Thursday 9 August 2012

My daughters decision to home school Bob - part 1

All good mums do what they feel is for the best for their children, for their happiness, well being and long term benefit. We all have to use tough love, but we also have to make tough decisions. Life can be a bit more difficult for parents of children with hidden disabilities, as it is a lot harder for other people to relate to the issues when your child looks like any other in the playground.

My daughter has made a very tough decision, one that she feels having weighed up all the pros and cons, is in Bob's best interest. I, as her mum, who still tries to do the best for her children,  will support her in every which way I can.

She has decided that when our schools go back on August 20th that Bob is not going back to school, she is going to home school him, I have asked her to write her thoughts and feelings on why she has chosen this path in case it may help any other parents struggling with the same thoughts.

Bob has completed his first year at school, albeit in a fairly disorganised, part-time, fashion, with an appalling attendance record (63% at last count!), but the decision has been made, permission has been granted, the school has been informed, and Bob will not be returning after the summer holidays.  He is now home-educated.  Hopefully, this post will explain why I have made that decision, and will make some sense of the ramblings running round my head!

When Bob started school last year, he was a happy, confident, noisy little boy, who was on the go from morning till night, with a cheeky grin, and who liked nothing better than to make people laugh.  Unfortunately, that little boy has become not much more than a memory, replaced with a tearful, stroppy, tired, miserable shadow.  A battery of tests revealed there to be little medically wrong that would suck the energy and sparkle from him, and so we were left at a loss as to what was wrong.  Bob can tell you exactly what his imaginary friends are doing, what he had for tea three weeks ago on Tuesday, and act out the entire Toy Story 3,but is very emotionally immature, and doesn’t yet have the comprehension or understanding to express his feelings or tell you what’s bothering him.
A comment from the school secretary when I called to let them know that Bob would be off ill yet again, however, got me thinking.  It was the first day back at school after the 2 week Easter break, and Bob had been really ill all weekend, having had a couple of bad asthma attacks.  I called the school, and the secretary made a joking, off-hand remark, that maybe he just didn’t want to come back to school and that she’d felt the same that morning.  I laughed and agreed with her, but started to wonder, maybe that was what was wrong?  He’d been fine for the whole holidays, until it had been mentioned that it was only a few sleeps until school was back, at which point he’d become unwell.

I spoke to the paediatrician, and decided to keep an eye on him.   As time went on, I realised that school really was making him miserable.  He would come home on a Friday afternoon in a great mood, but, as the weekend went on, he would start to constantly question when school was back (“Is it tomorrow, Mummy?  Or the next day?”), and you could almost see the anxiety building up.
I arranged meetings with the school, to see what they could suggest, or how they could help, and was informed that he seemed quite happy at school, and so there wasn’t much they could do.

While all this was going on, Bob was still only attending school 3 mornings a week, and so the council had arranged for a tutor to come out to the house for an hour a week, to help him keep up with the rest of his class, and an hour a week helping him in school.  After the tutor had been seeing Bob for a few weeks, she commented that he always seemed a lot happier at home than at school, and that he spent most of the time at school sitting quietly.  A couple of days later, his teacher asked to see me, and told me she was “a little concerned”, as he had lost all of his confidence, and was beginning to refuse to even try the work in class, saying that he couldn’t do it, it was too hard, and crying.  The teacher knew that he was more than capable of completing the work, but had had to move him out of the top group into a lower group, where he was still not even trying.  At home, however, he was completing the work set for the top group, and complaining that it was boring, and too easy.
By this stage, school were beginning to despair, and really not know what to do with him, and he was being ignored.  He was starting to be left out of group activities if they were classed as dangerous for him, with nothing alternative being put into place for him to do instead – for instance, the day the class did junk-box modelling, Bob was sat in the corner of the room with a book, and told to read quietly.  He was being marked as a “difficult” child, and being made to feel different to all of the others, which wasn’t helping his confidence. 

you can read part 2 here 


  1. It's a big decision to home educate so I respect and admire your daughter for making it. It's great that you're on board too. The advantage of homeschooling is that the whole family really can get involved and it empowers parents to be active rather than reactive. I'm sure there are other schools which would meet Bob's needs more satisfactorily but if home ed works well for your family, then I think it's a wonderful thing. All the best to your daughter!

  2. This is not good that the school had given up on him so quickly. It is their responsibility to provide your child with education and to tailor that education to fit his SEN. I'm shocked at their attitude (and that's coming from a fellow primary school teacher).

    It seems quite clear to me where this is going and I agree. Children in this country are forced into education too young. I'm not sending my son to nursery school because at only just 3 I think he's too little. As Bob has SEN and emotional needs too, a normal mainstream education system is not the best place for him, but a special school would be dehibilitating to his education perhaps?

    1. my daughter felt that the only special schools round here did not cater any better for Bob than the school he is in.

  3. What a tough decision. At least your daughter has the family's support, and I hope his sparkle comes back soon. x


Nice to see you stopping by. Thank you for your comment and I hope you stop by again.