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I wrote a post a couple of moths ago about our thoughts around school and home education. Reader, I’m happy to say that we did it. In December we requested that Wilf was taken off the school register and notified our local authority that from January we would be electively home educating him. One month in and I thought it would be good to reflect on how the transition is going for us…

As mentioned previously, our reasons for taking Wilf out of school were primarily due to his abilities and the challenges of the formal education system. Like all kids, he loves learning. But education, the system of formal learning, and school, the organisation of people learning together in the same way, was not a good fit for him.

Over several months through last autumn, we saw his behaviour change, his self esteem drop and his desire to learn ebb away. We are privileged enough to be able to consider home educating as an alternative and a huge part of the decision was trying to work out if we could afford to live off of just one salary. We read lots, tried to imagine what home education would look like and how it would impact our family dynamic, and after talking to the school, decided to go for it.

It’s worth saying that we feel really fortunate to have had Wilf in such a good mainstream school (Hatty is thriving, both academically and socially at the moment). The staff and leadership there are excellent, and over the autumn we had a lot of additional support from the SENCO and TAs, to try to make school a more comfortable place for Wilf. But ultimately, there is just not enough flex within the system to accommodate individual needs in a significant way, and it felt obvious to us that the most proactive and protective thing we could do for Wilf right now was to take him out of school. His class celebrated his last day and made cards and pictures for him, and when Hatty went back at the start of this term, me and Wilf stayed home and tried to start working out what we wanted to do and how home education could look for us.

Our ambition as a family moving into home educating was just to have a gentle first few months. To try to follow Wilf’s lead and fill the days with activities which he chose, without getting caught up in a sense of needing to do school style learning. And it’s been amazing how difficult it’s been for me, and to a lesser extend Wilf, to shake the feeling that if we’re not reading, writing or doing maths, that we’re somehow cheating, or not learning. I’ve read about families needing a period of time to adjust and de-school when they move into home educating, and it feels like this is still where we are. I find myself feeling guilty or anxious if we’re not sitting at the table at nine in the morning, pouring over a maths workbook, or practicing writing or phonics.

I’m trying to gently build some structure into each day. Right at the beginning we wrote down some things which were important to us, which we would try to do every day – these included being outside, having elevenses or fika (no matter what…) and moving our bodies. Most days also start with discussing what we plan to do, and this seems to help Wilf with expectation and understanding the passing of time. I’ve been feeling really grateful for the time spent together – it’s been mostly fun and relaxed. But we’ve also built model rockets, been on huge nature walks, joined local home ed meet ups, started to get into Minecraft together, been to the library every week, been swimming, tried street dance… The list goes on.

When I reflect back as I write this, it actually feel like we’ve packed an astonishing amount into just a few weeks. My goal for the next month or two is to be outside and move our bodies even more, plus to bring a little more order to recording the learning and more formal work we do – start trying to use workbooks etc…

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