Looking back on a year of home schooling.
The time has gone quickly, and I feel quite emotional about our son’s proposed (p/t) reintegration to mainstream in September. I have really valued the quality of time we have spent together: snuggled up reading and giving him some reflexology, hunting for snails as part of a science survey, painting and cooking together! Not having to do the mad dash of school run has been blissful, and not having to negotiate with, and attend constant meetings with teachers and specialists has been like a massive weight off our shoulders.
Our son’s mood quickly settled, and he likes home schooling as much as any kid with aspergers will probably express. We have none of the highs and lows of conventional school life, the rages about homework and tears before bedtime. He happily engages with all the teachers who work with him at home school, and never misses lessons because of ill health, which had been a major issue before. He has only been really off colour for two weeks out of the whole year , and we adapted lessons during this time.
Home schooling is, however, a significant commitment. I feel this most when we hit a holiday, and especially this Christmas, being cooped up at home and hosting others it was more of the same, caring for demanding people who don’t give much back!! When, last summer, the local learning centre and our social worker recommended that we continue to home school and not try to reintegrate him into mainstream primary, I was pleased that they finally recognised the issues we were up against and chuffed that they praised the level of teaching and support he was getting, but everyone assumed that I would just continue to teach my son and was happy to do so. Although we now get 10 hours of support from other tutors a week, this has only gradually built up. I have had to give up thoughts of a return to part time work (after a shoulder op), and my days and evenings, to teach, plan, ensure that my son’s complex needs are met and take him to various sessions and appointments. Even when tutors are here, they only come for an hour, so I get very brief snatches of respite, or time to work, but often I am making phone calls or liasing with professionals.
Home schooling is also hard work at times. Motivating your child continuously, especially if you are having an off day, having patience for repeated mistakes and slow uptake of learning, and thinking how to make lessons relevant and at the correct level, all theses things and many more are very challenging. You need breaks and time to re-charge your batteries. Also, lots of good friends and other teachers who you can bounce ideas off and ask for support.
Some high points for us have been:
“field trips”, including discovering a Roman amphitheatre!
cracking times tables
making an airfix model and a clay aztec mask
cooking together – a huge variety of sweet and savory things that I probably wouldn’t have attempted on my own, but went largely, very well for him!
watching our son grow daily in confidence
low points would be:
having our son’s old school report us to social services, and our son becoming a “child in need,”a harrowing experience I would never want another family to go through (more about this another time perhaps!)
attending OT sessions to help my son with his handwriting, a hugely depressing and dispiriting experience, probably because it was for an 11 year old , needing such basic help which had nor been provided before.
getting to grips with touch typing and Dragon dictation software
getting really active and much more outgoing
being able to accept praise
writing his own poetry and stories
reading age soaring
Don’t get me wrong (despite the rant!) I love home schooling, and it has changed all of our lives for the best. However, it is not to be undertaken lightly! (isn’t that what they say during the wedding ceremony?!) Make sure that you have your own secret stash of cookies to hand!