So it’s officially been 1 year of homeschooling Titch. I’m not going to lie, it’s been a rollercoaster of emotions and there have been times when I’ve been pulling my hair out internally screaming “that’s it I can’t do this anymore.” But it has also been an adventure. There have been such intense moments of joy, which we never would have had the opportunity to experience if he had been in school.
This time last year I was terrified! Questioning whether we could do it, if I had the skills to help him be able to learn anything, if I could manage and balance the needs of two very different SEN children, whether I could cope physically and emotionally.
This year he has far exceeded my expectations in ways I never would have dreamed possible. I’ve learnt so much more about who he is, what makes him tick, how he learns best and we’ve grown so much closer as a family.
No it’s not easy. Yes at times I feel I must be crazy. But actually this year has been the best year of my life and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Titch’s SEN needs are complex. He has sensory processing disorder, severe speech and language disorder and waiting for assessments for adhd and possible other neurodiverse conditions; this affects his ability to learn in ‘normal’ conventional ways. His recent speech and language assessment found that his attention and listening skills are delayed in different areas between that of a 12-36 month year olds levels.
Attention and listening are the foundation of all learning. On paper Titch should have struggled at being able to learn anything. In a mainstream classroom it would have been impossible. The noise, sensory overload and distractions teamed up with how delayed he was with his skills compared to his peer group; I strongly doubt he would have learnt anything. Even if he had he would have still have been so far behind everyone else in the class I dread what impact that would have had over time on his self confidence and self esteem over time.
He would have always been one step behind, in the bottom sets. Growing up thinking he was stupid compared with his peer group. Learning would have become a battle he would have felt he could never win. He probably would have been told off daily for not being able to sit still, shouting out questions, for not focusing, playing the clown. What impact would that have been constantly drilled into him that he’s a naughty child?
With home education he’s had the freedom to develop at his own pace. To focus on the praise for his achievements, rather then feeling inadequate compared to his peers. We’ve had the time and resources to mould his learning around him and how he works best. We can give him 1:1 attention and teaching that just isn’t possible if he was stuck in a class of 30.
I’m not school bashing. School definitely has a time and a place and is hugely beneficial for many children. Every child is different and has different needs. However for Titch a school setting just wouldn’t be suitable. Titch needs to be able to move to learn; he learns very much through hands on practical methods. He needs to have the freedom to progress at his own pace.
He’s been able to learn through experiences; how many other 5 year olds can tell you about ammonites, the life history of Mary Anning, what fossils she discovered and excitedly point out her painting in a museum? All from a trip to fossil hunting on Dorset coastline?
Could tell you about mummification, hieroglyphics and the ancient Egyptians?
Can explain the layers of the rainforest and the reasons why you find different animals, insects and birds at different layers (a concept even his older, academic, sister hadn’t made the connection between!)?
Has been involved on hands on experiments in groups of children of all ages? Has learnt to use a microscope and examine and scientifically classify different materials?
Has had hands on experiences to art and culture I myself have only been exposed to as an adult?
We’ve discovered he has an intense enjoyment and love of the theatre! A child who normally can not stay still, becomes so absorbed in plays he laps up every second of it, his laughter and joy often becoming infectious to others in the audience and also the actors on stage themselves!
We’ve discovered what amazing STEM, engineering and logical skills he has. He can construct and understand the way things work in ways I would never expect a child of 5 to do! He has such a natural curiosity and love of nature and wildlife; can perfectly describe the lifecycle of butterflies and identify all different types of insects.
His capabilities of retaining and recalling knowledge of his interests is mind blowing. For example he can tell you everything about the titanic, what happened to it, why it sunk, who survived and who died and even the class system at the time and what this meant for who ended up in the life boats. All this he has self learnt through YouTube.
Homeschooling isn’t just about education; it’s a whole lifestyle change and choice. Seeing how much both Titch and Doodles have learnt, grown and thrived how could we ever go back?