We met in the morning at a local park. One mother was with her seven year old daughter who has never attended school and the other mum brought her fifteen year old son, seven year old daughter and three year old daughter. The boy had been to school until he reached the age of seven when he was removed and the two girls had never been to school. The children already knew each other well as they have attended various home education activities together over the years so initially it was tricky for Theo to play with them. Tristan being so young is able to talk and play with anyone and was just happy to be running around the great play area. After a while Theo gravitated to the fifteen year old boy and they sat on a bench looking through the boys drawing pad which contained wonderful sketches of robots and aliens. They got on well talking about alien stories and similar fantasy ideas.
I was able to sit and chat with the other mums about all things home ed. I heard their stories about why they had chosen this route and told them ours. It was refreshing to be able to talk about home schooling without worrying that my audience may be taking it as a criticism of their educational choices, which is never the intention.
I am delighted to now know about many activities that the group organise in the area. Theo is now booked onto two cookery lessons later in the year where he will get to make food with the other children and eat his creations. We will attend the home education sessions that are held once a week at a local library where the children read and talk about what wonderful things they have been learning about that week. They also play afterwards in a park and often go onto to partake in other activities together in the afternoon. There are many other things that are being planned currently from museum visits to trampolining and so many in fact that we will have to be quite picky about what we do because we simply can't do it all!
One of the mums made a comment which really stuck with me today. She noted how home educated children socialise with children of all ages as well as adults which is very different from children attending school. We all agreed that socialising in this manner is much more like the adult world where we don't simply interact with people of our own age but rather with people of all ages from babies to the very old. As I sat discussing this I glanced over to see Theo engaged in conversation with the fifteen year old boy and thought how wonderful it is that he can choose to talk to people because they are interesting to him rather than because he is being forced to interact with people just because they are the same age.
One family left to visit the library whilst we joined the mother and her seven year old girl on a walk around the park. The girl was eloquent and able to talk to me with confidence unlike many seven year olds that I have come across which probably comes from interacting with adults more frequently than mainstream educated children do. She showed us lots of exciting places in the park including a lovely pond full of beautiful flowering Water Lilly's where all three children sat on the embankment chatting. It was idyllic.
Once we bid our goodbyes the boys and I headed straight home. It was by this point early afternoon and although they had eaten a sandwich already all the walking made them hungry again. It was a very, very hot day and when we finally reached home we were all exhausted. I made second lunch for them and treated them to an ice cream float for dessert.
By the time we had eaten it was gone three o'clock and the prospect of any work being done was nil.
Instead we all went to our local park where four of their friends were already playing. I noticed again the children were all of different ages ranging from Tristan at 3 to a girl of 12 and watched them interacting as they always do incredibly well.
They had a massive water fight which went on for a couple of hours and of which I became a sodden casualty. They also turned the slide into a water flume which was just delightful to watch as child after child slid down at super speed screaming wildly in the sun. It was great fun but all the running in the sunshine served to exhaust my two so much that as soon as they walked in through the front door they both chose to go straight to bed.
I took dinner up to their bedroom on trays. After eating, Tristan collapsed into a deep sleep immediately. Theo read and read his book until he to succumbed to sleep.
It was a such a successful day and I am so glad that we can now be a part of the local HE network.