similar words, he just stood there until my son said yes. I couldn't believe it.

The first evening he came home and was stressing out in front of some really easy homework, saying I'm not good at anything. There was another easy research homework I would have basically done with/for him and he went very anxious, jittery, unpredictable, so that was a lost evening. He felt queasy the next Monday, so off school, then was off on the Thursday, can't recall what was wrong offhand.

He said he wasn't learning anything at school. I think that is a very arrogant thing for a 10 year old to say, but maybe it was true. Anyhow, I deregistered him.

Once he was back home ed again I had the experience of him turning towards me like towards the sun. He comes up and asks me questions or asks me to help him draw lines for him. We have mini discussions about voting or the banking crisis. You all know what I mean.

Before he went back I did so want him to fit in and enjoy it, so I could relax and go out to coffee with friends, use the computer when I wanted, be mainstream and be able to say yes he's back at school and loving it. All my relatives would have relaxed too, we would have been ticking all the right boxes again. The road to secondary school and a conventional future would be seemingly assured.

It was odd seeing him dressed in school clothes again, but he did look very neat. I had them all folded away carefully in the cupboard. I went out and bought the bookbag, swim bag, sports bag, pencil case. Named everything, just like the perfect mother does.

I hope that gives a flavour of our experience. Yours will be different and personal, you know that anyway

compo Tue 28-Oct-08 17:04:12

Hi FA, hope your ds is okay this week and looking forward to Monday smile

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