It has been a reasonably easy transition namely for him rather than us! I am still missing his presence through out the day for a variety of reasons but primarily because home education forms such a strong bond between most families and you get to know your child so much more deeply.
School has been quite enlightening to Ben and he has made some intriguing observations, some due to the fact he has never been a 'school boy' before and others because he is an observant person and has already a 'well trained mind'.
The students within the sixth form are most definitely more serious about their studies as they have chosen to be there rather than are obliged to attend school. Most of them are clever and astute and he has found most of the academic work simple to adjust to.
As Ben studied IGCSEs this has made the transition so much the easier as they are of a higher standard, more alike to AS level which he is taking now. This is evident, he says, as the work is not much harder and very similar questions arise from subjects like History and English.
The structure and order of the school day is appealing to Ben; it fits his personality. He even likes the bell which made me giggle when he said 'at the end of each lesson this fire alarm-type noise alerts us to change class!' Order and structure? Perhaps a monk in the making ? Perhaps not!
As for his Catholic Faith which is so very important to him, he says that personal views and beliefs at this age are far more respected and revered than in the younger, more vulnerable years. Not that this doesn't halt me from worrying greatly- there are all sorts of temptations and vices on offer (I presume!) but then he would face this in the world at some point anyway. It is an unavoidable truth that one has to battle against. He knows how different he is to others but this seems to have conveyed him as unique and interesting rather than outlandish (although we may have to consider doing something about his lack of mobile phone! At 16 years old most boys have had a phone against their ears for at least three years or so!) and the invitation to have a Facebook is constant with people constantly asking why he doesn't have one?
There is a 'Connexions' at the school- the sly 'careers advice' which doubles as a secretive family planning clinic and so forth but he knows to make no contact with them. Their presence unnerves me though as does their trickery. (See Connexions website for more information, but they are very sinister and integrated within secondary schools.)
Most peers have been impressed that Ben was home educated and finds it natural to self teach himself- he told me that most of the students are finding it hard to come to terms with 'independent study' which is being drilled into them whereas this is how Ben learnt.
In hindsight I still feel we've made the right decision as I see Ben flourishing and enjoying his learning environment but home education and my strong beliefs have also given me the confidence to remove him straightaway should anything go amiss. I feel at peace because to teach A levels at home is a tall order and even though he would have probably achieved them, I still feel this first step into the world is essential for his future development.
We were given this beautiful prayer of St Fulgentius and Ben recites it daily in Latin to add efficacy;
Short Prayer of St Fulgentius, for Daily use by Students
I beseech Thee, my God, who art the very Truth, that what I know not of things I may wholesomely know Thou wilt teach me. That what I now of Truth Thou wilt keep me therein. That what I am mistaken in through human weakness, Thou wilt correct me. That in whatsoever truths I stumble, Thou will yet establish me. And from all things that are false or harmful, Thou wilt deliver me. Amen.
Rogo te, veritas, Deus meus, ut quaecumque salubriter scienda nescio, doceas me; in his quae vera novi, custodias me; in quibus ut homo fallor, corrigas me; in quibus veris titubo, confirmes me; et a falsis ac noxiis eripias me. Amen.