This series kicks off with Katie from At Home With The Grays. Thanks for starting us off Katie!
I’m Katie, my children are Alana (15) Josh (12) Nick (2) and number 4 due in 8 weeks. We live with my husband also who works as an IT Manager, and I work part time as a Slimming world consultant.
How long have you been home educating and why did you decide to do it?
We have been home educating since July 2014. Nick was about 6 weeks old and had some health issues. Throughout my pregnancy we had had constant dealings with both the children’s schools. Alana had always done well and enjoyed school, she had been excited to start secondary school yet in her first month she got conjunctivitis and was not allowed to attend. She missed 2 weeks as antibiotics were not clearing it, friendship groups were formed and when Alana returned it was too bullying.
Meanwhile a new head teacher had started at the primary school, she took a dislike to Josh and again endless problems followed.
After an academic year of bullying, physical assaults, meetings and then an emergency GOSH admission with my baby we took the plunge and deregistered. It was originally a 6 month plan while I was on maternity leave. We planned to put them into new schools in the January after a 6 month period to de stress. But it didn’t happen. We didn’t look back.
Briefly describe your home ed style. Do you have a ‘typical’ week, and what does it include if so?
We take I suppose a semi structured approach. Alana opted to do her science igcse double award last year so she had a science tutor with a group every Monday. She sat exams in may and had quite bad anxiety attacks so we decided she wasn’t going to focus on any more at this time. She was 14 when she sat her exams though. Both children are working on a photography course, they complete courses online via Alison and future learn. They use a combination of books, websites and TV programs and documentaries. We attend various workshops and home ed meets as well as organising trips out to various places. They attend a youth connexions home ed teen group weekly where they are working through various AQAs as part of the unit award scheme.
We also take the children away visiting different locations, last year we cruised Italy with them enjoying Rome, pompii, naples, pisa etc….
But with pregnancy, and a toddler, and me being self employed, it is equally important for us to have down time. They see me doing admin, they handle money with me, they talked with me through my tax return etc…. and they are expected to help with household chores and cooking etc…
What was your highlight of home ed last week?
My home ed highlight last week, a bit sad and not overly home ed related…. but my husbands nan, i.e. the childrens great nan, was in hospital. The drs handed over to palliative care and told us there was nothing they could do.
Without the restraints of school we were able to work through this together. We were able to take the children to visit the hospital in the evening, they had their chance to say goodbye, and we were able to spend our time with friends. She passed away Wednesday evening and my 12 yr old didn’t cope well, he was unable to sleep but he chose to learn how to edit his photography and use photoshop as a distraction, we were able to support this and he was at it till gone 11pm but no school the following day meant no worries. We have been able to grieve and support our children to grieve.
What is your favourite thing about home edding your child/ren?
My favourite thing is being there to see that spark, when a new interest or understanding clicks I love seeing it. I was there to witness my toddler playing “shop” for the first time. I am getting to enjoy so much more. When my older children were his age they were in preschool already and I was told new things they learnt by key workers. It’s great being able to observe it myself.
What do you find most difficult and why?
Difficulty, not much. There are moments when I doubt myself, think omw what have we been doing. But I can sit down and think and it passes. Other people’s judgements can be harsh, but usually I’m pretty good at ignoring them. I know my children are doing well.
What advice would you give to other home educators?
To other home educators I would say don’t compare yourself. Everyone’s children and family needs are different. Everyone’s days will look different. We home ed because one package doesn’t fit everyone, so do your own. Respond to the needs and interests of your children and judge your success by their happiness and progress emotionally as well as academically.
Learning takes place in many ways, with many appearances. There are times when academically we haven’t done much at all, these are the times when family situations have meant that we have focused on emotional wellbeing, resilience and coping strategies without even realising it at the time. These life lessons are just if not more important.