Home educating – Feeling the fear and choosing it anyway

Laurence and I started talking about homeschooling (that was the term we used at the time and we still use both terms now) before Talitha was born. I may not have even been pregnant with her yet. I’m not sure.

I remember I brought it up while we were having a stroll around Clifton Village, where we used to live, and he was pretty scandalised.

I grew up knowing families who homeschooled and disliking school myself. He went to boarding school and, on balance, found the experience positive. Fast forward and our first baby is four next week. She would have been starting school this September, except we didn’t apply.

It was no big conflict for either of us. Laurence is probably even more settled on the idea than I. It’s genuinely a mutual decision and certainly the right one for this year.

We’ve decided to keep ourselves open to whatever may come in the coming years. Home education seems like the route for us, given the information and having done the soul searching (I’ll get into our reasons more in another post or this one will be insanely long), but that doesn’t mean that things can’t change, that the discussion is now closed until they’re eighteen.

In a way, that’s relieved some of the fear I’ve had about stepping into the lesser known. I don’t have to make the choice now for forever and ever, amen. We can just try things and see how we go. School will still be there if ever we need to make a change.

What’s interesting to me is that many of the things I’m worried about probably aren’t what others expect to be on my mind. Academics don’t worry me. Talitha, like most children, is naturally hungry to learn. She’s a sponge for asking and observing how things work. She alarms and delights me on an hourly basis.

And even if she weren’t doing any of that, I’m confident that having a parent help guide her exploration and a wealth of time to pursue her passions beats getting lost in a class of however many children, stuck in a system that may or may not suit or interest her.

I’m also not worried about socialisation, not here in Bristol. We already know so many home educating families and there is more going on than there is time to do it all.

No, the things that concern me have to do with me – not her. I worry about missing out on a career, about putting too much pressure on Laurence to work and about the state of our finances. I already yearn to work more and feel frustrated that I don’t have the time or energy to do it.

But home educating is also something I really want to do so it’s not a case of martyring myself. It’s a much more complicated struggle than that. I feel fear and guilt in equal measure over not working and wanting to work. We put so much pressure on ourselves, don’t we?

And with that, I worry that I don’t have the patience to spend that much time with my children. Part of me feels horrendous admitting that but if another parent said it, I’d tell them that it’s normal. Life with kiddos is tough. So I’ll extend to myself the same grace.

That said, I think it’s also hard only getting snatches of time with your children and if flexischooling were a more readily available option, we might well consider it.

Another thing I feel nervous about is being SO responsible for my children’s social life. Talitha is at an age where she longs to be with other children so much of the time. I’m sociable but shy so I find it draining having to go out and see people every day, especially if it involves meeting new people.

I got really worked up about this the other day but then she went through a series of days where she absolutely didn’t want to go anywhere or see anyone and asked to stay home with me and Ophelia and “make things”. I guess, she needs a balance too. So, I can probably lay off being propelled forward by fear and guilt every time I’m filling in the calendar.

The point is that taking this path, this year at least, gives her the freedom to choose how and when to meet people, to interact on her terms.

Since home educating is something we are doing together, we are learning to take each other’s needs into consideration. Mine don’t just disappear because I made a choice a little less ordinary.

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  • I can totally relate to this, especially the social life part. I think it’s definitely about balance and making sure that everyone is doing / not doing enough to be happy. I took the kids swimming yesterday for the first time on my own and am going to start doing that more, they love it and it means that if we are at home for the day we can go do that for a bit and everyone is happy. Would love to do something with you soon, Cherry loves Talitha! xx
    Jess @ Along Came Cherry recently posted..Hot And Sunny Saturday / Rainy Sunday

  • Loved reading this. I am planning on doing flexi-schooling but still not sure how the whole thing works to be honest. I’m a little up in the air about it. All I know is that I want us all to have a balance, for my littles to be able to explore freely along with a little guidance when needed. to have their creative sides freed. my 4.5yo goes to preschool part time and loves it, but also loves doing things at home. the thought of a full time school at such a young age fills me with dread as the place is so influential on them and I remember seeing it with my little sister who is ten years younger than me – it changes them! I know life is about change, but I think for such a small age it should be more about life exploration, creating, learning at their pace and not at the rapid pace in a school. With me I am worrying about the family balance. My partner works full time, I am trying to build my self employment, plus a 4.5y, 3y, and 16 month old. I worry how I will get that balance.. x
    ahhh tough decisions for all.
    Natalie @ Little Jam Pot Life Blog recently posted..Living Arrows 2015 – 22/52

  • I think it’s great that you have made this choice, and that knowing you don’t have to make a ‘forever’ choice now has helped you decide. I would worry about the same things you are, the finances and the work. I can’t imagine socialisation would ever be a problem in Bristol! And also, since when is three school aged girls making each other cry and feel left out week in week out good socialisation?! Urgh. I dread the school years and they are fast approaching x
    Fiona recently posted..Review: find-a-present.uk

  • Hello,
    I love you blog! I’m a mom of two. My daughter is age 4 and my son just turned 1. I live in Boston, Massachusetts and would have love to mingle with you. I struggled with the balance of my career and wanting to stay with my children. After working for the first year of my daughter’s life, I took time off from being a Social Worker. A few years later, I had my second child and knew for sure that home schooling is better for my husband and I …at least for now. I, too find the struggle with keeping up with my daughter’s needs to be with children her age. I have made it my duty to attend many museums, parks, beaches, and the zoo to keep her busy and intellectually stimulated. As much as I still desire to return to work I have found other ways to meet these desires such as starting a small online business of retail re-used items. Thank you for sharing these meaningful moments of your life and family.

  • I totally understand what you mean, especially about meeting new people. I confess don’t feel guilty about not going out and about much. Angelo is in necessary and Valentina has only one half morning with the minder unstill she starts nursery next year. I’m not much into play dates. The ones we do have is with ole friends so we all feel great and have a good time and we know what to expect. However I realise the older the kids get they will want to have more play dates because they are very socialable and like being out and about. It sounds like you both are learning what works best at this juncture. Go with it and be easy with yourself

  • So glad I came across this post. My oldest girl is 4 in November and would start school next September, so some time away, but she has been in pre-school since the beginning of the year and she really would rather not go. We had almost 4 months of crying and screaming at every drop off (two mornings a week, now up to 3) then she stopped for about 5 weeks and went off ok, then back to crying again recently.

    She is a very sensitive girl, not overly social but very confident with family and people we are familiar with. Like you I’m quite shy and not great at playgroups and going out to social meetings but I do try. I can’t help wondering if I’m doing the wrong thing with pre-school and am becoming more and more interested in home schooling when the time comes.

    My biggest fear would be making her less social by not being in mainstream school. On the other hand I hate taking her somewhere she doesn’t want to go (even if she does eventually settle down and enjoy herself) and I fear school will be even more traumatic for her. Anyway, I will be giving it more thought and following your blog to see how things work out with you and your little ones.

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