Home-educating, missing London, and lonely.

(12 Posts)
thinandfat Mon 07-Oct-13 12:43:42

I'm home-educating 4 small children - really because the local state schools aren't up to it, and we can't afford private schools.

We are London exiles, and miss London life and our friends there hugely. We miss the hustle and bustle, the people we knew doing interesting things in politics, literature, law, human rights, acting, journalism etc. We haven't managed to make any friends locally that I feel comfortable with or share interests with - either within the local home-edding community, or through local toddler groups etc. Local aspirations seem quite low - for parents and for children.

As we have 4 very young children, they always have someone to play with. But they will need friends too! The local home-edders I've managed to meet have a different approach to my more formal teaching of my children - they practise unschooling instead. I do this too - but I also do formal teaching every morning, which seems unusual here. The parents also share interests with each other, but I share few with them.

We don't really fit in with the prevailing culture where we live - which is one of green/activist identity politics. I do try to do my bit for society and the environment, but it's not my 'identity', if you see what I mean. And so I'm very lonely. I used to live here some time ago for a number of years, and we've been here for 2 years this time round. I've met lots of people, but none who could be friends.

Are there any other home-schoolers out there who have felt isolated, bored, and worried that their children might become so do to lack of social opportunites? Do you have any advice?

We would love to move back to London, but can't afford to. If this message will chime with anyone (possibly not - I'm beginning to feel completely alone!) it might well be with other reluctant London exiles.

(Please don't attack, I'm feeling low enough as it is! I do want to stress again, I'm grateful for green/activists and hippy types and the good they do, it takes all kinds of us to make a healthy world - it's just not my identity. The kinds of people I feel comfortable with don't live here. I've never found any, anyway!)

Rowlers Mon 07-Oct-13 12:50:16

I think you might struggle to make friends because you pigeon hole people too much!
And that's not an attack, just an observation.
I'm sure these people are more than just green hippies.
Perhaps you need to put your idea of the perfect friends to one side and give these people a bit more of a go?
But I'm not a home eder nor a fan of it so am sure someone who understands the situation better will be along with more appropriate advice.

Wiifitmama Mon 07-Oct-13 12:56:41

Hi. Yes, I totally understand. I felt that way when we moved out of London pre-kids and all the way through the 6 years we lived there. I could not find anyone I shared interests with. Or anyone I was interested in! I had my first son there and did the baby groups etc. no joy at all. When I got pg with my second, I insisted on a move back to London. My eldest was just 3 and went to nursery a couple of sessions a week but once we started home ed properly when he was 4, I was so glad to be back in London. Many many years on, and another child on, I would make any sacrifice necessary to stay in London. My eldest is now 12 and I can't imagine home ending any other way.

All that said though - We too are more formal and when we first joined the home ed community in London, I only met unschoolers. I found making friends back then very hard. So being in London doesn't guarrantee you will be surrounded by like minded people. However, it does ensure that there are so many home educators in the same city, that if you look hard enough, you will find people you connect with. We have had our ups and downs with friendships and social groups over the last 9 years we have been here (it's a very transient community in London - many people move out) but have always managed to find a friendship group.

So I sympathise enormously with you. I have no solution for you unfortunately either. But I do understand.

thinandfat Mon 07-Oct-13 13:34:44

Wiifitmama,

Thank you! It's so nice just to be understood & sympathised with! I think we also need to make the sacrifices necessary to move back to London too - sharing bedrooms etc. At least with home edding we don't have to worry about school catchment areas. You're so right re. London - because there are so many people there, you can eventually find whomever & whatever you're looking for!

Also, we could use all the museums, art galleries, theatres, libraries, places of interest etc. for our afternoon explorations if we were in London, instead of just the local park.

I just haven't managed, in a total of 8 years out of London (2 years this time, 6 years here before) to meet anyone I share interests with. Lots of nice people, but I can only really have fake, social small-talk with them, all the time trying desperately to think of something to say. It's so tiring and lonely.

We moved for a year somewhere else out of London, before moving where we are now, and it was the same where we were before too. The trouble is we were living very centrally, and when the children came along and we had to move, we were a bit spoiled, and thought rather than try the outer parts of London we'd try somewhere else instead. That was a mistake!

That was v interesting about most people unschooling in London too. I suppose it makes sense, as I guess a lot of people choose to unschool because they don't like the formality of schools. We came to home-schooling because my daughter, who was due to start reception this year, is already a fluent readers and writer, but the schools just weren't interested, saying that she could help the others to learn their letters, and I couldn't see how she was going to be taught. I think they're so used to crowd-control etc. they haven't the time to engage on more than one level.

Are you still home-edding your 12 year old?

Rowlers - you might be right about pigeon-holing, I do try not to. There are more than one type of person here. But I haven't found anyone with whom I have interests in common yet.

Wiifitmama Mon 07-Oct-13 13:41:04

Yes I am still home educating my 12 year old and his two brothers. Just to clarify, when I started home educating all those years ago, I only found un schoolers. Things have changed dramatically in London now, particularly in the last year. Lots of dissatisfaction with school has led to an upsurge of oeople withdrawing their children and setting up much more structured classes, groups etc. you are spoiled for choice with things to join in with.

And yes, I totally agree about the opportunities that museums and other venues have in London. We attende 3 ballets last year as part of schools matinees as well as multiple concerts at the royal albert hall. We have just seen an opera at the royal opera house which was amazing.

ZZZenagain Mon 07-Oct-13 13:42:01

Is there any possibility of connecting with people on your wave-length via the hobbies and interests of your dc? Their friends do not need to be HE

thinandfat Mon 07-Oct-13 13:58:50

Wiifitmama - Right, that's it, I'm moving back to London. That sounds great about the upsurge in home edding and and the structured groups etc. Don't tell me about the opera and concerts. Oh dear.

I go to the only professional classical music concerts they put on here (you can forget opera or serious theatre) and the last thing they had on was a music-company sponsored tour of a Young Musician of the Year winner who played bits from film scores on her violin and flirted and fluttered her eyelashes talked in between each 3 minute piece about how much the music meant to her and what it did to her soul etc. It was awful and SO embarrassing.

I would like to continue home-edding my children when they reach secondary age too, I wasn't sure if it was as common - do you find lots of the new London home-edders have children aged over 11?

ZZZ - I will try. The trouble is that all 4 of my DC are under the age of 5, so getting around is hard. And classes and things like that are limited to outdoorsy things really, which are lovely, but I haven't found kindred spirits at them. I do like the outdoors, but I'm a city/culture girl really. I wish there were things on like Wiifit mentions in London, but there aren't, it seems a pretty alternative scene here, which would fit with the general culture.

outtolunchagain Mon 07-Oct-13 14:16:59

Thinandfat which part of the country are you in, we live in a rural community and it does take a bit of adjusting . Does your dp work locally or does he commute , I think it's harder if he commutes because of the long days and the fact that he is going back to the City each day .

You do seems little hung up on labelling people , one thing about living outside of the city is that there is a smaller pool of people by definition, however sometimes friends can appear from the most unlikely beginnings . One of my best friends couldn't be more different to me I the surface but we were stuck on the train together one day and found we had a lot to talk about !

I suppose what I am trying to say us that you have to be more open minded to potential new friends rather than just looking for like minded people or people like your London friends

thinandfat Mon 07-Oct-13 14:39:21

outtolunch

I do keep hoping to make a friend like yours on the train, I keep being friendly and know lots of my neighbours and I do join in. I just feel so horribly lonely, and bored too. We talk about children, but I get fed up with just talking about children, sometimes I'd like to talk about other things. Not only about my life or their life, but about literature, ideas, art, music etc.! Occasionally I get to have a political debate, but only rarely. Of course, when people have young children, it is hard. Perhaps it will change as I meet people with older children.

I was also born abroad, and come from an unusual family background, and I think I feel more comfortable where there are many people from round the world and with all sorts of outsider backgrounds.

My husband works some of the time here, sometimes in London, so he does get his city fix, and is quite happy to get away from it too. I wish I had that chance!

We're not rural (we were for a year), we're in a town, but I think my interests are a bit minority these days, or seen as elitist, but I'm passionate about them, and just don't really feel I fit in.

I keep trying though, but get lonely and discouraged.

outtolunchagain Mon 07-Oct-13 14:59:43

That does sound hard , I joined a book group which has been the source of friends , try the local library or independent book shop . Also I revived an interest in a craft which I hadn't pursued for years , started going to the odd course and voila some really interesting people appeared . My children are older , youngest now 11 but I can appreciate that it is more difficult with very young children .

Wiifitmama Mon 07-Oct-13 17:26:01

Yes, lots of secondary aged home educated children in London and lots for them to do.

Nodding along to the born in another country, minority interests thing. Me too and love London for its diversity of people just like me.

merrymouse Tue 08-Oct-13 10:30:08

I think that if you are prepared to be creative with small space living and aren't worried about catchment areas, it is possible to find affordable housing in/near London - maybe not central, but close enough to feel that you were part of that HE community.

Whatever you do there will be compromise somewhere, it just depends which compromises are the best for you as an individual to make.

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