We joined the world of home education over two years ago with our two girls who are now 13 and 10 years old. They are very different from each other and, therefore, need a different approach to learning, as was the case in school but they were unable to provide that individual approach and interest-based learning in the way we can at home. The older one is generally happy to sit down and concentrate on a task, drawing a sense of achievement from having a plan and achieving that plan. The younger one is much more of an external processor and needs more ‘convincing’ to sit down and concentrate on work, not being motivated by the simple achievement of a task.
When they were at school, our older daughter had learnt to get on, to stay out of trouble and please people- she hates being told off! She learnt this early on in her school career, with a very strict (and pretty shouty!) reception teacher. In hindsight, I can see now that we saw the relaxed, fun-loving side of our older daughter gradually diminish from reception onwards, along with her own sense of integrity. Thankfully, this has come back a little with a more relaxed nature of home education and she is now more confident in her sense of self and, whilst it’s not always easy, I’m very glad she’s now willing to stand her ground when she feels she needs to as I know she’ll need that in life! I am SO glad she’s not having to deal with the social pressures many 13 year olds are having to deal with in mainstream education, on top of just the brain & hormonal changes that take place when you’re a teenager AND the pandemic too.
Our younger daughter took convincing EVERY day to go to school, unless it was a day where they were having an outing, or a party day, which was about once a term. So, each morning was a struggle to get her to get dressed and ready for school which was tiring. Funnily enough, despite our concerns, she was actually doing OK according to the parents’ evenings, with the reports that she simply needed to concentrate better and stop talking to her friends in class. But she’s an external processor and is naturally very sociable, finding friends life-giving so the restrictions in when she could and could not talk in class were very confining for her. Being able to learn through the things she finds interesting works so much better for her. I’d be lying if I said she now always wants to learn (she still needs convincing to get going!) but I know she is a lot better off for the pace we can take each day and being able to learn in ways that suit her better.
We have had interesting conversations with family members who shared their concerns with us in the choice we were making to ‘home-school.’ I was privately educated, so my parents invested A LOT and went with a lot because they held education in such high regard. They held a lot of pre-conceived ideas and questions: Would they have enough social contact? How would they do science? What about team sports? What about exams? We have worked through these questions with them gradually as we’ve learnt ourselves, not claiming at any point to have it all completely nailed! They’ve become more supportive as time has gone on and they’ve seen how we’ve been doing the home ed, with others, with variety…and they’ve seen how well the girls are generally doing and that’s ‘proof’ in itself isn’t it?! Like I say, it’s not perfect and it’s not easy, but I am SO glad we’re investing in our girls this way, with the time and the energy – I don’t think we’ll ever regret that.