My eldest son has chosen to return to home education having spent just over half a term trying out secondary school. He chose to take a selective entrance exam and go to a boys' grammar school. But after five weeks in the classroom, the novelty seemed to be wearing off and he began to appreciate the benefits of being a free-range, independent learner.
I suppose it was inevitable that, having removed him from the educational box, he would find it difficult to fit back in. And I do not want him to. Not really. One of our objectives for our children is that they should be happy to be themselves and to take charge of their own destiny.
He wanted to go to school, and he has given it a good go. I think he wanted to know what he is missing out on when his friends talk about school. And I wonder if perhaps he wanted to see whether he was keeping apace of his peers. Maybe he was afraid he might be behind academically. This did not prove to be the case. And the whole experience has been very positive, even negotiating his exit. I had prepared myself to have to take the school on, but the Head of Year was so positive about our son and the impression he had made in his short time there. He was very affirming of what we are doing because he could see the positive traits in our son which home education has produced. It was encouraging.
I don't know why home educating into the secondary years is such a daunting prospect. It is surely during these years that independent learning should really come into its own. I also believe that there is so much adolescent energy which should be channelled into real challenges and risk-taking, that young people were not made for classrooms.
There is a book by Grace Llewellyn which I recently read, "The Teenage Liberation Handbook: How to Quit School and Get a Real Life and Education". Read it. Give it to a bored teenager if you dare. It is full of challenge and inspiration, and encourages young people to step out and shape their own learning, not to depend upon a system which promises so much, yet delivers too little to so many.
Our son had high expectations of school. He was disappointed. But that is because he has had a taste of something better. And I have to be glad of that.