From Little Things

I’m a HEN volunteer, so I have the chance to speak to lots of new home educators, and see a variety of learning plans. So many parents doubt their abilities, worry that they will not ‘cover everything’, that they are ‘not doing enough’ or that they won’t pass a review.

I’m a worrier too, so I know where they are coming from, but I’m constantly amazed by the resourcefulness and ingenuity shown by new home educators. Many of them have children who have not thrived within the system, due to diverse learning needs not being met, bullying, anxiety etc, and the legacy of these negative experiences can create additional challenges, yet they have risen to meet them.

I’ve seen plans put together in a few days by parents with no experience of home education that were extremely sophisticated. Plans that managed to be innovative and deep, even though the children in question sometimes had very specific needs. It would not be possible for teachers within the system to create a plan that individualised. But these parents truly know their children, and understand how to work with their strengths whilst supporting them in areas of weakness, and this shines through in their plans.

Today I spoke to a lady who had all the usual worries, but it was immediately clear to me that she was doing a great job. She mentioned multiple ways in which she was facilitating for her autistic child, through an evolving programme that’s building the skills he needs, as well as introducing him daily to new ideas and topics, and building his self-confidence. She’s showing him how to learn, to try new things, to be the best person he can be. I honestly don’t think that she could do a better job, yet the reason this mother contacted HEN was because she’s worried about what would happen if she’s reviewed, and whether she’s doing the right things.

So please, if you sometimes wonder about your own home education journey, take heart. If you are facilitating for your child, if they have interesting activities and experiences, if they are thriving, then what you are doing is working. It doesn’t matter if your version of home ed is not as ‘shiny’ or well planned as the next person, or if your child prefers dismantling domestic appliances to maths. It’s fine if you don’t own any workbooks, or if your child always has her nose in a book. Curricula, styles, approaches are just different ways to look at the journey. No one way is better (or worse), and you can take as much or as little as you like from as many options as you fancy.

Don’t worry about reviews (because you will pass, HEN is here to make sure that you do). Keep records, don’t keep records – do what works for you. Don’t allow yourselves to be swayed by what others are doing, or think that you should be doing. Try not to be concerned if things are not progressing quite as you planned; remember that persistence and flexibility are great qualities and you are modelling these for your child.

And focus on the positive, even more important during these strange times. The mother I spoke to today voiced her fears, but her optimism, pride in her son, and joy in the process shone through. After years of negative experiences, he’s blossoming, learning, gaining in confidence. Silence the nagging doubts for a while, and acknowledge and appreciate what’s working. For children with greater challenges, you may only see little things, but remember – from little things, big things grow.

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