I'm not one for regrets, life is too precious and we only get one shot. I believe you make the best decisions you can with the information and resources available to you at that time. Nearly half of my life has been spent being a mother, if you ask my mother she will tell you my whole childhood was spent preparing to be a mummy. When I had my first son, nearly fourteen years ago, I was not aware of any other path other than school. He started nursery at three and a half, just a few months before I had my third child and second daughter. He loved nursery, he had a small group of close friends and was/is such a friendly, kind, polite boy. By the time Piper arrived at nursery a year or so after Bailey she was very familiar with it and they with her. She has always been very shy and quite a thinker, but was extremely popular at nursery and school, girls used to flock around her, I think its because she was very easy going and laid back. Cordelia was the same when she started nursery, all the staff knew her from her siblings and she has a very charming character so its quite impossible not to love her! There were things I wasn't happy with in regards to school, obviously I missed them all terribly but I wasn't happy with how cold some of the teachers were, the SATS I just thought were a total waste of time, bullying (although my children were never really bullied), all the homework and the fact my children went in school happy and smiley and often came out tired and not being able to remember what they had been doing all day long. I think this seemed worse for the girls; Piper was a real shadow of herself in that she came home quite withdrawn and tired and would just want to sit in front of the tv sucking her thumb, it wasn't until nearly bed time she would come round and want to play. She often had really bad mood swings that would last a few weeks and it was like all of this negative energy coming from her, it was pretty hard to deal with at times. Especially when you have a child that is so laid back most of the time. She was in the G & T group at school, I had no idea what this meant when a teaching assistant told me, but apparently its short for Gifted and Talented. I remember how horrified I was at the thought someone was labelling my 5 year old daughter, and what did that mean for my younger two children coming through the school system? Piper told me about a year after we began home educating that she used to spend ages with her arm up asking for help, but that because she was on the "clever" table (yes this exists too) no one had time. When Cordelia began school her teacher, who had also known Bailey and Piper, quite simply adored her, so much in fact that she kept her in her class when she moved up to Year 1. I liked the teacher a lot but was quite appalled one parent's evening to find that my 5 year old daughter was helping toilet train a boy in her class with special needs. I mean, even now after nearly 5 years I'm still quite speechless about that. I'm not sure what she expected me to say to that-should I be pleased that my youngest daughter was toilet training another child? I don't think so. When Bailey moved across to the Junior school, which was at the other side of the playground, he had a really tough time. Before Year 3 he had always happily gone into school, he enjoyed it there, had friends and was always very academic. But something changed my very happy, cheerful little boy into a depressed seven year old. He used to run out of school after me crying, once he ran across a road to reach me. He didn't know why he didn't want to go, he wasn't being bullied, he had lots of friends. I spoke to his teachers and they had no clue why this was happening, this went on for 4-6 months. Every morning would be the same, I was an emotional wreck, he was depressed at home and talked about death a lot. He had not had anyone close to him die, this came out of nowhere. When I think about that now I have to fight back tears, I wish I had known about HE then and saved us both a lot of heartache and grief. By the time Ruben began at nursery I was feeling quite disillusioned about the whole situation. He didn't enjoy nursery and found the children quite mean and it was very "clicky". In October 2007, I was reading a newspaper at my mother in laws, when I saw an article about a dad who had taken his younger daughter out of school to home educate. It sounded wonderful. Hubby read it first and brought it to my attention, I think in that instant we both knew this was for us.
The six of us had always been very close, I think that's because the children are close in ages and we had always spent a lot of time with our children taking them places, talking to them, spending lots of quality time together. It was rare that the children slept out at grandparents or things like that because both sets of parents worked, and they were also still quite young as grandparents go and had busy social lives of their own! We were never bothered much about having nights out or "time off" the children. I'm not judging those that do either, we were just happy to be together. By December 2007 the children were de-registered at school, I initially kept Ruben at nursery at first as he had just made friends and was happy to go but it didn't last very long. The stares in the playground were pretty horrific and it was like I had grown two heads! One day out of the blue as Ruben was putting on his shoes for nursery he said quite simply "I want to stay and do school at home with the other kids" this still makes me laugh. Its lovely that he has never been to school, I wish the others hadn't but I think its made them realise how lucky they are to be home educated. Bailey for one would never want to set foot in school again. I'm fortunate that my hubby works hard so we can manage on one wage whilst being able to spend so much time with our children. For me, this is my career. I can't think of anything I would rather be doing at all. I love the freedom the children have to decide what things interest them, what they feel like doing, how happy they are, how much pleasure I get from listening to them play. I love how confident they are in themselves, how happily they tell anyone who asks why they are not in school that they are home educated and how wonderful it is, I love the interesting and varied people we have met along the way, the fantastic friendships we all have now because of it and I know that for us we could never go back through the school gates. On a day-to-day basis, I would say we have our own routines of what we want to do. Home educating can be as busy or as simple as you allow it. Sometimes we join in lots of activities and home ed trips with other home educating families, other times we do things on our own. You have to find what works best for you. You could do several things a day 5/7 days a week if you wanted! For us I've found it best to read the children, if we do lots of groups and visits it can get a bit too much like school and that's just not for us any more. We maybe needed that more at first when we were finding our feet with HE life but I'm confident enough to go off by myself with the children now and we can do our own thing. We have a wide group of friends now from all over and we have plenty of play dates/park trips and occasional visits. We have a group on Fridays close by that is the pinnacle of Ruben's week, the girls have singing choir on Monday afternoons, which they love, the singing teacher is a lovely home educating mum too. Bailey has made some fab HE friends and he goes off to the cinema and meets up with them. Its a very wonderful lifestyle. When the children talk of their own future children, none of them say anything about "school" being involved, its always home education. I think that speaks for itself.
I have added this post to Jax's Making it Up Not Back to School Carnival.