OUR HOME-SCHOOLING JOURNEY – Chapter 1
My husband, Ryan, and I had been considering home-schooling since our eldest daughter, Amélie, started pre-school at the age of 3. Here in the UK, home-schooling is not as popular as it is in other countries, and I suppose, in the early days, it had been more of a ‘that would be nice’ or a ‘one day…’ kind of thought, rather than a serious thought.
But it started to become more serious the more the year went on, and I realised that my baby girl would be starting Reception (more or less Kindergarten in some other countries, I think) when she was only just 4 years old. I worried that she wouldn’t be ready. Socially, she wouldn’t have a problem, but emotionally?
A friend was going to be home-schooling her little boy, who is the same age as Amélie, and so I began asking her questions. I had no idea where to start! She told me what curriculum she would be using and gave me other advice, too. She introduced us to other home-educating families who told us a bit more about what their days involved, and it sounded wonderful! But I still felt overwhelmed by the whole thing. Aside from my overwhelm, Amélie was really enjoying pre-school. There was so much to keep her entertained and to stretch her mind…from play-dough and water play to learning how to write her name. And a lot of outdoor play, too. Perfect for our very active 3-year-old!
I ummed and ahhed about whether to send her to school that September (2016), or whether to start home-educating. I spoke to lots of friends about it. Some just listened while others gave their advice. In the end, we decided to send her to school. We thought we’d give it a year for me to get my head around what curriculum I would use (I need the structure, and so decided a curriculum was the way to go) and to see how Amélie would get on at school.
The week before the start of school, she was asking me daily when she’d be going to school. She just couldn’t wait to go back and see her friends and teachers again after the holidays. I told her that she would be in a different class for the year, and with a different teacher. She wasn’t keen on that but she still woke up far too early on the first day of school, as eager as could be! She could barely contain her excitement!
She was there for 1 week and 1 day before we de-registered her, although that wasn’t our first choice. Initially, we had tried to convince the Head Teacher that, because of her birthday falling in the summer holidays, she would not be emotionally and developmentally ready for Reception, which was mixed with Year 1 pupils (some of whom were as much as 2 years older than her). Long story short, the Head Teacher did not grant our request to keep her in nursery a year longer; he could have, but said that he and the teachers felt she was ready to be in Reception (when, in our opinion, she was not).
The thing was, Amélie had been going to school stressed and not wanting to be there at all. She would beg us not to leave her. It was heartbreaking. It was still the same school with the same friends but it was different. We got the impression that a lot of people thought we acted irrationally, taking her out so quickly. Friends told me that it would take her time to settle and she’d enjoy it eventually, but we just couldn’t put her through that. She was the youngest in her class, and to me and Ryan, that age difference was noticeable.
A few weeks after having removed her from school, a close friend commented on how much calmer and happier Amélie was. That was music to my ears! I had really struggled with doubt. Had we done the right thing or had we acted too emotionally?
It’s been nearly 6 months since we removed her from “traditional” school, and we’ve done (and still do) activities such as gymnastics, music class, swimming and ballet lessons, baking, painting and play-dough when we were home. I make as many playdates as I can so that she doesn’t miss her friends.
She and our second daughter, Noa, have become very close. They usually play very well together, although there are the inevitable disagreements.
I’ve recently been recommended a curriculum called Sonlight to try which I’m excited to start. I’m still reading up on it so we’ll see how we get on with it once we start. We’ve also started using a phonics system called Jolly Phonics, which Amélie enjoys.
I find it amazing how uneducated (no pun intended) most people seem to be about home-education. So many people have asked me how our lessons are going, like they expect us to be sitting round a table for hours on end with our textbooks to hand. When I tell them that we mainly do play-based activities, they look at me like I’m crazy! Of course, that’s not everyone…thankfully! I have had supportive comments, too.
For now, we’re taking it easy. We’ll see where this home-education journey takes us. I’m excited!