The smiles are back!

As many might know I am not known for diplomacy or even thinking before I speak, but I am open and honest. Or at least I thought I was.

When we started home educating I didn’t know anyone who was actually doing it as well. Quite a scary route to take, but right for us.

Why is it that I still feel a bit uncomfortable about telling the world that
‘we home educate and we love it!’?

Is it because of potential negative comments? I don’t think so as I think I’ve proven to myself I am quite able to deal with those effectively.
It didn’t start off that way. I used to get all defensive and had the urge to convince people that ‘my’ way was best, which is obviously only the case for ‘me’. Nowadays I try to inform (rather than lecture) about home education and my view and be more understanding toward the view of the other person (no matter how frustrating it gets sometimes). I don’t always succeed but I do try.

Maybe it has to do with the fear of being judged.
Maybe…. But then… My logical mind tells me we are all being judged in some way or another and why would I care? I don’t mind being ‘the odd one’ if that is the case but like every other parent I know I am trying to do the best for my kids. I also have nothing against teachers or schools. I just don’t believe in the system (anymore).
And before anyone judges our choice to home educate note the following.

Before B started school at age 4 he had already shown to be very bright and able to focus intensively on a particular task that he found interesting. He would be determined to finish it in the (his) right way and would show extreme anxiety when he wasn’t able to. This however wouldn’t keep him from trying again. He was also extremely sensitive, caring and a joy to be around.
He didn’t reach all the milestones at a particular early age except for maybe walking which he mastered at just under 11 months. He didn’t speak or read early, his potty training was barely up to scratch when he ‘had to’ go to school. The anxiety carried on when he did go to school. He was sad for me to leave him and ‘yes’ he managed in the end, but I now think that that might be all he did for a good while ‘manage’. The teachers were nice, that wasn’t it. B had his own agenda. He didn’t want to (and still can’t really) sit down for hours on end and he didn’t like surprises, dressing up, getting dirty or ‘silly’ stuff.

He isn’t, wasn’t and never will be an average child (nor will anybody else in my opinion).

After 2 years we were told that B was very bright but he wasn’t standing out as being a ‘gifted’ child. However he was ’emotionally immature’ for his age. Seriously? He was 5 (almost 6) at the time and was able to have fairly complex science conversations about the Thunderbirds (his favourites at the time), he was able to have proper interactions with people of all ages, but had a preference for older children and adults. What they really meant was that he found it hard to suppress his emotions when he became very frustrated with himself or others. Something that we had noticed about him from a early age and had ‘dealt with’ by calming him down and then talk about it. But of course this is quite hard to do in school.
In the year after he had been bullied and teachers didn’t seem to find it a serious enough problem. Whenever he would tell the teacher they said to him they would deal with it. But he never saw or felt that any change was made in the bully’s behaviour, which made B feel he wasn’t been taken seriously.

He grew into a very serious boy who had lost his spontaneous smiles and giggles.

It is only years later, after numerous similar conversations with various teachers, that B was send for an assessment, because they thought he might have ‘a problem’. They suspected he might have Aspergers syndrome.

They were wrong!

Yes, he had some characteristics that could point that way, but again they didn’t link this to his ‘brightness’. As it turns out he is just gifted! Actually he is off the scales gifted! He finished almost all the assessment tests which should have indicated at what age he worked and they were meant to be for kids up to age of 16.
Over time we learned that a lot of B’s quirkiness could easily have gone together with his giftedness. Just a pity this was being overlooked all those years.

Thinking about it now, B had gone from a very placid, happy child to a serious, easily annoyed and grumpy child. Of course there could be a number of reasons for this, but….

Now, we are home educating and have been autonomously since December 2011. So almost a year. And guess what he is like now….
He is a bright 12 year old young man, who is considerate, polite, loving, has a quirky sense of humour. He still reads everything he can get his hands on and seeks to understand everything (his quote). He is able to hold eloquent conversations with anyone (of any age) on an equal basis without being disrespectful. But above all this, we have our smiles and giggles back. He is way more relaxed and genuinely happy within himself and he shows this by the freedom of speech (he doesn’t particularly hold back), he fights his corner, but is also able to discuss compromise and even though he is still in his own little world (more than) sometimes he is much more considerate to his brothers. All in all we have our big guy back and we couldn’t be happier that this is the case.

We also have D who is 9 and is still trying to find his way, but has also shown through actions that he is much more relaxed and happy. And N, age 5, who has attended a montessori preschool for a few months but hasn’t gone to school at all and is a very happy chappy.

I hope this shows that YES we are doing the right thing and NO I don’t think they are losing out on anything. YES they are making friends (when they want to) and NO we don’t feel the need to see them everyday for an x number of hours.

I also hope that if you have any questions or comments about home education in general or about our situation in particular you let me know and ask me directly before you judge. This way we can limit the assumptions that feed the myths about home education and agree or disagree informed and gracefully.

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3 Responses to The smiles are back!

  1. rossmountney says:

    Well done to you – for having the courage to stick to your beliefs and taking such a courageous route. You’ll be in good company! x

  2. Dave says:

    I enjoyed reading this, and am so glad we’ve decided not to send our children to school. Sometimes I find myself waiting for our non-school adventure to begin (our daughter is only 4) and then I remember that it has already begun, and that we just carry on doing what we’re already doing! 😀

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