It’s not all sunshine and rainbows. You’ve got to be prepared for the odd rumble and storm here and there!

Six weeks in and I have to say I’m completely loving Home Educating and so is M! It truly is amazing and a completely different way of life but….. it doesn’t come without it’s downfalls.

The biggest one I think for me is not getting a break from your child. I love M to bits but 24/7 around each other can take it’s toll and you need to find ways to work around that. You need a lot of patience and to find some time for yourself (probably once the kids are in bed!) to do something just for you. We all need to take care of ourselves and this couldn’t be more important than when HEing. If we’re not feeling our best we can’t give our best to our children. It’s also ok to have days where plans take a backseat if needed. The world isn’t going to end just because you’re having a break for a day.

Siblings! This one is an especially hard one for me at the minute as M is the only one of our four children to be taught at home whereas the other three all attend school. They’re struggling to understand why they still have to go to school and M doesn’t and in their eyes ‘It’s not fair!’. This is causing a lot of tension in the house as they don’t understand the reasons we have for making this decision. Bedtimes and mornings before school have now been swapped from M having meltdowns every day for crying and shouting from the other kids. I don’t know what the future holds and neither do they so it could all change one day. For now though, we’ll take it one day and one hurdle at a time. I also know if we did have all four at home the bickering and fighting would increase and none of us would be able to have a proper break from it (and each other!) so there’s no winning there either. Stuck between a rock and a hard place anyone!?!?!

Worry. Constant worrying over absolutely anything. Am I doing the right thing not sending him to school? Am I teaching him the right things? What if I fail him? Should we be doing more? Should we be doing less? I think it’s only natural and maybe once we’re more settled into it those feelings will lessen but you always want to do the best by your children so it’s inevitable.

Ooh this weather is lovely and makes for productive days!

We’ve had a glorious few days with the change in the weather and we’ve certainly made the most of it! We’ve spent our days in the garden because where better to spend your time learning than out in the fresh air surrounded by nature.

M has relished the chance to be outside and almost seems to be learning it’s ok to play and finding ways to play when the boredom (of not being allowed on the Xbox, to watch tele, etc) strikes. We’ve got the trampoline, and the swing set for the kids plus there’s the scooters and bikes, bat and ball, etc to have fun with. My favourite thing in the garden at the minute though has to be our table and chairs purely because it gives us that chance to sit for a bit and do whatever learning we want there; we’ve especially enjoyed playing our brainbox games out there and M has asked today for the space set so that is next on the shopping list! (He’s actually asking for things to learn about!!!)

Today however we took a hands on approach for most of the day. I have a rose which we moved from the front garden to the back and it’s flourished there but has gotten so tall it’s falling over. This meant it needed a trellis to grow up and as we had the wood already I decided we’d build one. M has helped with the measuring of where it needed to fit and for the wood itself, he’s had a go at sawing the wood (closely supervised of course), hammering nails in, drilling and using a screwdriver. Then once it was all assembled he was more than happy to help me paint it.

I love that he’s getting to try these things and enjoying them and he certainly doesn’t see it as time spent learning. He was so proud of himself afterwards as was I.

Hubby asked me if they still did woodwork at the school M used to go to (he went there as a child too) and I was quite surprised he’d even asked to be honest as it was the first I’d heard of it and certainly not something they do there now. What about all the kids who don’t want a job that involves words and numbers? It should be readily available as should so many other life skills. It makes me sad that kids nowadays are taught more and more to meet targets than they are to actually learn and have fun.

Do you agree? Should the older, long forgotten lessons be added back into the school day?

Deschooling can still involve learning

We are just over 2 weeks into our HE journey so very much still in the deschooling stage. They say that for every year a child has been at school they need a month of deschooling. For M this equals 3 months. 3 months may seem a lot of time to not be doing much but it’s time he needs to learn and understand it’s ok not to be sat at a desk for hours every day. He needs to learn it’s ok if he does get an answer wrong; it’s not the end of the world. He needs time to find himself again and what it is he actually enjoys doing. He also needs time to repair from the trauma school caused for him. This may not take 3 months or it may take longer. We will see, time will tell. This doesn’t mean there aren’t learning opportunities still to be had though. In 3 hours this morning we have already learnt so much and in a fun way. He’s not fighting me about having to do it because he’s enjoying it!

First thing we did was get the Lego out and build a marble maze. I showed M the basics of it then it was his turn to have a go. He loved building it and seeing how many different directions he could get the marble to go in.

Next we had a go with the Gravitrax. I love this as it’s a challenge sometimes to get the tracks right and takes some thinking about to understand where you’re going wrong and how to rectify it.

Whilst we were playing with the Gravitrax my parcel arrived. These I was really interested in and was hoping we could get 5-10 minutes of each subject in each day. We chose cards from all of them and took it in turns to answer our questions. M scored the same as I did! I’m learning while he’s learning too and it’s nice to get my brain cells ticking over once again. I think he enjoys the competition side to this too and I know he’ll be over the moon to beat me 😂

All of these activities were something we had fun doing but all included learning too yet M doesn’t see it like that. He’s now enjoying himself on Minecraft and I feel better knowing we’ve already done a lot of learning today.

But you’re not a teacher, you can’t teach him! How will he learn?

I have already heard this a handful of times and we have only been Home Educating for 2 weeks, otherwise people seem to assume I’m a teacher. I’m not and never have been. I don’t need to be though as Home Ed is a completely different way of learning to how children are taught in school. We will learn through play, craft, life skills, worksheets, books, puzzles, etc and if we come across something we don’t understand there is a whole wide world of knowledge at our fingertips available via the internet. It’s not about sitting at a desk for hours, it’s about finding other ways to learn and that’s what we will be doing whilst M is deschooling.

M is rather Fortnite obsessed at the moment but the time the kids have for playing on it is limited to the weekends. This doesn’t stop the obsession though so what better way to get some learning into our days than by incorporating it. We found a wealth of worksheets that were based on Fortnite which will encourage him to learn and in many different ways.

Yesterday we built his 3D Big Ben jigsaw to go alongside his Eiffel Tower. He helped sort the pieces, put them in numerical order and then build (which is harder than you’d think). Yet another way of learning.

Walking with Dinosaurs is another new thing we have found and the best thing is we found it on Netflix! M watched an episode yesterday and we have more planned for today. The amount of ways our learning can go after this is massive! For now we shall keep watching them and after the research will be begin.

Netflix, Amazon Video, YouTube and even Alexa all have a vast amount of educational resources available and you can bet we will be checking all of them out.

The possibilities when it comes to learning are endless and not at all limited to a classroom or being taught by a teacher. I’m sure we’ll find many more ways of learning along our journey and it will be fun too!

Family time and geocaching

One thing we did before we started home ed with M was geocaching and I said as soon as we started that I wouldn’t do any during the day while the other kids were at school as they’d be upset they were missing out on it so it’s something that’s been saved for weekends and holidays. Decided to go out and see if we could find a few today and J and B2 decided they’d like to come with me whereas M and B1 stayed at home to play on the Xbox! We had a brilliant few hours out of the house exploring and hunting and it was great to blow the cobwebs away. It’s nice to have something that’s for the whole family (when I can drag them all out!) as it gives us that distinction between family time and home ed.

If you’ve never heard of geocaching before I urge you to take a look at it; it’s like Pokemon go but was around a long time before then and you have the added bonus of finding a physical object (and some even have little goodies hidden inside you can swap and take away!). Seriously, give it a Google and see what you think.

So what exactly is deschooling?

It’s been just over a week now since we deregistered M and to be honest we’ve not done an awful lot during that time. This is because we’re allowing a period of deschooling first. It’s hard though because you have it ingrained in you for your whole life there’s one way and one place to learn but that simply isn’t true. So not only are we going against the grain by not going to school but we’re also not sitting down and doing formal learning at the minute. Instead we’re having fun with hands on learning and just de-stressing. We’ve been busy gardening, growing seeds, colouring, crafting, and learning in a way that M wants but only if he wants to for now, there’s no pressure.

Repotting our vegetable seedlings

Deschooling is the process of allowing yourself to understand there are other ways of learning than being sat behind a desk (changing your ‘school mindset’) and also a chance for the child to adjust, relax and find the joy in learning again. The length of time a child needs to deschool for varies from child to child; those who have had a traumatic time at school may need longer than those who haven’t for example, (time will tell how long that is for us). Children will want to learn once they are ready and after a period of deschooling this is my hope for M; for him to want to learn rather than be forced into it.

The very beginning of our journey!

So here we are about to embark on a wonderful world full of discovery, imagination, fun and laughter; it’s time to start home educating. I use the phrase ‘home educating’ because what we want to do is far removed from what school actually is and to us ‘home schooling’ is doing school at home.

To give you some background into us, this blog will follow me (Mum) and my 8 year old son M’s journey as we say goodbye to school and begin a whole new chapter of our lives through home educating. Home educating (HE) is something I’d been looking into for a long time now for a couple of reasons then once it became apparent just how much M was struggling with anxiety due to having to attend school we became more serious about it. Seeing him literally making himself poorly every night and again in the morning before school as well as the emotional trauma it was causing him was something we couldn’t carry on putting him through; to see him virtually being broken down before our eyes was breaking us too not to mention very distressing to see. We’d had the Easter holidays then it was time for back to school. I knew even before that point we were going to struggle to get him to go back to school and after trying for the first day back we decided to take the big leap and deregister him from school in order to teach him at home. Deregistering was as simple as a letter sent into school asking for his name to be taken off the school register as we were taking on the responsibility to educate him instead. As soon as that was done the feeling of relief was immense! No more having to fight him every day forcing him to do something he didn’t want to do and we were free to learn in ways he would want to participate in.

For these first few weeks we don’t have much of a plan other than to deschool and find new ways of learning that work for M. He needs to remember it’s ok to learn in other ways than just sitting at a desk and I need to learn it’s ok too. We have plenty at home for him to do all ready: colouring, crafts, reading, lego, knex etc. as well as waiting for our new science and eco magazines and kids comics to arrive in the post. There’s enough out on the garden to keep him active with the trampoline and swing set and we will be having trips out to the park and meeting other HE families along the way too. It will take us a while to find our groove (and add to our supplies!) but I have no doubt that once we have it’ll make for a happier family all around 🙂