Please don’t let me be misunderstood….Part 2

If you’ve read part 1 thank you. This is also about being misunderstood. Perhaps needing to “fight your corner” to friends and family who know you well but who just have a certain perception of you? Does that make you feel frustrated and upset?

So, another ball I juggle is home schooling my son.

I was never going to be the parent that home schools. I didn’t understand it, didn’t think I was capable, believed my son would miss out on alot. My ex husband was a huge advocate but I always said no. However, when Covid came along in 2020 what happened? We all had to home school! It was then that my ex and I had the  discussion again. Our son has anxiety and mild OCD issues. Although he is always popular, very sociable, interacts and does what he’s told, he’s always hated school. He’s had issues with remembering tasks, not reading properly and we’ve had no amount of tantrums, tears and anxiety issues over the years. We’ve had teacher meetings to do with his OCD issues, missed school mornings with his anxiety levels high and I’ve even refused to do homework with him as his anxiety & tiredness after school was not worth his tears. It’s never been an easy ride for him sadly.

So I researched, read books, joined home schooling FB groups, chatted loads to other parents online and was astonished at actually how much more popular it is than I realised. There are a mass of home schooling meet up groups Nationwide where parents and children can do day trips and support each other which then inspired me to set up my own home schooling group specifically for my local community. My ex and I decided to formally de-register him from school and went through the proper channels.

Since we’ve been home schooling he’s so much more relaxed, happier and has less anxiety. The method of home schooling we’re doing is called “Unschooling” and it’s child led. There is not a set school day with curriculums and timetables, worksheets, tests etc Unschooling is about a child learning through living life, what they want to learn and us parents facilitating that and guiding them. It is relaxed and fun learning.

I was like my son. I hated school and sadly my educational life was severely interrupted with spending  most of my childhood in hospitals so when I returned to school I was always behind and just thought “what’s the point? I’ll be back in hospital soon”. I have learnt more watching documentaries and just living life then I ever did in the classroom. I remember in Geography learning about “New Towns” in the 80s. My friend who used to sit next to me was a punk and she was so bored she used to just bang her head on her desk and draw on her arm!! I also learnt Latin at school and loathed it. I gave it up and any Latin I come across now I research and teach myself.

I do realise school is not just about education but about formulating thoughts, disciplining your mind or expanding your views on the world. Again, home schooling has the same abilities. Children can still develop independent thoughts by learning through life.

Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.”

Einstein

What my ex and I also find so important about home schooling our son is teaching him life skills. My son, now 11, uses the washing machine all by himself, he budgets and manages his pocket money with his online bank account, he helps build fences, cut grass, saws tree branches, helps build a shed. I taught my son how fuel goes into a car, where windscreen washer goes and how to pump a tyre up. We watch the news so discuss the pandemic and current affairs. He sewed the elastic on his face mask and he helps with DIY and knows how to use a hammer and a screwdriver and knows what a rawplug is. These are skills he will need as an adult.

Our son is, of course crazy about computer games. To be fair my ex and I are too though! From playing online my son has learnt team-building skills, geography and online safety that we’ve drummed into him. He knows exactly how to plug all his wires into his computer – what goes where, what all the switches are and the safety of electricity and turning plugs off at night or if we go away etc. I have zero idea about my computer and he had to help me one day when I couldn’t get any volume out!! My son became an entrepreneur and started creating and selling fortnite skins to his friends online. He also loves graphic design so we bought him a design software package and he started designing his own mugs and t-shirts and selling them online (through his dad’s PayPal). He also designs 3D spinning logos and backgrounds and does amazing things with photos that melt my brain when I watch him! And this was all self-taught sitting at his computer experimenting and messing about. Youtube is his best friend so if he wants to know something he’ll watch endless youtube videos and teach himself what to do!

Even though he’s not at school he still has discipline. He has to be up at a certain time every day, goes to bed at a certain time, sometimes he makes his own lunch while I discreetly oversee if it’s a cold lunch!). We shop online for cards and gifts because it’s important to think of others, we help people in the street, and we have manners and use them.

I bought him some boardgames – working your way around the human body and all its organs, also a game like Tetris putting shapes together and we play a creative language game which has us both laughing and learning!

Yes! But WHAT has all this got to do with being misunderstood?! I’ve rambled on too long…..

Well, when my ex and I first started telling people we were home schooling, the reactions were so conflicting! We’ve had fantastic positive responses! But on the flip side, I’ve also had negative responses. I had someone simply say “oh…… well try it for a year and you can always send him back”. Or “that’s so sad for him! How will he do PE?!” This person knows I live opposite a park, also close to a beach and it would not be impossible for me to still take him to gymanstics or football or karate!

I also had “but you’re not a qualified teacher!” No and you don’t have to be. I’m his parent. I’m able to teach him believe me! And then I had “so he’ll just be at home all day learning? That’s so lonely and isolating for him!” No because we’ll be mixing with other home schoolers regularly, having day trips to castles and going into the forest learning about nature and making friends in our local community. He won’t be a hermit!!

I read online about other home school parents where family members have argued and fallen out over their choice to home school. One woman’s relative actually reported them to social services for neglecting their education so they had to be interviewed because of the complaint!!

There is alot of controversy over home schooling and I realise some people just don’t understand  what exactly it entails but also because school is such a fundamental part of our everyday life that home school must seem completely alien. A concept that can sometimes be seen as “hippy” or “New Age” with visions of barefoot children skipping through fields collecting flowers and travelling around in a campervan!! That is not such an awful idea though………!

Some people generally think children will not and cannot learn unless they are under a school roof being taught by a professional qualified teacher and I understand that argument. I get it. However, there are alot of teachers who I talk to and who are in the group I set up that are actually ex-teachers and home school all their children for many reasons, one of which is their dissatisfaction with the current educational system.

I do also realise that some would dearly love to spend all day home schooling their child but cannot due to financial & career commitments so of course school is their only option.

So again, if I mention that I home school my son to you, please don’t think I am for one moment neglecting my son’s education or that I am lazy or ignorant. I am surrounded by home schooling books and Facebook feeds and my son is my number one priority!

In my view life is about learning and doing. I am the woman I am today because I had a terrible education and I learnt through life skills. I’m independent, my own boss and financially stable. So please don’t judge and misunderstand me when I tell you I home school. It’s just a different way of learning that works for us.

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