We’ve been home educating for over five years now but 2017 has probably been the hardest year yet, for various reasons.
Back in January Colin started a new job in a secondary school, so we have suddenly found ourselves limited to weekends and school holidays for family outings and holidays. Of course those times are much busier and more expensive! He also needs the car to get to work as the buses don’t run early enough, so we can no longer use the car during the day. This has limited our outings and also means that we have to spend more time shopping as I can only carry 2-3 days’ worth of food on the pushchair (I really need to get organised and start shopping online again!). I’m so glad that Colin has a job that he enjoys, especially after some awful ones last year, but I have to admit that the loss of freedom has been a difficult adjustment for me.
Aaron and Tabitha are naturally becoming quite keen to go to “daddy’s school” when they are old enough. This was a little unexpected as Aaron previously insisted that he wanted to be home educated right the way through school, college and university! I am somewhat reluctant to send my children into the system, especially after hearing about it first hand, but I’ve always said that they can try school if they want to and Colin’s school is actually a lot smaller and nicer than our two local secondaries. However, this does mean that our home-ed focus has shifted a little and there is now more pressure to master skills by a certain age.
A big milestone this year for both Aaron and Tabitha has been learning to swim. At the beginning of the year they were both non-swimmers who hated getting water on their faces. Now they can swim many lengths of the pool in different strokes and spend most of their time underwater! A local home ed group has organised scuba diving sessions for the last couple of years, and Aaron is very keen to join in if they do it again next year. Likewise, they will now be able to join in with the home-ed surfing school if they want to.
All the children caught chicken pox at the beginning of the year. I was relieved in a way, as I didn’t want Aaron and Tabitha to catch it as teenagers or adults. Despite that disruption, our spring term was very productive.
In April Tabitha purchased two pet guinea pigs which she named Patches and Pepper. We spent quite a few Saturdays and evenings building a custom hutch for them. Sadly Aaron’s budgie Pixel died in June. She was being treated for air sac mites but unfortunately the survival rate is low and she didn’t make it. The children were obviously very sad and still get upset if anything reminds them of her.
Somehow everything seemed to go wrong over the summer term. I can’t even remember what or why now, but we didn’t get much done and I had a definite case of the home-ed wobbles!
September saw our first family holiday abroad, which was very exciting. Aaron and Tabitha had a wonderful time visiting new places, trying new foods and speaking a different language. Those memories will stay with them forever, and hopefully we can save up for a few more holidays before the children’s passports expire!
A huge blessing this year has been having Christian home educators move in right next door to us! They have two daughters, a little younger than Tabitha and Esther. The eldest girl often comes round to play or Tabitha goes over to their house. We’ve always been fortunate here with our neighbours, but this family is extra special and it’s really lovely to have neighbours who are so friendly and willing to help each other out. They knock on our door if they run out of butter or toilet roll. I knock on their door if I need someone to watch the children for a few minutes while I run an errand. If only they had a boy for Aaron to play with it would be absolutely perfect!
During this year we began to suspect that Tabitha may be dyslexic, which was supported by initial screening tests. She also has some difficulties with attention. Now we are considering whether or not to save up to get a full assessment and diagnosis. It has been heartwrenching to see her want to read and yet struggle so much. However, she has made really good progress over the last few months. She knows a good number of words by sight and can decode many five and six letter words. Her confidence is still really low though and she often claims that she can’t read.
Over the year we’ve done projects on sharks, rays, the Ancient Egyptians and volcanoes, amongst other things. Aaron continues to be fascinated by the natural world and is beginning to show an interest in conservation and environmental issues. Tabitha is currently interested in art and has produced some lovely drawings (so lovely that we didn’t believe she had made them at first!).
My main goal for next year is to make more of an effort to arrange both an outing and a social activity or playdate every week. I’ve recently bought a lightweight pushchair that folds quickly and easily with just one hand, with the intention of taking more trips by bus and train. Babywearing is no longer an option due to my hip pain and our existing pushchair is too big and awkward to be practical on public transport.
I’m eager to see what 2018 will bring. Happy New Year everyone!