Oliver our eldest son was born on the 26th August, a summer born baby boy. Oliver was a bright, inquisitive baby and toddler always asking questions at every opportunity and eager to learn new things. He enjoyed pre-school for a time, but then became frustrated with the adults who wouldn’t answer his questions as they had too many other children to attend to. He was very good at communicating this to me at the time.
Then the time came for Oliver to start school. He turned 4 years old and then started school a week later. I felt slightly anxious about this as he was by far the youngest in the school and in a class of 30! He made friends and appeared to be settling in well. Then I gradually witnessed a change in him; he stopped asking questions, became very withdrawn and then started to say he felt ill every morning before school. We then had a parents evening where the only feedback we got from the teacher was that Oliver held his own for his age. I felt that the teachers didn’t really know him and I knew how important adult interaction was for Oliver at this stage. I then asked the school if they would consider flexi- schooling (part time school) or if he could possibly re-join in the year below. The answer was no to both, so we made the very difficult decision to pull him out of school with the plan to maybe put him back in in year 1. During this time we joined as many groups as we could and then found the local home Ed community. I felt like we had to do as much as we could fit in as I was worried he would miss out on social interactions. Looking back I now realise that this was probably a mistake; my advice would be to spend time at home just doing the things your child is interested in and de-schooling before jumping into too many groups and activities. We did however make some really good friends and connections during this time that we are still connected to 6 years later.
We had many wobbles along the way and some negative opinions from some friends and family about our decision. It certainly was a rocky road in those early years. We did then put Oliver back into school in year 1 for a time which ended very badly and he became very anxious. So once again made the decision to pull him out of school, this time for good. It was quite obvious this time round that school just wasn’t going to work for Oliver. We suspected he was dyslexic which has now been officially diagnosed and this was one of the big reasons we decided that home education was the way forward. Children with dyslexia really benefit from doing things in their own time without pressure and being made to feel inferior. We knew that keeping Oliver in school would have probably affected his self confidence and ability to learn long term. We now home educate Oliver and his little brothers William and Sebastian.
So 6 years on and my advice would be – take things slow, never compare (I have struggled with this one), all children do things at their own pace and they do get there in the end! Read stories, play and ditch the worksheets until they want to have a go and above all try and have fun in the process. It is such a gift getting to know your children properly without school getting in the way😊
Jo is a founding member of Streams; mum to three kids (a boy and twin girls) and a passionate advocate for home education.