I get asked this a lot. And I find it hard to answer because I never thought of it as ‘coping’, we just did it. And it was easy really because overriding any challenging bits were all the things there are to love about it.
I loved to hear the kids chattering away as they played. I loved the curls of laughter circling through the house infecting everybody. I loved the return of the children’s bright eyes, their effervescence, their enthusiasm and energy which had died in school. I loved their motivation and sparkle, their ideas and innovation and ingenuity.
I loved the diversity of the activities we did. The imaginative play and investigation, story making, make believe, craft work, sculpting, socialising, group work, study of what interested them when it interested them. The experimenting, gardening, cooking, constructing. The sports like canoeing, ice-skating, horse riding, wall climbing. The fascinating visits to museums, galleries, theatres, nature reserves. The den-making indoors and out – and even the activities that were unidentifiable and nameless. They were all fascinating and educative.
I loved the freedom they had to develop their own skills and talents. The flexibility their learning had; flexible time-tables and curriculum, dropped if something better came up. I loved the fact we could change plans for field study when the weather was good or just to go to the beach, or stay indoors snugly when the weather was desperate and not worry whether they were well enough to go to school of a morning. I loved the opportunity to go and play in the snow when it fell and come in and cook hot wholesome meals together afterwards and shut ourselves by the fireside with books.
I loved that we could take holidays when we liked and never worry about school runs or packed lunches or homework or uniforms.
I loved their teen years when their lives and potentials began to blossom and discussions about future pathways dominated the plans.
I loved being a Home Educating parent. I definitely preferred it to being the parent of a child in school. I loved it more than I ‘coped’ with it, even though there were times like that, but isn’t that the same for all parents?
Obviously there were times I doubted. Times when I lost focus and worried that the children were not achieving what everyone else was achieving. Times when we were at loggerheads. Times when I would have gladly sold the kids to the Pied Piper if he’d been passing. And no doubt times when the children would have done the same to me.
But the thing that helped the pendulum swing back again, as it did very quickly, was the fact that this really is the same for all parents whether they are Home Educating or not.
It is also the same for any job you do whether it is in the home or in a workplace. It is the same for life in general and relationships in general. Life takes some getting through at times whatever you’re doing. Worry and tricky bits are not exclusive to home educating or any worse because of it.
Tricky bits happen to all parents from all different circumstances. They happen in all family households and all family relationships. Not just Home Educating families and not just Home Educating relationships. I discovered that parents of children in school have just as many battles as we did except theirs were with getting them up and off to school, homework and friendships.
And just like with all aspects of parenting the home educating stage has gone now, all those problems got solved, the kids turned out okay, normal, happy. And are even still speaking to us!
So how did I cope? I didn’t have to cope in any way other than all parents cope with being a parent – you grow with it over time and learn as you go.
I loved home educating, I wouldn’t have done any of it differently, don’t regret anything about it and I wouldn’t have missed the experience for the world.