I think it was the first week in September that both Kai and decided that a return to school would be for the best. I had no idea how to apply, but after a quick search on my council’s website I soon found the relevant form, which thankfully, was very simple. Once I had completed the form I just had to wait.
We’ve got a place
Once I’d made the application I was advised by a friend to contact pupil services regularly to check Kai’s position on the waiting list. I suspected that because he was in position one, we would probably hear quite soon. I was also concerned that he did not miss too much of the first term, so I phoned weekly. We finally received a call from the school (his old one) to inform us that he had a place waiting for him in his old class.
Kai was so excited on his first day. He got up super early to get ready and couldn’t even eat breakfast. When we arrived we found the school was still as familiar as it once was, although the numerous new faces on the staff board gave it a slightly foreign feel. After going through the formalities of paperwork Mrs Yates, a member of the office staff, escorted Kai to his old class, reassuring him that nothing much had changed. I went home to think about how different things would be now and to enjoy a solitude and quiet that I had not experienced in a very long time.
The road to school
While Kai enjoyed his first day at school, I was struck by how much home-education had changed for us and how the journey to school was probably a natural consequence of that. During the course of the summer I felt that I had lost sight of all the things that made home-education great: freedom, flexibility, allowing Kai to follow his passions; and most crucially, having the faith that everything will work out. At some point I began to become consumed by my financial circumstances and began focusing on money. I also began to be gripped by a fear that Kai was lacking in certain areas academically, so I began to set up more structure at home.
At this point, I had completely failed to notice that Kai was no longer taking control of his own learning: he was reading less during the day, and was no longer interested in making things. Once I had introduced school at home, school for real seemed to follow quite naturally. But this doesn’t change the fact that I felt Kai wasn’t getting to mix with other children as much I would have liked. We had tried a number of home-ed groups, but building relationships with people takes time.
I forget to mention that during this time I was becoming increasingly stressed and found myself wanting to escape being around my own son for long periods. The stress of home-educating and losing sight of what really mattered had led us back into a system that I had hoped to leave behind.