Today was a big day for us all as the kids have gone back to public school. After two years home school and lots of countries they donned their new uniform and lunch bags this morning and marched into their new classrooms in single file and I have massive mixed feelings about it.
I researched home schooling, world schooling and un schooling thoroughly for six months before taking the kids out of school, we needed to do it so we could live our dream and go travel Asia. I read lots of anti school blogs and tons of biased articles about how school actually damages kids so when I did un register them I really felt I was doing the right thing and besides the travel aspect is an education in itself, right?
As I have said on here before my kids each had different experiences with school, Izzy loved it, thrived and spoke fluent Spanish whereas Lewis struggled with the language and appeared to be picked on by the very boisterous Spanish boys in his infant school, he regularly cried in the mornings and didn’t want to go. We decided to de school them which is recommended by lots of blogs and home school articles.So we had an amazing summer in Spain, swimming, playing with friends and did no school for three months which is the length of a Spanish public school summer holiday anyway. We then packed up our Spanish home where we had lived for nearly six years and drove back to England. We spent three months in Lancashire where we visited museums and castles and started our new informal approach. I can honestly say we loved it, the kids were enthusiastic about all the days out and the crafts we did, fun experiments and paintings, paper mache mummies etc and I put lots of reading apps on the ipad and we tried to get a routine that suited us.
Next was Asia, a backpack full of crayons, only two actual books, the rest on their ipads, A4 writing pads and not much else really, we were carrying our world on our backs and didn’t have room for much school stuff, but that was ok as we were discovering so much, different cultures, languages, new animals to ponder at, lizards and colourful insects, new currencies, landscapes perfect to explain geography, museums and new modes of transport, riding elephants, stroking tigers it was all absolutely amazing, we rarely picked up pencils.
I read lots of online articles about how to get your kids excited about free range learning. How these kids who were home schooled thrived in their own areas of interest. They discovered new ways of doing things as they were not confined to traditional thinking like the rest of the population. Inspiring stuff. I waited to see what amazing things my kids would discover, I reacted to every little interest they showed in anything, thinking, ” This is it, Izzy will be a famous photographer, she has an amazing eye” or, “She loves to make jewellery, maybe that’s her calling” Lewis, who had only just turned six was fascinated by nature, shells, lizards especially, he was going to be the next Steve Irwin, or so I thought.
Meanwhile my kids were never picking up books unless I told them to. On the occasions where we stopped still for a while, like our five weeks in Kuala Lumpur we had time and resources so set about pushing Lewis to read a little more and Izzy did some projects, but they were quite resistant and we ended up shouting at each other. I despaired in the evenings once the kids were in bed, annoying Chris with my worries of Lewis’s possible dyslexia ( he hasn’t got it, I now know) as he just wasn’t picking it up fast enough for me, much slower to learn than Izzy had been. I mean, I now know that boys do learn very differently than girls but with no experience in these things before, I was learning as much as they were about the correct approach for learning and the kids were practising their ” lets distract mum from this boring stuff and try to get back to the fun stuff” , we had lots of battles of wills in KL.
Anyway, after only eight months we were back in England and then back to Spain, Chris’s mum was seriously ill and we were not sure what our future would entail and whether we would stay in Spain so we decided to continue home school until we knew more. To put them back into Spanish school after concentrating on British curriculum work seemed like a backward step also reactions from friends were interesting, most presumed we would put them back into Spanish but after hearing quite a lot of horror stories about home work troubles and translating problems, we decided to stick with H S for the time being. I went shopping for art supplies and folders and other things that we had missed while travelling and we got stuck in. I think I knew deep down England and public school was in our future so wanted to make sure they were more capable to return without feeling they were behind in anything.
It was not easy, the kids were resistant to this new method and didn’t want to spend hours every day with books and stuff, they wanted to be out and about again, free to roam and explore and we did try to do that as much as possible but I was getting worried. The other thing I was noticing, especially with Lewis was that he was shying away from groups. He had always been quite out going and confident, but here he was sitting in corners and sulking a lot when he didn’t get his own way. He hated playing football with the other boys in the park if it got a bit shovey and was much happier if he just had one friend, one on one. I could see other mums looking at him like he had socialising problems and it was upsetting and not something that I had expected. A few months earlier he had been playing football with some Balinese children who spoke no English and having a great time and here he was with his old friends stomping off and acting out of character. I realised the tricks he used to try and get out of school with me he was using with these boys and it wasn’t going to work, why would it, they just ignored him and then he became isolated.
Over the next six months and with Chris flying back and forth to England for his mum we decided we should just move back and settle for a while and help more with Chris’s mum. So that is where we are now. We have been back six weeks, moved into a lovely village and enrolled the children in an outstanding ofsted local school. We met the head teacher on Friday and had a tour. The kids thought the school was massive and intimidating but I also think they are very excited about making lots of new friends. They started this morning and I have felt anxious all day for them. My worries are that they wont keep up, what if they are behind? Will they be bullied? But I mostly think they will enjoy it. I will write another post shortly and say how they have gone on.
Another thing about them going back to school is I will have much more time on my hands so I can write again, added bonus for me, I still have lots of posts about our travels that I havn’t had time to write, they are still rattling round in my head just waiting to be published. I have me time again and that is definitely a good thing.