Tuesday, 23 October 2012

The various stages of panic when a home educated child becomes of 'secondary age'.

I think most of those who home educate can visualise themselves just about chugging along through the primary age. After all, anyone can do primary... [maths, english, science etc]. But I'm yet to meet a home educator who hasn't felt a teeny bit daunted when it comes to home educating a child of secondary age. 

My observations so far suggest there are several stages in the fear and realisation of having a child who is becoming of 'secondary age':

  1. Your child reaches 11. A mildly-unsettling feeling begins to bubble. Your children's friends and peers are starting secondary school. They are getting homework that requires more than writing three sentences about what their pet dog did at the weekend. They are becoming children who study.
  2. You shake off these initial niggles. You convince yourself that your child is a young 11. You tell yourself that the first year in secondary is when teachers try to find out what stage everyone is and get them to the same level. You've got another few years yet.
  3. Your child reaches age 12 and grown-up panic sets in. 12 is far enough into double figures to feel real. You suspect that in school they would be doing proper work. You imagine rows of children competently writing essays. At this point you acknowledge that your cheery and confident child loves playing with lego, but can barely put a coherent sentence on paper.
  4. Your child reaches age 12.5. Panic reaches maximum. You seek out reassurance. In times of a confidence crisis you can always rely on your home ed friends. They will, as always, tell you you are being silly. They will say that a child-led, happy, outdoorsy, hands-on education is the best thing in the whole wide world. They will reassure you that you are doing a great job.
  5. You phone your HE friends. You text them. You drop by their house. They aren't responding. THEY AREN'T THERE. It dawns on you that their children have been missing from the usual 'run around the woods beating each other with a stick and yelling like a banshee' home ed activities. You phone again. But they are always out, or, if you manage to catch them at home, they are just about to go out.
  6. You make further enquiries and find out that, secretly (although everyone else with a 12.5 yr old, except you, knows the secret), their child has joined numerous groups you've never been informed about and is doing IGCSE intellectualism on a Monday, IGCSE super-brain on a Wednesday and some sort of further maths-with-chess-genius on a Friday. Further digging reveals that in between getting their grade 8 for an instrument you didn't even know they played they've signed up for another 3 correspondence courses in subjects that the parent swore their child never studied. 
  7. You cry.
  8. You join the HE exams yahoo list and scare the pants off yourself.
  9. You print out entire syllabuses of exams you can't even understand the title of and pore over them into the early hours wondering how to access the mysterious language they are so obviously written in.
  10. You feed the syllabus sheets back through the printer to print out (on the reverse side) details of local colleges and their entry requirements.
  11. You convince yourself that your child is sociable enough to get a job in McDonalds if worse comes to worse.
  12. You imagine it will.
  13. You eat chocolate, drink wine, insist on your child doing the workbook that has been sat on the shelf for the past 4 years. You swear to yourself you'll lose 20lbs and become teetotal, if only your child doesn't blame you for messing up their life.  
  14. You blame your emotional rollercoaster on hormones. You eat more chocolate.
  15. You start to get over yourself.
  16. You gradually get your head together.
  17. You find that the HE exams list starts to make some sense. In fact, you can almost face reading it every week. (You wouldn't actually dare post on it, and, whenever anyone on the list mentions that their genius child got A*s after only 6 weeks of study, you feel a strong urge to punch someone). But it is progress.
  18. You get yourself connected with the people who are organised enough to be doing exam-type stuff. (Preferably someone with a super-human level of energy and the skin of a rhino. There are some in every county.)
  19. You notice that your (now) 13 year old has matured. He may grunt, have B.O.,  and frequently makes innappropriate comments that only he thinks are funny. But he can actually hold a pen without groaning and sliding under the table. 
  20. You start feeling guilty about not contacting your old friends who have slightly younger children.
  21. You start dodging the resentful looks of those with 11-12 yr olds who thought you were an autonomous home educator and who now feel totally betrayed.  You never get to pick up their calls, because you are always out.


phili wilson said...

I lost coffee through my nose reading this! Hilarious! 4 years to go, not looking forward to it :-(

Jane said...

Love it!!! I recognise those phases oh so well. Especially No.17 ;o)

Ross Mountney said...

Sooooo lovely. x

Alison Sauer said...

Yup! Been there - done nearly every one of those and 15 yr old now has 3 GCSEs and will do 3 more this year....phew!!

Kim said...

Lol Nichola this is really funny but certainly makes sense. Written very honestly, love it!

Katie Pybus said...

This is a great post - Has it has lots of views? It has been shared all over the place