Before we started home educating and through blogging, I came across some mums who had taken on this exciting journey. If I am in honest I was in awe of these deeply enlightened women. They always had an air that they had worked something out that the rest of us just don’t get. They tended to be colourful, passionate and perhaps a bit hippy-dippy.
How would people see us when we started home education?
The first person I talked to was my brother, a teacher, on our way to France for a short break. I was so very stressed and worried about my daughter. My brother made home education seem possible partly by praising my intellect and also by revealing just how little learning goes on in school sometimes. As he said, I only needed to do it for a year and then my daughter could go to secondary school.
On our first day of home educating, we went to the GP surgery. I could sense people looking but nobody actually asked why my daughter was in civvies in the middle of a school day. At the Co-op the male sales assistant said “No school today?” “Actually, we home educate so they don’t go to school” I said trying a new sentence on for size. He looked embarrassed and that was the end of that.
I walked around as if I was an axe murderer for weeks expecting someone to poke me and tell me I was an appalling mother.
One weekend, we went to the local museum. At this point, I was so hung up on making sure every moment was educational in case anyone checked up on us that museums featured a lot. The elderly and clearly lonely volunteer in the empty museum chatted away to us. I don’t know how it came up but she found out we were home-schooling. “How wonderful! What am amazing mother you are!” It was not the words that got to me. It was the fact she was smiling. Perhaps some people would not think we were merely odd.
One morning, a neighbour came to express his sympathy after we had trouble with some of the other neighbours. “Aren’t they in school?” he asked. When I said what we were doing he said, “I had a friend who did that. Soon came to regret it though!” This seemed a bit cheeky as this was our very first conversation. Panic set in again.
There are the children in school uniform on hot afternoons in particular who look at my children as if they are the luckiest people alive.
There are the curious especially those whose children are bullied in school or perhaps have what are referred to as special needs. It is my belief that we are all unique with individual needs and services would work better if we all recognised that.
Of course, just when you are feeling like you are weirdos, Fate delivers up chance meetings with lovely home educators. You learn from what they have to say and think this might be the very club you have looked for all your life.
We are a home education family.
It suits us for now. Tomorrow is another day and life changes.
Just like in any area of life, all we ask is that you judge us not on some stereotype of an home education family but on the people we actually are even if we are revelling in finally being hippy dippy.