One of my main reasons for taking the kids out of school was that I was watching their personalities disappear. Who they were was slowly being erroded by the need to fit in, conform and blend.
My son had stopped talking. Not entirely, he hadn’t become a mute, but he rarely had anything to say for himself, comunicated often in grunts and one word answers or said what ever he thought would lead you to leaving him alone the fastest. He had lost his confidence in being able to explain himself, or rather his confidence in holding anyones attention long enough to get the muddle of words out of his head and make the listener understand what he wanted to say. We didn’t talk. I asked questions and tried to decipher his grunts, shrugs and mumbles.
My daughter had lost herself entirely. My wild, strong willed, independent ball of excited, creative fun had tried so hard to fit in and please, to make teachers and pupils alike love her, that she had managed to render herself almost entirely invisible. She frequently found herself left out at playtime, not chosen for things in the classroom and completely bewildered and saddened as to why.
And neither of them had any interest in the world. They had stopped asking questions about how and why things worked and happened. Had no interest in anything outside school except tv and computer games. My son even stopped wanting to go and play at friends houses. He just wanted to stay home and sit in front of his xbox. At least there he had control, there he could make characters do what he wanted, there was no miscommunication and confusion. And my beautifully big-hearted daughter wanted to just disappear into the fantasy of feel good schmaltzy films where being nice and friendly were positive traits that made everyone love you in the end.
A couple of months into home ed and my God the changes are astounding. For a start their curiosity about the world around them is overwhelming. From not giving a rats ass about the world we now can’t walk to the shop or drive down the street without a barrage of questions and statements to test their understanding of things. From how street names work, speed limits and advertising boards to where wool comes from, what is a government and how laws are made. They both chatter incessantly at me and to each other, questioning and working things out.
And they play, they relish the outdoors and actively want to go places, meet up with friends and sit together reading, crafting or learning. Maths text books are an exciting challenge, board games are tremendous fun and cards, dice and marbles a great source of entertainment.
Of course they both still want to disappear into their xbox games or films but they are becoming much more of a source of entertainment rather than a place to hide and seek solace. The great big world out there is becoming their playground and the smiles and laughter go from morning to night.