I’m Candy, I’m 34, and a mum of two lovely, squishy, LOUD boys called Will and James that I decided to home educate after Will experienced a rubbish year at school. I was a student nurse, but gave up to be more present in the home (did you know you have to write essays alongside working 40 hour working weeks?) I am divorced-my husband home educated the boys with me. He’s disabled, so does more of the sitting down stuff with them, and I do more of the running around stuff.
I currently work part-time as an accounts assistant, working the hours the boys’ dad has them, and also clean the office at the weekend. Every bit of money helps when you are financing staying at home as much as you can. If that’s not paradoxical. I have a wonderful partner, Steven, who I met about a year after Martyn and I split up. He is fully on-board with home ed, too, which is great. He is the head of department in functional skills and ESOL at Midkent college, working with children 16-19 with social, emotional, learning and aspirational difficulties.
How long have you home educated and why did you decide to do so?
We’ve been home edding as a modern family for about 3 years. The push was seeing Will change his whole personality in a few months. He loved nursery, Steve and Martyn are/were both teachers, and I am a huge nerd (our house is basically a library with a messy kitchen) who LOVED school – so we were as pro school as you could be. Seeing him change was awful – and in talking the teachers, they blamed us for not pushing him hard enough.
Describe your home ed style. Do you have a typical week?
We do have a typical week. As I said, Martyn does the more sit down stuff – art and craft and workbooks – and I do more wear them out stuff. Monday is daddy day, so on a Tuesday, we have a morning of errands and in-house stuff, then in the afternoon its the home ed meet up with about 30 other home ed families, and the evening is beavers for Will, and James and I have some 1 on 1 time. Back to dad’s Wed/ Thur. Friday morning is trampolining, then we see a home ed friend – his family runs their own subway, so they go behind the scenes and make their own lunch. We do something together, usually museum or library or a play area – and in the afternoon we see my sisters and my boys’ 4 cousins. Saturday, James has drama school, and we have 1 on 1 time with Will, followed by some computer time – minecraft and lego and things like that – and we often go to the cinema or swimming or something.
And Sundays are different throughout the month. The first Sunday they both go to Martyn and participate in church, the second Sunday I have James and Martyn has Will, giving them some space, the third Sunday is swapped, giving them space and 1 on 1 time again, and the 4th/5th is both with me. On those days we see Grandads and nannys and friends with other kids.
What was your home ed highlight last week?
Highlight of home ed last week was Will – who doesn’t like being made to read (we read every night at bedtime – he usually manages a page before doing the ‘uggghh, I’m too tired’) suddenly up and read an entire book in 2 nights. No pushing – in fact,he kept pushing me away (I read next to him to help correct when he can’t quite get a word). It clicked, all by himself, nothing to do with me. Old me was petrified that my 5 year old wasn’t reading like others his age. Suddenly, 2 weeks before his 8th birthday, he decides to become fluent, as if to spite me. Anyway, that was awesome.
What is the most difficult thing about home ed?
The biggest difficulty is financing it. Its a double blow of financing education yourself while reducing the amount you can work/earn. I wish it were possible to access those thousands that are allocated to schools per pupil, so that we had the same resources to fund home ed. I think I have a much easier time of it that many other home ed parents as I am so supremely supported, not only by my partner, but by my extended family and the boys’ dad.
What advice would you give to other home educators?
Find a home ed community local to you. There are deals and trips and events and classes that run all throughout the week, and most importantly, other parents to talk to when its all getting a bit overwhelming. A common comment I am given is ‘oh wow, I wouldn’t have the patience to do that.’ Well, I don’t either – but I manage because of my support network. Find your tribe.