How a parent helped her child through school by knowing how home education works

Messages from readers are such a joy to receive – most of them anyway!

I had another recently from a parent telling me how useful my posts were in helping them keep a balanced view of their child’s education.

The interesting thing was that it came from a parent with a child in school; the posts about home education helped keep schooling in perspective too.

One of my best friends was delighted to hear this – she’s been telling me the same thing for years; how we helped her see education a bit differently and consequently support her child in school. So her words have been endorsed – she had the pleasure of saying ‘I told you so’ when I rang her today!

She had a dyslexic child who had the classic labels; ‘lazy’ ‘thick’ daubed onto him in class. But she had me in her other ear saying that they were wrong. Hers was a bright child who was just not having his learning needs met by a system which disregards individuals (and very often dyslexics), clumps everybody together within a narrow framework of measurement then, when the obvious happens and some don’t achieve, say it’s all the kids’ fault.

It’s not, but she, like most parents, assumed all teachers and schools knew what they were about.

Sadly, not always, they also have agendas other than the needs of an individual child. I’ve worked in them – that’s how I know – and that’s one of the things I told her.

I also know that there’s no magic training that makes a person a good teacher, no magic technique for teaching that makes teachers recognise children’s needs more intuitively than many parents, and most teachers have no training in dealing with children with special needs anyway.

If you’ve got a child who fits happily within the very narrow criteria schools use for measuring success, you’re very lucky.

Most children don’t actually fit, but that doesn’t mean they ‘fail’ either; instead they are failed by this system.

Anyway, thanks to her faith in her child, her intuition (and my words, she says) she enabled him to succeed against awful odds, go onto Uni and he’s now started his first job. So I asked her what were some of the things she did as a result of our conversations and her observation of our home education that supported them through the many challenges they faced within the school system.

These are some of the points she mentioned, which we’d talked about when we were homeschooling:

  • Stay on the side of the child (particularly when the child feels the school is not), listen to them, believe in them, rather than unquestioningly believing what the school wants you to believe.
  • Remain focussed on the needs of your child. Not on the needs of the institution. Basically we should remember that the school is there to serve the education of your child – your child is not there to serve the school! Challenge them!
  • Understand that children take different amounts of time to learn something, gain skills, to develop and mature. This is quite normal and they are not abnormal if they don’t fit into a prescribed and generalised timeframe. Just because a child hasn’t learnt something when the curriculum says they should, does not mean they’ll never learn it, or that they’re failures, so don’t panic or worry or pressurise. Try and keep it lightweight and be patient.
  • Listen to your guts and your intuition and your child. If you sense something is wrong then it probably is.
  • Don’t always assume that the school and the teachers are right, are professional, or are to be unwaveringly respected. We are trained in obedience to these institutions (banks, schools, health care centres spring to mind). That’s how celebs got away with abuse – no one could believe that these icons weren’t right or good. Basically we know and respect when someone’s doing a good job – and when they’re not. All professionals have to earn respect by their continued integrity and respectful behaviour. Question them if it’s not.

Home educators are told that they have to by law provide an education suitable to a child’s age, ability and aptitude and any special educational needs they may have. I often wonder just how many schools really do that!

10 thoughts on “How a parent helped her child through school by knowing how home education works

  1. Hi,
    I came home this morning from dropping my 9 year old son off at school after him telling me that he hadnt told me this in his school life but every single day he feels home sick, It absolutly breaks my heart. Every day he says he fails at one thing or another and he feels like a failure and i feel this is affecting his personality too. As soon as i came home i started looking into home educating him, if im honest i cant see the wood for the trees then came across this site, not only inspiring for what is possible for my son but a confidence booster for us mums too. I still feel extremly confused on where to start but think i may look into Ross’s book.

    • Thank you so much for your comment Georgie. It is hard when you’re child is suffering in school – I remember it! Do try the books – I think they’ll help ease the confusion. There are extracts around this site. And some of the other family blogs give a real insight. And there’s some excellent and supportive Home Ed Facebook groups too where you’ll find lots of other parents home schooling who started out just as confused as you! Good luck! x

  2. Hi Ross

    I think you are an absolute God send to home educating parents. I have two daughters aged 7 and 10, that I took out of school this year (July). so I am very new to all of this. There are days when I wonder If I’ve made the right choice because I don’t feel I have the knowledge to help them learn, especially my 10 year old.

    But when I feel like that, I have a read of your note book and that always gives me the inspiration to continue, and work through It. So I just wanted to say thank you for being so inspiring!


    • What a delightful comment for me to find Nicola. That is absolutely wonderful to know and you have inspired me through taking the time to leave your encouragement here. A heartfelt thanks. x

  3. As both a parent and a specialist SEN Literacy teacher, I completely agree! I have no qualms in giving parents the ‘unofficial line’ that they know their children best, and that they don’t have to accept that school does everything the right way for their child! I’ve got away with it so far, and see a lot of relieved parents when they are reassured it’s not theirs or their child’s fault that they are finding school difficult and not ‘succeeding’! I hope I have deserved their respect by caring and being honest. I’ve also always been honest with my own children, encouraging them to question the ‘system’ if it seems wrong or unfair. Interestingly, none of them want to become teachers!! haha.
    Nice quote I found today: ‘Success is a journey, not a destination’. More teachers, rather more headteachers and education chiefs need to take this on board.
    Best Wishes

    • What a lovely endorsement! Thanks so much Rosie for taking the time to leave your encouraging words – I’m sure they’ll be so helpful to so many – not to mention uplifting for me to read too! Best wishes to you too. x

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