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Thinking ahead..

(28 Posts)
Teacherandmum Tue 04-Jun-13 14:39:55

Hi all,
I'm a primary teacher and I've worked in special schools, an alternative indie school and state mainstream... I also met some home-educating families who joined in with the little indie school I worked at, for school trips.

My overall conclusion is that whilst most teachers are really trying their best, the current state system is so very far from what I would want for my children. In particular early testing and assessment (e.g. did you know that your child's results from the EYFS profile counts towards the schools funding!) and the short term nature rather than character/skill building. The pressure & paper work on teachers is unbelievable and that isn't healthy for them or the children.

DH and I are currently trying for our first child. He is going to be training to be a vicar in September (another scary story in itself!). The way the training system works is that you spend 3 years doing the academic training, move house and do 3 years of practical training, move house and get your own parish.

I'm a bit of a planner and it's occurred to me that during the practical bit (curacy) our child would most likely start school for 1-2 years and then have to leave. So I've been thinking about HE during this period (reception/years 1) and then reviewing it when we move house/area.

Qs: Has anyone started HE and then sent their child to school?
Has anyone boycotted testing at their child's school?
Any other words of wisdom?

Thank you!

exoticfruits Wed 05-Jun-13 00:37:31

I would wait until you have the child and see what sort you have!
Starting later isn't a problem- they start later in other countries.
I can't see how you boycott tests is yr2 because it isn't a set day. If you are talking about year 6 it is a long way off and things may well have changed - again you don't know what sort of DC you will have.
They have minds of their own!

exoticfruits Wed 05-Jun-13 00:42:28

I was a teacher and I really thought that a DC was a blank sheet- I couldn't have been more wrong - they have strong personalities and ideas from the start!

exoticfruits Wed 05-Jun-13 00:43:14

It was my biggest shock as a parent.

LucyBucy Thu 06-Jun-13 12:38:03

Hi, I would agree with exoticfruits to wait until you see what 'sort' of child you have! Also, you really don't know what sort of parent you're going to be until you actually have a child: I have amazed myself at how many thoughts/feelings/principles have gone out of the window since having my 2!

If you have a child like mine that doesn't cope with change well, then HE would be useful to avoid school upheaval during Reception/Year 1. On the other hand, your child might relish school life and change.

Either way, it's good to bear HE in mind when you're making education decisions in the future.

musicposy Sat 08-Jun-13 13:53:45

You can't boycott testing if they're in school. If they are in Y2 they will do Y2 SATs and you don't have any say in that. Of course, you could always home educate for that term! But SATs in Y2 are no big deal nowadays - it's only really a teacher assessment, and it's all such a long way off anything could happen.

DD1 did both Y2 and Y6 SATs as she was in school then. DD2 only did Y2 SATs as she was out of school by Y6. They are unbelievably irrelevant. Nobody ever asks or cares what you got, even if you go back into school at a later date.

It's good to be thinking about all your options, though. I know people who knew they would never send their children to school who ended up doing so as the children demanded it! Then there are lots like us who started in school and would never return. I think a lot of childhood is not set in stone; you do the best for your child at that particular point in time. Every child is different, even within the same family. The key is to always be on their side, listening to what they want and doing what feels best for them. smile

exoticfruits Sat 08-Jun-13 21:37:24

Very true, musicposy, which is why you need to wait for the actual child at the time - you can't plan it for the hypothetical one- although there is no harm in thinking of the possible options.

Saracen Sat 08-Jun-13 23:46:50

Wellll... It probably is true that certain children are more inclined toward school than home education, and vice versa.

But I think too much is being made of the notion that you have to wait and see what sort of child you have, as if it were all down to chance and parental preference were fairly irrelevant.

There are a lot of different schools, and it seems likely to me that for nearly any given child there is a school in existence where that child could be happy. There might not be any such school near where he lives, or he might not be able to get a place there, or his parents might not be able to afford it. But if his parents were very keen on sending him to school and were prepared to go to great lengths such as moving house, chances are that they could accommodate him.

By the same token, there are all sorts of different ways to home educate and environments in which to do it. For this reason, I think there are very few children who cannot enjoy home education. Parents who believe in home education can usually find a way to make it a happy experience for their children if they are willing and able to think hard about their child's needs and work at accommodating them. Discussions about how to improve a particular child's experience of HE are frequent in my circle.

So I don't see why home education (or school) shouldn't be Plan A for a given parent or couple. If it doesn't seem to be working, there are things one can try in order to fix the situation. In the end, it may be that the parent does have to resort to Plan B and use an education system which she doesn't really like, having concluded that Plan A is unworkable after all. But I think it is unduly negative to suggest that Teacherandmum shouldn't plan to home educate in the first instance.

Apologies in advance for banging on about this again, but one of my children is the very stereotype of a child who would be suited to school. From an early age she was outgoing and confident. She loved to be around people. She was compliant, bright and interested in academics, and was autumn-born. She was as "ready" for school as any other child in her year group. I think that if anybody would do well at school and enjoy it, she would.

So why didn't I send her? Well, there are just a lot of things I dislike about the school system. And I thought that with the right environment, home education could suit her even better than school, that she would be happier out of school than in. With some luck and some effort on my part (primarily through focusing on her strong social needs), she has had that environment. She has loved home education. Eventually I did encourage her to satisfy her curiosity by trying school when the time was right, after which she chose to return to home education. It's still not impossible she might end up in school later on, but at this stage I have every reason to expect HE can be adapted to meet her changing needs.

This is why I don't really go along with the idea that home education is OK for children like my younger daughter who doesn't fit the school mould, but is wrong for children like my older daughter who could fit into school without too much effort. Even before you've met your child, there's nothing wrong with planning to home educate just because it feels right to you.

exoticfruits Sun 09-Jun-13 07:56:28

Nothing wrong with planning it but you might have a DC like me who couldn't wait to go to school and count it as one of the happiest parts of my childhood. I think that you need to support the DC that you get and not mould to the one you want. They can be very different within the same family- I think that my brother would have absolutely loved to be HEd.

exoticfruits Sun 09-Jun-13 07:58:09

I can't say that I am, or was, very interested in my mother's views on education or her own experiences of school- it was mine that counted.

exoticfruits Sun 09-Jun-13 08:01:10

Certainly in teacherandmums circumstances it would be sensible to have HE as the default position and see how it pans out- 4/5 yrs is very young to start school.

Saracen Sun 09-Jun-13 13:09:02

"I can't say that I am, or was, very interested in my mother's views on education or her own experiences of school- it was mine that counted."

True, but it's a rare child who already has well-informed and mature views about school when very young. They haven't experienced a range of different types of schools, or a variety of approaches to home education.

As I say, there's a good chance that if your mum had been determined to do so, she could have provided you with a home ed environment which gave you pretty much all the things which you loved about school.

The fact that you loved school doesn't mean you couldn't have loved home education just as much or even more. After a child who'd been unhappy at school starts home ed, it is fairly common for his siblings to choose the same course within a year, even if they had been happy previously at school.

I do think all children should ultimately have the power to decide how to be educated, but they aren't necessarily in a position to do that when they are very young. The OP isn't talking about removing a happy teenager from school against his will, but about how she thinks she might start off a young child's education. It seems to me that her views on education are very relevant to the decision.

musicposy Sun 09-Jun-13 13:27:32

I certainly think you can have home education as your Plan A, just as most people have school. I know lots of people who have done that and their children have been happily home educated for their whole lives. Iknow others who have really wanted to go to school. Some tried it and quickly realised they weren't missing much! Others have stayed put.

I was only saying that, particularly as your children get older, they will have their own opinions on the matter. I adored secondary school, loved every minute of it. DD1 went to the very same school and hated it, which took me a while to take on board - I found it hard to understand. But she is not me so I listened and took her out. If I had more children now, home ed would definitely be my Plan A. But I'd be prepared to be flexible.

NeoMaxiZoomDweebie Sun 09-Jun-13 13:35:13

I did suspect something about the EYFS and their budget as my DD in reception was a little slow to pick up phonics and the staff were ON me like a ton of bricks.

I was confused as DD was at the time FOUR years old, bright articulate, interested...she'd just not picked up all the sounds but they were talking about IEPs and all kinds.

IN my older DDs private school which she had attended at the same age, I wasn't even involved in her learning to read other than reading with her at night...she just learned to read in the old fashioned way and could read well at 5.

My younger DD is now 5 and thanks to heavy handed intervention on my part, she can now read right in time according to her teacher. hmm She needed to be able to "tick" the boxes apparently.

exoticfruits Sun 09-Jun-13 19:46:01

I can't think that I would have loved HE- I would have been stuck with younger siblings all the time, missed the sheer excitement of school and seeing the same DCs every day. I can still remember crying when my mother wouldn't let me go because I had a raging temperature. You do also need to listen to the DC- if they can't wait to start you can be sure that they want to try it. They are all different. I need to be taught. Even at my age if I want to learn something I want a class, I want a teacher, I want other people learning the same thing at the same time and it simply doesn't work for me if someone 'felicitates' my learning. One size doesn't fit all which is why you need to wait and see.
I am very different from my mother- she couldn't understand why I hated team games!
As a very shy, bookish, unsporty DC, school was the best place for me.

Saracen Mon 10-Jun-13 08:03:37

OK exotic, I'm glad you had such a great time at school!

I love your turn of phrase "felicitating" learning, which I hadn't heard before! That's great. I'll have to use it.

exoticfruits Mon 10-Jun-13 09:19:11

You will find it on HE threads- I don't know how you have missed it!

My only point is - wait and see what the DC is like.

Saracen Mon 10-Jun-13 10:16:43

Oh, I thought you were making a joke and I liked it!

You're thinking of "facilitate" which means to make easier or assist. "Felicitate" is to congratulate or make happy, which is why I thought it was a clever and apt phrase which pokes a bit of fun at "facilitating learning."

Well, it still is, even if you were being clever by accident on this occasion. wink

exoticfruits Mon 10-Jun-13 21:11:28

Sorry- the truth is very mundane- my iPad has a mind of it's own- sometimes I notice and correct, but I dare say that a lot gets through completely unnoticed. A pity my best lines are accidental! ( accidental came out as 'vice tail' - but it was odd enough to notice).

LucyBucy Tue 11-Jun-13 13:17:50

I just wanted to say that being a parent changes you - I know I had lots of ideas about how I would be as a parent which all went out of the window once my first was born. I really thought - just assumed... maybe naively - I would just carry on with my life as it was, go back to work etc, but hadn't understood how my attitudes towards parenting would change, I became a co-sleeping, baby-led weaner who is about to start homeschooling! I think anyone who knew me a few years ago would be quite surprised by the route I've taken.

On the other hand, my cousin who was much more 'into' children than I ever was before I had them, couldn't wait to go back to work after maternity leave.

If I could re-wind the clock a few years I wouldn't have bothered with schooling in the first place but it just wasn't on my radar. But on the other hand, maybe its a good thing I now know it's not the place for us right now.

Keep an open mind and explore all options smile

exoticfruits Tue 11-Jun-13 18:59:11

I absolutely cringe at my ideas of parents and parenting before I had children! I worked with them everyday and thought I 'knew' what it would be like to have my own- it was a huge learning curve.

Saracen Wed 12-Jun-13 05:19:20

Parenting is a huge learning curve, but the ideas and plans and philosophies of future parents still deserve respect. It's true that the OP's opinions and situation may veer away from HE, but they may not.

I'm imagining what it would have been like for me if, before my children were born, I had mentioned on a breastfeeding forum that I planned to breastfeed them until they wanted to stop and had asked for information and advice about that. If people had responded to my queries by telling me I ought to just wait and see and make no plans to breastfeed, because my children might prefer formula, I wouldn't have found that helpful. A passing comment about BF being difficult for some people and things not always working out according to plan would have been OK, but more than that would have been misplaced, certainly on a breastfeeding forum.

Rozna is not proposing to enter into a 20-year contract to home educate. She's just considering the option.

exoticfruits Wed 12-Jun-13 07:30:49

I can't think that I said that ideas, plans and philosophies didn't deserve respect - or that they were wrong- or she shouldn't do them. In fact I specifically said that it may well be the best option, in her situation.
My one point is that you need to wait and see what child you have, rather than the hypothetical one. OP is a primary teacher, like me, and we are in a prime position for having theories because we see the results of people's parenting philosophies every day- however - what you can't know in advance is how different it is in practice!
The breast feeding is a case in point. I was set on doing it and assumed that the baby and I would both do it naturally but neither of us had a clue! If it hadn't been for the time and help of hospital staff we would never have mastered it. It would have been helpful to have been told that it can be difficult and in my case it would have been helpful to have been told about mastitis.
The same with childbirth- people write elaborate birth plans and have such set ideas of what they want and then feel they have failed if they have medical intervention. It is much better to point out that there is no harm in a plan but they may not achieve it- and they have not 'failed'.

SDeuchars Wed 12-Jun-13 07:54:26

I know we are getting away from the OP's original questions (and she hasn't returned - hope we haven't scared her off) ...

I agree with Saracen about it not being particularly useful to wait and see what the child is like WRT school. Initially, a 4yo does not have an opinion about school or HE - but may need expectations managing if friends are going off and family expects it to happen. An older child may have an opinion and may want to try school - and then may or may not decide to stay.

TBH, exoticfruits, I don't think you are in a position to say you would have hated HE - you didn't have the option.

I would have been stuck with younger siblings all the time - not if that's not how your parents organised things

missed the sheer excitement of school and seeing the same DCs every day - possibly...

I can still remember crying when my mother wouldn't let me go because I had a raging temperature. - but that was because you were already in school and had certain expectations. If you had been HE, there would have been no school to cry about.

Even at my age if I want to learn something I want a class, I want a teacher, I want other people learning the same thing at the same time - I'm not sure that what holds for adult learning also applies to children's learning, especially in R and Y1 where they are not learning specific skills (as you would if you took up, e.g. Mandarin). It's also different because you would not spend 6 hours a day, 5 days a week in the class, doing mostly stuff that you could do at home - and sometimes better (with fewer distractions, able to spend as long as you want on something, etc.). The adult with care of a 4-5yo is usually in a position to pass on most, if not all, the skills the child needs where you (presumably) do not have a Mandarin speaker at home.

exoticfruits Wed 12-Jun-13 08:09:00

I knew about school and I couldn't wait to go- why would you then tell me that it wasn't going to be for me - that I would have to watch all the neighbours children setting off in the morning but I had to stay at home?

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