Standing listening to the trumpet play 'The Last Post' at Remembrance Day parade yesterday was very moving. As I watched my eldest solemnly carry the flag for his ATC squadron it made me think of all the grieving mothers who's sons have given their lives for us over the years in wars. I really felt respect for these men and women, recognising their sacrifice and honouring it.
I am personally grateful that Hitler was defeated by the allies, as his views on parents having influence on their kids education are polar opposite to mine. His fear that parents would teach their children something other than the Nazi party line was massive, forcing him to ban home education. So yeah! War is horrid, but when it comes to defending your nation and freedom I don't believe its wrong.
I have thought about this conundrum a fair amount over the last few years. It took me a few years of growing up before I realised that just because some thing is hard, doesn't mean it's wrong.
I think back on hard things I have done, child birth was one. I think the first weeks after my eldest was born were such a massive change of lifestyle it was really hard, suddenly this tiny person was your complete responsibility and I remember staring down at him wondering what to do next. I have never for a moment regretted having kids though, even if it has cost every ounce of energy and thought trying to muddle through this parenting thing.
Anyone who reads my blog would know I love mountains, that's another hard thing. Climbing a mountains is hard work.
I remember climbing snowdon for my silver Duke of Edinburgh award many years ago, with my big racksac on my back we were half way up the mountain, it was a windy day, and suddenly a massive gust of wind knocked me off me feet and sent me rolling down a steep slope over the side of a huge rock. My rucksack broke the fall fortunately. I still love climbing mountains though, standing on the top of a mountain gives that sense of freedom and feeling of 'I can do anything'. As you breath in the pure mountain air and look around you, the world and its daily grind seem so far away and insignificant.
Home Education is another hard thing. I know many people have observed me home educating over the years and said, may be only with a look, surely thats too much for you. Yes, it is hard it possibly the hardest thing I have ever done. At some points I have felt the full weight of responsibility on me, with family and friends looking on with disapproval. Why on earth would you choose to wreak your kids opportunities in life and home educate, when there are so many perfectly good schools and qualified teachers down the road.
My husband and I chose this route not because of issues with our children in school or even for religious reasons, as our church ran a church school. I just knew it made sense. A one on one tailored education in the world with life and friends around us. I knew in my heart that my eldest son could be different because of it, he could chose to think in a completely different way to a child that is instructed how to think and what to learn all day. I love the critical and abstract thought patterns of my unconventional boys.
At first the hardest thing about Home Educating is learning self discipline and patience, especially if like me you went from school to polytechnic to work, so you always had to get up in the morning to be some where on time and work for someone else, to suddenly everything is totally your choice. Also being patient with your kids when you are with them all day is definitely a skill that takes practice.
A few years down the road, the hard bits are others expectations of your kids, suddenly you feel everyone is watching your kids to see if they are progressing fast enough. Are they reading when their cousin two years younger is on to big boy books? Are they learning to behave in a sociable manner being shut at home with Mum all day? There is incredible pressure to present perfectly behaved high performing kids from an early age, else obviously home education is failing as predicted.
I am now onto a different stage, getting to ready to send eldest on to further education. Exam nerves have attacked at regular intervals and lots of praying to try remain calm, well kind of calm (sorry Hubby :-P).
Do I regret this journey... NOT FOR A SECOND... the times of kids crying under the table over maths, times of struggling to understand what my kids need at different stages, balancing home and outside life. All worth it. I love that it has been hard, it is worth so much more to me. Like that climbed mountain, the view from here is wonderful, the understanding I have gained of how people learn, what motivates and what makes people tick. I love that my hubby and I can look back on this time and say, it was tough at times but so rewarding.