If ds2 (12) enjoys school am I mad to consider home edding?

(13 Posts)
Swanhildapirouetting Mon 26-May-14 11:44:40

Ds2 has Asperger's and SPLD. He likes school, and trots off every day quite happily. Occasionally he mentions that he doesn't seem to have any friends BUT he seems to love all the teachers and talks with animation about the work he has done in class. His behaviour in school is excellent. He has a part in the school production. On one level it has given him goals and a certain independence, and certainly a wide range of adults who listen to him and are interested in him.

However his literacy levels are very low. He is getting help with his spelling and handwriting but at the moment he is on a level 3b. When he gets home he is interested in little except the computer. He hates homework and we have to help him with all of it or forge it to his satisfaction. He is tired and wound up after holding himself together for school and takes no pressure of any sort. We are tired holding him together for school too. We are exhausted by being bright and enthusiastic and fielding difficulties for him.

I want him to start taking ownership of his work. I want to have time to work on the things he finds difficult like expressing himself on paper, rather than him feeling he has to fit into someone else's idea of what he should be achieving. I want to get him out and about exploring London, visiting museums, enquiring. I want to socialise with him in a more informal environment with less pressure from his peers.

Am I mad to consider it? Ihave two other children of 14 and 12 who would continue at school.

Swanhildapirouetting Mon 26-May-14 11:48:10

There have been a few incidents of bullying and people calling him weirdo, but the school has always come down hard on them, and he seems to shrug them off as past and done with. Occasionally he will flare up with comments like I want to be home schooled, I don't want to go to school, but this is very rare and usually because something has happened at home to set him off, a change in routine, a quarrel with a sibling. His IQ is upper average that is why the literacy issues are so galling.

Saracen Mon 26-May-14 12:06:54

It sounds like a good idea to give it a whirl. If you've never specifically offered him the option of home education, you might find that though he appears to like school, he'd like home education even better. Some kids are cheerful souls who are able to make the best of any situation they are in, but still there are better and worse settings for them. The fact your son seems tired and stressed after school indicates that school isn't ideal for him.

If you are going to try home ed, this is a pretty good time to do it: if your son tries HE and decides he prefers school after all then he can return to school in time for GCSEs. It's quite awkward to start school, or even change schools, much beyond the start of Y10. So I think it would make sense to try HE now, when it is still a "safe" option, rather than waiting to see how he gets on at school.

It sounds as if your son likes aspects of school and might cope better with it in small doses. Have you thought of asking the school for flexi-schooling, so he could do a few subjects there? You also might explore the option of him taking a few classes at a local college. The funding for this is now more straightforward than it used to be. Finally, since you say your son enjoys having contact with a range of interested adults, it might be an idea to think about joining some special-interest group (either HE or not), or a tutor-led study group or something like that.

morethanpotatoprints Tue 27-May-14 18:44:58

Hello OP, no I don't consider it a mad suggestion at all.
Ours was a completely different situation but our dd was happy at school and had no problems, she enjoyed it and did well.
just because there isn't a problem doesn't mean that another method wouldn't work as well, if not better.
You seem to be able to offer what your ds needs and how you feel he should be educated and if a schooled environment is unable to provide this then why stay there?

ToffeeWhirl Wed 28-May-14 12:09:54

Hi Swan. Sorry, have only just seen this post, otherwise I'd have responded earlier.

Hmm. Having done exactly what you're considering with my DS1 (also with ASD, as you know), I can see pros and cons.

DS1 made the decision easy for me, in a way, by not coping with school, so I had to take him out. I'm sure that, if he'd been happy at school, I would never have taken the path of home education. I really was thrown into it. Once we'd taken the plunge, we had a contrast between the misery and stress of school and the happiness and relaxation of home ed, which made it clear it was the right decision. However, DS1 has poor concentration, which made teaching him hard work, and the novelty of being home educated wore off for him after a while. And his social anxiety meant mixing with home ed groups was painful for him, so he ended up with no friends at all. Would your DS2 be able to keep in touch with anyone at school (although I see he doesn't have any/many friends) or have you thought of how he might make new friends?

Your wish for your DS to 'take ownership' of his own work might work in a home ed setting, but you may find that it would continue to be frustrating for you and him. My DS never takes ownership of any set work and always has to be cajoled, reminded, helped, etc. It is maddening and exhausting. I'm actually very happy when he doesn't get any homework from the LA online schooling service because it lets me off the hook. It always feels like homework for me, not him.

On the other hand, it is wonderful to be able to see exactly where your DC needs support and be able to concentrate on that, eg. in your son's case his literacy skills. Now I have DS2 at home, he practises his handwriting every day. (It is atrocious! grin He rarely leaves spaces between words and won't join up the letters. And still reverses his 'z's confused). I asked him how often he had handwriting lessons at school and he said once a week. Now he does it every morning, quite willingly, and it is, very slowly, improving.

I also enjoy being in control of how he learns. For example, we use Galore Park text books for English and they are excellent and so much more thorough and interesting than the way he was taught at school. For instance, spelling is taught in the context of a passage read or as a word search, instead of with a list of random spellings to learn, as at DS2's school.

He has a school friend round to play this morning and I heard them discussing DS2's home ed. DS2 said that he enjoyed it more than school because he understood things better and because if he didn't I took the time to explain it patiently. That was good to hear - and showed up a definite advantage to home ed, ie. you can teach your child at his pace and in the way that suits him.

Saracen makes a good point that this is a good time for your son to try home ed, as he can always return later. Maybe that would give him a break from the stress of school (and you, as you are clearly exhausted with supporting him) and it would give you a chance to find out what home ed is like, as it's clearly been on your mind for a while.

How would your other children cope with DS2 being home educated? The classic consequence of home educating one child is that the others follow suit <looks sternly at own DS2>.

My own pathway to home ed started with the niggling feelings you are describing, so I do understand. Maybe those niggles are your instincts that something isn't right for DS2 in the school setting and that you could do better at home. It might be worth a try.

Swanhildapirouetting Wed 28-May-14 18:26:22

Thank you Toffee. We are awaiting the results of his recent exams, so that dh has a better indication of what the present situation is in terms of his academic achievements and whether any of the interventions are any use.

It is lovely to hear that your son enjoys the 1:1 aspect of home education. I think every child needs a different approach; I know that ds2 is not very biddable in some ways but likes a routine where he feels in control. I think anything random throws him into a tizzy, but at the same time he loves exploring things and ideas if he knows there is a beginning and an end result. But he is also like a sponge in that he picks up so much when he is not being taught formally. Quite a difficult combination to cater for. I do not think he is someone who would take kindly to workbooks as he is extremely impatient. He is the sort who shows no interest in the words in a science textbook, but start discussing why bicarbonate fizzes and he is enthralled. I think ideas for him are like epicentres in an earthquake, which radiate out, and he never learns things in a logical fashion. He starts from the idea, then he gets interested. And it is the same in history, he starts with the exciting story and then he is prepared to find about more about the period, himself, on his own terms or to chat about it. Personally, I think I would get very little written work out of him at first but he might start writing something himself because he wanted to, rather than because someone else had told him too.

Anyway I need to go away and think about it all a LOT more.

Waiting to find out about local home education groups as well, and what sort of community there is. Ds2 does have a few friends from primary he might have more time and energy to meet up with if he hadn't been at school all day, but I think he would find it a massive culture shock to be at home with me all day, so any sort of socialising in the week would be a bonus.

Swanhildapirouetting Wed 28-May-14 18:33:20

One of the more attractive aspects of having ds2 home schooled is that we might have more energy to devote to ds1 when he comes home from school, as next year he is first year of gscES, atm he is getting no attention whatsoever from us, as all our energy is taken up helping ds2 with his homework. Ditto dd.

ToffeeWhirl Wed 28-May-14 18:51:53

Well, you have already identified an area where your DS2 would benefit from home ed - he could learn according to his own style of learning (kinaesthetic and visual, by the sound of it), rather than having to learn from textbooks and worksheets.

One thing I did with DS1 when I was home educating him was get him to write a short piece about anything he'd shown an interest in. That might work for you and DS2 if you home ed. One day, for example, my DS1 became really absorbed in a YouTube film about the men who escaped from Alcatraz. When he'd finished telling me all about it (at great length), I asked him to type it all up in a short piece of writing, which he did, perfectly happily. It meant he was still practising his writing skills, as well as inadvertently covering a bit of History and Geography too.

It's up to you, of course, but I was quite insistent that DS1 practised what I saw as 'basic skills' every day and I think it helped that I set that up as a routine straight away. As you are concerned about your DS1's literacy, it might be a good idea to make it part of the deal of home ed that he does a little bit every day. I really didn't ask much of DS1 - just five minutes a day of handwriting practice, for instance.

Other home educators would probably say you should just leave your DS2 alone for a while, let him learn to enjoy learning again and give him the time to develop his literacy and spelling skills in his own way.

Very good idea to find out about home education groups too. We are just beginning to make tentative inroads into the local home ed scene again, after never getting anywhere with it with DS1.

Where does your DH stand in all this?

Swanhildapirouetting Wed 28-May-14 19:08:14

Yes, ds likes routine so a short 10 mins of any regime would suit him fine.

Dh thinks I would miss having an afternoon nap! He is prepared for me to do it, only if ds is still behind in literacy at the end of ths term. However, he says he is not prepared to do any home edding himself. To which I pointed out he spends at least 3 hours a day getting ds ready for school, picking him up from the tube, supervising homework atm grin Still, he is not entirely convinced being of the opinion that school is boring and horrid but a necessary evil for all children, including himself (he hated school)

ToffeeWhirl Wed 28-May-14 21:00:17

I still manage to have an afternoon nap sometimes, Swan. DS2 is very understanding blush.

bochead Thu 29-May-14 17:03:30

I may risk offending people here but I think a lot of making homeschooling successful comes down to the strength of local groups. Some are incredibly accommodating, welcoming and a fount of knowledge on all thing - others can be a very close minded shop.

I personally couldn't have home educated a teen successfully in my old area (though with a massive shortage of secondary places + an online free school being opened I do see this situation changing in the next 5 years). Where I'm living at present, there's almost too much to do iyswim. There's even a group that organises GCSE courses via tutor sharing & an exam centre etc.

A vibrant local scene where we live now means that if I get stuck someone always has the answer. Any worries I had about being isolated or useful socialisation long flown the coop. DS was far more socially isolated stuck at his lonely workstation all day every day in school.

Before taking the plunge it's well worth researching your local home school scene - the very nature of the beast means the range of what's available across the country varies a LOT. I'd investigate what's out there before coming to a decision. For us having the time to devote to literacy and OT has I think made all the difference to DS's long term prospects.

There's also the option of doing part-time college and home school from 14+. Home ed also gives you far more opportunity to cover the much needed life skills like shopping, independent travel, work environments that can be critical to the long term success for anyone who isn't NT. Being able to sit still in assembly won't matter when they are 35, being able to answer the phone confidently and take a message will.

Swanhildapirouetting Thu 29-May-14 21:46:34

Thank you Bochhead and thank you for being helpful before when I made a similar query a while ago.

I'm about to take ds out of school for similar reasons OP, and will be leaving my other kids in the system.

I particular like the fact that ds will be 'done' by after school freeing up my time for the others.

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