Back in the summer of 2018 when I first decided to pull my son Cameron out of school at the age of 6 to go travelling it was a huge gamble, I asked myself a million questions “would he actually enjoy it?” “would he engage with me as his teacher?” “would he survive without structured lessons?” “ would I cope with being his teacher?” “could we both survive being together 24/7 for a year without wanting to kill one another??”
I needn’t have worried, for during that 1st year life was more than perfect for both of us, not only did we survive but we thrived. So much so in fact we decided to extend one year to two, and we continued living the dream life for another 7 months until covid stopped us in our tracks and we were forced to return home to the U.K. in April 2020.
By September of the same year with lockdowns and restrictions continuing I decided it would be in Camerons best interests to return to school. THAT was much harder than I expected; despite the fact he returned to the familiarity of his old school, with both old and new friends, combined with the continuity of teachers he knew and loved. He just didn’t settle though, then to add fuel to the fire he had only been back in school for one term when the government sent ALL children back into home learning.
I was shocked by how many other parents said to me during that time “oh this must be easy for you, you’ve already done home schooling for the past two years” ….Me: “errrrr NO, I have done WORLD schooling, watching my son engaged and immersed in different experiences and cultures, flourishing in confidence as he socialised with people of all ages and from all nations, NOT locked up at home, having all his lessons via zoom with teachers whom themselves had never been trained or prepared for this scenario, and despite very best efforts were clearly struggling”
SOME OF OUR PREVIOUS WORLD SCHOOLING LESSONS:
The above are just a handful of the 100’s of educational experiences we encountered on our travels and I could not have asked for a more enriching, broad, balanced and memorable education for my son.
Since we have been back home, due to a change in my own personal circumstances (meeting the man of my dreams and re-locating to a totally different county), Cameron has also moved to a brand new school in April 2020.
Despite some obvious upheaval expected from such a move, I don’t think we could have found a better school for him, it’s set in the most spectacular grounds with more than 100 acres of forest & fields, staffs the most phenomenal teachers and has a very holistic and international approach to learning. Yet with all that said, I have still watched my previously happy, carefree & engaged child, come home from school each day looking sad and withdrawn. The work he is set seems to quite literally go in one ear and out of the other because he has no interest in what he is actually learning, and when I look at some of the homework notes which he brings home (most of it from the same twinkl website we used when homeschooling!) I look at it and can’t help thinking “how is this EVER going to serve you in the real world?” and yet I know even in a private school that teachers have a curriculum to follow and boxes to tick to show they are doing their jobs properly and in line with Government regulations etc.
Then around two weeks ago when discussing his day at school, Cameron turned to me looking very forlorn and said out of the blue “ I don’t know why Mummy, but when I am in school I feel like my soul is dying”. It isn’t very often I am completely lost for words but in that moment I confess I was completely stumped. A 10 year old who feels like his soul is dying because of the way he is now being educated, I just wanted to curl up in a ball and cry.
Like many home schooling parents my greatest fear is my child having no friends or social life. It was fine when we were travelling, Cameron never worried about having long term friends – so long as he had someone to play with in the moment, then he was happy; and we met new people pretty much every day. We also genuinely love each other’s company. However, I know it’s not going to be quite so cool hanging out with Mum when he gets to his teen years!
I have started looking a lot closer at local home schooling though and the community is growing and growing every day. I think if covid has given us anything positive it is the ability for so many people to work and learn wherever they want to. There is SO much going on in our local community and so much connection between homeschooled parents and children.
What has shocked me most though is the number of teachers I have seen who have left the formal teaching profession and turned to homeschooling so that they are once again able to actually ‘teach’ and not simply to enforce children to do things which even the teachers don’t agree with simply to keep Ofsted and education authorities happy!!
These are just a couple of recent examples of posts from former teachers:
For me, every time I try and write an objective list of benefits of staying in school v. benefits of home schooling, the home schooling always comes out streets ahead. I therefore think my mind is made up that we will be going down the Home Schooling route again as from the next school year in September.
I am a working Mum, juggling a successful business as well, but I know have experience of both ‘in’ and ‘out’ of formal school education. Every child is different and if you are reading this blog as a parent considering Home Schooling for your own child, I can’t tell you whether it is right for you or not.
I can only speak from personal experience, but having seen my son so engaged every day and bursting with joy as he discovered the world first hand, to slipping back to a sad tearful child who tells me that his soul is dying in school, then I feel the answer is there in black and white…..