For me personally I liked the idea of home education before my kids even hit school age. They had already learnt from the minute they were born to express themselves and convey their needs. The following couple of years saw them learn to crawl, walk, climb, run, talk, eat, scream, laugh, toilet themselves and a multitude of other things. All this without any real prompting!
I was still quite nervous that I wouldn't be able to 'teach' but so many families I knew had gone with the home education option I figured I had plenty of advise givers if the need arose.
My kids dad and I were divorced but both agreed on the home ed option and we started to encourage Beren (then 5) to open his mind to learning and following interests.
This was great for a year but then Beren decided he would like to check out 'real' school. The school I chose was very small with lower than usual class numbers. I liked the prep teacher and was ok with sending him there as I respected his wishes and needs. He did fine for the year and enjoyed himself.
The following year we moved to Tasmania from Melbourne and Beren did grade one in the local school and Nienna started kindergarten. In Tasmania we were restricted to school zoning which meant that there was no choice of schools unless I took the private school option. This wasn't going to happen for financial reasons so we were stuck. I hated the school from the start but stuck with it for the year. This year we started again in term one and Beren just wasn't coping. He had terrible anxiety, massive melt downs and his behaviour changed rapidly. I made the decision to pull him out at the end of term one and offered this option to Nienna too. She decided to stay for the second term and didn't join us at home until third term (Tassie has a three term year).
I have always suspected something was not 'right' with Beren right back when he was a toddler and this suspicion has never left me, however I have been hesitant to 'label' anything and figured if 'it' wasn't affecting him overly then I would let it lie. Having him home full-time I was able to see just how affected he was. His social skills are nil, his communication is erratic, repetitive behaviour, meltdowns, obsessive behaviour, movement, gross motor skills and more all indicate ASD. The fact that he is aware that some of his behaviour is unusual and/or unacceptable means he is affected. We are all affected by this at times. I worry that the way I respond to him aggravates the behaviours and situations, thus I have decided to go down the road of having him diagnosed. This way we can learn how to deal with the ASD and manage it better. A big step for us but hopefully a positive one. This is scheduled for mid November and I must admit it has been an emotional roller-coaster for me.
So, one of the reasons I believe home ed is right for us is that Beren is more relaxed, less anxious and I can help him with his social skills etc gently. Small things such as prompting him to speak to people or to ask for help at home ed group, sounds like nothing, but for him to do this, it is huge. Encouraging him to play with someone other than his sister or simply go out and play along side someone else and not sit clinging to me.
This isn't the only reason though. Having spent time in the classrooms here as a parent help and as a casual teacher aide I got to see what goes on in the class. Seeing Nienna come home and play schools and hear how she mimics her teacher, what is said, body language and tone of voice simply horrified me. I want my children to not only be taught to respect others but also to feel respected, to be given the attention they need, to develop at their own pace whether it be fast or slow and to have a right to express themselves as the individuals they are. This was not happening in school!
A classic example of this was in Nienna's kinder class. I went to parent/teacher interview and was told that the kids (age 4/5) were being taught to draw properly! I nearly fell off the chair, and the teacher saw my obvious reaction and quickly added "if they want to". I now understood why ALL the pictures on display were identical and you couldn't identify who had done what if the names weren't on them. I asked the teacher if she thought Picasso had been taught to draw properly LOL.
Another time I was teacher aide in a prep class and some of the children had to complete a painting of a house. One little fellow who was just beautiful and I could see quite a free spirit had drawn an amazing house that was floating in the sky among the clouds. The teacher walked in, looked at his work and said "oh typical of course you couldn't do a house properly the way you are meant to!!" his smile just vanished and he went limp and dark. She said to me "get him to do a proper one like the others!". I said to him that I loved his house and we would keep that picture for him to take home and put on his wall and we would do another one of a boring land house for school. He really was broken by this. Unfortunately this wasn't the only time I saw a gorgeous, happy and spirited child get knocked down. It reminds me of that song
"Little boxes made of ticky tacky,
Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes all the same."
Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes all the same."
I think this is what they are trying to do. Get the kids to all do the same, say the same and almost become zombies so as to make the school more peaceful and easier.
I don't want this for my children.
I want them to question things
ask to learn something
say no if they really feel it
sing out loud
paint floating houses and underground boats
paint on cement
spend the day at the park.
I want them to feel loved
I believe that through the freedom to not do anything they will learn everything.