My son is now 25yrs old so our journey in home education began a long time ago and you could argue has now finished. But I believe in lifelong learning so I'm not sure that it ever really ends.
Sophie was a sweet child, got on easily with people, was a natural peace maker and empath. Which meant she would accept all into her friendship circle, which was good but could also be quite challenging. She is a May baby so was young for her year and was really tired out by school. She was and is very artistic and that was her real passion as you can see from her fairy picture.
Then there was Jack, bless his cotton socks. We were so sure that Jack was autistic that we didn't think there was any need to have him diagnosed, and it was a while ago so there was not the level of awareness and support back then. Though I'm not sure how much real support there is out there even now. He was very academic and loved learning and was just like an information sponge.
When we went to look around Sophie's school before she started, Jack came with us, he is 21 months younger. We were taking him into an environment which blew his mind, there were books and libraries and activities and information and he looked at everything and asked questions and talked to, everyone. When Sophie started school, she was known as Jack's sister because everyone remembered this dynamo whirling dervish that had blown through the school..
So when Jack was due to go into the nursery class, or pre reception class, we naively thought it would be great for him. We were greatly mistaken. Firstly is was only half a day and he was supposed to go in and have lunch and then spend the afternoon there. The dining hall was just too much for him. I went in with him, but he was still really stressed by it. At only 4yrs I wasn't going to push it. So we started coming in the afternoons, however the lining up outside the classroom before class became a source of great anxiety for him and this was a child that blew into most situations and wasn't bothered. But there wasn't much space for blowing. He became stressed and unhappy. The teachers made him a chart, he would get a star every time he came into the classroom with a smile on his face, so he tried extremely hard to smile through his distress, I can't believe I went along with that.
Sophie had fitted in with ease, she was quiet but diligent and was a teacher's dream. I went to a parent teacher meeting about Jack and thought, not only do they not get him, but they don't really like him either. Jack was a bit or a marmite child, you either got him and thought he was amazing or he would just annoy you and drive you mad. The teacher told me of an incident where he questioned her "it's not just why is the grass green, but if I ask him to do something he wants to know why". Yup welcome to my world, I don't actually remember him not being able to say the word why. Did I want him spending a whole year with this woman who obviously didn't like him.
Not long after I came across an article in a magazine about home education. Not something that had ever crossed my mind, surely that was just for new age hippies and people hot housing their child. I had asked the school for advice on how to handle his insatiable thirst for knowledge. The head teacher was very supportive but his prospective class teacher had said, not to do too much with him or he'll be bored next year. There was certainly no hot housing going on and this response was another red flag for me. I was going to have to squeeze this amazing square peg into a somewhat inflexible round hole and I didn't see that going well.
The article mentioned Education Otherwise a home ed support organisation and they had a one day event on in a few weeks in York. We went we listened, we found our answer and I found my tribe. A whole mixture of different people coming to home education because it was a better fit for their child.
So we asked Sophie what she wanted to do.
Could she still go to Brownies and Jazz dancing with Penny?----Yes
Could she start a piece of art work and work on it for as long as she wanted?----Yes
Could she still see her friends?----Yes
So she was in and that is how the adventure began with a baby in toe and another one joining the gang just over 2yrs later. An adventure that continued for 18+ years.