I came across some of my old home education diaries and files the other day whilst having a clear out.
Goodness, didn’t I worry about everything and anything! And there’s nothing like a diary for an offload of all the concerns and glums that hound us day to day. I think I need to burn them because they’re not a true reflection of the pleasure and inspiration home educating gave us.
I kept worries mostly hidden in my public writings because I wanted to encourage and support and that might have given a rosy impression. But underneath I worried just as much as anyone.
Now I’m through it I thought I’d share some of them because I bet they’re familiar, and you’ll be able to see how they resolved.
I suppose the biggest over riding worry is; ‘am I doing the right thing?’
Ironic we rarely ask that question when we send the kids off to school!
The only thing you can do to combat this concern is trust your guts at the time. Review regularly. And rest assured that thousands of families and young people who have grown up and moved on from their home educating days are contributing to the growing body of proof that it is the right thing for many. And it does work.
After that I worried about whether the children would learn anything. But it didn’t take me long to notice them soaking up knowledge, skills and abilities much faster than when they’d been in the classroom where learning had been so restricted and inhibited. The internet has almost every learning resource you could possibly need, both for you and for them, along with group support. The kids can access this learning for themselves, and do so, without teachers or anyone giving them permission. Of course they’ll learn – just try and stop them!
I also worried about mixing and friends. But as soon as we began to forge relationships with the home school community I realised how unhealthy, restricted and unnatural were the relationships forged within a classroom. I also remembered how many times the kids came home from school upset by others – children and staff! As we were out and about experiencing normal social interaction, and as pre-home ed they continued with the same groups and clubs they’d always done, their friendships were just as broad as they’d ever been. In fact, they were more secure, built as they were on healthy respect and common interest, not age or desperation. The kids grew in confidence and social competence and seemed more socially advanced than many of their school peers; a comment often heard about home ed kids.
I’d forgotten this but it seems I also worried about their day to day progress. However, as I watched them learning all the time I saw that learning doesn’t progress in that steady upward gradient the professionals like to monitor, but in fits and starts, surges and plateaus, and that’s okay. They still end up in the same place as their contemporaries by the time they’re grown! And of course I worried about whether they’d be able to formalise this patchwork learning into standard courses or qualifications if they needed to at a later date. But they did so easily, finding that their ability to study without direction far exceeded the other students they met at college and Uni, to the point of them wondering why others went there since they didn’t seem to want to learn!
And embedded among all this was the nagging concern as to whether we’d still be friends at the end of it all and whether they’d still be speaking to me for subjecting them to such an unorthodox way of educating. And of course they are. (Odd that I didn’t ask if they’d hate me for sending them to school!) We are best friends and have as strong and as loving a relationship as we ever did.
So my advice to you is to put worrying on hold, enjoy your time with your young people for they won’t be with you forever, enjoy your learning experiences. And most of all; stay with the moment you’re in and make it the best it can be at the time. (And quit worrying about that too; it won’t be the best all the time – it isn’t in school either!)
Then all those enjoyed moments will piece together to make a happy home ed life whose influence will extend far beyond this time now.