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Help/advice needed from HE people with older children

(13 Posts)
curiousalice Sun 30-Aug-09 11:34:46


It's my first time posting here so I hope I'm not duplicating a thread.

My son, who is 12 has just completed a nightmare of a first year at high school and his father and I, have decided not to send him back when the school starts again in Sept. We are going to educate him at home and I am so relieved since we came to this decision.
In one short year he has gone from being a likable, confident child to being worried every single day he leaves the house to go to school. I taught my son to respect others and he's a good kid which means he's not made any real friends at the new school. I can't imagine how hard it's been for him to say no to doing unacceptable things and walk away every time as it means he's excluded himself from friends groups etc... but he knows that spitting on people, taunting others etc are bad.
He's had to endure lessons where nothing has been taught due to bad kids in the classroom so his grades have slipped and even worse, on one occasion he was attacked and beaten in a classroom by another boy and the teacher was unable to physically stop it.
The fact that behaviour like this is seen as acceptable in schools/amongst boys is horrifying to me. I sent my son to school to learn and grow with other children his age but instead I've watched him losing his self confidence in fear of ridicule by peers.
He was so happy when I put the idea of homeschool to him.
Home education is new to me and I really need to find a way for him to interact with other children his age. As I said he's made no real friends at his new school so during the 6wk holiday he has literally seen/spent no time with other kids. This is heartbreaking for me to watch. I honestly feel like my child has been penalized for being a good kid and not wanting to be part of a gang... that makes me want to cry
We're based in central London/Islington area and I would love to be able to find other HE parents around the same area with children of a similar age but also anyone with children around age 12 who can give me some pointers etc. I guess I just need a little help/advice here until I find my way with HE.

Sorry this is a little long winded Thanks

evertheoptimist09 Sun 30-Aug-09 12:02:24

I know exactly what you are going through. This is my son's last year at primary school and we are facing the transfer to secondary school next year. My son is also gentle and mild-mannered and has been continuously taunted for this throughout his school life. I could go on and on with examples.... At home he is a gregarious, witty, fun-loving boy but unfortunately at school he comes across as very subdued and therefore a red rag to some of the other boys.

To cut this short, I too have come to the conclusion to home school him this year. As a teacher, I have no worries over the curriculum (we will not stick to the NC). However, my main worry is the fact that as an only child, he will be lonely and feel isolated.

I have a few loose ends to tie before embarking on this but would be happy to make contact with you.

julienoshoes Sun 30-Aug-09 12:47:05

Hello curiousalice

'The Otherwise Club' is in North London
If I lived anywhere near north london, that's where we have hung out!
A wealth of of socialisation and education opportunities to be had there.

I am sure you'll be able to get contact details from The North London Home education email support list

I'm sure they'll give you lots of valuable advice and support too.

There is also a yahoo email support list for home educators with children aged 12+that might be useful.

We home educated all three of our children through their teenage years, with no regrets, we have had a wonderful time together.
Our youngest is just about to start FE college.

I'd suggest doing some reading round the subject. I'll bump the relevant threads that may be of help, but my two favourite books on the subject were:

Teenage Liberation Handbook: How to quit school and get a real life and education' by Grace Llewellyn


'How Children Learn at Home' by Alan Thomas.

Details of both are on the 'Books about Home Education' thread.

Yurtgirl123 Sun 30-Aug-09 16:31:01

Fabulous decision alice and optomist
I am just starting HE with a 7yo and a 5yo but I know if we waited till they start secondary we would face exactly the same issues
I spent weeks agonising over what to but Im really glad (so far) we have decided to give it a go!

I hope all goes well for you

Kayteee Sun 30-Aug-09 17:43:47

Hi Alice,

I have 2 boys, 9 and 12. We have been home-edding for 4 years now. I know exactly how you feel and am sorry to hear your poor son has had to go through all that but you've done something about it so I'm sure all will work out fine now smile

If you'd like to chat/ask any questions, please feel free to email me on

I know a few HE families near you who would be happy to help too.

We are in Croydon so not impossible to meet up at some point.

curiousalice Sun 30-Aug-09 21:38:26

Thank you to everyone for the replies and kind words

evertheoptimist09 - Primary school is a breeze compared to the huge leap into secondary school (where they are mixing with children as old as 16!).
At the end of the day, the one thing that stuck in my mind was this "Am I going to let a bunch of bad kids dictate who my son will be or do I take him out of that environment and help him shape who HE wants to be?"
Children are so desperate to be accepted and fit in and there were other good boys at his school who have completely changed who they are and adopted a very different attitude in one short year. It really makes you think when you watch this transformation
I would be happy to talk further with you about HE since we seem to share similar concerns.

julienoshoes- Many thanks for all the wonderful links and information.
I've joined the The North London Home education email support list and will be looking into The Otherwise Club.
It's all lovely to hear from someone who has schooled older children successfully. That makes me know that this is possible.

Kayteee- Thank you so much for the offer of support. I really do appreciate it since I'm only just starting to get my head around HE. Expect an email from me!

evertheoptimist09 Mon 31-Aug-09 13:31:56

Curiousalice - I absolutely agree with you. I've taken the decision to withdraw him from school and the official letter is in the post. We've drawn up our curriculum map and timetable and he's quite excited by it all. However, I'm undecided about Year 7, I will probably apply to two schools and see how we get on. It may be that we decide to continue with home schooling.

It's reassuring to hear from parents on this forum who have already embarked on this course of action and to see that there are many resources/activities readily available. More importantly, that a support network is available - so thank you!

musicposy Mon 31-Aug-09 20:03:24

Hi there, I just wanted you to know that I was in exactly your position last year, except I have daughters. My eldest had been through a really miserable year 7. She'd put up with lessons where kids just messed around so much they learned nothing, one where her pens were set on fire in science, and she had done a whole year of French and barely got further than the 2nd page because so many kids were disruptive they couldn't get further. By the end of the year girls were passing notes round saying "musicposyDD is a bitch, all ignore her", and why? Because she refused to hitch her skirt up round her waist, wear a shovel load of makeup and smoke, among other things. She felt it was barely worth carying on.

I did already have my youngest at home, but it was still one of the scariest things I have ever done. I completely doubted my ability to teach at secondary level but I knew we had to do something. So she never went back into Year 8, and first day of term we sent in the letter.

A year on, she's 13, would be about to be Y9 and she is thriving. She's made a whole bunch of new friends, though that took a bit of effort on my part at the start. She takes 4 GCSEs this academic year, one of which is in maths - a subject she hated and struggled with in Y7. She readily admits coming out of school has utterly turned her life around for the better, and wonders where she would be if she had stayed.

I do hope that as the months go on you get the happy confident son back you once had. I am absolutely sure you will. wink

julienoshoes Mon 31-Aug-09 20:33:59

musicposy-a year on that's lovely to hear.

curiousalice Tue 08-Sep-09 17:10:01

musicposy That's so lovely to read. I'm glad that your daughter is doing so well. I keep hearing of so many good children who are falling behind at school simply because the attention is always focused on the disruptive, bad kids... it's just not far and it's so nice to know that there are other parents out there who are taking control and refusing to allow their poor kids to suffer any more.
It's a little stressful and overwhelming here at the moment with so many things happening all at once but I am still so relieved just to have handed in the deregistration letter and watch the smile return to my son's face.

Bubble99 Tue 08-Sep-09 22:07:58

Hello curiousalice

My son, who is 11 has just started HE using an online school. We were offered the school from hell for secondary (knife arches) which made the decision for us. So far ( two days!) it seems to be going well. He's having 'school at home' in the mornings studying towards IGCSEs and spending the afternoons and evenings at art and music lessons with sports and group social stuff in the evenings.

It does feel scary (to me) as I have been conditioned to think that a bricks and mortar school is the only option. He has already made friends within his online class and the school has a meet-up residential weekend scheduled for April where he and we will be able to meet the children and teachers.

I'm shock sad and angry that your poor lad had such an awful first year at school. It sounds as though you have made the right decision. We're in SW London but I'd be happy to email/meet up at some point.

Stopfighting Tue 08-Sep-09 23:01:21

Musicposy, (or anyone else who can help)

My ds is 13 and would like to go for a couple of GCSEs. Could you tell me which courses your dd is following, or are you teaching the syllabus yourself?

If I was to choose an online course which ones are the best?


julienoshoes Wed 09-Sep-09 11:02:06

Hello Stopfighting
Have you found the email support list for home educators who want to take qualifications such as GCSEs?

Folks there have experience and would be happy to pass on info and support about all the various options, I'm sure.

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