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Any other more 'formal' home educators out there? I can't seem to find any!

(27 Posts)
lolapoppins Mon 17-Aug-09 14:19:10

Hello, I am home educating my son who is a couple of months off turning seven.

There are no shortage of other home educating families and groups to attend, but the majority of families we have met are going down the route of autonomous learning, or teaching but not formally at all whereas we are very formal as mostly follow the national curriculum, stick to school times, make use of a tutor etc. It suits us and our son that way.

I am feeling a little isolated really. Like I said, lots of groups to go to, but I am always jumped on for the way we do things formally, and I have begun to dread going. I get asked by other home educators over and over again why we don't just send him to school if we are basically doing 'school' at home (there are reasons, but it's too long to go into, but we tried it and it didn't work out as planned).

I feel like I just don't 'fit'. In our area, home educating families all seem to be very new age-y and green, and we are not like them at all. That doesn't matter at all to me, I take people on their personality, not what lifestyle they are into, or how they educate their children, but for all their talk of 'open mindedness', for some reason, my family are not accepted.

I am feeling very low today as I just got back from a group and have been laughed at in fornt of everyone as I was seen checking our time table for the afternoon before I went because my son wanted to tell his friend if he had science or history this afternoon (we have gone 'back to school' this week). Being humiliated becasue I choose to do what I feel is best for my family by people who preach acceptance and open mindedness isn't my idea of fun.

I am so fed up after a year and a half of comments like 'get rid of the tutor' and 'stop acting like a teacher'. I want to try and meet other people who are quite happy doing things in a more formal way. My son is thriving by the way, he enjoys the formal work we do, but he also has more than enough time to do fun ativities of his own choosing or just to sit around and chill out.

Sorry for the long post. Like I said upsetting morning yet again at a home ed group, it is getting me down now.

logi Mon 17-Aug-09 15:34:41

Hi lolapoopins,the group youve been to must be pretty immature for laughing at what you do, ive spoke with you on other threads ,i think we all do what suits our children my sons a bit hit and miss at the moment but i would definately like to be more structured in my method of teaching him as he gets a little older. At the moment we do our homework in the morning and our subjects are english & maths,i am hoping to introduce other subjects soon.I dont have a timetable but would consider it as ds got older if i felt it suited us.Its a shame your group was like that i find all methods interesting and take a little advice from everyones experience...so we will end up doing a mixture, i enjoy being my sons "teacher" (well most of the time lol.So dont feel low your son is thriving and happy so its working ...thats what matters.

musicposy Mon 17-Aug-09 16:06:03

Hi lolapoppins, sorry to hear your group are not more accepting of your choices.

You might find this group useful alittlebitofstructure.ning.com; I have found them to be lovely and very supportive. Put out a call for people in your area - someone will know. You can also talk about resources, workbooks, timetables, all those sort of things on there. You might need an invite - I can invite you but I'm not quite sure how on a public forum. Get back to me if you have trouble.

We are semi-structured - the girls have work to do but are free to do their own thing once it's done. However, I know of home educators who are far more structured than us, and plenty of autonomous ones, too. I think it's terrible you got laughed at.

It may be that you touched a nerve with the home educators in your group feeling that you are maybe "doing more" than them (by this I mean that we can all have moments of doubt, look at someone else and think they are doing so much better!) and so maybe it wasn't really meant to be unkind. I have a completely autonomous friend - she was talking about what she does the other day and I said "I always feel I should be more sponatenous and exciting when I talk to you!" And she said "well, that makes me feel better because I always feel I should be making my children do some work when I talk to you!" We had a good laugh about it - it's a shame your group can't appreciate that everyone approaches things differently.

Perhaps you need to travel further afield. I have 2 home ed groups I am connected with and the one that is further away is a much better fit for me personally than the one on my doorstep. My eldest has found her friends there too. So, effort though it may be, maybe look around.

lolapoppins Mon 17-Aug-09 16:52:10

Thanyou for that link musicposy, I will take a look at it in a sec.

I live in a very rural county, there are about 4 or 5 groups, and I already travel over an hour to the nearset one! Today just really got me down so much, its just good to know that there are other people out there who HE in the same way.

Kayteee Mon 17-Aug-09 20:33:52

Lolapoppins I am sad angry for you!

We are autonomous but would NEVER laugh at anyone, and indeed we have many friends who are structured, choosing a different path.

I am shocked actually that this is happening to you. We go all over the place to attend different events/groups etc; and have never come across such an awful attitude. I'm not surprised you feel cheesed off.

Have you joined Education Otherwise? If you join there is a Forum with a "Structured" HE topic. You might find someone on there to chat to or maybe point you in the right direction?

For once, I am speechless shock

TheDailyMailHatesWomenAndLemon Mon 17-Aug-09 20:47:54

You'll probably find more formal HEdders in the US, as well, so might be worth looking out for suitable online forums there. I know Heather on the Pioneer Woman blog is a structured homeschooler and has some interesting posts there (Pioneer Woman herself is an unstructured homeschooler, and yet they manage to cooperate on the blog without anyone laughing at anyone else, so I think the issue lies with your group).

Bubble99 Wed 19-Aug-09 21:15:23

Hello lolapoppins smile

DS1 starts 'school at home' in September. He's 11 and, as we were offered a place at a dump school (knife arches shock) - we've decided to use an internet school.

He has a timetable and lessons at home in the mornings, there are only 14 children in his class and we've arranged art lessons and music for him in the afternoons. He goes to Woodcraft Folk one evening a week and also belongs to two sports clubs.

The socialisation thing is usually thrown at us as a reason for not home educating him but, tbh, he has a far better social life than we do and has lots of friends that he 'hangs' with. Interestingly, we've had a lot of support for our decision from current and ex-teachers hmm

I'm sad and shock that you've had to deal with the crap you've got from the HE groups. Keep your chin up.

mrswoolf Wed 19-Aug-09 22:34:28

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

robberbutton Thu 20-Aug-09 11:28:09

lolapoppins, I'm so sorry you had this experience. HEers are so used to being on the defensive - it sounds like the people you met just didn't know when to stop!

I read a blog post recently about how HEers are never going to be able to combat anything like stricter government regulations because we just can't stop fighting each other. Like you have found with criticisms about the way you do things, and like this horrendous article railing against autonomous education.

Good luck with finding people more in tune with what you are doing. No advice really I'm afraid, just sympathy and support! (My son is nearly 4 so we're not doing a huge amount at the mo, but will be mostly structured when we do).

restlessnative Fri 21-Aug-09 00:10:07

I take my hat off to you, lolapoppins, for deciding to home educate. I had my teenage son at home for a term between schools and we were structured though concentrating on something that interested both of us, I was reading and researching and staying about a step ahead of him. It was one of the best things I've ever done and I think he enjoyed it too! He was desperate to get back with other kids afterwards, luckily the right school was waiting.

I would always have wanted to have structure in the day if I'd home educated for longer, or when my children were smaller. I would want to know they had the basic tools of writing and reading and maths though I'm personally not bothered about children learning to read much before 6. I'm sure the structure you've created is flexible and will alter with what's needed. It must a great idea to have a tutor too, for both of you.

Sounds as if your son is enjoying himself and isn't that what you wanted for him when school didn't work out as planned? Ironic how those 'New Age' lifestylers turn out to be so judgmental, always been my experience especially when they form a pack. Have fun together

streakybacon Fri 21-Aug-09 11:10:33

We are very structured too. Ds has AS so it's absolutely vital that he has a set pattern to his day, with a timetable that might change but at least he knows where to find out what's happening. There's no way ds could learn free-range, he just doesn't have the motivation to find things for himself, and he needs a lot of 1-1 support to keep him on track and focused.

We tend to work on whatever he's interested in, although I do keep a weather eye on the national curriculum so that I can at least give him the option of learning those subjects. I might get him to do a few simple worksheets on those things as it tends to keep the inspectors happy wink but otherwise we go our own way.

Oh, and it's the best thing we've ever done grin. He's coming on in leaps and bounds since deregistering in October and has never been happier (or had a fuller social life wink. Wish I'd done it years ago.

restlessnative Fri 21-Aug-09 12:11:46

streakybacon do you find the inspector is happy? How much interest do the education authorities take in what you're doing? I was surprised when I was home ed-ing a few months ago that no one seemed to be interested, even though I thought I'd be descended upon by inspectors and we were ready for 'em, without any worksheets it's true. Eventually someone from the local authority wrote to arrange a visit and to send lists of local groups etc which didn't give me any hint they wanted to dissuade me from carrying on, by that time ds was back at school.

I read that the Children’s Minister Delyth Morgan is quoted as saying: “Most home educators do a fantastic job and I want to ensure they get more support from Local Authorities. But we can’t afford to let any child slip through the net – in terms of their education, or safety.” which seems pretty reasonable. But educator Richard House (who turns up monthly in The Mother magazine) seems to be suggesting that the authorities intend to attack home-educators for being part of a counter-culture and so they should stick together. This might come as a surprise to anyone who thought they were home ed-ing because, like you, it's better for their child and have no particular counter-cultural leanings apart from the general ones of distrusting politicians or finding some popular media repulsive. I quite like modern democracy for example, for its flaws and I'm convinced that a child without an adequate education (including how science works, even though like me they don't become a scientist) renders them prey to every con-artist, those from the dominant culture and any 'counter-cultural' ones they happen to come across.

I've had friends whose home-ed-ing has become more autonomous with time and I'm a great fan of teenagers making choices about their education but I suspect Lolapoppins you're sensible to start off with structured days and hope you find a local group to support you, whatever they've chosen to do themselves. It's hard to do such an important job in isolation.

streakybacon Fri 21-Aug-09 12:39:02

Restlessnative - we've only been doing this for less than a year so have only had one 'proper' inspection, in February. They're due again in Oct/Nov and I suspect that will be more routine.

In Feb the inspector was very good and acknowledged that we were providing an appropriate education for ds, although I did feel it was focused more towards the academic than his SEN. Even so, he looked at very littie of ds's work - he said he could tell on meeting a parent whether or not they'd be providing adequately and didn't feel it necessary hmm. Having said that, before the meeting I'd forwarded copies of information about what we did each day and I had an education philosophy prepared with plans for future work, and I think that helped. But I've had nothing from the LEA in terms of support. I even asked the senior EWO (who was present at the meeting) to look into getting ds's workbooks from the school, but all she did was accept 'No' from them and we never did get them.

I actually agree with monitoring because I do believe there are some HE children who aren't receiving a reasonable education, but my concerns are more about the extent of that monitoring and who decides what is suitable. This is particularly worrying where there are SENs.

You're right about the counter-culture thing. HE is a default option for my family because the state has clearly demonstrated that it's not prepared to educate my son in an environment where he is safe from harm and his social and emotional needs are considered. I have chronic health problems and an elderly mother to contend with - I could do without this, tbh! But there isn't a viable alternative at present so here we are.

I do think autonomy works well for a certain type of child, it's just that mine isn't one of them! Even so, on my list of priorities his academic education comes about fourth - his mental health, self-confidence, autism awareness and social/emotional development are far more important and that's what we work on first.

restlessnative Fri 21-Aug-09 13:13:01

streakybacon hope your concerns re who decides what's suitable are heard, you must know by now what's best for your ds and no school could do better, hard on you, however rewarding. More support (not interference) from the LEA would only be fair since you're saving them the cost of your ds's school place! I don't know why you didn't get his workbooks except that it seems when things go wrong, stuff gets lost...
Just want to say good luck with everything you're doing.

streakybacon Fri 21-Aug-09 13:47:38

Thanks restless, appreciate that.

lolapoppins Tue 25-Aug-09 14:36:00

Hello, sorry, this dropped off the posts im on section, so I didn't see anymore replies.

One of the reasons we have to be so structred is that I don't really want to be home educating DS, to be honest. Please don't judge me on that. I love my son more than you could ever imagine, and I want him to have a good education, and I try my best to give it to him, it has become my life. The structure is more for my benift.

He is home educated as he went to nursery at 3 and a half and it was all down hill from there - he is an angel at home, a really lovely funny kid, no problems at all, but a devil at school. His personality changes the second he gets into a classroom. We went through four schools in two years, we were 'asked' to leave each one of them. He has no SN, no learning difficulties (and no G&T making him bored), no medical problems, nothing. Just behaviour problems which only seem to exist in school, it's baffling.

After the second school, his attitude (at 4!) was 'if I am naughty, first they make me sit outside the classroom so I don't have to do anything, then if I carry on being naughty they will kick me out and send me home'. Of course, I got all the blame for his behaviour, teachers would believe us that we don't have behaviour problems at home/out/anywhere but school. All the schools have said they could not help us until we admitted we needed help and were truthful about his behaviour at home!!! We couldn't win, they would not believe that he was only naughty at school. We were accused of lying, one teacher even accused us of not bothering putting him to bed and another said it was obvious the child was only fed junk food!

He wouldn't do any work at school either, he would read and write fluently at home, but at school would sit there and swear blind he could not even write his own name, or just refuse to do anything (even painting or drawing) and get angry with the teacher. When I took in examples of what work he could do when at home, I was accused of doing the work myself and passing it off as his and was even threatend with SS as they thought I had pshycological problems because they thought I was sitting there pretending to write like a 5 year old! It was only when I videod him reading and writing that they backed off.

We even tried sending him to an alternative school for a short while, to see if the rigid classroom enviroment and school work was something he was just not ready for (it was a long shot seeing as though he had no trouble with reading and writing and structure at home), but that backfired as well, due to the type of school it was and it caused even more problems.

At least with home ed, I don't have all the heartache, but my DS is very isolated, partly as we live in a small village and they all hate us here as he was so awful at the village school - bullying other kids, swearing and kicking teachers (some of whom are parents in the village themselves). I can't blame them, but who do I blame? There is not much I can do, aside from talking about his behaviour with him until I was exhausted, when the problems occured when I was not there. We worked with the school, but their stratergies consisted of working on behaviuor problems at home, like what to do if he kicked out at us - which obviously never happened. It was like bashing our heads against a brick wall trying to get them to undersand that he was fine at home.

It was so hard as we had no support from friends and family, or even his doctor as they had never seen him behave like that, they just knew him as a lovely caring little boy who is a joy to be around, so thought the school was making mountains out of molehills, which of course they were not. Now we are not being accepted in the home school circles here either, we are in between a rock and a hard place. It is even harder as the 'alternative' school recently closed, so a lot of those kids now attend the groups, so we cannot go to those and they are already spreading gossip about us at the groups. (The school is one that has been much talked about on MN, begins with an 'S' to give you an idea of the kind of people we are dealing with).

Sorry, have ended up going on and on again and off on a tangent! Just trying to explain where I am coming from on the home ed thing. It is hard for me as I want him to be in school, so therefore I have to structure our day as school like as possible so I know he is getting an education acceptable to me, so I do not feel as though I have let him down, and so hopefully, once he is a little older and had matured a bit, he can go back to school and it wont be a huge shock. My DH is supportive of course, but he works so hard to support us, especially now that I can't work, so it usually all falls to me.

Plus, I don't want him to see home education as the easy option. If he were running about playing all day, then how on earth would I ever get him to go to school in the future?

Thanks to anyone who has read this, and thanks to everyone who has posted and made me feel a bit more normal for having some structure.

Pandoraneedsbugs Tue 25-Aug-09 20:36:54

Lola - that was really interesting!
I lurked and read your thread last week

Is it possible you could move, to give him a fresh start in making friends with HE children. In a new area parents and children wouldnt know him or you - you could be who ou want to be more easily perhaps?

If we move in the future I will definitely be keen to move nearer to a town with loads going on for HE kids!

Im only just starting HEing my two. Im thinking of our approach as autonomous with structure atm - 50% their choice and 50% mine

lolapoppins Tue 25-Aug-09 20:47:43

Hello. No, we can't move. Have been through getting the house valued etc, and we have lost so much money on it, it isn't a possibility as we are deep in nagative equity. We can't rent it out due to other debts.

Also, this house was a 'fresh start' for him. We moved 300 miles across the country two years ago to a rural area in the countryside for him to go to a nice little village primary school, we thought that might help him - if it wasn't so sad it would be funny!

Pandoraneedsbugs Tue 25-Aug-09 20:52:06

Lola - thats really sad to hear
We moved 5 miles along the valley from the village to the town a year ago - in the hope that a new school would help ds

It made things worse Im about to write "The Letter" to the offending school to politely tell them ds and dd wont be returning - A celebratory meal will be involved on the day we deliver that (by hand so I can also return the schools appallingly out of date/rubbish/useless SEN policy!)

lolapoppins Tue 25-Aug-09 20:53:46

Sorry, hit post too early..

You know, I over the past couple of years, I have read so many threads on the behaviour and education boards trying to find reasons for the way he was at school. I am always so envious of people who dispair over their kids behaviour at home, and say they can't understand it as thier children are angles at school! I so wish it had been that way round for us.

It makes DH and I feel like such faliures as parents, we can't work out what we have done so wrong.

Pandoraneedsbugs Tue 25-Aug-09 21:00:14

Lola
Please dont think it is something you have done wrong!

Is it possible he is fantastic at home because it feels safe?
Is he above average in his learning? (sorry if you have said this already) - could it be that he is a pain at school because he cant see the point of it because he is bored beyond belief

My son who is generally pretty good and LOVES learning, hated school for its frankly pointless rules insisting wearing coats/sweatshirts, hated the constant moving from room to room (at primary, just think how much he would hate secondary!) the noise of the other kids, the smells etc

He starting swearing at teachers, kicking, threatening to murder all the staff threatening to burn the school down and disturbed sleep at home - 6 weeks off school and my lovely son is beginnning to re emerge (he still has his awful days!!!)

lolapoppins Tue 25-Aug-09 21:26:09

Do we have the same son? You are not my DH are you?grin

Your last two paragraphs sum up my boy completly. Even down to the murder and arson threats sad In a twisted way, THANKYOU for sharing that with me, I thought he was the only child who could say such awful things.

No, he's not above average. In some things he is, I mean, he picked up reading and writing very quickly and constantly surprises me with what he can read, but maths is a no go zone, really, really terrible!

He didn't want to learn at school. He didn't really want to learn at home at first to be honest (and given the choice would run a mile from anything accademic), but soon realised that school could chuck him out, but he was stuck here with us until he was at least 16 and towing the line with regard to doing school work with me would make his life a hell of a lot easier! A year on, he has learned to like reading, he's sat in bed with a huge pile of books as I type.

He never had much time for school rules either. Like clearing up for example, he would never do that and would kick off. We were always being asked to make sure we made him tidy up at home, but he always did/does tidy up what he is doing the second he is asked to - cue more exasperated looks from staff who thought we were lying about that too!

We never got to the bottom of his problems at school, for all the reasons I said earlier. It was clear to all involved that there were no SN issues, he was just realy naughty and defiant. He did not want to do anything a teacher told him to do, and when he realised that if he was naughty he would be sent out of the classroom, he was in heaven. He's a strong willed little bugger as well. He'll swear black d white if he feels like it. The teachers and other parents layed the blame firmly at our feet for everything. We were the terrible parents who brought up a little monster just to make thier lives hell. I am also fairly young, well, almost 30, but I look a lot younger than I am which didn't help thier attitude towards my seemingly terrible parenting.

It's a sad situation as he is so sociable, he's missing the company of other children. He has a few friends, but everyone else is always so busy, we only see them a few times a month.

How old is your DS?

musicposy Tue 25-Aug-09 21:35:15

I think school just doesn't suit some children. It's hard for you if you'd rather that's where he was, but well done to you for doing the home ed even though you'd prefer him to be in school.
If you think about it, we take little children at 4, and expect them to all conform to a norm where they have to listen to the teacher, fall in line with everyone else, do whatever they are told even when it doesn't seem reasonable to them. My youngest could never understand why she had to finish a picture or story just because it was next lesson; what was the point of going on to something else when you wanted to make a really good job of the thing you were doing? She could never see why she had to go on the computer in pairs when she wanted to go on alone, or why she was expected to always want to play with other children.

Branded unsociable by the teachers, she retreated into a dream world which they couldn't rouse her out of, and refused to have anything to do with anyone.

Yesterday she had her 10th birthday party - 24 children attended and she loved every minute. This was a huge first for her -the first time ever she's had a big party in her life - and has taken 2 years of being out of school to get to. So it turned out it wasn't her who had the problems at all. School just wasn't right for her.

So hang in there and try not to worry about why he didn't behave in school when he is fine at home. He obviously wasn't happy there, or there would have been no problem. So well done to you for doing this for him - and do it in whatever way works best for you. I too, need to set work for my girls to feel I am "doing my job". That's not to say I don't believe autonomous education works - I see that it does in home educated children around me every day - but I personally need the reassurance that providing some structure brings. Whatever way is right for you and your son is what you should do. No one can expect you do different to that.

Pandoraneedsbugs Fri 28-Aug-09 21:48:32

Hi lola - Ds is nearly 8, so would be starting year 3 on wednesday - except he wont because we have to deliver "The Letter"

Although I know many HErs say their kids have plenty of socialising opportunities - I am like you a little worried ours will be limited. (rural area etc) Time will tell

Where abouts are you living roughly? We are in South Wales.

julienoshoes Fri 28-Aug-09 22:15:52

South Wales Pandoraneedsbugs?

Have you found the South Wales Home Education Network?

They may be able to help you find socialising opportunities.

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