Radical Unschooling

#100 Days of Home Ed…Day 38

So far this week we have been discussing The Education Act of 1996 and The Four A’s of home education:

  • Age
  • Ability
  • Aptitude 
  • and Additional Learning Needs.

The law actually uses the term Special Educational Needs which was the terminology at that time. But I am using ALN because 1) it is the current vogue term and 2) it is cuter to say The Four A’s than the 3 A’s and SEN.

As I began writing this I faced the revealing mirror of my soul. I had to ask myself…

Would you still home educate if PanKwake did not have Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA)/autism?

And as much as I am a believer in the superiority of home education, I have to admit that for sheer convenience sake…if PanKwake could tolerate a school I would probably let her.

Why? You ask.

A good old-fashioned economics term…opportunity costs. Those things that I cannot do in order to home educate PanKwake…

  • A job
  • Writing
  • Sewing
  • Cookie Monster
  • Exercise
  • and loads more.

Oh, sure, I manage to get some of them in (not a job though). I make time for others…like Cookie Monster and blogging/writing.

But especially with my writing I am always up against time constraints of PanKwake’s needs. She comes first. And I don’t regret or begrudge her that. I do it knowing that it is an investment in the future…hers and ours. The time I spend now giving her life skills will buy her independence later on. And if the goddess and Fate allows there will be time then for all those other things.

But the cold, hard truth is that Additional Learning Needs is the tipping point. The straw that broke the camel’s back. What pushed us into home education and what keeps us there.

And we are not alone.

While there are no ‘official’ figures…and without the regulation I deplore, there never will be…from the beginning I have been aware that SEN/ALN or whatever term you want to use is more common among the home ed community.

Remember that nasty, lying home ed officer that tricked me in the beginning? On his first visit, he admitted to me that almost half of his ‘rolls’ were SEN families. And since coming to Swansea with its active and relatively inclusive home ed group, I concur. And many of the others are their siblings because once you walk down the home ed path you might as well go all in.

Now some may cry that it is an outrage. That schools have the obligations to meet these children’s needs…whatever they are. And that home ed as the result of their failures to do so is a deplorable state of things.

But as you know I take a much more pragmatic view of things. A system…any system is set up for…

The good of many outweighs the needs of few…or the one.

I do not believe frankly that any school not matter how inclusive could meet the demands of PanKwake’s Pathological Demand Avoidance. (Most PDA children end up home educated at some point honestly.)

No system can be as aware of her needs as I have trained myself to be. No school can put their guidelines, the National Curriculum and most importantly the other children on hold to care for my one child. No teacher or assistant…no matter how dedicated or caring…can be as invested in PanKwake’s success as I am. And even if they could…the cost would be astronomical.

Oh a few times along this path I have been selfish…I have more than once thought about putting her in school…sometimes honestly just so I could get a break…have time for me or my wants.

But each time I came to the same conclusion…it would not work. We would be right back where we were when she was in school before…the amount of time and effort that it would take me in the evenings and weekends to undo the damage of sensory overload would just not be worth those few hours per day.

As we stand now, PanKwake can at times be surprisingly independent and autonomous. In those moments I invest in the things that matter most to me…homemaking a home for her and Cookie Monster…and when I can writing and sewing.

It is what is best for PanKwake…us…and even the education system who can instead invest those resources of time and money into children whose parents cannot home educated.

 

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