So, I've been a home ed Mumma for 6 months now. A whole half a year. I have to be honest, it's flown by. So much has changed in that time I thought I'd give you a quick update on what's happened and where we are now.
After initially needing some rigid structure (running to school hours, using the same 'perfect purple and 'growing green' to 'mark' his work, having a set lunchtime) the pendulum swung back totally the other way to the point that if something looked like learning then it would immediately be met with complete refusal, ending in an argument.
I found this time really tough because I was panicking that somehow I had failed him. I wondered if he'd choose to do nothing for the rest of his life - literally, the rest of his life. He played Xbox, he went to the park, we went walking, we played with friends, we watched telly. It was hardly sitting with a work book or practising handwriting or writing stories or doing times tables.
But then something changed. I realised that he WAS learning. Our conversations changed. His questions changed. His viewing habits became educational. Programmes on CBBC provide great entertainment but a massive educational value was there too.... For example Dick & Doms Absolute Genius sent us on a hunt to find out more about Isambard Kingdom Brunel or Marconi. Operation Ouch with Dr Chris and Dr Xand is perfect for looking at biology and the workings of the human body. Scrapheap Challenge is where the the seed was sown about making a go kart with Daddy. The Great British Bake Off has inspired baking and cooking.
Slowly we've begun project work - currently we are looking at castles, something he did at school in year 1 but we are looking more in depth.
Made a castle from junk modelling (still under construction, new wings being added each week!)
Covered history & geography by watching a 3 part documentary called Castle Builders
Written stories about life in a castle.
Visited both Warwick and Dunster, learning about jousting, making longbows and a tour of the Victorian kitchens.
Looked at the french words for various words surrounding castles.
Just before summer holidays he asked if we were 'ever going to do any home education again' and I had to laugh because he was implying he hadn't been learning things all this time. What he meant was that he was ready for more.
So we've started a new routine, we're getting the work books back out. He's started reading again and bedtime listening is now his Roald Dahl collection and not McBusted (I'm gutted, naturally, but it had to happen some time!) Maths is really clicking in with him and is starting to make sense. It's taken a long old time to undo all the self esteem issues he developed in school and starting his work books a level or two lower than his capabilities has meant he can fly through the first lot and realise he's not thick after all. We're using a whiteboard to write a loose schedule and his chores, and also as a learning tool for spellings or maths.
He's started French lessons, signed himself up as a Badger at St Johns Ambulance, attends sports club, Beavers and Youth Club too.
His bedtime has completely changed. At school he was upstairs and in bed by 7.30 and awake no later than 6 every morning. Each night was an argument because he didn't want to go. Each morning he'd be grumpy as hell.
Nowadays, I shuffle him upstairs by about 8.30 and he's pottering or listening to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory before nodding off of his own accord about 9.15. We no longer have that '75 issues that need addressing before bedtime' - in fact after he's given me a kiss goodnight, he doesn't even bother me at all. Quite a contrast to the screaming and shouting nightly before hand and me in and out of his room half a million times.
In the morning he wakes when he wakes and it's usually about 8am ish. He's happy and smiley and there is no rush to get out the door.
All in all it's made for a happy life for the pair of us.
As for me, well, of course it's meant a big life change. The biggest is juggling being a Mummy, a Home Edder, a worker and a business owner. And somewhere in all that I have to be 'Tracey' too.
Work took a lesser focus for a few months and though I didn't like it much I needed to spend time with my boy. Now things have really calmed down and we know what to expect it's much easier to fit work into our daily life. I get up at 6am every day before Barnaby wakes. That's my time to work, do housework, pay the bills, order a food shop; whatever I need. It's working, I can concentrate on the job I'm doing at that moment instead of chasing my tail constantly.
I have lost some people I thought a lot of, some friends who walked away from me have started to drift back, some have gone for good. I veer between being heart broken and devastated to not giving a shit, dependent on where I am in my hormone cycle :)
They don't understand why I chose this route for my Son, and that's ok, I don't understand why they can't see doing best for your child is the right thing to choose.
Hey ho. Can't all think alike can we?
I've met some lovely people and made some great friends. Variety is the spice of life, as they say, and you meet all kinds of people home edding for all different reasons. Some medical, some religious, some alternative, and all like me - just doing the best they can for their kids. I have been really sad of late to lost my closest friend who was home edding her boys - they have all upped and moved to Spain, which hopefully will mean cheap holidays, but it isn't the same not having them round the corner to do things with!! Meeting so many new people has made me question myself, my life and my motivations. I thrive on hearing other peoples views and ideas, I love discussing the potential of being vegan with those who already are, I love observing other peoples parenting and admiring their skill of keeping calm and rational when i am prone to bat shit crazy. Every experience is a learning experience!
I have learnt loads. Probably more than I ever learnt at school. From French language to history, there is no doubt that now i have almost 40 years of life experience to hang things on now. It 'makes sense' in a way it never did when I actually had the liberty of youth. I hope that in turn it makes me a better teacher now that I can understand things and explain them in a way Barnaby can understand.
Overall - the last 6 months have been a rollercoaster. I've had wobbles, I've worried, I've questioned, I've panicked.
I've discovered I do no way near enough 'work' with Barnaby compared to some families. I've discovered I do waaaay more than others. I've realised none of this is right or wrong and comparing is the route to misery. It is what it is.
We've laughed, we've stayed up late, we've got lost in the woods, we spent hours in a sunshine.
We're happy. And that's what it is all about! I've not once regretted my decision and Barnaby has never once asked to go back to school which I think says it all.
Here's looking forward to the next 6 months.
Thanks for reading!