It has been exactly a year since our home education journey started. It wasn’t official to begin with – in fact, we electively self isolated ten days before the whole country went into lockdown as the kids both came out with high temperatures and didn't deregister until June 2020.
If I’m honest, I was relieved to have our son home – I was a secret lover of home education despite working in the education system myself for over a decade, and my child attending the local state school. But I felt isolated by that feeling. At the time, friends and family didn’t really get it and it was a lonely place sometimes. (If you would like to read my first blog on how we came to home educate, you can read that here.)
Big changes happened back in March 2020. I was due to leave teaching at Easter but due to self-isolating and then lockdown, I never got to say goodbye to my class. Suddenly we were all thrust into this locked down world with the schools closed and it felt scary. My husband started working from home and although it was lovely having him around more, we all had to adjust to that too.
Looking back, those times were actually quite blissful. After seeing our son's love for learning deteriorate significantly, him lose interest in books, crave rewards from the teacher only to be completely downhearted when it didn't happen, regular episodes of after-school-restraint-collapse and sometimes even get in trouble for things that kids just do, all I had wanted was to have my baby boy back at home to extend his playful years, rather than the heartbreak of watching him have to conform in a one-size-fits all system. Lockdown, whilst incredibly hard in so many ways, gifted us so many opportunities as a family too. I guess wishes do really come true.
I remember immediately throwing myself into play based learning with him – knowing that at the time he wasn’t of compulsory school age so it didn’t really matter what we did together. It took the pressure off and we all flourished together, not just him. I even supported a small group of parents online on helping their kids' learn from home. We got our boy back within weeks.
A few months later and we realised this was working really well for us as a family, even without all of the usual home-ed clubs and groups, and we decided to make it official.
I remember when we first sent the letter. It was gut wrenching but so exhilarating! So many mixed feelings - freedom, relief, empowerment, excitement, sadness, responsibility, overwhelm, indecision, bliss, happiness - washed over me all at once and it took a good few weeks to settle down.
After we de-registered I remember feeling overwhelmed with anxiety about making friends (something that I was very eager to do in the first few months) and at the time I joked to a friend that it felt like dating, but with a small child in tow. Over the past year we have made so many wonderful friends. Friends for life. I am truly grateful to the wonderful families that welcomed us in with open arms. It would have been a much harder journey without those friendships and we can’t wait to get back to our meet ups.
A year on, from one lockdown to another, and it’s been a real journey!
When I think back to all the amazing achievements we have had, and the everlasting memories we have made, despite all of the hurdles, I feel so proud of us!
We’ve discovered so much together. Our son taught himself to read over the summer and now he's so fluent and it satisfies his incredible thirst for knowledge. He's turning out to be a real "science-y" kind of kid. He wants to know all about the world and how it came to be. And sports seem to be his thing too - I don't know many schools that offer parkour lessons. It's incredible to watch his own path unfold right in front of our eyes - an opportunity we wouldn't necessarily get if he were being taught by someone else.
But also, there's been a lot of learning on our part. We have both had to do a significant amount of de-schooling and adjusting our own ingrained beliefs of what learning can be. Patience! Trust! Oh my goodness the trust! That's probably been my biggest challenge - trusting that he will get there in his own time and that we never need to push him to learn anything because it's pointless anyway!
Sometimes we get asked how long we will home educate for, and my answer is always the same: until it is no longer working for us. Right now, it's the best decision we could have made. I'm excited to see how this next year unfolds.