I was on the phone to a health visitor yesterday, for the youngests 3 yr development check. A questionnaire that she completed over the phone, that told me nothing that I didn’t already know, but seemed to take no notice of underlying conditions or progress. Just another tick box, the realisation of how early we start these tick boxes really starts to set in. He has a downs syndrome diagnosis, but because it is mosaicism the health visitor does not understand it……. I explain he is visually impaired and has speech delay, to be asked if it is due to his condition, well we dont know, its possibly linked but no way to know for sure, but he is under the child development centre and receiving support… and so the questions and box ticking goes on.
Anyway, the tick box exercise continued till she was finished and all her questioned asked, she then read out a list of “scores” which I forgot and soon as I heard them. I was asked if I have any concerns (aside from those already covered, nope) Then I am asked how we are coping with lock down. There it is, that’s when it happens. The sentence. “You were home educating anyway weren’t you? So this isnt so much of a struggle for you, it’s normal.”
Yes we were home educating. We have been home educating for nearly 6 years.
No, this isnt “normal” for us. Our home education is rarely done at home. Normally we have classes, groups, workshops, outings and social sessions. On average 7 or 8 regular lessons/ sessions per 5 day week. Science, RAF meet up, Scouts, Birds of prey, Special needs social, social groups, rocket science, swimming etc. All cancelled. Time with friends and grandparents, our time spent exploring English Heritage sites and national trust properties with our memberships, all cancelled. Our favourite places, closed. Being at home, is not normal for us.
Yes, this is a struggle.
Though perhaps not as much as for others, I will admit that. You see, as home educators, I am used to my children being around day in, day out. We chose this and I am used to *not* being a “teacher”, at no point during this lock down have I worried about “school work”. I am not used to packing them off for 6 hrs a day every day, so them being home isnt “getting under my skin”. I am used to juggling work with chores and children and education, not that I’m an expert or on top of it, but that particular struggle is not a new one linked to lock down. I dont have teaching staff sending us work and deadlines that makes me feel totally out of my depth, but remember that one. I dont have teachers sending set work. I have had to spend my time and money sourcing resources and planning how subjects are going to get covered, I have paid for classes which are now not going a head, I have had to chase online course providers myself to ensure that my childrens needs are met.
And my children are missing people too. They are missing family, friends, lessons etc… they are missing animals, missing the owls (they previously attended a weekly group at a bird of prey farm) They are missing practical experiments instead of learning straight from a book….. I’m fairly sure they are missing others just as much as a schoolie child. A home educated child does not spend their time sat at a table on their own learning from books alone, they rarely spend their time at home at all! Despite common opinions otherwise, they are not always learning in isolation.
The home education community has been quick to offer support and advice, the number of parents considering home ed full time is rising each day, and as a community we are all quick to express that *this is not the norm, the norm is so much better!* and have weeks have gone on I have had more and more people asking me about unschooling. Can they now “not be bothered to teach” ? Or are they seeing their children in a new light under these conditions?
Needless to say, this is an odd situation for everyone, no one finds this normal. Not even home educators.