One of the biggest questions that was raised by ourselves, and most often by people we are telling about plans, is what about socialisation and friends for the children? When we first considered home education as an option, Dadda and I discussed this in depth. We decided for our little lady her activities such as dancing, brownies, and swimming would still provide her with a healthy mix of child interaction. Then there were our future plans of attending forest school, where all three would learn a more realistic way of socialising ie with a wider range of ages, and introduce them to new potential friends (this is especially important for the twins, who will not be having a friendship basis provided by school attendance). There was also our little lady’s current school friendship circle which consisted of about 5 or 6 little people who were all quite close. We’d hit our first huge negative experience of following our plans through, when our little lady spectacularly upset two of her little friends in two days, followed by upsetting herself so much at school (having told a few friends she was leaving, she was worried the school would find out, and she got her knickers in such a knot, she told the member of staff everything anyway!! Bless her, she thought her school life would be ended even more prematurely). So, with all this in mind, firm plans were set in place to reassure both current friends and her that the end of school did not mean the end of friendships. For starters us mummies are all good friends, so will keep in touch. We have then already set up regular weekly meetups with three friends, either after their school day has ended in the week, or a regular swim slot together. Then there will be holiday play dates. All in all, this little lady will be seeing her friends and socialising with them more than she does now by going to school with them!! Now to get those twins signed up to some activities!
Another way of social interaction whilst home educating, is to attach ourselves to other like minded people in our own area. I researched some local home education groups and attended our first meetup today. This is going to be a valuable resource for both me (tips, help, and reassurance) as well as the children (friends and socialisation). There were a wide range of people there. Grandparents, parents, and children. Plus a wide range of experience and methods used. From completely unstructured home learning to semi structured. I didn’t meet anyone today whose day is fully structured, but I am sure they are there too. So there is someone to advise on most aspects. I quickly learnt quite a few children learn how I would like ours to learn, having some structured learning for an hour or so first thing, followed by a day of unstructured learning. There were plenty of indoor activities (weather was its usual pouring with rain!) for the children to do from colouring to a huge amount of playdough, meaning I could talk to other parents. The one big tip I did bring away was that our little lady would need a deschooling time. This refers to the process the child goes through after leaving the school environment. The child needs to learn to overcome their school like way of thinking, and it refers to the time period that this takes.They need time to adapt to unstructured learning. This can take a few days to a good few months, but I learnt I need to be flexible and go with the flow and give her time to adjust.
We are all still very excited after the meetup and feel reassured, armed with some handy tips, and most importantly we are by no means alone and the only ones in our immediate local community going for it and home educating our little people.