School’s not so great after all
It hasn’t taken long for the novelty of being back at school to wear off and the reality of boring work and uninspiring teachers to resurface. I think Kai managed a week before he started complaining. By the Monday of the second week, I had to get him out of bed and be on his heels until he was out of the door. I told myself that he needed time to settle in and that things would be fine; we’d made the right choice, or had we? I had planned to speak to the head teacher to discuss flexi-schooling: Kai would hopefully be allowed to attend for 3 or 4 days a week so we could continue in some way with our home-ed activities.
New Head new rules
Prior to Kai being home-educated, he only attended school four days a week; the previous head was aware of the benefits of flexi-schooling and therefore very accommodating. When Kai returned to school I didn’t think it would an issue having one day off, but I was wrong. The new Head had never heard of flexi-schooling(???) and was worried that one full day off would interfere too much with his learning. The success of the previous years flexi-arrangement having no bearing on her decision…and after discussion with some of his teachers, she decided that it would be a no. This decision really threw me because I had only agreed on a return to school on the basis of Kai being flexi-schooled. Full-time school was too much school for me.
Bending the rules
I had been prepared to pull Kai out of school if the head teacher said no to flexi-schooling. But I was unprepared for the fact that Kai wanted to stay on, at least for now. How were we going to go from having complete freedom to only having 2 days at the weekend? While not wanting to disrespect the school or the Head, there was absolutely no way I was going to confined within the rules of the system: I would still take Kai out on trips and simply inform the school ahead of time, or on the day. I spoke to the school office about a pre-planned trip to the Primary Proms and they said they would require a note and evidence. Our trip to the Royal Opera House was a fantastic experience for the children. They got to see the grandeur of the Opera House and the talent of musicians their own age. If I become aware an event that I feel could enrich Kai’s life in any way, then I’m happy for him to miss a day of school. As long as I can show he was doing something educational there’s little chance that the school will make an issue of it, she says. It will be experiences rather than ‘school work’ that he will be more likely to remember in the future.
Let’s give it until the end of term
Kai may be happy enough to suffer the limitations of the school system, but if it isn’t doing him any good then he can’t stay. Kai will do his homework, but not without moaning about how pointless it is. I watch as he goes through the homework sheet, trying to get it done as quick as possible so he can play on the computer; knowing, sadly, that there’s little chance he will retain much of what he’s doing. If motivation is a key factor of the learning experience, then it is no surprise that much of what is taught at school is lost; we learn best what we want to learn.
When I took Kai out of school before I had no plan or clue how we were going to survive but survive we did, not without a struggle. Things have to be different this time round: I must have an income in place. While Kai may be happy to be with his school friends, I need to watch and see how this whole experience impacts his learning and wellbeing. A friend, who’s having some issues with her son’s school has suggested giving it until the end of the current term, at which point she plans to pull her son out of his school if things haven’t improved. I know that Kai really wants to go to on the trip to Fair Play House in February, so it may mean staying on until then, we’ll see.