Sunday, 9 September 2012

Educating older children

As we have a 16 yr old son, Ben, who has just entered the school system for the very first time, it has been interesting, and intriguing to hear of what other Catholic families have chosen for their teens too.
Every child is different and hence will require varied ways of learning and teaching so school most definitely won't be for everyone. I think it is a great leap of faith and prayed very fervently about whether this was God's will for Ben. Going into the 'world' is a staggering change, yet it is an essential one too and we felt it was what God wanted.

Ben has only completed three days of school (!) so it isn't clear yet whether he truly likes it, will enjoy the four AS subjects he's studying or whether the teaching standard is acceptable or not.
The whole debut into school has been emotionally wrought; it is definitely tough to 'let go' a little and hand his education over to strangers after being in control of everything he learns at home.

One has to suddenly be open to other people's opinions being thrust upon their child and ways of teaching or even the way in which they are spoken to in another environment away from the family, and don't start me on peer pressure, something we have all been avidly avoiding for so many years! I think it will take us all a while to become accustomed to this change. I have gone through all the natural anxieties (probably at an elevated level knowing myself!) ; Will he fall into the 'wrong crowd'? , what will they be discussing at break time? will he stand up for his beliefs if attacked? will he use his time diligently? will he go to the chip shop instead of eating his home made lunch? and finally, but one of the most important questions, will he actually learn anything worthwhile?

Our decision for Ben to go to sixth form is purely academic; he chose to study A levels and I feel unqualified to teach them, plus I have five other young children to home educate and nurture.
Ben did say to me it it isn't ideal but it is the best way he can foresee to attain the A levels he needs for his possible career in the RAF.

So, did he enjoy his first three days at school after being home educated for 11years? I would say; so far so good.
He will hopefully take what he needs and leave the rest, although he has admitted to strangely liking the bell which alerts him class is finished and to make haste to the next one...order and discipline are obviously suiting him which can never be a negative attribute!

It would be wonderful to hear where other older home educated children are going next? Boarding school, college, sixth share experiences!

1 comment:

  1. This is from a friend, Carolyn Crawshaw (thank you, Carolyn!);

    Hi Amanda,
    Really good to hear your news.
    Our eldest son, Joe went to sixth form for two years and has just finished. I remember so well the anxieties you write about. I remember finding a pack of eight Mars bars in his school bag and was sure it marked the start of irretrievable moral decline! He seems to have come through alright. He loved the social side of school , especially the sport and music possibilities. He learnt something about other people - especially about how they behave in groups (he was very observant of how strangely boys can behave in groups) but I don't think he was drawn into the posturing. Some of the teaching seemed very good; other very poor. The hardest thing for us was not really knowing what was going on. Negotiating the system was a challenge as Joe wanted to try to sort things out himself a lot of the time. Certainly the end results academically were probably no better than the haphazard but closely watched home education. I suspect possibly a grade or two lower. He did just miss one grade he needed to study Engineering at Nottingham University so has decided to take another year to re sit and do other things. It is an answer to prayer that he has this time to pause before going to University. We don't regret his time at school at all; but he really does appreciate how wonderful his home educated life was compared with the alternative of 13 years of school. Our second son is probably going to go on to the same sixth form ( a Catholic boys' school)next year. He is going a year later (he'll be 17) and just taking a couple more IGCSEs this year and maybe a short Open University course.
    Apologies for such a long post!