Tuesday, 2 September 2008


I have, recently, been feeling very glad of the thriving home ed scene here in Brighton. At this ‘back-to-schoolish’ time of the year, I think it really helps me to feel that we have plenty to get back to – just not school. For me, it is especially helpful to chat with home ed parents who have children older than ours.

Like many other people, I stayed very firmly on the conveyor belt of the education system, throughout my teens. I didn’t even take a year out (which we now have to call a ‘gap year’, apparently) but went straight from sixth form college to university. At the age of twenty one, I found myself back in my home town, without much idea of what I wanted to ‘do’ and with a degree in sociology. It was 1992 and there were not many jobs around. I ended up working in the bookshop that had been my Saturday and holiday job from the age of fifteen. I did, eventually, make use of my first degree, as I needed to have one to get on the MA course that I followed to get a professionally recognised qualification. So, it all worked out for me, I guess. But, my experience of sticking close to the system through my teenage years, means that I find it hard to imagine different routes for my children.

Talking with other parents makes me realise that teenage years are hard for everyone and there’s no guarantee of a smooth ride for anyone – home ed, or not. But I find it encouraging to know that people do find a way through, without the system. Equally, that people can pick and choose from what’s on offer in the FE and HE sectors of the system.

If P were at school, she’d be going into a secondary school this autumn. I guess this is what has got me thinking about the years ahead. She is very good at living in the moment and enjoys a busy day to day life. I am very happy that she is so happy. Whatever happens in the future, I think that time spent happy and secure is like emotional money in the bank for coping with the harder times.

As a parent, I have noticed a change in the way our decision to home ed is perceived, as our children get older. As a family, we are happily settled into this way of living. But, in terms of the pressure from the world outside, it gets harder. Somehow it is easier to explain a day to day life of sandpits and finger painting than the reality of a home ed with older children. I also don’t want to be telling everyone the details of the children’s activities. It feels way too weird and too much like trying to justify ourselves – hence, the end of the other blog.

So, I’m glad of the chances I get to talk to home ed parents with older kids and also the online presence of people with older (and grown) children.


mamacrow said...

'I also don’t want to be telling everyone the details of the children’s activities. It feels way too weird and too much like trying to justify ourselves – hence, the end of the other blog.'

this is SUCH a good point. being new to the scene (both HE and blogging) I guess some of my motivation is that I'm fishing for opinion and advice etc...

And also, I've realised, a way for my extensive and far flung family (both mine and hubby's) to see what we're up to.

Which is also justification I suppose.

But I also love the blogg as a way of recording, a sort of scrapbook in a way as you can include photos...

My jury's still out I guess. Maybe as our confidence grows (which I hope it does, I'm still drooping from the two year old pooping all over our Queen Victoria session this morning) I'll find less and less need for blogging...

peri said...

I agree with you completely I have felt more pressure from people outside of home educating as J approached 11 and therefore senior school age. I have had people cross examine me and have at times felt pressured to justify our decision and life style. I always try to maintain a calm facade but often seethe inside quietly. I made a decision a few months back that I know longer volunteer information, I restrict what answers I am prepared to give and now often let J answer them - his friendly, open and intelligent attitude is the best answer to their often tunnel like perspective.
(I kinda miss those days of sandpits and finger painting.)

Gill said...

My blog is part soap-box, part personal record to look back on and part sounding-board for theories and ideas. At least, that's the intention. I suppose the children's activities are an inevitable part of that although yes, it is harder to blog for them, as it were, the older they get.

I also find it fascinating to read about different styles of home ed - for example, although your style and ours are both autonomous Allie, ours is very home-based whereas your children seem to do more stuff elsewhere. I think these differences are often affected by factors like location and money, but personality and personal preference obviously come into it as well, and other things no doubt.

But its great to see young people developing, partly as a result of the choices we've made. The blogs are very good for that, I think.

peri said...

For Dani

IKnit London is this Saturday - lots of knitting, workshops, talks and yarn - my idea of heaven.

alison said...

My kids still ask me to blog things I've done, so so far I feel happy blogging about them. Both the older two can post on it (and have), and read it occasionally (both have it bookmarked).

I love to reread it :)

It will be interesting to see with my girls how much difference being at school or at home makes to those 'difficult' teenage years - and whether it's clearly unattributable to personality. (Currently Gwenny is not planning on going to school :) ) I've got my own little social experiment going ;-)

Allie said...

Yes, that will be interesting. I am now pretty sure that P won't see the inside of a classroom again before college. TBH, I wonder how different college will be to school if it is full of people who are forced to be there.

I don't know what made me suddenly feel uncomfortable blogging the kids' stuff. I think part of it is that I don't want anyone figuring out where P is likely to be at a given time. I also felt like it was claiming some glory for their achievements. But I think there will be times when they want things posted and that, of course, I'll do.