Half term blues - sad that the holidays are over
Half term is over and I am blue. Really....I feel sad, and I know that when the morning comes and I wake up to the idea of getting multiple children out of the house on a tight timeline and saying goodbye to them in the playground, I will feel really low.
I love the holidays. I love my children being around me. I love the time we share together and the fun and memories we create.
I'm not saying I love every minute of it, or that there aren't brief points when I want to explode, but overall this is what I call my precious time. If that makes me soppy, so be it, I can live with that label when it comes to my kids.
But for all that, I know that going back to school is the right thing for them. They've asked for home schooling after they heard about it in the playground...I was pretty taken aback when they came out with that one as I'd be careful never to put it into their heads. But while I think there are downsides to school (for example, I think in the UK children start formal education far too young), I truly believe the benefits of structured schooling far outweigh the sadness that we feel at the end of a holiday.
What learning experiences does school provide for our children?
For starters, holidays are just that....a break from the norm, from routine and rigidity. If being at home and educating at home represented the norm, the sense of holiday and freedom would be diminished. Yes, we'd all get to be together all of the time, but the perspective would shift from precious time together to claustrophobia all too quickly. For children to grow, they need space and their own identity. And outside influences and personalities help them to develop this.
Not only this, but they need friends. Siblings are a wonderful thing, but being able to choose your friends, and to work at forming friendships that nature hasn't provided for you is a skill that we all need to learn. Goodness knows as adults life feels harder when you don't have the comfort and bonds of friendship around you. Children also need foe....they need to learn that not everyone is nice to everyone all the time, and resilience is something you have to build up.
They need the confidence to call in adult support when things get too much, but they also need to learn to turn a blind eye and simply not allow every comment or deed to hurt or rile them. I am by no means saying that bullying should be ignored and simply put up with...I would never advocate that, and it should be treated as the saying goes, with zero tolerance. But there is a level far below that, where boys and girls start to notice each other and tease a little, or where friendship groups form and break away from one another, and that is where those skills of resilience become so important. How can children integrate comfortably into a wider group later in life if they cannot work around those personalities who aren't an absolute fit?
Children need experiences outside the home to learn
Experiences outside of the home are key too. Whether they be school trips, school discos or sleepovers, all of these are key to the growing confidence of a child, and to their enjoyment of life. We go on lots of day trips as a family and have amazing times together, but these trips don't teach my children independence in the way a school trip does, they don't give them the confidence to get on and off a coach without me, or the chance to makes memories of a different kind, with friends. And even though we do lots of fun things to create memories here at home, like our recent Halloween party, who are the friends we would invite to those parties if we didn't build bonds at school?
Not only this, but I definitely can't offer them school sports days, a role in a Christmas nativity or concert, or lay on those many other extra-curricular activities that school provides. Taking part in school teams is healthy for confidence as well as skills, and helps them learn, in a safe and positive way, that life is a competitive place.
Good teachers play an invaluable role in the development of a child
Lastly, but far from least, are the teachers. Now I'll hold my hands up and say we are incredibly lucky in our school to have a brilliant set of teachers. But there are thousands of gifted teachers in this country, and the ideas and activities they come up with to support children's learning and bring the curriculum to life are simply not things I would dream up at home. Moreover, they provide an alternative role-model and confidant for a child.
I know there is a growing support network and increasing resources for home schooling, but, speaking for myself at least, with multiple children I seriously doubt I would or could find the time or energy to teach with the skill and enthusiasm that a professional teacher does, or to do it with their patience...tackling homework is tough enough!
Home schooling...right or wrong?
I am not saying I am against home schooling...I've met people who do it, and it works for them. Whether it will prove to be the best thing, socially or academically for the children in the long run, I don't know, but that's not really any of my business. None of us has a counter factual analysis to say we'd have been better off following a different course...we can never know, we just have to do the best we can with the information and resources we have.
Clearly in remote areas where home schooling is common and there is a strong network of people doing it together, that almost becomes an alternative classroom set up. But where I live, in a town,
I feel sure (despite being a little bit sad to admit it) that it would be an isolating experience for myself and my children, and I don't honestly believe it would benefit them in the long
So, morning looms, and with it the school run. And while I will feel sad, I will do so knowing we are on the right path.
There is a saying (which hangs in my sister's bathroom!): life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, but about learning to dance in the rain.
And so we shall dance.
What do you think? Join our discussion below.