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Home schooling thoughts
  • JonB
    Posts: 5

    Wanted to say hello (long time reader, first post...) and also ask a question / seek a bit of advice. I know it's a topic that has been touched upon before so apologies if it's seen as duplication.

    Our 9-y-o son almost certainly has PDA, it isn't formally acknowledged by our LA but the teachers, us, ed pysch and others are in agreement - don't think there's any doubt to be honest.

    He is in a small specialist class at a mainstream school along with 8 other children, most of whom, like our son, are autistic.

    The school is fine in that they do their best but I'm increasingly struggling to see the benefits of him going - it is essentially, at best, childcare. If they try to get him to do work it will usually lead to meltdowns and extreme distress for him, to counter this he spends much of his time in a makeshift sensory room either doing not much at all, or working on books unrelated to any school topic.

    The size of school is also extremely stressful to him and the random nature of other children - it's not a particularly large school, 180 pupils, but that's still too busy. Obviously most secondary schools will be far larger and busier, even specialist ones, so I can't see any way he'll be able to cope.

    What I'm wondering is what people's thoughts on home schooling is - we're in the position where I could do it and fit freelance work around it. While I don't think I could replicate the job of delivering a full curriculum immediately, it feels as if any learning would be an achievement at present, so too an environment that doesn't leave him regularly distressed (with the ensuing problems at home and lashing out towards his younger brother). If I was to sum up my thoughts it would be that school feels like it's only ever going to be stress - fighting for more resources, trying to find a school that is the least worse option, it always being stressful for him and us. Why not just decide now that school will never work and try to make home schooling work?

    I think there's a lot of potential to gently use things he likes to tease out some learning - use hornby trains to work on percentages (can you do 50% of a lap), do art work or writing based on a favourite film, maybe with a focus on adjectives or whatever. Also, it would be possible to go to places at quieter times - regular trips to the swimming baths, aquariums, zoos, museums etc all at quiet times.

    However, it's possible I'm being naive! Does anyone have experiences of home schooling good or bad? Was it worth it?

    Thanks - and sorry about length of post.
  • RhanHRhanH
    Posts: 1,151
    Hi JonB, Welcome to the Forum. I'm afraid I can't offer you any advice on homeschooling as it's not something we've considered yet as we've been extrememly fortunate in finding an amazing local specialist school that can meet our daughter's needs.

    I have to say however that for me personally I don't think I could manage it, as when my daughter was in mainstream and regularly excluded it was a real challenge to enable her to get the required work completed. However every family is different and for some children and parents this can be really successful so I think it has to be a personal decision to which you all agree.

    We do have some information on Home Education on our website which you may find of interest: which also signposts to other organisations.

    Hopefully others will be along soon to welcome you and share their thoughts too.

  • Rubytuesday
    Posts: 305
    Hi, my daughter is 14 and hasn’t been at school for 2 years as she just couldn’t cope with secondary school. She has lessons from our local Hospital Education Service at the moments - 4 lessons a week, tutors come to the house. So we’re not fully home schooling, but as she only gets 3.5 hours of lesson a week I feel like we are in a way? There have been some great advantages - no after school meltdowns, daily life is much calmer, as you mentioned we can visit places she wouldn’t go to at weekends when it’s busy. She also spends a lot of time researching things she is interested in and has learnt a lot in this way (she’s practically a world expert on sharks!) But the main disadvantage is that she’s become more and more isolated... this in turn has had an impact on her mental health. So if you do go down this route, I’d definitely look into Home Education groups in your area to try and keep socialising with others. Hope this helps.
  • JonB
    Posts: 5
    Thanks Rhan and Ruby - plenty to think about.

    I'll have a read of the info on this site as it's definitely not a decision to be entered into lightly.

    I think my concern is more the social side than educationally as currently school is little more than an exercise in trying to avoid meltdowns with no learning done (of course maybe this would be better at a different school, but the local provision means that would have to be an out-of-area placement which obviously the local authority will fight...).

    I'm certain that by focussing on topics of interest we could make more educational progress and in a fun way, but the fear of isolation is a good point. Currently, while clearly distressed by school much of the time, he will also sometimes talk about class mates, or at least make passing comments - e.g. will see something on TV and say 'X in my class likes that...' Home schooling would mean only occasional interaction with other children during the day - there are pros and cons to that! Might be that just getting out every day to go swimming, walk the dog etc gives enough interaction, even if not with children of his own age.

    One to ponder...

  • RhanHRhanH
    Posts: 1,151
    You could also take a look at your ‘local offer’ as they should have links to local home education networks, etc.
  • JonB
    Posts: 5

    RhanH said:

    You could also take a look at your ‘local offer’ as they should have links to local home education networks, etc.

    thanks - yep, will do

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