Are you worried Mum? I had just put the phone down after arranging to visit my son’s choice of school.
I thought about this? I didn’t want to admit that a sizeable part of me was terrified at the prospect, and stoke his anxieties.
“I am a little scared, but also excited, nervous, happy. A mixture of all these things”, I settled for.
How about you? I asked cautiously. He thought for a moment. “Yes me too. Scared and excited.”
So far so good, I mentally punched the air.
This is going to be a testing time for a child who we are currently home schooling for medical and other reasons.
The school that we are visiting seems very supportive and has suggested a long period of visits and integration, in order that our son’s sensory balance doesn’t tip over, and he feels comfortable in the environment. They will assess his needs and plan for Year 7 accordingly.
So we go for our first meeting. Staff seem very friendly and open, but we are shown into a tiny room, separate even from the main Special Needs Area, and my heart sinks. Back to the plastic chairs with splayed legs, the formica tables and in this room there seems hardly enough air or space for two people, let alone the three of us, as we nervously get to know each other and ask questions that are important like, “will I have to do any homework?” Bravely the TA says that she cannot guarantee that this will not be the case, certainly there will be some set as he progresses up the school. My son’s lip quivers.
I stare out of the window thinking of all the exploration and learning that we have done outside, bike rides, science experiments, photography. When I get up to leave I worry about putting our child back into an institution that lacks flexibility and joy.
However, over the weeks before the end of the summer term we agree a timetable that exceeds all of our expectations. School are happy to have our input as to how many hours he will attend and subjects studied. They seem to understand that less is more, and want to build strong foundations before consolidating upwards. I had come to doubt that a mainstream school would be able to be so accommodating and understanding of an individuals needs, and am pretty much bowled over. He will start with a part-time timetable, and continue to have some home tuition from his old tutors as well as continuing to do some work with me. He will still go to music studio and have IT distance learning.
But will this flexi- schooling work or will we return to home schooling full-time?