I never considered home education. I thought to do it you had to be rich or have some sort of formal training. It wasn’t something that entered my mind. As far as I knew, your child had to start in nursery (or pre-school in the US) and then they had to start school.
That was that.
My youngest son changed all that.
He took that mind set and smashed it apart.
When my son started nursery, I noticed that he was developing differently than his peers. I’d never really noticed before since all my children are neurologically different, though we didn’t know that back when he was starting school. If your children are always quirky and unique you know no other way of being.
But my youngest? He was a little more quirky than his siblings. It was suggested that he may be autistic. I knew nothing of autism so I looked into it.
I devoured every bit of literature on the subject. This was my boy! He ticked off nearly everything on the list. There was the flapping, lining up and spinning of wheels, the dislike of changing routines and his insistence of going a certain route to our destinations.
He was diagnosed autistic within the year.
Soon his life went rapidly downhill. He became self-injurious, miserable and his speech regressed. He had night terrors and meltdowns everyday due to anxiety. When I asked about his experiences at school, I was told “Well, he’s fine here!.”
The Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO) dismissed his fears and ignored my suggestions of reward charts and sand timers to aid transitions. She questioned the value of his compression vest that calmed and regulated him. She went as far as to say he should not travel to school in his major buggy as it made him ‘stand out’ from his peers. (He was also diagnosed with Dyspraxia, a condition that affects balance and coordination. He was given the buggy by the wheelchair service and has since been given a wheelchair.)
It was only by chance that I found out he was being bullied. I refused to send him back until I could meet with the head teacher. He was dismissive of the fact my son had been repeatedly attacked and had things shoved up his nose (polystyrene beads–he sneezed them out and that’s how I found out all this was happening). His response? “He should have told someone.”
There was no understanding or regret. He received no one-on-one support.
I was told that if I did not bring my son back to school I would be taken to court. I responded that he should do it as I would love to tell the court what had been going on in his school. He suggested I deregister my son and home educate him…so I did.
My son went through one year of unschooling, waking up terrified he would have to return to school. He had meltdowns as he was full of resentment, fully believing I had known he was being bullied. To him I took him there so I must have known. Though he’s verbal, he just didn’t know how to communicate what was happening to him.
He was fully toilet trained when he attended school but after three months in such a hostile environment, he regressed. Today, after three years, he is back on track. He is a happy, confident little boy. He has had subsequent diagnoses and other learning delays, so through home schooling, he can work at his own pace.
My darling boy is now learning to write his name independently, is very good at counting money, can count to 100 and his letter recognition is coming along brilliantly.
He loves to help with cooking, he enjoys stories and works on his reading tutorials mostly independently.
It’s incredible how much your child is already learning at home that you aren’t aware of—cooking is math mixed with chemistry, shopping and paying for items is life skills training and budgeting, stories and writing is literacy, a play on the radio is drama and playing with Legos and pin boards is fine manipulation, visual tracking and strategising.
My son loves photography, small world play and trips to the woods. He loves museums and enjoys his National Autistic Society Saturday club. Music therapy group is another opportunity to socialise with peers.
There’s a misconception that a home schooled child is a lonely child. That’s rarely the case. There are clubs, home education meetups and various social activities.
You just have to look for them.
It’s the legal responsibility of all parents to educate their children. Many parents hand their children over to the educational system without understanding that they do not have to if the traditional system isn’t a good fit.
If your child is struggling at school or refusing to go, then consider home school as an option. It’s made all the difference in the world for my son and it will for your child too.
Would you like more evidence about the positive impact of home schooling? Get 11 more stories by home educators–their personal experiences and why they made the decision to home school: