My homeschooling experience

I do know that homescooling is a controversial topic on wich people hold very strong opinions. But it has been my life for the past four years now, and one of the reasons I created this blog was to share my experience with you.

Let's start at the beginning.
The other day, I found myself laughing at a very old photo of me, baby, pretending to read a book. Proof that these objects have fascinated me for my entire life. My parents used to read me stories every single night before I went to bed, another trigger for my passion for reading. When I entered nursery school, at the age of 3, I was absolutely terrified of the teacher, who kept screaming, I think this was due to her frustration at not being able to keep her student's attention for more than ten minutes. I also remember crying before school until my parents arranged a meeting with this frightened hen and things got a bit better. The following year, the teacher changed, leaving her place to a sweet and gentle lady. I started to enjoy learning, it just seemed so easy to me. Another memory that keeps popping up, is one in which my mum is teaching my four year old self how to read and write on a tiny blackboard I had. After that, school started to become boring. My teacher decided to transfer me to a higher class. I then moved school, to be with older kids, wich was a bit disturbing, I could easily understand what was being taught but, being the clumsiest girl alive, I had trouble writing, cutting and sticking properly. When I got frustrated, I would burst out crying and hide under my desk, uncontrollable. I never got past that (I still shamefully cry when I can't manage to do someting), but entered primary school anyways (wich was in the same tiny establishment). Homework and evaluation started, they were like a game to me, I would always bring back good grades without my parents ever putting pressure on me. I didn't need it, I did it alone. Between the ages of 4 and 9, I would spend most of the school playtimes correcting copies with my teachers (I got quite lucky with them, apart from the first one, they were all really nice) finding other kid's games immature. But I still had friends and everything went very smoothly, boring, but enjoyable.

At the age of nine (well, nearly ten) I entered secondary school, an establishment twenty times bigger than the precedent one, but since I'd moved with my friends, I had no troubles getting used to it. Even to the rules which were imposed : getting up when a teacher enters a classroom, using « vous » instead of « tu » as a one sided sign of respect, but I'll get back to that later. The first year of secondary school was quite fun : fresh, new, exiting and I was in a good class. In the meantime, my sister (who was 6 years old at the time) had started primary school, she would have headaches every night, would cry when homework time approached, was generally very stressed out: the system didn't seem to suit her. When my parents proposed to homeschool her, she agreed straight away. I, on the other hand, laughed at them, told them it was stupid and that it would never work. In my second year of secondary school, all the exitemement was gone, leaving me with boredom, frustration and very slow classmates. I had a few friends in the same situation, who finished the exercises before the rest of the class had even read the questions. Nothing changed and after a month and a half of lost time, my parents decided to meet my principal teacher for a chat. She seemed more conserned with her stuggeling students than with those who were bored. The meeting simply ended on a cold  « if you're not happy whith the system, homeschooling is an option ». Seeing my little sister learning things at her own pace and looking much happier changed my mind. I decided I had had enough and stopped going to school.

Secondary school at home
That's when my adventure started . To be honest, I didn't do much schoolwise during the first year, just enough to finish the program, I read quite a bit though, as always. But I played A LOT of violin to pass my exams. (which I passed, yeaaaah). It was so nice to be able to chill a bit (sleep...), learn at my pace, not loose my time in a class of thirty students... I had such a great time that I decided to stay at home for the following year but took it to the next level by doing two years in one, in order to enter highschool afterwards. It was a lot of work, I had the biggest part of the programm from secondary school to do before May, when my future highschool would test me in maths, english and french. My mum was super supportive, she helped me with the maths (and french) for about 2 hours everyday and I would do the rest alone, it came to about 4 hours of work per day in total. The day of the tests came, the english wasn't a problem, the math, since they were exactly followng the program, went well too but the french test was extremely hard, I became nervous and started panicking. The teacher who conducted the evaluation was kind enough to come and reassure me, saying that these tests didn't cover my grade, but the one higher up, she just didn't have time to create easier ones. We talked a lot and thankfully, she came to the conclusion that my french was good enough for me to go to highschool.

Going back to highshool
Going back to school, I didn't want all the stress of being 2/3 years younger than the other students and doubting about my level in certain subjects... I already new it would be hard to get back into the system, to wake up at 5:45 am, bond with other students, find my place in a new environnement, I didn't want to have issues with school work as well so I decided to go back a year, with the other first year studens, who were only 1 or 2 years older than me. I won't say it was awful. It just seemed so...absurd. It is quite tough to explain how I felt, after two weeks, it was just too much. I was tired of being treated like a child, being condescended to, carrying a 10kg handbag, waking up at 5.45am and coming back home at 7 .30pm, to, at the end of the day , realise I hadn't learned anything. Of course, there were a few courses/ teachers I really enjoyed, I liked physics, which I couldn't do at home due to a lack of equipment, spanish wich was new for me and maths, because I liked my teacher. On the other hand my french teacher kept telling us we were not going to make it through the year, the geography teacher was treating us like crap, giving us tons of time-consuming stultifying homework and I couldn't bare my lovey drama teachers. So, after two weeks, a particularely long day and a first parent/school director meeting, I burst into tears and told my mum that I wouldn't make it, that it was pointless, that I was bearly learning anything. My parents understood and were extraordinarily supportive, they said I could come back home as long as I did something with my life (schoolwork, blogging ^^, babysitting, work experience...) so here I am ! I hope you don't think I'm lazy after reading this paragraph, I would have been glad to do all the work demanded in highschool, if I hadn't had the impression of doing it for nothing, I am much happier where I am now, and do not regret my choice in the slightest.

Meeting other homeschooled
One of the most important things when you're homeschooled is to carry on seeing people and not turn in on yourself. I try to stay really active and to see people (through orchestras, tap dance, going to town a lot) but, obviously, the majority of the teens my age are in school during the week. That's the reason my mum signed up to a french homeschooling group. It has a forum on which homeschooled people share their experience, organise national meetings, talk about the changes in the law and try to popularise homeschooling. We got the chance to meet kids and their parents a few times during some of the gatherings. Now, this is very personnal and controversial, but to be honest, I disliked the majority of the people I met via the forum. For the most part, they were egoists, only talking about homeschooling, quoting other people, not thinking for themselves. Even the kids were quite immature, overprotected, not very open minded... Eventually my mum quit the forum because she was sick of the politics and in fighting. Again, this is for the most part, there where of course a few exeptions (Kim, if you're reading this, you're the best ^^).

Contrary to what is commonly thought, in France school isn't compulsary, instruction is(up to the age of 16). Before that age ,when you're homeschooled, you either receive the visit of an inspector once a year or go and pass some tests to validate your level, depending on where you live. My sister and I were lucky enough to be visited at home by open minded teachers ( french and music for me, sciences for my sister). I'm not going to go into details about my sisters inspections, they went by without any problems, Zoe loving sciences and the inspector being very nice and understanding. Luckily for me too, french has alway been my favourite subjects and I started studying music when I was 5, I had plenty to talk about with my inspectors. They would read what I wrote (I've always really enjoyed writing), give me advice, I would provide them with lists and reviews of the books I had read, the music teacher would talk dance and Fred Astair with my tap dancer of a father. Everything went really well and now I even enjoy the inspections. But I don't close my eyes to the fact that we got along only because they could see my parents weren't joking about taking care of us. They didn't take the decision to homeschool us in one day, it was the fruit of hours of reseach (about the law,the different methods used...), of thinking and piles of books read. The hardest part about homeschooling is to keep seeing people, but my mum and dad make sure they provide us with plenty of activities : I go to tap classes with my dad every week, play in two orchestras, go to town very often...And most importantly, the biggest reason we could allow ourselves to try something so out of the box was that my parents were educated enough to share their knowledge and accompany us throughout our scolarship. So yes, our inspections went well but it was clear they wouldn't have, had my parents been careless and uneducated people. It is all thanks to them that my sister and I can enjoy our education, I can't express how grateful I am to have such open-minded, clever thinkers as my parents.

Reflexions on the system :
Getting out of the classic system, allowed me to take a huge step back with regard to education and the way kids/teens are seen in society. In schools, teachers were expecting respect and submission from their students, but wouldn't give it back. One of numerous examples is that we had to stand up each time a teacher entered a classroom, but a teacher would never stand when a student entered his office. When you think about it, from a very young age, you are told when to sit, to speak, to shut up... school is used as a conditionning for society. You shall not rebell but be an obedient puppy and lick your superior's buttocks. That's valid from the age of three to the day you stop working. On the other hand though, most of my classmates were incapable of doing things on their own. The authority figures and the orders they gave were indispensible to them. When I started the french highschool equivalent this year, I was expecting to be treated as an adult amoung adults. Instead, I was treated as a baby, surrounded by people needing a hand to drag them along. At home, I have the possibility to choose to sourround myself with uncondescending people that I truly like.

For those of you who are curious, to study I mostly used the CNED online :which is really great, it has everything you need for free, but also schools manuals that my family and I bought. I take spanish lessons in exchange for english lessons twice a week and read a lot. It may sound a bit utopic and hippy-ish, but every situation is an opportunity to learn, I now have the time to grab as many as I can.

What next ?
I was unfortunately too late to register for the « french baccalaureate » which is the exam that takes place at the end of the second year of highschool, so I'm going to dedicate this year to blogging and my family and we are probably going to move to England next summer. Next year, I will finaly prepare for this exam (in a british house ? I'll keep you posted), hopefully I'll do well. The year after that, I should take the other part of my baccalaureate, to get done with school. I'm then planning on going to uni to study psychology or journalism, not sure yet.

Overall, homescholing is a wonderful experience, not for everybody though, since it is not easy and demands quite a bit of willpower, from the parents and the student. It really has allowed my sister and I to be more independant, fulfilled and generaly happy. There are so many more things I could say about it but I think I'm going to stop here for now. If you have any questions or requests for more information, leave a comment down below and I'll be glad to answer you.

Have a nice day ,


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