We went to the trampolining session again today (Harry was very pleased with himself for managing to bounce for the whole hour) and the coach, who is a friendly mid-50's grandma, asked tentatively why we are home educating. I think this is the first time I have been asked by a virtual stranger and I have been thinking about it most of the afternoon!
My response was that Harry is not suited to a classroom environment and needs more active opportunities, which is true and was the first reason I had to question him going to school, but there are now so many more (and better, I think) reasons. We are no longer home educating as a reaction to this initial issue but it is a positive pro-active choice to the extent that I didn't once feel the need to view any primary schools at application time.
I have never liked the idea of primary age exams as I just cannot see much benefit for the children, so I am pleased we do not have to be part of it. One of the many quotes I read somewhere when pondering home education said something along the lines of "comparison to others is not important as X will be the best he can be in whatever is important to him". I like this and think about it regularly and, while I do recognise that life is often a meritocracy, I don't think it has to start at age 7 to foster future success.
I want Harry and Peter to have time - time to play, time to rest, time to work out what they enjoy and time to develop skills in things they enjoy. I want them to have time to spend with their family outside Stuart and I, none of whom live nearby. I don't think this would be possible to the extent we would all like if they went to school, as Harry certainly would be too tired to focus on much outside school.
I am not sure I will ever be able to put into words all the reasons I have for home educating and I am sure they will change with the times in any case. I am also very conscious not to appear to be "school-bashing" as that is not how I feel, although it seems to be difficult to be passionate about home education without making people feel defensive/offended. I was talking to a friend about this subject the other day and came to the conclusion that actually, if children have engaged, loving and interested parents, they are likely to be fine whether they go to school or not.
I am sure I will have many more thoughts on this issue in the coming months and years!