Red sky at night ready for the school fight.

So the dreaded hour is fast approaching. School opening its gates again. Feel so sorry, sad and angry for the kids like our Son having to face up to the nightmare which is modern schooling. I use the term modern in its loosest sense.

Increasingly my thoughts are turning to homeschooling. When to flick the switch. How to make it happen. Trying to stress tests the plans which are swirling around in my pea soup of a brain. Which options are best. What fits best with our circumstances. The aim being to have a workable plan in place by the end of February. As ever Son is the voice of reason. In fact as it’s his future he is driving the process. It has to be that way. He really isn’t happy but he’s giving the new term a go.

Dad going to give it a real go. Want to either see me moved up in the subjects I’m good at or want to be helped in the ones I struggle a bit in. Just one subject move would be cool.

“It’s not the subjects you struggle in. It’s the way the teachers judge you in those subjects. It’s never about the stuff you know. You have never had one comment about that. Remember what that teacher said last year – Don’t let anyone tell you your not clever. You are. The problems are not yours. It’s ours. We need to find better ways of getting the stuff in your head out into the wider world.

Ok Dad. Well let’s see what happens. What’s the plan if it goes pear shape this week at school?

Send you up chimneys to earn some money to pay for my rock and roll lifestyle”

Are you joking?

“Sorry, yes son I am pulling your leg. At least you can fit up a chimney.”

Your bottom would me a fine chimney sweeping tool. Not much would get past that.

“Let’s hope that school goes really well and your super happy. Let’s cross the over bridges if they happen. Most bridges are good ones.”

Which bridges. If I remember correctly we drive over 5 on the way to school.

And the voice of reason brings his Dad back into the real world again. So many options to consider.

  • Online tutor v Local tutor.
    How much will I teach. I can certainly do Computing, Mathematics, Science.
    Subjects like Geography and History maybe we just let him run with it. As last years Class Teacher said ‘you probably know the subject better than me already“. Just concentrate on how to access his ideas. Find the best way to express them.
    How to tailor some of the tuition around times that I need to go into the work base.
    Restructuring work to fit round the new world. Luckily I can probably do this. Just maybe will have to put off buying that sports car for say the next 100 years.
    When we move into the 15 and 16 age range how to handle examinations. Some of the colleges have courses for qualifications he could opt for. Would that work for him. Or do we go the tutor or online tuition routes.
    Languages – how far do we go down the online packages route such as Rosetta.
    Ways to ensure that he can socialise when he wants and needs to.
    And on and on

So much to consider. Maybe just maybe school might step up to the plate and this is never needed. That is probably a pipe dream so it’s time to sort this out. It will be a reassuring feeling when a plan is in place. When we have an idea what his education week and plan will look like. To our Son that level of practicality is an essential part of the transition process. It will help him at school knowing that he has a Plan b.

If anyone reading this has ever homeschooled then it would be great to hear from you. Either as a comment or email. What did your ‘learning week’ look like. What approach did you take. I’m sure this wont be the last you hear of this. I think the more we can talk about homeschooling the better. In many places it’s still frowned upon or it’s seen as a bit of a dark art. Maybe people should frown upon the mainstream school system instead.

I will leave you with one final thought.

Dad Santa can get down chimneys so there is always hope for you. There is always hope.

89 thoughts on “Red School Sky

  1. Gary, this post is so moving in all kinds of ways. I cannot say anything about homeschooling as I have never done it. But I really do wish you well with all this. I hope for the very very best for yoyr son – and for you too. Mych love to both of you xx

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Hi, I’m so happy to read this! My sister in law home schooled her daughter and spoke to me a lot about it. You don’t have to follow the national curriculum or do everything school does. Mind you what does your son’s school really do? She said it was good because if her child was into a subject they could just do that all week if they wanted and get really into it, not have to drag tbem off to another. She talked about arranging get togetherness or pairing up, walks in the woods, films etc, and generally said it wasn’t stressful. The regulations say kids have to get an education at school ‘or otherwise’ which is why the support organisation is called Education Otherwise. My sister in law did this ages ago so you’d need to check with Education Otherwise that it is still correct info, of course cos kids grow up the make up of your local group will have changed over the years or may need starting up. But basically you might be over worrying about it and actually it’d be much easier to do than you realise. It sounds like the two of you do loads of learning together anyway. And everything else has a way of working out, if you’re on the right path. Wishing you all the best and sending all good wishes from the Holy town of Pushkar, Rajasthan, India.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. We homeschooled two of our children all the way through to graduation. We tried several different learning programs and found that an online program with the tutorial option online worked best for us. Ours was Called switched on schoolhouse

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Good luck!! I’ve heard lots of successful stories. My siblings here in the USA taught their kids at home. Every state and country has its laws and rules. Those are the first thing they say to check out, then go from there.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Wheeee!! Exciting times 🙂

    Can’t add anything useful about homeschooling, except that I was homeschooled for a while when I was really little, until my folks found a decent school in the area. (It was amazing how different the schools were, despite only being a couple of miles apart)

    I don’t really remember much about it, except that I actually learnt things and was allowed to read proper books and do ‘real’ sums. (both were very strangely forbidden/not encouraged at the first school)

    Hope everything works out for you, whichever way you decide 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I too am optimistic that your son schooled steps up. Albeit, it is good your developing a plan B. I never home school but perhaps you may gain some insight from the post below. I would also encourage you to look into online tutoring programs
    Traditional School Didn’t Work For Me, So I Enrolled in an Online School | Real Life of an MSW

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Out here parents who choose home schooling mostly gather in regional groups – where numbers are sufficient – gathering in groups to do subjects like physical education, sports, music, art, drama, together. This gives the children a chance to do group activities and socialise. They use the strengths of the parents where possible. I taught for one principal who had previously been a visiting teacher. As well as dealing with poor attendance she also supervised home schooled children where required to do so under the education act. Her comment was that where home schooled children mainly seemed to miss out was maths, computers and science as teaching parents had little skill in those areas. Before that she had been the teacher in charge of a large junior department in a big school, and knew the system inside out. Even so, dealing with schools from the outside she was appalled at the way some schools and staffs behaved to parents and children.
    You have a head start with you maths, science and computer strengths.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I tried to do homeschooling with younger when she dropped out of school when her dad left. Our district had a program for homeschooling. I dont know if UK has something similar. It was basically guidelines on what needs to be learned to test out of each grade level.

    I do follow a teacher there in UK who currently works at a school for “high functioning autistic boys” near Thirsk (wherever that is) maybe he could give you some ideas.
    He doesnt have a contact page on his blog but he’s used to me going off topic in comments😉 I can ask him.
    I’ve told him about “a fellow blogger’s son” having issues with the school. That’s how I found out where he’s working. I wondered if it was near to you.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Hi Gary, feel free to email me with questions to bobjc88 @ (without the spaces of course). It’s about 16 years since I was home-educated so I’m a bit rusty, although I’d like to home educate my toddler (my wife isn’t convinced!).

    Not sure I can add much new to the comments, but like someone’s already suggested, one of the beauties of home education is that you can play to your strengths (both yours and your son’s). You don’t have to follow a national curriculum to become at best a Jack of all trades and a master of none! All the best! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Hi, Gary. Sorry can’t help you with the home schooling concept having no experience of it. But it is worth considering it as a possible alternative option. Have you considered private day boarding at a specialist school that meets your son’s specific needs? Is there one near you? Hope the new term goes well for your son. Have a great day. Goff

    Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s awful. OFSTED needs to see how much my adult overseas students can misspell – Masters degree still no object. Spelling can be such petty nonsense.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Maybe get a Support Group in place first? It might be good if you can even connect with a couple of parents nearby so you have people you can meet up with, face-to-face, when you need it. The way I see it, it’s a bigger step for you than for your son because while it will give him a lot – it will be by taking more out of you. So you must be sure of strong and dependable support.

    However much you love your son, don’t let your frustration with the school system make the sole case for homeschooling. Make sure you are well prepared. Take the time to plan and source for materials. Try different schedules for yourself as a dry run first.

    You can’t plan everything, but I think you need to give yourself more time so that your boy truly benefits from this move.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Gary, once I’m over this flu I’ll wing you an email about our homeschool experience. Was just thinking earlier that today marks two years since my son threatened suicide rather than go back to school. So glad we listened to him.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I aye say never look in the water as you cross the bridge. And also, there’s no harm in looking in a room once more before you shut the door, cos you might not need to. Your boy is doing the latter right now. But if you do have to shut that door, do not look in the water as you cross the bridge. Just get to the other side because you will.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I just know it’s got me past many things in life. Bridges are things we all worry about crossing really or we wouldn’t think about crossing them when we come to them. the fact is though we often do have to cross them. Your boy is a smart boy in a flawed system. But still he’s willing to take that look. And one of the reasons he probably feels able to do that is he also knows you have his back whatever.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I sometimes think waiting is the worst bit of anything, you know. There’s no concrete decision. All you can do is wait for the better or worse. Once the ax falls one way or the other you are free to get to the next stage.

        Liked by 1 person

  14. I’ve never homeschooled but my neighbors do. I know there is a set curriculum they need to follow and tests that the kids need to pass in order to move forward, similar to regular school. I don’t know if it is the same there in the UK. Also, I thought the same thing about socialization, but it turns out the homeschoolers do have a lot of social functions like dances and proms – a lot of the same events that take place in regular school they do as well so the kids do get a chance to socialize with their (homeschooled) peers. Good luck to you and may your son have a decent day!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. In the U.S. there are many home schooling organizations to help parents with everything from academics to social activities and field trips. I don’t know if there are organizations in the UK or anywhere near you but you might check that out.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. No experience with home school, but just to comment on one of the earlier points – there’s a school of thought that you should work on the things you are good at to become great at them. If you spend all your time just trying to be better at the things you struggle with you may end up being mediocre in everything, but great in nothing. But if you don’t worry about what you struggle with and really focus on what you are good at you might become really great at something. So if you do go the homeschool route, I’d start there 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Seeing you both grappling with this provokes two main series of thought – gratitude that I have not had to contend with such ignorance in education systems (although we have had to force acceptance of dyslexia): and admiration for the way you are going about it.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I removed my eldest daughter from middle school many year ago. The Educational Welfare officer visited us at home just to check all was okay. Her words to me were this; Can she read and write and do simple maths? If she can… her education from school is done. Now go out there and find things that she loves to learn about. Create projects on things that interest her not that she is forced to do etc.. you can do GCSE exams etc later if she chooses to do this. As long as she is socialised with other home schooled children then she won’t become isolated.
    My daughter loved horses so she worked on a horse project incorporating maths, spelling, English, design and so on. We studied local historical landmarks and visited them, writing up what she discovered. She planted. and built dens in the woods. We made dams in rivers and swam, walked, rode for PE.
    She is 21 now and running her own small business.
    My eldest son left school with no qualifications really. He hated school, wouldn’t embrace it all and was very unhappy. When he was ready to learn his way, he decided to go back to college and study for his English and Maths and then went on to do a 2 year business course which enabled him to go to University.
    He has just finished at 25, has an amazing job in the city of London earning more than I do. He is extremely happy and focused.
    I also have a 12 year old who has been bullied and struggles massively, She doesn’t want to come out of school but attends on a part time basis. The school have been brilliant.
    So my message is this – Follow your heart and think outside of the box. Education is absolutely not about going to school its about learning about the things you love and adapting your minds to a knew way of thing. Happiness is the key to learning and if you are unhappy then you will struggle to take information in, in an unhappy environment.
    All three of my children have Dyslexia.
    Sorry for the long post 🙂


  19. This is a very good article on the matter of home schooling, with a few resources mentioned.

    I do not have children, so can’t help with personal experience. However, the kids that I have met who have been home schooled are just such mature and considerate human beings. They learn a respect for stuff that just doesn’t happen in mainstream schools. They also seem to avoid the terrible consequences of bullying and peer pressure to behave badly.

    I know it is hard, but your son has a much better chance of becoming someone he feels happy with if you take him out of the bullying and poor help of a mainstream school.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Just as an aside Gary, you might want to look out for this book being published in June…
    It is written by 15 year old (Autistic) Dara McAnulty. He is a Naturalist in his spare time and supported by people like Chris Packham. He has dealt with Bullying on line (his Mum had to take over his Twitter account for a while, to deal with that), and probably at school too. Yet Dara does not give up, and may be an inspiration to your son… Trying to give you the info from Twitter here… But in case it fails just go to @NaturalistDara

    Well, there’s no going back now!! Advance copies will be in the hands of a few hundred journalists, booksellers, reviewers & readers next week. Those words on the back are a lot to live up to! Thank you @RobGMacfarlane @BellaLack @ChrisGPackham & the wonderful @LittleToller 🌱— Dara McAnulty 🌍 (@NaturalistDara) January 14, 2020

    Liked by 1 person

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