'Home educating our bullied daughter has changed our lives'
Almost 36,000 children in the UK have been deregistered from formal schooling to be educated at home. For many of these families, the decision to home educate was reached when their child was persistently bullied at school. Here, mum Lisa Miley explains why she withdrew nine-year-old Leanne from school.
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'Every morning, she woke up feeling sick'
'From within two weeks of Leanne starting school, we went through four years of hell. She was bullied so badly by other children, and one in particular, who I thought was her best friend. Leanne would come home with her hair pulled out and marks on her arms. Every morning she would wake up feeling sick, begging me not to take her to school. I’d have to prise her arm from mine in the playground. I spoke to the teacher about it but when nothing was done, I confronted the mother of the bully, who admitted something was wrong but nothing changed.
'By the time she was seven, Leanne couldn’t read or write. She was being left far behind the rest of the class, and was put on a table nicknamed "the dumb table". The structured curriculum didn’t work for her. She struggled horrifically. She just didn’t understand the way she was being taught phonics, in particular; it didn’t capture her interest.
'They said I wouldn't know how to teach her'
'I had many, many meetings with teachers but we didn’t get anywhere. So when Leanne was seven, we’d both had enough, and I decided to take her out of school. My mum supported me but other people criticised me, and said that because I wasn’t a teacher I wouldn’t know how to teach Leanne, especially as I'm dyslexic: I can read and write, but I never got anywhere at school.
'Now those people have seen Leanne come on, and they’ve changed their minds. Some of them have even chosen to home educate their own children.
'Since taking Leanne out of school, we’ve never looked back. Her reading and writing have improved so much; she is now reading Enid Blyton books such as The Faraway Tree.
'We pick and choose what to study'
'I believe in child-based learning, so a typical day usually starts with writing and maths in the morning, but there's no pressure on Leanne. If she wakes up and doesn’t want to learn through books, I show her an educational TV programme – we're learning about the Victorians at the moment. It’s easy to trick her into learning when she doesn’t realise it.
'Depending on the weather, we’ll do some arts and crafts in the afternoon or go to the park and draw trees. We’re about to start on a Christmas project, which we usually do during December.
'We belong to loads of home education groups on Facebook and go to meet-ups through Home Education Essex and Inspired at Home. We’ve been to the Science Museum and Natural History Museum in London.
'The best thing about home education is getting to pick and choose what Leanne learns. There is no set base, and she's always learning. I love it. She is so much calmer and there are no tests or pressure. I’ve found such a good support network through the home education community, and there’s always someone to help.
'If I’d known that home education was an option for Leanne, I wouldn't have sent her to school in the first place.'