Applying for schools–just in time
While home-educating I hadn’t given much thought to secondary school; Kai was being home-educated and that was that. Kai’s return to school during his last year of junior school meant that we were now forced to think ahead to year 7 and what possible schools he may go to. I wasn’t prepared for the emotional pressure that rained down on me and neither was Kai. Kai returned to school on the 9th October and we had until the 31st October to complete our school application. We missed out on the grammar school tests (many of my friend’s children took these), as many of these took place during the summer, so I considered trying Kai out for a few independent schools, as well as local schools.
We looked at a practice paper for one of the selective schools but Kai clearly wasn’t prepared for the level of difficulty in the paper. We could have worked on it and done a lot of practice but it didn’t feel right forcing the issue. So instead we concentrated on our local schools.
With Kai’s high energy and love of dance and music, it felt only natural to focus on performing arts schools. However, the kind of dance expected at many private performing arts schools didn’t seem to fit Kai: Kai loves street dance and breakdance and would be required to do ballet. I personally don’t have a problem with this. But with no breakdance on the curriculum, Kai wasn’t interested.
One of the things that struck me as extremely off-putting while visiting our local state schools was the fact that nearly all the children we saw were sitting down, unless going to or from a class. It felt extremely unnatural to see all these healthy, energetic teenagers immobile. The deputy at one of the schools must have picked up on my unease and said that they were in the middle of ‘test week’, so the children were doing more theory than they would be doing normally. I am so thankful that I made the decision to visit the schools during normal school hours; you get a much truer picture of the school than on the open days.
I did eventually complete the school application form, but I never found “the one”. Instead, I listed 3 schools that I felt Kai would be the happiest and most productive at. But in my heart I could see him at home taking charge of his own learning and following his passions wherever they may lead. It was precisely this method that led Leonardo da Vinci down the path to genius. He had minimal formal schooling, if any at all. Instead, he spent much of his time observing nature and drawing anything that intrigued him. His only teacher at this time was nature herself. By the time he began his apprenticeship with Florentine artist Andrea del Verrochio, at fourteen, he had already become an excellent painter. In a few short years he acquired mastery.
By putting in an application for secondary school we have at the very least covered our backs and provided an alternative should a return to home-ed fail.
Having extra time to myself while Kai is at school should be ample opportunity for me to indulge, just a little. Yes, I have been to my allotment, but quite a large portion of time has been spent applying for jobs, doing work around the house, etc. A friend recently suggested we go to the cinema: “during the day?” I thought to myself. That sounded a little too indulgent. But why couldn’t I allow myself some “me” time? Then I think, Kai hasn’t been to the cinema in a long time, shouldn’t I take him?
Well, I didn’t go to the cinema due to issues with my bike. But I will definitely treat myself to a daytime show without feeling guilty at some point in the near future.