Elective Home Education (HE)
I am a mother of one and have been a stay at home mom for about twelve years now (only working part-time on occasion) as well as supporting my husband who has some disabilities. My son will be 13 at the end of July 2012 and he has been both homeschooled and attended mainstream schools. When he was young I personally knew a couple of families who had educated their children at home and had grown up well-rounded and happy. I had also heard of others, through friends and relatives, who had been taught at home so was quite open-minded about the options available.
My son started part-time at nursery when he just turned 3 as his birthday is at the end of July. Legally, children don't have to start school until the age of 5 in the UK but the norm is to start year 1 at the age of 4. Anyway, as he was an only child, I wanted him to be prepared for when he started full-time with his peers. So he attended mainstream school from the age of 3 up to the age of 8 ½. We then took the plunge and homeschooled for about 18 months (age 8 ½ to 10). One of the reasons that we decided to send him back to mainstream was so he could bond with friends before starting high school. (At the time, children in the UK attended high school from age 11-16 but it has now changed to 18.) So he went back to school for his last year at primary school. Now approaching age 12, we have been homeschooling again since the summer of 2011 basically and he more than happy to continue with Home Ed (HE). Every couple of months we sit down and chat about HE and going back to school as he then has a choice and we will support whatever he decides.
The first time we homeschooled we stuck to the basics of the curriculum and were 'fairly' structured even though he was your typical boy and complained all the time! He’s a well behaved boy really and I must admit that we are very, very easy going but we were happy and enjoyed it. I have had concerns from time to time as to whether or not he will be prepared for the ’real world’ but as he is growing up my concerns are becoming less and less. In the last year I have let him lead the way and I just encourage his interests and strengths and it is working very well. Most of his work is computer-based and he now types faster than I do! One of our main concerns was that his handwriting was messy but no matter what I did or the school did it never changed; he wasn’t going to change his style any time soon. But get him typing and he excels, perfect punctuation and well structured sentences and he even chats online with fully structured sentences. He hasn’t gotten lazy at all, I am glad to say and there is no 'text speak' other than LOL and maybe a few others!
I foresee him following a career in technology so maybe that has made things easier for us; I’m not sure but we are having a great time. Obviously, we have good and bad days including grumpy days but he is growing up in many ways - he is smarter than I thought he was and his reasoning skills are amazing. He is also now becoming a lot more responsible and his life skills and personal development are both developing as expected for a boy his age.
There are pros and cons in every situation and we didn't have any major issues with him attending mainstream but I really don't see how he is missing out on anything in life compared to his peers.
See also: HE Visits for Home Ed (Home Schooling)
My son is now 15 and we have continued with our HE! We had a request in November 2014, from our local authority, asking if they could arrange a home visit and after discussions we opted to send in a progress report. We briefly reported on our day-to-day activities, the projects that we had engaged in since our last report as well as our future plans. Nothing is concrete with regard to our future plans as we still have another 3 years to go but my son is slowly finding his way. As mentioned previously, even though we have followed the school curriculum at times we have mainly chosen to go 'autonomous route' which we have really found fruitful. I will continue to keep you updated and if you have any questions about homeschooling please feel free to ask. It can be a very scary decision to make at first but is worth doing if you have the circumstances.
After sending in our latest report we receive the following reply which I wanted to share with you! We were over the moon!
Thank you very much for your email regarding the work which XXX (and yourself) have been doing since your last report.
It certainly sounds as if XXX has been busy developing his knowledge and business skills and, as you say, preparing to move into the workplace and adult life. I wish him success in his plans to develop his computer business.
At present, I have no remit to monitor EHE students after they finish the equivalent of year 11 so I would not anticipate asking you to provide further reports. Should this situation change, I will contact you; in the meantime if I can be of any assistance please get in touch.
Once again, thank you for your report and I wish XXX a happy and successful future.
If you have any questions about homeschooling, or are wanting to seek further advice, please feel free to get in touch.
If we don't have the answer we may be able to point you in the right direction.