One of the many reasons that we fled the safe security of two good jobs in England was the approaching deadline for F to start school. In England children start at 4 and to me this just seemed far too young, it still does. I was confident that the local schools were good and that he would have coped (and I know there would still be a lot of play), but it did feel like cutting his childhood a bit short. Also, it's undeniable that once children are in the school system it becomes a bigger wrench to up and move them across the world. It felt a bit like 'now or never'.
We read up on home-schooling and were very excited by the prospects and really keen to do it. We decided we'd be in no rush to get back to the UK for school as we could teach the boys ourselves. We loaded up on phonics books and the like and felt pretty confident. We both love learning, surely we could pass that on?
18 months later one of the reasons we're heading back is for F to start school. With the Scottish system children start at 5 so he'll be beginning with all of his peers at the same time. He is very excited.
Why the change of heart?
Well as I've written about in previous posts, here F goes to local school in the mornings (so we can actually go to work for at least some of the day!) and then both boys are with one of us in the afternoon. We try to do play-based home-schooling in the afternoons (okay, perhaps just play). We've spent some time with those phonics books but don't want to push it as he's still young. I'd never forgive myself if it was me who put him off learning to read!
F's school experience here has been quite mixed, he's fine when I pick him up and his Chinese has certainly benefited (see my husband's blog here for much more about the Chinese learning) but he really, really hates going. Kicking, screaming, crying, making threats...every single morning. He hates going, I hate taking him. Leaving my sobbing son in a classroom every day is torture.
And the joyful afternoons? Well, we cherish our time with the boys, really we do, but it is so, so exhausting. Going to work and delivering energetic English lessons can honestly feel like a break as it's so much less exhausting. (In the UK I worked until the last week of my second pregnancy for very similar reasons!) With two boisterous boys of 2.5 and 5 each demanding attention and often wanting to do totally different things, J and I end each day totally drained. No different from any other parents I'm sure I'm not claiming to be any different, but when I think about being totally responsible for the boys education when I feel like this...I have serious second thoughts.
There's no guarantee that F will love school in Scotland but for him and for us right now, it feels like the right decision. Edinburgh schools are pretty good so wherever he ends up he should be in a happy learning environment. I hope we'll treasure the time spent with the boys even more, and we are all excited to be moving to a place with excellent parks, museums and libraries as well as our friends and family, things we've really missed here.