Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Home is the base for Education.

Our school
Although I have opted to home educate only one of my children home education  is far from being my second choice. For me home education has become a liberating experience and  has freed me up from an obsession with good grades at school and not being able to procure a job without them. The major reason my other two children go to school is that they need time away from their Autistic brother, time when they can be themselves rather than carers and time when they can form their own friendships and interests away from home. For a short while I had two children at home,it was an easy choice and one which I would have no trouble making again if necessary. My eldest son was unhappy at school, there were signs of underlying bullying which were not being dealt with and my son was frequently being sent home from school due to being 'unwell'. For a son who has a 100% attendance record things didn't ring true so we opted to remove him from school for a year.Only the other day I asked him what he had learned from the experience. He was able to spend lots of time practicing his drums each day and he is now an accomplished player. He matured and experienced 'real life' and he was given load of opportunity to make new friends both through scouts and Young Carers which introduced him to climbing, indian cookery, kite surfing, camping skills and all manner of activities which he was unlikely to have much access to at school.
Home education gave us a breathing space to establish the right learning enviroment for my son. It became clear however that his brother required so much one to one that my eldest was having to place second fiddle and we considered ways in which he could 'learn' other than at home with me. One of the options was to use a tutor. We certainly went and talked to one but personality played an important part in our son's learning . We wanted vibrant , enthusiastic tutors, un fettered by the 'system' and we found instead disillusioned teachers who had removed themselves from the system in order to 'teach' in what we felt was a typically 'schooley' way. Our second opportunity was a small secondary school in the lakes with just over 200 pupils. My son was offered the chance to spend a fortnight there to see how he like it. He was not committed to stay but he agreed that a fortnight would give him time to get a feel  for the place. Within days it was obvious that he felt at home, the number of children suited him and the ability to offer the children opportunities as individuals was soon evident . He went from an unhappy lad in a huge main stream school to one with a huge social circle of like minded friends, to a school where outings were frequent and where extra curricular courses such as out door pursuits centres , planting trees for the Diamond Jubilee and catering at a local school were available. The school was still subject to the constraints of the national curriculum but my son is happy and knows its limitations. He is also fully aware that he has what it takes to succeed and has become confident in his abilities and opinions regardless of peer pressure. His grades don't matter, the fact that he tries his best does. This year he has opted to go to college one day a week to study Motor engineering and he has identified the type of learning environment that suits him best. Not for him sixth form college with its A levels and academic subjects, vocational courses are more relevant and motivational to him. He has got his own car which he is working on at home and a trials bike and reads everything mechanical in his spare time, his catering skills far outstrip those of his peers, he will be perfectly able to fend for himself when he leaves home! Our home is where he is 'educated', school is the campus where he is educated 'off site".

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