What was my husband’s reaction to home education?

I always had a fantasy of home-educating my children. My mother had always told me I would make a great teacher. I imagined myself living by the sea in Ireland growing vegetables and giving them a life-affirming childhood.

I think my husband ruled all this out before my first son even entered the world. He has a traditional education followed by years in the military. He likes rules and systems. He likes to know where he is with things. Even setting off for a day trip with no particular destination in mind upsets his equilibrium. Lord knows what he is doing with me? Maybe I am his very own learning experience!

When my parents by then in their Seventies started to struggle with the looking after my first son, we decided to look at nursery education. I had heard fabulous things about the Montessori one so we paid a visit. My husband was so uncomfortable there. Whilst impressed with the beautiful resources and the gorgeous setting, he could not quite come to terms with any thought of child-led learning. He kept banging on about the 3 Rs! My son was about 18 months old at the time.

I think we came to a deal that if he let my son have the Montessori experience, I would put him state school when the time came and give up dreams of home education. I probably had every intention of reneging on this agreement in due course but as it happened I was the chief breadwinner when the time came for my son to go to school so he went after a magical few years with Montessori. I remember sobbing the day he left nursery.

Of course, life sometimes teaches us what we always needed to know and sometimes the worst of times can lead us to wonderful ones. Last year, when my daughter was so stressed by school that she was threatening suicide and when we heard about the practices in the school, both my husband and I agreed we needed to take her out of school immediately.

There followed a troubled period with both of us in a bit of a panic and not communicating particularly well. My husband kept going on and one about the National Curriculum and how important it was. Whilst my view at that time was to follow it, I felt my husband did not believe in my ability to teach the children. So I got argumentative and asked him if he had read the National Curriculum. He had not done so and neither had I in any detail. I read it in detail. I still do on my wobbly days. However, apart from where literacy and numeracy are concerned, I find it quite limited. My husband felt the same way, our eyes were opened and we became a home educating team with me doing most days and him getting involved in the evenings and at weekends.

When we deregistered our two youngest children from school, the local authority offered us an appointment with an Education Consultant. We were both keen to take this up. We met in a supermarket as my housework standards are never really of the domestic goddess variety. When you start to home educate, you are not quite sure of your ground and worry about being judged adversely.
As soon as the woman said she had worked for OFSTED, my husband took her seriously. She said amazing things like some days we might not do any learning in particular, that the children had me and would be fine and that we had already made a great start.

At that point, I relaxed a teeny bit. My husband surprised me and was relatively chilled from that moment and gets more and more so as the weeks and months go by. If anything he has become more “hippy-dippy” that I am. He is enjoying the children more particularly their questions and their firm opinions.

Technically we could place my daughter in a new secondary school now as she is 11. We were sure we would be doing this in September last year seeing home education as an urgent fix to a troublesome primary school. Neither of us have raised the issue of sending her beyond asking her whether she wants to go. She thinks she might want to go at some point but not yet. Having stressed myself all year and finally relaxed and deschooled myself, I am so pleased she is staying.

I suppose I am writing this blog to reveal more about what has gone on with us over the last year and also to reassure those considering home education who have people in the family who are cynical, fearful or whatever about home education.

Things change and sometimes quite radically. My anti home education husband is now its champion.

Last September after my daughter had awful issues at school, we decided to home-educate her. Very quickly, her younger brother was staying at home too.

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It has taken me until now to relax about the whole thing. I had no faith in my ability to teach despite having an amazing educational background. What if I damaged their life chances for ever? Let’s face it – I couldn’t even potty train them effectively for long enough so covering a load of topics some of which I might struggle with a bit myself seemed daunting.

On a selfish level, having just about rediscovered a sense of self after the onslaught of becoming a parent, what about my me time? What about my career or business prospects? What about me?

I know many people were interested in our home education journey but I was not sure how much I wanted to reveal. I wanted to get it right and know what I was doing first. I also wanted to fit in with other home educators and was not sure I was “hippy-dippy” enough. So I joined online networks and whilst being inspired by other home educators, ran away from actually joining them in real life and feared what I was doing with the children might not suit the home-educating community.

I have changed my perspective on quite a few things over recent weeks and months. This includes home education I think partly though learning by doing. As we move towards a year of home education, I am reminded of how terrified I was about my daughter’s mental well-being. Now I see a happy, creative, excited little girl with her own strong passions including politics, film-making and story-telling. Isn’t that good enough for Year 1 of the Family on Thin Ice Homeschool?

I also have to give a huge vote of thanks to the wonderful Cerys from RainyDay Mum. I was fortunate to be in her company with my family twice in recent months including on a camping weekend. It was a joy to get to know her a little and I want to make her a a friend. She told me in no uncertain terms how impressed she was by my children. As it was clear she has a fine mind and knows about education in a big way, I actually listened and perhaps more vitally, RELAXED!

I have started reading “A Funny Kind of Education” by Ross Mountney. People advised me to read this ages ago but it has taken me a long time to accept myself an an “official” home educator. I advise anyone embarking on the home education to read this book straightaway. It is down to earth, honest and true. It makes me feel OK and good enough.

So how was starting home education for me?

Terrifying – heart-beatingly scary with adrenalin overload.
Confusing – which home education philosophy was right for us?
Exciting – the joy of our first day of freedom from school runs and what have I forgotten? was superb. We had a picnic in the sunshine and made precious memories.
Guilt-ridden – are we doing enough and the right sort of thing? What if we have a day or two off? What if I allow them to play video games? Arrrgh!
Lovely – no nits all year!
Revealing – used to children coming home and saying little about their days however much I enquired, now they chatter on about their passions with me. Very quickly I learned that my son loves classical music because he finds it calming. My daughter showed that she wants to make films. I knew neither of these things about them when they were in school.

I often wonder what my parents would think about this life choice. I do clearly remember my mum telling me to make the most of the pre-school years “because you lose them when they go to school”. At the time I thought at least I could look foward to that as I struggled with post-natal depression, nappies and bottle-feeding.

Now the fog of depression has cleared, I see what great individual children I have and Fate has decided for now that they spend more time with us and we learn together ever day. I think I want to be “hippy dippy”!

I am going to write a lot about home education from now on – this family matters and I am going to revel in it.

The amazing thing about starting home education is you can make a fresh beginning every day and do it your way.

And then the fun began...

I am becoming more aware of changing my perspective.

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Looking back, a lot of my blogging was about challenging issues such as terminal illness, bereavement, redundancy, parenting issues and depression.

I tried to be open and honest for my own therapy and apparently people found that inspiring. I even got nominated for awards for being so miserable!

I have always said that when I wrote my first Grooving Mums post way back when it was more about trying to find out if I was mad or if there was anybody else who felt the way I did. I did not know that I was opening the floodgates and that actually I was not as mad or as different as I thought.

I hated myself for being fat and ugly.

I have taken charge of my weight and the truth that I now see that I have my own individual beauty.

I was isolated and had no close friends.

I now have many friends and in fact find it a challenge to keep up with them all. That is a big change and it is good to not only have online friends but people I get to see in the real world too.

I thought I would never work again.

I got that one wrong too! I just needed to reinvent myself career wise as many mums do as they try to juggle it all.

I thought it was my fault when my partner looked at dating sites.

I now realise that when someone is a twit, it is all about them. Nothing to do with me at all – I am an attractive, intelligent, feisty, witty, creative and caring woman. In fact if I joined a dating site I would probably be inundated with offers. My husband is a lovely man but just like me and probably you, he gets it badly wrong sometimes.

I thought getting into debt as a student and other financial issues would give me a poor credit history for life. I know about such matters so this was ridiculous of me. I looked at my credit file this week and got the great news that I am creditworthy.

I found housework overwhelming so the house was too often a tip.

These days I keep on top of things enough and if the house is a mess it usually means I have made the choice to focus on fundamentally more life-affirming stuff. My late Mum said her only regret in life was that she had done too much cleaning.

I asked for some particular assistance this week and not one person came forward. Years ago, a friend told me that I had a very good heart and I celebrate that. I would always do my utmost to help where I could and that makes me a very special soul.

Am I bigging myself up? Isn’t it about time?!

So yes I am changing my perspective and I think that is one big reason to be cheerful.

Boating in Norfolk gave us our happiest family break ever. We had never had a boating holiday before but we can’t wait to get back on board.

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We arrived at Potter Heigham to collect our boat with its glorious name Tranquil Light. There was a real community feel to the place with a good amount of nautical fashion on show. My youngest son and Him Indoors were dispatched to check us in. Louis arrived back at the car with a huge smile on his face telling us excitedly that the boat was gigantic.

Our boat was perfect for our family with 3 bedrooms all with their own loo facilities. Louis bagged himself the master bedroom straightaway and we went with that. There was a comfortable lounge area and a spacious and brilliantly equipped kitchen.

We all looked at the wheel nervously as Pete from Herbert Woods showed us all the facilities on the boat. I skimmed through the written folder of information and had a bit of an eek moment when it said all my children were capable of handling the boat.

Pete gave us clear instructions and a demonstration on how to handle the boat. Him Indoors took a little while to get used to it but my teenage son Luke took to it like a natural. He did most of the driving during the holiday.

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How can I possibly get over the magic of boating on the Norfolk Broads?

1. I loved having some proper relaxation. How often do we get that as busy mums? I slept deeply and sunbathed enjoying my time away from responsibilities, world news and the Internet.

2. It was great to see so much nature from the rustling reeds to the beautiful water lillies. The Broads are a haven for bird watchers and we saw lots of butterflies too.

3. The boat speed was between 4 and 6 miles per hour. Over the years, I find car journeys make me anxious with speeding drivers and so much business. I much prefer messing about on the river at a gentle pace.

4. This holiday brought out the best in my family. We worked together really well as a team taking on the various tasks of driving, navigating and mooring between us. Actually that is not quite true because I did very little and let the family take charge.

5. Although the boat did have a cooker, we chose not to cook and took had snacks on the boat, a takeaway and a pub meal.

6. We had great party times on the boat playing board games and cards. There was a television but we all seemed more minded to have good old-fashioned fun away from modern technology. When the boys don’t miss their video games, you know something special is happening.

7. My favourite town was Wroxham. Regular readers know I like to rummage in charity shops and I had a very pleasant hour or two in Wroxham buying games for the boat and some new to me clothes.

8. There are lots of amazing attractions near the Broads. However on this occasion we found the boating provided all the entertainment we needed. It is really good fun to wave at or chat with other boaters. Swans and ducks were regular companions as we sailed along. How lovely not to be chained to work or school schedules. Getting away from it all is such a joy.

We were not ready to leave. We all felt sad but also very excited to have discovered a new activity that suits all the family.

I highly recommend boating in Norfolk for a family holiday. You can choose the size of boat to suit your individual circumstances and you don’t need any previous boating experience. It is great for children to get them away from screens and to give them time to stop and stare at nature and windmills. They learn so much too from driving a boat to the importance of health and safety.

We will be back to Visit Norfolk soon.

Tranquil Light 2 sleeps 6 +2.

Shortbreaks – Low season £509, plus Fuel depot £125, Damage Waiver £45

High price £1100, plus Fuel depot £125, Damage Waiver £45

Seven night breaks are

£728 off peak, plus Fuel depot £125, Damage Waiver £45

£1575 high season, plus Fuel depot £125, Damage Waiver £45

Day boats are available Monday through to Sunday, between the hours of 8.30am and 6.30pm, starting from £17 per hour.

How to Book

Address: Bridge Road, Potter Heigham, Great Yarmouth, NR29 5JF

Tel: 0800 144 4472

Website: www.herbertwoods.co.uk

Twitter: @HerbertWoods

Facebook: Facebook.com/HerbertWoods

We were gifted a press trip to enable this review

Playdays and Runways

Do you feel embarrassed when it comes to your intimate health? What if I said it was time to talk about our vaginas, bladders and other bits?

You see I pose that question and already feel a little anxious that you might ask me about mine. I blog in an open and honest way. Some would say I over-share. If I am honest, I know that there are areas I have wanted to blog about and then have not done so through embarrassment. Sometimes I get over that and blog it out anyway but sometimes I fear being judged and do not do so.

Are you concerned about itching, sweating and odour problems? Does the appearance of your vagina worry you? Shall we go into the taboo area of bladder control?

A new study by Vagisil reveals the shocking levels of embarrassment that exist amongst British women about something that’s so important.

I was surprised to learn nearly half (47%) of British women Vagisil spoke to felt embarrassed when the word ‘vagina’ came up in day-to-day conversation. And two in five (39%) women admitted to feeling embarrassed when other people mentioned the word ‘vagina’ to them. I think this is daft. My vagina is part of my body. It does really important stuff. Let’s celebrate that!

Worryingly, more than four in ten (42%) women said they would rather speak about anything else than discuss intimate health issues! It seems that a large percentage of women do not talk to friends and family about their issues and strikingly, nearly one third have never spoken to their GP about an intimate health issue. This means the problem can get worse with women not seeking help on time or at all. Why suffer in silence with painful or uncomfortable health conditions that are usually relatively minor and can clear up quickly with the right treatment?

It seems prudishness and the media have their parts to play in this situation. However, over time society and media portrayals of women’s health issues are changing and in some ways for the better.

Vagisil is on a mission to end the embarrassment that exists around intimate health, and do something about this issue.

From the 2,000 British women Vagisil surveyed, came the following words of encouragement:

• Take a deep breath and tackle it head on
• Acquire knowledge & wisdom
• Act confident & be brave
• Be aware that you are not alone
• Be open & honest
• Remember that doctors have seen it all before

Dr Adelaide Nardone, Gynaecologist & Women’s Health Expert, says “There are easy ways to maintain the health and natural pH of your vagina. Daily feminine hygiene is important – I’d recommend using a gentle wash, wearing cotton underwear, showering promptly after exercise or activities that cause you to perspire, and if you have a concern, try not to self-diagnose, go and see your GP. Remember there’s no need to be embarrassed, we’ve heard it all before!”

Vagisil daily care and treatment products are specially designed to help cleanse, protect and maintain the health of your intimate area. The Vagisil range includes washes, sprays, powders, creams and wipes.

Let’s #endembarrassment, talk about our intimate health and seek help when we need it.

I have received compensation for writing about this campaign