It's six months today since I first posted on this blog and I can't believe how much has changed in that time! When I first posted, we had yet to decline Joseph's school place and really felt as though we were stepping into the unknown. We were aware that local home education groups existed although we hadn't attended any, and although I was certain about our decision and excited about the adventure we were embarking on, I was also nervous about how people would react to us as a family learning without school.
It became quickly apparent to me that learning at home would be a whole lifestyle choice, and every area of our life would be impacted by the decision. Obviously we anticipated aspects of this; we knew that there would be a financial implication for example. What I couldn't have anticipated though is how much I would learn, and how much my view of the world would shift as a result. I didn't relish the thought of stepping away from the mainstream but it was necessary in order to do what I truly believed was best for my children, and now that I have done it, I view the world from a different place. I have shifted, our lives have shifted and things won't ever look the same again. That's fine, the view is a good one!
None of our friends or family has ever criticised us (publicly at least!) and I am extremely grateful for this. We have never expected people to agree with our decision, but we hoped they would understand and respect it regardless of their own opinions. Some people have said very little, some have said nothing at all and that's fine, people are entitled to react as they wish. So thank you to anyone who disagrees with our decision, but respects us enough not be openly critical.
I've been really overwhelmed by the amount of support and encouragement we have had. Thank you to everyone who has contacted me or spoken to me after reading the blog to say they are enjoying it, that it has been useful to them or to offer encouragement, it really means a lot to us. Those who read my blogs might think that I am naturally comfortable with sharing myself and my family in this way but that's not the case! Writing about us actually feels like it takes more guts than it did to decide to home educate in the first place, but writing this blog was something I felt compelled to do. Maybe one day I'll write about all the learning and insight I have gained from writing here, but not now! It has been brilliant for me, and I'm growing more comfortable with the process as the months go by. I'd like to say a special thanks to a few people who have helped me along the way in my new found pastime as a blogger!
Firstly, my very good friend Zoe. We've known one another a long time and I'm sure she'd agree that despite the length and depth of our friendship, we are very different people! She reads everything I write, is absolutely supportive and is a brilliant sounding board for reflections. I admire her because she has made different choices for her children, but remains so open to the perspectives I write about here. To open yourself up to ideas that may challenge your current belief system takes courage. Thank you Zoe.
Secondly my friend Helen who has urged me to write without fear of what others may think or what reactions I may provoke, and who has helped me feel brave enough to share this blog outside of my immediate network of friends and family. This is helping me make some wonderful connections with other families who home educate outside of my local area. Thank you Helen.
To my Mum, who despite spending her life working in education has never questioned our decision and has been utterly supportive. I know it must have been difficult for her to find her daughter making decisions that challenge the very nature of her life's work, so I am grateful that she has been so open to our choices, and so understanding of our family life. She mothered me in a way that enabled me to make decisions for myself, and because of that I was confident enough to make the very important decision to allow my children to learn without school. Thank you Mum.
Finally my husband Oliver who is always open, always interested, always there and like me, willing to accept that he is always learning!
The decision to learn without school is so far giving our family plenty of Time, Space and Stillness, just as we had hoped! Thanks to everyone who reads this blog, I am loving writing it :-)