“It has been bloody awful. I think myself and my husband cried as much as my son. I should actually thank my daughter because without her continually asking to be home educated I would never have started to read about it. I seriously believe I have taken my kids out of school, especially in my son’s case, to keep them alive. I know that sounds dramatic but that’s the truth of it.
Lewis has always been extremely popular. Very happy, very funny and very intelligent. He has had everyone wrapped around his finger since the day he was born. Especially the older ladies. He is just very charming.
I really don’t know what changed.
My son’s anxiety started the first two weeks of high school. I ended up spending a whole year at school to get him to stay there. I would sit in the library to start and he would bring work and sit with me. I basically weaned myself away over a year. For the second year of high school he was ok and then it came back with a vengeance in year 10.
And Jessica. She really came out of her shell in middle school and became a sports leader. Very academic, above average in all subjects. Never had one detention and never got into any trouble. Then six months after starting secondary she started begging to be home educated. She started missing a couple of days here and there with illness. Dizziness and sickness. This gradually got worse and she would miss a week at a time. She had blood tests and all was normal. We since discovered her dizziness and nausea is social anxiety and when she feels a bit anxious she has a panic attack.
Neither of my kids can give a reason why. Myself and my husband don’t suffer any anxiety. We just don’t understand what’s happening to them and why.
From my experience of being at the school for a year though I think a lot of the teachers are young and possibly without their own children and they seemed to lack any sort of empathy. Some of the teachers walking that school scared me. So, so strict and shouty. Don’t get me wrong. Some of them were lovely and on the whole they did try with Lewis. Although not consistently. One incident was when I had a phone call from his science teacher to say Lewis was going to have a lunchtime and after school detention for being disruptive in class and disrupting the class. He was fiddling with a fiddle toy for anxiety that the pastoral team at the school had given him to use if he got anxious.
We got no help from the doctors for my son, who eventually got to the point of saying he didn’t want to live. They said CAHMS is crumbling and is a lost cause. They encouraged us to go private at £450 an hour for a child psychiatrist. It just got to the point where we believed we were doing our son an injustice by putting him through the schooling system.
The final straw was when the school agreed that if ever things got bad he was allowed to get work from lessons and come home, having told someone. When he tried to do this one time the teacher who had agreed it told him he couldn’t and that he needed to try harder. He was on the phone to his dad at the time begging for him to come and get him. He was hysterical and my husband could hear him crying “please get off me, I just need to get home, you told me I could go home if I needed to, you’re hurting my arm”. It turns out in the middle of a panic attack and crying his eyes out the teacher punished him by making him sit in that state at the back of a year 11 class she was teaching. So as if he didn’t feel awful enough already she made him look an absolute fool in front of loads of teenagers.
When they first came out I was like, “right, out of bed at 7am, work until 2pm, use this workbook and that workbook”. I was a nervous wreck and worried all the time. I spent so much money on bloody books! I did calm down lol, we do lots of work on free websites now. All three of us together on the sofa with a cuppa. I have just paid for a subscription to maths watch. We use Kahn academy and BBC bitesize. I make the kids follow maths and English and science curriculum.
They love art so we do lots of that. Lewis goes out to the workshop in the garden and does lots of woodwork. We cook. Jessica has always wanted to do Spanish as her nan lives in Spain. She signed herself up to the free site Duolingo and we have all been using it. Her and Lewis did a course on Alison.com in Spanish and passed. Lewis also used the same site to do a basic carpentry course and passed with 95%. Jess is hatching chicks for pets.
The best thing to come out of this is the kids are happy again.”