Sunday, August 28, 2005

One Year On

I was 34 yesterday. It looks much bigger and scarier written down than it feels, so I guess that's OK. Emily and Jon went to so much effort for my birthday. I felt thoroughly spoilt :-)))) with lots of lovely presents and handmade cards and a fantastic surprise birthday tea with balloons and confetti and party bags :-)))

On Friday we went for a play at Romy and Hazel's; the two girls had fun marking things they'd like in catalogues....would have been easier to just say "one of everything please," lol.

It must have been about this time last year, after much soul searching and at times heated debate, that we finally decided NOT to send Emily back to school in the September and to home educate instead. What a year it's been. I'd be lying if I said there hadn't been downs as well as ups. It hasn't always been easy, and there have been plenty of moments of doubt and even a few of despair. It hasn't necessarily been the walk in the park I confidently expected it to be. That in itself has been humbling. There have been some bad days - and some truly awful days. But there have also been many, many spectactularly good days, many moments of pride, many episodes of sheer joy and freedom. We've sometimes questioned whether we're doing the right thing or not, but I think such questioning is healthy. In fact, I'd be worried if we were so blinkered that we were not questioning.

We've tried countless different "ways" of home educating, trying to find the "perfect fit" for our family...only to discover that there doesn't seem to be one, but that that's OK, and that we can actually enjoy swapping and changing methods and ideas as it suits us. We've made the long and difficult journey - for a family used to school - of understanding that there doesn't always have to be something "to show" for all of Emily's hard work. That she doesn't need to complete worksheets unless she and we are in the mood. That we don't care whether she's written down what she's learnt, but that we do care exceedingly much that she's learnt it because she wants to, and that she's had fun learning and understanding it. That it matters not one jot whether she has a neatly filled handwriting copy exercise book, so long as she writes happily, fluently and legibly about things that interest and excite her. That nobody cares whether she can name all kinds of obscure geometric shapes, but that it does matter that she finds numbers interesting and can see the point of the maths we do. That it's not the sheer number of children Emily "knows" that counts, rather her increasing ability to form meaningful, kind, mutually respectful and joyful relationships with the ones she really cares for.

We've learnt a lot, Jon and I, this past year. And I don't just mean about ancient Egypt, either. We've learnt a lot about our own attitudes and expectations, and we've started to lose some of the false priorities that the school culture imposes. We've started to relax and enjoy the "ahhh, THIS is why we're doing it" moments, secure in the knowledge that we've searched our hearts and found this the most positive option for Emily. And we've learnt a lot about each other too. As a family, we've made some memories that will last forever. The doubts, the dramas, the tears (not always Emily's!) have been a necessary learning curve, which is sure to continue over the next couple of years too. But overall, we're getting there. Happily. And we wouldn't turn the clock back for the world. :-)


Clare said...

I love the penultimate paragraph you've written. It really sums up what we feel about how we want our children to be educated.

Hazel said...

I warned you last year that it wouldn't all be roses, lol. I told you there'd be doubts. In fact I remember saying it LOTS of times and then saying "Not that I'm trying to put you off or anything!" You've done a brilliant job though. I'm proud of you all :o)))

Kris said...

Congratulations on reaching the end of your first year of homeschooling. :) We're close behind you - not entirely sure what we've achieved (not as much as you have!), but I'll sit down and work that out at some point.

Glad to hear it's such a positive thing overall too. Seems comforting to know I'm not the only one who has wild ups and downs and OMG moments. :) Kx