One of the primary questions we get asked is why we have chosen to home educate our youngest. There isn’t a straight forward way to answer the question, because as with all things in life, it is complicated.

Pre-March 2020 he was thriving in school. He was doing well in his learning, was building friendships and had learned how to self-regulate. For an autistic child this was a huge milestone for him. Being diagnosed at just 3 years old, so to be thriving by the age of 7 was wonderful.

The pandemic completely derailed him. He suffered a huge emotional regression during the first lockdown, and to be honest he never recovered. We learnt that he could have stayed in school under the SEND rules, however that wasn’t clearly communicated to us. It was about three months before he was able to return to school, but by then the damage had been done. He never really recovered from that time, and I dare say many kids, especially those with additional needs haven’t either.

The pandemic happened whilst our son was in the last term of year 2. By the time the world had calmed down, he was entering into year 4, which is the last year group in his primary school before heading to year 5 in middle school. Where we used to live the school system is three tier, hence the impending move to middle school. He had been struggling throughout year 3, and we had individual plans in place for him but not much was working. By the time he hit year 4, he was with a teacher who just didn’t get on with him.

There were a whole host of issues we addressed throughout the year with his teacher and the school. The school was in a state of transition with head teachers, SENCO and administrative structures, which did not help at all. We very much felt like we were being fobbed off as it wasn’t going to be long before he was the middle schools problem.

In the meantime I was exhausted with juggling work commitments, starting a new business and attending all the meetings at school to discuss plans, provision (or lack of) and various other things. Our son showed a rapid drop in his mental health too. He had dark eyes, was angry a lot, struggled with sleep, couldn’t self-regulate, cried a lot and showed some warning signs of more concerning mental health issues. If he had been older I would have said he was showing signs of anxiety and depression. Something no one should be seeing in their 9-year-old child.

I attempted to talk to the school on many occasions but was being stone walled. I know this is something that many other parents have faced, specifically with SEND children, which is both heart breaking and infuriating. Nothing was changing.

Our son was isolated from his peers in the classroom. He was being used as the scapegoat, even when he wasn’t in school due to illness. The school did nothing about this. They told it was happening, with an attitude of apathy. Like “kids will be kids”, but this was devastating our child. He was being bullied by peers and teachers because that was easier than them dealing with it.

Phil and I prayed a lot during this time. We prayed for wisdom, closed doors and open wide doors. Every time we prayed or talked about what to do, the only avenue we had absolute peace over, was home education.

I will be honest, if you asked me about home education a few years prior, I would have laughed out loud and emphatically stated that wasn’t for us. Oh how good is Gods sense of humour, right?!

Regardless, we were getting nowhere fast with school and our child was becoming more and more traumatised every day. The final straw was watching my boy have a trauma response to seeing his teacher outside of school. I have had some training in recognising trauma responses to help in my practice as an holistic therapist. However nothing can prepare you for seeing that response in your own child.

I did alert the school, who once again had no reaction, which we sadly anticipated. It was that day we drew the letter up, sent it recorded and withdrew our son from school on 8th April 2022.

We allowed a good few months for our son to decompress from school. I have to say this was probably the best piece of advice we were given. He needed to completely detox from school, in every sense of the word. He needed to learn autonomy, in that he could go to the toilet without permission. That he could eat if he was hungry, and there was no time limit for food. That if he needed to go in the back garden, he could and without needing to ask permission.

It took about three months for his body to finally release the held trauma and tensions from school.

There were a lot of tears, tantrums, cuddles and even more patience than any of us anticipated. However, he did begin to find his feet. He began to pick up books and read with me, talking coherently about what he needed and what he wanted. He began to take back his autonomy in looking after himself and began to find his own rhythm of living and learning.

Have we got it all figured out a year later? Absolutely not!

However I have a much happier child, who is growing up beautifully right in front of my eyes. And I am here to see it! It is hard work most of the time, but when he throws his arms around my neck, tells me how much he loves that I am there to see everything he is doing, well that makes it all well worth it.

If you are in a similar position to us, and contemplating home educating your children, I highly recommend you find a local home educators Facebook group, ask questions, meet with a Mama or two to ask all the questions, and talk to your significant other too. It is incredibly rewarding, no doubt about that. However tapping into your local community, reading some books, making sure you have support in place (I have my Mom on hand to help when I need a break, because it is 24/7) is paramount to your success. Then take as much time as you need to fully deschool your children and yourself.

For us, home education is not school at home. It is far more holistic, organic and wonderful than that!

I will share some of the things we have been doing in the past year, along with some of the resources we have been enjoying too. So I hope you come back to see what we have been up to.

If you are already home educating, what has been the most rewarding part of the process for you? If you are new, or thinking of transitioning to home education, what is your biggest worry about taking the plunge? Let me know in the comments below, and lets see if we can all encourage each other a little today.

In the meantime have a wonderful weekend.

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