Funny how things can change. From being one of my most tricky days, Tuesday has turned in to such a lovely day. Much of the change has to do with the sunnier weather which means I don’t have to carry Dante in the sling all morning at Forest Friends because it is not muddy so I can put him down. It makes me wonder if I should have just known my own mind better before and had a breather until that phase had passed. Today, once again the sun shone and Dante was as happy as larry crawling around in the clearing in the woods and eating rice cakes and Anton was dashing around playing, stirring mud and looking for tadpoles and painting my face with face paints. I always feel like such a good parent when I’m having my face painted and yet I don’t have to anything. Perfect. I even remembered to wash it off before I went shopping this time.
After Forest Friends Anton usually goes in to Lucas’s classroom (where he goes for 2 days a week with a small group of other home educated kids to Acorns) to join him for lunch and make Lego with them or they come out to play ball. There is just such a special atmosphere there and I soaked it up while sitting in the sun in the meadow cuddling a sleeping Dante. Then when Lucas goes back in for science I took Anton and Dante to Asda. Even Asda was fun! All because I didn’t have to rush as I was just filling time before pick up time. Dante likes sitting in the trolley and Anton is always such easy company.
I taught as soon as we got back until 8pm and collapsed exhausted afterwards while feeding Dante to sleep and reading stories to Anton. Lucas wanted me to discuss his poem about an Eagle at the same time though. He’d obviously had a great day as Emily had come out to show me his other poems which she said he was just reeling off and they were really lovely. He’s obviously been inspired and wants to write another one at home ready for next week as he says there wouldn’t be enough time to illustrate it too if he left it until the lesson. I love his enthusiasm and his organisation. He just gets so much from all he does because he does things to the best of his ability.
I feel really pleased when I look at Lucas and think how happy I feel he is. He has such a lovely balance in his week of just enough stimulating activities with people and things he likes, lots of time to play with brothers and friends, time to be in pyjamas and time to get stuck in to his interests.
Now we only have to work out with Oscar what his week will look like as we have finally decided to take him out of secondary school. He’s nearly been there a year. His request to be home educated again has become so definite this term that we acted on it. I could have seen us limping on with school until GCSE’s so in a way I’m relieved that it has come to a head. Joth and I have had to work through every emotion possible connected with this issue though and it’s been a very tricky few weeks. Money has come in to it which has complicated matters and Joth having not read all the positive stuff I have about home edding through secondary school age has meant that he is more worried than I am about getting the academic qualifications that we feel will keep Oscar’s option’s open.
There wasn’t one particular difficulty he was having at school to solve and so that made it less clear cut because he hasn’t been miserable, he just wants to do it differently. As far as his academic stuff went he seemed to be doing fine in most things, not so well in English and very well in Maths. His RE teacher said she only started noticing him (as he’s quiet in class) when he was reading through different chapters in class that they weren’t doing because he wanted to find out different things. He said RE is one of the subjects he likes most but it’s with the teacher he likes least. I’m glad he can still differentiate. In fact I’m glad he still has some enthusiasm for subjects but I could easily imagine that in a bit of time he would have no enthusiasm left. He doesn’t enjoy most of his homework and doesn’t want to be conscientious about doing work he’s not interested in so it would always be a bit of a drudge.
So although we are nervous about this decision it feels good to have made one and good to be looking at the exciting possibilities. I am pleased that Oscar is choosing home education positively, not because the alternative was awful but just because he would rather choose more of what he learns. I am keen to find more ways of learning in groups too and getting some workshops going, money permitting. For the time being I would like to concentrate on more general skills like debating, art and essay writing (it strikes me that if you learn to write a good essay it will stand you in good stead for many subjects) before doing iGCSEs. In the short term I’ve ordered a weekly children’s newspaper and want to listen to interesting radio shows with him and do some art projects and his Grade 5 theory (which he need for his Grade 7 violin). He also wants to look in to philosophy. In the longer term we want to make use of the fantastic science teacher at Acorns. Sharona says I can talk to him and just dip in for what Oscar needs. They have several more teenagers there at the moment who have left school for similar reasons. Sands school offer the chance to take for home educated children to take the iGCSEs there and at the moment I think it looks like spreading them out is better than doing them all in one go. I also will be looking in to Open University courses too as you can start them at 14 and do different modules for points. Most universities accept them instead of GCSE’s and A’Levels but I think we are more likely to go down the iGCSE route as I can see Oscar wanting to go to 6th form. I think 6th form is a very different place to earlier on. The teachers seem to treat you with more respect and friendships are obviously more mature, as are you of course! Oscar is also keen to look in to Sea Scouts and/or Air Cadets and look at the Totnes rugby and cricket clubs.
So, these are all just ideas at the moment and we will take some time to breathe before deciding on any plan of action. I think it’s been really good that Oscar has gone to school both for him and for us. None of us will be looking over our shoulders and wondering what school might have been like and I know now that grammar school is not magic, it’s just school, and just like with anything else it’s all what you make of it. If Oscar’s heart wasn’t in it then he wouldn’t have made it very much. I just hope we will feel at the end of the secondary school age just as we did at the end of primary school – that it couldn’t really have been better.