L started school after half-term, on Halloween, which is kind of fitting! She is 10 now and has gone into year 6 having completed all her primary years at home. It’s been coming, we’ve talked it over together through the years, but then during the summer she made a categorical decision to give it a go. Part of the reason is that we are applying to secondary school for her (to have the choice) and she wanted to get in the school groove beforehand, maybe meet local school children going to the same school. She also knew it was her last opportunity to try out primary school.
She is growing up and changes are a natural part of that process. Of course I’m sad, it changes things in a big way and changes are difficult, but they also offer a chance for growth and quite frankly I think she’s amazingly brave. She’s left behind many happy years of home education and some very close friends to try out something completely alien, where the class have known each other for years.
Two weeks in, what has she learnt so far?
*That reading is now homework rather than something pursued for pleasure
*That she hates maths, when previously she had enjoyed it
*That even though she did NO formal learning before the age of almost 8, she is not behind on the whole, in fact her reading/writing is actually above average
*That PE in school is disappointing, you spend most of it sitting down
*That the whole class gets punished when kids are naughty (today the whole class wrote ‘lines’ instead of their PHSE lesson because one kid was behaving really badly)
*That a classroom is a VERY noisy place to be
*That there is no time to eat
*That it’s a jungle out there, kids are mean to each other! You have to be tough and fight back (which sometimes means being violent to make them stop)
*That playtime is fun, you get to chase lots of boys!
*That school shoes hurt your feet
*That you have no time for yourself anymore because even when you get home you have hours of homework
*That life has become one big rush, from stuffing down a bit of breakfast, to memorizing spelling lists on route to school, to having 15 minutes to eat some lunch and cramming as much information into your brain as possible.
However, the overall verdict on week 2 is that school is awesome. Right now L is living the ‘Horrid Henry’ dream and getting to practise all her ‘secret spy’ skills, which she has been researching for years! Her download each day is mostly about how boring the lessons are and what she does to make some fun, like passing notes and writing silly stuff on her whiteboard when she’s supposed to be working.
We laugh along, for now, but there are serious undertones to what she tells me. So far the education part feels more like quantity, rather than the quality of home education. The social side sounds more like survival than true friendships.
It’s early days though, so I am determined to keep open-minded. At the end of each day I try to give her space to download without any judgement, but I feel glad that she will not be at that particular school too long. It is not a school I would have chosen for her, but it is our local school and therefore the reality of where we live.
I feel glad that she has experienced a strong foundation of love and learning at home for 10 years before entering the school system, I am hoping it will see her through the challenges. I feel she is lucky, whether in school or not, as she has family who are supportive and ultimately that is what makes the biggest difference.
I have given her strong roots, now she’s testing out her wings.