For the last two weeks we have been atending a home education group. It meets up at a village hall approximately 20 miles from where we live every thursday. We met some lovely families there and it really did instill a lot of confidence in me that home education is something that can work - and hopefully work for us. I am becoming a lot more confident about telling people when I used to dread the subject arising. That said I do still go for the easy option when I speak to some people. My four-year old is due to start school in september and as he is fairly tall and nearly 4 and a half now we get asked practically on a daily basis by anyone from a tumble tots instructor to the library assistant to the local vicar (we had him round the other evening to arrange the baby's Christening) questions such as, "Do you go to school now Finn?", "When do you start school", "Do you go to nursery?". A lot of the time I still reply, "He is due to start school in September" and "No he isn't at nursery as he does a lot of other activities: tumble tots, tennis and swimming". It just seems easier to say that rather than tell them we plan to home school which will inevitably lead on to more questions. That said, I bumped into a mum from my mums and tots group who I hadn't seen in around three years today: she asked if Finn was at pre-school and what school I had chosen for him. I told her that he didn't do pre-school and told her the school choices that we made last year and then said, "but I plan to home-educate him - at least for the first year anyway". So now I am getting more confident in telling people but adding that we may just do it as a trial for the first year. I don't really think that will be the case - I want to home educate for as long as it works for us all - and I guess I'm hoping it will work and that they will never go to school unless they want to. But the truth is I really don't know how it is going to work for us. At the moment it works quite well. I think Finn will be quite academic: he has a brilliant memory and is always happy to learn and some days it is difficult to get him away from the TV and sit and do some "school work" but once I have his attention he will happily sit and do writing, sums, practice reading, drawing etc. for a good hour. He also loves stories at bedtime and is currently having The Magic Faraway Tree books being read to him (usually by daddy) at bedtime. He is happy to lie and listen and imagine it all in his mind as there are only a few sketches in the book. He loves books and knows all the alphabet now (and most of the phonetic sounds) so I'm sure when the time is right he will start to read. I have no idea how home education will work for my other two though. Jacob is very energetic and has a very short attention span - he is only 2 so this is quite normal - but I just cannot imagine him ever sitting down and listening to me teach him anything as he has always been very independent (baby-led weaned as has never let me feed him) and totally different to his big brother. That said he picked up potty training a lot quicker than his big brother I think mainly due to observing his big brother use the toilet. So hopefully he will follow suit and want to learn things like his brother.
Anyway, we went along to this group and it was lovely to meet lots of other families that home educate. The only problem was that it lasts all day and it was just a bit too long for me and my three. Most of the other children are a fair bit older and all the activites that are set up each week are largely for over sevens. This meant that my two boys spent the whole day playing with toy cars in the baby area and then making paper aeroplanes with some of the other young children. They had fun but the session was just too long for them when that was all there was for them to do. So we've decided that we will go back to this group when they are a bit older and can actually take part in some of the activities. In may we will find out if Finn has got into his first choice school and I'm dreading it as it will be time to decide. The thing is we have decided but I don't want getting this form throught the post to change my mind and make me doubt if I am doing the best thing. It is so difficult to know as a parent if you are doing the right thing though when all other parents around you are sending their kids to school. Do you follow the pack or be brave and dare to do something different because you believe it is (hopefully) the best for your child?